Amazon teams up with TCL after striking deal with Google – Protocol - eComEmpireStore + Brought to You By: Robert Villapane Ramos

Amazon teams up with TCL after striking deal with Google – Protocol

The two companies have struck a deal that allows Amazon to work with manufacturers like TCL, which also makes Android TVs and phones.The deal between Amazon and Google resolves a yearslong dispute over licensing restrictions Google imposes on hardware manufacturers.Last week, the Competition Commission of India published a damning report, alleging that Google was preventing […]

The two companies have struck a deal that allows Amazon to work with manufacturers like TCL, which also makes Android TVs and phones.
The deal between Amazon and Google resolves a yearslong dispute over licensing restrictions Google imposes on hardware manufacturers.
Last week, the Competition Commission of India published a damning report, alleging that Google was preventing major TV manufacturers from adopting Amazon’s Fire TV operating system. This Thursday, Amazon announced that TCL, one of the manufacturers at the center of the dispute, is releasing two TV sets running its Fire TV software in Europe this fall.
The unveiling of the two TV models is the direct result of a deal Google and Amazon struck in recent months, Protocol has learned from a source close to one of the parties involved in the agreement.
As a result of that deal, Amazon has been able to work with a number of consumer electronics companies — including not only TCL, but also Xiaomi and Hisense — to vastly expand the number of available smart TVs running Fire TV OS. All of these companies were previously barred from doing so under licensing terms imposed by Google.

The agreement may also alleviate some of the pressure Google has been feeling as regulators around the world have investigated its Android platform. However, some experts are skeptical a singular deal will address the overarching concerns with Google’s operation and licensing of Android to third parties.
During a briefing about the release of the TCL TVs, Amazon’s vice president of entertainment devices Daniel Rausch said the report issued by Indian regulators “and its findings speak for themselves,” and declined to comment further on the matter.
A Google spokesperson declined to comment on the relationship between the two companies when contacted for this story earlier this summer; the company didn’t immediately respond to a follow-up request for comment this week.
The deal between Amazon and Google resolves a yearslong dispute over licensing restrictions Google imposes on hardware manufacturers that make Android-based phones, TVs, and other devices. In order to gain access to Google’s officially sanctioned version of Android as well as the company’s popular apps like Google Maps and YouTube, manufacturers have to sign a confidential document known as the Android Compatibility Commitment. The ACC prevents manufacturers from also making devices based on forked versions of Android not compatible with Google’s guidelines.
The ACC, which was previously known as the Anti-Fragmentation Agreement, had long been an open secret in industry circles. Its full impact on the smart TV space became public when Protocol reported terms of the agreement in March of 2020 and outlined how the policy effectively barred companies like TCL from making smart TVs running any forked version of Android, including Amazon’s Fire TV OS.
Google has been justifying these policies by pointing to the harmful consequences of Android fragmentation, positing that the rules assured developers and consumers that apps would run across all Android-based devices. However, the crux of Google’s requirements is that they apply across device categories. By making a Fire TV-based smart TV, TCL would have effectively risked losing access to Google’s Android for its smartphone business — a risk the company, and many of its competitors that develop both smartphones and TVs, weren’t willing to take.

At the time, both Google and Amazon declined to comment on the dispute. However, Amazon was a lot more forthcoming when it talked to Indian regulators for a wide-ranging probe into Google’s Android policies.
“Given the breadth of the anti-fragmentation obligations, Amazon has also experienced significant difficulties in finding [original equipment manufacturer] partners to manufacture smart TVs running its Fire OS,” the company’s Indian subsidiary told regulators in a submission that was included in last week’s report. Amazon told regulators that “at least seven” manufacturers had told the company they weren’t able to make Fire TV-based smart TVs because of Google’s restrictions.
“In several cases, the OEM has indicated that it cannot work with Amazon despite a professed desire to do so in connection with smart TVs,” Amazon said in its submission. “In others, the OEM has tried and failed to obtain ‘permission’ from Google.”
Signs that the two companies were able to resolve these issues first surfaced earlier this year, when Amazon announced a TV partnership with Hisense, followed by a similar announcement for Fire TVs made by Xiaomi. Asked about those developments, a Google spokesperson declined to comment on the evolving relationship between the two companies earlier this summer.
Instead, the spokesperson shared a statement with Protocol that outlined the company’s reasoning for its use of the Android Compatibility Commitment against forked versions of the mobile operating system. “Our focus as a platform is to provide consistent and secure software experiences to users and developers, across our ecosystem of partner devices,” the statement reads in part. “If a device is incompatible, we cannot guarantee that the apps on Android will work reliably, which could put user security at risk.”
Google’s statement also maintained that hardware manufacturers who sign the ACC were “free to build, distribute and market any device based on any OS.” However, if that operating system happened to be based on Android, the company would “ask them to ensure compatibility for [Google’s] ecosystem.”
The statement mirrors Google’s long-standing stance on Android compatibility — a position that would have effectively forced Amazon to make significant changes to the Fire TV operating system in order to more closely align it with Google’s version. Yet there are no indications Amazon has made any such changes.

