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Bulletins

Expensify's CEO emailed users to encourage them to 'vote for Biden'

Some recipients were already showing anger at the email.

Joe Biden on Super Tuesday

"You know what to do: show up on November 3rd and vote for Biden. Or even better, don't wait until then: vote today," reads the letter from Expensify's CEO.

Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Expensify CEO David Barrett blasted all of his customers with a message to vote for Biden to "protect democracy."


In the email, which the company has said was sent to all users, Expensify's founder said that "anything less than a vote for Biden is a vote against democracy" and urged his customer base to vote for the Democratic presidential candidate. You can read how he decided to send the email in this Protocol interview.

In the email, he equated a vote for Trump as an endorsement for voter suppression, and took issue with people who may want to abstain or vote for a third-party candidate: "I'm saying a vote for Trump, a vote for a third-party candidate, or simply not voting at all — they're all the same, and they all mean: 'I care more about my favorite issue than democracy. I believe Trump winning is more important than democracy. I am comfortable standing aside and allowing democracy to be methodically dismantled, in plain sight,'" he wrote in the email.

Barrett also said he wasn't afraid of his company taking a political stance, even at a time when some tech companies are arguing that it's better to remain neutral or apolitical. "Expensify depends on a functioning society and economy; not many expense reports get filed during a civil war," he wrote. "As CEO of this business, it's my job to plot a course through any storm — and all evidence suggests that another four (or as Trump has hinted — eight, or more?) years of Trump leadership will damage our democracy to such an extent, I'm obligated on behalf of shareholders to take any action I can to avoid it."

Some recipients were already showing anger at the email, tweeting that it was "incredibly disappointing" and that Expensify has "lost my business."

In a conversation with Protocol, Barrett said he and a team of volunteers were responding to customers' concerns.

Update: This post was updated at 8:30 p.m. PT with a comment from Expensify.

People

Google’s trying to build a more inclusive, less chaotic future of work

Javier Soltero, the VP of Workspace at Google, said time management is everything.

With everyone working in new places, Google believes time management is everything.

Image: Google

Javier Soltero was still pretty new to the G Suite team when the pandemic hit. Pretty quickly, everything about Google's hugely popular suite of work tools seemed to change. (It's not even called G Suite anymore, but rather Workspace.) And Soltero had to both guide his team through a new way of working and help them build the tools to guide billions of Workspace users.

This week, Soltero and his team announced a number of new Workspace features designed to help people manage their time, collaborate and get stuff done more effectively. It offered new tools for frontline workers to communicate better, more hardware for hybrid meetings, lots of Assistant and Calendar features to make planning easier and a picture-in-picture mode so people could be on Meet calls without really having to pay attention.

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David Pierce

David Pierce ( @pierce) is Protocol's editor at large. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.

Sponsored Content

The future of computing at the edge: an interview with Intel’s Tom Lantzsch

An interview with Tom Lantzsch, SVP and GM, Internet of Things Group at Intel

An interview with Tom Lantzsch

Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Internet of Things Group (IoT) at Intel Corporation

Edge computing had been on the rise in the last 18 months – and accelerated amid the need for new applications to solve challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic. Tom Lantzsch, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Internet of Things Group (IoT) at Intel Corp., thinks there are more innovations to come – and wants technology leaders to think equally about data and the algorithms as critical differentiators.

In his role at Intel, Lantzsch leads the worldwide group of solutions architects across IoT market segments, including retail, banking, hospitality, education, industrial, transportation, smart cities and healthcare. And he's seen first-hand how artificial intelligence run at the edge can have a big impact on customers' success.

Protocol sat down with Lantzsch to talk about the challenges faced by companies seeking to move from the cloud to the edge; some of the surprising ways that Intel has found to help customers and the next big breakthrough in this space.

What are the biggest trends you are seeing with edge computing and IoT?

