People

By the numbers: How coronavirus transformed tech this week

Yelp and Eventbrite were cutting, Saleforce was hiring, Jack Dorsey was giving, and Uber and Lyft were politicking.

Jack Dorsey

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey this week pledged to give away nearly a third of his wealth to fight coronavirus.

Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

Here are 15 numbers that jumped out at us this week as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to rearrange the technology industry, causing extreme shocks and pains — and a few opportunities:

2 billion+

Single-day minute totals racked up recently by people using Microsoft Teams or Google Meet, both companies said this week. Other videoconferencing programs and apps have also seen a surge in usage, such as Google Duo (average daily traffic up 12.4%) and Houseparty (up 79.4%).

2,100

Employees at Yelp who will be laid off or furloughed as the San Francisco company reels from a crisis that has rocked the businesses whose ads it depends on: restaurants, small businesses and service providers. A thousand employees are getting laid off, 1,100 will be furloughed, and others will see their hours cut, CEO Jeremy Stoppelman said, calling the decision a "last resort."

500

Employees being laid off at Eventbrite, the San Francisco ticketing and events-management company. That's 45% of the workforce, which learned the news during a companywide Google Hangouts chat.

2,200

Job openings at Salesforce, which is prioritizing hiring employees' friends and relatives who've been laid off because of the pandemic. The well-meaning gesture raised concerns about the San Francisco-based company's much-touted commitment to diversity. Though it has made progress, Salesforce's employees largely remain white and male.

23%, 26%

Increase in messages in New York and San Francisco, respectively, on the dating platform Bumble in the last two weeks of March, leading Social Catfish to warn online daters to watch out for scams. Last year, 2,206 victims were catfished in California and 931 in New York, according to the online dating investigation service.

$267,000

Contributions by Uber and Lyft since late January to the war chest for a state ballot initiative to gut Assembly Bill 5, the California law aimed at forcing the companies to classify drivers as employees. The gig giants say COVID-19 lockdowns have strengthened their position — and worker advocates say the exact same thing.

$1 billion

Expected loss for Airbnb in the first half of the year, the same amount the San Francisco company is raising from private equity firms as it staggers from a steep drop in travel. The platform, which had planned to go public this year at a valuation of $50 billion or more, has seen its valuation plunge to $30 billion or less in the private secondary market for shares. It is reportedly looking to raise an additional $1 billion. Meanwhile, the company is pivoting to long-term rentals, which its critics view as a tacit admission it was "poaching" permanent rental housing all along.

64%

Occupancy rate of WeWork's 739 offices at the beginning of April — down from 79% at the end of September, per the Financial Times, which reports that thousands of tenants have either refused to pay rent or tried to wriggle out of their leases.

9

Tech moguls among the 20 wealthiest people in the world, according to Forbes' latest list, which incorporated the coronavirus' impact on stocks through mid-March. That's up from eight of 20 last year — thank you, Jack Ma (now No. 17). Tech could claim 10 of the top 20 slots next year; Mackenzie Bezos is in striking distance.

51%

Percentage of Americans who said they will or have already tapped money from savings accounts or emergency funds, according to LendEDU, which surveyed 1,000 adults on April 1.

$1 billion

Pledge by Jack Dorsey to fight coronavirus. The donation, 28% of his wealth, would come from his stock holdings in Square, he tweeted, along with a link to a Google doc he says will track spending. The money will be put into an LLC, giving him flexibility to control its dispersal. Dorsey, who has made seemingly unfulfilled philanthropic promises before, became the latest billionaire to open his wallet, raising broader questions about the power of the wealthy and our reliance on them and their companies.

32.5%, 23.9%

Founders of post-series A and pre-series A startups, respectively, who are laying off workers in response to the coronavirus crisis, according to a survey of 286 seed and series A founders and 114 VCs by NFX, a venture capital firm that has invested in Lyft, DoorDash, Trulia and more.

29%

Share of Americans who believe the coronavirus was made in a lab, either on purpose or by accident, according to a Pew survey conducted from March 10 to 16. The virus came about naturally, scientists say.
Workplace

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“We want people to be able to work in whatever way works for them with flexible schedules, in meetings and out of meetings,” Slack chief product officer Tamar Yehoshua told Protocol at Dreamforce 2022.

Photo: Marlena Sloss/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Dreamforce is primarily Salesforce’s show. But Slack wasn’t to be left out, especially as the primary connector between Salesforce and the mainstream working world.

The average knowledge worker spends more time using a communication tool like Slack than a CRM like Salesforce, positioning it as the best Salesforce product to concern itself with the future of work. In between meeting a therapy pig and meditating by the Dreamforce waterfall, Protocol sat down with several Slack execs and conference-goers to chat about the shifting future.

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LA is a growing tech hub. But not everyone may fit.

LA has a housing crisis similar to Silicon Valley’s. And single-family-zoning laws are mostly to blame.

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Photo: Nat Rubio-Licht/Protocol

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Policy

SFPD can now surveil a private camera network funded by Ripple chair

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a policy that the ACLU and EFF argue will further criminalize marginalized groups.

SFPD will be able to temporarily tap into private surveillance networks in certain circumstances.

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Ripple chairman and co-founder Chris Larsen has been funding a network of security cameras throughout San Francisco for a decade. Now, the city has given its police department the green light to monitor the feeds from those cameras — and any other private surveillance devices in the city — in real time, whether or not a crime has been committed.

This week, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors approved a controversial plan to allow SFPD to temporarily tap into private surveillance networks during life-threatening emergencies, large events, and in the course of criminal investigations, including investigations of misdemeanors. The decision came despite fervent opposition from groups, including the ACLU of Northern California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which say the police department’s new authority will be misused against protesters and marginalized groups in a city that has been a bastion for both.

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Photo: Vendia

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