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.

Policy

A new UK visa could steal your top tech talent

Without meaningful immigration reform, U.S.-trained foreign graduates could head across the pond.

The U.S. immigration system turns away hundreds of thousands of highly skilled tech workers every year.

Photo: Ben Fathers/AFP via Getty Images

Almost as soon as he took office, President Biden began the work of undoing a lot of the damage the Trump administration did to the U.S. H-1B visa program. He allowed a Trump-era ban on entry by H-1B holders to expire and withdrew a Trump proposal to prohibit H-1B visa holders’ spouses from working in the U.S. More recently, his administration has expanded the number of degrees considered eligible for special STEM OPT visas.

But the U.S. immigration system still turns away hundreds of thousands of highly skilled — and in many cases U.S.-educated — tech workers every year. Now the U.K. is trying to capitalize on the United States’ failure to reform its policy regarding high-skilled immigrants with a new visa that could poach American-trained tech talent across the pond. And there’s good reason to believe it could work.

Keep Reading Show less
Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu
Kwasi (kway-see) is a fellow at Protocol with an interest in tech policy and climate. Previously, he covered global religion news at the Associated Press in New York. Before that, he was a freelance journalist based out of Accra, Ghana, covering social justice, health, and environment stories. His reporting has been published in The New York Times, Quartz, CNN, The Guardian, and Public Radio International. He can be reached at kasiedu@protocol.com.

Now that most organizations are returning to the office, there are varying extremes – some leaders demand that employees return to the office, with some employees revolting and some rejoicing to be together again. On the other hand, some companies have closed physical offices and made remote work permanent; creating a sigh of relief for some employees and creating frustration for others.

Most of us are somewhere in between, trying our best to take a measured approach at building the right hybrid strategy tailored to company culture. Some seemingly have begun to crack the code, while the majority are grappling with the when, how, why, and who of this new hybrid work reality.

Keep Reading Show less
Nathan Coutinho

Nathan Coutinho leads Logitech's global conferencing business strategy and analyst relations. A Swiss company focused on innovation and quality, Logitech designs products and experiences that have an everyday place in people's lives.Coutinho leads strategy and execution of Logitech's video conferencing solutions, from personal solutions to highly-scalable conference rooms.Coutinho has more than 25 years of experience in the IT industry with various roles in executive leadership, consulting, engineering, marketing and technical sales.

Fintech

A new regulator is stepping into the 'rent-a-bank' ring

The CFPB is promising a "close look" at controversial lending partnerships between banks and fintechs.

Rent-a-bank lending for personal loans is getting regulatory attention.

Photo: Attentie Attentie/Unsplash

Consumer groups pushing for banking regulators to crack down on so-called rent-a-bank lending for personal loans may have found a willing watchdog.

Zixta Martinez, deputy director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said at a recent consumer group conference that the agency is taking a "close look" at the lending partnerships between banks and nonbanks, which are often fintech companies.

Keep Reading Show less
Ryan Deffenbaugh
Ryan Deffenbaugh is a reporter at Protocol focused on fintech. Before joining Protocol, he reported on New York's technology industry for Crain's New York Business. He is based in New York and can be reached at rdeffenbaugh@protocol.com.
Enterprise

Why Thomas Kurian thinks cloud computing is on the brink of a new era

Kurian tapped his enterprise experience from 22 years at Oracle to reshape Google Cloud as an open, hybrid and multicloud player. What comes next?

Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian spoke with Protocol.

Photo courtesy of Google/Weinberg-Clark Photography

When Thomas Kurian landed the CEO role at Google Cloud, he was welcomed as a respected technologist and executive bringing 22 years of needed enterprise chops from Oracle for a substantial undertaking: turning an underdog into a heavyweight contender for meeting major corporations’ cloud needs.

At the Google Cloud Next conference in early 2019, Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai introduced Kurian, then about three months into his tenure, as a “tremendous leader with a powerful vision” who already had met with hundreds of customers and partners and whose “personal productivity is testing the limits of G Suite and Calendar.”

Keep Reading Show less
Donna Goodison

Donna Goodison (@dgoodison) is Protocol's senior reporter focusing on enterprise infrastructure technology, from the 'Big 3' cloud computing providers to data centers. She previously covered the public cloud at CRN after 15 years as a business reporter for the Boston Herald. Based in Massachusetts, she also has worked as a Boston Globe freelancer, business reporter at the Boston Business Journal and real estate reporter at Banker & Tradesman after toiling at weekly newspapers.

Enterprise

AWS employees say evidence of misconduct hides in plain sight

Such is the reality of today’s corporate environment.

There was hope this report would be the catalyst to institute more systemic change within both ProServe and the whole of AWS.

Image: Henrique Casinhas/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

It’s a tale as old as, well, the last few years. And this month, it’s AWS that got to live it.

The company recently outlined to employees the findings of an external probe conducted by Oppenheimer Investigations Group into a troubled division of the sprawling cloud giant. Known shorthand as ProServe, it’s the unit that helps customers make the most of AWS products.

Keep Reading Show less
Joe Williams

Joe Williams is a writer-at-large at Protocol. He previously covered enterprise software for Protocol, Bloomberg and Business Insider. Joe can be reached at JoeWilliams@Protocol.com. To share information confidentially, he can also be contacted on a non-work device via Signal (+1-309-265-6120) or JPW53189@protonmail.com.

Latest Stories
Bulletins