Dear Sophie: Would a Trump win abolish the H-1B visa lottery?

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Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

Extra Crunch members receive access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.


Dear Sophie:

I heard the randomness of the H-1B lottery is going away. What will this mean for our startup’s ability to get an H-1B visa for one of our co-founders?

— Curious in Cupertino

Dear Curious:

Lots going on in immigration this week (as usual!). First, good news for green card applicants: the November 2020 Visa Bulletin did not change from October, when the dates for filing for Adjustment of Status sped up significantly for individuals born in India and China.

About the H-1B lottery: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), this week proposed a rule that ends the random H-1B lottery; instead, USCIS will determine who can apply for an H-1B visa based on the highest salary. DHS says this change will “incentivize employers to offer higher wages.”

The number of H-1B visas issued each year is capped at 85,000. Currently, when demand for H-1Bs outstrips the annual supply, which has been the case since 2013, USCIS uses an electronic random lottery to determine who can apply for an H-1B. For the first time this year, sponsoring companies electronically registered each H-1B candidate for the lottery in March.

In the ‘buy now, pay later’ wars, PayPal is primed for dominance

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The COVID-19 pandemic has already dramatically reshaped how Americans shop, with e-commerce expected to grow 20% in 2020 as a greater proportion of users shift from in-store to online. Due to this transition to greater online shopping coupled with the increased financial uncertainty of the American public, Button expects that COVID-19 will also reshape how Americans pay for their shopping with a similarly dramatic increase in adoption of “buy now, pay later” payment programs (BNPL) at checkout.

The greatest limitation to BNPL adoption is its availability, i.e., whether the retailer offers its customers a BNPL program. Offering such a program in the checkout flow doesn’t happen with the flip of a switch. It requires a direct integration into the retailer’s point-of-sale system, which is an onerous process and a meaningful moat for providers in place. Leaders in the BNPL field include Klarna, Affirm, Afterpay and Quadpay — and PayPal made a major announcement in August that it would begin offering BNPL services.

In anticipation of this season’s increased adoption of BNPL, mobile commerce platform Button examined our marketplace to understand the current state of affairs as it relates to BNPL — how many retailers feature BNPL programs, which programs are most prevalent and how often do the BNPL programs compete head-to-head.

Using Button’s Commerce Intelligence, we analyzed the payment method used by consumers in our marketplace over the past 90 days. We reviewed nearly 500,000 transactions across more than 300 retailers. Key highlights included:

  • Of nearly 500,000 transactions, Button observed five available alternative payment solutions: Afterpay, Affirm, Klarna, QuadPay and PayPal. While PayPal’s payment option is not exclusively a BNPL option like the others, we included it in this analysis to highlight the significant foundation upon which it can build its BNPL program relative to its competitors.
  • PayPal had the greatest retailer coverage with a presence of 65% retailers. Afterpay was a distant second at 10%, then Affirm 6%, Klarna 5% and QuadPay 2%.

It’s difficult to step out of PayPal’s shadow … the other payment solutions had the following overlap with PayPal of their respective retailer inventory: Klarna (87%), Affirm (80%), AfterPay (77%) and QuadPay (60%).

Twitter’s API access changes are chasing away third-party developers

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On August 12, Twitter launched a complete rebuild of its 2012 API, with new endpoints for data collection, new access levels and a new developer portal. Notably, the version 2 API was presented as a step in mending the notoriously fractious relationship between Twitter and its third-party developer community.

Improvements for third-party developers, however, arrived with hints of irony leaving many startup CEOs in the ecosystem unconvinced. Within 35 days of the v2 launch, Twint, a popular data scraping tool for researchers and journalists, stopped working. Twint is the latest casualty in a long string of third-party applications, including Tweetbot, Twitpic and numerous others that have shut down as a result of Twitter’s API restrictions.

“It may be time to get into another game,” says Ben Strick, a BBC investigator specializing in Twitter analytics.

“The game has already changed,” adds Tim Barker, the former CEO of DataSift, who explained that there is rightful skepticism over improvements in Twitter’s treatment of third-party applications. From a purely business standpoint, once Twitter directly entered the data analytics market after its 2014 acquisition of Gnip, it wanted limited players and no longer a competing ecosystem. Under increased public scrutiny of social media platforms post-Cambridge Analytica, Twitter also prioritized guarding its platform’s image, hoping to ward off increased regulation of its data.

