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What does it mean to be a tech hub?

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Good morning! How you go about your workday, whether at home or in an office, is changing. So what does that mean for the tech hubs?

The tech hub is your oyster

The tech scene in Miami was once described to me as one big office with no actual offices. Work gets done at the pool, on the beach and alongside people who don’t even work for the same company as you. Maybe that’s what it means to live in a tech hub these days.

Lots of people aren’t going back to the office, but they’re not leaving cities either. San Francisco Mayor London Breed said there hasn’t been a mass exodus from the city even while office vacancies persist.

  • The same could be said about other cities filled with tech workers. They aren’t fleeing in droves, but hybrid and remote work is as popular as ever. As a result, cities like San Francisco are talking about how they can adapt to less foot traffic around offices.
  • Mark Muro, a senior fellow and policy director at Brookings Metro, said workers may spread around the city rather than leave entirely. They could move to neighborhoods farther away from the office, for instance, because they don’t need to commute as much.
  • “You’re likely going to see more work in different places around the larger region,” Muro said.

But is there still a point to living in a tech hub? San Francisco chief economist Ted Egan said even if you take the office out of the picture, a tech hub is still a tech hub. That’s why people stay.

  • “We never defined tech hubs as places with a bunch of offices,” Egan told me. “We always defined it as places with a bunch of talent, places with a lot of financing, places with an entrepreneurial culture.”
  • Egan added that as long as universities keep producing research and VCs keep investing in new ideas, cities like San Francisco and Seattle won’t lose their tech charm. And even though people are starting to take interest in Miami, it’s hard to say whether it has what it takes to make a name for itself in tech.

The Bay Area might look a lot different, and Seattle and others could, too. But the tried-and-true tech hubs aren’t going away anytime soon.

— Sarah Roach

Data centers are melting

As the U.K. grapples with its hottest temperatures on record, data centers are struggling with the unprecedented heat.

Google and Oracle data centers experienced outages yesterday as the mercury soared.

  • Google Cloud reported on its service health page that one of its London buildings hosting cloud services for one of its Western Europe regions experienced a "cooling related failure,” forcing it to power down services in part of that region to fix the issue.
  • Oracle had to shut down some of its services to "prevent uncontrolled hardware failures” in London as it worked to repair its cooling system.

Data centers use thousands of gallons of water to keep themselves cool, but even that is no match for the intense heat.

  • An AWS data center in London went down on July 10 in what Amazon called a "thermal event."
  • Some data center operators are resorting to low-tech solutions: hosing down their roof-mounted AC units to stay up and running.

Data centers are already contending with megadrought in the West, coming under scrutiny for their extreme water usage. But as climate change continues to push temperatures higher, some longer-term solutions might be required.

— Nat Rubio-Licht

Gaming’s diversity problems

Tech has been under public pressure since 2014 to track and release internal diversity numbers. But diversity data at gaming companies is still about as transparent as a brick wall.

Gaming giants only recently started releasing diversity reports. And many, including Epic, Ubisoft, Zynga and Niantic, don’t report diversity numbers at all.

  • We've now updated our Diversity Tracker with numbers from Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Riot Games and Unity.
  • Many reports that have been released lack detail. Activision, for example, lumps “underrepresented ethnic groups” into one catchall category. Xbox and Mojang don’t break out their own data from overall diversity numbers at Microsoft.
  • “Reasons for the lag could vary from concerns about public perception to a general lack of internal tracking if the company had not previously been required to track diversity,” Dr. Jakin Vela, executive director of the IGDA, told Protocol’s Biz Carson and Amber Burton.

But the demand for diversity is mounting. Transparency about diversity data and goals is attractive to customers and current and prospective employees. “[T]he pressure to track and report progress has intensified. People expect more transparency and accountability,” Tai Wingfield, Unity’s senior director of diversity and inclusion, told Biz and Amber.

Though companies can focus on internal initiatives to report and increase diversity, they won't get far if there isn’t enough diverse talent in the pool to begin with. The Black in Gaming Foundation’s Carl Varnado said companies need to work together on the industry’s systemic problems that are holding diversity back: “That, I think, is the most critical part.”

Read Biz and Amber’s full story here.

— Nat Rubio-Licht

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People are talking

Former Celsius leader Timothy Cradle said the company isn’t good at risk management:

  • “Celsius had a good idea, they were providing a service that people really needed, but they weren’t managing risk very well.”

California Rep. Brad Sherman said the SEC should go after exchanges that offered Ripple’s XRP crypto:

  • “You've gone after XRP because XRP is a security, but you haven't gone after all the major crypto exchanges that process tens of thousands, if not far more, transactions.”

Making moves

Netflix is buying Animal Logic, the animation studio behind “Happy Feet” and “The Lego Movie.”

Twitter’s trial with Elon Musk will take place over five days in October, meaning the court is giving Twitter the speedy trial it wants.

Sailu Challapalli and Hylton Kalvaria joined Mendel as CPO and chief commercial officer, respectively. Challapalli comes from Flatiron Health and Kalvaria’s from Verana Health.

Kathleen Rohrecker is Code Climate’s new VP of marketing. Rohrecker was a marketing exec at Oracle and most recently NS1.

World View created a safety program for human space flights that includes former NASA astronaut Charlie Precourt, Virgin Galactic’s Ron Failing and Blue Origin’s Greg Johnson.

Stewart Barber and Molly O’Leary joined the Semiconductor Industry Association as directors of government affairs. Barber last worked at Corley Consulting, and O'Leary's from The Rural Broadband Association.

Paul Merolla left Neuralink, sources told Reuters. Merolla was one of its founding members.

In other news

Netflix will make users pay for password sharing as soon as next year. Its ad-supported tier will also arrive in 2023.

Joe Biden might declare a national climate emergency through an executive order today.

Activision Blizzard could get another union. QA testers at Blizzard Albany, which includes about 20 employees, filed for a union election.

The Senate voted in favor of the chip subsidies bill yesterday, indicating Congress could have enough Republican support to get it through.

VR company MetaX is suing Meta for its name, telling a Manhattan federal court that it was “crushed” by Facebook’s rebrand.

Google’s complying with Europe’s competition rules, but there’s a catch: The fee for providing alternative payment methods is only 3 percentage points lower than the current fee.

BeReal’s popularity is soaring. It’s now the No. 1 free app on the App Store in the U.S.

Meta's spending millions on the "metaversity," where colleges get funding to teach VR. Professors are excited about it, even if the whole metaverse bet doesn't pan out.

Who are tech’s next CEOs? The Information put together a list that includes former Meta exec Caroyln Everson, Cisco’s Jeetu Patel and Amazon’s Russell Grandinetti.

Tablet adults

We’ve heard of “tablet babies,” but maybe we don’t have to grow up with tech to become addicted. Two new reports found that adults are spending much more time playing games, shopping and using social media than ever before. Some adults told The Wall Street Journal that they’re not playing mind-sucking games like Candy Crush all day, but they haven’t exactly figured out how to stop doomscrolling either.

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