Would-Be Twitter Acquirers Spooked By Trolls


Alan Turkus | Flickr

Who will or won’t buy Twitter is the kind of story that drives the business press into a frenzy without actually meaning much. The Twitter sale non-drama that we’ve just witnessed is probably more about boardroom infighting or trial-ballooning than a genuine effort to sell the company.

But there was one valuable revelation from the very public negotiations: For potential suitors like Disney and Salesforce, Twitter’s longstanding problems with harassment, abuse, and trolling proved to be a significant deterrent (Fortune).

Maintaining a civil level of discourse, it turns out, is not only a usability issue or a matter of principle; it has a direct impact on the financial attractiveness of an online service. As you build a platform business you become associated with, and largely responsible for, what happens on that platform. Tend the garden well, or pay the price.

Labor Regulators Go After Confidentiality Agreements

Bridgewater Associates, Ray Dalio’s hedge fund firm, is famous for its unorthodox corporate culture, codified in a document called “Principles” that promotes “radical transparency” and provides a rationale for recording all meetings. Bridgewater came under fire earlier this year because of a sexual harassment claim that raised questions about the firm’s treatment of employees. Now, reports The New York Times, the National Labor Relations Board is poised to challenge the company’s employment agreements, arguing that they coerce employees into giving up their rights.

Confidentiality rules, non-disparagement clauses, and binding arbitration requirements are commonplace in the hedge-fund world and many other businesses. An NLRB ruling could change all that. Expect many companies to protest and fight back. But maybe they should welcome the chance to give the principle of “radical transparency” a new life — one beyond the company firewall, out in the marketplace.

Europeans work fewer hours than Americans

Europeans work 19 percent less time than their U.S. counterparts — or the equivalent of one hour less per day. Of 18 countries included in a new study (Quartz), only Switzerland had a workforce that punched in hours similar to those of Americans. (Italy and France clocked the fewest hours.)

Depending on where you sit, this is either prime evidence for the superior productivity of the U.S. workforce or concrete evidence of our neurotic penchant for overwork and burnout. There’s one particular workday coming up, however, that an increasing number of U.S. businesses are planning to provide as a paid holiday (The Wall Street Journal).

The first Tuesday in November remains our Election Day. Since we keep failing to take the sensible step of moving the event to a more accessible weekend slot, some enlightened employers are sending their workers a message: Take the day to vote. Go ahead — your work will still be there when you return.

A Coworking Space for Design Mavens

Once a new market gets established, it starts to segment. That’s exactly what seems to be happening in the world of coworking spaces. Originally, these offices were one-offs in expensive markets like San Francisco and New York, offering startups and freelancers a reasonably priced alternative to working from home or a coffee shop. Then outfits like WeWork started to formalize the idea and spread it from city to city.

Now there’s a high-end approach: At a new coworking space in San Francisco’s posh Pacific Heights named Canopy, every inch has been designed by Yves Béhar (Business Insider). Out with the foosball tables, and in with the “high-density foam chandeliers” that “soften and distribute natural light from the skylights, while also absorbing sound.” Armchairs designed for the set of The Hunger Games nestle next to reconfigurable hexagonal side tables.

Does all this design-think actually help you get stuff done? To find out, you’ll have to rent a desk, or at least a chair. Two more Bay Area Canopy locations are slated to open over the next year.

Digging Deeper Into Trash

Conventional approaches to recycling can’t keep up with the increasing complexity of our waste stream, and the price of raw materials keeps increasing as demand from the growing and economically developing global population keeps increasing. Researchers at Australia’s University of New South Wales propose “turning rubbish into an input” (The Conversation).

They’re experimenting with turning macadamia nut shells into super-hard ceramics and using waste polymers from old tires as slag foaming reagents in steelmaking. Today we’re able to recycle 75 percent of junked cars, but the rest turns into “automotive shredder residue,” and researchers are hunting for ways that material could be substituted for increasingly scarce raw substances. Garbage plus creativity can equal value. Both the economy and the planet can benefit.

Self Driving Cars Are Not “Five Years Away”

The time and effort it will take to make the self-driving future real has less to do with the technology than we think, and a whole lot more to do with rethinking the whole shape of our transport system, writes NewCo editor-in-chief John Battelle in Shift.

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