Shannon Bond | WAMC

Shannon Bond

Shannon Bond is a business correspondent at NPR, covering technology and how Silicon Valley's biggest companies are transforming how we live, work and communicate.

Bond joined NPR in September 2019. She previously spent 11 years as a reporter and editor at the Financial Times in New York and San Francisco. At the FT, she covered subjects ranging from the media, beverage and tobacco industries to the Occupy Wall Street protests, student debt, New York City politics and emerging markets. She also co-hosted the FT's award-winning podcast, Alphachat, about business and economics.

Bond has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School and a bachelor's degree in psychology and religion from Columbia University. She grew up in Washington, D.C., but is enjoying life as a transplant to the West Coast.

Kim Timko used to rely on Rent The Runway for dresses for weddings and parties, outfits for date nights, and professional clothes for her job as a lawyer in New York. She says the clothing-rental service is "a nice way to have expensive clothes without having to buy."

But weddings have been postponed, parties canceled, and Timko is working from home during the coronavirus pandemic. Like many others, she has put her Rent The Runway subscription on hold. She may even cancel it.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he expects half of the tech giant's 48,000 employees to be working remotely in the next five to 10 years as part of a major shift in how the company operates.

The company plans to begin "aggressively" hiring remote workers, and it will soon allow some current employees to apply to work remotely on a permanent basis, the CEO said in a livestreamed meeting with staff Thursday.

Facebook is making a big push into online shopping by letting businesses set up free storefronts on its social network and Instagram.

Businesses can feature items in their shops, advertise them to users, and communicate with customers through the company's messaging services. Shops will eventually be integrated across Facebook's apps, including WhatsApp and Messenger.

Music is jazz composer Michael O'Dell's passion, but it doesn't pay the bills. So he drives for Lyft and Uber in Columbus, Ohio.

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, demand for rides has fallen so much, he says, that on many days he can't get enough business to make it worth getting in the car.

Uber is laying off another 3,000 employees as it tries to weather the damage to its business from the coronavirus pandemic.

The layoffs come less than two weeks after the company cut 3,700 jobs and said it would eliminate $1 billion in costs this year.

When Vern Dosch heard that Apple and Google had teamed up to develop smartphone technology to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, he was excited.

The last time you were in your office, who did you walk past in the lobby? Stand next to in the elevator? Chat with in the kitchen?

You're not alone if you can't remember each of those encounters. But that is exactly the sort of information employers want to have on hand, in case an employee catches the coronavirus.

Uber is cutting 3,700 jobs — about 14% of its corporate workforce — as demand for ride-hailing has dried up during the coronavirus pandemic.

The layoffs affect people who do customer support and recruiting, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told employees in an email seen by NPR. He said work for those departments had dried up as trip volumes dropped "significantly" and the company instituted a hiring freeze.

"Days like this are brutal," he wrote.

The state of California is suing Uber and Lyft for classifying their drivers as contractors instead of employees. The lawsuit is the first major test of a new state law intended to give gig workers more labor protections, including access to employer-sponsored health insurance.

Lyft is laying off 982 employees — 17% of its workforce — as it tries to reduce costs amid plummeting demand for rides. It is furloughing hundreds more workers, and cutting pay.

For grocery delivery worker Willy Solis, the last straw came when the app Shipt changed his pay — in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

It wasn't the first time that Shipt, owned by Target, had tinkered with that formula. Solis had complained about smaller paychecks and lack of pay transparency. But now he and others like him were putting their health on the line to do their work. Solis decided he had to take action. From his home in Denton, Texas, he logged on to Facebook and started organizing a nationwide walkout.

Facebook is rolling out a video-call competitor to Zoom, aimed at groups of up to 50 people.

The new feature, called Messenger Rooms, allows anyone with a Facebook account to create a video meeting and invite their friends to join, even if those people are not Facebook users.

Video conferencing has become a staple for many people stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic. It's how they keep up with work, school, family, friends and activities.

Jerome Gage is one of those rare Lyft drivers still on the road these days, mask securely in place. He says that surprises some passengers.

"It's kind of like the cliché of a Christmas shopper going into Macy's at like 3 a.m. on Black Friday and saying, 'Wow, they have you working?' " he said. "Yeah, I'm working because people need us. They don't want to rely on public transportation.''

Many Lyft and Uber drivers have given up on driving, because they aren't making enough money to take the risk of potentially exposing themselves to the virus.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

Dennis Johnson was just trying to defend his dissertation — the last step in getting his doctorate in education — in front of a virtual audience of friends and family.

Instead, he became the face of "Zoombombing," a new form of online harassment, when an unknown intruder interrupted his Zoom video conference by drawing genitalia and writing racial slurs on screen.

