TIME Charleston

Apple, Microsoft CEOs Call for End to Racism After Charleston Shooting

President Obama Speaks At Summit On Cybersecurity And Consumer Protection At Stanford University
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during the White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection on February 13, 2015 in Stanford, California.

The issue has resounded across social media

In the wake of last week’s shooting at a church in Charleston, S.C., that left nine dead, some voices that rarely pipe up on national issues resounded across social media: those of Silicon Valley CEOs.

Over the weekend, executives from Salesforce, Apple, Microsoft, and other tech companies took to Twitter to express condolences for the victims’ families. And some took it even further, joining some politicians to call for South Carolina to take down the Confederate flag that flies in the capital.

Mark Zuckerberg, of course, took to Facebook to express solidarity with Charleston. “Hope can overcome hate,” he wrote. But Slack’s CEO Stewart Butterfield certainly takes the cake for being the most outspoken in the Silicon Valley bubble. Butterfield took issue with a Wall Street Journal editorial on the tragedy, which said that the shooting was not rooted in racism. This is Butterfield’s first tweet, and the rest is here.

TIME Video Games

Watch Conan Get Dominated in Halo by the Stars of Silicon Valley

Conan is on the red team, of course

No one has gained as much notoriety for being terrible at video games as Conan O’Brien.

The late-night talk show host has taken his tongue-in-cheek celebration of the medium to a new level in a recent segment in which he (poorly) attempted to play the upcoming Halo 5: Guardians. Conan, along with Andy Richter and Aaron Bleyaert, squared off against Silicon Valley stars Thomas Middleditch, TJ Miller and Zach Woods in a multiplayer bout of the new first-person shooter.

Conan was predictably awful, spending one round trying to shoot out a pane of impenetrable glass to release a shark that’s actually just there for decoration. At one point the warring factions call a truce, only for Conan to “accidentally” take a potshot against one of the Silicon Valley stars.

Check out all the antics in the video above.

TIME Apple

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook: Diversity Is ‘the Future of Our Company’

Tech leader says the industry is to blame for not hiring enough women

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook doesn’t mince words when asked about the importance of diversity: “I think the most diverse group will produce the best product, I firmly believe that.”

In an interview with Mashable ahead of Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) Monday, Cook told the website that Apple is a “better company” by being more diverse. He says a lack of diversity in tech isn’t because women don’t want to be involved in the sector. Instead, Cook places the blame on the broader tech community saying generally, “We haven’t done enough to reach out to show young women that it’s cool to do it and how much fun it can be.”

Apple is certainly part of the problem. A workforce data report last year showed that just 30% of its global workforce is female. And leadership positions at Apple skew even more white and male than the broader workforce. Cook has in the past said he’s not satisfied with the numbers.

The gadgets maker is also putting a little money up to match Cook’s interest in promoting diversity. Apple generated headlines earlier this year when it donated more than $50 million to groups that want to get more women, minorities and veterans working in tech. But let’s not throw Apple a parade just yet. The company posted a profit of $13.6 billion in the second quarter alone.

More: Read about Apple in the latest Fortune 500 list

TIME Companies

Google’s Proposed New Building Looks Like it Belongs on Mars

Google

The plan comes after Google lost a real estate battle with LinkedIn

Following a real estate rejection from the Mountain View, Calif. city council last month, Google has released new plans for a trimmed-down campus extension that would cover nearly 19 acres of land. Called “Charleston East,” the semi-translucent Google extension looks as if it would fit just as well on the surface of Mars as it would in Northern California.

Google was planning a much bigger headquarters expansion, though Mountain View decided to award the majority of the land up for grabs to LinkedIn. Wired notes Google’s new plan isn’t a replacement of the company’s original vision.

TIME slack

Everyone Wants to Acquire Tech Darling Slack

Stewart Butterfield, co-founder and chief executive office of Slack.
Slack Stewart Butterfield, co-founder and chief executive office of Slack.

CEO Stewart Butterfield says the suitors have been lining up

The workplace messaging app Slack is not just popular among businesses trying to streamline how their employees communicate in the office. It’s also the belle of the ball when it comes to tech companies looking to spend big on acquisitions.

