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No one can predict what will happen to our collective behavior and economy if we put behind the latest wave of coronavirus infection. But I find it helpful to find clues as to how companies that have been replaced by viruses spend their money.

For example: Zoom Video, a company whose video conferencing service has become a verb in the last 18 months, said on Sunday it would spend about 15 15 billion to buy a company called Five9 that makes software for businesses’ customer service call centers. As my Deal Book newsletter colleagues put it, Zoom is betting ફોન 15 billion on phone calls.

There are two ways to interpret zoom splurges. The first is that the company is operating from a position of power. More than a year on zooming (or micro .ft teaming, or Google meeting) has given the company the financial firepower to make bets on a new area of ​​development. This reading is basically that there is no need to put the zoom behind and plan a situation in which people stop relying entirely on online video for work, school, doctor visits and family reunions.

Another interpretation is that Zoom believes that the behavioral changes of our covid-age are fleeting and that the company needs to play defense. If Zoom is concerned that people will gravitate away from the screen, it needs to hedge its bets by extending it to different areas such as customer service.

(One silly side: writing this newsletter inspired me to listen to Aretha Franklin’s 1980 song “Who’s Zoomin ‘? It’s not the biggest Aretha song. I’m sorry.)

The reality is that both of those read on this edit are probably true. Zoom believes that some of our video online video habits are sustainable, but also that we won’t be as tangled in our gadgets as we were in 2020. If we stop behind hugging friends and hunting down computers at work desks – and the zoom competition heats up – the company needs to branch into a variety of services to keep growing.

I don’t want to read more into a corporate acquisition. But I don’t want to ignore its deep meaning. Zoom is just an app, yes, but its corporate decisions reflect the moods and beliefs about what happens to all of us.

For many months, corporate finance caregivers have been emphasizing the habits and attitudes we have adopted during the epidemic. They are trying to predict profit margins and share prices for companies like Zoom, Uber and Amazon, but it is more than that.

The assessment of what can happen to those companies is that families in our hometowns, schools, where we choose to live, transportation plans, the role of women, the small epidemics we have there and the impact of epidemics on families trying to estimate how much we have changed. And in our relationships.

Corporations like Zoom act as canaries in a coal mine like the afterlife of Kovid. The chief executive of salad company Sweetgreen may not really know how much downtown office fees will return to pre-covid staffing levels, but how the company spends its money is a condition that the life of office fees will return more or less what it was back in 2019.

We have been profoundly changed by coronaviruses in a million ways, large and small. But we don’t know exactly yet. What Zoom and the rest of our companies can do is make educated guesses about the future, and at least be prepared to be a little wrong.

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  • White House Vs. Facebook: President Biden and other U.S. officials have blamed Facebook for spreading misleading information about the Covid-19 vaccine in the past few days, my colleague Cecilia Kang reported. Facebook said it was being boycotted. Renee Deresta, a researcher on misinformation, wrote nuanced twitter thread About the role of social media companies, people with big followers and all our people in spreading bogus vaccine information.

  • What does China want from its corporations? Obedience, writes Times columnist Li Yuan. China is moving faster than officials in the United States or Europe when it comes to cracking down on abuses by techno-titles, but “efficiency comes from the cost of the law and due process,” he writes.

  • Governments that watch every move of their critics: Governments have used smartphone surveillance software to fight criminals and terrorists to spy on journalists, human rights activists, politicians and others, according to a report by an international association of news outlets. My colleagues have previously reported on this software from the NSO Group in Israel that monitors every detail of a person’s cellular life and is used by governments to target their critics.

Here the cats are watching the musical “cats”. That’s awesome. (I’ve seen this video in the latest edition of Brass Ring Newsletter.)

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