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Tech stocks follow the market lower as Uber and Lyft drop sharply

Stocks listed on American exchanges today fell sharply, erasing their Tuesday rebound and adding to their Monday declines. On a day that saw the World Health Organization declare that the spread of COVID-19 has officially become a pandemic, with 4,000 deaths reported from the illness so far, stock markets seemed more affected by the prolonged…

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Tech stocks follow the market lower as Uber and Lyft drop sharply

Stocks listed on American exchanges today fell sharply, erasing their Tuesday rebound and adding to their Monday declines.

On a day that saw the World Health Organization declare that the spread of COVID-19 has officially become a pandemic, with 4,000 deaths reported from the illness so far, stock markets seemed more affected by the prolonged human and economic toll the virus could take than any stimulus package that could potentially offset its costs.

For the first time in over a decade, bears overran Wall Street with the Dow down more than 20%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite fell 5.6%, 4.9% and 4.7% during the day, respectively. After the day’s declines, the DJIA was off 20.4% from recent highs, while the S&P is off a more modest 19.2%. The Nasdaq is off a similar 19.2%, just missing bear territory. (Previously SaaS stocks entered a bear market after setting records earlier in the year.)

While the Nasdaq is not down as far as the DJIA or S&P 500, some technology stocks suffered sharper declines than the broader market or their larger corporate category. Companies like Uber and Lyft, both recent IPOs that leveraged technology solutions and venture capital to grow, fell 9.4% and 11.8%, respectively. Those declines pushed their equity even further under their IPO prices, undercutting their Q4 narrative of rising chances of profitability ahead of expectations; those wins now feel distant.

Travel hit hard

The ride-hailing companies saw shares fall as the market reacted to their vulnerability to the coronavirus. In an effort to get ahead of the spreading virus, Uber announced Wednesday that it may suspend accounts of drivers and passengers who have been exposed to or contract COVID-19. The company also has said it will work to provide drivers with disinfectants to help keep their vehicles clean.

Those efforts weren’t enough to keep shares out of the red. Uber and Lyft are dependent on drivers and passengers to use the ride-hailing app, as well as their other shared products, like scooters and e-bikes.

Travel-related stocks also got pummeled today, notably Boeing, which announced in a monthly update that companies were canceling the 737 MAX aircraft. Boeing shares fell more than 18% to around $189 after the company reported it had more cancellations than orders in February.

Volatility as the new normal

In recent weeks, the global stock market has shaken, boosting volatility both at home and abroad. Quickly it’s become normal for the DJIA to shift by 1,000 points in a day, and to see huge losses met with next-day gains. This could be read as the market repricing as new information is digested. A less charitable read is that investors are simply unsure of what companies are worth in the face of an uncertain economic future.

The volatility, however, has likely slowed the IPO market, a key liquidity source for private investors and technology companies. A number of private companies that were hoping to make their market debut are likely rethinking their plans, given the state of markets and there’s no indication of when things may stabilize.

For now, the new normal has much of the global economy seeing red.

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Slack calls are having ‘connectivity issues’

Slack has confirmed that “Slack Calls are experiencing some connectivity difficulties right now.” The company said it is working to resolve the issue “as quickly as possible.” The difficulties coincide with the push from tech companies to move workers to remote-only meetings and conference calls, amid the outbreak of COVID-19. Slack did not comment on…

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Slack calls are having ‘connectivity issues’

Slack has confirmed that “Slack Calls are experiencing some connectivity difficulties right now.” The company said it is working to resolve the issue “as quickly as possible.” The difficulties coincide with the push from tech companies to move workers to remote-only meetings and conference calls, amid the outbreak of COVID-19.

Slack did not comment on any correlation between the two, or identify what factors are behind the connectivity issues.

Hey @SlackHQ @SlackStatus there’s definitely something up with calls. Everyone keeps getting randomly disconnected, but not all the way. Screen goes black and it just starts randomly playing connect and disconnect sounds.

— matt.js (@mattisadev) March 11, 2020

In a previous blog post outlining Slack’s response to COVID-19, it said “our system architecture is designed to automatically accommodate the surges of traffic throughout the day that this brings to our systems.” The company said its server capacity can handle the demands, as well as the various regions from which users may be logging in. Slack also outlined how the shift to remote may not add a crazy load to its systems.

“The demands on our infrastructure do not change when employees shift away from working together in the same office; there is no difference in load on our systems whether people are connecting from their office, a cellular network, or their homes.”

It added that employees already use an average of nine hours per day, so the volume remains the same.

