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Protocol | Workplace

Hundreds of tech leaders sign letter rallying against anti-Semitism

"As business leaders, we have a collective responsibility to stand up for the society we want."

Affirm CEO Max Levchin is among the signatories of a letter standing up against anti-Semitic hate crimes.

Affirm CEO Max Levchin is among the signatories of a letter standing up against anti-Semitic hate crimes.

Photo: Affirm

Hundreds of tech investors, leaders and workers have signed a letter taking a stand against anti-Semitism in the U.S. after a recent string of attacks against Jewish people across the country.

Signatories of the letter include Affirm CEO Max Levchin, Thumbtack CEO Marco Zappacosta, Zynga chairman and founder Mark Pincus, Cowboy Ventures partner Aileen Lee and former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, along with the founders of companies like MasterClass, Warby Parker and Getaround. Figures from the world of entertainment and media also signed, including ViacomCBS chair Shari Redstone, Thrive Global CEO Arianna Huffington and actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

"If we're going to stand against hate in all its forms, we need to stand against anti-Semitism. Too few Americans acknowledge that anti-Semitism — prejudice against Jewish people — exists. It is an insidious and long-standing hatred," the letter said.

Enrich founder Jordana Stein said she felt compelled to write the letter after seeing the rise of anti-Semitic incidents across the U.S. There were more than twice as many anti-Semitic incidents in May 2021 compared to May 2020, the Anti-Defamation League reported on Monday, with the rise in incidents corresponding to the violence in the Middle East.

Stein wants to make clear, though, that the letter doesn't have to do with the actions of Israel, but is about the rise of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S., like recent vandalism against synagogues in Arizona. The letter states that "regardless of your views on Israel," it is "about protecting people from the injustice of anti-Semitism and hatred."

"The politics of what's happening in another country should never mean violence or attacks against people based on their religion," Stein said. "This really isn't about the politics of Israel, but standing up for ... the American right to practice religion," she added.

The tech industry has taken a more proactive stance in recent years and has rallied against hate crimes against several minority groups. In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, the tech industry supported the Black Lives Matter movement through new pledges and financial donations. There's also been a wave of awareness of hate crimes against Asians following March's mass shooting in Atlanta. In tech, many Asian Americans told Protocol that they faced a "unique flavor of oppression." Tech leaders also united in support of the Asian community.

At the same time, the rise in political and social activism has created a backlash. A few companies have publicly pulled back from speaking about politics at work and are no longer supporting causes that they view as falling outside their business mission.

"If companies say you can't talk politics at work, does that mean you can't stand up against anti-Semitism? If so, that's absurd," Bloomberg Beta investor Roy Bahat told Protocol.

After a year of support from the tech ecosystem in support of other diverse groups, Stein felt it was time to speak out against the violence against the Jewish community. She helped draft the letter with the aid of people like Bahat and others in the tech community. They started circulating it privately in the tech community before posting publicly this week. Jewish Insider first reported on the letter's existence.

Stein said she has hundreds more names to add after the letter received support from all corners of the tech industry. The most recent list included product managers at Google, a former NBA player, tech investor Baron Davis and Backstage Capital's Arlan Hamilton.

"I think folks get that this is a real form of hate. This isn't about politics, but this is about discrimination against people based on their religion," Bahat said.

Protocol | Workplace

The Activision Blizzard lawsuit has opened the floodgates

An employee walkout, a tumbling stock price and damning new reports of misconduct.

Activision Blizzard is being sued for widespread sexism, harassment and discrimination.

Photo: Bloomberg/Getty Images

Activision Blizzard is in crisis mode. The World of Warcraft publisher was the subject of a shocking lawsuit filed by California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing last week over claims of widespread sexism, harassment and discrimination against female employees. The resulting fallout has only intensified by the day, culminating in a 500-person walkout at the headquarters of Blizzard Entertainment in Irvine on Wednesday.

The company's stock price has tumbled nearly 10% this week, and CEO Bobby Kotick acknowledged in a message to employees Tuesday that Activision Blizzard's initial response was "tone deaf." Meanwhile, there has been a continuous stream of new reports unearthing horrendous misconduct as more and more former and current employees speak out about the working conditions and alleged rampant misogyny at one of the video game industry's largest and most powerful employers.

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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.

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.
Protocol | Workplace

Founder sues the company that acquired her startup

Knoq founder Kendall Hope Tucker is suing the company that acquired her startup for discrimination, retaliation and fraud.

Kendall Hope Tucker, founder of Knoq, is suing Ad Practitioners, which acquired her company last year.

Photo: Kendall Hope Tucker

Kendall Hope Tucker felt excited when she sold her startup last December. Tucker, the founder of Knoq, was sad to "give up control of a company [she] had poured five years of [her] heart, soul and energy into building," she told Protocol, but ultimately felt hopeful that selling it to digital media company Ad Practitioners was the best financial outcome for her, her team and her investors. Now, seven months later, Tucker is suing Ad Practitioners alleging discrimination, retaliation and fraud.

Knoq found success selling its door-to-door sales and analytics services to companies such as Google Fiber, Inspire Energy, Fluent Home and others. Knoq representatives would walk around neighborhoods, knocking on doors to market its customers' products and services. The pandemic, however, threw a wrench in its business. Prior to the acquisition, Knoq says it raised $6.5 million from Initialized Capital, Haystack.vc, Techstars and others.

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Megan Rose Dickey
Megan Rose Dickey is a senior reporter at Protocol covering labor and diversity in tech. Prior to joining Protocol, she was a senior reporter at TechCrunch and a reporter at Business Insider.
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Protocol | Workplace

What’s the purpose of a chief purpose officer?

Cisco's EVP and chief people, policy & purpose officer shares how the company is creating a more conscious and hybrid work culture.

Like many large organizations, the leaders at Cisco spent much of the past year working to ensure their employees had an inclusive and flexible workplace while everyone worked from home during the pandemic. In doing so, they brought a new role into the mix. In March 2021 Francine Katsoudas transitioned from EVP and chief people officer to chief people, policy & purpose Officer.

For many, the role of a purpose officer is new. Purpose officers hold their companies accountable to their mission and the people who work for them. In a conversation with Protocol, Katsoudas shared how she is thinking about the expanded role and the future of hybrid work at Cisco.

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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.

Protocol | Fintech

The digital dollar is coming. The payments industry is worried.

Jodie Kelley heads the Electronic Transactions Association. The trade group's members, who process $7 trillion a year in payments, want a say in the digital currency.

Jodie Kelley is CEO of the Electronic Transactions Association.

Photo: Electronic Transactions Association

The Electronic Transactions Association launched in 1990 just as new technologies, led by the World Wide Web, began upending the world of commerce and finance.

The disruption hasn't stopped.

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Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers 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 Signal at (510)731-8429.

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