February 22, 2019
Tech CEOs have plenty of reasons to worry about public attention these days, but usually not during their big product events. Tim Cook tends to be giddy when he opens the Apple Event each September. Facebook still makes a big deal about F8, where Mark Zuckerberg once gave everyone in the audience an Oculus VR headset to wear as he walked past them unseen. These events are moments for celebration, not hyperscrutiny: Tech writers who focus on gear scramble to keep up with all the exciting new announcements that gadget-buyers want to get the scoop on.
Microsoft Workers Say the Company Is War Profiteering, and They’ve Timed Their Protest to Hurt
But when Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella takes the stage at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, this weekend to unveil the new augmented reality headset HoloLens 2, he may have a worry on his mind: Many of his employees are outraged over a $479 million contract the company inked last November with the U.S. military to use the new HoloLens in a platform that “provides increased lethality, mobility, and situational awareness necessary to achieve overmatch against our current and future adversaries.” On Friday, Microsoft employees sent a letter to Nadella and Microsoft President Brad Smith saying that they “refuse to create technology for warfare and oppression” and demanding that Microsoft cancel the contract and stop developing weapons technologies going forward. More than 50 employees have signed the document so far.
If your goal is to sell lots of HoloLens devices to consumers and companies, the timing of this employee letter stings. No one wants to discuss military contracts while making a pitch at Mobile World Congress. Attempting to force such conversations during a new product launch suggests that tech workers concerned about their employers’ activities have another lever to pull.
The last year has seen a growing cadre of tech employees engaging in collective action to force large technology companies to act more ethically. Perhaps most famously, there were the Google employees who walked out to demand an end to forced arbitration for workers who experience sexual harassment or discrimination at the company—a movement that culminated, this week, with Google announcing it is ending the practice for all employees. By sharing this letter right before a major product event, with a very specific illustration of how HoloLens tech is being sold for military purposes, employees are showing they’re willing to undermine the celebratory moments for the company. It’s a strategy that’s riskier for them, but potentially more painful for their bosses, too.
This goes a step further than presenting a letter or internal petition to management, though that can certainly work. Google, for example, ended a Department of Defense contract to build artificial intelligence for drone technology after employee outcry. By voicing similar demands in advance of one of the biggest international tech conferences of the year, Microsoft employees are politicizing the company’s narrative about a cool new product. It’s not quite the same as a dropping a banner or chanting while their boss has the mic, but it does generate press, and it could complicate the decision for some new customers and firms to buy in.
This isn’t the first time Microsoft employees have demanded their employer terminate contracts with U.S. government agencies doing work they found appalling. In June of last year, more than 100 employees signed an open letter to Nadella demanding Microsoft stop working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement over the Trump administration’s family separation policy at the border. By July, 500 employees had signed on. Microsoft responded by saying that it’s not aware that the services it provides to ICE are being used to separate families at the border, adding that the company is “dismayed by the forcible separation of children from their families.” But the contracts were never terminated.
This time, however, Microsoft can’t say it doesn’t know how its tech is being used. The contract the company signed with the military makes it clear that the HoloLens will help “increase lethality.” As the letter from Microsoft employees argues, “as employees and shareholders, we do not want to become war profiteers.” Their point is they don’t want to build tech that they thought would be used for more humane purposes, like helping doctors perform surgery or architects design buildings, to end up also inside platforms that assist in killing people. Pointing out all of this during a major, global product announcement doesn’t only make the technology feel toxic to potential customers—it could make working on such technology toxic to future prospective workers at Microsoft, too. And losing talent is a lot more painful for Microsoft than selling fewer AR sets.
Related Stories
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Jenna Dewan: Channing Tatum ‘wasn’t available’ after I gave birth to Everly | Page Six
August 03, 2021
pkS5yBjVI08
Top 5 reasons you need to watch 'The Real Housewives of Potomac' | Page Six Celebrity News
August 02, 2021
lJmuiwtEdt4
Kit Harington ‘really happy’ he went to rehab after ‘Game of Thrones’ | Page Six Celebrity News
August 02, 2021
4JOAMOzRsFc
"Bachelorette" Break Up, Kim's Resting Beach Face & Diddy Trolling Bennifer?
August 03, 2021
ZXexBepqk7o
"So Freakin’ Cheap" Secrets, "Love After Lockup" Drama & More
August 03, 2021
S6GDu1pwwkI
Netflix's "Vivo" Official Trailer
August 03, 2021
qF7nTbMDC8A
'Cake Boss' Buddy Valastro Says Gigi Hadid Cried When They Met | TMZ
August 03, 2021
DnU3OXF-s8U
The Weeknd is Sober ... Kind of |TMZ TV
August 03, 2021
pJADE39u87M
Britney Spears Befriends a Pig While Vacationing in Hawaii | TMZ TV
August 03, 2021
2xmdCOFolo0
Jennifer Hudson's Favorite Aretha Franklin Performances
August 04, 2021
c5h-QOlBaxw
Terry Crews - Hollywood Walk of Fame Ceremony - Live Stream
July 30, 2021
VbmVHAEBz-w
Comcast's Q2 Beats Wall Street's Expectations
July 29, 2021
401AYi2eNCc
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
19
Nov
ASIAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group H
Sydney FC - Shanghai SIPG
17
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Spain - Germany
14
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Germany - Ukraine
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Liverpool
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Aston Villa
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Valencia - Real Madrid
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Verona
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Bromwich Albion - Tottenham Hotspur
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Bologna - Napoli
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Genoa - Roma
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Atalanta - Inter Milan
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Lazio - Juventus
08
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Bayer Leverkusen - Borussia Monchengladbach
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leicester City - Wolves
08
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Wolfsburg - Hoffenheim
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Valladolid - Athletic Bilbao
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Levante - Alaves
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Sociedad - Granada CF
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Torino - Crotone
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Getafe - Villarreal
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund - Bayern Munich
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Everton - Manchester United
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Chelsea - Sheffield United
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Atletico Madrid - Cadiz
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Real Betis
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Augsburg - Hertha Berlin
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Stuttgart - Eintracht Frankfurt
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
RB Leipzig - SC Freiburg
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Rotherham - Preston NE
07
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Parma - Fiorentina
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Watford - Coventry
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Norwich City - Swansea City
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Blackburn - QPR
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Derby County - Barnsley
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Huddersfield - Luton
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Nottingham Forest - Wycombe Wanderers
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Ham United - Fulham
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Sheffield Wednesday - Millwall
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Brentford - Middlesbrough
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Birmingham - Bournemouth
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Sevilla - Osasuna
07
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Benevento - Spezia
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Crystal Palace - Leeds
04
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group G
Ferencvaros - Juventus
04
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group G
Barcelona - Dynamo K.
03
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group A
Salzburg - Bayern Munich
03
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group D
Atalanta - Liverpool
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
zWJ3MxW_HWA L1eLanNeZKg i1XRgbyUtOo -g9Qziqbif8 0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.