Speaking at the Code Conference Thursday, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield told the audience that he has fielded acquisition offers from between eight and ten companies, according to a report in TechCrunch. But he is simply uninterested in cashing out.

“I’m going to make more money than I need in any outcome at this point,” Butterfield said.

Instead, the Silicon-Valley CEO is in it for the long haul, and for his legacy. “Five or ten years from now, I want people to talk about our employees like, ‘Ooh they worked at Slack,” he said.

TIME Autos

Watch BMW Test Driverless Cars and Virtual Reality

With tech companies on its heel, the top premium car maker taps the Internet to try and win the next race

Automakers have never had so much in common with Silicon Valley. Car makers are increasingly relying on technology to develop, market and sell cars to consumers. In fact, most of the world’s major auto companies established research and development labs of one sort or another in the Bay Area. BMW and Volkswagen set up shop there in 1998, General Motors in 2006, Toyota and Ford in 2012, Renault-Nissan in 2013. The automotive industry spends some $100 billion globally on R&D annually, about 16% of the world’s total for all industries.

Likewise, Bay Area firms are also increasingly interested in autos. Ever since the dawn of the personal computer, Silicon Valley has been inventing or reinventing new gadgets: the music player, the phone, the computer first as a phone and, later, as a tablet. Amazon remade the mall. Netflix and YouTube remade TV. Elon Musk’s Tesla notwithstanding, the last great remaining American preoccupation that tech hasn’t widely tackled is the automobile.

MORE: See Inside BMW’s Secret Design Lab

But automakers have a significantly more difficult task integrating technology into their vehicles. Where a new version of an Android phone, for example, might be reasonably expected to last its owner two or three years, most cars are on the roads for decades. That means built-in technology has to last over a much longer time fame. Legislation, as the fights over Tesla’s dealership model and Google’s self-driving cars have shown, can be limiting. And some high-tech bells and whistles simply never take. For every innovation like GPS navigation, there’s a numeric key pad.

In this video, TIME looks at how the top-selling premium manufacturer BMW is exploring new technology ranging from self-driving vehicles to virtual reality in an effort to keep pace with the competition.

TIME alibaba

Female Executives are Alibaba’s ‘Secret Sauce,’ Founder Jack Ma Says

Jack Ma, billionaire and chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Jan. 23, 2015.
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Jack Ma, billionaire and chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Jan. 23, 2015.

The founder of the Chinese e-commerce giant is proud that women hold 34% of his company's leadership roles, which is much higher than Silicon Valley tech companies.

While Silicon Valley is still chasing its tail when it comes to hiring more women, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma, thinks they’re his company’s “secret sauce.”

He made the comment during Alibaba’s first Global Conference on Women and Entrepreneurship in Hangzhou, China, where the company welcomed high-profile female speakers like the Queen of the Netherlands, actress Jessica Alba, and Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington. Alibaba used the event to promote female entrepreneurship and showcase its own gender diversity, which puts most tech companies to shame. As of last summer, women made up almost 34% of Alibaba’s high-level managers, and a third of its founding partners. The company also says that more than 40% of its total workforce are women.

“I feel proud that more than 34% of senior management are women. They really make this company’s yin and yang balanced,” Ma said at the conference, according to The Huffington Post. “Women balance the logic and the instinct. I would say this is the ‘secret sauce’ of the company.”

In comparison, women made up only 31% of Facebook’s total workforce and 23% of its leadership; 30% of Google’s overall employees and 21% of its leadership; and 23% of Cisco’s total workforce and 19% of its leadership, according to reports released by the companies last year.

Ma further elaborated that it’s important for his company to have a balance of leadership and ideas to conduct business most effectively.

“Men think about themselves more; women think about others more,” Ma said. “Women think about taking care of their parents, their children.”

Despite the feminist sentiment, Ma’s choice of words can sometimes be a bit overly simplistic and stereotyping. He also seems to fall short when it comes to ageism. He recently raised eyebrows when he announced that Alibaba Group’s CEO, Jonathan Lu, would be replaced by the company’s younger COO, Daniel Zhang, as part of what he described as Alibaba’s desire to keep younger and fresher blood running its business.

