Facebook embraces remote work beyond Silicon Valley – Strategy- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Facebook will permanently embrace remote work even after coronavirus lockdowns ease, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said on Thursday, accelerating the tech sector’s geographic diversification away from its home in Silicon Valley.
Zuckerberg said the world’s largest social network would start “aggressively opening up remote hiring” in July, expecting that about half its workforce would eventually do their jobs outside Facebook’s offices over the next five to 10 years.
The company would take a more “measured approach” with existing employees based on job function and past performance, he said, and set a January 1, 2021 deadline for staff to update the company on their new locations for tax purposes.
The move is the most significant yet by a tech giant to reimagine what work culture will look like in a post-coronavirus world, as the pandemic upends office and commuting habits for companies around the world.
It follows similar announcements earlier this month by social media rival Twitter and payments company Square, both led by Jack Dorsey, which were the first tech companies to permit remote work indefinitely.
But Facebook is a much larger company, with nearly 50,000 employees, and it went further in laying out a novel proposed structure for remote work. Its decision is likely to have a pronounced impact on the San Francisco area, where the tech sector’s rapid growth has strained regional infrastructure.
Facebook, which has already said it will stick to plans to hire 10,000 engineers and product employees this year, will also build three new “hubs” in Atlanta, Dallas and Denver where remote workers in those areas could occasionally convene.
“These aren’t necessarily offices,” Zuckerberg said, although the company would likely create “some kind of physical space” to foster community.
“The idea for these hubs is that we want to create scale. We want to focus the recruiting energy in some cities where we can get to hundreds of engineers.”
The total effect on costs of the shift to remote work is unclear, Zuckerberg said. Savings related to real estate, food and labor costs will be partially offset by additional expenses for travel and logistics associated with home offices.
He said the company was committed to keeping its current office spaces, which includes the Menlo Park headquarters designed by architect Frank Gehry, featuring a rooftop garden and a courtyard sheltered by redwood trees.
The sky-high compensation packages common in Silicon Valley will not necessarily be transferred to other parts of the country, however.
Zuckerberg said salaries will be adjusted if Facebook employees opt to live in less-pricey regions, consistent with the company’s existing cost-of-living calculations.
“We pay very well, basically at the top of the market, but we pay a market rate. And that varies by location, so we’re going to continue that principle here,” he said.
Internal surveys indicate that about 60 percent of Facebook employees preferred a flexible approach to work, with a mix of remote and office-based functions, Zuckerberg said.
Within that group, he said, just under half reported they would move to another region if given the option.
He said there were no differences in the results by gender.