Following Protocol’s initial report on the issue, regulators in India also began a separate probe to specifically look into the impact Google’s policies were having on smart TV manufacturers. The current status of that smart TV-focused investigation is unknown, but it’s entirely possible that India’s regulators would proceed even with an agreement between Google and Amazon in place.
After all, Google’s public statements suggest that the company hasn’t changed its tune on anti-fragmentation policies in general. This means that consumer electronics companies may still be prevented from using their own forked versions of Android on TVs if they also make Google-licensed Android TVs or smartphones.
Those concerns were echoed by a source familiar with Google’s OEM partner operations who spoke to Protocol on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation from the company.
“No one believes Google has found religion on the value of fair competition,” that source told Protocol. “What is more likely is they are feeling the relentless gaze of Congress and federal regulators into their anticompetitive practices, and are picking and choosing the battles they want to engage in to avoid unnecessary headline risk. This means some players may be allowed a temporary reprieve. […] But it is at most a tacit short-term move.”
Janko Roettgers (@jank0) is a senior reporter at Protocol, reporting on the shifting power dynamics between tech, media, and entertainment, including the impact of new technologies. Previously, Janko was Variety’s first-ever technology writer in San Francisco, where he covered big tech and emerging technologies. He has reported for Gigaom, Frankfurter Rundschau, Berliner Zeitung, and ORF, among others. He has written three books on consumer cord-cutting and online music and co-edited an anthology on internet subcultures. He lives with his family in Oakland.
“If we do not hold crypto to a higher standard, we are going to continue to have these disasters,” Jeremy Allaire said.
“We need policy. We need regulation. We need intermediaries to follow the clear frameworks that are needed to address the different types of risks that exist,” Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire said.
Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers crypto and fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at or via Google Voice at (925) 307-9342.
Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire has found himself shocked twice in the past few months by rapid-fire change in his industry.
The luna-UST crash in May stupefied him in “how fast the death spiral happened and how violent of a value destruction it was.”
The collapse of FTX — which has filed for bankruptcy Friday after rocking an already-reeling crypto market — was just as shocking, he said. It also underscores a critical problem in crypto: the growing influence of offshore crypto companies that can operate with little transparency and accountability.
“The offshore situation is a huge issue,” Allaire told Protocol. “You can’t see things when they’re opaque. There’s a reason why there are market structure and market conduct rules. There are reasons why those exist. And they should exist in crypto markets.”
In an interview with Protocol shortly before FTX announced its bankruptcy filing, Allaire talked about the pressing need for crypto regulation in the U.S., the risks posed by offshore crypto companies, and why he thinks the FTX collapse could serve as the spark that convinces policymakers and regulators it’s time to move faster.

This interview was edited for clarity and brevity.
You described the last crypto meltdown involving luna and UST as a fast and violent value destruction. How does this latest crash involving FTX compare?
I think it’s very comparable. It’s astounding and shocking and disappointing, obviously.
You also said that with the luna-UST crash, there were signs about what could happen, that you could see it coming. Is it the same thing with the FTX collapse?
Not clearly; it was a lot harder to see. There are several really key takeaways. One is the problem with offshore operators. This is the reason why policymakers in the United States should be focused on putting a clear regulatory framework in place that builds safe markets in the United States and doesn’t have people moving into opaque jurisdictions.
You have weak regulators or nonexistent regulators in certain cases. When you don’t have enterprise risk management, clear public audits, clear separations of roles and responsibilities, when you don’t have the rigor of being a regulated financial institution, all of the moral hazards that exist in financial institutions can go wrong.
It’s one of the reasons why we have always been regulated in the United States. It’s one of the reasons why we are in the process of going through becoming a public company. It’s one of the reasons why we invite significant scrutiny on what we do.
I think the offshore situation is a huge issue. You can’t see things when they’re opaque. There’s a reason why there are market structure and market conduct rules — the separation of banking and capital markets, the separation of proprietary trading and exchanges. There are reasons why those exist. And they should exist in crypto markets.
I think there’s an opportunity immediately in front of us to address these. There’s actual legislation that attempts to address these and probably should go further — like stablecoin issuance should not be something that exchanges do, just like banks shouldn’t run capital markets.

You have [SEC] Chair [Gary] Gensler for quite some time talking about conflicts of interests that might exist between different roles in the market, within firms. He’s been very public about that as a real issue and a risk.
People talk about CeFi [centralized finance]. CeFi without regulatory frameworks around it is banking and markets with all the moral hazards without regulation. That’s essentially what you’re talking about.
In many ways, one of the big takeaways here is that CeFi is higher-risk than DeFi because CeFi is opaque and most of it is offshore and unregulated. It’s dominated by a completely unregulated company. No one even knows what jurisdiction they operate from.
CeFi is opaque. DeFi is actually public and transparent. All the rules, all the liquidations, all the risks, everything, it’s all publicly visible.
The whole promise of this whole problem space, if you recall, came out of a reaction to the global financial crisis. We had these opaque financial institutions that had all of this risk that no one could see [or knew] existed. That led to overleverage.
The promise of blockchains was [they were] public, open, transparent, auditable. You could construct a safer and ultimately more open and more inclusive financial system on this technology. Ironically, some of the biggest businesses that have been built depend on opacity and, frankly, have all the moral hazards that have existed in traditional financial institutions.
If we move forward in a world where more and more activity is on-chain, where more and more activity is conducted on public ledgers, where you can have verifiability, you could have proof of reserves, you can have publicly disclosed risk management — you can even build models where you can have privacy but also enable auditors and regulators to have visibility as needed — so many things that can be done that actually can construct financial services that are safer.
I think that’s going to be ultimately the biggest lesson that comes out of this. We need policy. We need regulation. We need intermediaries to follow the clear frameworks that are needed to address the different types of risks that exist. We need that. We need that fast.

