On the road to electrification
Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

On the road to electrification

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Good morning! The government allocated $5 billion from the infrastructure package to all 50 states to help build EV charging stations across thousands of miles of highway. It’s a great start, but there are a few wrinkles to letting states be in control.

It’s electrifying

The Department of Transportation yesterday approved sweeping electric vehicle charging station plans in 50 states plus Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.

Chargers are coming to cover roughly 75,000 miles of highway, though it’s unclear how many charging stations these plans support.

  • The department requires that the charging stations be DC fast chargers — the speediest type of EV charger — and have at least four ports capable of simultaneous charging. These chargers should also be available every 50 miles along interstates and be within a mile of highways.
  • "We’re not going to dictate to the states how to do this, but we do need to make sure that they meet basic standards," Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said earlier this year.

Giving states independence is generally a good thing, but “a real concern is that some states may not be distributing chargers quite as equitably as they could be,” Protocol Climate editor Brian Kahn told me.

  • In Indiana, for example, advocates argued that communities of color had been left out of the planning process.

And this is just the start. The approval gives states access to $1.5 billion, with the other $3.5 billion to be distributed later — but is that enough?

  • “It'll get things started,” Brian told me. “But in theory, it will unlock more private capital as well as state funds to get infrastructure built out at a more rapid clip.”
  • Still, billions more in sustained funding is necessary to build the charging network we need.

— Nat Rubio-Licht

Figma's grand plans

Figma didn’t have to sell to Adobe. But according to Yuhki Yamashita, Figma’s chief product officer, the acquisition opens a whole new world of possibility for the platform.

Figma has promised to keep its identity, which you may or may not believe. But the buyout definitely opens more doors, Yamashita told Protocol’s Lizzy Lawrence.

  • “Adobe’s scope is so much bigger,” he said. “They're thinking about every single kind of digital asset that could possibly be made.”
  • Designers have also long been using Adobe and Figma hand-in-hand, Yamashita said. The aim now is to make the process more seamless.

The acquisition could also help Figma build out its offerings, like adding new tools for video or 3D objects. “[The acquisition] didn't come from a position of ‘we needed this,’” Yamashita said. “What we care about is our mission of making design accessible to everyone and being able to do that sustainably.”

Read the full story here.

A MESSAGE FROM ALIBABA

Alibaba — a leading global ecommerce company — is a particularly powerful engine in helping American businesses of every size sell goods to more than 1 billion consumers on its digital marketplaces in China. In 2020, U.S. companies completed more than $54 billion of sales to consumers in China through Alibaba’s online platforms.

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Pay transparency’s rising tide

Gov. Gavin Newsom yesterday signed into law Senate Bill 1162, which requires employers to include pay ranges on job postings.

  • Employers with 15 or more workers must include pay ranges under the new law. Those with 100 or more (including contractors) must offer median and mean hourly pay rates by job category and “each combination of race, ethnicity, and sex.”
  • Colorado, Washington, and New York City have passed similar laws.

Advocates say the bill is vital for greater pay equity and closing the wage gap. But critics argue that job categories are too broad to lump into one pay range.

  • “If you think of a hospital, that would encompass nurses, but it would also encompass someone who just graduated college and [is] starting in your HR department,” CalChamber policy advocate Ashley Hoffman said. “It’s truly a broad category.”
  • It’s also unclear what this bill would mean for fully remote companies, whether workers are based out of state looking for remote jobs at companies in California, or vice versa.

California likely won’t be the last state to institute laws such as this one. Similar legislation has been proposed in South Carolina and Massachusetts, and a bill was introduced in Congress earlier this year.

— Allison Levitsky

The Dreamforce hangover

Usually during the week after Dreamforce, Salesforce is basking in a sea of coverage announcing shiny new (but not yet available) products.

This year, the reception of Dreamforce wasn’t so rosy. Despite the efforts of Benioff and co-captain Bret Taylor, Salesforce is facing escalating questions about its product strategy and expansion potential.

  • Its growth engine is slowing, and some investor attention is turning to profits instead, a mindset shift that makes Salesforce’s typical playbook of buying expansion much harder.
  • Meanwhile, Genie and Hyperforce, two major efforts by Salesforce to modernize its platform against rising competition, are getting tepid reactions.
  • Then there's Slack. Investors are questioning the value it brought amid criticism of a lackluster product showing for the division this Dreamforce.

