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Remember when people occupied Wall Street? Supposedly Silicon Valley is next

(BUSINESS NEWS) Based on quick and successful economic growth compared to the rest of the country, strategists are predicting the occupy movement will eventually wind up in Silicon Valley.

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Trouble on the horizon

A new Bank of America report has some very worrying news for the tech industry. Titled “Occupy Silicon Valley,” the report is a sort of socio-economic risk analysis study that warns of troubles ahead.

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Except, the troubles will not come from foreign hackers, or an encroaching federal government, but from Main Street America.

Occupy Silicon Valley

The report highlights how the hugely profitable tech industry’s sheer wealth juxtaposes uneasily with the sluggish growth of rest of the economy. Huge salaries, unthinkable bonuses and a very wide income starkly contrast with teachers, police officers, and young tech engineers.

Backlash to this growing inequality, now largely directed at politicians in DC and investment bankers in Wall Street, will soon engulf the Valley billionaires and their tech minions, the study warns.

Michael Hartnett, chief investment strategist with Bank of America, put the issue in perspective by noting that the market values of tech giants already surpass the gross domestic product of large cities. “Google is bigger than Chicago[‘s GDP], Amazon is bigger than Washington[‘s GDP],” he wrote.

American companies also far outstrip the value of its competitors internationally.

For example, just Google and Apple put together is worth more than the combined market value of Japanese and Eurozone financial companies.

eurozone
via BofAML Global Investment Strategy

The future is only going to get brighter

In fact, by all accounts we are on the verge of a revolution in AI that would unleash more automation—from self-driven cars to Wall Street betting bots to auto-coding. Seismic shifts will disrupt jobs on a massive scale, and even high skilled laborers are at risk of losing means of employment. Wealth would further flow to the hands of a few.

The stock market reflects this bright future: NASDAQ Internet Index is up 25.6 percent this year versus about 7 percent for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index.

The report predicts that this scenario would “ultimately lead to populist calls for redistribution of the increasingly concentrated wealth of Silicon Valley as the gap between tech capital and human capital grows ever wider.”

Here and there

For now, the protests have been scattered and momentary flairs—the Google-bus blockades, protests against Uber’s presence in Oakland, and so on.

There has also been populist backlash against the tech industry for its lack of accountability.

Many see this as the struggle between the new, modern America versus the old, backward America. Silicon Valley vs. Ohio Valley. However, that scenario will change soon. For worse, much worse.

An already highly area of tension between the long-term residents and new tech wave is over the issue of rent control. Voters in Mountain View (Google’s headquarters) and Richmond approved rent- and eviction-control measures in November. Santa Rosa will vote in June. San Jose’s City Council voted last month to implement eviction controls, and Pacifica’s council approved a temporary rent- and eviction-control ordinance that will take effect Wednesday.

Rent control may necessitate higher taxes, which would mean policy responses inimical to the tech interests: “When the government is short of revenue, they will look at places that have a lot of revenue. We know where a lot of that is right now,” the report notes.

Round two

The disconnect between an S&P 500 led by technology and the global economy “is ultimately unsustainable,” warns the report. Occupy Silicon Valley may not be far away.

Whether the protests lead to useful policy prescriptions is an entirely different question.

#SiliconValley

Barnil is a Staff Writer at The American Genius. With a Master's Degree in International Relations, Barnil is a Research Assistant at UT, Austin. When he hikes, he falls. When he swims, he sinks. When he drives, others honk. But when he writes, people read.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Bryan See

