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.

Podcasts

Should startups be scared?

Stock market turmoil is making VCs skittish. Could now be the best time to start a company?

yellow sticky notes on gray wall
Photo by Startaê Team on Unsplash

This week, we break down why Elon Musk is tweeting about the S&P 500's ESG rankings — and why he might be right to be mad. Then we discuss how tech companies are failing to prevent mass shootings, and why the new Texas social media law might make it more difficult for platforms to be proactive.

Then Protocol's Biz Carson, author of the weekly VC newsletter Pipeline, joins us to explain the state of venture capital amidst plunging stocks and declining revenues. Should founders start panicking? The answer might surprise you.

Keep Reading Show less
Caitlin McGarry

Caitlin McGarry is the news editor at Protocol.

Sponsored Content

Why the digital transformation of industries is creating a more sustainable future

Qualcomm’s chief sustainability officer Angela Baker on how companies can view going “digital” as a way not only toward growth, as laid out in a recent report, but also toward establishing and meeting environmental, social and governance goals.

Three letters dominate business practice at present: ESG, or environmental, social and governance goals. The number of mentions of the environment in financial earnings has doubled in the last five years, according to GlobalData: 600,000 companies mentioned the term in their annual or quarterly results last year.

But meeting those ESG goals can be a challenge — one that businesses can’t and shouldn’t take lightly. Ahead of an exclusive fireside chat at Davos, Angela Baker, chief sustainability officer at Qualcomm, sat down with Protocol to speak about how best to achieve those targets and how Qualcomm thinks about its own sustainability strategy, net zero commitment, other ESG targets and more.

Keep Reading Show less
Chris Stokel-Walker

Chris Stokel-Walker is a freelance technology and culture journalist and author of "YouTubers: How YouTube Shook Up TV and Created a New Generation of Stars." His work has been published in The New York Times, The Guardian and Wired.

Fintech

Data privacy and harassment could spoil Grindr’s Wall Street romance

As it pursues a long-held goal of going public, the gay dating app has to confront its demons.

Grindr may finally be a public company.

Illustration: woocat/iStock/Getty Images Plus; Protocol

Grindr's looking for more than just a hookup with Wall Street. Finding a stable relationship may be tough.

The location-based dating app favored by gay men was a pioneer, predating Tinder by three years. It’s bounced from owner to owner after founder Joel Simkhai sold it in 2018 for $245 million. A SPAC merger could be the answer, but businesses serving the LGBTQ+ community have had trouble courting investors. And Grindr has its own unique set of challenges.

Keep Reading Show less
Veronica Irwin

Veronica Irwin (@vronirwin) is a San Francisco-based reporter at Protocol, covering breaking news. Previously she was at the San Francisco Examiner, covering tech from a hyper-local angle. Before that, her byline was featured in SF Weekly, The Nation, Techworker, Ms. Magazine and The Frisc.

Inside the Crypto Cannabis Club

As crypto crashes, an NFT weed club holds on to the high.

The Crypto Cannabis Club’s Discord has 23,000 subscribers, with 28 chapters globally.

Photo: Nat Rubio-Licht/Protocol

On a Saturday night in downtown Los Angeles, a group of high strangers gathered in a smoky, colorful venue less than a mile from Crypto.com Arena. The vibe was relaxed but excited, and the partygoers, many of whom were meeting each other for the very first time, greeted each other like old friends, calling each other by their Discord names. The mood was celebratory: The Crypto Cannabis Club, an NFT community for stoners, was gathering to celebrate the launch of its metaverse dispensary.

The warmth and belonging of the weed-filled party was a contrast to the metaverse store, which was underwhelming by comparison. But the dispensary launch and the NFTs required to buy into the group are just an excuse: As with most Web3 projects, it’s really about the community. Even though crypto is crashing, taking NFTs with it, the Crypto Cannabis Club is unphased, CEO Ryan Hunter told Protocol.

Keep Reading Show less
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.

Climate

The minerals we need to save the planet are getting way too expensive

Supply chain problems and rising demand have sent prices spiraling upward for the minerals and metals essential for the clean energy transition.

Critical mineral prices have exploded over the past year.

Photo: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The newest source of the alarm bells echoing throughout the renewables industry? Spiking critical mineral and metal prices.

According to a new report from the International Energy Agency, a maelstrom of rising demand and tattered supply chains have caused prices for the materials needed for clean energy technologies to soar in the last year. And this increase has only accelerated since 2022 began.

Keep Reading Show less
Lisa Martine Jenkins

Lisa Martine Jenkins is a senior reporter at Protocol covering climate. Lisa previously wrote for Morning Consult, Chemical Watch and the Associated Press. Lisa is currently based in Brooklyn, and is originally from the Bay Area. Find her on Twitter ( @l_m_j_) or reach out via email (ljenkins@protocol.com).

Latest Stories
Bulletins