How has the FTX crash changed your relationship with and your view of other key players in crypto that are based offshore, like FTX and Binance?
I think it’s critical that major jurisdictions have a consistent and clear set of regulations around crypto assets, crypto markets, stablecoins, and these key pieces. You have that being put in place in Europe. You have that being put in place in Singapore. You have real proposals in the U.K. You’ve got bills in Congress in the United States. It’s really key that we have that. And for these offshore players, they need to operate by the same standards, by these higher standards.
Crypto needs to be held to a higher standard. We believe that very firmly. We try to hold ourselves to very high standards ourselves. We think that if we do not hold crypto to a higher standard, we are going to continue to have these disasters for people and businesses and others.
We ran a big conference, Converge, a month or so ago. It was great. We had 2,600 people, tons of companies. The exciting thing was they were there not because of bitcoin, not because of speculating on crypto assets. They were there because they were focused on how to build real world-utility around dollar[-based] digital currencies. What becomes possible with this infrastructure?
The whole message was we have to move from the speculative value phase to the utility value phase of this industry. I think the speculative value phase has had people focused on what’s the price of bitcoin? How big are these exchanges? And the incentive systems that come along with that, especially offshore unregulated variants of it, created I think these really, really high-risk environments for people.
The utility value phase’s focus isn’t going to be on these trading markets and the price of bitcoin. It’s going to be focused on what people are building that is delivering utility to people and households and firms around the world.

I hope that more of the focus turns towards enabling that, and I think policymaking and regulation is actually a huge part of what helps foster that transition.
You tweeted the point about your concern with offshore players, as part of a thread that involved Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong and Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse. Is there a coming together on this point when it comes to dealing with regulators?
This has been a consistent theme from major industry leaders in the United States for a long time. The lack of tailored, specific statutes and rules for the digital asset ecosystem in the United States has led to huge amounts of uncertainty, regulation by enforcement, not having clarity, and people feeling like they have to do things outside the United States.
We have chosen the hard path of doing things in the United States with regulation, doing it the right way. Frankly, I think that’s paying off for us. We’re thriving as a company right now. We’ve built a very, very significant and important business. I think we’re proof that you can hold yourself to a higher standard and grow and thrive as well.
Were there practices that FTX and other offshore crypto companies have embraced that you felt were problematic? You were critical of Binance’s decision to convert USDC to BUSD. There are a lot of interconnections between U.S.-based crypto companies and those based overseas. Has what happened with FTX giving you pause when it comes to dealing with other similar companies in the industry?
It’s a good question. I think everyone in this industry needs to be focused on greater transparency, being accountable to standards of supervision and risk management and compliance that are expected from global scale financial institutions. If you’re a global-scale financial institution, you should be held to extremely high standards of supervision of audit of compliance of risk management.
We read stories recently about billions of dollars of sanctioned money flowing through various venues. How can that happen? We don’t know all the details of what happened yet with FTX, although we’re reading more and more. There’s a lot of speculation.

But we [at Circle] have a vice president of internal audit who reports to our board of directors. We have enterprise risk management that is documenting every dimension of risk in our company and holding everyone to those standards and working with external auditors on everything from cybersecurity to financial crime risk.
There’s just so much that goes into building a significant financial institution. I just don’t know if any of those things exist in any of these offshore companies. I just don’t know.
The people said to be directly affected are outside the U.S., since FTX and Binance are not allowed to operate in the U.S. — even though they have affiliated companies in the country. U.S. regulators could argue that the restrictions, even though they’ve been described as vague and inconsistent, protected U.S. investors and consumers.
These are deeply connected markets. The impact of these operators has been trillions of dollars of losses. How many people and businesses and institutions in the United States are harmed? A huge number in all of these cases.
Even though the exchanges are operating offshore …
When the reckless behavior of an offshore exchange causes giant liquidations that cascade through the market and causes people in the United States to lose huge amounts of value, that’s harming people in the United States whether they’re using that product or not. They’re globally integrated markets.
There has to be unified approaches to this around the world. These are common markets. They’re deeply interconnected.
People like Gary Gensler and CFPB Director Rohit Chopra say they are doing something based on existing law.
There has to be new law. Digital tokens need to be classified and defined. Digital assets are a new class of financial instrument. There are currencies that are digital monies like USDC. There are things that clearly would be deemed to be securities. There are things that are somewhere between a commodity and a security. There are things that go through the lifecycle as they evolve.

