People

Tech job listings darken: Lab 'overlord,' well-being research, self-harm policy

Tesla needs community relations help, Facebook seeks loneliness researchers and Color aims to automate its coronavirus lab.

A person staring at a blank screen

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, YouTube is hiring for several human managers to deal with topics including election misinformation and self-harm.

Photo: Artur Debat

So much for office-perk coordinators and happiness ambassadors. In the age of coronavirus, new tech job postings have taken a distinctive turn to more pragmatic, crisis-oriented roles.

Where just a few months ago we cataloged a glut of listings for data-savvy recruiters and niche personnel at moonshot startups, this month's most intriguing job listings from Silicon Valley and beyond skew dark, hinting at uncertain waters ahead for both tech companies and the users who rely on them.

In the early weeks after COVID-19 shutdowns began, before unemployment hit Depression-era numbers, we tracked a surge in jobs revealing companies' need to adjust to public health concerns, like space planning and office cleaning. Google's suddenly very noteworthy Verily life sciences division was hiring as well.

Now that it's clear the pandemic will be an enduring feature of the labor market for the foreseeable future, companies are diving deeper into this murky new world.

It's noteworthy how many open jobs are at big tech companies and well-positioned startups, given that many other sectors of the economy are in free fall. Amazon lists a whopping 34,373 jobs on its website, and there were some 2,300 global positions at Facebook and its subsidiaries posted to LinkedIn in the last month.

Here are five of the most illuminating job postings currently online:

Tesla: Community Relations Partner

Fremont

Last week was a chaotic one for Tesla personnel tasked with reopening the company's 10,000-person Silicon Valley factory at the direction of CEO Elon Musk, despite local government orders to keep the plant closed in line with COVID-19 orders. If that sounds like a fun political saga to navigate, Tesla is hiring a community relations lead in the factory's home city of Fremont. This person will act as "the primary interface with local community officials and business leaders." Given that there's disagreement between state, county and city officials over how manufacturers like Tesla should be expected to operate during a pandemic, it's guaranteed to be an interesting ride. Godspeed!

Requirements: MBA, MPP, JD or other advanced degree preferred; five years of experience in policy advocacy; "ability to diffuse situations and forge consensus among divergent views."

Color: Automation Engineer, COVID-19 (Temporary)

Burlingame

Genetic testing startup Color is one of many health tech companies wading into the nascent market for COVID-19 testing. But to get its new Silicon Valley testing lab all the way up and running, the company has a need for a very specific kind of contractor: "a highly motivated robotic overlord to wrangle our semi-sentient liquid handling and sample processing robots into submission!" Don't ask me exactly what that means, but the job listing calls for a scientist or engineer to join Color's R&D team and help automate the testing process to scale up and expedite operations.

Requirements: Bachelor's or master's in engineering; expertise in lab or manufacturing automation; "you have probably designed a Raspberry Pi-controlled device to needlessly automate some aspect of your life."

Facebook: Well-being Quantitative Researcher

Menlo Park

Facebook's "well-being team" is tasked with no less than "understanding of the impact Facebook and our family of apps have on people's lives." In complicated times like these, when concerns abound about health misinformation, conspiracy theories and fake news, it makes sense that the company is hiring for a social scientist with "subject matter expertise in well-being, loneliness, social capital" or related fields. The researcher will work with external researchers and teams at Facebook subsidiaries like Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus to design and execute studies to help "develop novel approaches where traditional methods won't do."

Requirements: Master's or doctorate in the social sciences; knowledge of data manipulation and programming; desire to establish "research partnership opportunities with leading academics."

Twitter: Crisis Management Analyst

Manila, Philippines

Yes, the U.S. is flailing now when it comes to containing COVID-19. But Twitter knows that's not the only crisis it's likely to have to confront. The company, which announced this week that it will allow many U.S. employees to permanently work remotely, is hiring for an analyst in Manila to plan and implement strategies for handling the social media chaos that often results from "major business threats such as shootings, election support, natural disasters, riots, etc." In addition to creating proactive risk assessments, this analyst will be one of several other people in similar roles to rotate on-call duty to respond to new or unfolding crises.

