Work culture is changing

Expect to read more about this issue in the coming years. Sam Harris talked to Jason Fried on his podcast about this. All-In has talked about it. Coinbase is making its own media house to get around the traditional media. A16Z, a venture capital company is doing the same.

The message is clear – we are here to work on our mission nothing else and we cant have others speaking for us. The Guardian’s Jonathan Liew touched on the same issue when Osaka boycotted the French Open press conference. “Athletes now have their own direct line to the public, and spoiler: it’s not us”. Companies are doing the same.

Matt Taibbi writes:

At cryptocurrency firm Coinbase, employees demanded that CEO Brian Armstrong make a statement in support of Black Lives Matter. Armstrong, for a while, demurred. Then some employees and executives began what Wired called a “virtual walkout,” in which “senior engineers encouraged junior staff to close their laptops in solidarity.”

Armstrong quickly got religion, or so it seemed. He went on Twitter to announce, “I want to unequivocally say that Black Lives Matter.” Then, within weeks, Armstrong and Coinbase leadership flipped completely, announcing that the firm would no longer engage in “social activism,” and any employee who didn’t like the new policy could get the fuck out.

Coinbase offered 4-6 months of severance (depending on service time) and six months of COBRA, in a statement saying — in the thickest corporate sarcasm — that the arrangement could be a “win-win” for the politically minded, as “life is too short to work at a company you’re not excited about.” Only about 60 of the company’s 1,200 employees took the buyout.

At another tech firm, Basecamp, CEO Jason Fried — long the owner of a rep as a progressive corporate leader, as his company has published five books on workplace culture — put the kibosh on controversial talk at work, banning “societal and political discussions.” Shopify, an e-commerce firm that broke ground after the January 6th riots by closing online stores tied to Trump or MAGA merchandise, has now become a symbol of corporate pushback. CEO Tobi Lütke just sent an email to employees explaining that work is not life and life is not work, and employee demands should be adjusted accordingly:

Shopify, like any other for-profit company, is not a family. The very idea is preposterous. You are born into a family. You never choose it, and they can’t un-family you. It should be massively obvious that Shopify is not a family but I see people, even leaders, casually use terms like “Shopifam” which will cause the members of our teams (especially junior ones that have never worked anywhere else) to get the wrong impression. The dangers of “family thinking” are that it becomes incredibly hard to let poor performers go. Shopify is a team, not a family…

Shopify is also not the government. We cannot solve every societal problem here.

This week in podcasts #5

Village Global’s Venture Stories – Cracks in The Great Stagnation with Caleb Watney

There are more and more stories about The Great Stagnation being over. That is great news. The mRNA vaccines, autonomous driving, and AI – all mainstays here on Collectanea. It’s exciting times for innovation. Will be following the space with hawk eyes.

From Erik Thorenberg on what the episode is about:

– How views have changed on whether we are in a great stagnation, and what someone from the 1970s who was brought to 2021 would think about the technological changes in the interim.

– Whether a technological slowdown is inevitable or a choice that a society makes.

– The fact that COVID drastically accelerated adoption of technology that was already in existence.

– Caleb’s view that there has been a slowdown in both the pace of scientific discoveries as well as the commercialization of those discoveries.

– The decline of the industrial research lab and the fact that there is more competition in technology today.

– Whether certain institutions need to be “retired” after a certain period of time.

– The incentives that distort immigration policy and the possibility of turning immigration officers into “talent scouts.”

– Why fertility rates are falling and how to allow people to have the number of kids that they say they want to have.

– The power of agglomeration clusters and what portion of work will revert back to in-person once the pandemic ends.

EconTalk – Donald Shoup on the Economics of Parking

Shoup argues that most parking policies inflict unseen damage on the economy. He urges cities to charge for curbside parking and use the proceeds to improve the neighborhood beyond the curb. Stroup also explains the surprising harm done by requiring new buildings to provide a minimum level of off-street parking.

It’s a surprisingly interesting episode. Did not know how interesting parking could be in the eyes of an economist.

All-In – New FTC Chair, breaking up big tech, government silent spying, Jon Stewart, wildfires & more

The title says it all. The really interesting part is how breaking up big tech would look and the real value of PII (Personally Identifiable Information).

Masters in Business – Robert Cialdini on the Psychology of Influence

Barry talks to Robert about the new and updated version of Influence. I read the first edition of the book and I might have to read the new edition too. The first edition was a quake book for me.

Making Sense with Sam Harris – Corporate Courage

Sam talks to Jason Fried about the culture at Basecamp and what happened when they said no more politics at work, which lead to 30% of the office quitting. Similar things also happened at Coinbase and Shopify. There is something more to this case that’s going around in the zeitgeist.