“You can look on Crunchbase, but I can guarantee no one is in their bedroom starting a Twitter-centric startup anymore,” says Barker.

The most glaring evidence of Twitter tightening access to its data are massive hikes in pricing, which have pushed several startups out of the market. “In the early days,” Barker explains, “the pricing of Twitter data was volume based, as they were building an economy and an ecosystem.” But once that market matured and was funded by venture capitalists, Twitter was a post-IPO company that saw an opportunity to churn profits.

According to Stuart Shulman, CEO of Texifter, the market price of high-quality metadata for 100,000 tweets in 2011 was around $25-$50 USD. Today, Twitter estimates for the same quantity of data could potentially cost tens of thousands of dollars.

In 2018, Texifter (customer #9 of Gnip) failed to renew its eighth annual agreement for premium Twitter data. During annual contract renegotiations, Twitter sharply increased prices and imposed increasingly stringent regulations, including a quota on the amount of data Texifter could license access to. In Shulman’s words, “Twitter made it mathematically impossible to turn a profit.”

We need new business models to burst old media filter bubbles

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Access to information in the United States is fragmenting along social lines. This goes beyond the fuzzy, qualitative feeling many of us have that people can’t agree on key issues anymore — data show that people are increasingly breaking into disconnected ideological camps. While this is commonly viewed as a left/right issue, the reality is much more pernicious: It is a rich/poor issue.

Americans today are exposed to fundamentally different facts based on their news sources. Data are often arranged to fit narratives rather than the other way around. This effect spans the political spectrum: It is as relevant to The New York Times as it is to Fox News. One of the contributors to this information split is the rise of site-wide paywalls, which divide access to information along socio-economic lines.

As one magazine editor eloquently puts it, “The truth is paywalled but the lies are free.”

It’s time for us to think critically about how we can build business models that reunite information bubbles, so that people consistently get access to all sides of the story.

Ringing the division bell

Media polarization is not a new phenomenon. Studies have shown for over a decade that, when it comes to news, people have been dividing themselves into information camps. Social media platforms — quickly replacing publishers as the “front end” of news — act as an accelerant, using likes and reads to pattern-match content to readers. However, these studies often address the left-right split; little is said about the more fundamental difference in beliefs driven by a difference in ability and willingness to pay for news.

The pivot by major publishers to erect site-wide paywalls is a recent phenomenon, an answer to the “grand ad-supported content bargain.” These paywalls have grown in popularity, driving people to subscriptions as an alternative to ads revenue. In doing so, they have undoubtedly helped stem (and maybe reverse?) the decline in news revenues driven by the internet.

How bad has this decline been? Just see this OECD visualization of how circulation, titles and revenues have dropped over time.

As Rupert Murdoch said, “… sometimes rivers dry up.” From 2007-2009 alone, the U.S. saw a 30% decline in newspaper publishing. Staff layoffs have become the norm for smaller and midmarket news services, which find themselves driven to consolidate into larger news orgs in order to bring down prices and expand the reach necessary to attract ad spend.

The message is clear: If people want to continue consuming news, they and media companies need to work together to develop a business model that can support it. Yet, as news bookmarking service favor.it notes, “There is now a real cost to the user associated with acquiring accurate, insightful and well-produced news. [ … ] Exacerbating the problem is the fact that there is now serious competition to real news. Free, less-reliable news sources and aggregators that can push articles into a [F]acebook Newstream that go viral in a matter of seconds whether they are completely true, or properly researched, or not.” The data bear this out: an MIT study across 126,000 stories found that fake stories proliferate on average 6x quicker than true ones.

The new iron curtains

Across six European countries and the United States, the average price for paywalled news is about $15.75 per month. In a time where half of Americans are working low-wage jobs and many are experiencing a severe savings crisis, most don’t have the available funds to shell out for a $15 monthly news subscription — much less a subscription for each outlet they want to access. Free news and clickbait headlines on social media, much like fast food, are the easiest and most freely available options to a swathe of people who have neither the resources nor the energy to do the fact-checking for themselves.