    June 23, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    I think these protests will be made by Donald Trump supporters, the chunk of Americans that has been whipped into frenzy by Brexit, Trump’s appeal to reduced circumstances and a ripple effect made by a clear signal sent by the absurd episodes on Russia’s Phobos-Grunt mission and Russavia from 2012 to 2015. They will surely use violence at anyone who’s making science and tech progress, in addition to holding placards saying messages ranging from “computers complicated the world very greatly” to “digital is no good” to simply “that’s it for science and tech” (which means “it’s over for [and the end of] science and tech”). Their clear targets are Silicon Valley, as discussed in this article, and other places like it, be it General Dynamics, the contractor responsible for the Navy EMALS system which drew the angers of Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    These neo-Luddites, or modern-day Luddites will surely band together to express their anger and unleash their violence, helping to save Putin; it is only a matter of time before this anti-tech/anti-science backlash goes global. It is interesting to note that Putin has no idea about Silicon Valley, but its destruction, through Occupy Silicon Valley, could benefit him because not only he’s a technophobe, just like Trump, he wanted to rule the world with money as predicted by right-wing and reactionary and xenophobic Bulgarian mystic Baba Vanga, who predicted about Russia and Putin himself that when the permafrost thaws and floods come, nothing will survive on Earth but Russia.

    “Everything will melt away like ice yet the glories of Vladimir, the glory of Russia, are the only things that will remain. Russia will not only survive, it will dominate the world.”

    Also, during her meeting with writer Valentin Sidorov, Vanga said: “All will thaw, as if ice, only one remain untouched – Vladimir’s glory, glory of Russia. Too much it is brought in a victim. Nobody can stop Russia. All will be removed by her from the way and not only will be kept, but also becomes the lord of the world.”

    Right-wing religious fanatic Edgar Cayce had a similar message related by rabid racist Vanga and he mentioned the possibility of third world war resulting in troubles related to Egypt, Turkey, Syria and Libya.

    “In Russia there comes the hope of the world, not as that sometimes termed of the communistic, or Bolshevik, no; but freedom, freedom! That each man will live for his fellow man! The principle has been born. It will take years for it to be crystallised, but out of Russia comes again the hope of the world.”
    (Edgar Cayce, 1944, No. 3976-29)

    Cayce said that these events could be averted if humanity changed its behavior – but in the 70 years since his prediction, mankind has not changed at all. Thus, World War III is on the way, and it may signal the end of life on earth.

    Cayce foresaw the third world war even before the end of the second world war. He spoke of strife arising near the Davis Straits, and in Libya, and in Egypt, in Ankara, and in Syria; through the straits around those areas above Australia, in the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf.

    Horacio Villegas foresaw such conflict. He reportedly told the Daily Star: “The main message that people need to know to be prepared is that between May 13th and October 13, 2017, this war will occur and be over with much devastation, shock and death!”

    All of these, coupled with anti-research and anti-science budget cuts, and propaganda from Trump and Putin, as well as a third World War, will likely stop humankind from achieving milestones, like landing an astronaut on Mars. Therefore, the phrase “Everything will melt away like ice” is something that is warned about by many, including SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, filmmaker Michael Moore and Wikipedia user BatteryIncluded.

    In 2014, asked in an interview whether he would visit Mars in his lifetime, Musk said “I hope so, if I don’t get assassinated by like, some Russian assassin, which is not out of the question. They’ve done that before!”

    In his GQ interview in the following year, he noted there is a window of opportunity when the technology necessary to send astronauts to Mars becomes available; however, it could rapidly be shut down because of religious extremism, anti-technology movements or the eruption of a third World War.

    He commented, “I don’t think we can discount the possibility of a third World War. You know, in 1912 they were proclaiming a new age of peace and prosperity, saying that it was a golden age, war was over. And then you had World War I followed by World War II followed by the Cold War. So I think we need to acknowledge that there’s certainly a possibility of a third World War, and if that does occur it could be far worse than anything that’s happened before. Let’s say nuclear weapons are used. I mean, there could be a very powerful social movement that’s anti-technology. There’s also growth in religious extremism. Like, I mean, does ISIS grow…?”

    Musk sees the colonization of Mars as a moral duty to ensure the survival of mankind the same way a USB drive is meant to preserve data in case a computer crashes. A Martian colony could guarantee humanity survives in the event of a debacle that destroys life on Earth. “You back up your hard drive. Maybe we should back up life, too?” he asked.

    Michael Moore condemned, “Trump just committed a crime against humanity. This admitted predator has now expanded his predatory acts to the entire planet. USA to Earth: F— YOU. America First! Earth Last! My name is Michael Moore. I am an American. And I live in a Rogue State.”

