Image: Adrian Trinkaus / Protocol
February 10, 2021
Good morning! This Wednesday, Salesforce is letting employees work from home forever, Apple may have lost its Apple Car partner and Twitter really wants to decentralize.
The Big Story
Salesforce goes remote
It's quite a symbol of the times: the company that owns the tallest building in San Francisco telling its employees they don't have to go to it anymore. "An immersive workspace is no longer limited to a desk in our Towers," Salesforce's Brent Hyder said yesterday. "The 9-to-5 workday is dead; and the employee experience is about more than ping-pong tables and snacks."
Salesforce's plan for the future sounds a lot like Dropbox's Virtual First strategy, and is starting to become something like the new hybrid normal:
- Most Salesforce employees will be in the office one to three days a week, Hyder said, "for team collaboration, customer meetings, and presentations." The company's also embracing flexible hours, though Hyder didn't really explain how that's going to work.
- Salesforce's offices are being redesigned for more open, collaborative spaces, too, with fewer desks and more couches.
- There will be fewer offices, too: "I don't believe that we'll keep every space in every city that we're in, including San Francisco," Hyder told The Wall Street Journal.
There seem to be three schools of thought about the future of the office. There's the "hybrid forever" crowd, the "we're moving" crowd, and the "screw you, we're going back" crowd. (There's also technically the "all remote, all the time" crowd, but the only people I know who want that already worked for all-remote companies.) The hybrid answer is likely to be the most popular, and the trickiest to pull off, but we're starting to see what the first attempts will look like.
Who makes the Apple Car?
Apple is not famous for being the easiest company to work with. A new Businessweek cover story digs into the company's intense way of doing business, all the way down to the guy whose sole job "consisted of negotiating the cost of glue." The thrust of the story: As Apple has become more powerful, it has also become more exacting with partners, suppliers and everyone else.
- Hyundai is something like the Apple of the car industry, as Reuters reported last month: vertically integrated, largely self reliant, used to negotiating from a position of power.
- As more car companies look to go their own way, building their own software into their own cars — pulling an Apple, you might say — some analysts told CNN that Apple could have trouble finding an auto partner to work with.
- But then Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida indicated his company might be open to a deal, and of course there are plenty of contract manufacturers out there who would likely take on the deal. But the latter would probably require Apple to build even more of a car itself, rather than starting with Hyundai's base tech or something similar.
Apple may have to tweak its approach when it comes to the auto industry, but don't feel bad for it. It may be tough to work with, but it has two big things going for it: gravity-defying piles of cash, and unmatched prestige. Everybody wants to build the iStuff, even if it's a hassle.
- And by the way, it's getting better, fast, at the whole self-driving thing: A new California DMV report showed its test vehicles logged 18,805 miles last year, with fewer human-takeovers-per-mile than ever.
Twitter's many futures
Twitter's ultimate goal is to decentralize, splitting into Twitter the Protocol (kind of like email) and Twitter the App (kind of like Gmail). Jack Dorsey made that vision clear on the company's earnings call yesterday, when asked about Project Bluesky:
- Decentralizing social, he said, "creates a much larger corpus of conversation." He made clear he's more interested in providing a great user experience and content-finding tool than in competing to be the text box people type into.
- The upside, Dorsey said, is discovery. He even floated the idea of "an app store-like view of ranking algorithms that give people ultimate flexibility" to choose the kind of timeline experience they want.
- He also made clear that even in the here and now, politics and news (and yelling and hate) are not all Twitter's good for: "What we're excited about, especially in the future, is helping everyone unlock more of the long tail of topics and interests." As Twitter continues to get better at surfacing that stuff, he said, it gives individuals more power over how they experience the network.
What if all of social media was built on top of the same stuff? If Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube had access to all the same content, and differed only in what they showed and the experience they built around it? Companies would compete on privacy, on features, on user safety, and nobody would keep winning based on past success. It's a fascinating hypothetical, even if it'll almost certainly never happen that way.
