Weekly Digest #2

Welcome to the 2nd edition of my Weekly Digest. This week we talk about Google’s culture, Toxic company cultures, Avast’s rise to power in the endpoint security domain, Crypto & Blockchain hype cycle and videogames history.

Enjoy.


 

Article #1 – Google CEO highlights Corporate Changes TechCrunch – Management

Earlier this month, Google had a massive walkout in the wake of the lengthy piece put together by The New York Times about Android’s creator: Andy Rubin (TL;DR: Andy Rubin was a known offender/harasser, got to walk away with 90m$ and a big heartfelt farewell message by Google founders). Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, admitted his company’s shortcomings when dealing with their corporate culture and enforcing a positive change. He then outlined an action plan to (finally?) solve the issues, or at least try…

  • “We will make arbitration optional for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims. Google has never required confidentiality in the arbitration process and arbitration still may be the best path for a number of reasons (e.g. personal privacy) but, we recognize that choice should be up to you.
  • We will provide more granularity around sexual harassment investigations and outcomes at the company as part of our Investigations Report.
  • We’re revamping the way we handle and look into your concerns in three ways: We’re overhauling our reporting channels by bringing them together on one dedicated site and including live support. We will enhance the processes we use to handle concerns—including the ability for Googlers to be accompanied by a support person. And we will offer extra care and resources for Googlers during and after the process. This includes extended counseling and career support,
  • We will update and expand our mandatory sexual harassment training. From now on if you don’t complete your training, you’ll receive a one-rating dock in Perf (editor’s note: Perf is our performance review system).
  • We will recommit to our company-wide OKR around diversity, equity and inclusion again in 2019, focused on improving representation—through hiring, progression and retention—and creating a more inclusive culture for everyone. Our Chief Diversity Officer will continue to provide monthly progress updates to me and my leadership team.”

 

Article #2 – How Masculinity Contests Undermine Organizations, and What to Do About It – Harvard Business Review – Management

The workplace… That’s a topic I like, and I try to understand as deeply as possible. One of the biggest common points we have seen in most of the major startups over the past few years is their toxic culture. The authors of this article try to dissect why we have this excess of masculinity, how it hinders the good development of companies by hitting their baseline (despite what people think), but also offers solutions to fight that and try to have a more inclusive, healthy culture.

“Organizations that score high on masculinity contest culture tend to have toxic leaders who abuse and bully others to protect their own egos; low psychological safety such that employees do not feel accepted or respected, feeling unsafe to express themselves, take risks, or share new ideas; low work/family support among leaders, discouraging work-life balance; sexist climates where women experience either hostility or patronizing behavior; harassment and bullying, including sexual harassment, racial harassment, social humiliation and physical intimidation; higher rates of burnout and turnover; and higher rates of illness and depression among both male and female employees.

These problems create both direct costs (through turnover and harassment lawsuits) and indirect costs (through decreased innovation due to low psychological safety). Put simply, masculinity contest cultures are toxic to organizations and the men and women within them. In extreme cases, such as Uber, the pressure cooker explodes, severely damaging or even destroying the organization.”

 

Article #3 – How Prague’s Avast went from Soviet-era security project to $4.5 billion IPO – VentureBeat – Technology

I believe that, by now, almost everybody with a computer knows about Avast… But did you know that the company was created in Prague in 1988 by two researchers? I didn’t. This fascinating read narrates the history of Avast, from its humble beginnings to an endpoint security behemoth valued at 4.5 billion.

“The company built this HQ and moved into it in early 2016. In terms of physical form and ambiance, it could be dropped into the heart of Silicon Valley and it would fit right in. The building is 162,000 square feet, and Avast occupies seven floors[…] 

It could not be further from Avast’s humble beginnings when Eduard Kučera and Pavel Baudiš founded it in 1988. The pair had met at the Research Institute for Mathematical Machines in Czechoslovakia. It was there that Baudiš was examining a floppy disk when he spotted a virus — and wrote a program to remove it.

That inspired him to ask Kučera to join him in creating a “cooperative” called Alwil to develop the software they named Avast. And had history not overtaken them, that might have been that.

But in November 1989, the Velvet Revolution swept the streets of Prague, toppling the government, lifting playwright and poet Vaclav Havel to the presidency, and leading to the exit of Soviet troops and influence.

 

Article #4: Blockchain & Crypto Hype Cycle: Where We’re at and What’s Coming Next Medium Article – Blockchain

A very interesting piece explaining the current market situation for cryptocurrencies and blockchain. The author uses the 5 steps of the “Gartner hype cycle” (used to see where emerging technologies are at) to explain his train of thoughts. Good comparisons are made, whether it is with failed or adapted innovations.

“Talk of the potentially revolutionary nature of blockchain technology hit its peak and expanded to a larger segment of the population and business community. Blockchain technology was idealized as a panacea to every known problem in the world and became the hot topic in the tech and business community. Some corporations, like the Long Island Iced Tea Corp., merely renamed themselves to include the word blockchain and witnessed their share price soar 289%.”

 

Article #5 – Designing 2D graphics in the Japanese industryVGDensetsu – Gaming

What a piece! In the 90s, the Japanese gaming industry was a major and prominent component of the gaming industry as a whole and produced some of the most legendary pieces of software (and hardware) to ever grace us, consumers. This article discusses the different ways the devs/artists worked to build some of the 2D graphics we grew to love. The introduction kicks things off perfectly:

An Amiga, Deluxe Paint and a mouse. From the late 80s to the early 90s, these 3 tools were at the core of numerous graphic designers’ workstations in the West. It took years for the Japanese industry to start adopting commercial engines such as Unity and Unreal Engine, most of those companies were used to develop their own engines before that. This home-made approach wasn’t exclusive to game engines; at a time when most Western companies used the same sound engine on Mega Drive -GEMS-, Japanese developers often produced their own. Regarding graphic design, it was pretty much the same: there was almost one kind of setting per company in Japan.”

 


Hope you enjoyed. See you next week.

Rachid

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