Jul 6, 2021

Axios Login

AJ was charging his Fitbit and said that if I am up later I should get it and wake him up so it can track his sleep. I can already answer: You were sleeping fine until I woke you to put on your Fitbit.

Today's newsletter is 1,378 words, or a 5-minute read.

1 big thing: The boomerang-worker boom

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

"Boomerang workers" — those who've returned to their home towns to do remote work — rose with the pandemic, but the phenomenon shows signs of sticking around beyond it, Axios' Kim Hart writes in this week's Tech Agenda column.

The big picture: Workers typically have to move to where the jobs are, centralizing top talent in big coastal cities. But as COVID drove rapid adoption of remote work, many people who were able to opted to return to their roots to be closer to family, raise kids in familiar settings or simply escape big city life.

What's happening: The boomerang effect isn't limited to any one industry. But tech workers in particular are choosing to leave Big Tech hubs like San Francisco, Seattle, and New York and moving back to previous stops, or to their own hometown or a spouse's. That's jumpstarting tech communities in some mid-sized cities.

For example, a large number of Tampa Bay natives have returned to the area after stints in bigger cities, bringing their contact lists and industry expertise with them.

  • Allie Felix grew up in Tarpon Springs but left for venture capital jobs in San Francisco and New York. She moved back to join Embarc Collective, a startup and entrepreneur support hub in Tampa that launched in 2018.
  • Whitney Holtzman, a Tampa native, honed her sports marketing skills in New York before returning to start her own business helping athletes grow their social media influence and reach.

Of course, plenty of people moved back home for a variety of reasons well before the pandemic hit — but they often had to leave their jobs behind when they did.

  • Now that more companies are allowing remote work, employees often have the freedom to take their jobs with them when they high-tail it home. Or they are starting their own businesses.

"It's very appealing for people to feel like they're coming in on the ground floor" of a city's tech scene, Lakshmi Shenoy, CEO of Embarc Collective. "They get to help build and shape it."

Yes, but: The remote work option alone isn't always enough. Shenoy said the biggest question people ask when thinking about moving back to the Tampa Bay Area are:

  1. Are there job opportunities in case the remote version of their current job doesn’t work out?
  2. Are there opportunities for their spouses?
  3. Are the schools good?

Between the lines: Part of the boomerang was driven by newly remote workers moving back to be closer to their parents for help with child care. But even among those who saw it as a temporary move, many are opting to stay. And those who can't work remotely are simply looking for local jobs.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a program called Tulsa Remote offers people $10,000 to move to the city to work remotely.

  • About 30% of those who've accepted the offer have lived in Tulsa or have a family connection to the city, said Ben Stewart, executive director of Tulsa Remote.

The other side: There's no guarantee for how much of the boomerang will last as cities and offices reopen.

  • The number of people working from home is already on the decline, per data from Indeed, although the level is still several times higher than pre-pandemic levels.
2. New ransomware attack wreaks havoc

Businesses around the globe are dealing with another big ransomware attack, linked to the Russia-connected REvil group that previously hacked meat processor JBS.

Catch up quick: The new attack exploits a flaw in software that middleware provider Kaseya supplied to customers, who are themselves companies that provide managed services to other businesses.

The big picture: This is a spectacularly successful example of a software supply chain attack — where hackers use vulnerability in a supplier's code to access all its customers' systems.

Yes, but: There's a strong case that managed services providers prevent more attacks than they cause, writes Bloomberg columnist Tim Culpan.

What they're saying:

  • Crowdstrike co-founder and former CTO Dmitri Alperovitch: "This is without a doubt going to turn out to be the biggest, most destructive ransomware campaign that we've seen so far."
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce senior VP Christopher Roberti: "The U.S. government must take the fight to these foreign cybercriminal syndicates."

Go deeper: The ransomware pandemic

3. Neighborhood network Nextdoor is going public

Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Nextdoor

Nextdoor, the neighborhood social network that covers more than 275,000 global communities, has agreed to go public via a SPAC sponsored by Khosla Ventures, Kim reports. The deal has an implied valuation of $4.3 billion.

Why it matters: Nextdoor has managed to avoid much of the scrutiny aimed at larger networks like Facebook and Twitter.

  • The hyperlocal social network has seen massive growth during the pandemic, as more people stayed home and paid attention to what was happening in their neighborhoods.
  • Nextdoor and Khosla are betting that behavior will continue.

What she's saying: CEO Sarah Friar tells Axios that, even as a public company, she plans to protect Nextdoor from social media pitfalls by foregoing opportunities that don't align with the network's mission.

  • "We know it's good for business to build out a platform that's about kindness, not in a saccharine way but in a bold way, and to support local businesses," she says.
  • Friar added that top priorities are to grow the user base, develop products to to make the news feed feel more personal to users and build more tools to make it more useful for local businesses.

Nextdoor had raised over $270 million from venture capitalists, most recently in late 2019 at a $2.2 billion valuation.

Our thought bubble: Public companies face intense pressure to deliver on revenue and profit goals. Even with investors who are aligned with the social network's mission, Nextdoor may have trouble maintaining its "good guy" persona.

Go deeper: Nextdoor: The next big social network

4. Billionaires' annual Sun Valley pilgrimage

Business titans across media, tech and entertainment will come together this week for the high-profile Sun Valley summer conference, Axios' Sara Fischer reports.

Why it matters: The gathering, which often serves as a vehicle for high-profile deal-making and is hosted by investment firm Allen & Co., will be a barometer for how power brokers are approaching industries drastically changed by the pandemic.

  • Increased attention towards streaming, gaming, cryptocurrency and e-commerce will put executives at companies like Netflix, Activision Blizzard, Coinbase and Shopify in the spotlight.

Several new faces will represent their companies as chief executives this year, including Amazon's Andy Jassy and Disney's Bob Chapek.

  • Among the big tech names attending are: Alphabet's Sundar Pichai, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Apple's Tim Cook, Microsoft's Satya Nadella, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Marne Levine and Dave Wehner, Shopify's Tobi Lütke, Stripe's Patrick Collison, Snap's Michael Lynton and CEO Evan Spiegel, AirBnB's Brian Chesky, Walmart's Doug McMillon and Greg Penner.

The big picture: The annual conference, known for its exclusivity and casual business attire, gives high-powered executives the opportunity to meet privately and hash out partnerships and deals.

  • Some of the biggest media deals over the past few decades, including Verizon's acquisition of AOL, Comcast's acquisition of NBCUniversal and Jeff Bezos' purchase of the Washington Post, have come out of the conference.
  • Sara has more names here.
5. Take note

On Tap

  • Aside from the fun for the upper echelon in Sun Valley, it's a less busy week for tech events as most of us will just have to be happy with a four day work week.

Trading Places


  • Advertisers are shifting spending from iOS to Android as Apple cracks down on tracking technologies in the latest version of the iPhone operating system. (WSJ)
  • Facebook, Twitter and Google have raised the prospect of exiting Hong Kong over changes to the island's data protection laws. (WSJ)
  • Gettr, the social media site launched by Trump adviser Jason Miller, got more than 500,000 registrations within hours of its launch Sunday, but was also briefly hit by hackers. (Axios)
  • A SoftBank unit is paying $1.6 billion for the perpetual right to use the Yahoo name in Japan. (TechCrunch)
6. After you Login

Now this is a clutch play by a baseball fan.