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‘It’s a complex, challenging role’

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TikTok’s Caroline Goulding discusses navigating the evolving privacy landscape, how the tech sector needs to lead on cybersecurity, and the importance of ‘peeling back the layers’ at work.

Caroline Goulding is TikTok’s data protection officer, based at the social media company’s growing hub in Dublin.

She was previously LinkedIn’s first data protection officer and prior to that held a variety of trust and safety roles at LinkedIn and eBay.

‘Privacy and compliance is an ever-evolving challenge’
– CAROLINE GOULDING

What does your role involve?

I joined TikTok in early 2020 as the first in-house data protection officer. As well as being a member of the senior leadership team in Ireland, I also worked with colleagues to establish the office of the data protection officer for TikTok.

It is a complex and challenging role, but I am excited to be guiding our efforts in this space. Part of the responsibility of my role is supporting the company to navigate the ever-evolving privacy and compliance landscape.

How do you prioritise and organise your working life?

I apply ruthless prioritisation when it comes to my working life. Ultimately, I am hyper aware that every single day something unpredictable can crop up, so at the start of each day I sit down and outline my top three essential priorities for that day.

Like so many, my schedule can be quite demanding. But every day I make sure that I get away from my desk for a few minutes and I pick one meeting to do over the phone while I am walking. This is typically a one-to-one call, so as well as getting away from the desk and reenergising with some fresh air, it also means the person I am speaking to has my full attention and I am not distracted by any other screens or incoming emails and messages.

What are the biggest challenges facing your sector and how are you tackling them?

TikTok, like so many others in the tech sector, is always looking to attract the best talent. There is intense competition in the data protection arena as well as in many other areas of our business, such as online safety, which will see a raft of new laws come into effect, including the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill.

Cybersecurity, of course, remains a challenge for all sectors, evidenced by the ransomware attack on the HSE here in Ireland in the middle of a pandemic. The tech sector has an important role to lead out in this area and TikTok takes that very seriously.

We are mindful that over a billion people come to TikTok every month to express themselves creatively and to be entertained. Keeping our community safe and allowing them to enjoy this in a welcome environment is our overarching priority. In order to ensure we do this to the best possible standard, our dedicated Fusion Centres, located in the US and Ireland, allow us to detect and respond to critical incidents in real time.

Privacy and compliance is an ever-evolving challenge and something which is of the utmost importance to TikTok. To me, education is key to ensure we tackle this issue appropriately.

What are the key sector opportunities you’re capitalising on?

Our global community continues to grow every day, and we feel privileged to provide such a diverse platform for Irish creators, NGOs and businesses to interact and engage in a meaningful way with new and existing audiences.

Recognising the vital role that community organisations, their workers and volunteers play in Irish creativity, TikTok recently announced details of the St Patrick’s Festival x TikTok Creative Fund, which has seen €100,000 allocated to 10 groups around the country for a creative project.

We also launched a SMB Hub for Irish small businesses, which is something I’m particularly proud of being Irish and given the important role SMBs play at the heart of the Irish economy. It has been specifically designed to enable businesses of all sizes in Ireland to start activating on the platform at scale. Irish SMBs have the opportunity to use TikTok Ads Manager, joining thousands of small businesses in Europe reaching engaged audiences, growing their sales on TikTok and potentially even going viral!

What set you on the road to where you are now?

My journey started in risk and fraud and has evolved towards privacy and compliance, so I’ve worn multiple hats and have been privileged to see it from a variety of angles.

Prior to joining TikTok, I spent nine years at LinkedIn and before that I worked at eBay. I had a variety of roles – from leading global teams handling a wide array of member and customer legal privacy and intellectual property issues, to sitting on the trust and safety leadership team with exposure to a range of security matters including risk, fraud and content issues.

The mix of legal-related knowledge, ability to operationalise at scale and experience in interfacing with both users and regulators has put me in a unique position. Looking back, I’m able to connect the dots, even though the path was much less clear at the time.

What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?

Not showing up authentically. In the past I used to think one had to act, speak, dress and ultimately manage things in a certain way. But I learned that this meant connecting with people on a surface level. Through learning to peel back the layers and be more vulnerable on a daily basis, it has led to a much more enriching work life with deep relationships and a much stronger foundation from which to achieve work objectives together.

Working during the global pandemic definitely helped solidify this and was a learning curve for me. Everyone was impacted in some shape or form. I learned that by being honest if I was having a bad day meant it was more likely someone else would open up and tell me when they were too, and work priorities could be shifted around to accommodate and support each other.

How do you get the best out of your team?

I have always admired the astute advice of Simon Sinek and in particular his wisdom on the role of the leader to serve those around them. He said: “The responsibility of a company is to serve the customer. The responsibility of leadership is to serve their people so that their people may better serve the customer.” I take those words to heart in all of my different roles.

Trust and empathy are also vitally important to me. I invest a lot of time in getting to know my team and colleagues on a personal level. To me, empathy can also mean not shying away from uncomfortable or awkward conversations and instead having the courage to engage on the meatier topics ,which ultimately benefits the individual and the team as a whole.

Have you noticed a diversity problem in your sector?