    He also stated, “Historians in the near future (because that may be the only future we have) will mark today, March 28, 2017, as the day the extinction of human life on earth began, thanks 2 Donald Trump.”

    BatteryIncluded once said, “Now that Trump has been elected, it doesn’t much matter … human civilization on this planet is soon over.”

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Business News

How well-meaning diversity and inclusion hiring practices could backfire

(BUSINESS) More companies than ever are considering their diversity and inclusion hiring practices and internal culture, but there is an unintended consequence already happening that could easily be stopped.

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diversity and inclusion practices

It is a widely accepted fact that hiring for diversity improves profitability, whether a small business or a massive company that pours resources into diversity and inclusion (D&I) practices companywide. You probably already know this, but if it’s news to you, Google around – it leads to improved innovation (since you’ve avoided an echo chamber), customer support ranks better for diverse teams (since your team has a wider ability to address more pain points), and it attracts more talent.

Imagine if you build a company and fill it with people that look, act, sound, and think like you. And imagine how agreeable everyone is during every moment of production, and no diversity of thought is ever injected. Any investor can tell you it’s a death sentence. To be blunt, it’s hiring “yes men,” so to speak, and does little more than serve your ego (consciously or subconciously).

American culture has rapidly evolved regarding diversity and inclusion (D&I). There are entire teams in companies dedicated to it (#profitability). I can tell you firsthand that the people devoting their jobs to this really do care. And today, more than ever, the topic of race (which is only one of many components of diversity) is top of mind, so we must all individually, and as companies, push to improve our workplace for the BIPOC while also remembering the LGBTQIA+ community, avoiding ageism, and so forth.

And while positivity surrounding D&I practices abounds, something is happening that is going to backfire.

Businesses are resorting to a “checklist” mindset wherein a CEO says, “we don’t have enough Hispanic women or trans employees, fix that” and drops the figurative mic. It sounds noble to see there is room to improve, but diversity and inclusion is about creating a company culture and hiring practices wherein people aren’t discriminated against, NOT fulfilling some impossible checklist.

I was in a meeting of a company inviting us to be on their board, and one of their first questions was if we knew any black women or Asian men that would join the board because they already had “most of the rest of the rainbow.” Again, sounds like the right direction, but it’s a hollow effort if you’re building a rainbow, not examining merit, not building out an actual culture of inclusion. Try harder.

And that brings us to a weak spot in this practice that we’re already seeing come to fruition. Large companies, particularly in the tech sector, are putting in the real effort to be inclusive, but it’s backfiring.

Companies are inadvertently segmenting their populations for D&I purposes, and while it’s not some evil plot, it negates all D&I programs. We’re witnessing “diverse” companies allow their teams to be built out, diversity-free. Perhaps their development teams are only white men, their marketing teams are only white and Hispanic women, their support teams are primarily Indian Americans, their sales teams are mostly black team members.

It’s wild to walk into a large company and see this strange… segregation.

It is natural to surround yourself with people that look like you, and I have endless theories on this topic, but I’ll confess to you that most of my thoughts have been influenced by reading “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” by Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum back when I was in high school (required reading for anyone pondering the topic of race now or in the future). And many practices are well-meaning, but companies are sabotaging themselves with flawed methods.

A company might look great as a whole with various ages, races, religions, gender identities, ethnicities, sexuality, national origin, and so forth, but if they’re all segregated into their own teams based on how they were hired (or by whom), it’s literally the opposite of diversity or inclusion. Swing and a miss, y’all.

If you’re in a decision making role at your company, please bring this topic up as soon as possible, and examine how your own diversity efforts are going – are you sincere, or just looking for positive press?

Are you helping overall?

Or just making things worse?

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Business News

Etsy is trying on second-hand fashion with purchase of Depop

(BUSINESS NEWS) With the younger generation moving away from fast fashion, it makes sense that Etsy has acquired one of the most popular Gen Z second hand apps.