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SoftBank’s Vision Fund tumbles to US$18bn loss in ‘valley of coronavirus’ – Finance – Strategy- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp reported a stunning US$18 billion loss at its giant Vision Fund, pushing Masayoshi Son’s conglomerate to a record loss and highlighting the deepening crisis at its portfolio companies from the global downturn.
The disastrous 1.9 trillion yen (US$18 billion) operating shortfall at the Saudi-backed Vision Fund, including losses of almost US$10 billion at office-sharing firm WeWork and ride- hailing app Uber Technologies Inc alone, left SoftBank with its worst annual loss of ¥1.4 trillion.
Son, who has been pressured by US hedge fund Elliott Management to make share buybacks and bolster governance, said SoftBank would raise ¥1.25 trillion against its stake in China’s Alibaba Group.
“The coronavirus is an unprecedented crisis,” a notably downbeat Son told an earnings presentation, comparing it to the Great Depression.
Appearing far more subdued than usual, Son said some of his tech unicorns had fallen “into the valley of the coronavirus”.
“I believe some of them will fly over the valley,” he added, standing beside a slide depicting cartoon unicorns dropping into a hole as a lone winged unicorn escaped to the other side.
The crisis has pushed the Vision Fund’s portfolio underwater, with its US$75 billion investment in 88 startups worth US$69.6 billion at the end of March. The US$100 billion fund had already delivered two consecutive quarters of losses before being upended by the outbreak.
SoftBank booked a US$7.5 billion loss on other tech investments, which it attributed primarily to the economic shock caused by the virus. The outbreak has exacerbated underlying problems at many of its bets on unproven startups.
Scant detail
The company is loosening ties with Alibaba Group, the largest asset in its portfolio, with the Chinese e-commerce major’s co-founder, Jack Ma, departing the SoftBank board.
SoftBank provided scant detail on which companies saw writedowns but offered a sector breakdown showing investments in construction and real estate were worth less than half of cost price, with flagship transportation investments also underwater.
The company has leveraged its investments to supply further funding for other bets – a strategy that has come under strain as valuations tumble – with losses larger than the group’s revised estimate from just last month.
SoftBank-backed satellite operator OneWeb filed for bankruptcy in late March, adding to an impairment loss for investments held outside the Vision Fund that also includes part of the stake in WeWork.
The group pointed to further pain to come, saying “uncertainty in its investment business will remain over the next fiscal year” if the pandemic continues.
Son declined to set a dividend for the current financial year for the first time, underscoring the pressure for SoftBank.
With his usual emphasis on the total value of SoftBank’s assets rather than profits, which are buffeted by the Vision Fund’s nebulous valuations, Son admitted that shareholder value has fallen and net debt grown this year.
The turmoil has given leverage to activist shareholder Elliott, which, in addition to recommending share buybacks, is pushing for greater transparency and oversight.
The demands echo critics who argue SoftBank is dominated by Son and offers little visibility on how the valuations that drive its profit are reached.
The group has pledged the sale or monetisation of US$41 billion in assets, in part to finance a 2.5-trillion-yen buyback to prop up its share price. By the end of April it had spent ¥250 billion on share purchases.

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Uber, Lyft and Airbnb cut thousands of jobs as pandemic batters Silicon Valley | Silicon Valley – Blog – 10 minute

The economic fallout from the coronavirus has come to Silicon Valley, with major tech firms announcing layoffs in recent weeks.
On Wednesday, Uber became the latest company to announce cuts, revealing in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission that it will lay off 3,700 workers – roughly 14% of its global workforce.
Uber cited the pandemic in its filing, saying Covid-19 had affected its entire business, including financial performance, investments in new products, ability to attract drivers, and corporate strategy.
Uber’s announcement came after several other tech companies said they were making cuts amid the crisis.

Uber’s biggest rival, Lyft, announced last week it would lay off 982 members of its staff and furloughing another 288.

Airbnb announced this week it would lay off 1,900 people – roughly 25% of its staff.

The vaping company Juul announced in April it would lay off 800 members of its staff and move its headquarters to Washington DC.

Yelp announced last month it would lay off 1,000 employees and furlough 1,100 more.

WeWork announced in March it would lay off 250 employees and is expected to cut more jobs by the end of May.

