WeWork Arbitrates, Google’s European Fine, and Beijing Out-Valleys the Valley


Photo: Stairway to WeWork, Zax9000

Transparency? That’s For Other Companies
 Working for a NewCo? Having trouble at work? In many cases, prepare to put up with some very OldCo approaches to employee management. More and more startups — with WeWork singled out — are requiring employees (or in the case of gig economy companies, contractors) to accept arbitration as the way to settle workplace disputes (NYT). This system, which limits avenues for workers to resolve grievances, may seem opaque and unfair; as the Times notes, “Arbitration, by its very nature, is a secretive process that is often lopsided in favor of the employer.” But, rather than being secretive about being secretive, some companies are emphasizing their use of arbitration as in alignment with their goals. There is a disconnect, though: “At large corporations, many employees have come to expect the clauses as standard. But those working at smaller firms that claimed to treat their employees like family tend to be surprised when they collide with one.”

Six Ways Uber and Lyft Lost Austin
 In a NewCo Shift op-ed, Capital Factory’s Joshua Baer lays out how the kings of ride-sharing were able to turn a no-brainer victory into a decisive defeat — and how the companies and the city might be able to find a way out.

Find a Better Way
 Jeff Huber, former Google exec and current CEO of moonshot cancer-diagnostic company GRAIL, delivered the commencement address for the University of Illinois, which we’re pleased to bring you. It’s a deeply personal talk and Huber finds a way to share work and life lessons that will be meaningful to more than just new graduates. “Things don’t ‘happen for a reason,” Huber says. “But you can find purpose and meaning in things that do happen.”

Beijing Is Becoming More Valley Than the Valley
 Cyriac Roeding, a German entrepreneur who did time as an entrepreneur in residence at Kleiner Perkins, has spent time in Beijing and has a warning for Silicon Valley: our analogs in China are working faster and harder, and Beijing is becoming the Valley’s only true competitor. Roeding acknowledges Beijing’s shortcomings (greed, fresh air), but concludes “We are too well-fed in Silicon Valley. We are perked out.”

Google’s European Antitrust Fine
 If the Telegraph’s sources are right, Google will have to pay a record fine for abuse of its web search monopoly. The European Commission is said to be planning on a penalty around 3 billion euros, or 5% of Google’s total annual sales, for Google’s promoting its own shopping service at the expense of rivals. The exact number is not finalized, the announcement isn’t expected until next month, and Google can appeal to the European Court of Justice, so this seven-year-long investigation is likely to drag on even longer.

Zenefits’ Growing Pains
 If any unicorn needs to pivot toward maturity, it’s scandal-plagued Zenefits. CEO David Sacks, now 90 days into his new gig, wants to reframe Zenefits not only as a business that sells compliance services but one that is truly a compliance company. The most fascinating part of Sacks’s blog post is the section on “change in culture and values.” It’s three points are pretty obvious — operate with integrity, put customers first, make Zenefits a great place to work. The fact that Sacks has to list those basic attributes as the ways in which the company needs to change shows how far the company has to go.

The Capitols of Capital Are Losing Finance Jobs to … Jacksonville?
 The Financial Times reports that New York and London have lost an estimated 42,000 jobs over the past five years (paywall) — that’s 6 percent of the sector — “as soaring costs have encouraged businesses to shift to cheaper locations.” Those jobs are moving to places like Jacksonville, Fla., which has gained more than 4,000 finance jobs from the likes of Deutsche Bank and Ernst & Young, in large part because costs are 23 percent lower there than in New York.

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