Weekend Roundup: Facebook Dodges Antitrust; Apple and Remote Work

It’s the long weekend! Whether or not you plan on setting off some fireworks to celebrate the Fourth of July, it’ll be good to relax a bit. Before you shut down, let’s revisit some of the week’s big tech stories you might have missed, including Facebook dodging an FTC antitrust complaint and Apple making it clear that employees are coming back to the office. 

Apple Pushes Back Against Full-Time Remote Work

Some of Apple’s employees don’t want to go back to work.

Technically, that’s not true—they want to keep working for the tech giant, but they want to do so from home, without ever needing to come into the actual office. “That Apple’s remote/location-flexible work policy, and the communication around it, have already forced some of our colleagues to quit,” they wrote in a June letter to the company’s executivesafter Apple CEO Tim Cook announced plans to bring employees back to the physical office. “Without the inclusivity that flexibility brings, many of us feel we have to choose between either a combination of our families, our well-being, and being empowered to do our best work, or being a part of Apple.”

In this instance, “flexible” means the option for full-time remote work. However, Apple shows little signs of budging from its announced plans to have the majority of employees return to the office three days per week. Now Apple’s executives have responded to those employees’ request for a full-time remote-work option—and the answer is a pretty firm “no.”

“We believe that in-person collaboration is essential to our culture and our future,” Deirdre O’Brien, senior vice president of retail and people, said in a video recording obtained by The Verge. “If we take a moment to reflect on our unbelievable product launches this past year, the products and the launch execution were built upon the base of years of work that we did when we were all together in-person.”

The largest tech companies have been undergoing quite a bit of adjustment with regard to remote and hybrid work. Uber, for example, just readjusted its policies to allow employees to work remotely half the time. As technologists make it clear they don’t want to go back to the office five days per week, companies need to consider whether their current policies will drive some of those technologists into the arms of competitors with more flexible work schedules.  

Facebook Dodges Antitrust Bullet

The federal government’s antitrust case against Facebook has crashed and burned, with a U.S. District Court dismissing the FTC’s claims that the tech giant has a monopoly on social networking. “The FTC has failed to plead enough facts to plausibly establish a necessary element of all of its Section 2 claims —namely, that Facebook has monopoly power in the market for Personal Social Networking (PSN) Services,” U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg of the District of Columbia wrote in his decision

The FTC could amend its complaint and re-submit, but for now, it’s a clear victory for Facebook, which would dearly like to keep subsidiary brands such as Instagram under its corporate umbrella. After the ruling was announced, the value of Facebook shares jumped, with the company’s market capitalization surpassing $1 trillion.

Wally Funk Heads to Space 

In 1961, professional aviator Mary Wallace “Wally” Funk was invited into a “Women in Space” program, joining 12 other women pilots in a group known as the “Mercury 13.” Although she scored well, the program was canceled, and she never had the opportunity to go into space. 

Now Funk is getting a chance to launch to orbit on the first Blue Origin rocket liftoff, along with Amazon (and Blue Origin CEO) Jeff Bezos. We’re excited to have you fly with us on July 20th as our honored guest,” Bezos wrote in an Instagram post. For Funk, it’s a lifelong dream realized.

Have a great weekend, everyone!