LAURIE SEGALL VIEWS TECHNOLOGY THROUGH A HUMAN LENS
Words by Ashley Hurst
Laurie Segall began covering tech start-ups in Silicon Valley for CNN in 2009. “We were coming out of the chaos of the Great Recession, and that chaos created opportunity. People could have an idea and get it in the hands of millions.” Laurie saw a group of people who refused to play by the old rules—the creative misfits—and she was one of the first to put those folks on camera.
“At that point tech exploded, and it ushered in an era of unintended consequences. I wanted to show both sides; I wanted to show the edges because they would become the center.” And Laurie had a front-row seat as these creative misfits became the Prom Kings of the tech world (and the world at large).
“I saw a lot go wrong, a lot fall through the cracks. But I also saw the humanity of it—I saw that it would impact how we live, how we love, how we die, our politics...everything. And I always asked those questions without judgement or agenda.” And that, friends, is the secret to Laurie’s success. Her authentic empathy gives her an edge and makes people feel less alone. She says, “I’m fascinated by the human issues within technology because I’m as human as it gets.”
After interviewing Mark Zuckerburg during the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Laurie realized that she wanted more. “You can’t fit those conversations into two-minute sound bites. There’s so much gray space.” So in December of 2019 Laurie launched her own media company—Dot Dot Dot Media. “I wanted to launch a media company looking through the most important lens: the human one.” Laurie goes on to talk about targeting people in vulnerable moments. “ Look at addiction, at mental illness...those things are never black and white.” Technology opens doors to information and changes how we are able to connect.
Conversations with our tech leaders are also important when talking about the future. And in these conversations Laurie can demand authenticity because she is so authentic herself. She asks that they “just be human with us.” On her podcast First Contact Laurie talks with tech cornerstones, and no topic is off-limits. She asks Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri about his anxiety; Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress and Automattic, talks about staying productive while working from home; and WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton opens up about walking away from FaceBook.
Now, while in quarantine in New York City, Laurie is thinking about the next questions she needs to ask—the fundamental changes coming in tech. She and her team are using this opportunity to build out a studio and create content to help people feel less alone. “I feel lucky to fight for what I have,” Laurie says. “And I’ll always fight for the underdog, look for the cornerstone stories, and shed light on the overlooked.”
Laurie sees tech as a reflection of messy, complicated people. “Technology is the story of humanity right now. And storytelling will endure. What we do has never been more important. Tech is our way of getting humanity. It’s a lifeline.”