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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
That's the surge in requests for warehouse bots from Take Fetch Robotics since February, as COVID-19 accelerates the transition to automation.
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."
This is the plunge in ride-hailing business for Uber and Lyft, compared to a year ago, according to The Information.
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."
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.
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."