Big tech companies are not the only members of the industry affected. About 375 startups have laid off more than 42,000 employees since 11 March, according to a layoff tracking site.
Yet not all tech firms are suffering in equal measure. In the first three months of 2020, Amazon made more than $33m per hour, according to its earnings report last week, boosted by a surge in ordering from customers locked down at home. The delivery startup Instacart had to hire 300,000 workers in less than a month as more people began to order groceries online. The online video conference tool Zoom, which was valued at $36 per share when it went public in 2019, is now valued at $150 per share and its user base recently surpassed 300 million.
But with closed borders, travel bans, and stay-at-home orders around the world, travel-related tech companies are disproportionately affected, said Carl Uminski, a tech industry analyst and co-founder of the digital consultancy Somo.
“It’s well understood now that the impact Covid-19 has had on the entire travel industry is absolutely colossal,” he said. “Not only has the industry stopped, it will never be exactly the same again and nobody knows exactly what it is going to look like.”
Uber is attempting to make more cost-cutting measures. Dara Khosrowshahi, its chief executive, said he would forgo his own salary for the rest of the year and the company would re-evaluate investments in new products. It will also permanently close 180, or 40%, of its driver resource centers around the world.
As another means of diversifying its revenue, Uber invested $170m in the scooter-rental startup Lime, which is now valued at $510m, Lime said in a statement on Thursday. Through the partnership, Lime will acquire Uber’s bike-sharing operation, called Jump, and the two companies will further integrate their apps.
The layoffs come as ridesharing companies face another major challenge in the form of a lawsuit from the state of California. The state attorney general, Xavier Becerra, announced on Tuesday that the state is suing the firms for misclassifying drivers as contractors rather than employees under a new law meant to address labor rights of gig economy workers.
The pandemic is testing the structure of the typical startup, said Uminski. The “move fast and break things” mentality central to new businesses in recent years relies on disrupting industries fast to gain marketshare, and focusing on profitability later. This only works when the market is doing well, he said.
“Uber, Lyft, Airbnb and many others have all done exactly this and then suddenly, almost overnight, their industry has stopped,” he said. “I believe these new giants will also be tested on their true agility and whether they still have that start-up culture within.”

Airbnb said it would cut 25% of its workforce. Photograph: Andre M Chang/ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock
Many of these companies also rely on sharing space, whether in vehicles or apartments. While there are no recent studies on attitudes towards ridesharing, more than half of Americans say they would not feel comfortable riding public transportation, a recent survey found, and 57% said they would not want to fly on an airplane.
As long as people remain wary of getting close to strangers, gig economy companies like Uber and Airbnb will suffer, said Daniel Ives, an analyst at Wedbush securities.
“Until there is a vaccine for the virus, the next one or two years is going to have some darker days ahead for these business models,” he said.
There is a chance the companies will adapt: Uber found that its delivery service Uber Eats has seen demand surge in recent months, even as its main business declines.
“Uber and Lyft and many other companies are trying to adjust their business models to the category 5 storm that is Covid,” Ives said. “The gig economy is right in the eye of it.”
In addition to the gig economy firms, other companies are facing a downturn as the economy struggles. WeWork has laid off hundreds of staffers as many Americans work from home, and workers may be wary of shared office spaces for some time.
Yelp, which bases much of its revenue on advertisements sold to restaurants and shops listing on the site, has felt the impact of countless businesses closing due to lockdown orders. Other companies, like Juul, may simply be feeling the broader impact of an economic downturn.
All told, Ives said, few companies will escape the effects of coronavirus. “There are some areas that are seeing growth, especially those that involve working from home and consumer-driven delivery, that are seeing unprecedented growth,” he said. “But those are fewer and far between.”

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Showdown looms between Silicon Valley, US states over contact tracing apps – Benchmarking Change- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

