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Power

Tech talks the protest talk. Will it walk the walk?

Over the weekend, the tech industry rushed to lend words of support to those protesting against racial injustice. Action was in shorter supply.

Police officers intervene in protests, held against the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, in New York last night.

Police officers intervene in protests, held against the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, in New York last night.

Photo: Mostafa Bassim/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Google added a note to its homepage over the weekend: "We stand in support of racial equality, and all those who search for it." YouTube's homepage showed a video called "Stand Against Racial Injustice."

  • And Sundar Pichai tweeted: "Today on U.S. Google & YouTube homepages we share our support for racial equality in solidarity with the Black community and in memory of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery & others who don't have a voice. For those feeling grief, anger, sadness & fear, you are not alone."

All weekend, tech companies were posting similar messages, supporting those protesting against racial injustice:

  • Tim Cook told Apple employees that it's time to step up: "At Apple, our mission has and always will be to create technology that empowers people to change the world for the better. We've always drawn strength from our diversity, welcomed people from every walk of life to our stores around the world, and strived to build an Apple that is inclusive of everyone. But together, we must do more."
  • Twitter changed its logo to a black bird, and offered tips for people to better follow the protests happening across the U.S. all weekend. Jack Dorsey spent the weekend tweeting and retweeting about what was happening, while the company's Twitter Together team shared information on what allies can do.
  • Airbnb's Brian Chesky said "Black lives matter. We stand with those using their voices and peacefully calling for justice, fairness and racial equality."
  • Amazon tweeted that "The inequitable and brutal treatment of Black people in our country must stop." AWS CEO Andy Jassy wondered what it'll take and "how many people must die" before things change.
  • Not that the numbers really matter, but Netflix had the brand-tweet everyone was sharing: "To be silent is to be complicit. Black lives matter. We have a platform, and we have a duty to our Black members, employees, creators and talent to speak up."
  • There were many more statements, too — here's one really good list of what different companies have said.

An interesting thing happened in response to all these tweets (I mean, other than the predictable politics and fighting): People asked tech companies what they were going to do about it; how they'd put their money where their mouth is.

  • A good example: All those brand statements became a meme, ridiculing the generic corporate messages, in record time.
  • Away's Jen Rubio and Slack's Stewart Butterfield got a lot of praise on Sunday night after announcing they're giving away $700,000 to 10 different social-justice groups.
  • But in general, people wanted tech companies and executives to do more.

After the last few days, in which we've also seen Facebook employees speak out against Mark Zuckerberg's decision to not moderate Trump's tweets, the chorus is only getting louder in asking tech companies to take more action, spend more money, and pick more fights in support of their values.

These questions are bigger than social, bigger than moderation, and bigger than Trump even. They're about what tech companies are supposed to do, and be, and represent in the world. And I don't think they're going away.

This article first appeared in the Source Code newsletter this morning. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every morning.

Protocol | China

China’s era of Big Tech Overwork has ended

Tech companies fear public outcry as much as they do regulatory crackdowns.

Chinese tech workers are fed up. Companies fear political and publish backlashes.

Photo: Susan Fisher Plotner/Getty Images

Two years after Chinese tech workers started a decentralized online protest against grueling overtime work culture, and one year after the plight of delivery workers came under the national spotlight, a chorus of Chinese tech giants have finally made high-profile moves to end the grueling work schedules that many believe have fueled the country's spectacular tech boom — and that many others have criticized as exploitative and cruel.

Over the past two months, at least four Chinese tech giants have announced plans to cancel mandatory overtime; some of the changes are companywide, and others are specific to business units. ByteDance, Kuaishou and Meituan's group-buying platform announced the end of a policy called "Big/Small Week," where a six-day workweek is followed by a more moderate schedule. In early June, a game studio owned by Tencent rolled out a policy that mandated employees punch out at 6 p.m. every Wednesday and take the weekends off.

