People

Tech leaders write checks and code to help communities amid coronavirus

From connecting volunteers to buying hospital workers meals to writing $1 million checks, tech leaders like Sheryl Sandberg, Dick Costolo and Paul Graham are stepping up to help out communities during coronavirus.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg teamed up with other tech leaders to create a $6 million fund for the Second Harvest of Silicon Valley food bank.

Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

On March 13, Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger got a call from a panicked friend who was going to have to close their San Francisco restaurant as the city wrestled with the spread of coronavirus. Two days later, it had closed its doors. To try to stop other restaurants from meeting the same fate, Krieger and his wife, Kaitlyn, spent the weekend building SaveOurFaves.Org, a website that makes it easy to buy gift cards from local businesses.

"It's a seemingly small gesture, but it means that the business gets income today to stay afloat through the crisis," Krieger wrote in a Medium post about the website's launch. "You'll get repaid in burgers/lattes/negronis (and gratitude) when they're back on their feet."


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Tech companies are doing their part to make a lot of essential software free, but tech leaders and venture capitalists are also spending their spare time spinning up tech solutions. Startup founder Radu Spineanu created HelpWithCovid.com to connect people with coronavirus-related projects that need volunteers, which investor Sam Altman says was inspired by an idea from Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz.

Others are opening up their pocketbooks to help the community. On Friday, shipping startup Flexport announced that Paul Graham, the co-founder of Y Combinator (a Flexport backer), donated $1 million to its nonprofit arm, which is shipping medical supplies to the U.S. Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian bought out billboards in Times Square to tell people to stay home. Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg and her fiancé teamed up with other tech leaders like Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, WorkDay co-founder Aneel Bhusri, Intuit's Scott Cook, Nike CEO John Donahoe and Benchmark's Bill Gurley to create a $6 million fund for the Second Harvest of Silicon Valley food bank, she announced Monday. Billionaire investor Chris Sacca said he and his wife are matching $250,000 of donations for teachers in high-need communities who are transitioning their lessons online.

Like Krieger, many tech leaders are focusing their efforts on helping the local small businesses in their community — and restaurants in particular, which are in turmoil. Former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said he is donating $2,000 a night to support 40 family dinners at San Francisco's Che Fico restaurant, which calls him a longtime supporter. Since the announcement on Monday, other people have donated and tripled it to 120 dinners a night, according to an Instagram post by Che Fico's chef and co-owner David Nayfield.


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On Tuesday, a group of venture capitalists, founders and executives (including Redpoint Venture's Ryan Sarver and Art.com's Frank Barbieri) started a new push to help donate restaurant meals to ER and ICU staff at some San Francisco hospitals. Right now, they're asking people to donate $1,000, which is the cost to sponsor a night's meal for about 50 essential hospital workers. They have also made a plea to the tech community to help them work out fractional donations so people can donate less and still support hospital workers. They raised over $200,000 since going public with their simple Google Form three days ago. On Friday, they open-sourced the project so other cities could follow suit.

"Health care workers are in such a tough spot, but the restaurants are fucked unless they get a bailout," said Sarver, who is also an investor in a restaurant group. "If big companies are interested [in sponsoring], we'd be happy to chat with them, too."

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

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.
Enterprise

AWS CEO: The cloud isn’t just about technology

As AWS preps for its annual re:Invent conference, Adam Selipsky talks product strategy, support for hybrid environments, and the value of the cloud in uncertain economic times.

Photo: Noah Berger/Getty Images for Amazon Web Services

AWS is gearing up for re:Invent, its annual cloud computing conference where announcements this year are expected to focus on its end-to-end data strategy and delivering new industry-specific services.

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Donna Goodison

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.

As of today, we will not publish any more stories. All of our newsletters, apart from our flagship, Source Code, will no longer be sent. Source Code will be published and sent for the next few weeks, but it will also close down in December.

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Bennett Richardson ( @bennettrich) is the president of Protocol. Prior to joining Protocol in 2019, Bennett was executive director of global strategic partnerships at POLITICO, where he led strategic growth efforts including POLITICO's European expansion in Brussels and POLITICO's creative agency POLITICO Focus during his six years with the company. Prior to POLITICO, Bennett was co-founder and CMO of Hinge, the mobile dating company recently acquired by Match Group. Bennett began his career in digital and social brand marketing working with major brands across tech, energy, and health care at leading marketing and communications agencies including Edelman and GMMB. Bennett is originally from Portland, Maine, and received his bachelor's degree from Colgate University.

Enterprise

Why large enterprises struggle to find suitable platforms for MLops

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, and as larger enterprises go from deploying hundreds of models to thousands and even millions of models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

Photo: artpartner-images via Getty Images

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Kate Kaye

Kate Kaye is an award-winning multimedia reporter digging deep and telling print, digital and audio stories. She covers AI and data for Protocol. Her reporting on AI and tech ethics issues has been published in OneZero, Fast Company, MIT Technology Review, CityLab, Ad Age and Digiday and heard on NPR. Kate is the creator of RedTailMedia.org and is the author of "Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media," a book about how the 2008 presidential campaigns used digital media and data.

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