Welcome back. Hope you had a good long weekend.
The case for D.C. to be Amazon's HQ2
A research firm says Washington, D.C., ranks highest based on the criteria Amazon has set out for its second headquarters, aka HQ2.
The details: HPS, which put out its report earlier Tuesday, ranked the 19 finalists on 11 categories across transportation, education, connectivity and business/lifestyle/culture.
The bottom line: Washington, D.C., finished highest, followed by Boston and Northern Virginia.
Here are its selling points, per HPS:
- It has the third highest scored mass transit after New York City and Boston, with multiple international airports.
- It offers the best educated workforce, but fewer top 50 universities than Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Newark, and New York City.
- It's known for its above average livability and diversity, but below average business and career ranking.
- It provides nearly 60% fiber optic coverage and almost 99% cellular coverage.
Meanwhile: Here are some other reasons D.C. is hopeful, per Axios' Zach Basu. Among those is the reminder that as owner of The Washington Post with a sizable home in the city, CEO Jeff Bezos has obvious ties to the region.
But, but but: This isn't up for a vote. The only opinion that matters is Amazon's.
A year after Uber memo, sexual harassment is far from fixed
In the year since Susan Fowler's viral blog post about her experiences working at Uber, executives have lost jobs, dozens of women have spoken out about sexual harassment in the workplace, and the #MeToo movement's revival in October has spread throughout business, politics and Hollywood. (See our timeline here.)
Yes, but: As Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva reports, despite Uber's changes and the broader embrace of women speaking out, holding employers accountable and rectifying other forms of workplace discrimination remains a challenge.
- Google is still pushing back on claims by the Labor Department and four female former employees that it pays women less than men.
- Uber is also being sued by three female former employees, who allege being paid less than male peers and passed up for promotions.
- Some male investors have responded to the wave of sexual harassment stories by declaring it's no longer safe for them to meet with female entrepreneurs. Others have criticized the women for being too sensitive or overreacting.
- Many employee agreements still include arbitration clauses and class action waivers (which Fowler is helping fight against) that make it harder to fight against illegal employment practices.
- The past year's discourse has also not addressed in great depth the addition of racism that women of color in tech and other industries also experience.
- More broadly, the effect of workplace harassment and stress on employee mental health has seen little discussion.
Some progress: Nevertheless, there has been some visible change. Harassers have lost jobs, VC firms have instituted stronger policies, and Google promptly fired a male engineer for his 10-page memo criticizing the company's diversity efforts.
Soros may invest more in fighting Big Tech
Billionaire investor George Soros launched a brutal attack on big online platform companies at this year’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos. Now, his influential organization is "certainly examining new ways" to tackle the growing power of tech giants, according to an official at his influential philanthropy, the Open Society Foundations.
Why it matters: Soros may put his money where his mouth is. With a global reach and an annual budget of more than a billion dollars, Open Society Foundations has the ability to significantly shape the growing debate over the power of Big Tech.
Fitbit's recent acquisitions sound like a MacGyver episode
Fitbit's has made several acquisitions over the past couple of years, including Twine, Pebble and Coin.
It may or may not be enough to help Fitbit chart a new future, but as engineer Christopher Svec accurately points out, it would probably be enough for TV's MacGyver.
Meanwhile: Speaking of Pebble, former CEO Eric Migicovzky has just joined Y Combinator, per TechCrunch.
Startup Molly is tapping into the Q&A craze
Silicon Valley's obsession with quiz apps continues, Kia reports. Silicon Valley insiders have recently been answering questions about themselves via a new service called Molly.
Why they're doing it: Molly aims to build a database of information about people. For now, it's querying certain well-known people to get info it can't find via social media.
- Eventually, the service aims to make it easy for friends to find out about each other (or set up dinner plans at a restaurant they both like etc), according TechCrunch.
- And as Axios has previously noted, people love asking and answering questions.
- Index, an IBM-hosted developer conference, runs today through Thursday in San Francisco.
- Adam Brotman, the executive who led Starbucks' digital transformation, is joining J. Crew as president and chief experience officer, per Recode.
- President Trump's tech adviser Reed Cordish is leaving the White House, the WashPost reports. His replacement is Brooke L. Rollins, a former aide to Rick Perry when he was Texas governor.
- Some tech leaders are backing a bid from California State Senate leader Kevin de León, the challenger to longtime Sen. Dianne Feinstein, per disclosure forms. Among his backers is LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman who held a fundraiser for de León last year, David hears from multiple sources.
- Trump's infrastructure proposal raises a significant number of cybersecurity risks, reports Axios' Joe Uchill.
- 9to5Mac says Apple has released an update for iOS to fix a bug that caused the Messages app to crash when a certain Indian-language character was received.
- Sony is partnering with taxi companies in Japan on a ride-hailing project to compete with Uber, Bloomberg writes.
- Nuance is discontinuing the once highly popular Swype virtual keyboards for iOS and Android, per XDA-Developers.
- Axios' Sara Fischer reports that there's been a backlash against "likes" after Mueller's indictments.
- Sara also points out in her latest Media Trends newsletter that sources tell Wired that Facebook VP of ad product Rob Goldman apologized internally for his weekend tweetstorm about Russian interference. The backlash from his statements threw a wrench in the company's months-long, carefully orchestrated political strategy to counter its mistakes.