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People

‘You can't help but mobilize people’: Gig firms hire for roller coaster ride

This month's look into tech job listings hints at a great reckoning for on-demand companies.

People on a roller coaster

This month's dive into tech job listings hints at the great reckoning in the gig industry as it confronts new levels of investor and government scrutiny.

Photo: Mauricio Santana/Getty Images

Temp jobs, freelancing, gig work, the platform economy: Whatever words you want to use, mobile apps with contract labor as a central feature have transformed the job market in just a few years. Uber and Lyft both went public last year — in the process discovering that shareholders don't have quite the same tolerance for burning cash as VCs, at least not any more — and DoorDash filed for its IPO on Thursday.

This month's dive into tech job listings (read last month's edition here) hints at the great reckoning in this industry as it confronts new levels of investor and government scrutiny. At both corporate headquarters and out in the real world, where millions of contractors keep all kinds of on-demand companies running, the range of open positions is vast. We found six of the most revealing examples, from San Francisco to Georgia to Jakarta.

Uber: Data Science Manager - Driver Experience

San Francisco

Want to understand the psyche of an Uber driver without actually driving for Uber? The ride-hailing giant's driver data science team "analyzes and builds models of driver behavior," then works with the company's marketplace team to "provide real time signals" for fares and ride-matching. The driver data science manager job was posted in recent weeks, along with several other driver-adjacent technical roles, as Uber and peers like Lyft fight California's new Assembly Bill 5, which, by reclassifying drivers as employees, could force gig companies to drastically increase wages.

Requirements: Ph.D. or master's in computer science or related field; 5+ years of data science experience; "Everywhere you go, you can't help but mobilize people."

Lyft: Director, Driver Education & Success Operations

San Francisco

As part of the battle over AB 5, Lyft has recently ramped up political spending. The company is also expanding its "driver education & success" team to rethink how the company's corporate headquarters interacts with drivers and field teams in cities where it operates. In a bid to "create a culture of advocacy for our drivers by working to implement company vision," this person will manage pilots for new kinds of physical outposts for the digital company and test new resources for drivers. One perk? A 20% discount on all Lyft rides.

Requirements: 10+ years of operational experience; exceptional leadership skills; track record of "driving an agenda and building consensus."

Gojek: People Partner Analyst

Jakarta, Indonesia

There's an Uber of Indonesia, and it's called Gojek. The company launched in 2010 as a motorcycle taxi service and has raised more than $1.2 billion since ("Indonesia's first unicorn," the company's website says) from investors including Google. Now, amid an effort to expand from a ride app into food delivery, digital payments, on-demand massages and two dozen other services, Gojek is hiring a people partner analyst in Jakarta to better quantify its sprawling workforce. The role is tasked with "managing people data," developing standardized people metrics and reporting the findings.

Requirements: 3+ years of experience in data analytics; strong quantitative and spreadsheet skills; "Highly flexible attitude."

Boxbot: Delivery Driver

Oakland

Shortly after driverless package delivery startup Boxbot launched in 2016, the company founded by ex-Tesla and Uber engineers and backed by Toyota's artificial intelligence fund was hailed as part of "the autonomous vehicle revolution." Maybe someday. For now, the company is offering $16 an hour to deliver orders to specified addresses within required time frames — much like Amazon Prime, Pizza Hut and dozens of other delivery startups hiring for similar roles in the Bay Area.

Requirements: Valid California driver's license; clean driving record; ability to lift up to 70 pounds.

Rappi: Special Projects

Mexico City

It's been a roller coaster year for Colombian delivery startup Rappi, which raised nearly $1 billion from SoftBank last spring before laying off 6% of its workforce in January. As the company tries to avoid the fate of other SoftBank-backed startups like Brandless, it's staffing up again in Latin American cities including Cali, Colombia, and Mexico City. In the latter, Rappi — recognizable for its flock of motorcycle drivers sporting the company's mustache logo — is building up a five-person "special projects" team to focus on growth, guaranteeing instant delivery for everything from food to cash to a new set of AirPods. Meanwhile, Latin American competitors with similar logistics ambitions, like Shippify, are on a hiring binge in Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia and beyond.

Requirements: 1-2 years of experience; natural leader; "You work long hours and you like difficult challenges."

Deliv: Community Manager

Roswell, Georgia

The "community manager" is ubiquitous not just in the gig economy, but at many well-heeled tech companies. WeWork, Udemy, Amazon and many others are hiring for the jack-of-all-trades office manager 2.0 role, which is often on the front lines of bridging digital platforms with flashy marketing and the messy reality of daily operations, like overseeing low-wage contractors or office service workers. In the case of Silicon Valley last-mile delivery startup Deliv, which is backed by Google, General Motors and UPS, the company needs a new community manager in the Atlanta area to oversee contract drivers, manage their schedules and send them monthly newsletters and regular social media updates.

Requirements: 3+ years of experience in community management or marketing; social media savvy; proficiency in office software; track record of "owning KPIs."
Protocol | Workplace

The pay gap persists for Black women

"The pay gap is a multifaceted problem and any time you have a complex problem, there's not a single solution that's going to solve it."

