Editor’s note: Get this free weekly recap of TechCrunch news that any startup can use by email every Saturday morning (7 a.m. PT). Subscribe here. And I don’t mean building an app that gets the world addicted to short-form videos. I mean, where you build a huge company that spans the world and then get turned into
Editor’s note: Get this free weekly recap of TechCrunch news that any startup can use by email every Saturday morning (7 a.m. PT). Subscribe here.
And I don’t mean building an app that gets the world addicted to short-form videos. I mean, where you build a huge company that spans the world and then get turned into a political football.
The Bytedance-owned app developer still appears headed for a shutdown in the US, after the already convoluted talks stalled out this past week. Each national government appears to require local ownership of a new entity, as Catherine Shu details, and the business partners are each claiming ownership. It’s a zero sum global game now for control of data and algorithms.
On the other side of the world, Facebook was quick to state that it would not be pulling out of the European Union this week even if it is forced to keep EU user data local, as Natasha Lomas covered. The company was clarifying a recent filing it had made that seemed to threaten otherwise — it doesn’t want to get TikTok’d.
For startups with physical supply chains, existing tensions are squeezing business activity from Chimerica out into other parts of the world, as Brian Heater wrote about the topic for Extra Crunch this week. Here’s what one founder told him:
Many [companies] are considering manufacturing in areas like Southeast Asia and India. Vietnam, in particular, has offered an appealing proposition for a labor pool, notes Ho Chi Minh City-based Sonny Vu, CEO of carbon-fiber products manufacturer Arevo and founder of deep tech VC fund Alabaster. “We’re friendly [with] the Americans and the West in general. Vietnam, they’ve got 100 million people, they can make stuff,” Vu explains. “The supply chains are getting more and more sophisticated. One of the issues has been the subpar supply chain … it’s not as deep and broad as as other places like China. That’s changing really fast and people are willing to do manufacturing. I’ve heard from my friends trying to make stuff in China, labor’s always this chronic issue.”
Danny Crichton blamed nationalistic US policies for undermining the country’s long-term commitment to leading global free trade and threatening its competitive future, in a provocative rant last weekend. There’s truth to that, but the underlying truth is that globalization worked, it just hasn’t work as well as hoped for a lot of people in the US and some other parts of the world. In addition to phenomenon like China’s industrial engine, for example, those cross-border flows of money and technology have helped nurture the startup ecosystem in Europe.
Mike Butcher, who has been covering startups for TechCrunch from London since last decade, writes about a new report from Index Ventures about this trend.
It used to be the case that in order to scale globally, European companies needed to spend big on launching in the U.S. to achieve the kind of growth they wanted. That usually meant relocating large swathes of the team to the San Francisco Bay Area, or New York. New research suggests that is no longer the case, as the U.S. has become more expensive, and as the opportunity in Europe has improved. This means European startups are committing much less of their team and resources to a U.S. launch, but still getting decent results…. Between 2008-2014, almost two-thirds (59%) of European startups expanded, or moved entirely, to the U.S. ahead of Series A funding rounds. However, between 2015-2019, this number decreased to a third (33%).
The report also highlights the economic problem of dividing up markets into political blocks. “European corporates invest three-quarters (76%) less than their U.S. counterparts on software,” Butcher adds about the report. “And this is normally on compliance rather than innovation. This means European startups are likely to continue to look to the U.S. for exits to corporates.”
The pain from failing to trade will come home sooner or later to each government, as Danny observes. But that could be longer than your current company exists. Instead, now is the time to pick the markets you can win, and plan for a world where success has a lower ceiling. And hey, if you’re lucky, your national government could pick you as its winner!
We’ve been recapping key moments from the Extra Crunch Stage at Disrupt this week, here’s a key segment from a panel Alex Wilhelm hosted about how to achieve the $100m ARR dream, featuring Egnyte CEO Vineet Jain:
After explaining that in the early stages of building a SaaS company it’s common to focus more on adding new revenue than “plugging the holes at the bottom,” [Jain] added that as a company matures and grows, more focus has to be paid to managing churn and retention. He said that dollar-based retention is a key metric in the SaaS world that startups are valued by, meaning that after securing a customer, your ability to upsell that same account over a “defined window of time” really matters.
