Ina took yesterday off, so you've got me, Axios tech managing editor Scott Rosenberg, at the controls this morning.
Today's Login is 1,372 words, a 5-minute read.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
The "sharing economy" — as embodied by companies like Uber, Airbnb and WeWork — is in critical condition, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
Why it matters: Basic assumptions about the evolution of human behavior in the digital age are melting under the pressure of COVID-19, requiring us to recalibrate how we envision the tech-enabled future.
Driving the news:
The pandemic has brutally shut down these companies' fundamental bets.
The big picture: The sharing economy — an idealistic vision birthed and branded in the late 2000s, during the last economic crisis — held that Americans were moving beyond an ethos of acquiring and protecting stuff.
Yes, but: The companies that emerged to deploy this vision in American cities, driven by a startup ideology of "scaling fast" and enriching investors, turned it into something faster and nastier — a grinding gig economy with a flashy app front-end.
What's next: In some ways, the pandemic opens a door to the revival of the sharing economy's original, grassroots ideals of community cooperation and peer-to-peer trust.
Photo: Courtesy of Salesforce
A team of researchers at Salesforce has been working to tap artificial intelligence to identify which tax rates would best achieve a balance of productivity and economic equality, Ina reports.
Why it matters: It's hard to do real-world experiments actually testing out changes in tax policy. Assuming the models work and can add complexity over time, AI could allow economists and regulators to test out lots of approaches to find one that best matches their desired outcome.
How it works:
"This is something you can't do in real world," Salesforce chief scientist Richard Socher said in an interview. "You cannot change your policies a million times.”
Background: Salesforce began the effort to show that the same technology that can teach computers to play games can also help address serious human challenges.
Yes, but: The research is still in its early stages, operating against a limited number of variables.
Google parent company Alphabet reported a total revenue figure of $41.16 billion Tuesday, beating Wall Street expectations, Axios' Sara Fischer reports.
Yes, but: The company still reported a slowed advertising growth rate compared to last quarter, due to the decline of the ad market caused by the coronavirus. Google makes the vast majority of its total revenue from ads.
Why it matters: Investors were eager to see how well Google would fare this quarter, given that it's by far the largest advertising-powered company in the world.
Be smart: These first quarter revenues don't reflect a full quarter of economic impact from the virus crisis. Google and other companies didn't begin to experience major ad pullback until March, when stay-in-place orders began.
Meanwhile: CEO Sundar Pichai told Google employees not to expect a return to the company's offices until June 1 at the earliest, and any return will be staggered.
In mid-March, the chancellor of the University of California-San Francisco, a leading medical school and hospital system, reached out to Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff for help obtaining the personal protective gear UC-SF's medical teams desperately needed.
Driving the news: As David Gelles tells the story in the New York Times, Benioff, a prodigious benefactor of hospitals in the area, mobilized a $25 million operation with the help of partners at FedEx, Walmart, Uber and Alibaba.
The project's participants dubbed the effort "Maskforce."
The big picture: Apple, Tesla, and many other firms have also organized efforts to find or manufacture protective gear.
More fun from the zoo as some geese in Philadelphia got to go visit the primates.