US states promoting apps that could prove essential to ending the coronavirus lockdown may be headed for a showdown with the two Silicon Valley companies that control key software on 99 percent of smartphones over the collection of sensitive GPS location data.
Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google plan to release technology jointly in the coming weeks for digital contact tracing through Bluetooth sensors on phones.
Public health authorities have determined that the technology is crucial to apps that will alert people when they have been close to people who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
For contact tracing apps to work, however, millions of people must be willing to use them without fear their locations and other personal data is being tracked and stored.
Google and Apple have sought to build public trust by emphasizing that the changes they are making to Bluetooth to allow the tracing apps to work will not tap phones’ GPS sensors, which privacy activists see as too intrusive.
But the states pioneering the apps – North and South Dakota, and Utah – say allowing public health authorities to use GPS in tandem with Bluetooth is key to making the system viable.
The Bluetooth technology will enable users to be notified if they crossed paths with a coronavirus carrier, but will not specify where the encounter happened, information crucial to authorities who want to identify hotspots for virus transmission and move fast to stop outbreaks.
Apple and Google said on Friday that they still have not decided how to proceed.
“I would encourage them to go for the ‘and’ and not the ‘or’ solution,” North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum said of Apple and Google in an interview late Thursday.
“During this new normal, there is a place for having solutions that protect privacy and enable more efficient contact tracing,” said Burgum, himself a former software executive who sold a company to Microsoft Corp for more than $1 billion in 2001.
Apps at work
Anonymized GPS location data is already playing a key role in an early version of Care19, an app that about 40,000 people have signed up for in North and South Dakota.
Authorities currently ask Care19 users to give them permission for timestamped GPS location data, which allows officials to manually call places where users could have spread the virus and ask for names and numbers of others who may have been there at the same time.
This laborious process will no longer be necessary with the Bluetooth technology coming from Apple and Google, which will automatically catalog encounters between users and enable carriers to anonymously convey to others potentially infected that they should get tested.
Without the changes the two companies are working on, iPhone users would have to keep their phone unlocked and app open at all times.
Utah’s Healthy Together contact tracing app, which launched on Wednesday, for now is using a workaround that only catalogs some encounters. Healthy Together also collects location data and its developers hope Apple and Google do not force them to drop that functionality to adopt the more comprehensive Bluetooth technology.
“What Utah wanted to understand is not just who is spreading [the virus] to whom but also location zones,” said Jared Allgood, chief strategy officer for Twenty, the startup which developed Utah’s app for an initial $1.75 million.
GPS location data allows authorities to decide which businesses may need to be closed because the virus is spreading there, and prioritize which contacts of diagnosed patients to test.
“Is it happening in a park, a Costco or a Walmart? They are trying to make policy decisions that move our economy from a broad-based ‘everything is shut down’ to a more targeted approach,” Allgood said in an interview on Friday.
Privacy experts have warned that any cache of location data related to health issues could make businesses and individuals vulnerable to being ostracized if the data are exposed.
But Tim Brookins, a principal engineer at Microsoft who previously worked for Burgum and developed Care19 independently of his employer, said location data is stored on a Microsoft Azure server that he rents and to which only he and one other person have the keys. North Dakota is paying about $9,000 to license Care19 for six months, he said.
Allgood said the Utah app asks users for their phone number, but location data is stored anonymously in a server rented from Amazon Web Services.
“We don’t see a reason why Apple or Google would not allow us to participate in their tools,” said Diesel Peltz, Twenty’s CEO.
Brookins and Burgum expressed confidence the two tech giants would allow for location data collection after seeing the safeguards Care19 has put in place, including not asking for users’ names, phone numbers or email addresses.
“Some people are completely opposed to an intrusion on privacy but there’s a younger generation sharing their location on dozens of apps,” Burgum said.
“There may be a set of people highly social, young and going out to bars who may see this tool as fantastic.”

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Abolish Silicon Valley by Wendy Liu review – rebooting our reality | Books – Blog – 10 minute

A month ago, when I began reading Wendy Liu’s polemic, I felt inclined to dismiss her as a millennial flibbertigibbet, motivated by a grudge against an industry that seemingly had no use for her. Liu grew up as a computing whiz-kid in Montreal and moved to San Francisco to develop software that aspired, a little tackily, to be “Tinder for advertisers”. When her entrepreneurial scheme fizzled out she transferred to the London School of Economics to study inequality, which turned her into an evangelising radical. In her book, she attacks the depressing doctrine of “capitalist realism” and its assumption that our current social and economic arrangements are unchangeable; with born-again zeal, she chastises her own “petty and narcissistic” nature and even laments “the tragedy of the human condition”. A bit excessive, surely, as a response to the failure of a startup?
But as I read on, everything changed. We now have good reason to question the pursuits of the vaunted innovators with whom Liu consorted in California – the blissed-out cultists at Google, whose only worry is over “the wrong kind of sparkling water in the microkitchens”, or the manic experts who specialise in “envisioning hyperplanes in n-dimensional space”. As Liu came to see, techies like these were already living extraterrestrially, having opted out of the earthly, bodily necessities that currently weigh us down. A colleague of hers said he would happily volunteer to join Elon Musk’s projected colony on Mars, the “backup” planet for menaced humanity. “You know you can never come back,” warned another of Liu’s friends. “I’d work remotely,” grinned the would-be Martian.