- And if that doesn't work, there's always TweetDeck+.
A MESSAGE FROM PHILIPS
One thing we have realized is that COVID-19 has accelerated three transformational trends that already existed before the pandemic, but are now dramatically reshaping healthcare: the concept of a networked healthcare system, the increasing adoption of telehealth, and the idea of virtual care and guidance. At the same time, we have seen consumers becoming much more engaged in their personal health and that of their families.
People Are Talking
OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei outlined his vision for his new company, called Nothing:
- "We're building an ecosystem of smart devices. We'll start with simpler products, wireless earbuds. We're going to have multiple products throughout the year, not just audio products, and eventually we want to build it so these devices talk to each other."
On Protocol: Your organization should be thinking about video at every level, Vimeo's Anjali Sud said:
- "It started with the meeting; meetings have been video-ified. And that's permanently changed behavior. Then the next phase of that is really taking these other pieces of video, and how do you actually bring that into businesses and how they communicate?"
Tim Cook isn't Steve Jobs, and that's often a good thing, Warren Buffett said:
- "Tim may not be able to design a product like Steve. But Tim understands the world to a degree that very, very few CEOs I've met over the past 60 years could match."
Huawei's Ren Zhengfei offered again to share 5G tech with the U.S. as a peace offering:
- "That includes not only the rights to development but also source programs and source codes. If the U.S. needs our chip technology, we can transfer it. Our words are sincere [but] no company has come to negotiate with us so far."
Number of the Day
That's how many Bitcoins Chamath Palihapitiya paid for a 1.4-acre property in Lake Tahoe back in 2014. Back then, that was $1.6 million, a tidy sum for a nice property. Now? Well Palihapitiya did the math, and those Bitcoins are now worth just shy of $128 million. Here's some free advice: never do the math.
In Other News
- Huawei sued the U.S., arguing that the FCC did not have the authority to designate it as a national security threat. It wants a court to overturn the decision.
- On Protocol: DoNotPay has turned into a way to fight the power. In the aftermath of the Robinhood controversy, it quickly spun up ways for users to sue the app — giving DoNotPay one of its biggest days ever.
- Shop Pay is now on Instagram, and is heading to Facebook soon. It's the next step in Shopify's plan to be the enabler of ecommerce everywhere.
- Facebook blocked DM link previews in Europe. It suggests that the way the previews work may not comply with EU privacy laws and raises questions about what Facebook does with the data.
- TSMC's getting into the display game. It's reportedly working with Apple on micro OLED displays, which are built directly onto wafers. Apple reportedly plans to use them in its AR headsets. Meanwhile, TSMC is issuing $9 billion in new bonds.
- Riot Games' CEO was accused of gender-based harassment. A former employee alleged that Nicolo Laurent made unwanted sexual advances and created a hostile work environment.
- Rivian is planning to IPO this year, Bloomberg reported. It's reportedly aiming for an over $50 billion valuation.
- On Protocol: Aurora is partnering with Toyota and Denso on self-driving taxis. The three plan to have their first autonomous minivans on the road for testing by the end of 2021.
- Gojek and Tokopedia are set to merge, according to Bloomberg. Terms are reportedly being finalized, and a deal could be announced this month.
- The Irish Data Protection Commission still uses Lotus Notes. It leads most of the EU's data regulation of Big Tech.
One More Thing
On Zoom, everyone knows you're a cat
Hard to imagine a more 2021-era storyline than this one: A lawyer shows up to a virtual court hearing in Texas, discovers his kid was on his Zoom account earlier and was using the new cat-face filter, and can't figure out how to turn it off. Leading to one of the better sentences I suspect you'll ever find in a court record: "I'm here live. I'm not a cat."
Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce, with help from Anna Kramer and Shakeel Hashim. Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, or our tips line, email@example.com. Enjoy your day; see you tomorrow.