I am passionate about diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and continually look for opportunities to progress this important and defining topic whenever I can. I founded the Women at TikTok Europe Committee to work alongside our business’s D&I leadership. As part of this role, I helped drive and promote the company’s International Women’s Day efforts.

However, I am acutely conscious that on International Women’s Day in March each year, a host of stats are released and it can be disheartening to read that it will still take X number of years to achieve equity in the boardroom or at the C-suite level. Even worse is that the 2021 Women in the Workplace report found that the pandemic has disproportionately affected women leaders who took on more mission-critical, though often ‘invisible’, work in addition to their day-to-day roles.

Diversity encompasses a lot of different areas beyond gender, from race to sexuality, age and nationality. When it comes to the latter, this is an area where Ireland’s tech companies are thriving with an incredible array of international talent.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

I consider The Culture Map by Erin Meyer essential reading for everyone working in a multinational environment where progress and success is highly dependent on the skills to navigate through cultural differences.

How to Own the Room by Viv Groskop is my go-to for whenever I need a lift before an important speaking engagement.

Contagious You by Anese Cavanaugh crystallises how a leader’s intentions, energy and presence sets the tone and regardless of where we are in our careers, how we show up matters.

What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?

I start every morning listening to the business news on Newstalk. Having recently had the opportunity for business travel after a long pandemic hiatus, it reminded me how indispensable noise-cancelling headphones are.

Now that the days are so much darker and the work-from-home video calls are here for the foreseeable future, I have joined the ring light fan club. And of course, TikTok provides me with some light entertainment as I end the working day.

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Rocket Lab setting up for first Moon mission • The Register

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Rocket Lab has taken delivery of NASA’s CAPSTONE spacecraft at its New Zealand launch pad ahead of a mission to the Moon.

It’s been quite a journey for CAPSTONE [Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment], which was originally supposed to launch from Rocket Lab’s US launchpad at Wallops Island in Virginia.

The pad, Launch Complex 2, has been completed for a while now. However, delays in certifying Rocket Lab’s Autonomous Flight Termination System (AFTS) pushed the move to Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand.

The wet dress rehearsal for the launch was completed last night, prompting CEO Peter Beck to say: “Next stop…the Moon!”

“I always wanted to say that,” he added. Beck has long dreamed of sending his rockets beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and is planning a mission to Venus in 2023. However, the Moon is than the company has sent its rockets to date.

CAPSTONE is to be sent to a Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit (NRHO) around the Moon, a location planned for the NASA, ESA, and CSA Gateway. CAPSTONE’s primary mission is to verify simulations that the interaction gravity of the Earth and Moon will make for a stable orbit.

The milestone was hit as Rocket Lab announced its first quarter 2022 results. Overall, the company made a net loss of $26.7 million, down from the $15.9 million loss of the same period last year, but revenues jumped to $40.7 million from $18.2 million. Most interesting was the make-up of that revenue. Space Systems (the company’s Photon spacecraft and the components it sells) accounted for a whopping 84 percent of Q1 revenue. Actual Electron rockets fared less well; during a call with analysts, CFO Adam Spice said that launches contributed just $6.6 million.

Going forward, the company expects second quarter revenues to be between $51 million and $54 million. It is including three dedicated launches in that figure (of which CAPSTONE is one). Two have already happened, and there is potential for a fourth, but the company has opted to take a prudent path and not include it in the figures.

As for CAPSTONE, it will be integrated with the Electron rocket and Photon spacecraft bus ahead of the launch window opening on May 31. The Electron will launch the spacecraft into LEO and the Photon will take care of the ballistic lunar transfer via multiple orbit raisings. A final burn of Photon’s engine will occur on the sixth day, enough to escape Earth orbit and send CAPSTONE on a course for the Moon. ®



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Dublin’s UrbanVolt bags €36m for its solar energy business

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A DCU Alpha spin-out, UrbanVolt says it sells power generated from solar energy at up to 30pc lower rates than traditional suppliers.

UrbanVolt, a Dublin-based clean energy company, has secured €36m in financing to expand its solar panel business in Ireland and the UK.

The funding includes a €30m asset-backed seven-year loan from Swedish credit fund PCP and €6m from existing funding partners, BVP and Beach Point Capital.

Future Human

Founded in 2015 by Kevin Maughan, Graham Deane and Declan Barrett, UrbanVolt finances and installs solar panels on the rooftops of commercial and industrial businesses, selling the solar electricity generated to the businesses at up to 30pc lower rate than traditional suppliers.

The company said it also guarantees the price for up to 30 years, protecting businesses against rising energy costs for decades to come, with no minimum amount payable or standing charges – meaning that customers pay proportionate to their consumption.

“This is a transformational deal, which will allow us to scale at pace to meet the significant demand in the market while also streamlining the process of installing solar panels for our customers’ benefit,” said Maughan, who is also the CEO of the DCU Alpha spin-out.

“This first funding facility from PCP will see our project output grow by 20x over the coming years.  It is also happening at a time when the demand for renewable energy is rising significantly given climate and geopolitical crises.”

