Gig Briefs: Airbnb takes on discrimination, HR draws big VC

In brief

Airbnb addresses discrimination

In the face of growing criticism over its handling of discrimination against non-white guests, Airbnb on Thursday released a revamped nondiscrimination policy.

The company, which provides a web-based rental marketplace for private residences, introduced changes including user photos being displayed less prominently and instant bookings being more aggressively promoted, Reuters reports.

“Bias and discrimination have no place on Airbnb, and we have zero tolerance for them,” Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky wrote in an email to users. “Unfortunately, we have been slow to address these problems, and for this I am sorry.”

HR attracts big VC

The rise of the gig economy has encouraged a wave of technology designed to connect on-demand workers with employers, and that has brought about a corresponding flood of funding.

Human resources startups like Snagajob, a web-based service that helps connect employers with part-time workers, have combined to raise $1.2 billion in venture capital so far this year, Bloomberg reports. The growth of apps that help workers juggle multiple obligations is expected to continue.

Uber’s in the red — again

Uber lost more than $1.27 billion in the first half of 2016, Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the matter. In seven years of operation, the ride-hailing company now has lost a total of at least $4 billion.

Such steep losses are almost without precedent for a young tech company. Amazon famously operated in the red as it increased its market value, but its biggest loss ever was $1.4 billion. Uber lost more than that in 2015 and is on pace to do so again this year.

An Uber exec told investors that subsidies for drivers are responsible for the majority of the company’s losses globally.

Vice has a freelance problem

Vice News has drawn the ire of freelance journalists for nonpayment, late payment and rescinded assignments. In a piece published by the Columbia Journalism Review, former Vice freelancer Yardena Schwartz said she felt “utterly taken advantage of” by the media company’s practices.

In response to the uproar, Vice sent a memo to its global news staff, promising to improve working relationships with freelance journalists through a newly-hired payroll processing company, new time-tracking process, restructured accounts payable department and simplified invoicing system.

Digging deeper

Changing work, evolving workspaces

The increasing pursuit of job flexibility is catalyzing a proliferation of co-working spaces, Elizabeth Uscovicz of the Whitespace Consulting Group writes in a recent Startland News commentary. Indeed, the number of coworking spaces worldwide is projected to reach 26,000 by 2020, up from just more than 11,000 this year, according to a report from California-based consulting firm Emergent Research.

Gig’s day in court

What does gig economy mean? What’s its impact? What are the legal and ethical controversies involved? An American Law Journal special offers an in-depth look at some of the legal complications arising with the growth of the gig economy.

Gig Briefs provides a roundup of top news and occasional long reads on the gig economy

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