Good morning! Davos is done, and your intrepid Davos correspondent is here to share the three Cs of this year’s World Economic Forum. I’m Brian Kahn, and I declare the negroni the perfect cocktail for all occasions.
Crypto, climate and crisis
The world’s elite gathered in Davos this week for the first time in two years. There were the usual handful of cringe moments — The Chainsmokers reportedly closed their Zoom-Cloudflare party set by playing “We Are the Champions” for the rich and powerful — but this Davos was also different. A lot has changed in the world in the two years since the last Davos — a pandemic, for one thing. But three other issues were high on the minds of the movers and shakers in attendance.
Climate change took center stage. While big name world leaders were in short supply at Davos this year, top climate diplomats and tech entrepreneurs showed up to raise awareness — and ambition.
- The biggest announcement at Davos was easily the $500 million committed by Big Tech to suck carbon from the sky as part of the First Movers Coalition. That, along with promises by Volvo and Ford to buy green aluminum, reflects a growing push to address the hardest parts of the decarbonization puzzle.
- Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said he was “demanding a new environmental capitalism for myself. Every company here at the Forum must be net zero and fully renewable.”
- While the idea of environmental capitalism may be a bit of a head-scratcher outside the Congress Center in the real world — where many scholars and activists see capitalism as the root of the climate crisis given its focus on rapacious growth — the Davos crowd thinks it can be a savior.
Crypto was cause for celebration, markets be damned. As my colleague Owen Thomas pointed out earlier this week, this was the crypto Davos. You couldn’t walk down the Promenade without tripping over a crypto house, someone in a BAYC shirt or an ad espousing Web3 being “here” (despite all evidence to the contrary).
- Other sights include the most red-pilled car in the world, complete with custom tires with “in crypto we trust” emblazoned on the side and brake calipers with “hodl” written on them. It was a lot, but it reflects the general vibe that if crypto could take over Davos, it could take over the world.
- This may seem odd given the crypto crash. But Monica Long, the general manager at Ripple, told me “the general sentiment was in times of winter it's a really great time to build.” (We’ll have more with her in this Sunday’s Source Code podcast.)
- In other words, WAGMI.
The crisis in Ukraine cast a pall over it all. Despite the optimism that technofixes could solve the climate and crypto could crush the bankers, there was no way around how the Russian war against Ukraine had thrown the world into disarray.
- The war and subsequent sanctions against Russia were front and center on people’s minds, and conversations around price spikes for both fossil fuels and minerals critical to the clean energy revolution abounded.
- Sen. Joe Manchin warned that Putin had “weaponized” the former by cutting off gas supplies to some European countries and that China could do the same when it comes to critical minerals.
- The most impactful house on the Promenade was Russia War Crimes House, a Ukrainian art installation in Russia’s traditional Davos spot featuring photos of mass graves, dead children and bombed out buildings.
- It was chilling and reflects how Ukraine has adeptly (and rightly) used mass media to get the world to give a damn.
This year’s Davos theme was “History at a Turning Point.” And the three Cs certainly reflect that: The planetary and financial systems as well as the global order itself are all at stake.
A MESSAGE FROM TRUSTED FUTURE
At the same time that the pandemic demonstrated all that is possible in an interconnected world, we saw in new and increasingly stark ways how certain communities continue to be marginalized and harmed by a persistent digital divide and how effectively that divide exacerbates our society’s other inequities.
People are talking
CFPB Director Rohit Chopra said banks and lenders need to explain their algorithms:
- “Companies are not absolved of their legal responsibilities when they let a black-box model make lending decisions.”
Stripe co-founder John Collison said the company isn’t settling for success:
- “Businesses that don’t have to sing for their supper every day, I think they get a bit flabby and lazy. We still have a list four times longer of the things we would like to do.”
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said that working in the metaverse isn't great:
- “I think if you strip the entertainment aspect from it, you end up with a super creepy version of America Online chat rooms!”
Sequoia warned its portfolio companies that a swift economic recovery probably isn't in the cards:
- “Companies who move the quickest have the most runway and are most likely to avoid the death spiral."
Chamber of Digital Commerce founder Perianne Boring says the SEC is wrong in its efforts to regulate crypto:
- "The SEC is holding back innovation, and they're also harming investors."
In other news
Broadcom officially acquired VMware for $61 billion, broadening the chipmaker's horizons past semiconductors and giving it a foot in the door for enterprise software.
Another Twitter shareholder is suing Elon Musk, this time for allegedly manipulating the company's stock price with tweets “designed to create doubt” about the deal.
Microsoft is slowing hiring. The move is part of an industry-wide trend, but the new policy applies only to its recently expanded Windows, Office and Teams software groups.
Cybersecurity firm Lacework laid off 20% of its workforce. It reported having more than 1,000 employees in March, following a $1.3 billion funding round in November.
PayPal is laying off more employees, just weeks after cutting more than 80 workers at its San Jose headquarters.
Meta accused Apple of harming competition in the mobile app marketplace with restrictive policies on iOS that limit game streaming, among other things, according to a filing for an ongoing study by the NTIA.
There are some problems with automated job interviews. They might save time, but they raise ethical questions and might scare off candidates.
Tesla is asking for a federal investment in charging infrastructure for bigger vehicles, including electric buses and trucks. The company is one of several EV and environmental groups looking for 10% of the $7.5 billion allocated to EV charging in the November infrastructure bill.
Who’s doing your office housework?
The “office mom” is someone who schedules meetings, takes notes or keeps the supply closet stocked. Labor like this, or “office housework,” as author Alan Henry calls it, is often delegated to women, particularly women of color, rather than men. That’s why, while you’ve likely had a co-worker you think of as an “office mom,” it’s less likely you’ve thought of someone as an “office dad.”
Henry writes in his book, “Seen, Heard, and Paid: The New Work Rules for the Marginalized,” about the importance of equally distributing office tasks so that marginalized people have the opportunity to do the “glamour work,” or work that gives you the opportunity to show off your skills. You can read an extract on Protocol.
A MESSAGE FROM TRUSTED FUTURE
There is so much more we need to do to make sure our future is more equitable and inclusive and maximizes America’s potential. It is not enough just to ensure everyone is connected. We also need to extend the full scope of digital opportunity to the people, the communities, and the institutions.
Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, or our tips line, email@example.com. We’re off on Sunday and Monday, see you on Tuesday!