Five tech podcasts to binge on your morning commute

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Chris Schulz

Wondering what to listen to as you head into the office every morning? For tech fans, great podcasts are few and far between. We’ve scoured the podcast charts to find five of the best …

The Drop Out

Everyone is fascinated by the story of Elizabeth Holmes and her failed Silicon Valley blood-testing start-up Theranos. There’s an excellent book, Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, to read. There’s a descent HBO TV documentary, The Inventor: Out For Blood in Silicon Valley to wade through too. One of Hollywood’s biggest stars, Jennifer Lawrence is even playing Holmes in a movie called Bad Blood, Lawrence’s first film after a year-long hiatus. If you’re new to the Theranos story, this ABC six-part podcast is as good a place to start as any. The Drop Out covers it all, the lies, the money, the romance, the deceipt and the complete and total collapse of Theranos, a business once worth $10 billion and earned Holmes comparisons to Steve Jobs. As for Holmes, she’s facing fraud charges and her trial is due to start next year. In the meantime, she’s been busy trying to get another company off the ground. 

Listen: Stream it here

Reply All

Alex Goldman and PJ Vogt are nerds in the best possible way. They love tech, enjoy a good story, and have great banter, three things that combine to make this excellent, long-running Gimlet podcast a must-listen. Over the past six years, the pair have won awards as they’ve taken on tech mysteries that seem unsolvable. They’ve attempted to find New Yorker writer’s Jia Tolentino’s missing bitcoin, discovered why one particular podcast absolutely ruins someone’s car stereo, and revealed why someone keeps ordering a $2 Coke – and only a $2 Coke – from Domino’s Pizza stores across America. Their stories are delightful and surprising, often full of twists and turns. If you haven’t heard it yet, start with episode No. 158, The Case of The Missing Hit, and go from there.

Listen: Stream it here

Rabbit Hole

We all know that getting lost in YouTube’s auto-play algorithms is a dangerous thing to do. But just how dangerous is it? New York Times journalists Kevin Roose and Andy Mills had the same question and decided to attempt to answer it. They start by dissecting the YouTube archives of a young American man, then track how that kind of radicalisation could lead to horrific atrocities like the Christchurch mosque massacres. Along the way, they look at the world’s biggest podcaster Joe Rogan, the world’s biggest YouTuber PewDiePie and the world’s biggest conspiracy theorists, QAnon. Rabbit Hole is a dark, twisted story with plenty of fresh revelations about what the internet is doing to us. Be warned: it doesn’t look good.

Listen: Stream it here

WeCrashed:  The Rise and Fall of WeWork

If you’re after a story about a real-life David Brent, Ricky Gervais’ horrible boss from The Office, WeCrashed might just be it. Adam Neuman, the shaggy-haired CEO of shared office space company WeWork, sounds like an actual nightmare. He walked around his office barefoot, reportedly drank and smoked on the job, banned all meat-eating on WeWork premises, was obsessed with extending his lifespan, had a passion for private jets, and at one point declared he wanted to be “president of the world”. How Neuman was going to get there is anyone’s guess. Once valued at $US47 billion, WeWork’s remarkable rise and drastic fall is charted in this excellent Wondery series that’s gripping from beginning to end. But WeCrashed also documents an extreme case of a “Unicorn” – an overvalued Silicon Valley start-up that promised so much, and delivered so little.

Listen: Stream it here

Darknet Diaries

This one’s for all you coders, hackers and dark web users out there. Since 2017, cyber security expert Jack Rhysider has told the kinds of stories that would befuddle even the most hardy teek geeks. He’s tracked the rise and fall of Bitcoin exchange Mt Gox, found a group of guys who hacked an Xbox so they could steal video games, and, in an episode called Chartbreakers, hilariously documented why Apple’s podcast charts seem so weird. If you’re new to I start with episode six, The Beirut Bank Job, about a bank robbery that went very, very wrong. Your addiction to the dark side will begin there.

Listen: Stream it here

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Chris Schulz

Chris Schulz has 20 years experience writing about New Zealand's technology and entertainment industries. He lives in Auckland.

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