Noting the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that bonuses at Egnyte are tied to retention, “I say, managing churn is the new revenue,” he added. “Focus on that disproportionately more than you would focus on just top-line growth” … . Egnyte, Jain added, drives to just one or two metrics (net new MRR, or gross MRR adds and churn). “Everything that we’re doing, all of us [at Egnyte] have to be measured with that number to say, ‘How are we doing as a company?’” So if your startup is post-Series A, listen to what Jain says on managing churn. After all his company reached $100 million ARR, has a few dozen million in the bank, grew 22% in Q2 and is EBITDA positive.
Image Credits: Nigel Sussman (opens in a new window)
While public markets have waffled on tech stocks lately, the overall momentum of unicorn IPOs has continued.
Except, Danny may have slowed things down a bit for Palantir? Here are the key headlines from the week:
We’re making another big update to The TechCrunch List of startup investors who write the first checks and lead the scary rounds, based on thousands of recommendations that we’ve been receiving from founders. Here’s more, from Danny:
Since the launch of the List, we’ve seen great engagement: tens of thousands of founders have each come back multiple times to use the List to scout out their next fundraising moves and understand the ever-changing landscape of venture investing.
We last revised The TechCrunch List at the end of July 30 with 116 new VCs based on founder recommendations, but as with all things venture capital, the investing world moves quickly. That means it’s already time to begin another update.
To make sure we have the best information, we need founders — from new founders who might have just raised their VC rounds to experienced founders adding another round to their cap tables — to submit recommendations. Thankfully, our survey is pretty short (about two minutes), and the help you can give other founders fundraising is invaluable. Please submit your recommendation soon.
Since our last update in July, we have already had 840 founders submit new recommendations, and we are now sitting at about 3,500 recommendations in total now. Every recommendation helps us identify promising and thoughtful VCs, helping founders globally cut through the noise of the industry and find the leads for their next checks.
This week Natasha Mascarenhas, Danny Crichton and your humble servant gathered to chat through a host of rounds and venture capital news for your enjoyment. As a programming note, I am off next week effectively, so look for Natasha to lead on Equity Monday and then both her and Danny to rock the Thursday show. I will miss everyone.
But onto the show itself, here’s what we got into:
Bon voyage for a week, please stay safe and don’t forget to register to vote.
Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the TechCrunch series that recaps the latest OS news, the applications they support and the money that flows through it all. The app industry is as hot as ever, with a record 204 billion downloads and $120 billion in consumer spending in 2019. People are now spending three hours and 40 minutes per day
Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the TechCrunch series that recaps the latest OS news, the applications they support and the money that flows through it all.
The app industry is as hot as ever, with a record 204 billion downloads and $120 billion in consumer spending in 2019. People are now spending three hours and 40 minutes per day using apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus.
In this series, we help you keep up with the latest news from the world of apps, delivered on a weekly basis.
The release of iOS 14 included one of the biggest updates to the iPhone’s user interface in years. Apps can now be stored off screen in the new App Library where they’re organized for you, as opposed to you being forced to categorize apps yourself into various folders. And Apple finally allows for home screen widgets — a development that left Android users snickering about how “behind” their iPhone-using counterparts have been all this time.
But as with iOS apps, Apple’s design constraints and rules around widgets mean there’s a standard that all widgets have to meet to be approved. As a result, widgets have a consistent look-and-feel, thanks to things like size limitations and other design guidelines. They can’t be stretched out indefinitely or moved all over the screen, either.
Apple may have originally envisioned widgets as a way for existing iOS apps to gain a larger presence on users’ home screens, while delivering key information like news, weather or stock updates, for example. But a handful of iOS developers instead built apps that allowed users to design widgets themselves — by selecting colors, fonts, sizes, backgrounds and what information the widget would display.
Meanwhile, TikTok users and other Gen Z’ers began teaching each other how to create custom icons for their apps using Apple’s Shortcuts app. These tutorials were starting to trend even before iOS 14’s release, but the addition of the App Library and widgets meant users could now finally customize their entire home screen. That prompted a more enthusiastic adoption of the icon customization technique.
On the Twitter hashtag #iOS14homescreen, users shared their creations — a showcase of creativity where home screens looked fully themed at last, with custom icons, widgets, decorative photos, matching wallpapers and more. The results have been fantastic.
And at the top of the App Store, there now sit a trio of must-have tools for this new era: Widgetsmith, Color Widgets and Photo Widget today continue to claim the top three spots on the free apps chart.
