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ESSAY: Who Will Protect Our Assets of the Future?

ESSAY: Who Will Protect Our Assets of the Future?

. 4 min read


Over the month of April, SmarterMarkets™ presented yet another series of deep, groundbreaking conversations you will not hear on any other podcast.

“Men are only as good as their technical development allows them to be.” – George Orwell

Season One host Erik Townsend kick-started the first month of Spring on a crusade for digital privacy with this season’s SmarterMarkets™ co-host and Cisco’s former Chief Privacy Officer, Michelle Dennedy. Michelle then took an unforgettable inventory of ethics in the new digital economy with the President of IBM followed by leading a masterclass in the protection of digital assets with the Chief Strategy Officer of Cobalt.  To round out April and take the conversation back into the world of capital markets in May, Erik Townsend returned to the airwaves to introduce Michelle Dennedy’s co-host this season: Todd Buchholz, world-renowned economist, former Whitehouse Director of Economic Policy and Managing Director of the Acclaimed $15 Billion Tiger Hedge Fund.

The modern consumer has taken a much more active role in corporate policy development and direction than in decades past. “Vote with your dollar” campaigns and boycott movements have gone from mosquitoes to hurricanes, forcing dramatic shifts in how investors and corporate executives navigate change and interact with their customers. SmarterMarkets™ is no exception, as we are fearless in our dedication to not only talking about a more ethical and sustainable future, but realizing it today. While social and environmental issues were once considered both opaque and risky, they are now front and center in every conversation about our new digital economy’s future.

Impact investing has manifested itself as the logical market response to a rapidly growing cohort of consumers that expect higher ethical standards from the businesses and institutions they support. After almost two decades of innovation, seemingly for innovation’s sake, the digitally-transformed economy so many yearned for seems to be within reach.  Activated like a bolt of lightning by the global pandemic, this transformation reaches further into citizens’ daily lives than anyone, save maybe Orwell, could have ever imagined. The second season of SmarterMarkets™ aims to take a moment to recognize this prescience, take a step back to examine how we got here, and illustrate the best way we can find a more equitable path forward.

Over the course of April we have boldly expanded our conversational reach into new territories and brought together the greatest minds from both Wall Street and Sand Hill Road to examine the mutual crises of trust, privacy and equitability, and whether or not SmarterMarkets™ is the anecdote in the quest for a more inclusive and sustainable future.  

The first in a series of long-form thought leadership profiles in CSQ Magazine, SmarterMarkets™’ proud new media partner, features Jim Whitehurst, President of IBM.  The two-part deep exploration of the past, present and future of IBM, and the digital economy in general, can be found here.  


Season Two of SmarterMarkets™ got started on April 3rd when Erik Townsend sat down with our new acclaimed co-host; privacy mastermind Michelle Dennedy. Michelle is the former Chief Privacy Officer of Cisco, Intel, McAfee, and Oracle. Their fascinating meeting of the minds focused on industry transformation aimed at solving fundamental issues of trust, sustainability, interoperability and inclusivity. When asked about the rise of privacy apathy in the shadow of the war on terrorism, Michelle remarked,

“When 1984 was written, … it was not supposed to be a guidance manual for every corrupt in a morally bankrupt Joe on the planet.”

Following that fascinating introduction, Michelle’s inaugural conversation aired April 10th when she sat down with none other than Jim Whitehurst, President of IBM.  Jim is the man responsible for the largest acquisition in IBM history; Jim Whitehurst, current President of IBM, former CEO of Red Hat and one of the world’s greatest evangelists of open-source innovation. Their conversation bridged the gap between technology, innovation and people power including some not to be missed fly-on-the-wall moments from Jim's historic career. On the topic of the beginning of his career, Jim shared this unforgettable memory, “My biggest client was Delta Airlines. At noon on 9/11, the CEO called me and said, "I need you right now." So, I became Treasurer of Delta Airlines at noon on 9/11.”

In the third episode of Smarter Market’s second season airing Saturday, April 17, Caroline Wong, Chief Strategy Officer at joined Michelle for a fascinating look into cybersecurity in the new digital economy, shared insights into the importance of protecting digital assets and the two offered a shared analysis on the unique perspective and opportunity femininity and diverse views can bring to the technology space. On the subject of Equifax’s data breach in 2017, Caroline expertly points out,

“It seems as though they may have used the password "solarwinds123" to "protect" the company's update server, in which case, it's no wonder malicious threat actors took advantage and planted some malware.”

Rounding out our co-host team on April 24th, Todd Buchholz, former Director of Economic Policy at the White House and  acclaimed $15 Billion Tiger hedge fund manager, joined Erik Townsend for a conversation focused on finding prosperity amongst the post-pandemic chaos. Sharing his thoughts on Amadeo Giannini, founder of Banca d'Italia, later known as Bank of America—with surprising echoes to our modern era—Todd shared,

“Every time Giannini introduced a revolution, a change in the way bankers and finance should work, the old guard tried to shut him down and feather him and throw him in prison. Again, each of these innovations was condemned by the establishment, who wanted to stick to the old ways. So for those reasons, Amadeo Giannini is one of my favorites.”

In May, Todd will be chatting with Arjun Murti, energy macro and equity analyst, advisor and director at Warburg Pincus, Center on Global Energy Policy and ConocoPhillips in his inaugural episode.