Protocol Source Code
What matters in tech, in your inbox every morning.

LinkedIn’s gloomy job market study

Good morning! This Thursday, LinkedIn's got bad news about the job market, Foursquare's got a plan for contact-tracing, and Peacock's got the shows we all need in quarantine.

(Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here to get Source Code every day.)

People Are Talking

As Houseparty usage soars, CEO Sima Sistani said she sees her app differently:

  • "I used to always tell people, like, 'hey, we're not curing cancer here.' This is the first time where I feel like, wow, we have such a responsibility and an obligation right now to maintain this service because people need it."

Google and Apple have yet to prove their contact-tracing plan isn't a privacy problem, Sen. Richard Blumenthal thinks:

  • "A public health crisis cannot be a pretense to pave over our privacy laws or legitimize tech companies' intrusive data collection about American's personal lives."

And Anthony Fauci agrees with that sentiment:

  • "You know, you could look at somebody's cell phone, and say, 'You were next to these 25 people over the last 24 hours.' Boy, I gotta tell you the civil liberties-type pushback on that would be considerable."

The Big Story

Inside LinkedIn's look at a gloomy job market

March was a tale of two fortnights, LinkedIn's principal economist Guy Berger told Protocol's Hayden Field. Berger's been looking at the job market through LinkedIn's data, and found "a first half that wasn't that bad, and then all of a sudden hiring really started to come down the second half."

But there are more surprising insights hidden inside all of LinkedIn's data than the simple fact that the job market sucks, Berger told Hayden:

  • "We haven't seen a decline this big in San Francisco ever," he said, referring to a hiring decline of about 5% in the city. Seattle's down about 2%, for comparison.
  • But both pale in comparison to a city like Detroit, which saw a 20% decline last month. Berger attributed the difference to a sudden shift in what keeps society going.
  • It's not that nobody's hiring, Berger said. It's just that the labor market has shifted dramatically in the space of a few short weeks. "The kind of jobs the economy needs people to do right now and where they were before coronavirus hit are mismatched," he said.

LinkedIn released its latest Workforce Report yesterday, with more insight into the job market.

  • Hiring is down everywhere, but hasn't slowed in the U.S. as rapidly as it did in Italy or France.
  • The slowdown hasn't hit equally: Hiring in the recreation and travel industry is down more than 40%, with consumer goods, nonprofits, real estate and entertainment not far behind. The software and IT industry has been hit relatively less hard, though it's down as well.

LinkedIn's report also suggests remote work may be working for a lot of people:

  • There's been a 43% increase in the use of the "remote" jobs filter on LinkedIn, and a 28% increase in remote job postings.
  • The most in-demand remote jobs skew heavily toward what LinkedIn's chief economist Karin Kimbrough called "tech and sales roles that don't require in-person interaction" — with full-stack engineer, devops engineer, and software engineer forming the top three.

April is likely to be the worst month of all for the jobs market, LinkedIn told us, because hiring is somewhat of a trailing indicator.

  • And "it might take quite a while, a few years, to get back to what we thought of as normal," Berger told Hayden.

For clues about what comes next, U.S. companies should watch both China and Italy, Berger said. How they rebound could help us understand what'll happen stateside.


Your old Foursquare check-ins could help track coronavirus

Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley knows location-tracking tech better than just about anyone — it's his company's best feature, and increasingly its business model. Recently Crowley's been sharing what he knows with lots of developers working on contact-tracing tools, acting as an advisor for a number of different projects.

  • Crowley told Protocol's Emily Birnbaum that coronavirus has been a crucial opportunity (and test) for Foursquare's data abilities, particularly its Pilgrim SDK that lets other apps plug into Foursquare's location and movement data.
  • "It feels like this is the big one," he said. "We've been building all [these tools] in the hopes that we could one day help with something really meaty. This is something that we get to help on."
  • Pilgrim's key advantage is that it's able to map the size and shape of places, thanks to all those years of Foursquare check-ins. It knows when two people are 15 feet apart but in different buildings, for instance, which is crucial for accurate contact-tracing.

Foursquare's been compiling and sharing coronavirus-related data over the past few weeks.

  • It has the kind of massive, anonymized data set that Facebook, Google and others also offer — the kind that could be crucial to understanding coronavirus.
  • The company found, for instance, that men are more likely to travel right now than women, and that after a huge initial surge grocery-store traffic has gone roughly back to normal.

Crowley told Emily that he's now working with developers to get them using Pilgrim, and is offering them the SDK for free. He thinks it's a better solution than the Bluetooth-based project Apple and Google are working on.

  • "People have been saying, 'Listen, Bluetooth doesn't work to do this, so ... we're going to need another clever solution,'" he said. "I was like, 'We have a pretty clever solution to this.'"



