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A terrible week for tech
Headlines across both sides of the Atlantic this week were dominated by the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, the tech startup world’s favorite bank.
As Forbes revealed this week, the most influential voices in tech quickly rallied to lobby the U.S. government to take decisive action and prevent contagion across the rest of the economy.
Similar efforts took place in the U.K., resulting in two separate deals that protected deposits both in the United States and the United Kingdom. But as the dust settles on the largest bank crash since 2008, this is a moment for reflection about the tech sector and its role in the wider economy.
Over the past 15 years in London, I’ve followed what was once affectionately known as ‘the scene’ blossoming from a fringe corner of the financial district into arguably one of the most important sectors in the country.
This week, it felt like a tide had turned. What happened to tech exceptionalism? What happened to growth at any cost, and worry about revenue later? Those wild days when a mattress company was a ‘tech startup’ because it sold through a website, at a huge loss. Or when simply adding the words ‘blockchain’, ‘meta’ or ‘AI’ to your company’s description added millions to your valuation.
Silicon Valley Bank was, as one venture capitalist told me, the bank that really understood tech businesses. They were, and probably still will be, a critical part of the tech world, serving the needs of the leaders of tomorrow.
But as the tech world reels from its biggest financial crash ever, and brutal job cuts continue across the sector, is this the moment we realize that tech is no longer as special as we once thought?
Five Things We Learned
The ‘toxic workplace gap’ got wider. Studies found women were 41% more likely to suffer toxicity in the workplace in the first year after Covid-19 started. In worse news, another study found record numbers of women are leaving altogether, with workplace culture commonly cited as a reason for quitting.
Uber drivers in California won’t get benefits after all. Courts in San Francisco ruled app-based ride and delivery workers will not be entitled to paid sick leave, health insurance and other employee benefits. The decision could be appealed to the California Supreme Court.
Daylight saving time is bad for our health. North America shifted an hour forward into DST last weekend, leading to impaired decision making, weight gain and even strokes. Poor sleep costs the United States an estimated $411 billion each year. Will this much-hated tradition end in our lifetimes?
The Northern Lights could be coming to New York, Ireland and much of Canada. A rare, once-in-a-decade “halo” event on the Sun’s far side made the Aurora Borealis visible much further south than normal. Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes this weekend.
Saudi Arabia is making a big push into tourism. This week the kingdom launched Riyadh Air, backed by a bumper order of 39 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners with options for 33 more. With luxury resorts popping up across the country, Saudi Arabia aims to attract 100m visitors by 2030.
Airport liquid restrictions are finally coming to an end. Frequent flyers rejoice – new high-tech CT scanners are bringing an end to separating and restricting liquids on-board flights. The rules were brought in 2006 after a foiled terrorist attack.
A skin-eating fungal plague is silently tearing through Africa. Reportedly older than the human species, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) has been described as the worst disease ever recorded, killing frogs, toads and other amphibians. The fungus attacks the skin and triggers heart attacks and could take out numerous species across Africa.
How Tesla squandered its lead. Plagued by poor build quality, the world’s best-known EV maker has struggled to scale-up production. With the old-guard of Ford, GM, Toyota and Renault-Nissan catching up fast, and loose-cannon CEO Elon Musk at the helm has Tesla lost its spark? Wendover Productions, YouTube, free to watch worldwide.
Adopting as a trans couple. Learn more about the highs and lows behind the creation of one very modern family. Death, Sex and Money, NPR, free to listen worldwide.
Understand those who cannot be understood. Find yourself leaving meetings more confused than before they started? This compelling book unlocks the secrets behind different types of human communication and much more. Surrounded by Idiots, Thomas Erikson, St Martins Essentials, from $12.
The best of London’s restaurants and bars for a wild night out. Underground secret parties under Covent Garden, 24-hour bottomless brunch in Billingsgate and dancing on the tables in Soho. Tired of London, tired of life.