Weekly Refresh: Twitter Embraces WFH, Oakland Schools Need Help, and More

May 18, 2020
san francisco tech news
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Twitter: WFH forever, if you want. While tech companies were expected to be slow in welcoming their employees back to the office, few expected that a company as large and influential as Twitter would come out and say they didn’t need to come back at all. In an email last Tuesday, CEO Jack Dorsey reportedly announced that employees who are able to do their jobs from home will be given the option to do so beyond the pandemic’s end. [TechCrunch]

Will SF techies stay put? The announcement from Twitter could have an impact far beyond the social media giant’s digs. An increasing number of SF tech workers appear to be questioning whether they will choose to continue paying the high costs of Bay Area living if they are no longer required to report to a physical office there. Some are considering moving to cheaper, more rural destinations, at least if online chatter is to be believed. [BuzzFeed + Bloomberg]

Dorsey donates $15M. With just one contribution, the Twitter CEO last week single-handedly doubled the funding of the city’s Give2SF COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, Mayor London Breed announced. The emergency relief program is aiming to help struggling SF residents with access to food and housing, as well as assisting local small businesses. [SF Chronicle]

Twilio provides domestic violence support. The communications company’s tech powers many of the nation’s crisis hotlines, and it’s noticed a surge in the hotlines’ usage due to the pandemic. In response, it’s now giving cash grants to organizations that are providing voice, text or chat support services during this crisis. [Built In SF]

Oakland schools need $12.5M. The Oakland Unified School District just put out the word that it needs help if it’s to close the digital divide that many of its students are facing amid the transition to remote learning. The district is trying to raise the funds to increase access to the internet and computers for all its students, about 10 percent of whom currently lack adequate access. In response to the call, Twitter’s Dorsey donated $10 million. [CBS San Francisco]

Behind the scenes of Slack’s redesign. Ethan Eismann, Slack’s VP of design, gave us a glimpse into how his 50-person design team approached a redesign of the popular platform. Its new interface began rolling out just as COVID-19 forced many companies to go remote, relying even more on its technology. [Built In SF]

Google Meet is now free for everyone. Two weeks since Google announced it was opening up Meet, its enterprise video conferencing tool, to all users, the product’s rollout was just completed last week. The tool has already seen a 30-fold surge in usage and its broader availability will allow it to face off with other products, like Zoom, currently occupying the increasingly competitive space. [ZDnet]

Waymo cruises to another $750M. The autonomous driving startup believes that the pandemic underscores how important self-driving car technology will be in our near future, so it’s pulled in support from new investors including T. Rowe Price. This brings its total capital raised to a whopping $3 billion. [TechCrunch]

Companies prioritize retention over recruitment. How can companies keep employees engaged and morale high during a period of time as stressful as a pandemic? We spoke with a number of experts including Kevin Yip, COO at SF-based employee reward platform Blueboard, on how they are recognizing team members and keeping them motivated in uncertain times. [Built In SF]

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