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Shen Lu

Shen Lu is a reporter with Protocol | China. She has spent six years covering China from inside and outside its borders. Previously, she was a fellow at Asia Society's ChinaFile and a Beijing-based producer for CNN. Her writing has appeared in Foreign Policy, The New York Times and POLITICO, among other publications. Shen Lu is a founding member of Chinese Storytellers, a community serving and elevating Chinese professionals in the global media industry.

Over the last year, financial institutions have experienced unprecedented demand from their customers for exposure to cryptocurrency, and we've seen an inflow of institutional dollars driving bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to record prices. Some banks have already launched cryptocurrency programs, but many more are evaluating the market.

That's why we've created the Crypto Maturity Model: an iterative roadmap for cryptocurrency product rollout, enabling financial institutions to evaluate market opportunities while addressing compliance requirements.

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Caitlin Barnett, Chainanalysis
Caitlin’s legal and compliance experience encompasses both cryptocurrency and traditional finance. As Director of Regulation and Compliance at Chainalysis, she helps leading financial institutions strategize and build compliance programs in order to adopt cryptocurrencies and offer new products to their customers. In addition, Caitlin helps facilitate dialogue with regulators and the industry on key policy issues within the cryptocurrency industry.
Power

Brownsville, we have a problem

The money and will of Elon Musk are reshaping a tiny Texas city. Its residents are divided on his vision for SpaceX, but their opinion may not matter at all.

When Musk chose Cameron County, he changed its future irrevocably.

Photo: Verónica G. Cárdenas for Protocol

In Boca Chica, Texas, the coastal prairie stretches to the horizon on either side of the Gulf of Mexico, an endless sandbar topped with floating greenery, wheeling gulls and whipping gusts of wind.

Far above the sea on a foggy March day, the camera feed on the Starship jerked and then froze on an image of orange flames shooting into the gray. From the ground below, onlookers strained to see through the opaque sky. After a moment of quiet, jagged edges of steel started to rain from the clouds, battering the ground near the oceanside launch pad, ripping through the dunes, sinking deep into the sand and flats.

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Anna Kramer

Anna Kramer is a reporter at Protocol (Twitter: @ anna_c_kramer, email: akramer@protocol.com), where she writes about labor and workplace issues. Prior to joining the team, she covered tech and small business for the San Francisco Chronicle and privacy for Bloomberg Law. She is a recent graduate of Brown University, where she studied International Relations and Arabic and wrote her senior thesis about surveillance tools and technological development in the Middle East.

People

Facebook’s push to protect young users is a peek at the future of social

More options, more proactive protections, fewer one-size-fits-all answers for being a person on the internet.

Social media companies are racing to find ways to protect underage people on their apps.

Image: Alexander Shatov/Unsplash

Social media companies used to see themselves as open squares, places where everyone could be together in beautiful, skipping-arm-in-arm harmony. But that's not the vision anymore.

Now, Facebook and others are going private. They're trying to rebuild around small groups and messaging. They're also trying to figure out how to build platforms that work for everyone, that don't try to apply the same set of rules to billions of people around the world, that bring everyone together but on each user's terms. It's tricky.

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David Pierce

David Pierce ( @pierce) is Protocol's editor at large. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.

Power

Who owns that hot startup? These insiders want to clear it up.

Cap tables are fundamental to startups. So 10 law firms and startup software vendors are teaming up to standardize what they tell you about investors' stakes.

Cap tables describe the ownership of shares in a startup, but they aren't standardized.

Illustration: Protocol

Behind every startup, there's a cap table. Startups have to start keeping track of who owns what, from the moment they're created, to fundraising from venture capitalists, to an eventual IPO or acquisition.

"Everything that happens that is a sexy thing that's important to the tech world, it really is something having to do with the cap table," said David Wang, chief innovation officer at the Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati law firm.

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Biz Carson

Biz Carson ( @bizcarson) is a San Francisco-based reporter at Protocol, covering Silicon Valley with a focus on startups and venture capital. Previously, she reported for Forbes and was co-editor of Forbes Next Billion-Dollar Startups list. Before that, she worked for Business Insider, Gigaom, and Wired and started her career as a newspaper designer for Gannett.

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