How to tackle bro-culture in tech startups

Uber on mobile phone

Susan Fowler, an engineer who used to work at Uber, says the company prioritised bro-code over her complaints. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

March is Women’s History Month and if you’re a journalist writing about women and work, your inbox will be inundated with press releases from corporates. They all want to tell you about the amazing programme they run for women, the targets they have set, or the new female board member they have just appointed. If you believed everything you were told you would think the average workplace was female nirvana. And then you read a blog post like the recent one from Susan Fowler, an engineer who used to work at Uber, and you realise how far there is still to go.

In case you missed it, last month Fowler blogged about why she left the tech giant. She explained that despite registering complaints about sexual harassment and discrimination, the company prioritised bro-code over behaviour. According to Fowler, reporting any sexual harassment issues resulted in her being told that either she was overreacting or that the man in question was a high performer so his behaviour would be ignored.

As a response to this, Uber opened an investigation, with its CEO, Travis Kalanick, claiming he wants justice for everyone at the company. Perhaps it’s just me but his statement has the ring of defensiveness about it. Whatever the results of the review, it’s important to remember that Uber is not alone is this behaviour. There are a good many tech firms currently counting the number of women in their engineering teams and worrying that they might be next. As Sarah Lacy, founder of Pando Daily, tells Vox, the culture of Silicon Valley and the entire tech industry has changed.

The sort of bro culture seen at Uber recently might be expected in banking, a hangover from the Wolf of Wall Street days, but there’s an assumption that tech companies should be more enlightened. However, as more money has poured into tech startups, the culture has changed. The alpha male bro is reigning, and it’s not good for women.

In the spirit of generosity, here is some advice for tech companies. If you’re concerned that your organisation is about to be submerged by a sexual harassment scandal, this is what you should do:

  • Ask your female employees to tell you honestly what it’s like to work there. Whether you like their response or not, believe them. Don’t try to deny it, don’t try to explain it, and definitely don’t try to tell the women they have misunderstood the situation. Accept it and start to think about how you can fix it.
  • Institute a zero-tolerance policy to any form of sexual harassment or discrimination. In an ideal world this would have been the status quo for every company, but we know it’s not.
  • Take a serious look at your HR team. All too often HR is a second consideration for startups, something they have to do as they grow and when the founders get bored of managing people. Look at how you treat your HR team, do you listen to them? If not, start. Equally, look at how they behave with you. Do they tell you honestly what’s happening in the company? Are they more concerned with minimising issues than dealing with them? If you don’t have a HR director who will happily tell you when you’re wrong, then you need a different one.
  • Write to all the women who have previously worked for you and ask them for their help. Ask them to be honest about what working in your company was like, why they left and what they would change. Pay them to do this.
  • Grow with your business. Maybe you started a tech company because you had a great idea, thought it would be fun to be an entrepreneur and set your own rules. That’s great but, like humans, companies eventually have to grow up.

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[“Source-theguardian”]

Iron Fist actor defends series after wave of negative reviews

Iron Fist’s Finn Jones has come to the defense of the newest Netflix and Marvel series after it received numerous negative reviews.

Jones told Metro that shows like Iron Fist are not made for critics,” but are designed entirely for the fans. As such, the lower scores and bad reviews the show has received from critics are coming from people who weren’t fans going into it, according to the actor.

“I also think some of the reviews we saw were seeing the show through a very specific lens, and I think when the fans of the Marvel Netflix world and fans of the comic books view the show through the lens of just wanting to enjoy a superhero show, then they will really enjoy what they see,” Jones said.

Jones’ comments have caught the ire of both critics and fans online who argued over the weekend that claiming enthusiasts couldn’t watch a show through a critical lens was insulting. Likewise, critics argued they could be enthusiasts going into a series, but that didn’t deter them from giving their honest opinions during reviews.

Jones added that he believes Iron Fist stands on its own and is just as good as other series in Marvel and Netflix’s Defenders franchise. In comparison, however, both Luke Cage and Jessica Jones debuted to mostly positive reviews, and even Daredevil managed to impress both critics and fans.

This isn’t the first time that someone has used the “it’s made for fans, not critics” defense, either. When Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was released, Amy Adams claimed that the movie wasn’t made for critics and people needed to keep that in perspective.

“I know that Zack doesn’t make the movies, and none of us are making the movies for the critics, so to speak, you can’t go into it from that perspective,” Adams told Yahoo! Movies. “So, I know we really hope the fans like it, and so far the reaction’s been really positive on that front.”

Suicide Squad’s Cara Delevingne also used the defense while talking about the DC and Warner Bros. film that was also panned by critics.

“The critics have been absolutely horrific. They’re really, really horrible. You know, I just don’t think they like superhero movies,” Delevingne told Reuters. “It doesn’t really matter what the critics say at the end of the day, it’s the fans that we made this movie for.”

We’ll see if Iron Fist lives up to fans expectations on March 17 when the season is released in its entirety on Netflix.

