Google's worker revolution is a shot that could end the reign of corporate stockholders
Hello, and welcome to this Wednesday's edition of the Insider Tech newsletter, where we break down the biggest news in tech.
Did someone forward this newsletter to you? Get Insider Tech straight in your inbox by subscribing here.
Soundtrack: For maximum enjoyment of this newsletter, we recommend The Beatles' "Revolution."
This week: Google's bottom-up worker revolution is a shot against the reign of corporate stockholdersIf this were a normal year, corporate CEOs would be just starting to pack their bags for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where many execs would eagerly preach the virtues of stakeholder capitalism - the notion that companies have obligations to more constituents than just their investors.
The new Alphabet Workers Union, launched on Monday, is essentially a labor union forged on the principles of stakeholder capitalism.
- This union isn't fighting for wages - it doesn't even have collective bargaining power. It's fighting to overturn the fundamental concept that management's primary goal should be to generate as much profit as possible.
- "We prioritize society and the environment instead of maximizing profits at all costs," reads one of the key points in the union's manifesto.
- The union's website lists various past company controversies, including Google's military AI contracts and its efforts to build a censored search engine for China. All of these, the union argues, demonstrate that
Alphabetleadership puts: "Profit before users; Profit before workers; Profit before being a force for good in the world."
Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the authors of those words, are no longer directly involved in the company. But it would be unfair to lay the blame at Pichai's feet. Many of the problematic incidents cited by the union occured while the two founders were still leading the company.How much power this union will actually wield remains to be seen. It so far includes only a few hundred of Google's more than 100,000 employees, and says it intends to also represent the company's even greater number of contract and temporary workers. But I'd argue that even if the union's influence is limited to generating public attention, the emergence of an internal group pushing stakeholder capitalism in an organization from the bottom up is a big deal.
The biggest question is whether this new breed of union is something that could only exist at Google - a product of the culture and ideals that Google historically touted to employees - or if it's the first example of a bigger wave that's about to upend the stockholder-primacy that has long dominated corporations.
The device is code-named Brahms, likely a reference to the 19th-century German composer Johannes Brahms who wrote "Lullaby" and who may have suffered from sleep apnea himself.
The Brahms device could be Amazon's tip of the spear in a broader effort to conquer the sleep market, where Apple, Samsung, and Xiaomi have made inroads, writes Kim, citing one of his sources: "Amazon expects to leverage its advanced machine-learning capabilities and cloud infrastructure to build out a deeper sleep-analysis program that covers other sleeping disorders, one of the people said."
In memoriamFarmVille (June 2009 - December 31, 2020): Whether you or not you played FarmVille - a sim game that involved tending to a virtual patch of land and planting crops - chances are notifications and updates about your friends' Farmville endeavors invaded your Facebook news feed like a weed. Facebook eventually clamped down on social games' access to the newsfeed, and Farmville's popularity dried up almost as quickly as it sprouted.
Haven (January 2018 - February 2021): When Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan created a healthcare company for their combined workforces three years ago, the world took note. After all, the financial might and business savvy of the three firms gave them a good shot at re-inventing a byzantine market and reining in the "ballooning costs of healthcare." Or so it seemed.The joint venture, called Haven, announced this week that it would shut down by the end of February. As Insider's Blake Dodge reports, its demise owes to a mix of factors including lack of direction, leadership changes, and obstacles inherent to the healthcare landscape. One takeaway likely to strike many people though: Even Amazon - famous (or notorious) for driving down consumer prices - was not able to bring down the inexplicably high prices that hospitals charge.
Here's a fun way to capitalize on the growing demand for remote-work spaces and vacation homes during the pandemic: List your spacious home on Airbnb, renting it out to strangers willing to pay generous nightly booking fees, and squeeze yourself into this cozy do-it-yourself, A-frame cabin.80138404 The 115-square-foot wood cabin, designed by New York's Den Outdoors, is 12-feet tall and can accommodate two twin beds. Its insulated floors and window mean it's apparently suitable for any season of the year.
The cabin come as a kit that costs $21,000 and can be assembled in three days, according to Den Outdoors. It's small enough that you can plop it down wherever you want - a mountain vista, the banks of a gurgling brook, or your backyard. You'll have to get used to a "glamping" lifestyle, free of plumbing and other standard amenities. But while you're cooped up in this slender shack, you'll sleep comfortably knowing that the Airbnb guests living in your real house are paying down your mortgage.
Recommended Readings:Microsoft could benefit from the SolarWinds fallout even though hackers used its products as part of the attack - here's why
Not necessarily in tech:The untold story of Ghislaine Maxwell's secret husband, Scott Borgerson
Sponsored content:This tech startup founder went from helicopter pilot to cybercrime fighter. Here's how his company is reshaping cybersecurity as we know it. tell your friends and colleagues they can sign up here to receive it.
And as always, please reach out with rants, raves, and tips at firstname.lastname@example.org- Alexei
- India records 14,545 new COVID-19 cases in last 24 hours
- Google says it will pull Search out of Australia if the government doesn't back down on the media bargaining code
- Recession in India will end latest by March, says a top economist
- Amazfit GTS 2 review – feature-rich, but there’s still room for improvement
- Social Media Platforms: The trends to watch out for in 2021