Users are also now demanding Apple to change how app shortcuts open. Currently, an app shortcut first launches Apple’s Shortcuts app, which then opens the target app. With the popularity of custom icons, users want that intermediate step cut out.
Apple is aware of the customization craze as it has in the days since iOS 14’s release run App Store editorial features about iOS 14’s design changes, suggested widgets to try, creative tools and more. It also featured apps at the top of the App Store, which are benefiting from the trend, like apps offering great widgets, like Fantastical, or those that are booming, like Pinterest — which recently broke its daily download record.
A number of top app makers have banded together to fight against Apple’s control of its App Store and, to a lesser extent, Google’s control of the Play Store — a topic of increased regulatory scrutiny in recent months. Today, 13 app publishers, including Epic Games, Deezer, Basecamp, Tile, Spotify and others, have launched the Coalition for App Fairness.
The new organization formalizes efforts the companies already have underway that focus on either forcing app store providers to change their policies, or ultimately pushing the app stores into regulation.
On the coalition’s website, the group details its key issues, which include anti-competitive practices, like the app stores’ 30% commission structure, and the inability to distribute software to billions of Apple devices through any other means but the App Store, which the group sees as an affront to personal freedom.
Google allows apps to be side-loaded, so it’s not as much of a target on this front. In fact, much of the focus of the coalition’s efforts have to do with Apple’s business, given its stricter guidelines.
The group has also published a list of 10 “App Store Principles” it would like to see enacted industry-wide. These include the ability to distribute apps outside of app stores, protections from having their own data used against them to compete, timely access to developer documentation, the right to communicate with users through its app for legitimate business purposes, no requirements to use the app store’s payment systems, no requirements to pay unfair fees and more.
The website is also aiming to recruit new members to join the coalition. App makers who feel similarly oppressed by Apple’s practices are able to fill out a form to request to join.
Apple responded to the hardball tactics with a barrage of new material and data meant to highlight the benefits of its App Store platform. The company on Thursday revealed the number of rejections it enforces is quite low compared to the number of submissions. It said it rejected 150,000 apps in 2020 but sees 100,000 submissions per week. It also has removed more than 60 million user reviews it believed to be spam.
The company noted its Developer program has over 28 million developers worldwide, whose apps have seen over 50 billion promotions — meaning when a user sees an app Apple has promoted on the App Store, in emails, on social media or in other general advertising.
However, the backlash has also forced Apple to be more transparent about some of its until-now fairly secretive programs. For example, Apple has now published a page that clarifies how its Video Partner program works — a program that had before only been detailed via background conversations with reporters who then relayed the information to readers. The page reveals the program’s requirements and that over 130 premium subscription video entertainment providers have since joined. If the guidelines are followed, these providers can pay only a 15% commission to Apple instead of 20%.
Current members include Amazon Prime Video, Binge, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Claro, C More, DAZN, Disney+, Globo, HBO Max, Joyn, Molotov, MUBI, myCanal, STARZ and Viaplay, the website said.
The deal that Trump was poised to approve solved some but not all concerns by making Oracle a trusted technology partner responsible for hosting U.S. user data and ensuring other security requirements were in place. But issues around how the TikTok algorithm could be used to influence U.S. users or censor content were not addressed.
The ban got a week’s extension as a result of promising progress and the announcements that seemed to indicate the parties were in agreement on terms.
But this week, China jumped in to say it won’t approve a TikTok sale. In China Daily, an official English-language newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, an editorial slammed the deal that would see Oracle and Walmart effectively taking over TikTok in the U.S. as one based on “bullying and extortion.”
At the same time, TikTok is chasing a legal means of preventing its ban in the U.S.
TikTok filed a motion to stop the Commerce Department from enforcing the Trump administration’s ban that would otherwise be set to start this weekend. The move came shortly after WeChat users were granted an injunction in a federal court last week that blocked the app from being banned. TikTok’s filing asks the court to set a hearing before the rules take effect at 11:59 PM on September 27, 2020. But unlike the WeChat case, TikTok is the one asking the court to stop the ban, not its users.
A federal judge said Thursday that the Trump administration must either delay the ban on U.S. app stores or file its legal response to defend the decision by 2:30 PM Friday. The Justice Department filed its opposition Friday, saying that U.S. user data being stored outside the country is a “significant” risk. The judge will still need to rule on the injunction — that is, whether the ban should go into effect Sunday, as planned.