There is now real uncertainty over Salesforce’s ability to hit Benioff’s targeted goal of $50 billion by fiscal year 2026, which is probably exactly the opposite the message Salesforce hoped to push post-Dreamforce.

  • Salesforce still has ample room to brag. Benioff, for example, was quick to tout Salesforce passing SAP as the largest business application provider – based on one quarter of revenue and excluding Microsoft, of course.
  • But missing an arbitrary target — one so eagerly and repeatedly touted to Wall Street — would be a black eye for one of the industry’s biggest success stories.

A longer version of this story first appeared in our Enterprise newsletter. Subscribe here.

— Joe Williams (email | twitter) and Aisha Counts (email | twitter)

People are talking

WhatsApp's Will Cathcart is unimpressed by a UK bill that could undermine encryption:

  • "The idea that now is a moment to weaken security, I just think it’s very, very wrong,”

Fed Chair Jerome Powell said decentralized finance needs regulation because of its “significant structural issues”:

  • “There is a real need for more appropriate regulation so that as DeFi expands and starts to touch more retail customers, more appropriate regulation is in place.”

UNGA 2022 and the climate tech forecast

Join Protocol Climate editor Brian Kahn and a panel of climate leaders and tech executives at 10 a.m. PT tomorrow to recap the biggest developments at UNGA 2022 and preview the trends and events that will shape the future of climate tech and the planet. RSVP here.

Making moves

Calendly acquired recruitment automating platform Prelude for an undisclosed price. Prelude’s customer base includes One Media, Duolingo, Cloudflare, and Samsara.

Brett Harrison, president of FTX US, is stepping down and moving to an advisory role at the company. He started as president 16 months ago.

Menlo Micro joined the American Semiconductor Innovation Coalition, which works to ensure funding from the Chips Bill is distributed. NVIDIA, GlobalFoundries and others joined the group.

Celsius CEO Alex Mashinsky resigned from his position amid the company’s bankruptcy proceedings. This follows leaked reports that show the lender was considering risky actions.

Cloudflare has a new incentive for customers: it will attempt to connect startups that use its serverless computing platform to VCs that have offered to invest in such companies.

In other news

Facebook removed two networks of accounts in China and Russia for pushing narratives of Russia’s involvement in its invasion of Ukraine.

Oracle will pay $23 million to the SEC to settle charges alleging it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for a second time.

Elon Musk’s deposition has been rescheduled to Oct. 6 and 7, less than two weeks before the Oct. 17 trial.

Amazon is closing some warehouses in Florida until Friday ahead of Hurricane Ian hitting the state.

The SEC is suing two former MoviePass CEOs for fraud, alleging they misled investors about the company’s profit potential, data operations, relationships with studios, and revenue sources.

Job cuts are hitting Big Tech, albeit quietly. Meta and Google have told some employees to find new jobs within the company or leave, affecting a significant number of workers.

Lyft froze all U.S. hiring through the end of the year as it’s “navigating an uncertain economy,” spokesperson Ashley Adams told the New York Post.

Apple pulled Russia’s biggest social app, VKontakte, from the App Store in order to comply with UK sanctions, the Verge reported.

South Korea wants to freeze $60 billion worth of bitcoin linked to Do Kwon, the Terraform Labs founder who's also gotten a red notice. Authorities say he's on the run, but Kwon disagrees.

A UN vote could affect the future of the internet. The next secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union will be either American or Russian, and the potential outcome of voting on Thursday is causing some hand wringing.

Here's an interesting essay, which argues that "technology bifurcates problems" such that "99% of problems go away, but the 1% that are left are awful."

It’s not easy being cool

It’s never been cooler to think about what keeps us cool. Last week, the Senate ratified the Kigali Amendment, joining 137 other nations in the global effort to curb the use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, which are the super-polluting greenhouse gases in refrigerators and air conditioners. Though this is a major step forward, it kickstarts a race to replace these substances with more environmentally friendly alternatives, Protocol’s Lisa Martine Jenkins writes.

A MESSAGE FROM ALIBABA

Using economic multipliers published by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, NDP estimates that the ripple effect of this Alibaba-fueled consumption in 2020 supported more than 256,000 U.S. jobs and $21 billion in wages. These American sales to Chinese consumers also added $39 billion to U.S. GDP.

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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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