We know it's a challenging time for small businesses.
To help, Facebook created a $100 million Small Business Grants Program to provide businesses with the resources they need.

Learn more about the Facebook Small Business Grants Program.


Oh look, another streaming service!

If you're a Comcast subscriber, you might have just gotten access to Peacock, NBCUniversal's new streaming service. (If you haven't, you'll get it soon. Everyone else won't get it until July, though it sounds like NBCU may be thinking about pulling that forward.)

Obviously, it's a good time to be a streaming service — viewership is off the charts practically everywhere. And Peacock, which will offer a lot of content for free, seems likely to end up on a lot of set-top boxes in the coming months.

  • The service doesn't have much original content, and with production shut down it's not currently making much either. Peacock head Matt Strauss spun that as "good news for 2021, though!"
  • But there are plenty of old standards: Peacock will be the new home for "Parks & Recreation," "The Office," and "30 Rock," aka three of my top four most-rewatched shows. ("Schitt's Creek" is the fourth, if you're wondering.) There's also "Saturday Night Live" and "Everybody Loves Raymond" and a near-endless supply of the mindless sitcom the world needs right now.
  • Peacock also has a large selection of kid-friendly content — also useful right now — as well as hundreds of movies.

"It is not a multi-billion dollar business pivot or value creation opportunity, such as Disney+ or HBO Max," Matthew Ball, a VC and entertainment analyst, tweeted last fall. "But it will work, should be meaningful, and is scalable without needing to invest billions/years in losses."

  • The big question, both now and going forward, will be whether Peacock can sell enough ads to make it a meaningful business. Streaming stats are in the service's favor right now — but the ad business sure isn't.

Making Moves

Alphabet is slowing hiring for the rest of 2020. Sundar Pichai told his staff in a note that the company will maintain "momentum in a small number of strategic areas," but after hiring 20,000 people in 2019 this year's number will likely be much smaller.

Envoy laid off or furloughed 30% of its staff, as its office software becomes less necessary during work-from-home times. Business Insider said the cuts hit most teams at the company.

Best Buy furloughed 51,000 store employees, and said some corporate employees will be taking voluntary reduced hours or furloughs. Management is taking a pay cut. Sales were big in March, as people bought work-from-home gear, but closed stores and fewer shoppers have since caused trouble.

Two SoftBank-backed companies announced more layoffs: Zume laid off about 200 employees, while Opendoor cut 600 staffers.

In Other News

  • Today in coronavirus: Amazon is closing its French warehouses for five days after a court ruled it wasn't doing enough to protect its workers. Lyft is starting a B2B service called "Essential Deliveries" for taking food, medical supplies and other basics to people who need them. Narendra Modi endorsed a coronavirus app for Indian citizens, but it appears to be a serious privacy problem. MI6 thinks China concealed information about coronavirus months ago. And hospital data networks are increasingly important — and increasingly at risk.
  • Apple launched a new iPhone SE. It's not a particularly exciting phone, but it might be an interesting strategy shift: a cheaper device meant to get more people into Apple's ecosystem so they'll pay for Music and TV+ and all of Apple's other services.
  • Instagram rolled out new features for small businesses, making it easier for them to sell gift cards, advertise food delivery, and promote fundraisers from their official accounts.
  • From POLITICO: The Pentagon's inspector general "could not definitively determine" whether the White House influenced the Pentagon's JEDI deliberation process, in part because DoD officials were told not to answer questions about it. Ultimately the report found that the process was conducted fairly.
  • President Trump had calls with Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos, after naming both to his hastily compiled task forces on re-opening the economy.
  • Zoox settled a lawsuit with Tesla by admitting that four of its employees took with them confidential Tesla documents when they joined Zoox. The company will pay Tesla an undisclosed sum to make up for it. The documents explained "shipping, receiving, and warehouse procedures," Zoox said.
  • Splunk built a tool to see what everyone is doing when they work from home — looking at VPN usage, app usage, Zoom minutes and more. Everyone who's working from home cringed so hard they froze that way.

One More Thing

I don't wanna go to school. One star!

When you don't have anywhere to express your existential rage about being forced to learn from home, where do you turn? The App Store! Students are flooding the reviews section of Google Classroom with one-star write-ups, which veer from straightforward trolling ("TERRIBLE APP DONT DOWNLOAD WILL GIVE YOU VIRUSES") to deeply existential ("People are dying and they're forcing me to do work") to extremely honest ("Not gonna lie I hate school"). The idea seems to be that if the app gets enough bad reviews, Apple will take it off the store? Which, sorry folks, isn't really how it works. Honestly, kids these days.



We know it's a challenging time for small businesses.

Learn more about Facebook's $100 million Small Business Grants Program.

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to me,, or our tips line, Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

Recent Issues

The best of Protocol

The confessions of SBF

Your holiday book list

A tale of two FTXs