Stay tuned to TechCrunch for the latest on this never-ending saga.
How could you not be customizing your iOS 14 home screen this week? The launch of the new mobile OS has delivered an entirely new category of apps — widget design tools. And alongside these apps, there are others that can help you get started creating a whole new look for your home screen. These could be creative tools, those for sourcing inspiration or those for building custom icons. Want a weekend project? These apps below can get you going:
Popular food delivery service Postmates is in the process of merging with Uber in a blockbuster $2.65 billion deal that would see it join forces with its food delivery competitor, Uber Eats. The deal remains under antitrust scrutiny, and has not yet been approved for closing. The deal is expected to close in the first
Popular food delivery service Postmates is in the process of merging with Uber in a blockbuster $2.65 billion deal that would see it join forces with its food delivery competitor, Uber Eats. The deal remains under antitrust scrutiny, and has not yet been approved for closing. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2021.
However, a new SEC filing posted after hours this Friday gives us a glimpse into how Postmates is faring in the new world of global pandemics and sit-in dining closures across the United States.
Postmates posted a loss of just $32.2 million in Q2, compared to a loss of $73 million in Q1, nearly cutting its cash burning in half. That compares to Uber Eats’ results, which showed a loss of $286 million in the first quarter of 2020 and a loss of $232 million in the second quarter — an improvement of roughly 20%, according to Uber’s most recent financial reports.
Altogether, Postmates lost $105.2 million in the first half of 2020, compared to a loss of $239 million in the same period of 2019.
Uber through its filing today also disclosed the cap table for Postmates in full detail for the first time. On a fully diluted basis, the largest shareholder in Postmates is Tiger Global, which owns 27.2% of the company. Following up is Founders Fund with 11.4%, Spark Capital with 6.9% and GPI Capital with 5.3%. At Uber’s $2.65 billion all-stock deal, that nets Tiger Global roughly $720 million and Founders Fund roughly $302 million, not including some stock preferences and dividends that certain owners of the company hold.
While Postmates and Uber continue to go through the antitrust review process at the federal level, the companies also face legal pressure in their own backyards. Uber noted in its filing today that it and Postmates face headwinds due to California’s AB 5 bill, which is designed to give additional employment protections to freelance workers. However, the company notes that such litigation “may not, in and of itself, give rise to a right of either party to terminate the transaction.”
We’ve got an in-depth review of the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple gives Facebook a temporary break on App Store fees and Alexis Ohanian is raising a new fund. This is your Daily Crunch for September 25, 2020. The big story: Reviewing the new Apple Watch Brian Heater has already been writing about the Apple
We’ve got an in-depth review of the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple gives Facebook a temporary break on App Store fees and Alexis Ohanian is raising a new fund. This is your Daily Crunch for September 25, 2020.
The big story: Reviewing the new Apple Watch
His verdict? Well, the core product hasn’t changed dramatically, but he notes that the biggest new feature, blood oxygen monitoring, requires a good fit, which makes sizing issues with the Solo Loop extra awkward. He also suggests that what we’re seeing now is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to monitoring functionality.
Taken as a whole, the Series 6 isn’t a huge leap forward over the Series 5 — and not really worth the upgrade for those who already own that recent vintage. But there are nice improvements throughout, augmented by good upgrades to watchOS that make the best-selling smartwatch that much better, while clearly laying the groundwork for Apple Watches of the future.
The tech giants
Apple is (temporarily) waiving its App Store fee for Facebook’s online events — This arrangement will last until December 31 and will not apply to gaming creators.
Twitter warns developers that their private keys and account tokens may have been exposed — Twitter has emailed developers warning of a bug that may have exposed sensitive data.
Google Meet and other Google services go down — Yesterday was a rough day for Google’s engineers.
Startups, funding and venture capital
Alexis Ohanian files for a new $150M fund, with a nod to his Olympian family — According to an SEC filing, Ohanian is raising a new fund, named 776 (the first Olympics were supposedly held in 776 B.C.E.).
Indonesian cloud kitchen startup Yummy gets $12 million Series B led by SoftBank Ventures Asia — Launched in June 2019, Yummy Corporation’s network of cloud kitchens now includes more than 70 facilities in Jakarta, Bandung and Medan.
