1. Microsoft’s $500M Investment
Microsoft announced they will invest $500M, the biggest pledge in their history, to create affordable housing in the Seattle area. As tech giants have moved into the city, housing prices have skyrocketed, and large companies have felt pressure to do something about it. Half a year ago, Seattle City Council attempted to solve this issue by passing a head tax which would’ve made companies spend $275 in tax for each employee they hired. Amazon played a big part in preventing this tax, though companies have taken matters into their own hands. Amazon has invested in homeless shelters and the affordable housing trust fund, while Google and Facebook plan to include affordable housing in apartments they’re developing, and Microsoft plans to make this huge investment within the next 3 years. What exactly will Microsoft’s money go toward? $250M will go toward market-rate loans for building affordable housing, $225M will help develop and preserve middle-income housing, and the last $25M will be granted to services that help the homeless. Supporting Seattle’s community will help Microsoft too. “Of course, we have lots of software engineers, but the reality is that a lot of people work for Microsoft. Cafeteria workers, shuttle drivers,” says Satya Nadella, chief executive at Microsoft. What goes around comes around.
2. Nike Launches Self-Lacing Sneaker
Basketball players can now pay $350 for a shoe that automatically adapts to their feet. The Nike Adapt BB shoe laces itself according to foot size. Players can use the Nike app to loosen or tighten their shoes during a game when they take a timeout or if their foot swells after a play. Players can choose to opt into the firmware, FidAdapt Technology, which will provide a more precise fit and technology updates over time. How has Nike moved into the tech space? In 2016, Nike released a Mag sneaker, modeled after the shoe in Back to The Future II, which used HyperAdapt 1.0 technology. The shoe cost $270 and was only sold to a niche market, while the Adapt BB will go on sale to the public on Feb. 15th. Wearing the Adapt BB shoe is “like having two smartphones strapped to your two feet,” said Michael Martin, Nike’s global head of digital products. In fact, the Bluetooth-enabled shoe includes a lot of technology used in a smartphone and requires charging as well. Even the Nike shopping experience is “going smart” as customers who browse flagship stores must download the Nike app to get the full experience. “It’s the start of a new day,” said Michael Donaghu, Nike’s director of global footwear innovation. “It’s like we’re moving from footwear to firmware.”
3. Gillette Ad Raises Controversy
Gillette recently released a controversial ad addressing “toxic masculinity.” The 2-minute-long spot, titled “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be,” brings up the #MeToo movement, sexual harassment, and bullying. Some viewers love it, while others hate it. Many people expressed that the ad made them tear up, like TV producer Emily Andras who said that the ad was exploitative but also brave.
However, many men feel wrongfully attacked by the ad and are joining the #giletteboycott.
What does Gillette have to say about the controversial response?
“We expected debate. Actually, a discussion is necessary. If we don’t discuss and don’t talk about it, I don’t think real change will happen,” said Pankaj Bhalla, Gillette’s North America brand director. Gillette also plans to donate $1M per year for the next 3 years to non-profits, such as The Boys & Girls Clubs of America, that help men to “achieve their personal best.” The ad drove a spike in sales, and Gillette believes “brand-building also means taking a stand on important societal issues, controversial as they may be,” according to a Gillette spokesperson. Looks like Gillette will stand firm on this campaign, even if they get some razor burn.