For every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, Black women are paid just 63 cents, according to the American Community Survey Census data.

Photo: Christine/Unsplash

Last year's racial reckoning following the murder of George Floyd led many tech companies to commit to promoting equity within their organizations, including working toward pay equity. But despite efforts, the wage gap for Black women still persists. For every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, Black women are paid just 63 cents, according to the American Community Survey Census data.

Black Women's Equal Pay Day on Tuesday represents the estimated number of days into the year it would take for Black women to make what their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts made at the end of the previous year, according to the organization Equal Pay Today. And while the responsibility to fix the pay gap falls mostly on companies to rectify, some female employees have taken matters into their own hands and held companies to their asserted values by negotiating higher pay.

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Amber Burton

Amber Burton (@amberbburton) is a reporter at Protocol. Previously, she covered personal finance and diversity in business at The Wall Street Journal. She earned an M.S. in Strategic Communications from Columbia University and B.A. in English and Journalism from Wake Forest University. She lives in North Carolina.

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What comes to mind when you think of AI? In the past, it might have been the Turing test, a sci-fi character or IBM's Deep Blue-defeating chess champion Garry Kasparov. Today, instead of copying human intelligence, we're seeing immense progress made in using AI to unobtrusively simplify and enrich our own intelligence and experiences. Natural language processing, modern encrypted security solutions, advanced perception and imaging capabilities, next-generation data management and logistics, and automotive assistance are some of the many ways AI is quietly yet unmistakably driving some of the latest advancements inside our phones, PCs, cars and other crucial 21st century devices. And the combination of 5G and AI is enabling a world with distributed intelligence where AI processing is happening on devices and in the cloud.

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Alex Katouzian
Alex Katouzian currently serves as senior vice president and general manager of the Mobile, Compute and Infrastructure (MCI) Business Unit at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. In this role, Katouzian is responsible for the profit, loss and strategy of the MCI BU, which includes business lines for Mobile Handset Products and Application Processor Technologies, 4G and 5G Mobile Broadband for embedded applications, Small and Macro Cells, Modem Technologies, Compute products across multiple OS’, eXtended Reality and AI Edge Cloud products.
Protocol | Workplace

Tech company hybrid work policies are becoming more flexible, not less

Twitter, LinkedIn and Asana are already changing their hybrid policies to allow for more flexibility.

Photo: FG Trade/Getty Images

Twitter, LinkedIn and Asana are all loosening up their strategies around hybrid work, allowing for more flexibility before even fully reopening their offices.

In the last week and a half, Twitter announced it's adopting an asynchronous-first approach, and both Asana and LinkedIn said they would increase the amount of time their employees can work remotely.

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Allison Levitsky
Allison Levitsky is a reporter at Protocol covering workplace issues in tech. She previously covered big tech companies and the tech workforce for the Silicon Valley Business Journal. Allison grew up in the Bay Area and graduated from UC Berkeley.
Power

Activision Blizzard scrambles to repair its toxic image

Blizzard President J. Allen Brack is the first executive to depart amid the sexual harassment crisis.

Activision Blizzard doesn't seem committed to lasting change.

Photo: Allen J. Schaben/Getty Images

As Activision Blizzard's workplace crisis rages on into its third week, the company is taking measures to try to calm the storm — to little avail. On Tuesday, Blizzard President J. Allen Brack, who took the reins at the developer responsible for World of Warcraft back in 2018, resigned. He's to be replaced by executives Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra, who will co-lead the studio in a power-sharing agreement some believe further solidifies CEO Bobby Kotick's control over the subsidiary.

Nowhere in Blizzard's statement about Brack's departure does it mention California's explosive sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit at the heart of the saga. The lawsuit, filed last month, resulted last week in a 500-person walkout at Blizzard's headquarters in Irvine. (Among the attendees was none other than Ybarra, the new studio co-head.)

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Nick Statt
Nick Statt is Protocol's video game reporter. Prior to joining Protocol, he was news editor at The Verge covering the gaming industry, mobile apps and antitrust out of San Francisco, in addition to managing coverage of Silicon Valley tech giants and startups. He now resides in Rochester, New York, home of the garbage plate and, completely coincidentally, the World Video Game Hall of Fame. He can be reached at nstatt@protocol.com.
Protocol | Workplace

Alabama Amazon workers will likely get a second union vote

An NLRB judge said that Amazon "usurped" the NLRB by pushing for a mailbox to be installed in front of its facility, and also that the company violated laws that protect workers from monitoring of their behavior during union elections.

An NLRB judge ruled that Amazon has violated union election rules

Image: Amazon

Bessemer, Alabama warehouse workers will likely get a second union vote because of Amazon's efforts to have a USPS ballot box installed just outside of the Bessemer warehouse facility during the mail-in vote, as well as other violations of union vote rules, according to an NLRB ruling published Tuesday morning.

While union organizers, represented by the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, lost the first vote by more than a 2:1 margin, a second election will be scheduled and held unless Amazon successfully appeals the ruling. Though Amazon is the country's second-largest private employer, no unionization effort at the company has ever been successful.

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Anna Kramer

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