I think forward-looking jurisdictions are starting to define a token taxonomy and define these and then align those with the appropriate supervisors. But write new rules. If you want to register a token, how do you do that? What are the disclosures? It’s not an equity in a company, but you probably need disclosures. There’s very much the need for tailored policy here.
The technology enables a lot of new things. This is a space where you’ve got to write new rules. This is, in my view, a failure of Congress. This is a failure of Congress because at the end of the day, we need new rules. Congress has to step up.
This crisis has been described as a setback for lobbying that would lead many politicians and policymakers to pull back.
I don’t agree with that. In fact, if you look at what’s being said today by House leaders, by members and some of the staff, they’re leaning in hard. I think it’s going to be the opposite. I think it’s going to create higher conviction.
Now, you can take a cynical view and say, “Well, people were only paying attention because there was money being given to campaigns.” I don’t buy that. The White House press secretary today made a statement that we need to regulate the crypto industry. It’s now a White House press secretary issue, which says something. I think you’re going to see a lot of work. You’re probably going to see a lot more hearings. I think you’re going to see real motion, not a pullback.
Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers crypto and fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at or via Google Voice at (925) 307-9342.
COVID didn’t really bring new secular technology trends. Instead, the pandemic sped up the progress of changes that were already starting to be made. Businesses reimagined their digital processes. Cloud adoption increased. And security concerns became a higher priority. Each of these changes brings new risks, but the right processes and technology offer businesses significant positive benefits.
It’s easy to get caught up in new technologies and their possibilities. But the core of this shift comes down to the basics of good enterprise security and governance. Businesses need to make sure the right people get the right access to the right technology. On the flip side, they must also make sure that only the right people are accessing the technology at any time.
In the past, security was typically the responsibility of the IT department. But as businesses now understand that threat mitigation and legal complications pose serious risks, security discussions have risen to the C-suite and board of directors level. Organizations realize that the same forces that solve risk and compliance challenges can also improve workforce productivity and reduce complexity.

Identity’s increasingly critical role
Employees are no longer all in the office. Some work from home full time. Others may work hybrid. Organizations are still experimenting with different models to see what works best for both the business and their employees. The future of work will likely continue to evolve over the next several months and years. However, the challenge is determining how to keep the drastically changing hybrid work environment secure.
Organizations are increasingly turning to identity-first security to secure access to their most critical resources. Gartner’s Identity and Access Management (IAM) Magic Quadrant reports that by 2025 converged IAM platforms will be the preferred adoption method for Access Management, Identity Governance and Administration (IGA) and Privileged Access Management (PAM) in over 70% of new deployments, driven by more comprehensive risk mitigation requirements.
With this approach, the foundational level for security is understanding the identity of all users and each of their devices. Whether it’s an employee, a contractor, an endpoint or a server, every entity within an organization needs to be authenticated into systems and gain authorization to perform actions.
Identity has become even more critical to technology executives as the stakes have grown. It’s easy to think of security as simply protecting the organization. But in reality, improving security through identity-first security processes provides many often unseen benefits. With the right level of security, employees have the access they need across the organization, and teams speed up tool and technology adoption. Identity-based security enables the business to grow and innovate as much as it protects.
Compliance and security tools need to improve
In the past, compliance-focused industries like identity and access governance had to make some tough tradeoffs. They were tasked with keeping the business secure and compliant with regulations. But that often meant making it tough for employees to get their jobs done. At the same time, this approach often added more work and a greater burden on IT professionals trying to keep systems up and running.

Legacy compliance and security tools were often the problem. They lacked the ability to easily integrate with modern applications and were challenging to implement. Not to mention, the technology was miserable for users, which made it hard to get buy-in for broad adoption.
But now, cloud technologies have democratized access and adoption. With governance and privileged access solutions, more users within an organization can compliantly engage with applications either as an end user or as an authorizer. When all employees have access to data, applications and infrastructure to do their job in an efficient manner, the entire business grows and moves forward.
How the world should work
Modern solutions must work with today’s speed of innovation and adoption. Otherwise, the business wastes time and loses momentum. Organizations need tools to be up and running within days, not weeks or months. Employees expect the tools to be easy to use, and the IT team needs the technology to be easy to maintain. When the technology delivers a seamless and frictionless experience, productivity and agility increases. Most importantly, the benefits happen without sacrificing security.
As the first independent born-in-the-cloud identity provider, Okta applied its modern approach to identity and access management to IGA with Okta Identity Governance, which is now generally available. Okta Identity Governance, which is part of Okta’s broader workforce identity vision, unifies IAM and IGA to improve enterprises’ security posture. Additionally, the Okta technology mitigates modern security risks, improves IT efficiency and meets today’s productivity and compliance challenges.
Technology needs to meet employees and the IT team where they are. Deeply integrated into Okta’s existing IAM solutions, Okta Identity Governance provides an unparalleled comprehensive view of every user’s access patterns. With enriched user context, reviewers can simplify the access certification process while making informed decisions that ensure only the right people have access to resources. At the same time, employees can access easy-to-use self-service access request capabilities. Because the technology is tightly integrated with collaboration tools built on a converged IAM and governance solution, organizations can automate access provisioning of both the enterprise’s applications and cloud resources.

