Microsoft’s big plan to cut emissions
Photo: David Ryder/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Microsoft’s big plan to cut emissions

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Good morning! Microsoft is focusing its efforts into policies that aim to clean up the grid, which would prove beneficial to tons of companies. And it’d be good for the Earth, too.

Microsoft takes aim at climate policy

Microsoft has set some of the most aggressive climate goals in Big Tech. But its work has to go hand-in-hand with national and global policy changes for it to actually make a dent in carbon emissions, and the company isn't being shy about saying what that should all look like.

It isn't easy for companies like Microsoft to cut emissions. Though it ambitiously aims to reach carbon negativity by 2030, it saw a more than 20% uptick in emissions last year, mostly due to data center construction and an increase in customers.

  • Because the electrical grid that its data centers and servers run on remains largely reliant on fossil fuels, its emissions will continue trending in the wrong direction, Protocol Climate editor Brian Kahn told me.
  • And emissions will only get worse without clean energy policies in place.

So Microsoft is focused on cleaning up the grid, according to two new briefs it published last week. Those documents describe the policies that the company thinks would push decarbonization in the right direction.

  • The company said it supports policies that “result in a significantly expanded and increasingly decarbonized grid.” It also supports measures to improve grid infrastructure and reliability, which are upgrades you definitely want if you need your data centers to stay on and cool during a heat wave, Brian told me.
  • Microsoft also expressed support for policies that advance carbon removal technology — tech that’s vital for Microsoft’s carbon negative goal.

Cleaning up the grid won’t just help Microsoft. “Policies that help decarbonize the grid could help make electricity more affordable,” Brian said. “Every company would reap benefits, to say nothing of the climate (which we shouldn’t lose sight of).”

— Nat Rubio-Licht

Crypto’s California win

Gov. Gavin Newsom (surprisingly) knocked down California’s Digital Financial Assets Law last week. Crypto enthusiasts are cheering, but efforts to reel in crypto aren’t over yet, my colleague Ben Pimentel reports.

The crypto industry needs better consumer protections, according to proponents of the bill. Opponents, meanwhile, worried that implementing the law would be too complicated and expensive.

  • The plan was to create a new licensing system for crypto exchanges in California, which worried crypto advocates who compared it to a similar requirement in New York. Major crypto exchanges like Kraken ended up leaving the state as a result.
  • The latter argument eventually won out, with Newsom saying a “more flexible” approach is needed to tackle the industry. Ben told me it’s not entirely clear what Newsom means by that, but added that it’s hard to create local rules for a global industry like crypto.
  • Plus, there already are rules to protect consumers from illegal activity within financial services and products.

But efforts to police the crypto industry don’t end with this bill. Ben said we may see crypto critics find other avenues to address concerns in the field outside of legislative action.

  • One area of concern, for instance, involves customer service protections. “A key complaint [that California’s Department of Financial Protection and Innovation] has been receiving is, ‘I invested in this crypto exchange and then I tried to ask questions about my money, and there's no way to get help,’” Ben told me.
  • The state could double down on enforcement, “not just in crypto but in fintech in general,” he said, adding that the DFPI has already put more focus on this in recent years.

— Sarah Roach

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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How to meet less

Though Dreamforce is primarily a Salesforce show, Slack certainly made its voice heard this year. And its biggest takeaway? Businesses should cut down on meetings.

Slack itself is trying to cut back on meetings, with company-wide no-meeting Fridays and Maker Weeks, where the company cancels all internal recurring meetings for a week. Salesforce also picked up this practice after it acquired Slack last year.

  • One way the company aims to meet less is by elevating the concept of meeting minutes, creating comprehensive records of meetings for people who weren’t there.

But policies to cut down on meetings can’t be one-size-fits-all. One Slack exec told Protocol’s Lizzy Lawrence that these programs “need people to pilot them and experiment with them” to figure out what works, which should then guide how policies are adapted to fit what works for individual teams.

Read the full story here.

People are talking

Terraform Labs co-founder Do Kown insists that he's not in hiding despite being on Interpol’s red notice list:

  • "I am not 'on the run' or anything similar — for any government agency that has shown interest to communicate, we are in full cooperation."

South Korea science minister Lee Jong-Ho said the country passed legislation to better compete with other countries for chip dominance:

  • “It reflects a sense of crisis about our competitiveness on the global stage."
Apple's Tim Cook said "there's no excuse" for a lack of women in tech:
  • "Technology and its effect on humanity depends upon women being at the table."

Making moves

Netflix established another internal games studio in Helsinki. Marko Lastikka, who was most recently at Zynga Helsinki, will lead it.

Stellantis and Uber are partnering with Free2Move to focus on EVs in France. Uber's trying to convert half of its fleet of vehicles in the country to EVs.

Sebastien Giroux and Greg Strickland joined Productboard as CFO and COO, respectively. Giroux comes from Collibra, and Strickland is a former Box and Periscope Data exec.

Jon Vlassopulos is Napster’s new CEO. Vlassopulos is Roblox’s former global head of music.

In other news

The U.K. may fine TikTok $29 million after regulators found problems with how the platform handles children’s data.

Meta wants to make it easier to switch between Facebook and Instagram through new account management features.

Faraday Future secured $100 million in new financing. Two of the company’s board members, including its executive chair, will depart once it receives the funding.

Authorities in New York, California and several other states are suing Nexo, a crypto lender, for not registering its interest-earning product.

FTX won the assets to Voyager, the bankrupt crypto brokerage, at an auction. The agreement is valued at about $1.4 billion.

Elon Musk and Parag Agrawal want to reschedule their questioning, which was supposed to start yesterday in Delaware.

Congress wants to clean up all the space junk. Lawmakers introduced a bill focused on creating a market for space debris removal services.

Walmart’s metaverse

Walmart has been on a tech tear recently, from adding the ability to try on clothes with VR to embarking on a tech hiring spree. And now, it’s working with Roblox to create two metaverse experiences called Walmart Land and Walmart’s Universe of Play. The company is treating the partnership as a test for how much it wants to push into the metaverse, but for now, the goal is to attract younger shoppers.

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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