I ended up sharing her outrage, and wondering whether her prescription for a revolution might not go far enough

Anecdotes like this made me understand Liu’s disenchantment with her fellow programmers, and by the time I finished the book, my irritation about her own West Coast fads – her partiality for rides on Lyft scooters, her meals of quinoa washed down with kombucha – seemed trivial, or perhaps petty and narcissistic. I ended up admiring her idealism, sharing her outrage, and wondering whether her prescription for a revolutionary upheaval might not go far enough.
Her agenda is not only political. She thought of her work in Silicon Valley as “a stepladder to a higher plane of existence” – a cosmological undertaking, even a religious quest. In Einstein’s day, the pioneers of the new physics thought they were engaged in “world-building”; Liu similarly remarks that designing a website opens a hole in the universe through which we can study its inner mechanics. Her experiments in coding would, she believed, confer on her “a kind of immortality”.
What prompted her self-reappraisal was the need to step over homeless sleepers on the streets outside San Francisco’s glassy, gleaming corporate palaces. Soon afterwards it dawned on her that all those abstract trips on hyperplanes were only of value to investors if they served as market research: the purpose of algorithms is to track and to reinforce our performance as consumers.
Then came the election of Trump, Liu’s realisation that her collaborators regarded data as just “something to trade”, and her penitent retreat to LSE. Now she calls for “open protocols and decentralised services”, and wants secretive competition between developers to be replaced by “democratic oversight and open collaboration”. Liu’s blueprint for a “socialist media system” may still sound impractical, but her emphasis on public space and the public good have an eerie resonance at present: who knows what changes might come when we creep out of our enforced solitude and reconstitute a functioning society? A German hackathon in late March, when 43,000 participants joined forces online to discuss ways of outwitting coronavirus, may be exactly what she had in mind.
As Liu reviews her tech-obsessed adolescence, she describes a life spent in Plato’s cave, that recess of illusion where people turn away from sunlit reality and amuse themselves by watching shadows cast on the wall by the fire they have kindled. She sees her youthful self as “a solitary figure lit by the weary flicker of an LCD screen”, and admits that she disparaged her young contemporaries – less driven, therefore less worthy – who spent their time at play “out in the sunshine”.
Gradually, as Liu’s values alter, a lyrical appreciation of the nature she ignored enters her book: she notices how the “icy air” of the Montreal winter “bit like pinpricks” to make “every breath sharp”, and she watches enraptured as the sun dissolves feathery wisps of fog that curl under the Bay Bridge in San Francisco.
Before the revolution there has to be a reawakening, or a resuscitation, and this happens here as Liu begins to live in her body rather than her digitised head. The metaphorical blue-sky thinking recommended by startup accelerators in Silicon Valley is no substitute for the blue sky itself, which will go on shining whether we are here to look at it or not.
• Abolish Silicon Valley: How to Liberate Technology from Capitalism by Wendy Liu is published by Repeater Books (£10.99)

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How the crowdsourced investigation ‘Death in Ice Valley’ became the podcast of the year- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Death in Ice Valley, a joint effort from BBC World Service and NRK, scooped the podcast of the year award at Tempemail’s Online Media Awards 2019. In this case study, we hear how it was made.
The mystery
Death in Ice Valley is a podcast series that sounds like no other in the world: an immersive listening experience which involves thousands of followers in a live investigation, actively trying to solve a 48-year-old real-life mystery.
It is a unique collaboration between two European broadcasters – the BBC World Service and NRK, bringing together their journalism, podcast expertise and digital innovation.
The series, commissioned by World Service podcast editor Jon Manel, follows a two-year investigation into the mystery surrounding the life and death of an unknown woman whose burned body was found in western Norway in 1970, at the height of Cold War.
Involving theories of espionage, multiple identities, secret codes, gold teeth, and using the cutting edge of forensic science, NRK’s investigative journalist Marit Higraff and the BBC’s Neil McCarthy embark on a complex 10-part journey to get closer to the Isdal Woman’s true identity.
The trail takes them from Norway to Spain and Germany as new clues are unearthed and 21st century science reveals details about the case hidden or unknown for half a century.