Moving forward with identity-first security
Security tools should accelerate technology adoption. But often, the tools actually disrupt and slow down forward movement. With Okta tools, organizations have the compliance and security protection to grow while still protecting themselves from risk.
Businesses are more secure and protected with technology that gets the right users the right level of access for the right amount of time. When a business embraces technology it is more secure and productive but using a cloud-based platform takes it to a new level — the IT teams are more efficient while reducing significant complexity. And instead of focusing on security and access, the organization can focus on what it does best: serving customers and growing the business through innovative solutions.
“Sleeping on the floor of the office” is the new “rest and vest.”
Silicon Valley will likely see a culture shift after all the carnage at Twitter, Meta, and elsewhere, but it may not be a long-term switch.
If a return to hustle culture is bubbling up from this week’s bloodbath of layoffs, Esther Crawford may be that movement’s poster child. A photo of Crawford — a director of product management at Twitter — sleeping on the floor of the office went viral on Twitter last week as Elon Musk prepared to lay off half the company. Evan Jones, a product manager who reports to Crawford, captioned it “when you need something from your boss at Elon Twitter.”
The photo sparked a debate around just how devoted you should be to your job, with some replies labeling office all-nighters as would-be “labor violations” and fodder for “trauma bonding” while others commended Crawford for her dedication.
Large tech companies have been on a hiring spree for years. Compared with startups, Big Tech has long offered employees a better work-life balance and — thanks to the talent shortage — less aggressive performance management, leading to the “rest and vest” stereotype immortalized in “Silicon Valley”’s portrayal of Big Head drinking Double Gulps on the roof at Hooli. But with seemingly endless growth no longer in the cards, that may be about to change.

The brutal layoffs at Twitter, Meta, and Salesforce, following other large cuts at Stripe and Lyft, could mean Big Tech jobs are about to get a whole lot less cushy. Already, Salesforce has updated its policies to make it easier to fire people, and Musk has told employees that remote work is no longer allowed at Twitter.
Crawford sleeping at the office seemed to exemplify this shift, and among those who expressed support were similarly minded tech leaders. Former GitHub CEO Nat Friedman was one such founder who cheered Crawford on.
“This is how great new things are built, more often than anyone has been willing to say during the last decade’s cultural revolution in Silicon Valley,” Friedman tweeted on Saturday.
Not all founders think this way. Miguel de Icaza, who co-founded developer tool maker Xamarin with Friedman, disagreed with that assessment, tweeting that he had left Xamarin at 5 p.m. each day to prioritize a “healthy work/life balance.”
“I think that asking people to work extra hours just [gives] you low quality output,” he wrote. “And in the context of these layoffs is crass.”
And Crawford herself addressed the furor over the viral tweet.
“Doing hard things requires sacrifice (time, energy, etc.),” Crawford tweeted. “We are less than one week into a massive business and cultural transition. People are giving it their all across all functions: product, design, eng, legal, finance, marketing, etc.”
The tight labor market put more power in the hands of workers, which — at least in Big Tech — has led to a shift away from hustle culture and toward work-life balance and self-care. Nolan Church, the co-founder and CEO of the people-leader talent marketplace Continuum, said hard work had become “demonized” over the last decade.
“It hasn’t been trendy to talk about hard work,” he said. “People call it hustle porn. It has been bad-mouthed for the last five, 10 years.”

Celebrating Big Tech employment for the perks, not the hustle, has become a trend among some tech workers on TikTok and YouTube.
“Day in the life” TikTok videos earnestly highlighting companies’ iced matcha and office rooftop views have led some to post sneering comments about Big Tech’s lavish perks and overstaffing, dismissing project and product manager roles as “largely fabricated, redundant jobs” and calling on tech companies to fire “70% of non engineers.” The criticism is similar to that lobbed at the two product managers who described their jobs in a TikTok shot in a pool while on a work trip earlier this year.
In early August, the Twitter account @VCBrags (which uses the screen name “VCs Congratulating Themselves”) roasted “TikTok tech influencers” with a starter pack meme highlighting supposed traits like “earning six figures with no experience” at jobs that “[consist] of sending emails.”
Two weeks later, Craft Ventures general partner (now a “helpful at the margins” unofficial Twitter adviser) David Sacks criticized a “day in the life” video, tweeting “Does anyone still work?”
These videos clearly struck a nerve on social media: Tech workers celebrating their companies’ perks — mostly the free food — with little footage of them at their desks became scapegoats for their employers’ cratering stock performance.
But to Big Tech content creators themselves, there are obvious reasons for the videos’ focus on perks, rather than work: engagement and company privacy.
“If I created a real video of a day in the life of a product manager at a tech company, my video would be filled with me in a meeting room almost all day,” said Diego Granados, a senior PM at LinkedIn whose “day in the life” video has been played on YouTube over 42,000 times. “If you try to make it entertaining, then we need to show the fun parts that have nothing to do with proprietary information.”
Despite all the layoffs, Granados said he’s not noticing a drastic shift toward a more cutthroat work culture. He objected to the idea that Big Tech is overstaffed, and said that LinkedIn’s “great” work-life balance doesn’t mean he never works weekends to ship a new feature. LinkedIn’s parent company, Microsoft, cut fewer than 1,000 jobs last month, according to Axios, following an August restructuring at LinkedIn that reportedly affected its global events marketing team.

