From MIT Tech Review: Want consumer privacy? Try China

Forget the idea that China doesn’t care about privacy—its citizens will soon have much greater consumer privacy protections than Americans.

The narrative in the US that the Chinese don’t care about data privacy is simply misguided. It’s true that the Chinese government has built a sophisticated surveillance apparatus (with the help of Western companies), and continues to spy on its citizenry. 

But when it comes to what companies can do with people’s information, China is rapidly moving toward a data privacy regime that, in aligning with the European Union’s GDPR, is far more stringent than any federal law on the books in the US.  full story / podcast here

50 Top Private Software Companies of 2020

Guild – Partners with Fortune 1000 companies and nonprofit universities to offer education benefits to their employees.

Inc. – dedicated to the coverage of owners and managers of private companies – recently released the Inc 5000 2020. This list of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in America is grouped by industry, including engineering, manufacturing, transportation, and others. The software category was particularly impressive with its median growth of 197%, total revenues of $13.4 billion, and contributions of over 46,000 jobs, according to Inc. 

These award-winning companies represent the fastest-growing software application-based service vendors. Most are focused on popular online markets such as insurance, mortgages, wealth creation, job hunting, health care selection, product (often cannabis and art supplies) distribution, resellers, and other goods and services. Regardless of the market that they cover, software engineers will find the innovative techniques of interest, from user interface design and methods to accessing fairly dispersed database or HTML indexes to new online business models and the use of the latest software tech.

Inc.’s annual ranking of the leading privately-held American software companies provides insights and surprises. Software engineers will find the innovative techniques of interest, from user interface design and methods to accessing fairly dispersed database or HTML indexes to new online business models and the use of the latest software tech. See companies here

Prop 22 Lets Voters Weigh in on the Gig Economy of Uber & Lyft

Uber and Lyft drivers use their own vehicles and are paid by the ride, giving rise to the term “gig economy.”

Uber and Lyft contend that they give drivers opportunities to voluntarily supplement their incomes by working whenever it suits them. But, this business model has is unsettled unions and many in government, who contend that it deprives workers of rights and benefits of being on the payroll, such as contributions for Social Security and Medicare benefits and overtime pay. As independent contractors, gig workers also cannot be union members.

Two years ago, the state Supreme Court declared gig work illegal, and the Legislature followed up with measure, Assembly Bill 5, which put the decision into law. Uber and Lyft, responded with a ballot measure, #22 on Nov 3, 2020 ballot, that would exempt them from the Assembly Bill 5 legislation while offering gig workers some employee-lite benefits.

Voters will decide whether gig work is an appropriate new model or an illegal denial of worker rights and counter to state labor law, when they vote on Prop 22 in November.

The Pro Proposistion 22 coalition is comprised of companies employing gig workers, and the anti-Proposition 22 coalition is comprised of unions and many in government. Attorney General Becerra and some city attorneys have now also sued Uber and Lyft for continuing to classify their drivers as independent contractors despite the passage of AB 5.

Recently , San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman ruled against the companies. Judge Schulman said the companies’ employment practices are depriving drivers “of the panoply of basic rights to which employees are entitled under California law.”

Major ‘Milestone’ for Workers as California Judge Rules Uber and Lyft Must Classify Drivers as Employees

In a move that local political leaders and labor rights advocates celebrated as a major win for gig workers, a California judge ruled Monday that the ride-hailing companies Lyft and Uber must classify drivers in the state as employees rather than independent contractors to comply with state law.

“The years-long ploy of these behemoth corporations to stall, obfuscate, and flat-out break the law has failed. There must be no more delays.”
—Art Pulaski, California Labor Federation

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman’s decision came in a case filed gainst Lyft and Uber in May by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the city attorneys of Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco, who accused the companies of violating Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5), which Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed last year.

“The court has weighed in and agreed: Uber and Lyft need to put a stop to unlawful misclassification of their drivers while our litigation continues,” Becerra said in a statement responding to Schulman’s preliminary injunction, which is stayed for 10 days to allow for legal appeals.

“While this fight still has a long way to go, we’re pushing ahead to make sure the people of California get the workplace protections they deserve,” Becerra added. “Our state and workers shouldn’t have to foot the bill when big businesses try to skip out on their responsibilities. We’re going to keep working to make sure Uber and Lyft play by the rules.”