A perennial suggestion is that outlets syndicate their content into a “Netflix for news” bundle. Indeed, aggregator initiatives like Apple News have grown to over 100 million users. Yet this still doesn’t solve a fundamental problem, which is that, in an age of instantly available free online media, most people are not willing to pay even for bundled news.

As Don Richard, senior PM at Shopify, puts it, “I just don’t think the mass appeal for a text-content bundle is as high as many tech folks believe it is [ … ] most people view text content as a less-valuable medium than TV and music  —  valuable being defined as worth paying for based on your personal needs and preferences. And when people have other expenses they have to pay for, paying for a text-content bundle will be hard to justify. Since a text-content bundle doesn’t exist today, the money for a text-content bundle has to come from somewhere else in the monthly budget for most people. That means the bundle price has to take share-of-wallet over something else. Basic needs (food, shelter, utilities) aren’t being reduced for a text-content bundle.”

So we end up with two fundamentally different types of media: On the one hand, free media, supported by independent journalists, freelancers and threadbare content teams; on the other, paywalled media, supported by more robust fact-checking teams and editors. As Robinson puts it, “It costs time and money to access a lot of true and important information, while a lot of bullshit is completely free.”

Coming back to the accelerating polarization of the American public, this media divide is not without consequence. People can always reasonably disagree about beliefs and ideas, so long as they have the shared context of facts. They cannot have productive debates if the facts are in-question.

This is where claims of “fake news” originate: Dividing the world into free facts versus paywalled facts means we are increasingly talking past each other. As favor.it puts it, we’re “moving toward a situation where there will be haves and have-nots in the very critical area of having basic, accurate information about what is going on in the world.”

Where do we go from here?

It is clear that the internet media model predicated on paywalls needs to be revisited due to these shortcomings. But what are the alternatives? Targeted ads have been shown to have their own disadvantages and provoke reader ire.

While this is not a comprehensive answer, here are a few suggestions:

Free facts, upsold details. Pull the key facts out of news stories and make them freely available to people, upselling the deeper and richer storylines. TechCrunch has found an elegant middle-ground of this format: The core news stories on the website are free, while the value-added analysis, investigative deep-dives and richer opinion content are available to subscribers.

The New Paper is another, newer service experimenting with a condensed version of news headlines to combat newsletter and information fatigue (albeit one that still plans to charge $5 monthly). This is something being spearheaded by the rise of platforms like Substack today for independent journalists; content producers with a good following or smart coverage can create self-sustaining businesses.

Could newspapers take a page from Scandinavian ticketing practices and charge based on income? A tiered subscription price adjusted to payroll could allow wealthier readers to create a public good for poorer ones.

Yet, when people pay for news, they should not just be paying for stories — they should be paying for the knowledge that an army of editors, fact-checkers and investigative journalists uncovered the truth behind a story. That is a good that Substack likely cannot provide.

Develop a publicly available, consensus-driven score for fact-based news outlets and prioritize this score in algorithms. The way we access information has changed; aggregators now sit at the top of the news funnel. This has created a significant user surplus — people are able to locate information by story, without being constrained by outlet. However, it has also created an ad-revenue-driven model that prioritizes unique views, which are in turn driven by people’s search for sensationalism and confirmation bias in media. Search engines, social media platforms, and aggregators should come together to develop a public, transparent scoring mechanism for information quality in news and implement that to drive more viewers to more trustworthy sources. An independent rating for factuality that becomes a key input into search and social rankings could significantly help curb the virality of fake news stories, but it would need to take into account the sometimes long half-life of the truth.

Public initiatives. The government needs to re-enter the business of protecting the quality of journalism.

One step is for the FCC to reintroduce the Fairness Doctrine, which required journalists to represent both sides of a given story.

Another is to increase funding for public news sources of all stripes: liberal, conservative, etc., and for those sources to submit to routine information quality audits. Every area in which we’ve taken public institutions and allowed people to pay their way out of the default option — healthcare, education — has led to wild underinvestment in the public option; news is no different.

The library model is surprisingly effective for those who select it as an option: well-funded and maintained public libraries still provide an amazing, information-rich resource to those who avail of their services. Digitizing library resources and allocating partial budget to make information not just available, but also surfaced at the right contextual moment could combat misinformation.

A last option would be to implement information quality scores, similar to public health and safety standards. A score could be as simple as an A-F grade on a restaurant or a calorie count on a fast food menu.

