Microsoft goes all-in on the internet
Image: Jamison Wieser
Good morning! This Wednesday, Microsoft builds for the web, Facebook wants to be your online shop, and the story of tech's favorite COVID charity.
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Even when Google offices reopen, Sundar Pichai said they'll be much less crowded:
Elon Musk isn't leaving Fremont any time soon, Gov. Gavin Newsom said:
Was Microsoft's virtual developer conference a little awkward? Did it somehow run long, despite being pretaped? Yes and yes. And on some level, even the idea of a "virtual developer conference" is flawed — the point of events like Build, F8, and WWDC is to put like-minded people in a room and let them learn from each other.
But nevertheless! Microsoft made some big announcements on the first day of Build, including five that I think have a chance to really matter. They represent a big bet on the cloud and Microsoft's continued move away from desktop software and onto the internet:
Oh, and my real favorite:
The key for all these announcements will be getting developer buy-in. But Microsoft has a long history of rolling out interesting, clever features that are largely ignored by developers more concerned with supporting old standards than inventing with new ones.
For more on the goings-on at this year's Build, you should check out Tom's Cloud newsletter.
"We're seeing a lot of small businesses that never had online businesses get online for the first time," Mark Zuckerberg said on a Facebook Live on Tuesday. Many of those businesses don't have web design teams or money to pay a contractor.
So Facebook has a solution: Build your store on Facebook!
"Come build your shop with us!" is a popular new slogan. Shopify — which had a hilarious stock drop when Zuckerberg announced Shops, then a big rally when its CEO Tobias Lütke showed up on the stream — wants you to build there. Google Shopping wants your store. Now Facebook does, too. And, of course, there's Amazon, just quietly taking over the universe.
If this takes off for Facebook, it's another big step toward the WeChat-ification of its app. If it can be a place people shop and buy anything and everything, it becomes an app you have even less excuse to leave.
In related news: Walmart just had a monster quarter and announced that it's shutting down Jet.com four years after spending $3 billion to buy it. That's one platform you don't have to worry about anymore.
'Neighbors Helping Neighbors' With Help From Walmart
Walmart and Nextdoor announced the launch of a program to make it easier for neighbors across the country to help one another during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chef José Andrés' emergency food nonprofit World Central Kitchen made a name for itself back in 2017. Just days after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, WCK was there, feeding millions of people — and running laps around FEMA. Since then, it's worked with organizations like Salesforce, Dropbox and Google. "But I definitely think that our pandemic response has grown that dramatically," World Central Kitchen CEO Nate Mook told Protocol's Sofie Kodner.
Indeed, WCK has become the tech industry's go-to partner for goodwill during the coronavirus:
WCK has distributed over 6.5 million meals during the outbreak. But even for them, this emergency comes with new obstacles.
"I think of José as being part superhero, part chef," Salesforce's head of philanthropy, Ebony Beckwith, said during a recent virtual event. Plus, real recognize real. "José loves technology," Mook said. "José loves the latest gadgets."
Joe Rogan is taking his podcast talents to Spotify. The deal is reportedly worth at least $100 million, and gives Spotify exclusive distribution of one of the world's most popular podcasts by the end of the year. Next up: Apple buys This American Life? Stitcher snaps up Serial? From Deezer Premium, this is Fresh Air, I'm Terry Gross?
Douglas Loverro, NASA's chief of human exploration, is leaving the agency. He departs just a week before SpaceX and Boeing, in a project Loverro led, are set to launch astronauts to the ISS.
Someday (hopefully) soon, we'll all be allowed out of the house to take summer vacations. But who's getting on a crowded plane? Evidently nobody, because they're all renting RVs and planning road trips. RVShare, sort of an Airbnb for the Winnebago set, reported a 650% increase in RV rentals since early April. Have you seen RVs recently? They're decked out like Hollywood megamansions, drive like a dream, and are basically smart homes. This is a socially distanced lifestyle I can get behind.
Walmart Adds Another Way For Customers To Shop Safely
Walmart and Nextdoor's "Neighbors Helping Neighbors" program makes it easier for vulnerable community members to coordinate their grocery shopping completely contact-free.
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