Q2 Work Tech Investments

Want some good news? The Starr Conspiracy has broken down the Work Tech investment numbers for the first half of 2020, and 2020 is on an almost identical pace to last year’s investments. For the period April 1–June 30, we tracked 99 Work Tech deals worth $1.7 billion, compared to $2.2 billion in Q2 2019. However, when you compare H1 2020 to H1 2019, investment is almost even, with $3.78 billion this year, compared with $3.92 billion last year (I mean, what’s $140 million, right?). When you drill down into Q2 numbers, you’ll see some interesting stuff: HCM, $514.8 million: …

Slack files complaint years after full-page ad

Looks like the competition is heating up. Remember when, a few years ago, Slack pulled a daring marketing campaign to taunt Microsoft as the latter entered the former’s territory? No? Well, they took out a full-page ad in The New York Times to call out the Bill Gates Behemoth. Here’s a picture from The Verge. One of the lines reads, “This is harder than it looks.” Apparently for Microsoft, it ain’t that hard. Enter: Microsoft Teams. Years later — ahem, today — Slack filed a competition complaint against Microsoft in the EU for bundling Teams with their Office products. As …

Welcome to the Studio.

Over the last few years, many thought leaders have written about “authenticity” and “bringing your whole self to work.” At first, most people argued for “bringing your whole self to work,” but now many criticize the idea. Should you bring your authentic self to work? Who is that person anyway? For example, Marc Effron from the Talent Strategy Group wrote an article called “Why the Fake You Will Outperform the Authentic You,” arguing that “chameleons” who adapt to their surroundings are better off than employees who are genuine. You’ve probably heard similar arguments on LinkedIn, Twitter, and popular magazines. However, …

Masks and marketing.

Back when I was a kid, you had to put a yard sign out front for people to know who you were voting for. Now everyone can tell simply by whether you’re wearing a mask or not. If you posted #blacklivesmatter on your social feeds. Or some other nuanced variation of a thousand things people see and hear you do — or don’t do — every day. It may be jarring that issues which seem essentially nonpolitical, like responding to a global pandemic or ensuring racial equality, have become red meat for party voters. But it shouldn’t be surprising.  Moral Foundations Theory …

The employment situation

You could argue that employment numbers look better this month, meaning the economy is headed toward recovery. New government numbers showed payrolls added 4.8 million jobs in June. The unemployment rate lowered to 11.1% from 13.3% last month. Similarly, ADP’s latest employment report shows an additional 2.3 million jobs. The markets responded positively to the news this morning, with the S&P 500 up almost 1% as of this writing. And that’s after the markets had their best performing quarter in more than 20 years. However, digging deeper, we see all may not be well. Coronavirus cases are rising, eviction moratoria …

I can't prove it, but I can say it. — Stephen Colbert

The new quarantine: H1B visas

Last week Donald Trump suspended H1B visa applications for foreign workers, freeing up around 525,000 jobs for American workers, according to Reuters. This created some fierce opposition from tech companies. Why? Because they’re the largest employers of H1B visa holders. Here’s a breakdown from Revelio Labs in their latest newsletter. What kinds of jobs do these applicants occupy? Mostly tech and math, which makes sense. I wonder what this says about the US education system, or perhaps our expensive workers…

Things must change.

2020 has been filled with unexpected turns and challenges, creating new realities for many people all across the world. Unfortunately, the events of the past week have reminded us that the reality for Black Americans has remained largely unchanged throughout our country’s history. The reality is that the dehumanization and murder of Black Americans by those we’ve empowered to protect our communities have become commonplace in our society. The reality is — unless we change, nothing changes. We can no longer be silent. We can no longer be still. We can no longer exercise our privilege to  stand to the …

Buy the ticket, take the ride. ― Hunter S. Thompson

Back in business

The Wall Street Journal’s newsletter Real Time Economics reported that business activity is slowly stabilizing, with many leading indicators showing that the worst is over. Here’s what they wrote this morning: The worst may be over. Truck loads are growing again. Air travel and hotel bookings are up slightly. Mortgage applications are rising. And more people are applying to open new businesses. These are among some early signs the U.S. economy is, ever so slowly, creeping back to life. Plenty of data show the country was still mired in a severe downturn in April and May, with overall business activity …

The straw that broke the camel’s tuition

Many schools have canceled classes for the rest of the year, right? Students are going online, they’re requesting returns for their room and board money, tuition is at astronomical prices—you get the point. Okay, so what happens when the entire economy of college towns collapses because there aren’t college students there, which can contribute to a majority of these towns’ economies? The Wall Street Journal investigates. This is an important point because just last year McKinsey branded these so-called ”niche cities” as economic powerhouses, estimating great growth over the coming decade. What happens to those cities—and the people who live …

Remote work: Temporary or forever?

Debate: Is the massive switch to remote work going to stick around after COVID-19 passes, or is it just a (required) fad? SHRM says nah, Twitter says yeah, and Barclay’s CEO says, “I guess we don’t need that giant office building anymore.” Of course, the conversation is more nuanced than that: It’s not about full remote or full on-site, but probably a mixture between the two. Twitter, for example, is allowing its employees to work from home permanently if they want. We all know the benefits of remote work, but we also know the world is changing dramatically. Randall Krozner, …

New CEO (and a bright future) at Cornerstone OnDemand

Cornerstone OnDemand announced Q1 earnings yesterday, a bit of a miss. The miss can largely be explained by March Covid-19 sales headwinds, but that wasn’t really the headline. The big news was CSOD founder and CEO Adam Miller moving to a co-chair role on the board and announcing that former Saba CEO Phil Saunders would take over as CEO on June 15. That’s both the real headline and the real silver lining for CSOD. When Miller started courting Saba for an acquisition, its chances of success weren’t good, to put it mildly. But Miller’s persistence won the day, not only …

I used to do drugs. I still do, but I used to, too. — Mitch Hedberg

Opportunities in Education, Just Not for Schools

Education institutions are in a bad way, and the pandemic has made it worse. A new story in The New York Times describes how state funding for colleges has changed in recent years, with the above graphic summarizing the news. In short, colleges are in a pinch. So, what happens when the pandemic slows state funding, which very well may be the case? Moody’s Analytics projects a 20% decline in state receipts next fiscal year. Add on top of that viable alternatives to formal education. Ed tech companies like Degreed, Coursera, and Khan Academy—not to mention subject-specific bootcamps like General …

CFOs’ Uneasy Street

Both Gartner and PwC ran CFO surveys recently, and both had similar things to say: CFOs are feeling uneasy (to put it mildly). Many financial leaders plan to cancel or pause planned investments, 74% (Gartner) or 49% (PwC) will permanently shift some workers to remote work arrangements, and many will reduce their corporate real estate footprints. PwC’s results show that a third of CFOs expect layoffs next month. This data gives work tech leaders some insight into what finance chiefs see coming down the road. However, those of us on this pirate ship think there’s plenty more to be positive …