A few years ago, there was a notion that the edge was going to be a simplistic model, where we were going to have everything connected up into the cloud and all the compute was going to happen in the cloud. At Intel, we had a bit of a contrarian view. We thought much of the interesting compute was going to happen closer to where data was created. And we believed, at that time, that camera technology was going to be the driving force – that just the sheer amount of content that was created would be overwhelming to ship to the cloud – so we'd have to do compute at the edge. A few years later – that hypothesis is in action and we're seeing edge compute happen in a big way.

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Saul Hudson
Saul Hudson has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, especially in understanding and targeting messages in cutting-edge technologies. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, in helping companies to build passionate audiences and accelerate their growth. Hudson has reported from more than 30 countries, from war zones to boardrooms to presidential palaces. He has led multinational, multi-lingual teams and managed operations for hundreds of journalists. Hudson is a Managing Partner at Angle42, a strategic communications consultancy.
Protocol | Fintech

The Biden administration has its eyes on fintech. GameStop upped the ante.

Enforcement was already expected to rise. Then last week happened.

There are opinions in this place. Will fintech like them?

Image: Bloomberg/Getty Images

If fintech wasn't already a top priority for financial regulators under the Biden administration, it surely is after last week.

Fintech companies were already expecting more enforcement action under the Biden administration, and the WallStreetBets GameStop episode could add to that. Scrutiny of the manipulation of public markets could even lead to a tighter grip on new financial products wholly unrelated to stock trading.

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Tomio Geron

Tomio Geron ( @tomiogeron) is a San Francisco-based reporter covering fintech. He was previously a reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journal, covering venture capital and startups. Before that, he worked as a staff writer at Forbes, covering social media and venture capital, and also edited the Midas List of top tech investors. He has also worked at newspapers covering crime, courts, health and other topics. He can be reached at tgeron@protocol.com or tgeron@protonmail.com.

Transforming 2021

Blockchain, QR codes and your phone: the race to build vaccine passports

Digital verification systems could give people the freedom to work and travel. Here's how they could actually happen.

One day, you might not need to carry that physical passport around, either.

Photo: CommonPass

There will come a time, hopefully in the near future, when you'll feel comfortable getting on a plane again. You might even stop at the lounge at the airport, head to the regional office when you land and maybe even see a concert that evening. This seemingly distant reality will depend upon vaccine rollouts continuing on schedule, an open-sourced digital verification system and, amazingly, the blockchain.

Several countries around the world have begun to prepare for what comes after vaccinations. Swaths of the population will be vaccinated before others, but that hasn't stopped industries decimated by the pandemic from pioneering ways to get some people back to work and play. One of the most promising efforts is the idea of a "vaccine passport," which would allow individuals to show proof that they've been vaccinated against COVID-19 in a way that could be verified by businesses to allow them to travel, work or relax in public without a great fear of spreading the virus.

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Mike Murphy

Mike Murphy ( @mcwm) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.

Protocol | China

Biden’s plan for Chinese tech companies? It might look a lot like Trump’s.

Experts expect more polish and less chaos from the new administration, but a multilateral approach could make life harder.

Commerce secretary nominee Gina Raimondo pledged at her confirmation hearing Tuesday to take "aggressive trade enforcement actions to combat unfair trade practices from China."

Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images

If Tencent, Alibaba, ByteDance and Huawei thought they were going to have an easier go of it once Donald Trump left the White House, they may be in for a rude awakening.

President Joe Biden's team has resisted offering specifics about how it plans to approach China's tech giants after four years of hawkish, and oftentimes chaotic, relations under Trump; White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says the new administration is currently conducting an interagency review as it seeks to develop a holistic China policy.

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Emily Birnbaum

Emily Birnbaum ( @birnbaum_e) is a tech policy reporter with Protocol. Her coverage focuses on the U.S. government's attempts to regulate one of the most powerful industries in the world, with a focus on antitrust, privacy and politics. Previously, she worked as a tech policy reporter with The Hill after spending several months as a breaking news reporter. She is a Bethesda, Maryland native and proud Kenyon College alumna.

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