TIME Social Media

Check Out How Much Fancier Facebook’s New Digs Are

Facebook's sprawling new building takes the open workspace to a whole new level

Correction appended

Facebook started in a college dorm room, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg seems to be trying to recapture the kind of spontaneous collaboration that can happen in those spaces with the social networking giant’s new building.

Dubbed by the company as the “largest open floor plan in the world,” the new 430,000-square-foot, single story facility in Menlo Park, Calif. places thousands of workers — Zuckerberg included — in a single giant room. Product teams are clustered together throughout the sprawling space, which resembles an aircraft hangar. Atop the building is a 9-acre park with walking trails and seats to host outdoor meetings.

The design of the new workspace, intended to encourage collaboration, is also supposed to reenforce Facebook’s overall mission of connecting the world. “We wanted our space to create the same sense of community and connection among our teams that we try to enable with our services across the world,” Zuckerberg said back in March when he and his employees moved in.

The building, called MPK 20 and designed by celebrated architect Frank Gehry, is a far cry from the more pedestrian office complex that used to be the base of their operations — although the company still uses that building as part of its campus. Here, we offer some comparison shots between the older and newer spaces.

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly described the purpose of Facebook’s new facility. It is an extension of its headquarters.

 

TIME People

Silicon Valley CEO David Goldberg, Husband of Sheryl Sandberg, Dies Suddenly

He is survived by his wife, Sheryl Sandberg, and their two children

David Goldberg, Silicon Valley CEO and husband of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, died suddenly Friday night while exercising.

The 47-year-old CEO of SurveyMonkey collapsed in the gym of a private resort in Mexico, the New York Times reports. A person close to the family told the New York Times that efforts to revive Goldberg at the gym and at the hospital were unsuccessful.

Goldberg’s brother, Robert Goldberg, shared the news on Facebook.

“It’s with incredible shock and sadness that I’m letting our friends and family know that my amazing brother, Dave Goldberg, beloved husband of Sheryl Sandberg, father of two wonderful children, and son of Paula Goldberg, passed away suddenly last night,” Robert Goldberg wrote Saturday afternoon.

The post details how the family would like fans and friends of Goldberg to honor him: “In lieu of donations, we want to celebrate his life in a manner that respects the family’s privacy as they cope with this tragic, life changing event: Sheryl, their children, and our family would be grateful if people would post their memories and pictures of Dave to his Facebook profile.”

TIME Silicon Valley

How Google Perfected the Silicon Valley Acquisition

Signage outside the Google Inc. headquarters in Mountain View, California on Oct. 13, 2010.
Tony Avelar—Bloomberg/Getty Images Signage outside the Google Inc. headquarters in Mountain View, California on Oct. 13, 2010.

As tech's largest firms grow in scope and age, acquisitions have become an increasingly important maneuver

Correction appended, April 21

In late October John Hanke and several of his co-workers met for a reunion of sorts at Fiesta Del Mar, a Mexican restaurant near Google’s Mountain View headquarters. Hanke, a 10-year Google employee who led initial development of Maps, was once the founder of a small geodata startup called Keyhole that Google acquired in 2004. The fact that the one-time entrepreneur has stayed with the search giant for more than a decade makes him and his colleagues oddities in Silicon Valley. “There are quite a large number of [us] who are still at Google, and I have to say I don’t think anyone expected that when we first came in,” he says.

Google has used acquisitions to expand its workforce and launch new products since before it was a household name. Recently that strategy has become the modus operandi for technology firms in Silicon Valley. Facebook is using its fast-growing cash hoard to take control over sectors both adjacent to its core product (WhatsApp for $22 billion) and far-flung from social networking (Oculus VR for $2 billion). Microsoft, Yahoo and Amazon are doing the same, making big-ticket bets by buying Minecraft developer Mojang ($2.5 billion), Tumblr ($1.1 billion) and video game streaming site Twitch ($970 million), respectively. Even Apple, which long eschewed splashy acquisitions in favor of much smaller, less public buys, says it bought at least 30 companies during the last fiscal year, including the $3 billion purchase of Beats.

