How the protests shook up the app store
Image: Rahul Chakraborty
Good morning! This Friday, protest apps are climbing the charts, tech IPOs are back, and Slack and Amazon make it (extra) official.
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On Protocol: The hardest part about taking your company remote is changing how you support employees, Remote's Job van der Voort said:
Outgoing Uber CTO Thuan Pham explained why he stayed at the company after Travis Kalanick left:
Want a job at TikTok? Making a TikTok never hurts, HR exec Kate Barney said:
Tim Cook wrote an open letter about racism and posted it at the top of Apple.com:
It's still technically true that most people don't download apps very often — which makes it all the more notable when there's a big shift in the App Store. And this week there have been big shifts.
Some of these are protest mainstays. Citizen's really the big new name on the list, and the crime-reporting, contact-tracing, map-based app makes perfect sense in these pandemic protest times. But its block-by-block tracking is ripe for abuse, fakery and trouble-stirring, and Citizen has been used for all three. Still, as a way of understanding your neighborhood in real time, it's tough to top.
It's been a big few months for app stores in general, actually: Morgan Stanley's research found that Apple's App Store sales were up 39% this May versus a year before, and predicted the growth will continue this month. That's even as new device sales are faltering, which means people are increasingly downloading new apps.
Me? I've downloaded basically every free game on the App Store, and a bunch of "learn new things!" apps that I don't think I've ever actually opened.
Speaking of Signal, the team behind the app released a big update this week, which adds a tool for automatically blurring faces. The app will attempt to detect and blur faces with the touch of a button, and you can augment the process manually, too.
Think about that: The very same tech that your device can use to figure out who you are can also be used to disguise you. How's that for a perfect metaphor to describe the pros and cons of technology?
Another popular tool has been the Image Scrubber, built by Everest Pipkin, which scrubs metadata from images and can also blur faces and other features. It works fully offline and uploads no information.
Walmart Continues to Launch COVID-19 Testing Sites
To increase access to COVID-19 testing, Walmart is partnering with Quest and eTrueNorth to bring mobile sites to underserved areas of America and make tests available at no cost to the individual.
Barely a month ago, IVP's Somesh Dash told Protocol's Biz Carson that "the IPO market is dead for 2020."
Call this week a resurrection: Warner Music and ZoomInfo both saw their stock pop when they started trading publicly, on Wednesday and Thursday respectively, amid the busiest week for IPOs so far this year.
The market may be back, but it's still a weird time to hit it. That's what ZoomInfo CFO Cameron Hyzer told Protocol's Shakeel Hashim, anyway:
ZoomInfo is a harbinger of what's to come for Kathleen Smith, Principal at Renaissance Capital. "I think it's drawing attention to the IPO market and the kinds of companies that come out," she told Protocol's Sofie Kodner.
Google made some big executive changes. Prabhakar Raghavan is the new head of Search and Assistant; Ben Gomes, who used to run Search, now leads Google Education. Meanwhile Jerry Dischler is the new head of Google Ads, and Jen Fitzpatrick is now running the central engineering team.
VMware acquired Lastline, and now plans to lay off 40% of the company's staff — about 50 people. The acquisition gives VMware even more access to the cloud-security world.
We already know that tech loves José Andrés. Now Silicon Valley has a José Andrés of its own. Andres Pantoja is an up-and-coming sous chef, who in normal times would be fixing fancy meals for tech luminaries at Taverna in Palo Alto. Now he's helping feed 2,000 people for free every night in East Palo Alto and Redwood City. The operation, facilitated by the local Boys and Girls Club, recently raised $218,000 from a "mostly Peloton" bike-ride fundraiser that included Jeff Weiner (formerly LinkedIn) and Dr. Michelle Sandberg (Sheryl's sister). "Call it tech-to-table," the NYT says.
Walmart COVID-19 Testing: 180 Active Testing Sites
Since March, Walmart has opened 180 active sites across 27 states and tested more than 49,000 people as the company continues to scale drive-thru testing to serve as many communities as possible.
Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to me, email@example.com, or our tips line, firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy your weekend, see you Monday.
Correction: an earlier version of this newsletter misstated where Job van der Voort works. He works at Remote, not GitLab. Updated June 5, 2020.