Micropayments and stories a la carte. As long as news media has been dealing with internet-related pressure, technologists have proposed micropayments as the answer. The desire to read an individual news story is stochastic, while media subscriptions are continuous. Few people, myself included, have the willingness to submit to a monthly or annual news subscription just to access the content in one article. Publishers should offer individual stories, sold in exchange for micropayments of, for example, $0.10 per story (10x the payout of some publishers to their content creators). Digital wallets embedded into browsers (see Metamask and Brave Browser as examples) can support these micropayments fluidly, either with opt-ins for each story or working in the background, to allow readers to move seamlessly around the internet, so that readers aren’t asked to pay for each story. As futurist Jaron Lanier noted 10 years ago, “Digital technology … unsettled the so-called ‘creative class’ — journalists, musicians, photographers” when access to information became free; micropayments (and royalties) could help rebuild that class of jobs. With that said, there’s a discrepancy between the amount that periodicals spend to publish a story (e.g., $100) and people’s propensity to pay (e.g., $0.10); unlike songs and movies, people only consume news stories once.

Alternative revenue streams. Media companies should again explore whether events, classifieds, paid editorials, in-depth research and other information-related services could allow them to offer “just the facts” as a loss leader. The New York Times, famously, launched The Daily podcast and spun off its cooking and crossword products into standalones. Publications should reinvest in hyperlocal journalism with local sponsorship.

The truth is that, as site-wide paywalls continue to be erected, there will be a real divide of news into haves and have-nots. There is no silver bullet solution to this problem. The public benefits from open news; factual reporting creates positive externalities. Yet we have not found a commercial structure to support these organizations. The answer is probably a combination of the above along with other revenue streams (including, yes, ads). But it is paramount to the strength of our social fabric that we continue to search for that answer.

We should ask ourselves what surplus is created by good news coverage, by deep investigative research and honest reporting? Who benefits? At this critical juncture when the stress fractures in our fragile democracy are beginning to show, it is obvious that all of us benefit from that surplus as a society. So let’s work together to support it, for the sake of society.

Thank you to Danny Crichton, Danny Zuckerman, Jason Wardy and Orion de Nevers for reviewing this piece.

Dear Sophie: Any upgrade options for E-2 visa holders interested in changing jobs?

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Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column from a practicing attorney that answers immigration questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

Extra Crunch members receive access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.


Dear Sophie:

I’m currently here in the U.S. on an E-2 visa.

My employer, a company based in Slovakia, moved me to the U.S. to help establish our U.S. operations. What are my options if I want to look for other job opportunities here in the U.S. with a different company? Is there a feasible process to upgrade my E-2 visa to another type, like an L? Thank you!

—Restless in Redwood City

Dear Restless,

Thanks for your questions. Nonimmigrant (temporary) visas that allow you to work in the U.S. require an employer to sponsor you for the visa, and those visas remain tied to the employer sponsor and the position for which you were hired. We recently launched the Extraordinary Ability Bootcamp (promo code DEARSOPHIE for 20% off enrollment) — this is a class that can help you strengthen your credentials if you end up pursuing an O-1A visa, which I’ll discuss more about below.

There are a few visa options available if you find a U.S. company willing to sponsor you such as J-1, O-1A and H-1B, and various green card pathways. You had asked about an L Visa, but this would only be an option if you had worked for the new company abroad for at least one year during the past three years. Both the L-1A visa and the L-1B visa enable multinational companies to transfer a manager, executive or specialized knowledge employee from an office abroad to a U.S. office — or to open an office in the U.S. — from an office abroad. The L-1A visa for intracompany executive or manager transferees is similar to the E-2 visa in that both allow the visa holder to come to the U.S. to set up a new office for the sponsoring company.

Should your SaaS startup embrace a bottom-up GTM strategy?

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Many of today’s most successful software companies, from Atlassian and Datadog to Zoom, subscribe to the bottom-up SaaS go-to-market model. In this model, the user purchases software directly from a website, without ever speaking to a sales person. The product essentially sells itself.

The bottom-up model has a few key benefits: Companies spend dramatically less on sales than their peers, allowing them to invest more in product; they can sustain hypergrowth for longer because they are not as reliant on raw sales headcount to win business; and they tend to be more profitable in the long run, leading to premium valuations.

