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By the numbers: How COVID-19 changed tech this week

It was a good week for telemedicine and robots, a bad week for ride-hailing, and a good and bad week for Jeff Bezos.

A teacher at a computer

Only a quarter of Americans think conversations held over video-conferencing are as productive as in-person meetings, according to a recent Pew survey.

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

They aren't all bad, just mostly bad. Here are 15 numbers that jumped out at us this week as the COVID-19 pandemic upended the technology industry.

27%

Don't mention it to the WFH enthusiasts, but that's the percentage of Americans who think the digital connections popular during the pandemic are as effective as in-person contact, per a Pew survey conducted in mid-March. The survey underscored the country's digital divide amid the outbreak, with 46% of college graduates reporting that they've used video calling or conferencing to attend a work meeting, compared to 11% of those who've never attended college.

$14 billion

That's the drop in Airbnb's internal valuation, to $26 billion, as the short-term rental company watches bookings plummet ahead of a planned IPO, according to the Financial Times.

86%, 75%

That's the reduction in visits in Manhattan and San Francisco, respectively, to shops, restaurants, theaters and other entertainment venues between January and late March. That's according to Google's new Community Mobility Reports that tap into location data — anonymously, the company says — in a bid to help policymakers. The reports can be customized by country, state and county.

33

This is the number of guests who could wait out coronavirus together as a group at Harbor, the two-month COVID-19 retreat villa envisioned by Callision CEO Jay Jideliov.

63%

That's the surge in requests for warehouse bots from Take Fetch Robotics since February, as COVID-19 accelerates the transition to automation.

$100 million

That's the amount in grants and ad buys pledged by Facebook to help battered media outlets, which have seen surging readership but plunging ad spending in recent weeks. Many news publishers nurture a tense relationship with Facebook, accusing it and Google of siphoning off digital ad revenue. New York Times media columnist Ben Smith, whose ex-employer BuzzFeed is cutting pay temporarily, handed out a harsh prescription: "The time is now to make a painful but necessary shift: Abandon most for-profit local newspapers, whose business model no longer works, and move as fast as possible to a national network of nimble new online newsrooms. That way, we can rescue the only thing worth saving about America's gutted, largely mismanaged local newspaper companies — the journalists."

50%+

This is the plunge in ride-hailing business for Uber and Lyft, compared to a year ago, according to The Information.

7%

That's how much Microsoft stock gained Monday, after it released what turned out to be a misleading statement about exploding demand for its services.

1, $100 million

That's the number of employees fired by Amazon after a strike at the company's Staten Island warehouse this week, and the amount Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos subsequently said he donated to Feeding America, a nationwide network of food banks and soup kitchens. The firing of strike organizer Chris Smalls — the company said he violated coronavirus safety precautions — attracted the attention of New York Attorney General Letitia James, who said she was considering legal options. Oh, and Vice reported that Bezos was present at a meeting during which executives discussed a PR strategy of focusing attention on Smalls, calling him "not smart or articulate."

621%

That's the increase in the use of telemedicine software in March, per Pendo.

700%, 294%

Those are the jumps in job listings for warehousing and in-store shopping, respectively, seen on ZipRecruiter, even as numerous tech companies do layoffs and furloughs, prompting concern about a broader shift to lower-paying opportunities.

0

This is how many times people actually should be touching payment screens while buying groceries at the store, say card providers who've stopped requiring signatures in recent years. The Wall Street Journal reports the problem is that some stores "actually do want signatures, viewing them as a way to improve security. And many stores just haven't updated their payment terminals."

Fintech

Judge Zia Faruqui is trying to teach you crypto, one ‘SNL’ reference at a time

His decisions on major cryptocurrency cases have quoted "The Big Lebowski," "SNL," and "Dr. Strangelove." That’s because he wants you — yes, you — to read them.

The ways Zia Faruqui (right) has weighed on cases that have come before him can give lawyers clues as to what legal frameworks will pass muster.

Photo: Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images

“Cryptocurrency and related software analytics tools are ‘The wave of the future, Dude. One hundred percent electronic.’”

That’s not a quote from "The Big Lebowski" — at least, not directly. It’s a quote from a Washington, D.C., district court memorandum opinion on the role cryptocurrency analytics tools can play in government investigations. The author is Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui.

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Veronica Irwin (@vronirwin) is a San Francisco-based reporter at Protocol covering fintech. Previously she was at the San Francisco Examiner, covering tech from a hyper-local angle. Before that, her byline was featured in SF Weekly, The Nation, Techworker, Ms. Magazine and The Frisc.

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FTA
The Financial Technology Association (FTA) represents industry leaders shaping the future of finance. We champion the power of technology-centered financial services and advocate for the modernization of financial regulation to support inclusion and responsible innovation.
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Donna Goodison (@dgoodison) is Protocol's senior reporter focusing on enterprise infrastructure technology, from the 'Big 3' cloud computing providers to data centers. She previously covered the public cloud at CRN after 15 years as a business reporter for the Boston Herald. Based in Massachusetts, she also has worked as a Boston Globe freelancer, business reporter at the Boston Business Journal and real estate reporter at Banker & Tradesman after toiling at weekly newspapers.

Image: Protocol

We launched Protocol in February 2020 to cover the evolving power center of tech. It is with deep sadness that just under three years later, we are winding down the publication.

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Enterprise

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Photo: artpartner-images via Getty Images

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