Overall spending on tech acquisitions topped $170 billion in 2014, up 54% from the previous year and more than double the amount spent in 2010, according to PrivCo, a research firm that tracks investments in private businesses. As the core of dominant technology companies get larger, they have come to depend on acquisitions not only to broaden their businesses but also to sustain the pace of innovation. “Companies are buying innovation,” explains Peter Levine, a general partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. “As large companies need to be competitive and want to increase their footprints in a variety of different areas, one of the best ways to do that is through acquisition.”

The deals are a boon for startups as well. Venture capital is abundant, and companies can rely on investment rather than revenue to keep growing. If it’s not clear how a startup will eventually convert users into revenue, a buyout from a large firm can render that problem irrelevant—or at least less urgent. While investors and founders insist that launching a thriving self-supporting company is still the end-goal in Silicon Valley, “exiting” via a sale rather than an initial public offering can still net a lucrative payout. “It’s almost a goal for some of these companies as they start, to have that exit event,” says George Geis, a business professor at UCLA whose upcoming book, Semi-Organic Growth, analyzes Google’s acquisition strategy over the years.

But while snapping up a startup is now easy, holding onto its key employees is more difficult. Startup founders, who often think of themselves as entrepreneurs before engineers, are notoriously difficult to keep at large firms long. Partly, this is cultural: striking out on one’s own, idea in hand, is a fundamental part of the Silicon Valley ethos. The widespread availability of funding doesn’t hurt, either. That has left firms struggling to keep the expertise they may have spent millions acquiring. “When a firm is making a tech acquisition, they’re buying the talent as much as they’re buying the technology,” says Brian JM Quinn, a law professor specializing in mergers and acquisitions at Boston College.

A TIME analysis of startup founders’ LinkedIn profiles found that about two-thirds of the startup founders that accepted jobs at Google between 2006 and 2014 are still with the company. Amazon has retained about 55% of its founders over that time period, while Microsoft’s rate is below 45%. Facebook, with a 75% retention rate for founders, is beating its older competitors, but the company only began acquiring companies in significant numbers around 2010 or so. Yahoo and Apple, which have both gone on acquisition sprees under new CEOs Marissa Mayer and Tim Cook in the last two years, now have a similar retention rate to Google.

Google stands out among this cohort in large part because of the massive number of acquisitions it’s conducted. Overall at least 221 startup founders joined Google’s ranks between 2006 and 2014. Yahoo, the next closest competitor, added at least 110 founders to its employee roster in that time. Google’s internal calculation of its overall retention rate for startup founders through its history is similar to TIME’s, according to data provided by the company. Apple, Facebook, Yahoo and Microsoft declined to share any information on the retention of founders; Amazon did not respond to a request for data.

An examination of the ways Google tries to retain employees provides a window into the increasingly ferocious battle among the tech sector’s giants to expand through conquest. “Google,” says Geis, “has done a pretty good job—among the best in Silicon Valley.”

‘The toothbrush test’

Even when Google was small, it wasn’t shy about spending. The company’s first startup acquisition, the 2003 purchase of Pyra Labs, forms the backbone of what is today Blogger, an online publishing platform. Since then, many of Google’s most well-known products, including Android, YouTube, Maps, Docs and Analytics, have originated from acquisitions. “M&A has obviously been a huge part of Google—and, I think, Google’s success—for a long time,” says Don Harrison, Google’s vice president for corporate development, who oversees the company’s acquisitions.

Before any deal is finalized, it has to pass what CEO Larry Page calls “the toothbrush test”: is the product something you use daily and would make your life better? “If anything matches the toothbrush test and relates to technology, then Larry has an interest in it,” explains Harrison.

Typically, Google buys occur in sectors where the company has already been experimenting itself. Harrison points to YouTube as a prime example. Google already had a video sharing service called Google Video in the mid-2000’s, but YouTube’s fast-growing user base convinced the firm to offer a then-eye-popping $1.65 billion for the startup, even though it was barely a year old and earned no revenue. Today, YouTube brings in billions of dollars of revenue per year and is the third most-visited website in the world, according to Web analytics firm Alexa.

