When I first thought of writing this article regarding the economic impact of the coronavirus (officially known as COVID-19), I knew things were going to get worse before they got better — and they have. There has been a delayed impact on the United States, but as of March 7, there has been a total of 17 deaths and 308 cases. A state of emergency has been declared in California, New York and Washington and more. A cruise ship with 21 confirmed cases so far is quarantined near San Francisco, and in limbo as to when test kits for all the passengers will be available. They have finally been allowed to dock in Oakland, CA, which is odd, since Oakland is just a short drive from San Francisco, so I’m not quite sure what they’re trying to prevent.
I used to work in Silicon Valley at some of the most respected and admired companies in both tech and pharma. I never felt good about how they were proselytizing to their employees, how they were considered great places to work and how I seemingly felt differently from all my colleagues. I wanted to love my employers, but I was unable to muster the enthusiasm and zealotry they demanded. I always felt that the employer-employee relationship was an even exchange, more or less, in which one would offer services in exchange for a salary. Despite the amount of work, effort and dedication I put in, I felt that these companies were operating at odds with my values of family, work-life balance and caring for the greater good. Until recently, I thought I was among the few who held this perspective.
This year’s annual Harvard-Yale game slipped past my attention, as it does most years — until I saw in the Associated Press’s headline that it made the news: it was one of the rivals’ longest games on record.
As if I don’t have enough student loan debt, Apple came out with a credit card just before the start of this semester. According to their press release, it’s “built on simplicity, transparency and privacy” with cash back, no fees and an easy user interface that allows one to view their spending along with enhanced security. Sure, once I’m employed maybe I can apply for one and add another Apple product to my tech ecosystem. And it’s a credit card by Apple, not a bank. But if you read the small print, the card is issued by Goldman Sachs Bank, United States of America, based in Utah. It seemed cool anyway, given its all white titanium exterior, with only the bearer’s name laser etched on it. To get the actual card number, when not using Apple Pay or the Apple Wallet, you have to actually open the wallet app and verify your ID to access that information; the digital card number is different than the actual physical card number, which enhances the card’s security.
I suddenly feel like I’m being followed, and not just online. I just read that Google bought Fitbit, the company that pioneered the wearables industry and makes devices that monitor fitness and health. My first thought was to ditch my Fitbit and buy an Apple Watch. But I have limited financial resources and even more limited space available on my left arm for a smartwatch to sit next to my analog watch. I am concerned about two main things: First, how will Google use my data and second, how does this latest acquisition affect the consolidation of companies, especially under the FANG (Facebook Apple Netflix Google) umbrella?
Recently, I, along with a classmate, formed a club at the International Business School called the Retail and Fashion Club. For this initiative to exist, I had to collect a number of signatures from IBS classmates. I thought to myself: what better an opportunity to see how the perceptions of retail and fashion have changed over the years? Unfortunately people still think that retail and fashion are superficial. The looks on some of the students’ faces told me how disdainful they were toward my idea.