The collaboration
A key part of the storytelling involves the listeners in the hunt for new leads. They are invited to join the nearly 20,000-strong Death in Ice Valley Facebook group, run by World Service digital editor Anna Doble and social journalist Beth Ryder.
Here they can examine information from documents, photographs, maps and videos. In the group we also posted an exclusive animated version of the first episode, before it was released elsewhere. Members continue to share and generate theories every day. They have helped decipher code, tracked down the origins of objects, such as a spoon found in the woman’s luggage, and have even visited hotels where we know the Isdal Woman stayed.
Throughout the recording process we made sure that we could take on and include new information which arose from the group. In episode 10 we feature the best of the group’s findings on the case – and look at new theories about who the woman may have been connected with all those years ago; working from theories and evidence brought to light by audience members.
The power of the crowd – from literally all over the world, and strongly female – created tremendous momentum in our storytelling. And it is their determination which is now leading to further discoveries which we believe will take us closer still to solving the case and naming the woman.
Death in Ice Valley also sounds beautiful, with striking and original sound design from Phil Channell underpinning the meticulous journalism and compelling storytelling.

The results
Death in Ice Valley has been downloaded/streamed more than 4 million times since launch. The series was featured by iTunes as one of the best and most downloaded new shows of 2018.
This podcast has truly cut through in the crowded true-crime podcast marketplace and has topped podcast charts globally. It is the BBC’s most successful podcast-only launch to date. Listeners have been in touch from all over the world, including Zambia, New Zealand and even the South Pole.
Critically acclaimed around the world, Death in Ice Valley was praised by Podcastreview.org for heralding a new podcast format. “Something new has been created here,” they said. “Death in Ice Valley extends the possibilities of communal crime solving into communal storytelling, a prospect bound to transform the medium.”
This project was a winner at Tempemail Online Media Awards 2019. To learn more about 2020’s event, click here.

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Microsoft asks staff in Seattle area, Silicon Valley to work from home – Strategy- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Microsoft on Wednesday joined the growing number of US companies asking employees to work from home in order to limit exposure to the spreading coronavirus outbreak, as it responded to cases near its Seattle headquarters and in California.
Microsoft asked many of its employees in the Seattle region near its headquarters and the San Francisco Bay Area to work from home if possible until March 25.
“Taking these measures will ensure your safety and also make the workplace safer for those that need to be onsite,” executive vice president Kurt DelBene told employees in a blog post.
The post said that some employees for whom “it is essential to be in the office or other work environments” – such as data centre and retail employees – should continue to go to their work locations and that the company would follow government guidelines for disinfecting its sites for essential personnel.
Microsoft also asked employees to suspend any business travel to the areas “unless essential for the continuity of Microsoft”.
Microsoft also said employees should cancel non-essential travel to areas with active coronavirus cases – which includes much of Europe, Asia and the Americas – and that employees were not required to travel if they had concerns about doing so.
In the greater Seattle area, the total number of coronavirus cases climbed to 39 on Wednesday and 10 deaths, up from 27 cases and nine deaths a day earlier, the Washington State Health Department announced.
The first death in California from the coronavirus was announced on Wednesday.
The Seattle area has the largest concentration of coronavirus cases detected to date in the United States. Several cases were connected to a long-term care facility for the elderly.
Microsoft also implemented new guidelines for employees who do come to its offices.
It recommended “limiting prolonged close interactions with people” by keeping in-person meetings as short as possible and staying at least 6 feet, or 1.8 metres, away from others.