But the return on investment on an acquisition isn’t only measured monetarily. It’s important to Google and other tech giants that the founders behind ideas worth paying for stick around as well. Harrison says founder retention is one of the significant factors Google measures as part of the “scorecarding” it does to evaluate its purchases. “We hold ourselves accountable to make sure that the founders are able to be successful within Google,” Harrison says. “It’s something that we’re not only working on at the time we buy the company but we work on for years after as well.”

Cash alone can’t convince the top startup founders to join Google. 2014 was the most active year for IPOs in the U.S. since the year 2000, according to IPO tracker Renaissance Capital, and Chinese online retailer Alibaba had the biggest public debut in world history, raising $25 billion in September. “As aggressive as we’re willing to be, we probably can’t match public company premiums right now,” Harrison admits.

So Google tries to find other ways to lure key talent.

‘A True CEO’

For Tony Fadell, the CEO of smart home company Nest, the decision of whether or not be acquired by Google was really a question of how he wanted to spend his time.

Google had begun courting Nest almost from the company’s inception, ever since Fadell showed Google founder Sergey Brin a prototype of the Nest Thermostat at a TED conference in 2011. At the time, Fadell wasn’t interested in a buyout. “I wanted to keep it as a startup as long as possible,” he says.

But as Nest grew, so did Fadell’s logistical headaches. By 2013, he says he was spending 90% of his time on what he calls “back-of-house stuff”: managing finances, talking to investors, wrestling with taxes and fending off patent lawsuits. “There was a lot of selling to multiple entities that we were doing the right thing,” he says.

When Google came knocking again, offering a big payday and the chance to keep Nest’s name brand intact—a key requirement for Fadell—an acquisition seemed more appealing. Now Fadell says he spends 95% of his time focused on product development and key relationships. Nest, meanwhile, has gotten access to resources that would have taken much longer to accrue independently. The company launched in five new countries in 2014, but Fadell thinks they would have only reached two without Google’s help.

In many ways, the Nest acquisition is the ideal scenario startup founders envision when they agree to be swallowed by a larger company. Harrison, Google’s M&A head, calls Fadell a “true CEO” and says Google execs serve more as a board of directors for Nest instead of supervisors. Fadell says he hasn’t had to get formal approval for anything from Google, though he reports directly to Larry Page and meets with the Google CEO a few times per month. “He’s like, ‘Call me when you need me, but this is for you to run,’” Fadell says of his relationship with Page. “He gives us the freedom, so I run with that. Only when it’s really major decisions do I really touch base with him.”

Some founders who don’t quite have Fadell’s free rein are still granted a certain level of autonomy. Skybox Imaging, a satellite manufacturer that Google acquired for $500 million last summer, reports to the company’s vice president of engineering for geo products but maintains separate offices from Google in Mountain View. “We kind of get a little bit of the best of both worlds,” says Ching-Yu Hu, one of the four Skybox founders that now works at Google. “We’re all Googlers now so we have access to all the infrastructure there, but at the same time we’re semi-autonomous.”

The company has experimented with more direct incentives to maintain an entrepreneurial spirit. For a few years in the mid-2000’s Google handed out Founders Awards valued at as much as $12 million in stock to teams that developed successful new products like Gmail and Google Maps. Today awards are a little less explicit, in the form of more traditional of raises or promotions. Google works closely with founders in their first 90 days on the job to insure they’re getting acclimated well, but check-ins on founders’ progress can continue for years, depending on the acquisition.

At the core of Google’s pitch to founders is the opportunity for bountiful resources. Sure, those can be scratched and clawed for independently, but going it alone requires a lot more time, money and luck than hitching your wagon to one of the richest companies on Earth. “It was a pretty compelling pitch,” Hanke recalls of his own deliberations about whether to sell Keyhole to Google. “We could achieve a lot more standing on the shoulders of all that was going on at Google versus trying to do it on our own as startup.”