HumanForest suspends London e-bike sharing service, cuts jobs after customer accident — The service suspension comes only a few months after HumanForest started the trial in North London.
Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch
Want to hire and retain high-quality developers? Give them stimulating work — With demand for developers on the rise, companies are under pressure to do everything they can to attract and retain talent.
Privacy data management innovations reduce risk, create new revenue channels — A new generation of infosec tools is needed to address the unique risks associated with the management of privacy data.
4 things to remember when adapting AI/ML learning models during a pandemic — New machine learning and AI-powered tools highlight a few pervasive challenges faced by both machines and the humans that create them.
(Reminder: Extra Crunch is our subscription membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)
Cambridge Analytica’s former boss gets 7-year ban on being a business director — Alexander Nix signed a disqualification undertaking earlier this month, which the U.K. government said yesterday it had accepted.
NASA commissions report to show its economic impact: $64B and 312K jobs — Perhaps anticipating budget pushback from the federal government, NASA has released its first-ever agency-wide economic report.
The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.
The notion that Black people in America need to work twice as hard as others to succeed may be a depressing sentiment, but it has been deeply ingrained into the psyches of many African-Americans. At TechCrunch Disrupt, several Black founders spoke about some of the burdens that come along with being a Black person in
The notion that Black people in America need to work twice as hard as others to succeed may be a depressing sentiment, but it has been deeply ingrained into the psyches of many African-Americans.
At TechCrunch Disrupt, several Black founders spoke about some of the burdens that come along with being a Black person in tech. Many of us are familiar with imposter syndrome, where one feels like they’re a fraud and fear being “found out.” But another idea that came up was representation syndrome.
Representation syndrome centers around this idea that because there are so few Black people in tech, being one of the only ones comes with this added pressure to be successful. Otherwise, one may feel that if they fail as one of the only Black people in tech, they will inadvertently make it harder for other Black people to be embraced by this homogeneous industry. That’s a heavy load to carry.
As Jessica Matthews, founder and CEO at Uncharted Power said:
When we raised our Series A, the immediate thing I thought was, ‘Oh, man. I can not lose these people’s money.’ This is huge and if we don’t work, it’s not even about us, it’s about every other person who looks like me.
Matthews said she hopes for a world where her daughter “can be mediocre as hell and still raise funding.” In 2016, she launched the Harlem Tech Fund, a nonprofit organization focused on STEM.
“You know, we would tell people we’re going to be the first billion-dollar tech company in Harlem, but we do not want to be the last,” she said.
Perhaps anticipating budget pushback from the federal government, NASA has released its first-ever agency-wide economic report, documenting the agency’s impact on the nation’s jobs and cash flow. Everyone knew NASA was impactful, but now we know exactly how impactful it is, some $64 billion and more than 300,000 jobs’ worth in FY2019. It seems clear
Perhaps anticipating budget pushback from the federal government, NASA has released its first-ever agency-wide economic report, documenting the agency’s impact on the nation’s jobs and cash flow. Everyone knew NASA was impactful, but now we know exactly how impactful it is, some $64 billion and more than 300,000 jobs’ worth in FY2019.
It seems clear that the 2,670-page report is meant to show just how valuable the agency is to the country, and how it’s very much an investment in the economy and not, as some suggest, a hole we throw money into and pull science out of. The major points it makes are these:
“Support” is interpreted broadly, though not necessarily overly so — it’s a standard model going back to the ’70s, a NASA representative explained. Essentially, NASA’s direct payroll and procurement budgets are one thing, but they may lead to increased demand for goods and services in general, and increased spending by companies, consumers and local governments. So a NASA contractor doing $5 million worth of composites work also produces demand in the city it’s based in for logistics work, business services, food and other everyday needs — perhaps to the tune of twice the money actually spent by NASA.
The report goes into remarkably fine detail on the thousands of industries it supports in direct and indirect ways. For instance, on page 138 of the appendix (page 493 overall), we find that NASA supports 66 jobs in the sheet metal manufacturing world, worth about $4 million in labor, adding nearly $6 million in value itself, and producing a total positive economic impact of about $14 million. Then there’s the 91 jobs in fabricated metal structures, the 13 in heavy gauge metal tank manufacturing, seven in cutlery, utensil, pot and pan manufacturing… and so on, for many pages.