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How ORM and Valley Bank are innovating with new digital products- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

ORM has been working with Valley Bank over the last six months to create and bring new digital products and service innovations to market. The partnership aims to direct new and diversified revenue for the US community bank.
Some of the new digital capabilities within the suite of digital products are coming to market in the spring, and will use features such as digital signatures and personalisation as well as improve existing Valley products.
The work has been focused around supporting Valley in developing new digital product propositions for niche target markets, looking at everything from team set up and toolchains used, to product strategy and agile product development.
Stuart Cook, Valley Bank’s chief digital product officer, says: “This is a huge step in Valley’s digital transformation as we focus on delivering new top line revenue for the bank. We’re embracing change, iterating and testing products as we develop them, to optimise the digital experience for our customers.”
The bank is creating new ways of working within its business, and ORM is helping the organisation deliver the end products.
Clare Lambert, ORM’s business director, says: “Enabling our clients to be focused on products is a key output for ORM and on this we’ve been able to rapidly co-create with the digital team at Valley Bank. This has meant a lot of flexible working to account for the time difference, as the wider ORM and Valley teams have been spread across London, New Jersey and Austin – but it’s worked really well and we’ve become one, synonymous team. I can’t wait to deliver the products this year.”
ORM has worked with multiple asset managers in the UK and has previously engaged with other well-known financial services businesses. As of January 2020, ORM has also opened up an office in New Jersey, US, to better support clients.

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Their market shut, traders in China’s Silicon Valley do business from bags – Finance – Hardware – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

While coronavirus fears curtail much of China’s bustle, traders are getting back to business at the world’s largest electronics market, buying and selling from bags and suitcases on the streets outside their shut premises.
The Huaqiangbei area in the southern city of Shenzhen is home to dozens of multi-storey malls housing around 38,000 trading desks packed with reels of microchips, phone parts, and other components. The markets remain closed this week, with vendors uncertain of when formal business will resume.
But word travelled across groups on the WeChat messaging platform that some were doing business on the streets. By Tuesday afternoon, hundreds of traders had gathered.
“I think it’s pretty funny, and the atmosphere here is great,” said Xu Peng, a microchip trader in a crowd of about 30 traders outside one of the market buildings.
Many of the traders clutched bags full of electronic wares as they scanned their phones and waited for buyers or suppliers.
“This place is finally starting to wake up,” he said, before taking a supplier’s call.
Shenzhen is one of the cities hardest hit by the coronavirus outside of Hubei province, with over 400 confirmed cases. Many apartment blocks have banned visitors and require residents to obtain permission slips before going outside.
Yet so far, police have left the traders at Huaqiangbei alone. An employee at the local government department responsible for virus safety inspections said the traders were not breaking any rules.
Huaqiangbei acts as the major matching hub for companies across the world and the factories of southern Guangdong province. Many factories are closed and suppliers are unable to return to the market, worrying traders.
The virus outbreak is having a big impact, Cheng Weiling said through her facemask while checking her phone.
“Lots of people are still trapped in their hometowns and so lots of places can’t open,” she said.
Microchip and board trader Yi Liang agreed.
“There’s lots of demand, but some people just can’t get hold of the inventory,” he said.
Traders lose significant income while the shutdown continues, said Donny Zhang, CEO of Sand and Wave, a hardware consulting and sourcing company based in the Huaqiangbei area.
“A small counter might only be one metre wide in size, but their yearly revenue could be 10 million yuan (US$1.43 million),” he said.
There are signs that China is starting to return to normal, with more traffic in major city streets this week than last. Over half of large-scale enterprises in Guangdong have returned to work, the provincial government said on Tuesday.
(US$1 = 7.0065 Chinese yuan renminbi)

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Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener review – bullies, greed and sexism in Silicon Valley | Books – Blog – 10 minute