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Establishing an emergency relief fund, Amazon commits to two-week pay for workers affected by COVID-19

Amazon has instituted a new policy which will see all Amazon employees diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed into quarantine receiving up to two-weeks of pay. The additional pay is to “ensure employees have the time they need to return to good health without the worry of lost pay,” the company said in a statement. That…

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Establishing an emergency relief fund, Amazon commits to two-week pay for workers affected by COVID-19

Amazon has instituted a new policy which will see all Amazon employees diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed into quarantine receiving up to two-weeks of pay.

The additional pay is to “ensure employees have the time they need to return to good health without the worry of lost pay,” the company said in a statement.

That pay is in addition to unlimited paid time off for all hourly employees through the end of March, which the company announced as a policy to its workers last week.

The company also said it was setting up a relief fund with a $25 million contribution to support delivery service partners and drivers along with Amazon Flex participants and seasonal employees.

“We will be offering all of these groups the ability to apply for grants approximately equal to up to two weeks of pay if diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed into quarantine by the government or Amazon,” the company said.

The fund will also support employees and contractors who face financial hardships due to natural disasters, federal emergencies or personal hardship, the company said.

Amazon affiliated workers can apply to receive grant funding ranging from $400 to $5,000 per person.

With this initiative Amazon builds on the commitments it has made as one of several tech companies helping to financially support individuals impacted by the outbreak.

Uber, Salesforce, CiscoMicrosoftLyftSquareTwitterFacebook, Google, and Apple, have all made commitments to pay hourly and other contingent workers impacted the COVID-19 outbreak. Yesterday, Google announced that it had set up a COVID-19 fund as well.

“As we’re in a transition period in the U.S.—and to cover any gaps elsewhere in the world—Google is establishing a COVID-19 fund that will enable all our temporary staff and vendors, globally, to take paid sick leave if they have potential symptoms of COVID-19, or can’t come into work because they’re quarantined,” writes Adrienne Crowther, Google’s director of workplace services.

“Working with our partners, this fund will mean that members of our extended workforce will be compensated for their normal working hours if they can’t come into work for these reasons. We are carefully monitoring the situation and will continue to assess any adjustments needed over the coming months.”

In addition, Microsoft, Amazon and other Seattle-area companies are partnering with nonprofits and governments to launch a relief fund in response to the outbreak. Amazon and Microsoft committed $1 million apiece to this fund. Microsoft said it would also match employee donations to causes aiding in response to COVID-19.

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Superpeer raises $2M to help influencers and experts make money with one-on-one video calls

Superpeer is giving YouTube creators and other experts a new way to make money. The startup announced today that it has raised $2 million in pre-seed funding led by Eniac Ventures, with participation from angel investors including Steven Schlafman, Ankur Nagpal, Julia Lipton, Patrick Finnegan, Justin De Guzman, Chris Lu, Paul Yacoubian and Cheryl Sew…

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Superpeer raises $2M to help influencers and experts make money with one-on-one video calls

Superpeer is giving YouTube creators and other experts a new way to make money.

The startup announced today that it has raised $2 million in pre-seed funding led by Eniac Ventures, with participation from angel investors including Steven Schlafman, Ankur Nagpal, Julia Lipton, Patrick Finnegan, Justin De Guzman, Chris Lu, Paul Yacoubian and Cheryl Sew Hoy. It also launched on ProductHunt.

The idea is that if you’re watching a video to learn how to paint, or how to code, or about whatever the topic might be, there’s a good chance you have follow-up questions — maybe a lot of them. Ditto if you follow someone on Twitter, or read their blog posts, to learn more about a specific subject.

Now you could try to submit a question or two via tweet or comment section, but you’re probably not going to get any in-depth interaction — and that’s if they respond. You could also try to schedule a “Can I pick your brain?”-type coffee meeting, but again, the odds aren’t in your favor, particularly when it comes to picking the brain of someone famous or highly in-demand.

With Superpeer, experts who are interested in sharing their knowledge can do so via remote, one-on-one video calls. They upload an intro video, the times that they want to be available for calls and how much they want to charge for their time. Then Superpeer handles the appointments (integrating directly with the expert’s calendar), the calls and the payments, adding a 15% fee on top.

So a YouTube creator could start adding a message at the end of their videos directing fans who want to learn more to their Superpeer page. And if you’re a founder who wants to talk to an experienced designer, executive coach, product manager, marketing/sales expert, VC or other founder, you could start with this list.

Of course, there might be some wariness on both sides, whether you’re an expert who doesn’t want to get stuck on the phone with someone creepy or annoying, or someone who doesn’t want to pay for a call that turns out to be a complete waste of time.

To address this, co-founder and CEO Devrim Yasar (who previously founded collaborative programming startup Koding) said the company has created a user rating system, as well as a way to ask for a refund if you feel that a call violated the terms of service — the calls will be recorded and stored for 48 hours for this purpose.

Superpeer launched in private beta two weeks ago, and Yasar said the startup already has more than 100 Superpeers signed up.

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