Albert Yang, a software engineering manager at Amazon Web Services who has made three “day in the life” videos this year (including a “realistic” remote work version), also said his company — now in a hiring freeze — is not overstaffed. If anything, AWS could use more head count, he said.
In Yang’s experience, Big Tech software engineers do about five hours of heads-down work per day, plus around two hours of meetings.
“A very focused five hours a day is pretty productive,” Yang said. “Obviously, there are days that will require you to work more.”
And Yang is feeling some pressure to work harder, both from all the layoff news and from his own desire to further his career. “This layoff situation definitely puts just a little bit more pressure on top of that,” he said, “but as long as I’m doing my job and performing well, exceeding expectations, I think I’ll be OK.”
When Apoorva Govind joined Uber as a software engineer in 2017, she found herself on a team that, in her view, had no real purpose.
“Within one month, I was, like, ‘Oh, fuck. I need to get out of this team ASAP,’” said Govind. “I’m adding zero value and I know long term — six months, eight months, whenever they’re trying to do some kind of restructure — you know who’s going to get the axe.”
She changed teams within four months.
For Govind, who left Uber and founded a startup last year, the initial team she worked on formed because of a permissive culture around hiring, and motivation for managers to grow their teams as much as possible in order to boost their own careers and climb the corporate ladder.
“In most big companies, for the mid-level managers, they incentivize the number of people they manage,” Govind said. “That, in the end, leads into the situation that we’re in right now, which is hiring people willy-nilly, and now the people who suffer in the end are the workers.”

Climbing the corporate ladder is “easy” when you can justify it with, “My org is 60 people and now I’m ready for director,’” Church said.
“And employment/legal is not going to let you fire someone,” he added. “What’s been happening is that the underperformers on those teams end up transferring within the company, and then that manager gets completely abdicated from any responsibility.”
Church said this was a “dirty secret” at Google, where he worked as a recruiter until 2015, to be careful about taking an internal transfer who might just be a problem another manager is trying to get rid of.
When Big Tech overhires, it leads to more pointless meetings and busy work, said Flo Crivello, who spent 4.5 years at Uber before founding the remote office startup Teamflow.
“When you hire 10 people to do the job of one, it’s not like they’re going to work Monday and then go home the rest of the week,” Crivello said. “What that’s going to mean is a lot of useless work and lots of useless meetings and lots of useless conversations. Basically, the whole incentive is rotten from top to bottom.”
Tech companies didn’t just massively grow their head counts in the last couple of years. During the pandemic, many companies across sectors were so “panic-stricken” about the talent shortage that they held on to underperforming employees, PwC partner Julia Lamm said on a call with reporters last week. Now, four out of five HR chiefs say they’re reducing head count.
Talent shortage aside, performance management tends to be more lax at larger companies. As companies get bigger, they become less incentivized to weed out low performers: The risk of wrongful termination litigation increases, and managers are rewarded for growing larger teams, not culling them.
Govind recalled one former big-company colleague who didn’t write any code for two or three months, she said. But rather than being fired, he found a higher-paying job for a competitor.

Another colleague would flat-out ignore alerts that a system had gone down when he was working on-call. Govind said she complained about him repeatedly because his irresponsibility was causing trouble for others on the team, but he wasn’t let go until more than a year later.
“There’s this whole thing where people say ‘It’s so easy to fire people in the U.S.,’” Govind said. “Ask any manager in tech: They will tell you it takes them at least six months to one year before they can actually fire the low-performing people.”
Silicon Valley will likely see a culture shift after all the carnage at Twitter, Meta, and elsewhere, but it won’t be a long-term switch, according to Church and Crivello.
Although the pendulum has swung back toward employers, it hasn’t swung that far, Church said.
“I actually think it’s still going to be on the employee’s side for the foreseeable future,” Church said. “But I do think it has swung back slightly, in the sense that now, CEOs can be a little bit more realistic with how businesses are run. They need to drive profits, and money is no longer free, and sometimes we need to work on weekends.”
Crivello predicted that engineers’ lives would become 20% more intense for a year or so before going back to normal. It’s “just economics,” he said.
“Historically, there has been infinite demand for engineers and very little supply,” Crivello said. “These companies have very little leverage.”
Climate tech leaders want to lure laid-off tech workers.
“Every time there is a bit of a recession or the markets take a downturn, that is an opportunity for people to also reassess their lives,” said Anshuman Bapna, CEO of climate jobs and learning platform
Michelle Ma (@himichellema) is a reporter at Protocol covering climate. Previously, she was a news editor of live journalism and special coverage for The Wall Street Journal. Prior to that, she worked as a staff writer at Wirecutter. She can be reached at
Laid-off tech workers: There’s a potentially lucrative opportunity waiting for you in climate tech, if you want it.
That’s the message the burgeoning industry is sending to many of those affected by the massive layoffs at major tech companies like Meta, Twitter, and Stripe in recent weeks.
Former senior leaders at Lyft, Stripe, and Twitter who now work in climate have been coordinating over the past week with workforce development groups including Climate Draft,, and Work on Climate to help support laid-off tech workers, as well as provide job and learning resources for transitioning to the climate sector.
The result is a slew of job fairs, boot camps, coordinated social posts, and email blasts, as well as a non-exhaustive but growing job board of over 4,000 jobs in climate tech specifically geared toward those with traditional tech skills like software engineering and product management.
Alex Roetter was an early Twitter leader and the company’s former head of engineering. Today he’s a managing director and general partner at Moxxie Ventures, which invests heavily in climate tech startups, as well as the founder of Terraset, a nonprofit that funds carbon removal.