Sometimes these connections seem a bit tenuous. How does NASA support small arms manufacturing and produce a $4 million economic impact, or support the tortilla industry to a similar degree? It seems these are extrapolated as indirect effects of the broader impact of having a NASA-sourced project in town. A major research center can support a lot of taco trucks.
The final picture is simple enough, however: NASA is a huge force in our economy and one that repays its investment several times over, even when you don’t account for the “value” of exploring and understanding our universe.
It’s also broken down by state, a convenient way for members of Congress to justify NASA’s budget to their constituents, should they need convincing. When some of those billions could be spent on PPE and pandemic response rather than what some may perceive as research and programs with no immediate practical benefit, it’s important to be able to show how the agency is more than just an expense.
The progress seen in AI/machine learning leading up to and during the pandemic cannot be ignored, but this crisis brings with it a unique opportunity for updates and innovation in modeling.
The machine learning and AI-powered tools being deployed in response to COVID-19 arguably improve certain human activities and provide essential insights needed to make certain personal or professional decisions; however, they also highlight a few pervasive challenges faced by both machines and the humans that create them.
Nevertheless, the progress seen in AI/machine learning leading up to and during the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be ignored. This global economic and public health crisis brings with it a unique opportunity for updates and innovation in modeling, so long as certain underlying principles are followed.
Here are four industry truths (note: this is not an exhaustive list) my colleagues and I have found that matter in any design climate, but especially during a global pandemic climate.
When a big group of people is collectively working on a problem, success may become more likely. Looking at historic examples like the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, there were several analysts credited with predicting the crisis. This may seem miraculous to some until you consider that more than 200,000 people were working in Wall Street, each of them making their own predictions. It then becomes less of a miracle and more of a statistically probable outcome. With this many individuals simultaneously working on modeling and predictions, it was highly likely someone would get it right by chance.
Similarly, with COVID-19 there are a lot of people involved, from statistical modelers and data scientists to vaccine specialists, and there is also an overwhelming eagerness to find solutions and concrete data-based answers. Following appropriate statistical rigor, coupled with machine learning and AI, can improve these models and decrease the chances of false predictions that arrive from too many predictions being made.
During a crisis, time-management is essential. Automation technology can be used not only as part of the crisis solution, but also as a tool for monitoring productivity and contributions of team members working on the solution. For modeling, automation can also greatly improve the speed of results. Every second a piece of software can perform automation for a model, it allows a data scientist (or even a medical scientist) to conduct other more important tasks. User-friendly platforms in the market now give more people, like business analysts, access to predictions from custom machine learning models.
TGIF, am I right? Welcome back to Human Capital, where we explore some of the latest news in labor, diversity and inclusion in tech. This week, we’re looking at the use of “master/slave” terminology in computer programming and the current state of gig workers in California. Human Capital will soon be available as a weekly
TGIF, am I right? Welcome back to Human Capital, where we explore some of the latest news in labor, diversity and inclusion in tech.
This week, we’re looking at the use of “master/slave” terminology in computer programming and the current state of gig workers in California.
Human Capital will soon be available as a weekly newsletter. You can sign up here.
This probably isn’t news to developers, but it was news to me when I found out many tech companies still use slave-master language. Now, Microsoft-owned GitHub is gearing up to remove these references to slavery by naming primary code repositories “main” instead of “master.” These changes will go into effect on October 1.
GitHub talked about making these changes as early as June, when CEO Nat Friedman tweeted that it was something the company was already working on. But GitHub is by no means the first company to consider and make these changes. In 2014, open-source platform Drupal moved to replace “master/slave” with “primary/replica.”
One of its reasons for making the change was, “The word ‘slave’ has negative connotations (although this might or might not be relevant in the naming of a technical term) including multi-century history of slavery to benefit European colonial powers, prison laborers today forced to work in conditions at times resembling that slavery, young girls sold into sex slavery in many parts of the world today.”
Then, in 2018, programming language Python ditched the racist terminology. Meanwhile, Twitter began taking steps to replace those terms earlier this year and hopes to finish replacing that terminology by the end of 2021, according to CNET.
What’s wild is that these terms ever existed in the first place and are just now being addressed. While Los Angeles city officials way back in 2003 asked its manufacturers and suppliers to stop using the terminology, they did not require it.
