Fall marches on at SHIFT … this week, Boston celebrates Octoberfest, New York has Yankees fever and San Francisco is all about the 49ers. Here are a few other things that caught our attention this week:
Tech worker walkouts
Increasingly, employees at some of the world’s largest tech companies are using their collective power to call for their employers to change their policies. This week, hundreds of Amazon employees called upon the e-commerce giant to do more to combat climate change. The move was the latest action by Amazon workers, following the nearly 2,000 employees who markets in coordination with the Global Climate strike.
As covered by CNET, these Amazon protests are part of a growing movement among tech workers to speak out against their employers “contradicts tech giants’ long-held culture of secrecy.” More than 20,000 employees at Google walked out to call attention to the company’s mishandling of sexual harassment allegations, and similar protests around their employers’ work with U.S. immigration agencies were waged by workers at Salesforce, Microsoft and Wayfair.
It will be interesting to see whether these actions influence corporate policies, or whether they will eventually face any retribution or backlash from their employers.
Is WeWork too big to fail?
The impact of WeWork’s canceled IPO and the company’s downward spiral continue. With the threat of layoffs looming, WeWork is experiencing a severe cash crunch and reportedly could run out of money by this time next month. According to CNBC, WeWork, which is the biggest private tenant in Manhattan, London and Washington, D.C., may not be able to pay rent starting in November. “Without a lifeline in the billions of dollars, WeWork will face an ugly fate, with bankruptcy firmly on the table,” the CNBC article states. “In turn, the entire commercial real estate market could be upended.”
Softbank and JP Morgan Chase – two of WeWork’s largest backers – have a very vested interest in keeping the company afloat, and are “aggressively trying to pull together financing packages.” Landlords who list WeWork as a long-term tenant don’t want the company to file for bankruptcy, either, as it would allow the company to more easily renegotiate or break their leases. A WeWork bankruptcy could have a devastating effect on the commercial real estate market in many cities, all eyes are on the company to see what – if anything- they are able to salvage.
SF’s scooter scourge
Love them or hate them, electronic scooters seem to be here to stay in San Francisco. Techcrunch and a number of other outlets reported this week that Uber, Lime and Spin scooters are now legally deployed in the City. Between now and mid-February, approximately 3,200 scooters are expected to dot corners and sidewalks throughout San Francisco.
Sidewalk riding is not permitted, and operators are required to submit all complaints – and how they were resolved – with the city’s transit agency. Working with city authorities has been quite an adventure for some of these companies; Lime and Spin rolled their scooters onto the streets of San Francisco without permission earlier this year, and were quickly forced to remove them and submit a permit application. After repeated denials and appeals, both companies finally obtained the required paperwork.
All this has prompted the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to discuss the creation of an Office of Emerging Technology, which would evaluate proposed new technologies and determine if they will benefit the overall population.