He is, to put it mildly, bullish on climate tech. “This is going to be bigger than the internet,” he said, and he’s been getting the word out to former Tweeps in the Twitter alumni Slack community about resources like Climate Draft and opportunities in the industry overall.
In his view, climate tech isn’t just a vertical, but “a redoing of the entire economy,” with the potential to transform entire industries like transportation, buildings, and agriculture. “The people who achieve this are going to be fantastically rich,” Roetter said.
He’s not alone. Influential techies-turned-climate warriors like Chris Sacca, Katie Jacobs Stanton, and Peter Reinhardt have been tweeting out support for laid-off workers and pointing them to opportunities in climate tech.
Raj Kapoor, a co-founder and managing partner at climate tech VC firm Climactic (and Lyft’s former chief strategy officer), has a similar message for those affected by recent layoffs. For some people, “This is a blessing in disguise for them to go in and do something with impact that they care about,” he told Protocol.
Kapoor said he has been working with Lyft CEO Logan Green on sending a message to former Lyft employees, including the almost 700 who were laid off, about opportunities in climate tech and linking them to Climate Draft resources.
This is a blessing in disguise for them to go in and do something with impact that they care about.”
“He’s a huge proponent of climate. That’s why he started the company. And he’s so loyal, and every CEO feels really bad about having to lay off people,” Kapoor said of Green.
To Kapoor, the transferability of skills is obvious. What climate tech needs right now is “experience in commercializing and scaling,” he said. “These people, whether it’s Lyft or Facebook or Salesforce, have experience in that.”
Kapoor pointed out that an increasing number of major companies have net zero pledges, which means they’ll require tools and software to help them get there. Folks with experience at places like Salesforce, which laid off hundreds of employees on Monday, “are amazing people to bring on, because they understand how to sell and deal with the enterprise,” he said.

There’s sometimes a perception among tech workers that they don’t have the skills to work in climate tech, which is an industry that often deals with hard sciences like chemistry and materials engineering. While that is sometimes the case, what people fail to realize is that these startups still need software engineers, and they still need product managers, said Anshuman Bapna, the founder and CEO of climate jobs and learning platform
Of the approximately 2,000 active jobs on, 30% are for traditional deep tech roles, like industrial process automation and chemical engineers; 30% are in software, data science, and product management; and 40% are in fact traditional business roles like marketing, enterprise sales, legal, and public relations, said Bapna.
Even in such a short amount of time, those affected by layoffs are responding. Climate Draft co-founder Jonathan Strauss said he’s seen over 2,000 new profiles created on the platform since last Friday, when he and others started coordinating to get the word out.
Bapna said has seen a similar jump in interest, with over 1,400 people attending its online climate tech job fair Wednesday, its largest ever. (Typically, anywhere from 300 to 400 people attend.) During the two hours of the job fair alone, companies that participated saw over 200 applications come in on the portal.
Climate tech has, in some ways, been relatively shielded from the recessionary wave hitting the mainstream tech industry. It’s exploded as an area for venture capital in recent years and has stayed high, even while the rest of the market and public tech companies alike are getting pummeled.
Industry insiders say the reason is twofold. One is the obvious moral imperative: People and businesses alike are realizing there’s no time to waste in confronting the climate crisis, and people feel compelled to act. The other is that, as a result, companies large and small are starting to make bold climate commitments that require breakthrough, industry-disrupting tech solutions to make them achievable.