Requirements: Bachelor's degree or local equivalent; 12 years of related experience; "can speak for and collaborate directly with the management team"

YouTube: Policy Enforcement Manager, Suicide and Self-Harm

San Bruno

Content moderators who police some of the darkest corners of the internet are a class of tech workers that have proven especially difficult to adapt to remote work. With AI moderation systems going haywire in recent weeks, it's little surprise that YouTube is hiring for several human managers to deal with topics including election misinformation and self-harm. The policy enforcement manager focused on suicide and self-harm will be a full-time employee who works with contractors to spot trends and prevent "violative content" from showing up on YouTube. The role will be subjective, with the manager asked to "review decisions about the appropriateness of different content, including considerations of cultural and political sensitivities."

Requirements: Bachelor's degree in business, experience with mental health, SQL and spreadsheets, "ability to work nonstandard, on-call rotation work hours."

Fintech

Gavin Newsom shows crypto some California love

“A more flexible approach is needed,” Gov. Newsom said in rejecting a bill that would require crypto companies to get a state license.

Strong bipartisan support wasn’t enough to convince Newsom that requiring crypto companies to register with the state’s Department of Financial Protection and Innovation is the smart path for California.

Photo: Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Vox Media

The Digital Financial Assets Law seemed like a legislative slam dunk in California for critics of the crypto industry.

But strong bipartisan support — it passed 71-0 in the state assembly and 31-6 in the Senate — wasn’t enough to convince Gov. Gavin Newsom that requiring crypto companies to register with the state’s Department of Financial Protection and Innovation is the smart path for California.

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Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers crypto and fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at bpimentel@protocol.com or via Google Voice at (925) 307-9342.

Sponsored Content

Great products are built on strong patents

Experts say robust intellectual property protection is essential to ensure the long-term R&D required to innovate and maintain America's technology leadership.

Every great tech product that you rely on each day, from the smartphone in your pocket to your music streaming service and navigational system in the car, shares one important thing: part of its innovative design is protected by intellectual property (IP) laws.

From 5G to artificial intelligence, IP protection offers a powerful incentive for researchers to create ground-breaking products, and governmental leaders say its protection is an essential part of maintaining US technology leadership. To quote Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo: "intellectual property protection is vital for American innovation and entrepreneurship.”

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James Daly
James Daly has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, including understanding various audiences and targeting messaging accordingly. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, particularly in launching new ventures and building passionate audiences. Daly has led teams large and small to multiple awards and quantifiable success through a strategy built on teamwork, passion, fact-checking, intelligence, analytics, and audience growth while meeting budget goals and production deadlines in fast-paced environments. Daly is the Editorial Director of 2030 Media and a contributor at Wired.
Workplace

Slack’s rallying cry at Dreamforce: No more meetings

It’s not all cartoon bears and therapy pigs — work conferences are a good place to talk about the future of work.

“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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Lizzy Lawrence

Lizzy Lawrence ( @LizzyLaw_) is a reporter at Protocol, covering tools and productivity in the workplace. She's a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, where she studied sociology and international studies. She served as editor in chief of The Michigan Daily, her school's independent newspaper. She's based in D.C., and can be reached at llawrence@protocol.com.

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.

As the number of tech companies in the region grows, so does the number of tech workers, whose high salaries put them at an advantage in both LA's renting and buying markets.

Photo: Nat Rubio-Licht/Protocol

LA’s tech scene is on the rise. The number of unicorn companies in Los Angeles is growing, and the city has become the third-largest startup ecosystem nationally behind the Bay Area and New York with more than 4,000 VC-backed startups in industries ranging from aerospace to creators. As the number of tech companies in the region grows, so does the number of tech workers. The city is quickly becoming more and more like Silicon Valley — a new startup and a dozen tech workers on every corner and companies like Google, Netflix, and Twitter setting up offices there.

But with growth comes growing pains. Los Angeles, especially the burgeoning Silicon Beach area — which includes Santa Monica, Venice, and Marina del Rey — shares something in common with its namesake Silicon Valley: a severe lack of housing.

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Nat Rubio-Licht

Nat Rubio-Licht is a Los Angeles-based news writer at Protocol. They graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in newspaper and online journalism in May 2020. Prior to joining the team, they worked at the Los Angeles Business Journal as a technology and aerospace reporter.

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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Issie Lapowsky

Issie Lapowsky ( @issielapowsky) is Protocol's chief correspondent, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. She also oversees Protocol's fellowship program. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University's Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing.

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