For all these reasons, more and more SaaS startups are choosing to adopt the bottom-up go-to-market model. But for every Atlassian or Zoom, there are many more companies that fail — often because they don’t understand the hidden challenges and costs that come with the bottom-up model.

Before proceeding further, it’s important to note that bottom-up is not the right starting strategy for every company. A few quick ways to see if bottom-up is the right place to start for you:

  1. Product: People can easily try your product.
  2. Decision-maker: Your decision-maker is a line-level employee (not C-Suite).
  3. Users: Teams and individuals can get value from your product (doesn’t have to be full enterprise roll-out).
  4. Data: The data involved isn’t something that compliance would need to review.

For companies that meet these criteria, there are three important questions that you must be able to answer:

  1. Who needs to work together to make a bottom-up SaaS model work?
  2. What is the value you deliver to your customer and how do you determine pricing that matches that value?
  3. When do you hire a sales team? (Spoiler alert — it’s sooner than you think!)

In this piece, we will tackle each of those questions in turn and share some of the best answers we’ve seen from companies that are making it work.

Who needs to work together to make a bottom-up SaaS model work?

Unlike most traditional companies who rely on a head of sales to keep tabs on customers and how much each one is paying, most successful bottom-up companies rely on a combination of product, sales, customer support, marketing and community teams to manage revenue.

How to address inequality exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic

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The novel coronavirus has accelerated the use of many digital technologies. Forced in the spring to close their doors, most K-12 schools and universities shifted to online learning where teachers lead classes virtually and students submit their assignments electronically.

According to the World Economic Forum, it is estimated that 1.2 billion students around the world this year were “out of the classroom” due to the pandemic, while in the United States, over 55 million K-12 students didn’t receive in-person instruction.

The use of telemedicine and video conferencing also has become a principal platform for medical consultations as a result of the coronavirus. For example, a Forrester analysis projected “general medical care visits to top 200 million this year, up sharply from their original expectation of 36 million visits for all of 2020.” Virtual connections allow patients to get recommendations wherever they are and draw on a broad range of medical expertise.

E-commerce is taking off as consumers abandon small retail outlets and large department stores. An industry study found that “total online spending in May 2020 reached $82.5 billion, up 77% from May of 2019” and those numbers almost surely will increase in coming months as people appreciate the convenience of online ordering and home delivery.

Yet the pandemic also has exposed dramatic inequities in technology access and utilization. Not everyone has the high-speed broadband required for online education, telemedicine and online shopping. The Federal Communications Commission has estimated it would take $40 billion to close the bulk of the broadband gap. But many people also lack laptops, notebooks, smartphones or electronic devices that allow them to stream videos and take advantage of new modes of service delivery.

It is not just that some are outside the online world, but that digital access is spread inequitably across various groups. According to an Education Week survey, 64% of American teachers and administrators in schools with a large number of low-income students said their pupils faced technology limitations, compared to only 21% of students in schools with a small number of low-income students. The problem isn’t simply broadband, but access to equipment and devices that allow pupils to make use of online resources.

There are substantial racial disparities as well. A McKinsey analysis found that 40% of African-American students and 30% of Hispanic students in U.S. K-12 schools received no online instruction during COVID-induced school shutdowns, compared to 10% of whites. These gaps in access to online education and digital services widen the already substantial educational inequalities that exist, but push them to new heights. If continued for a lengthy period of time, such differentials expose our most disadvantaged students to large barriers to advancement and a future of income deprivation or economic stagnation. Even more tragic, there may be a tipping point beyond which the gap is no longer recoverable.

These types of inequities are intolerable injustices that create nearly insoluble gaps with serious social and economic consequences. The variations noted above increase income inequality, widen the opportunity gap between social groups and doom those left behind to low-paying jobs, temporary positions without health benefits or outright unemployment. Not having access to the digital superhighway limits opportunities for online education, telemedicine and e-commerce and makes it nearly impossible to apply for jobs, request government benefits or access needed health or educational materials.