I sometimes wonder, having studied engineering at university, whether I should have headed for California to pan for digital gold, working as a coder for one of Silicon Valley’s tech giants or trying my luck at an overvalued startup with employee share options. Anna Wiener’s book is a reassuring reminder that, had I gone, I probably would have hated it.
Uncanny Valley is a memoir with few revelations for those who have had contact with the technology industry. Even people familiar with it only through media coverage will already recognise Silicon Valley as a world of young men (and it has to be said, a few women) who have had their egos massaged perhaps a little too hard and a little too long. Their stories of failure and greed, sexual harassment and bullying, toxic cultures fomented by bloated valuations of firms that turn out to be built on thin air, have become our generation’s cautionary tales. And that’s to say nothing of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.
Wiener’s account is not designed to shock in the way others have. It is instead intimate, the rolling thoughts of a young hipster sucked into this world against her better judgment. A New Yorker with a liberal arts background who started her career in publishing, she worked briefly in her 20s in Silicon Valley in customer support. It’s the kind of people-facing job that tech companies need, but engineers and coders sneer at. From this vantage, not quite at the heart of the action but adjacent to it, she carefully, wryly observes everyday life in the Valley.
She must have been taking notes the whole time. We know exactly what she had for lunch, what the stores on every street were selling, what colleagues in her office were wearing, their hobbies and foibles. If there was one part of this memoir I didn’t enjoy, it was her interminable lists of observations and objects so numerous you start to wonder whether they’re only there to beef up the word count.
That aside, though, this remains a beautifully relatable and tender account of a young woman trying her best to swallow Silicon Valley’s Kool-Aid, but never quite managing to keep it down. We meet the prodigious CEO who treats his staff like dirt but remains worshipped by them. There’s the data analytics firm happily ignoring the fact that they’re actually just spying on people. And bizarre technology products marketed in a way that might leave a visitor from the past wondering what the hell everyone in San Francisco is smoking. “Built by humans, used by unicorns,” says an advert.

Wiener is always rolling her eyes, wishing the people she met were kinder, wiser and more cultured

The background radiation of misogyny in its various forms is sadly no surprise at all. Following #MeToo, her experiences (one of her older colleagues tells her he fancies Jewish women) sound depressingly familiar, even mundane. Many of us have been through the same. “Can’t get sexually harassed when you work remotely,” she and other women joke.
When raising lack of diversity, women and minorities are countered with the obtuse and now tired refrain: “What about diversity of opinion? What about diversity of thought?” Because, of course, who needs black women in tech when you can have a few more right-leaning white men?
It is draining. They find themselves constantly gaslit, blasted with the erroneous claim that Silicon Valley is a meritocracy, that it only looks the way it does because some people happen to be better at their jobs, and if others don’t like that, it’s because they’re not trying hard enough. Or they’re jealous.

Unless you’re making big money in Silicon Valley, you are seeing the emperor without his clothes. It feels as though Wiener is always rolling her eyes, wishing the people she met were kinder, wiser and more cultured than they are. She desperately tries to expose them to quality literature. They respond with a lack of interest and with condescension.
She stays as long as she does, it seems, because this place still feels like the centre of the universe. It is an industry birthing billionaires, influencing not just how we behave but also the health of our democracies and the direction of our politics. It’s difficult not to be seduced. Wiener may be ashamed and guilty to be there, but she is also in thrall to it, negged into submission.
Her experience tells us to be wary. From a distance, the engineers may look like geniuses, but in the pages of Uncanny Valley they are reduced to naive young men – boys, almost – who can’t believe their luck. Hiring in their own image in the apparent belief that they have some magic money-making ingredient not shared by the rest of us, they have fostered a narrow culture so incapable of self-reflection, empathy or humility that only disaster can follow.
Angela Saini’s most recent book is Superior: The Return of Race Science (Fourth Estate)
• Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener is published by Fourth Estate (£16.99). To order a copy go to guardianbookshop.com. Free UK p&p over £15

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