OneZero is partnering with the Big Technology Podcast from Alex Kantrowitz to bring readers exclusive access to interview transcripts — edited for length and clarity — with notable figures in and around the tech industry.
In 2019, Sophie Schmidt founded Rest of World, a news site dedicated to telling technology stories about what’s happening outside of North America and Europe. After watching her father, Eric Schmidt, run Google for 10 years, she became convinced that the rest of the globe would drive tech’s next era. And so understanding how it was developing there was imperative. Schmidt joins Big Technology Podcast this week with Louise Matsakis, a senior editor at Rest of World, to discuss the site’s work to date, and where it’s heading from here.
Alex Kantrowitz: Welcome, Sophie and Louise. Companies use the term “Rest of World” to describe regions outside of North America and Europe. What made you interested in explicitly covering the parts of the world they deem less important?
Sophie Schmidt: We have big intractable problems in the tech and society category: misinformation, disinformation, surveillance, privacy, you name it. We’re creating panels, and commissions, and we’re shaking our fists at big platforms and saying, “Please fix it.” And it feels a little bit helpless. But the thing that’s not coming up is that every other country in the world is also dealing with it in slightly different ways.
What if the solutions to our problems lie in the sharing of those experiences, and ideas, and learnings? Expanding the dataset. It’s honestly baffling. We have billions of people in the world all using technology all the time. I think the last data I saw said there’s almost 5 billion people online. And depending on how you count Western versus non-Western, something…