How the Big Bosses of Tech are Responding to COVID-19
By now we’ve all heard of the cancelled conferences, the delayed launches, and the workers sent back home. But that’s not all that big tech companies are up to! Some of the biggest names in tech are actively working towards improving the situation both in their local areas and across the world.
Mark Zuckerberg: Philanthropy Groups to Source 1,000 Tests
Philanthropic groups owned by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg are aiming to provide medical centres in the San Francisco Bay Area with 1,000 tests for COVID-19. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, managed by Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla, has a 30 day target for getting the extra tests to hospitals.
The Chan Zuckerberg Biohub is also working on research to add to the global effort to understand the virus – which remains the biggest hurdle in treating patients.
Satya Nadella: Contributing to Research
Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, took to LinkedIn to announce the new measures the company will be taking to face the crisis. The company’s telehealth platform software and a collaboration with John Hopkins University will be working towards research.
Chief Scientific Officer Eric Hovitz also announced that Microsoft will provide an open research data set alongside academic institutes worldwide. These include the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Named the COVID-19 Open Research Data Set, it will include 29,000 scholarly articles on the virus, which companies will continue to add to.
Jeff Bezos: Rethinking Supply Lines
How many of you have found yourselves itching to shop on Amazon to pass the time? With high streets and shopping malls across the world shuttering to weather the storm, shoppers are taking to online stores to fill their needs.
But to sort out who’s getting supplies they desperately need, and who is ordering a new Nintendo Switch game, Jeff Bezos announced that Amazon warehouses will prioritize household staples. While these include baby and medical supplies, Bezos stressed that resources like face masks will be sent to healthcare workers first.
With the shortage of proper N95 masks, this means that Amazon will have a hard time providing such protection to its warehouse workers, and other staff who cannot work from home. As Amazon are committing to hiring 100,000 new roles, Bezos has stated that getting proper protection for staff remains a priority.
Despite these efforts, many find them wanting. Amazon, and Bezos, have been criticized for not contributing enough to its workforce during the crisis. Amazon even set up a relief fund asking for donations from the public to cover employee’s sick pay.
Tim Cook: Donating ‘Millions’ of Masks to Healthcare
The CEO of Apple announced on Twitter that the company is working to provide frontline healthcare workers with proper masks. The donations will extend to workers in Europe as well as the US.
It’s unclear at moment how many masks Apple are aiming to donate, despite US Vice President Mike Pence stating at a White House press briefing that he heard it would be 2 million. The Verge are following the story by reaching out to Apple for a confirmed figure.
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Spain recently became the 5th largest consumer of internet data in the world, following a full nationwide lockdown forcing many into their homes. As other countries in Europe follow suit, that’s a lot of bandwidth!
To ensure that networks don’t collapse, Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon Prime will all be reducing their streaming quality in Europe in the hopes of preventing an overload.
The two most afflicted countries, Italy and Spain, have sent residents with non-critical jobs to their homes, only allowing them out for essential trips to the supermarket or pharmacy. This has left hundreds of thousands of people indoors with nothing but free time and a WiFi connection. Not only are people flocking to entertainment sites, but many are glued to the news channels to follow updates.
YouTube said in a statement;
People are coming to YouTube to find authoritative news, learning content and make connections during these uncertain times. We are in ongoing conversations with the regulators (including Ofcom), governments and network operators all over Europe, and are making a commitment to temporarily default all traffic in the UK and the EU to Standard Definition. We will continue our work to minimize stress on the system, while also delivering a good user experience.”
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Online Learning Tackles New Challenges
With many stuck at home, and many events cancelled, there’s hardly been a better time for at-home training.
‘Zoom’ has become the buzzword of the week, with yoga teachers, pilates instructors, fitness influencers, and events organizers moving their classes online.
Teachers are also seeking platforms to host online classrooms for housebound children. In Wuhan, students under quarantine slammed the main online learning platform with 1-star reviews to have it taken down from the App store, in an attempt to rid themselves of homework. Alibaba owned DingTalk was forced to ‘beg for its life’ on social media.
Older students responded by flooding the app with positive reviews, keen that younger students still do the work that was set for them.
If you’ve been working on an online learning platform or event hosting platform…now is the time to launch!
In response to the crisis, all Product School events have also been moved online, for the safety of our community. The bright side is that you now have access to more events than ever before! Check them out here.
Top Tips for Working from Home
In case you missed it: we released a community update to make sure you have all the information you need to continue your Product Management journey. We’ve listed resources, advice, and updates on the steps we’re taking to keep you healthy and keep you learning.
With many trying their at at remote product management for the first time, wee also asked around our office (now virtual, of course!) to see what our team is up to while working from home:
Do you have any tips to share? Or just seem some contact with other people? Join our Slack community of over 50,000 PMs. (Now the healthiest way to socialize and network!)