The loan facility will be used to fund the installation of solar panels and related equipment on UrbanVolt’s primary target of commercial and industrial client sites in both Ireland and the UK.

It started supplying solar-generated electricity directly to businesses in Ireland last summer, since when it has agreed contracts with more than 60 companies and completed seven installations.

Maughan sad that there is “simply no compelling reason” for commercial and industrial operators to opt for traditional energy sources anymore, adding that UrbanVolt offers “unparalleled” price security and clean energy.

“By incorporating an ‘as a service’ business model, our customers only pay for the energy they use without a standing charge, and the cost of our equipment and its maintenance is kept off their balance sheet.”

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$7.6bn of ‘stablecoin’ tether redeemed since start of crypto crisis | Cryptocurrencies

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Digital investors have withdrawn savings in the “stablecoin” tether worth $7.6bn (£6.2bn) since the cryptocurrency crisis began last week, suggesting the company has paid out a sum almost twice its total cash holdings to spooked depositors.

Stablecoins are supposed to have a fixed value matched to a real-world asset, in most cases $1 a token. However, faith in the concept was rocked last Tuesday when another big player, terra, broke its peg to the dollar. That has fuelled a wider sell-off across the crypto sector, which relies on stablecoins for much of its financial engineering.

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What is a stablecoin?

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A stablecoin, like the name suggests, is a type of cryptocurrency that is supposed to have a stable value, such as US$1 per token. How they achieve that varies: the largest, such as tether and USD Coin, are effectively banks. They hold large reserves in cash, liquid assets, and other investments, and simply use those reserves to maintain a stable price.

Others, known as “algorithmic stablecoins”, attempt to do the same thing but without any reserves. They have been criticised as effectively being backed by Ponzi schemes, since they require continuous inflows of cash to ensure they don’t collapse.

Stablecoins are an important part of the cryptocurrency ecosystem. They provide a safer place for investors to store capital without going through the hassle of cashing out entirely, and allow assets to be denominated in conventional currency, rather than other extremely volatile tokens.

Thank you for your feedback.

Tether, the third biggest cryptocurrency by “market cap”, experienced a short-lived crisis on Thursday when its value dropped from $1 to 95¢ as savers feared it would follow its fellow stablecoin terra and collapse. However, the token, which is controlled by a private company with close links to the crypto exchange Bitfinex, has since largely restored its dollar peg by honouring a promise to allow savers to always withdraw $1 for every tether they give back to the company.

The company only allows direct withdrawals of at least $100,000 for each request, and charges a fee of 0.1% on redemptions. Anyone with less tether than that minimum can only turn their money into dollars by finding someone to buy it from them – a disparity that fuelled the temporary collapse in value.

Despite the difficulties, according to public blockchain data, $7.6bn of tether has been reallocated in this way since Thursday. That is almost twice the cash that Tether had in its reserves at the end of last year, according to accounts published on its website.

Most of the rest of its reserves are held in “cash-like” assets, the majority of which are $35bn of US government debt and $25bn of corporate bonds. However, the company has refused to share any further details of the investments, with its chief technology officer, Paolo Ardoino, telling the Financial Times: “We don’t want to give our secret sauce.”

There have long been fears as to Tether’s ability to honour all redemptions. The company had once said it backed its currency with “US dollars”, a claim the New York attorney general said in 2021 “was a lie”. Now, it simply claims its currency is “backed 100% by Tether’s reserves”.

By contrast, terra was backed by a complex algorithm that required the value of a sister cryptocurrency, luna, to constantly rise in order to maintain the dollar peg. When the crash hit last week, the system went into a “death spiral”, automatically printing more luna, which crashed the price further, until luna lost 99.9995% of its value in a matter of days and terra was left languishing at $0.11.

The charismatic founder of the Terra project, Do Kwon, has said he wants to relaunch the currency. In a proposal posted to the project’s message board on Friday, he suggested wiping all ownership of luna, and redistributing 1bn new tokens, with most going to those who hold the stablecoin, or who held luna before last week’s crash.

“It is a hard balance – and no easy answers in redistributing value within the network,” Kwon wrote. “But value must be distributed to allow the ecosystem to survive, and in its current state it will not.”

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Kwon also faces questions about how the vast sums of bitcoin that his project had amassed to back terra were spent. According to a breakdown shared by the organisation, it sold more than 80,000 bitcoins, worth more than $2.4bn, to unnamed parties in exchange for terra valued at $1 – at a time when the public price of the currency was under 75¢.

The jitters around stablecoins have combined with a general slump in tech stocks and the wider US downturn to trigger a wider crisis of confidence across the crypto sector. Bitcoin and ethereum, the two biggest cryptocurrencies, are down more than 10% over the last seven days, with ethereum dropping 17% to less than $2,000. Smaller currencies have, as always, been more volatile, with dogecoin falling 26% over the week.

Even some of the most vocal backers of digital currencies are now querying the promises of the sector. The founder of the crypto exchange FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried, said in an interview with the Financial Times that bitcoin has no future as a payments network because of the inherent inefficiencies of its blockchain, the public digital register that records its transactions. Instead, he argued, it could only function as a gold-like store of long-term value.



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