When Founders Leave

Still, even Harrison admits that not every acquisition goes smoothly. Because California is an at-will employment state, workers can generally be fired or choose to leave at any time. Tech companies try to ensure founders stick around for a while by offering a stay bonus or using “golden handcuffs,” which often meter out the payday for a big acquisition in company shares that vest over several years. Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp, for instance, includes $3 billion in restricted stock for WhatsApp employees, but they can’t fully tap into those funds unless they stay at the company for four years.

In some cases, golden handcuffs aren’t enough to keep founders on board. Kosta Eleftheriou joined Google in October 2010 through the acquisition of his keyboard app BlindType, but life at the massive company wasn’t what he envisioned. Eleftheriou says he was relegated to maintaining Google’s stock Android keyboard rather than envisioning ways to improve the product. He left after one month, leaving half of his compensation package for the acquisition on the table (he says the total acquisition price was in the seven figures). Now he’s a founder again, with a new keyboard app called Fleksy that has been downloaded 4 million times.

“It was a mismatch between what I was expecting and what happened,” Eleftheriou says. “I think that was partly due to maybe some unrealistic expectations on my side on how much creative freedom I would have. I was hoping to be part of a bigger picture than just some engineer working on something by themselves.”

As the founder of a small company that didn’t make huge headlines when it was acquired, Eleftheriou’s experience isn’t uncommon in the Valley. “Unless they’re sufficiently large, very few acquisitions continue to run independently,” says Justin Kan, a partner at the venture capital firm Y Combinator and cofounder of Twitch. “Oftentimes founders are rolled up inside another group inside of the company. They can’t make decisions as freely as when they were entrepreneurs. That affects people’s willingness to stick around.”

Sometimes founders simply crave the excitement of starting something new. Uri Levine was the only one of Waze’s three founders who chose not to join Google when the traffic app was acquired for $1 billion in June 2013. Instead he launched a new startup—his sixth—called FeeX, which aims to help people reduce investment fees in their retirement accounts. “Entrepreneurs, they are driven by a passion for change,” Levine says. “As soon as you become part of a large organization, you cannot change anymore.”

Google’s also had some more high-profile misfires. When it made its largest acquisition ever, the $12.5 billion purchase of handset maker Motorola Mobility, Page hailed it as an opportunity to “supercharge the Android ecosystem.” But Motorola’s phones failed to gain traction, the subsidiary racked up $1.4 billion in losses for Google, and the company offloaded the handset division to Lenovo for $2.9 billion in 2014. Harrison defends the deal as a smart acquisition because of the patent portfolio that Google acquired, helping the company defend itself from lawsuits by Apple and Microsoft (Geis, who has studied the transaction closely, called it “a wash” for Google).

The Spree Continues

At Google, at least, there are opportunities for change for some founders who join the company. Hanke, the former Keyhole CEO, spent several years heading up Google’s geo services, but now he’s in charge of Niantic Labs, a separately branded unit that Google bills as an “internal startup.” Hanke’s team develops apps that increase the opportunity for digital interaction in real-world environments, like InGress, a mobile game that requires players to visit physical locations to gain power ups. Android founder Andy Rubin also took on a role far removed from smartphones when he became the head of Google’s robotics division in 2013. (Rubin eventually left Google in October after nine years at the company).

Google is constantly making these kinds of bets on the future, and it needs new blood with fresh ideas to sustain them. The company is currently wrestling with multiple threats to its core business, search, including a declining share of desktop searches and a mobile market where Amazon is stealing product search queries and Facebook is taking ad dollars. If Google is to maintain its steady growth, it will eventually have to tap into a new revenue source somewhere, and that may well stem from an acquisition. The company may view Nest as the key purchase that ensures its future dominance, given Fadell’s perch. “Founders and everyone else at these startups, they want to be businesspeople,” he explains.

And the big businesses themselves? They want to ensure they don’t miss out on the next big thing. “The ability to move quickly in rapidly changing markets is one of the major drivers,” says Geis of the acquisition spree. “If you want to effectively compete and innovate continually, it can’t all be from within.”

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly described George Geis. He is a business professor at UCLA.

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