Election hero: postal workers


November 4, 2020

PLUS: Take a breath.
November 4, 2020
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The Big Idea
USPS truck

America’s postal workers did an insane amount of work for the election

We need to give props where props are due: America’s postal workers have been grinding.

In the lead-up to yesterday’s election, 90m+ voters had received mail-in ballots, with 60m already returning their votes before Election Day.

In a recent profile, the New York Times highlighted the incredible challenges facing US Postal Service (USPS) workers to keep the gears of democracy turning.

It has been a ridiculously hard year

The USPS is one of America’s largest employers, with a workforce of nearly 500k career employees. Few government employees are more visible than the postal worker.

As the organization’s (unofficial) motto goes, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” keeps postal workers from delivering mail.

This year, they’ve added “international pandemic” to the mix. To date, at least 101 postal workers have died from COVID-19.

Over the summer, the newly installed postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, “moved to curtail overtime and get rid of sorting equipment” only to backtrack after public outcry.

Implementing “extraordinary measures” for the election

Per the NYT, the typical process for mail-in ballots is as follows:

  1. It’s dropped in blue box or handed to carrier
  2. It’s usually separated from regular mail
  3. It’s taken to a plant and sorted
  4. It’s delivered to the nearest election office

A week and a day out from the election, the USPS began expediting mail-in ballots, “taking them straight to local election offices and even delivering them on Sundays if need be.”

All logistics were further complicated by different state-by-state rules, making a 12-16 hour workday standard for employees.

The politicization of the process

While one postal worker says they’re treating mail “like gold,” the current administration’s attempt to discredit mail-in votes has led some voters to question the process.

“Postal workers bristle at the accusation that they might be mishandling citizens’ ballots,” writes the NYT. “Their mandate is to uphold what they call their universal service obligation, a commitment to deliver mail to and from every part of America.”

For tens of millions of voters, they’ve done just that.

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Snippets
  • Ant Group is postponing a record $35B IPO as Chinese regulators have questions. Alibaba — which spun out Ant and is a major shareholder — lost ~$60B of value on the news.
  • Silicon Valley is poaching Hollywood talent…not the actors though, but the visual artists in an effort to help Big Tech build out their virtual worlds.
  • I’m not saying no: Walmart and Comcast are in talks to make a SmartTV. Comcast wants to offset declining subs while Walmart is…throwing spaghetti at the wall?
  • REEF Technology (somehow not a cannabis company) raised $700m for its parking lot technology.
  • Lets go, Science! it’s possible to thread electrodes through your veins to connect your brain to a computer.
 
Hiring rules
visa graphic

The new H-1B rules make finding talent a lot harder for startups

In almost any other context, in any other month, we’d be spending a lot of time talking about H-1B visas.

But alas…

In the run-up to yesterday’s election, lost in the fray were new regulations that dramatically altered the hiring landscape for foreign workers by US companies.

Despite having the most innocuous name possible, the H-1B visa program enables US employers to hire foreigners, who have come to represent a critical part of their workforce.

What’s changed? Minimum salaries

For the thousands of jobs covered under the H-1B program, each comes with a minimum salary that stipulates what a foreign worker must be paid to qualify.

Rule changes announced in October will increase the minimum salaries to qualify:

  • For a junior programmer, the salary requirement will jump from $78k to $112k.
  • For a senior info security analyst, from ~150k to ~$200k.

In fact, a number of these positions require a salary of at least $208k.

The implications for hiring are huge

United States tech companies rely on the H-1B program to bring in coveted foreign workers, particularly engineers.

Supporters of the new rules say they protect American jobs from relatively cheap foreign labor.

Either way, startups will likely take a hit. These new businesses typically offer lower salaries but make up for it with equity incentives to recruit talent.

Under the new rules, however, only base compensation counts toward the salary requirements. Bottom line — hiring foreign workers will simply become too expensive for many companies.

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lunch gif

Were you a schoolyard deal-maker?

Before we had the hard cash to buy our own stuff, most of us engaged in a little schoolyard bartering.

As kids, we traded Charizards for Blastoises, swapped gel pens for cool stickers, and negotiated highly subjective deals for marbles and pogs.

“I’ll trade you my Gushers for your Dunkaroos!” was the soundtrack of many a ’90s-era 5th-grade lunch period.

The Hustle wants to hear your best (and worst) childhood trade stories. Have 60 seconds? Take our short survey here.

Gaming
game controller

This gaming startup just rode the quarantine gaming wave to a $3.3B valuation

Put your hand up if you have gamed to relieve 2020 stress.

You’re not alone.

According to NPD Group, 244m people in the US play video games, and the average gaming time is 14 hours/week (up from 12 hours/week in 2018).

Against the backdrop of these massive engagement numbers, LA-based game studio Scopely just raised $340m at a $3.3B valuation, per TechCrunch.

A different approach from other gaming giants

Unity and Epic Games — the makers of popular gaming engines that power most of the industry — have been the buzziest names in 2020.

Scopely, meanwhile, doesn’t create tools for other gaming companies at all. Rather, it is a vertically integrated studio completely focused on creating or acquiring its own intellectual property (IP).

Its gaming portfolio includes some sexy names like MARVEL Strike Force, Star Trek Fleet Command, Scrabble GO, and YAHTZEE with Buddies (eh, not so sexy).

While these titles look random, Scopely has a strategy…

… the company focuses on strong interactive and social experiences.

One supporting data point: Scopely users spend an average of 80 minutes/day across the catalogue.

(Another data point: I once spent 80 minutes arguing with a friend about whether “qi” is in the Scrabble dictionary. Unfortunately, it is.)

With the loot, Scopely will continue to pick up IP in preparation for a potential IPO. Perfect, even more games to distract us from what will surely be interesting weeks and months to come.

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The Hustle Says

A whopping 1 in 2 people won’t return to jobs that don’t offer remote work after Covid-19. Get all the juicy details on how work has changed this year with Owl Labs’ State of Remote Work 2020 report.*

A multi-billion dollar business with 54% margins. A subreddit skyrocketing to over 1m subscribers. An unlikely market growing from $58B to 78B by 2023. What do these all have in common? You can find them at Trends. Give Trends a whirl.

Lunya’s Washable Silk Sets will blow your favorite sweatpants out of the water. They’re shockingly soft, naturally thermoregulating, and totally washable. See for yourself right here.*

Tacopedia is the only book you’ll ever need. That’s because it’s the 

only one that covers, like, every taco recipe ever (sorry Tolstoy, but “War & Peace” can’t hold a candle to cheese). 

Struggling with low engagement for your online events? We partnered with Marketo on this webinar — it’s a masterclass on how to run killer virtual events.*

*This is a sponsored post.

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Today’s email was brought to you by @TrungTPhan.
Editing by: Zachary “The day after” Crockett, Pete Shedille (Staff Urologist II).

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