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Woman looking at a rack of clothes in a second hand thrift store

Over the last few years, sustainable shopping has been a bullet point in the large-scale topic of the environment. Burning through clothing by disposing of old clothing and shopping from places specializing in “fast fashion” is causing damage to the earth.

According to the UN Environment Programme, the fashion industry is the second largest consumer of water and is responsible for 8-10% of global carbon emissions – more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.

As a result, shopping second hand has become more popular, as opposed to mass-produced fast fashion. Online platforms like Poshmark and ThredUp have grown tremendously over the last 3 to 5 years.

Now, Etsy is getting in on the resale action through its acquisition of Depop – a second hand fashion app that allows for the buying and selling of used fashion items.

Etsy paid $1.6 billion to acquire the UK-founded company, which has attracted a younger, Gen Z-based audience due to its social media use and messaging on shopping in an ethical and environmentally-friendly fashion.

Etsy CEO Josh Silverman said the company was “thrilled” to be adding what it believes to be the “resale home for Gen Z consumers” to Etsy. Depop has approximately 30 million registered users spanning 150 countries.

“Depop is a vibrant, two-sided marketplace with a passionate community, a highly-differentiated offering of unique items, and we believe significant potential to further scale,” Silverman said in a statement Wednesday.

“We see significant opportunities for shared expertise and growth synergies across what will now be a tremendous ‘house of brands’ portfolio of individually distinct, and very special, ecommerce brands.”

Due to the COVID-related e-commerce boom, shares of Etsy have more than doubled in the last year. The stock was up about 6.7% Wednesday afternoon.

According to data from Crunchbase, Depop had raised a total of $105.6 million from investors including General Atlantic, Creandum, Balderton Capital, Octopus Ventures and Klarna CEO and co-founder Sebastian Siemiatkowski, prior to their agreement with Etsy.

With fashion being so cyclical, it may be safe to say that second hand will never fully go out of style.

What are your thoughts on resale apps being the answer to fast fashion woes? Let us know in the comments.

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Business News

As masks become optional, businesses find themselves stuck in the middle

(BUSINESS NEWS) One liquor store’s decision on mask policy following changes in local laws has become a recurring story throughout the nation.

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Woman in front of small business with two children, all wearing face masks

The American mask debate has comprised a whirlwind of clashing political ideologies, legal dilemmas, and personal agendas, with businesses placed directly in the middle of the storm. As the pandemic continues to run its course, a disparity in state mandates and legislation is only serving to increase the strain on these establishments.

With increased access to vaccines and several states rolling back their COVID guidance, the option to wear—or not wear—masks is becoming more discretionary, with businesses often having the final say in whether or not they expect masks to be used on their premises. One such business, a liquor store, posted a notice regarding their staff’s decision to continue wearing masks:

“In accordance with Johnson County mandates: Masks are now optional. Please do not berate, verbally assault, or otherwise attack the staff over their choice to continue wearing masks.”

The notice went on to say, “It is painfully depressing we have to make this request.”

That last line epitomizes many business owners’ stances. Places across the country have started allowing customers to discard their masks with proof of vaccination, but if employees choose to keep their masks for the time being, it’s difficult for clients not to view it as a kind of political statement—despite their decisions often being corroborated by local laws.

And, as long as businesses continue to operate within the confines of those laws, their decisions should be free from public scrutiny.

Sadly, that’s not what’s happening as evidenced by the notice posted by the liquor store in Johnson County. The same disparity that allows for some freedom despite COVID still being present in many Americans’ lives often leaves those who choose not to wear masks to conclude that those who do wear them are being judgmental or unnecessarily cautious.

Those judgements work in reverse as well, with businesses who allow their employees to work maskless facing criticism from masked clients. It seems that the freedom to choose—something for which people strongly advocated throughout the pandemic—continues to cause separation.

As businesses change or adapt their regulations to fit state mandates and employee (and customer) concerns, everyone would do well to remember that the decisions these establishments make are usually meant to affect some kind of positive work environment—not to welcome harassment and abuse.

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