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The tech industry’s efforts to help with the coronavirus crisis

The tech industry’s efforts to help with the coronavirus crisis

The tech industry’s efforts to help with the coronavirus crisis

Article by: Ina Fried

Ina is the chief technology correspondent at Axios. She authors the daily Axios newsletter and brings years of Silicon Valley experience to offer a smart take on tech.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies from across the tech industry are trying to figure out not only how best to support their employees during the coronavirus crisis, but also how they can be a resource to their users.

Why it matters: There are a lot of unknowns about what the next few weeks and months hold, but there are some clear needs as the U.S. heads into uncharted territory.

Here are some of the ways tech companies and leaders are pitching in:

  • Home internet service providers and wireless carriers are lifting data caps and pledging not to terminate service to those who can’t pay their bills, something requested by both the FCC and some on Capitol Hill.
  • The FCC granted temporary permission to T-Mobile on Sunday to use additional unused spectrum in the 600 MHz band (provided by Dish Network, Comcast and others) in order to meet increased demand and help support telecommuters, telehealth and online learning.
  • The makers of video conferencing software, including Zoom, Google (with its Hangouts Meet), Microsoft (with its Teams) and Cisco (which owns WebEx), have expanded their free offerings to help businesses and schools that need to rapidly increase their use of such products.
  • Many educational tech firms are making their products free while schools are closed.
  • Tech investor Sam Altman is leading a push to help fund work to rapidly increase the supply of ventilators and other technical efforts to aid in the COVID-19 response.
  • Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma pledged Friday to send the U.S. a million face masks and 500,000 coronavirus test kits. Sunday, he tweeted a photo of the first planeload departing from Shanghai.
  • Tech companies have been at the forefront of trying to ensure that hourly support workers get paid even as their services may not be needed as offices close and full-time employees telecommute.

The big picture: Behind the scenes, companies are also looking to see if they can do more to aid in the response, from helping support hospitals, researchers and doctors, to supporting workers without jobs and helping families in the community.

Go deeper: Coronavirus dents tech’s supply chain

About Axios:

Axios’ three co-founders — Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen and Roy Schwartz — launched the company in January 2017 based on this shared belief: Media is broken, and too often a scam.

  • Stories are too long or too boring. Websites are a maddening mess. 
  • The audience and the advertisers alike are too often afterthoughts. Readers get duped by headlines that don’t deliver and are distracted by pop-up nonsense or unworthy clicks. Advertisers don’t get the quality attention they deserve.

Can you imagine Ford being obsessed with whether the engineers love the howl and design of the F-150 engine, instead of simply delivering an awesome truck people want to drive? Never. But that’s what digital media companies too often do. 

  • They produce journalism the way journalists want to produce it, often long-winded pieces that take too long to get to the point. 
  • And they design their products to maximize short-term buzz or revenue — not to deliver the best experience possible.

This is why we’ve engineered Axios around a simple proposition — deliver the clearest, smartest, most efficient and trustworthy experience for audience and advertisers alike.

After all, people face a growing challenge to keep pace with changes unfolding before them.

  • Politics, business, culture, science and technology are in constant collision, creating new conflicts, new industries, new opportunities and new challenges. 
  • The root of these changes is the awesome — and accelerating — speed and power of technology, allowing machines to often move faster than mankind.

Some of the big trends that drive our coverage: 

  • Robotics, machine learning and AI will upend vast swaths of our lives.
  • China’s influence is real and growing.
  • Human activity is posing threats to Earth’s climate.
  • Demographics show we are becoming an even more diverse nation, bringing both challenges and opportunities.
  • The U.S. government faces mounting debt, an aging population and the need to adapt to new technologies and threats faster.
  • America’s capitalistic system brims with economic possibilities but is stacked to favor the powerful and rich, exacerbating inequalities that need to be addressed.

We cover this clinically, not ideologically

  • We don’t have an editorial page and we don’t pick sides with partisan opinion. Our view: There is enough noise and our job is to sort through this.
  • Axios employees refrain from taking partisan positions or sides on social media and in public forums. It’s one small but worthy step we can take to gain and keep trust.
  • We believe truth and facts exist and must be highlighted, repeated, defended and cherished in our journalism.

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