Paytm to Charge 2 Percent Fee on Adding Money to Wallet Using Credit Cards

Paytm to Charge 2 Percent Fee on Adding Money to Wallet Using Credit Cards

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Paytm found that some credit card users were abusing that 0-fee transfers
  • To combat this, Paytm is charging all CC deposits a 2% transfer fee
  • It is refunding this money in the form of a coupon you can use on Paytm

On Wednesday, wallet company Paytm announced that it will be charging a 2 percent deposit fee from credit card users going forward. According to Paytm, this was being done to combat misuse of its zero-fee transfers, explaining that savvy users were rotating their cash through the wallet to earn essentially “free” money in the form of reward points. Paytm said that to ensure that genuine users don’t lose money, it will return the 2 percent charge in the form of coupons that can be used on Paytm.

Later, its founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma clarified that the coupons can also be used on third-party sites to pay Swiggy or Uber, although this mechanism has not been activated yet.

As noted in the post announcing this decision, since November, Paytm has been allowing users to take cash out of the wallet to their bank accounts at no charge. Typically, cashing out has attracted a fee from wallets. At the same time, Paytm and other wallets haven’t charged fees for depositing cash into their systems. This meant that credit card users could fill up their Paytm wallets using the card, then transfer that money back to their bank accounts, at no charge. “They were not only getting free loyalty points which effectively is free cash but also getting access to free credit,” Paytm noted.

This would be subsidised by Paytm’s own costs, as the company pointed out.

Incidentally, Paytm pays fee to card networks or banks whenever you use any payment instrument like any other online commerce company. Paytm pays a hefty charges when you use your credit card to card networks and issuing banks. If user simply adds money and takes to bank, we lose money. Our revenue model requires users to spend money within our network and we make money from the margins available to us on various products/services we offer.

For this reason, Paytm is now charging a 2 percent deposit fee from credit card users, and refunding them the same in the form of a coupon that can be used on the Paytm app. As we mentioned, on Twitter, Sharma has clarified that the coupons can work on third-party sites as well, and added that you will be able to use these with apps such as Swiggy, Uber, although the FAQ on the page currently still states that it can only be used on the Paytm app.

There are a couple of other caveats listed on the FAQ page. For one, these refund coupons will only be given when the amount you’re filling up is more than Rs. 250. If your transaction is lower than that, you will not get a coupon. Also, you will get a fresh coupon every time you top-up Paytm using a credit card, these coupons can not be clubbed, and have to be applied manually and individually. Also, these coupons can only be used in a single transaction. Also, the coupon isn’t applied as a discount on the transaction – it gives you an instant cashback to your Paytm wallet.

The coupons can also be used for bill payments, recharges, and so on, these are not limited to shopping on Paytm Mall. The vouchers will expire on December 31, 2017, but the FAQ mentions that this can be extended on request.

These charges are only being applied on credit card users, so if you’re using a debit card, net banking, or UPI/ IMPS payments, then you are not affected by this move.

Disclosure: Paytm’s parent company One97 is an investor in Gadgets 360.

Tags: Paytm, paytm wallet, cashbacks, Transaction fees, Credit cards, Loyalty points
[“Source-Gadgets”]

Samsung Gear VR Gets Refreshed at MWC 2017; Comes With Touch Controller

Samsung Gear VR Gets Refreshed at MWC 2017; Comes With Touch Controller

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The new Gear VR comes with a strap to hold controller
  • The controller helps users in navigating through VR apps and games
  • The controller provides users with more interaction options within the ap

Samsung has launched the latest version of its Oculus-powered Gear VR headset at MWC 2017 and for the first time around, the South Korean company has introduced a VR controller that goes along with the headset. The new controller is aimed at providing users with convenience while interacting with the user interface in VR apps and games with the help of the headset.

The South Korean conglomerate says that the curved design of the newly introduced Gear VR controller offers users with convenient one-hand control and provides better motion interaction with minimised head movement. The touchpad on the motion controller provides quicker selection and interaction within VR apps. With the controller, users get the ability to “point, drag and drop, tilt, shoot, among other actions, while the Trigger allows for enhanced gaming experiences,” the company said. The Home, Volume and Back keys located on the controller help users to navigate easily within the interface.

“At Samsung, we are focused on setting and exceeding the standard for VR experiences, making them even more accessible and delivering the highest in quality,” Younghee Lee, executive vice president of mobile communications business at Samsung Electronics, was quoted as saying in company’s blog post. “The Gear VR with Controller expands our VR ecosystem to help consumers get more engaged and immersed in VR content – whether it’s games or videos,” Lee said.

The Gear VR with controller offers 42mm lenses with 101-degree FOV (Field of View) and “advanced distortion correction technology” to minimize users’ motion sickness. The Samsung Gear VR with Controller will support both Micro-USB and USB Type-C port with a converter in-box. Further, the new Gear VR comes with a strap on the headset that allows it to hold the controller when it is not being used.

The new Gear VR with controller is compatible with Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 edge, Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 Edge+, Galaxy S6, and Galaxy S6 Edge smartphones. You can find the full specifications of the new Gear VR over here.

Tags: Samsung New Gear VR Headset With Controller, Samsung Oculus-Powered VR Headset, Wearables, Apps, Home Entertainment, Gaming, Samsung, Gear VR, MWC, MWC 2017
[“Source-Gadgets”]