Weekend Roundup: A Google Union? Elon Musk: World’s Richest Man

Well, that was quite a wild few days, wasn’t it? Before we turn off our computers for the week (and hopefully stop doom-scrolling for just a little bit), let’s review some recent tech stories that we haven’t covered yet, including Google employees’ attempt to unionize and Elon Musk taking a very special prize.

Elon Musk Becomes World’s Richest Man 

With Tesla’s stock price skyrocketing, CEO Elon Musk has become the world’s richest man with a net worth of $185 billion (and rising). That places him just ahead of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, whose net worth stands at $184 billion as of this writing. Of course, that could all change tomorrow, thanks to the roller-coaster nature of the market.

Musk had an understandable reaction to the news:

Musk and Bezos are unique individuals, to put it mildly, but they’re nonetheless good examples of how a technologist with a really good idea can change the world—and potentially get really rich in the process.

Google Workers Attempt to Unionize

This week, an unknown number of Google employees and contractors agreed to form a union, supported by the Communications Workers of America. It’s a big deal, because it might give Google employees more leverage in their discussions with management about everything from sexual harassment to diversity issues.

The resulting Alphabet Workers Union may also inspire employees at other tech giants to unionize, which is why this is potentially a very big deal. Of course, that all hinges on the union actually drawing enough Google employees to give it leverage—and Google’s leadership actually recognizing that the union exists. “It felt like in the last two years there’s been a concerted effort to get rid of the culture and to silence the ability for workers to disagree with the executives,” Chewy Shaw, the vice chair of the Alphabet Workers Union, told Recode

“We’ve always worked hard to create a supportive and rewarding workplace for our workforce. Of course our employees have protected labor rights that we support. But as we’ve always done, we’ll continue engaging directly with all our employees,” Kara Silverstein, Google’s director of people operations, also told the publication. 

Epic’s New Office… a Shopping Mall?

Given the current emphasis on remote work, a lot of companies are debating whether to keep their physical offices or simply let all employees work from home. Meanwhile, Epic Games (creator of the gaming mega-hit Fortnite) is going in the opposite direction: It’s buying a shopping mall and converting it into an office.

For Epic, this move certainly means a lot of future space to expand (87 acres, to be precise). And considering how malls have suffered over the past several years, perhaps a move like this by a big tech company was inevitable. It suggests that, no matter when the COVID-19 pandemic ends, there will still be tech companies that believe in maintaining big “statement” offices.

Have a great weekend, everyone! Stay safe!