What is required right now is investment in digital infrastructure and improvements in digital access that eliminate unfair disparities based on race, income and geography. For example, the Federal Communications Commission needs to expand its current “Lifeline” program designed to promote phone connectivity for poor people to the internet. Many providers combine phone and internet usage so there is no reason to provide subsidies for phone service without also including internet service. With the availability of Voice over Internet Protocols (VoIP), it is easy for underserved people to combine phone and internet connectivity.

This FCC also should expand its “Schools and Libraries” program called “E-rate” to include home schooling and remote learning. With so many educational institutions closed and providing instruction through online education, the commission should use the millions in unexpended program funds to close the “homework gap” created by the COVID-19 pandemic. That would help impoverished students access online resources and video conferencing facilities.

The Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service seeks to improve broadband service in rural areas but its funding currently cannot be used to improve low-speed broadband. At a time when many lack sufficient speed to access online educational resources, telemedicine or video streaming, that limitation makes little sense and needs to be altered so that rural-dwellers can upgrade their internet service.

In the education sphere, states and localities must ensure that racial and income-based disparities in access to online learning are not a permanent feature of the K-12 landscape. Addressing this issue is going to require much more than distributing free laptops to needy students, as is often advocated. Rather, it will involve making sure families can afford the broadband access that will enable pupils to use the laptops in productive ways, teachers are well-trained in distance learning and educational programs equip young people with the skills needed in the 21st century economy.

As we move into the future, broadband will be as vital to social and economic advancement as highways, bridges and dams were in earlier eras. Similar to the 20th century, improving access requires national planning and public and private sector investments. Indeed, digital access should be considered a human right in the same manner as access to universal healthcare. People cannot participate in the digital economy and online learning systems without high-speed broadband.

As noted in our recent AI book, the United States requires a national plan that funds digital infrastructure, reduces racial and geographic disparities, facilitates universal medical insurance and prepares workers for the digital economy. The list of national imperatives includes closing the digital divide, expanding anti-bias rules for the digital economy, building an inclusive economy through more equitable tax policies and training the next generation of workers.

New digital services or financial transactions taxes could help fund the programs that need to be undertaken to deal with these issues. One hundred years ago, as the United States underwent industrialization, national leaders adopted an income tax to pay for needed services, and as we move into a digital economy, there will need to be new types of taxes to pay for needed expenditures. We cannot allow current inequities in access to education and healthcare to deny opportunities to African-Americans, Hispanics, immigrants and poor people. Leaving those individuals behind as the digital economy grows is not a viable option if we’re ever as a nation to achieve our full potential by empowering all Americans.

Data is the key to many emerging technologies so it is crucial to have unbiased information to develop new services, evaluate digital innovation and deal with the ramifications of current products. Much of the current digital data is proprietary in nature and therefore limits the ability of researchers to improve innovation, close the digital divide and develop remedies that address equity problems. The federal government sits on a trove of data that should be made available for commercial and research purposes on an anonymized basis so that privacy is maintained. In the same way that census data enables research, economic development and program assessment, wider access to digital data likely would spur new products and services while also helping to address equity problems.

In a country that continues to be plagued by the coronavirus, it is vital to reduce the inequities that deny opportunity to large groups of Americans and make it impossible for them to share in the benefits of the digital revolution. As we envision a post-COVID world, it is essential we build an inclusive economy that allows everyone to participate in and gain the benefits of the online world.

The fundamental shifts wrought by COVID are not going to slow even after a vaccine is developed and the effects of the coronavirus dissipate over time. Nearly all of the technological trends generated by COVID this year will remain a large part of our ongoing landscape. Due to advances in computer storage and processing power, 5G networks and the growing use of data analytics, technology innovation almost certainly will accelerate in coming years.

Having a substantial part of our fellow citizens outside the digital environment is a recipe for continued racial injustice, social conflict, economic deprivation and political division. It will ensure that cynicism, discontent and anger will remain a feature of the American social landscape for decades to come. The last four years have exposed the massive inequities in American society, made worse not only by the intentional political polarization of the American public, but also by a digital divide that is virtually certain to lock in many pernicious dimensions of inequality in America.

This is not a technology problem, it’s a leadership challenge. Leadership can solve this national crisis by demonstrating the will to wield technology in the best interests of all Americans. The next administration has it within its capacity to address these matters head on and eliminate this divide, or conversely, if it doesn’t take appropriate action, condemn our most vulnerable citizens to four more years of neglect and inequity.