Board Member Spotlight – Darlene Sanchez

photo Darlene Sanchez
Darlene Sanchez

The VWDB would like to extend its congratulations to board member Darlene Sanchez, who, after years of dedicated service to the City of Glendale, has accepted a new position at a nearby municipality.

In her role at the City of Glendale’s Community Development Department, Darlene oversaw projects serving the City’s business community; more recently, this included creating the City of Glendale’s Business Recovery Strategy, as well as its Personal Protective Equipment Grant program, both of which are providing critical assistance to Glendale’s pandemic-impacted businesses at this time.

In previous years, as a result of Darlene’s efforts, Glendale has enhanced its arts and entertainment district, attracted vibrant restaurants and new hotels, and established an interconnected technology and innovation sector.

Over the 4 years that Darlene served as a VWDB board member, she consistently contributed her invaluable experience and insight to the VWDB’s discussions shaping workforce policy.

The VWDB would like to acknowledge Darlene’s service to the board, thank her for her contributions, and wish her the very best in her new position!

August 2020 Message From the Director, Judith Velasco

I hope that you continue to move forward in health, and have found opportunities to enjoy some summertime rest and relaxation with your families during these times. The pandemic continues to influence how we go about our daily lives, and, after almost 6 months, it seems we have been doing our best to adjust to the new demands that social distancing and other health precautions have placed upon us.

With COVID cases still fluctuating, we continue to watch the job market closely for impacts and opportunities to help our communities. Though there is evidence to support the idea that someday, things will return to the way we have always known them to be, we are coming to accept that the workforce system will see some permanent changes.

We expect to embed our new, virtual mode of providing services into our daily operations on a long-term basis. Yet we are aware that in doing so, we must also take into account the technological limitations of the individuals who come to us for career services. Some may not have WiFi or access to hot spots, and others simply do not have the technological equipment, like laptops, that would enable them to access our services or work remotely at jobs they are placed at.

This will not stop us from making sure that we explore all options available to address this critical barrier to accessing workforce services virtually. We will continue to look to you, our board members, to provide us with your input on how we can address this growing need.

The month of August has also brought with it confirmation that most local school districts, in addition to many universities, will begin the school year with all students participating in distance learning. We are aware that this may impact the ability of adults with children to work full-time, and we will look to understand the full extent of this impact through the lens of the services we offer.

We continue to receive COVID-19 program guidelines and attend online trainings relating to workplace safety from our funding sources. We are communicating these to our vendors to ensure that our participants’ worksites remain compliant and safe. We also continue to enroll participants in our emergency assistance grants as well as our formula allocation. I look forward to sharing details at our upcoming board meeting.

I’d like to thank you for your continued commitment to supporting our region’s workforce through these unprecedented times.

Best, Judith Velasco, Executive Director


Companies Start to Think Remote Work Isn’t So Great After All

Projects take longer. Collaboration is harder. And training new workers is a struggle. ‘This is not going to be sustainable.’

Four months ago, employees at many U.S. companies went home and did something incredible: They got their work done, seemingly without missing a beat. Executives were amazed at how well their workers performed remotely, even while juggling child care and the distractions of home. Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc., among others, quickly said they would embrace remote work . . . . Read full article here at WSJ

3 Mistakes Businesses Make During a Crisis

No business is immune to a crisis, but some recover better than others by avoiding these business mistakes.

Throughout the course of any technology business–from start-ups to established businesses–periodically, crisis hits. These crises could be related to finances, a key employee leaving, industry changes, and so on. There are three mistakes that most often affect a company’s ability to cope with and recover from a crisis.

Mistake #1 – Dissemination of Information

When things go south, there are often two information-related mistakes management makes. First, they ignore sharing information with employees, which churns the rumor mill. In many cases, the rumors that come about are far worse than reality and can lead to poor decision-making further down in the business structure. It is incredibly important to share information as quickly as possible, even if that is simply to state that you have no further information.

Second, when management does decide to tell employees what is going on, they often do not have a . . . . click here for full story

Important Updates from LA County Economic Development Corporation