Facebook is canceling gatherings of more than 50 people through June 2021 and taking a slow approach to letting employees return to the office, as the social network looks toward the next phase of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Guidance from health experts is that it won't be advisable to have large groups of people get together for a while," CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday. He said some of the events that Facebook had planned will be moved online.

In a new move to stop the spread of dangerous and false information about the coronavirus, Facebook will start telling people when they've interacted with posts about bogus cures, hoaxes and other false claims.

Updated at 6:25 p.m. ET

Tech giants Apple and Google are teaming up to create a system that would let smartphone users know when they've come into contact with someone who has COVID-19.

The technology would rely on the Bluetooth signals that smartphones can both send out and receive. If a person tests positive for COVID-19, they could notify public health authorities through an app. Those public health apps would then alert anyone whose smartphones had come near the infected person's phone in the prior 14 days.

A civil rights group is demanding that Zoom do more to stop harassment on its video-conferencing platform.

Color Of Change, a nonprofit that advocates for racial equality, is meeting on Friday with Zoom's global risk and compliance officer, Lynn Haaland, NPR has learned. The group plans to raise concerns over a rise in "Zoombombing" attacks involving racist slurs and hate speech.

Almost everyone knows each other in Camp Hill, Pa., a cozy little community of about 7,500 people near Harrisburg.

But like many places across the country, Camp Hill is on lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic. So last week, Leigh Twiford, president of the local borough council, held an online town hall using a Zoom video conference.

Updated at 3:44 p.m. ET

The CEO and founder of the newly popular video conferencing service Zoom says he'll make his product harder to use, if it improves safety and security.

Zoom has taken off during the coronavirus pandemic thanks to how easy it is to join a virtual meeting on the platform by clicking on a single link.

But now Eric Yuan says, "When it comes to a conflict between usability and privacy and security, privacy and security [are] more important – even at the cost of multiple clicks."

April McGhee and her teenage daughter started feeling sick last month. They had coughs, sore throats and fevers. Her daughter's condition became so bad that they went to the emergency room.

"She had it worse than I did," McGhee said. "Her cough lasted longer. It was really a concern. ... It was like a dry, nonproductive, hacking cough."

McGhee, who lives in Sacramento, wanted both of them to get tested for the coronavirus. But the hospital told her they weren't sick enough to qualify for testing under California's rules. So, they went home and into isolation.

A powerful Senate Democrat is asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Zoom for deceptive practices, adding to the growing chorus of concerns over the popular video chat software's privacy and security flaws.

Several state attorneys general are also probing Zoom, after users, including government officials, reported harassment, known as "Zoombombing," on the platform.

Updated at 11:22 a.m. ET

Dennis Johnson fell victim last week to a new form of harassment known as "Zoombombing," in which intruders hijack video calls and post hate speech and offensive images such as pornography. It's a phenomenon so alarming that the FBI has issued a warning about using Zoom.

Like many people these days, Johnson is doing a lot of things over the Internet that he would normally do in person. Last week, he defended his doctoral dissertation in a Zoom videoconference.

Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are relying more heavily on automated systems to flag content that violate their rules, as tech workers were sent home to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Updated at 6:01 p.m. ET

Some Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island, N.Y., and Instacart's grocery delivery workers nationwide walked off their jobs on Monday. They are demanding stepped-up protection and pay as they continue to work while much of the country is asked to isolate as a safeguard against the coronavirus.

With very few people booking Airbnbs or taking Uber rides right now, millions of people in the gig economy are seeing their livelihoods abruptly upended.

Take Ed Bell, in San Francisco, who rents out his in-law suite on Airbnb. That is his main source of income — he calls it his "gig" — supplemented by "side hustles" doing consulting work.

Updated at 5:49 p.m. ET

More people are shifting to the digital world as life outside the home is put on hold. That's putting a lot of pressure on companies to keep connections up when all their employees are trying to telework at the same time. It's also posing challenges for Internet video conferencing services.

In South Korea and Italy in recent weeks, people stuck in their homes are using the Internet a lot more.

Uber is pausing its pool service, and Lyft is suspending its shared rides feature in the United States and Canada in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Those services let passengers headed in the same direction carpool in exchange for cheaper fares.

But as cities tell people to avoid nonessential travel and stay at least 6 feet away from one another, Uber and Lyft say they are supporting public health guidance.

Joe Renice noticed things were different last week in downtown San Francisco.

"I was driving around the financial district for 3 1/2 hours. I got one ride," he said.

Renice is an Uber driver and normally spends a good chunk of his day ferrying tech workers and tourists around the city.

Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft are telling employees in the Seattle area to work from home as the business world tries to reduce risks from the spreading coronavirus outbreak.

Facebook said a contractor in one of its Seattle offices had been diagnosed with the disease caused by the virus. The worker was last in the office on Feb. 21, and Facebook has closed the office until March 9. The company is encouraging all employees in Seattle to work from home through the end of the month.

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