Strauss said he’s heard from some tech workers who are excited about climate tech but have raised understandable concerns about pay, job security, and benefits, but those inside the industry are quick to assuage those concerns. “The equity upside can be massive,” he told Protocol, and base compensation in climate tech is comparable to that of any similarly staged tech company.
Bapna started his career in tech a few decades ago, and he said this period reminds him of previous recessionary cycles like those in 2001 and 2008. “Every time there is a bit of a recession or the markets take a downturn, that is an opportunity for people to also reassess their lives,” he said.
And right now climate tech is well positioned for those people. “What’s happening in climate is we have the perfect storm of political will, capital, and the maturity of technology all happening simultaneously, especially in the U.S.,” he said.
In other words, it’s the perfect time for people to get in on the ground floor on something that could be huge.
Michelle Ma (@himichellema) is a reporter at Protocol covering climate. Previously, she was a news editor of live journalism and special coverage for The Wall Street Journal. Prior to that, she worked as a staff writer at Wirecutter. She can be reached at
FTX is grasping at straws. Here’s how it got to this point.
In just a week, FTX has gone from the industry’s potential savior, leading rescues of failing firms, to needing a bailout itself.
Nat Rubio-Licht is a Los Angeles-based news writer at Protocol. They graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in newspaper and online journalism in May 2020. Prior to joining the team, they worked at the Los Angeles Business Journal as a technology and aerospace reporter.
Updated: Nov. 11, 12:26 p.m. EST

Following in the footsteps of Voyager and Three Arrows Capital, FTX is the latest example of crypto’s volatility: In just a week, it went from the industry’s potential savior, leading rescues of failing firms, to needing a bailout itself. Revelations that the powerful-seeming crypto exchange was far flimsier than it let on have led it to the verge of collapse.
Here’s a breakdown of everything that’s happened to FTX this week.
Based on a leaked balance sheet for Alameda Research, FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried’s trading firm, CoinDesk reported that much of its reserves were based on FTT, “FTX’s own centrally controlled and printed-out-of-thin-air token,” Swan Bitcoin CEO Cory Klippsten told CoinDesk. FTX uses FTT as a reward currency for trading discounts, and Alameda held far more of the tokens than traded on the market, suggesting its stake would be hard to liquidate at current prices.

Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao said his company, the largest crypto exchange, planned to sell its FTT holdings, which dated back to an early investment by Binance in FTX. CZ compared FTT to the imploded luna token, which Binance also previously backed. FTT’s price started to wobble after this announcement.
The warring crypto CEOs engaged in an exchange of barbs on Twitter, with Bankman-Fried ultimately imploring Zhao and others to “Make love (and blockchain), not war.”
FTX stopped paying back customers, its first visible sign of weakness. The love seemingly arrived quickly, with Binance signing a nonbinding letter of intent to buy its smaller rival. CZ said in a tweet that FTX “asked for our help” as it faced a “significant liquidity crunch.” FTT plummeted by another 75% on Tuesday after CZ revealed his takeover plan.
Love didn’t last. Binance quickly reversed course and backed away from the deal after a “corporate due diligence” review revealed issues in FTX’s financial situation that Binance said were “beyond our control or ability to help.”
Along with its liquidity crisis, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission started investigating the company’s relationships with sister entities Alameda Research and FTX US, as well as allegations that the company mishandled customer funds. stopped withdrawals of USDC and USDT on the Solana blockchain Wednesday out of an “abundance of caution,” CEO Kris Marszalek wrote on Twitter, citing FTX’s role in trading Solana-based stablecoins and operating a Solana bridge. Solend, one of the larger Solana lending protocols, reported it was having problems liquidating part of a large loan Wednesday morning. It also disabled all borrowing, according to its website.
Bankman-Fried announced that Alameda Research will wind down trading on Thursday as a Hail Mary effort to save FTX. “I fucked up, and should have done better,” he said in a Twitter thread announcing the move. “[R]ight now, we’re spending the week doing everything we can to raise liquidity. I can’t make any promises about that.” The company was also weighing bankruptcy.
According to a Reuters report, FTX is now seeking around $9.4 billion in rescue funds from investors, seeking liquidity as many users pulled out their holdings. Bankman-Fried was reportedly in talks to raise cash from rival exchange OKX and stablecoin issuer Tether. He also sought a cash infusion from current FTX investors, including Sequoia Capital. He did manage to strike a deal with Justin Sun, the founder of blockchain network Tron, to allow holders of Tron-related tokens to withdraw their holdings from FTX.

Despite Bankman-Fried saying in a Twitter thread that FTX US “was not financially impacted by this shitshow” and was “100% liquid,” a banner on the top of FTX US website reads “trading may be halted on FTX US in a few days. Please close down any positions you want to close down. Withdrawals are and will remain open.”
FTX filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company also announced that Bankman-Fried resigned as CEO. FTX, Alameda Research, and roughly 130 affiliated companies started bankruptcy proceedings “to review and monetize assets for the benefit of all global stakeholders,” the company announced on Twitter. The filing includes FTX US, despite Bankman-Fried previously stating that the operation was isolated from the financial chaos of FTX as a whole. John J. Ray III, a lawyer who helped run Enron post-bankruptcy, has been named CEO of the FTX Group. Bankman-Fried, often known as SBF, will remain “to assist in an orderly transition.”
Nat Rubio-Licht is a Los Angeles-based news writer at Protocol. They graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in newspaper and online journalism in May 2020. Prior to joining the team, they worked at the Los Angeles Business Journal as a technology and aerospace reporter.
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