In the loop: businesses railing against racism and sleazy messages from male founders

This week saw businesses respond to the Nazis in Charlotteville, a female founder being asked slimy questions about her sexuality and a warning to cash-only businesses Businesses respond to the march of white supremacists in Charlottesville

In the loop: businesses railing against racism and sleazy messages from male founders

Businesses respond to the march of white supremacists in Charlottesville

By now, no one should be unaware that white supremacists descended upon Charlottesville last weekend to protest the removal of a Confederate statue. But the march quickly turned violent when neo-Nazis clashed with counter-protestors, leaving one person dead and several wounded. While Donald Trump may have been ambiguous in his denouncement of the alt-right bigotry on display in the small Virginia community, American businesses have forcefully showed their disgust. 

The tech industry in particular reacted to the march with force. Not only did Airbnb, the home-rental company, and OKCupid, the dating platform, kick white supremacists off their services but several companies also went after alt-right organisations. For instance, GoDaddy, the domain-name registrar and web-hosting company, cut its services to the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website. The Daily Stormer subsequently registered in Russia but was booted from those servers too and is now only available on the dark net. Similarly, Google Play Store dropped Gab, the alt-right social network, for violating the company’s hate-speech policy.

But the white supremacists aren’t the only ones feeling the sting of corporate America’s disapproval: the president has also been on the receiving end of it. When Trump didn’t directly condemn the far-right protestors, Kenneth Frazier, CEO of Merck, the pharmaceutical company, stepped down from the president’s manufacturing council. Plenty more followed after the Donald held a bizarre press conference on Tuesday in which he said that many of the individuals marching alongside white supremacists chanting “Jews will not replace us” were “very fine people”. Several business leaders subsequently announced that they were going to leave two of the president’s councils in protest. In response to the insufficient numbers that were now on them, Trump disbanded both advisory councils on Wednesday.

Clearly businesses in the US are taking a stand against hate speech.

Female founder asked entrepreneur for advice and was asked about her sexuality

From female founders being less likely to raise money than men to increasing reports of  sexism from investors, it’s hardly a secret that the startup sector still has a way to go before gender discrimination is truly a thing of the past. The UK’s tech scene was reminded of this fact this week when Lydia Jones, co-founder of Trooops, the social network matching users through their content, hashtags and social DNA, published a conversation she’d had with a fellow male entrepreneur.

As her startup is based in Manchester, Jones reached out hoping to get some advice on how to break into London’s tech scene. However, the conversation quickly took an unsettling turn when the male entrepreneur started asking about her age and if her boyfriend didn’t help her out. When the 18-year old replied that she was in the relationship with a woman, he asked if men turned her on at all and if she was open about her sexuality.

Appalled by the conversation, Jones blocked him and posted screenshots of the chat on Twitter. “The tech scene needs to wake up,” she said. The tweet has since been shared over 5,900 times and several people have expressed their disgust at the male entrepreneur’s behaviour.

While plenty of initiatives have recently been launched to support female entrepreneurship, this conversation shows that the startup scene still has issues it needs to solve. 

Cash-only SMEs risk losing customers

To pay with coins and bills is seemingly a thing of the past: in fact almost three in Brits expect not to use physical money in the next five years. And cash-only businesses could already be paying the price for failing to keep up with the times.   

Having surveyed 1,000 consumers in the UK, First Data, the business-technology provider, has revealed that companies could risk losing out if they don’t accept card payments. For example, 43% of consumers would cancel purchases at the checkout should the shop only accept physical cash and 59% only visit shops that accept alternative methods of payment. 

Commenting on the results, Raj Sond, general manager at First Data, said that while the perceived costs of card payments may have put off small retailers in the past, technological advances that have reduced both time and risks have made card payments much smoother.

So contrary to what people may say, cash is no longer king.

Expensive properties could see London lose its tech crown to regional cities

Few European cities can compete with the support London provides to its tech startups. However, a new report suggests that the British capital could still risk losing its crown as the UK’s number one hotbed for technological innovation. And it’s all down to the city’s skyrocketing property prices. 

Having analysed property prices, tech jobs and the growth potential for digital economies, HouseSimple, the online estate agent, has ranked 30 regional cities on their potential to become new digital hot spot. Manchester grabbed the top spot after it was revealed its tech sector has a growth potential of 85%, an average house price stands at £161,611 and there are 60,000 digital jobs in the city. Hot on its heels, Glasgow came second with a growth potential of 81% and average house prices at £119,487. While London can boast of having an impressive tech infrastructure, its average house prices of £481,345 pushed the capital down to 19th place.

If London wants to retain its tech crown, it seems it better do something to lower house prices.

Eric Johansson
Eric Johansson

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