All Big Tech stories

Facebook gears up for long-term remote work

Photo: Marc Piasecki/Getty Images

Mark Zuckerberg told reporters on Wednesday that Facebook plans to pay its contract workers indefinitely, even if they aren't able to carry on their normal duties. That comes as Facebook has directed most of its full-time and contract labor force to work from home to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

What they're saying: "I don't think we see an end to that," CEO Mark Zuckerberg told reporters Wednesday on giving full pay to its contracted content moderators whose work can't be done remotely.

Tech's moment to shine (or not)

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Thanks to the coronavirus crisis, Big Tech, after battling criticism for three years, has an opportunity to show the upside of its scale and reach.

Why it matters: If companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon are able to demonstrate they can be a force for good in a trying time, many inside the companies feel, they could undo some of the techlash's ill will and maybe blunt some of the regulatory threats that loom over them.

The tech industry's efforts to help with the coronavirus crisis

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies from across the tech industry are trying to figure out not only how best to support their employees during the coronavirus crisis, but also how they can be a resource to their users.

Why it matters: There are a lot of unknowns about what the next few weeks and months hold, but there are some clear needs as the U.S. heads into uncharted territory.

Bill Gates steps down from Microsoft board

Bill Gates at the 2019 New Economy Forum on November 21, 2019 in Beijing, China. Photo: Hou Yu/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

Microsoft's Bill Gates stepped down from the company's board of directors on Friday to focus on philanthropy in arenas like global health and education.

The big picture: It's been a slow, long exit for Gates who has devoted more of his time to humanitarian efforts for more than a decade. He handed over the CEO reins 20 years ago and left full-time employment with the company more than a decade ago.

Scoop: Google's G Suite cracks 2 billion users

Photo: studioEAST/Getty Images

Google's G Suite, which includes Gmail, Google Docs, Hangouts, Meet and other apps, quietly passed a major milestone at the end of last year: It now has more than 2 billion monthly active users, G Suite boss Javier Soltero told Axios Wednesday.

Why it matters: Long seen as the upstart challenger to Microsoft Office, Google's productivity suite is now one of the two incumbents, facing fresh rivals of its own.

Coronavirus dents tech's supply chain

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The novel coronavirus has just begun to shut down offices and public gatherings across the U.S., but its impact on hardware and components production in China started weeks ago, and the flow of goods out of China's factories has been slow to recover.

Why it matters: The global tech economy's just-in-time supply chain has never faced a disruption quite like this one. And while many observers are guardedly optimistic, no one knows for sure yet how this crisis will play out or what sorts of shortages the industry might still face.

Match Group first tech company to back anti-online child abuse bill

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Online dating company Match Group will tomorrow publicly support the EARN IT Act, a bipartisan Senate bill to combat online child sexual exploitation, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Match, the parent company of major dating platforms such as Tinder, is breaking with the internet industry's leading trade group, which worries the bill could open a wedge for law enforcement to crack into encrypted systems, threatening user privacy.

DOJ official floats reining in tech companies' ability to censor

Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images.

A top Justice Department official suggested Tuesday that tech's prized liability shield could be changed to limit online platforms' ability to censor content.

The big picture: DOJ officials including Attorney General Bill Barr have expressed concerns about the reach of Section 230. His deputy now contends tech companies may be using the law as a “blank check” to remove lawful speech, echoing GOP claims that platforms disproportionately target conservative content for deletion.

Not all tech employees can work from home

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The remote work plan many companies are launching in response to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus doesn't work for everyone — even in the tech industry, and even for people whose jobs involve sitting in front of a screen all day.

Why it matters: While remote work can be an important tool for helping slow the spread of the disease, it's not a panacea.

Senators call for antitrust review of Google search practices

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

A bipartisan pair of senators, in a letter Tuesday, are urging the Justice Department to investigate Google's search operations as well as its advertising business.

The big picture: The letter from Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) comes as the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee holds a Tuesday hearing on ways that digital platforms favor themselves over their competitors.