So perhaps it’s no wonder why some tech companies struggle to retain Black employees. In 2019, for example, Google reported its attrition rates of Black and Latinx talent — which indicate the rate at which employees leave on an annual basis — were higher than the national average. When racism is built into the technical framework of a company, it perpetuates a false idea that white people are superior to Black people.
Two big things are happening pertaining to gig workers: Prop 22, the California bill backed by Uber, Lyft, Instacart and DoorDash that seeks to keep workers classified as independent contractors and lawsuits rooted in AB 5, the California law that went into effect earlier this year that lays out how to properly classify gig workers.
Let’s start with Prop 22. A new poll from the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies found that it’s going to be a close election. In a survey of 5,900 likely voters, UC Berkeley’s IGS found that 39% of voters would vote yes on Prop 22 while 36% said they would vote no. The other 25% are undecided.
As we mentioned last week, the Yes on 22 campaign has put in about $180 million into the campaign while the No on 22 side has put in about $4.6 million. Meanwhile, we’re seeing ads for Yes on 22 inside on-demand apps.
Image Credits: Screenshot of DoorDash app via TechCrunch
On the AB 5 side of things, Uber and Lyft are still in court after California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with city attorneys from Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco sued the companies, alleging they are misclassifying their workers. In the appeals court, which granted a stay on the preliminary injunction that would force Uber and Lyft to immediately reclassify their drivers, a number of amicus briefs have been filed.
In a brief filed by the National Employment Law Group, the ACLU and other civil rights groups, they say Uber and Lyft harm workers of color by classifying them as independent contractors:
Many poor workers of color and immigrants are stuck in a separate and unequal economy where they are underpaid, put in harm’s way on the job, and left to fend for themselves without access to paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, and other protections. By insisting that their drivers are not employees, Lyft and Uber further distance workers of colors from the bedrock workplace rights that provide real flexibility and economic security. Instead, their business models trap poor workers into intractable cycles of poverty and economic exclusion.
In the event Uber and Lyft are forced to reclassify their drivers, both Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and Lyft CEO Logan Green filed sworn statements earlier this month that confirmed they both have plans to comply with an order requiring them to reclassify their respective workforces.
In Khosrowshahi’s statement, he simply said “Uber has developed implementation plans” to comply with an order within no more than 30 days. In Green’s statement, he said “such an implementation may include ceasing rideshare operations in all or some parts of California.”
Have tips? Comments? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
According to an SEC filing, Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit and early-stage VC firm Initialized Capital, is raising a new fund, named 776, with a target of $150 million. The filing comes three months after the entrepreneur left Initialized Capital and a month after The Information first reported on his plans. Ohanian declined to
According to an SEC filing, Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit and early-stage VC firm Initialized Capital, is raising a new fund, named 776, with a target of $150 million. The filing comes three months after the entrepreneur left Initialized Capital and a month after The Information first reported on his plans. Ohanian declined to comment on details regarding the fund due to general solicitation restraints.
Along the filing, the fund launched an intentionally cryptic new website: sevensevensix.com. It appears that the name of the fund is a reference to when the first Olympics were held, in 776 B.C.E.
The website reads: “The first Olympics brought the best athletes from all over the known world to determine who was the greatest. The first competition was a 192m footrace; it was won by a cook from a nearby village. We’re going back to that very first starting line.”
If I had to guess, I’d say Ohanian’s investing in pre-seed and seed startups. And he’s likely not investing in startups solely run by cooks in villages all over Olympia, Greece.
His tie to the Olympics is personal. Ohanian is husband to tennis superstar and champion Serena Williams, who has four Olympic gold medals to her name. (Williams invests too, and joined Bumble’s investment fund a few years ago). In fact, the couple has a daughter, Alexis Olympia Williams. 776 is a likely nod to his gold medalist family, not just the games.
Further details on Ohanian’s new fund, and what it plans to focus on, remain opaque.
In a statement to TechCrunch, Initialized Capital said that Ohanian left the firm, which raised a $230 million fund in August, to work on a “a new project that will support a generation of founders in tech and beyond.”
Earlier this year, Ohanian left his board seat at Reddit following protests of police brutality. The co-founder urged Reddit to fill the seat with a Black board member. Reddit ultimately selected Y Combinator CEO Michael Seibel to fill the position.