The bright spot that will outlast this economy

The bright spot that will outlast this economy

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Good morning! It’s year three of a seemingly endless wave of economic uncertainty, and on some level we’re all wondering the same thing: What happens next? Well, if the past tells us anything, we might be in for more of the same. And that might not be a bad thing.

Who’s got the power?

When companies recently started laying people off, the narrative went from, “Employees have all the power” to, “Never mind! Workers need their jobs more than their jobs need them.” But the bad earnings calls, layoffs and hiring freezes won’t last forever.

Tech is getting hit right now in ways we might not understand for years, CNBC’s Matt Rosoff wrote yesterday. Current consumer behavior is now being affected by the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, inflation and job cuts, and the list keeps growing. It’s giving economists a headache, but those same issues bringing companies down could result in employees eventually coming out strong.

  • The fear of more layoffs and continued hiring freezes is still real, and it’s affecting every conversation from whether remote work will last to whether it was the right move to join The Great Resignation.
  • But these huge workplace changes don’t just disappear with a downturn. And hiring is still hot in industries like hospitality and travel, Amit Bhatia of the recruiting analytics company Datapeople told me a few weeks ago—layoffs and hiring are happening almost simultaneously. Companies could rightsize one department and grow another.

Does all of this sound familiar? The idea that workers had more power over their companies dominated the workplace conversation last year. And that could happen again.

  • Many workers have learned that they could work from anywhere, make up their own hours or even quit if a company doesn’t provide them with options and freedom.
  • “Employees are saying, ‘You know what? I want that flexibility, and if you’re not going to give it to me, I’ll just go somewhere else because the market is so good that I can go to an interview at lunch and have a job offer after an hour and a half,” Thrive HR’s Rey Ramirez told me in December.

The layoffs and freezes are making everyone uneasy right now. But once we come out the other side, there’s a good chance that workers regain the upper hand..

— Sarah Roach

Crypto’s balancing act

There’s a big debate in crypto right now over how it should be regulated. Critics say the SEC is enforcing rules that shouldn’t apply to cryptocurrencies. Regulators say they’re just trying to protect consumers.

The SEC’s insider trading case against a former Coinbase employee, which claims that nine of the 25 cryptocurrencies involved are securities, has raised the ire of a senator, fellow regulators and of course Coinbase, which plainly said, “Coinbase does not list securities. End of story.”

  • The gist of their complaints is that the SEC is being too vague and in turn creating sweeping and broadly worded de facto regulation.
  • “It speaks to a balancing act for all regulation: crafting protections broad enough they can’t be easily evaded, but specific enough that businesses can operate with certainty,” Protocol reporters Ben Brody and Ryan Deffenbaugh write.

The crypto industry’s argument against regulation by enforcement is that digital assets are a new frontier and don't fit into existing rules.

  • Industry experts argue that Congress needs to provide clarity on what fits where. And if Congress doesn’t take action, then regulators need to act.
  • "Regulation by enforcement precludes any meaningful discussion of what should and shouldn’t be considered a security—a question that is too important and far-reaching to be decided solely by punitive action," Kristin Smith, the executive director of the lobbying group Blockchain Association, told Protocol.

In regulators’ eyes, the SEC is just acting to protect people and ensure fair markets in a developing industry.

  • "Some market participants may call this regulation by enforcement," Gensler said in a November speech. "I just call it enforcement.”

Legislation has already been introduced, such as the Lummis-Gillibrand and Stabenow-Boozman bills. But for now, the battles will continue in court, because that’s all regulators can do to actually regulate.

— Nat Rubio-Licht

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People are talking

Salesforce’s Bret Taylor called Elon Musk’s counterclaims a load of crap:

  • “His claims are factually inaccurate, legally insufficient, and commercially irrelevant.”

Elon Musk said the Cybertruck is probably going to have a higher price when it hits the market:

  • "I think there’s no way to have anticipated quite the inflation that we’ve seen."

Making moves

Joe Gately is Infoblox's new SVP of sales for the Americas region. He last worked at VergeSense as CRO.

Catherine Solazzo is Syntax’s new CMO. She previously held a similar role at TD Synnex and worked at IBM before that.

Lauren Hargraves and Bryan Hubbard joined the digital asset firm Metallicus’s advisory board. Hargraves was a Federal Reserve banker, and Hubbard previously worked at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

In other news

Visa and Mastercard stopped working with Pornhub owner MindGeek's ad arm after a judge raised questions that the companies could be facilitating child pornography.

TikTok content moderators said they were being trained with graphic images of child sexual abuse in documents that were available to hundreds of people across the company.

On Deck, which helps connect founders to each other, laid off a third of its staff. It had cut a quarter of its workforce three months ago.

Both Lyft and DoorDash posted healthy revenue, a sign that ride-hailing is rebounding and delivery is holding strong amid inflation.

And Block beat analysts' estimates, but its shares still fell as investors digested the effect of the macroeconomic environment on the company’s core payments businesses.

Italy is close to a $5 billion deal with Intel to build an advanced semiconductor packaging and assembly plant.

Meta banned Cyber Front Z, a pro-Russia troll group that organized on Telegram.

Quantum computing isn’t mainstream yet, but the tech industry is scrambling to implement new “quantum-resistant” algorithms.

Clubhouse is launching Houses in beta. Bloomberg reported in June that the new curated groups appear “to be encouraging friendlier social interaction within private groups of users.”

Which app keeps you productive?

Productivity is subjective. But there are some common apps that help everyone work. According to global data from Data.ai, apps like Google One, Microsoft Outlook and Waze reign supreme in helping people get stuff done.

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Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to sourcecode@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you Sunday.

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