The questions facing Facebook’s WFH future
Image: Original by Damian Zaleski
Good morning! This Friday, Facebook said remote work is the future, Apple is readying a big podcast push, and Joe Biden's campaign staff is missing a tech advisor.
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On Protocol: Joe Biden doesn't have a tech advisor, and one campaign veteran said that's a problem:
Adobe's principal designer Khoi Vinh tried Google Classroom, and his reflections on it became a takedown of education software (though his original post now appears to have been taken down):
After Magic Leap raised another $350 million, CEO Rony Abovitz told his team there's more to come:
In a live-streamed version of Facebook's weekly staff meeting on Wednesday, Mark Zuckerberg kept talking about being thoughtful, and moving slowly, and making sure everything was measured. And thoughtful. But he also laid out a huge change to how Facebook works, as the company leans into working remotely.
Here's the rundown of the changes happening inside Facebook:
No one seemed terribly surprised that Facebook is making this move. Twitter, Square, and (as of yesterday) Shopify are among the tech companies that have already announced they're permanently remote-friendly. Many more will do so in the coming months.
But the way Facebook is approaching compensation became the subject of some controversy.
Lots of tech companies have location-based compensation, of course. But they'll all have to answer the same question: As the office stops being Headquarters and becomes Just Another Place, and working remotely isn't a downside to be overcome but a normal way of life, how do you pay people?
No one knows the right answer! In fact, Zuckerberg acknowledged a lot of other remote-work questions nobody has answers for:
These are the questions every company will have to answer, because it's increasingly obvious that "everybody go back to the office!" isn't going to happen. It'll require new systems, new culture, and new tools to make it work.
Facebook's working on that, too. Zuckerberg announced a bunch of new Workplace features, but Andrew Bosworth explained a long-term vision for it after his boss had finished up his livestream:
Globe, an app that gives users a much-needed place to escape to that isn't their home (think Airbnb, but for a room rented by the hour), is one of the companies getting a boost from the pandemic. But the Y Combinator startup, which launched in June of last year, had to change completely to make a success of the current situation.
Then the admin of a Facebook group for Airbnb hosts reached out, hoping to help recoup lost money from short-notice cancellations. In just one email to that group, Globe signed up 1,500 new hosts.
Guests are changing, too. Before, Globe users were largely commuters. Now, Bamfo said most guests are from within the neighborhood, looking for an easy break from their usual quarantine partners or to Zoom from a place nicer than their own. "What we've found is that it really comes down to how badly you're in need," Bamfo said.
Airbnb has surely noticed Globe filling up with its hosts — Bamfo said it's signed up thousands more just this week — and it would be easy for Airbnb to rent places by the hour. "If they do that, that's okay," Bamfo said. "Ultimately, it's a huge market, really. "
How Walmart is Helping Associates Live Better
To support associates' wellbeing, Walmart is:
We've talked a lot this week about the things Microsoft announced at its all-virtual Build conference, but let's dig into how the company pulled it off. I mean, it ran a (mostly) successful livestream for more than 48 straight hours! That's not easy. And it's a good model for anyone looking to do the same:
Obviously, there are tradeoffs. I can't imagine anyone was engaged the way they might have been on the ground in Seattle. But Build was the most geographically diverse it has ever been: 65% of attendees were from outside the U.S., the company said, compared to a typical 20%.
In related news: On the subject of high-production virtual shoots, here's a fun story about how the Apple TV+ show Mythic Quest used 40 iPhones to shoot a quarantine-based episode for charity. (Great show, by the way. Good lockdown watch.)
Kevin Burns, the former CEO of Juul, is reportedly in talks to join Alto, the digital pharmacy startup. Burns oversaw Juul's deal with Altria, and much of the company's blowback and decline — but clearly remains quite employable.
Apple is said to be gearing up for a big podcast push. Bloomberg reported that the company is looking for an executive to lead its original podcasts initiative, and has already been buying shows for Apple Podcasts.
Debbie Hersman, Waymo's chief safety officer, is stepping down from her role, though she'll still be a consultant to the company. She joined the company last year, but decided to head back to her family on the east coast.
A woman named Lyndsay Tucker just thought she had a phone number. Any old phone number. Turns out she actually had Elon Musk's old phone number — and she still gets calls intended for Musk several times a day. She's accidentally on top of his tax situation, is acutely aware of when he's in the news (which is approximately all the time), and seems to be constantly shooting down people looking for free Teslas. The one upside? Tucker's putting together quite the contact list, what with all the celebrities and execs looking for a minute of Musk's time.
Walmart Hires 200,000 Associates Since March
Walmart used an expedited hiring process and worked with companies that have furloughed workers, including the restaurant and hospitality industries, to hire over 200,000 associates since March.
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