June 3, 2022
Photo: David Ryder/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Good morning! Microsoft is zigging where its rivals zag, vowing to work with unions instead of fighting them. Is Amazon paying attention? And social audio, once the Next Big Thing in tech, appears to be taking its last gasp. Happy Friday! Let’s dive in.
As Amazon and Apple actively fight unionization efforts among their employees, Microsoft President Brad Smith announced yesterday that the company won’t push back if its employees want to unionize.
Microsoft plans to “think proactively” about unions. The company is looking to get ahead of a coming wave as unionization efforts increase at rival companies.
Though Microsoft doesn’t currently have any labor unions, it may soon have to deal with organizers due to its acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
Union organizers are watching closely. Communications Workers of America Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens told us the message from Microsoft is “encouraging and unique among the major tech companies.” But Steffens added that the company has to put its money where its mouth is "in order to truly give workers a legally protected voice."
Microsoft’s rivals are probably watching, too. The NLRB accused Amazon this week of illegally threatening to cut workers’ pay and benefits for unionizing. Meanwhile, Apple retail workers in Atlanta were reportedly intimidated out of hosting a union election by higher-ups (though Apple is aiming to improve working conditions for retail employees).
Smith said the announcement wasn’t meant to take a jab at Amazon, but it may push other tech giants to accept unions — or become a recruiting tool Microsoft can use against its rivals.— Nat Rubio-Licht (email | twitter)
Live social audio was once a hot trend, with platforms quickly developing audio tools that could compete with pandemic darling Clubhouse. But the better days of Clubhouse and its competitors seem to be behind them.
Several leaders are now leaving Clubhouse. The social audio platform has been struggling for some time, and the departures are another worrying sign that Clubhouse may not be long for this world.
Clubhouse is also struggling to hold an audience, and other platforms are letting go of their own social audio efforts.
But some companies aren’t giving up. Spotify Greenroom, for example, just rebranded to Spotify Live; Discord just launched a Clubhouse clone called Stage channels; and VC David Sacks’ new social audio app, Callin, raised $12 million last fall.
Still, there are no clear winners in the live social audio race — only losers and new contenders. And unless those new entries can attract the post-lockdown audience that Clubhouse could not, social audio may end up as nothing more than a pandemic fad.
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Elon Musk says he never wanted to be CEO:
Goldman Sachs' John Waldron expects more trouble for the economy:
Brian Armstrong doesn't think investors fully understand Coinbase:
Meta is reorganizing its AI teams. AI VP Jerome Pesenti will leave the company in late June, and all AI leads will now report to Joelle Pineau. Meta’s Responsible AI team will merge with its Social Impact team, and Facebook AI Research will join Reality Labs.
Matthew Saxon is joining Zoom as chief people officer. Saxon last worked at Meta as VP of People Operations.
Saeed Raja is ScaleFlux’s new VP. He last worked on product management at Micron.
James Dong is Lazada's new CEO. Dong led Alibaba's Thailand business and served as a business assistant to Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang.
Adriana Rios Welton joined UScellular as head of Legal and Government Affairs. She most recently worked at AT&T Mexico as VP of External Affairs.BigBear.ai made some leadership changes: CFO Josh Kinley is the new chief corporate development officer, and former Amazon exec Julie Peffer is the new CFO.
New York just passed a big crypto mining bill. If Gov. Kathy Hochul signs it, the bill would put a moratorium on mining that uses proof of work.
Coinbase is rescinding accepted job offers for some new hires who haven’t started yet. The company's also extending its hiring pause for the foreseeable future.
Tesla's humanoid robot may be ready in a few months. Elon Musk said the company's moving AI Day to the end of September for that reason.
We broke down Sheryl Sandberg's biggest moments at Meta, from Facebook's IPO in 2012 to her response to the Jan. 6 riot.
Tech layoffs are still happening. Yesterday alone, Gemini, Cybereason and Policygenius made cuts.
Tiger Global’s assets shed 52% of their value this year. They fell even after the hedge fund cut its entire stake in tech companies like PayPal, Affirm and Bumble.
Kindle is leaving China. Amazon is shutting down its Kindle digital bookstore in the country and stopping sales there next year.
Connecticut needs help finding misinformation. It’s offering $150,000 for a person to scroll through 4chan, Rumble and other toxic sites for false information about its midterm elections.
In another life (or maybe this life), we should all be white noise podcasters. Programs like “Calming White Noise” and “Deep Sleep Sounds” are getting more popular on Spotify and Apple’s podcast charts, and they’re making as much as $18,000 a month. The best part is that the people behind the podcasts don’t need to show their face or say a word. What more could we ask for in a job?
When companies invest in maintaining their “green ledger” with the same commitment they have to their financial ledgers, they will be able to connect their environmental, social, and financial data holistically so they can steer their business towards sustainability. At the end of the day, what gets measured, gets managed.
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