A Golden State flop
Photo: Tim Mossholder/Unsplash

A Golden State flop

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Good morning! A new bill that would’ve updated California’s affordable housing application process unexpectedly died. What happened? But more importantly, what did we learn?

Why a Big Tech housing bill failed

Everyone seemed to get behind a new bill that would bring California’s affordable housing application process into the digital age — until it came time to sign it, my colleague Issie Lapowsky reports.

That’s because the up-front cost was too high, according to people who worked on the bill. AB 1961 would have required the state’s housing and community development department to build an online database listing affordable housing units and allowing people to apply for them.

  • “It is a very complex endeavor, and it might make more sense to allow the local and regional efforts to figure out the kinks,” Rebecca Long, acting director of legislation and public affairs at the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority, told Issie.
  • The governor and legislature couldn’t afford to include funding for the database while finalizing their budgets. The bill died quietly last month.

But there are lessons to be learned from the bill’s rise and fall. Even the country’s tech capital isn’t quite ready to spend money on the tech that’s needed to help mitigate a massive housing crisis.

  • “It’s such a simple way to leverage the power of technology to make government more efficient,” Democratic Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel said.
  • There is still hope for AB 1961, though. The legislation made it pretty far this year, and Gabriel hopes it will be brought back up in the next legislative session.

In the meantime, lawmakers are working on policies to develop more housing to begin with. So if and when an online database is created, there may at least be no shortage of housing.

— Sarah Roach

Customer experience matters

Digital transformation spurred by the pandemic is forcing customer experience to migrate to the cloud and combine marketing, sales and service, Protocol’s Aisha Counts reports.

Customer attention is “very fickle,” Genesys chair and CEO Tony Bates told Aisha.

  • Customers want everything at their fingertips. Keeping them involves more than just migrating to the cloud and updating tech stacks. It requires a new organizational mindset, Bates suggested.

There are multiple ways to hold onto customers, including personalized communications, seamless payment processes and better customer support services.

  • And customer experience looks set to continue evolving, as companies gradually make better use of data, create more effective self-service processes, and even think about merging the front and back office processes to make life easier for customer support agents.

But the most important thing is a customer-first mindset. “I think we've often underestimated the importance of [customer experience] to businesses and treated it as a cost center or otherwise,” Adrian McDermott, chief technology officer at Zendesk, told Aisha.

Read our Special Report: Customer Experience in the Enterprise.

A MESSAGE FROM VERSAPAY

When your AR automation only focuses on making your team more efficient, you leave out one major factor: customer experience. Learn why finance leaders are taking a more collaborative approach to AR in our exclusive survey of 1,000 C-suite execs.

Learn more

The quest for a crypto software provider

With more companies and large financial institutions jumping into crypto, the demand for crypto infrastructure products has spiked.

Many companies have come to the realization that crypto is not going away, despite a drop in token prices, and are taking the plunge into blockchain.

  • The crypto infrastructure being built to accommodate them is also making it safer and more welcoming.
  • “The development of core infrastructure is still the gating factor for mass adoption of blockchain technology,” said Keli Callaghan, partner and head of growth at Arrington Capital. “At the heart of any crypto ecosystem that wants to be truly mainstream is a dependable, scalable and secure technical foundation.”
  • Venture investors, meanwhile, say they’re looking for the next breakout, like Palo Alto Networks, New Relic or PagerDuty, but with a crypto twist — most traditional enterprise companies aren’t equipped to address the complexities of blockchain technologies.

There are several large companies providing custody and helping manage crypto assets for large institutions.

  • One startup benefiting from the interest is Fireblocks. Founded in 2018, Fireblocks has been known for its custody service and its wallets, particularly multiparty computation or MPC wallets, which don’t rely on a single private key and require multiple people’s approval to access funds, an enterprise-friendly feature.
  • Then there's Anchorage, which was recently valued at $3 billion, and BitGo, which recently had its deal to be acquired by Galaxy Digital fall apart amid a legal dispute.
  • Others such as Alchemy, recently valued at $10 billion, help companies manage crypto node infrastructure.

Read more the full story here.

— Tomio Geron

People are talking

After his trip to Ukraine, Eric Schmidt said he sees Elon Musk as a “real hero”:

  • “They got a whole bunch of Starlinks, which allowed them to avoid the attacks that Russia had done on the internet.”

Larry Summers said the Federal Reserve needs to keep raising interest rates to fight inflation:

  • "We've got a substantial underlying inflation problem that doesn't come out without very substantial monetary policy adjustment."

Coming this week

Climate Week starts today in New York City and runs through the rest of the week. Protocol’s Climate team will be covering the event.

Startup Week starts today in Boston, focusing on building community.

Dreamforce starts tomorrow in San Francisco and online. It runs through Thursday.

Elevate Festival also starts tomorrow in Toronto. Venus Williams will be one of the speakers this year.

Strange Loop is Thursday in St. Louis. Google’s Kelsey Hightower is expected to speak.

On the calendar

Customer experience in the enterprise

In this Protocol event tied to today's Special Report, we will dive into the tech tools, tricks and real-life strategies that companies are using to build a CX tech ecosystem and prepare for an increasingly customer-first future. Join us at 11 a.m. PT today. RSVP here.

In other news

“The Network State” is a nation of tech-oriented people, according to Balaji Srinivasan, who calls the concept the “sequel to the nation state.” And lots of tech leaders are on board with it.

TikTok users are being fed loads of misinformation. NewsGuard found misinformation in about 20% of videos analyzed throughout September.

Apple's grappling with whether to release "Emancipation," a Civil War-era film that features Will Smith. Apple had already wrapped up filming before Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Academy Awards.

Eric Adams wants tech to stay in New York City. The city’s mayor hosted a private dinner with tech leaders where he asked them to stay and invest.

The White House released its first framework for developing digital assets. It breaks down investor protections, access to affordable financial services and responsible innovations.

General Atlantic bought SoftBank’s 15% stake in Kahoot after its market cap took a dive. The stake, which SoftBank bought at $215 million, is now worth around $152 million.

Parler is restructuring to launch a new venture, Parlement Technologies, providing “uncancelable” internet infrastructure services to businesses.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi testified that he fired Joe Sullivan, the company’s chief security officer, in 2017 because he “couldn’t trust his judgment anymore.”

A federal appeals court backed Texas’ social media must-carry law, which scholars and civil liberties experts have said violates free speech protections.

Budbee and Instabox are merging to create one big delivery operator called Instabee, which is valued at $1.66 billion.

Are you sick of Slack?

Slack isn’t just a place for dry work conversations. It’s a home for emoji-filled chats about anything from cooking to pets to — in Protocol’s case — #bachelor-nation. But some tech leaders are ready to walk away, calling the messaging software distracting and overwhelming. “It’s like the digital water cooler,” Superhuman co-founder Vivek Sodera told Protocol’s Allison Levitsky. “It’s become so exhaustive in terms of one’s own time, productivity, well-being, etc.”

What do you or your company think about Slack? Essential piece of software or just another thing to tune out? Let us know by replying to this email!

A MESSAGE FROM VERSAPAY

When your AR automation only focuses on making your team more efficient, you leave out one major factor: customer experience. Learn why finance leaders are taking a more collaborative approach to AR in our exclusive survey of 1,000 C-suite execs.

Learn more

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to sourcecode@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

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