Tech’s Alcohol-Soaked Culture Isn’t a Party for Everybody

Tech’s Alcohol-Soaked Culture Isn’t a Party for Everybody

  • DTAG 2 TT He’s been waiting 10 years for North Korea stakes to pay off


Some big investors consider warning signals ahead for markets but are holding their positions. Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris is taking action: He’s set half of his $5.7 billion net worth into gold.


He said in an interview Monday that he believes gold costs will rally further, reaching $1,800 per ounce from merely above $1,300 now, while “overvalued” stock markets crash.

” In the end you have China and they will not stop consuming. And people also tend to go to gold during crisis and we are full of crises right now ,” Sawiris said at its term of office in Cairo overlooking the Nile.” Look at the Countries of the middle east and the rest of the world and Mr. Trump doesn’t help .”

President Donald Trump is aiding Sawiris in one way, though: If a North Korean peace deal can be reached, the Egyptian’s investments there may finally pay off. After 10 years of might wish to repatriate all his profits easily and control his mobile-phone company, Egypt’s second-richest man tells an accord would let him reap some of his returns.

” I am taking all the hits, I am being paid in a currency that doesn’t get exchanged very easily, I have put a lot of fund and constructed a hotel and did a lot of good stuff there ,” told Sawiris, who founded North Korea’s first telecom operator, Koryolink. The North Korean unit’s costs and revenues aren’t currently acknowledged on the financial statements of Sawiris’ Orascom Telecom Media& Technology Holding SAE.BTAG 1 TTSawiris over the years has been pressured by” every single Western government in the world” for his presence in the country hit by international sanctions for its nuclear menaces, he said, but he considered himself a” goodwill investor .” His advice for governments and to Trump ahead of his expected meeting with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un: Don’t bully him, and promise prosperity in return for concessions on nuclear.


A successful session between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-In last week cleared the style for Trump to meet with the Northern korean leader to discuss his nuclear-weapons and ballistic-missile programs. The date and the place haven’t been set. An arrangement — elusive for nearly seven decades — would open the door for Sawiris to restore his investments there and maybe make new ones.

” I know these Northern korean people. They are very proud, they will not yield under threat and bully. You merely smile and talk and sit down and they will come through ,” he said.

Sawiris, the son of Onsi Sawiris, who founded Orascom Construction, has built a name through investment in the telecom sector in Egypt and in less popular markets including Iraq, Pakistan, North Korea and Bangladesh. He also bought Italy’s Wind Telecomunicazioni before it, along with a number of his telecom assets, with Veon Ltd. in 2011.



Gold and Cash

The largest share of Sawiris& apos; s investments includes most of his gold stakes

Source: Bloomberg Billionaires Index

Figures in millions of dollars; based on his stake in La Mancha Resources* Denotes gold companies

” I had to convince my mom in the beginning ,” Sawiris said in the interview with Bloomberg Television.” It has been a very good investment for me. I recently sold a portion of my Evolution shares because I want to invest now in Latin America and Eastern Europe .”

He’s from a family of investors. Nassef Sawiris, Naguib’s youngest brother and the richest human in Egypt, is the biggest shareholder and chief executive officer of fertilizer producer OCI NV. He’s also the biggest shareholder in contracting and engineering company Orascom Construction Ltd. He re-based his companies outside Egypt after a taxation disagreement with the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013.

that led to the arrest of high-profile princes and billionaires in November. Authorities need to ensure there is rule of law and order and transparency, he said.


investors’ confidence in the economy of the Arab world’s most populous nation.

And he’s planning an investment debut in Egypt’s ” booming ” real estate market this year after hiring a consultant who said demand was strong, shrugging off concerns of a bubble in the market.

” In my family we are investing a lot right now because we see the opportunities ,” he said.” It isn’t patriotism or advertising or anything like that .”

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It’s office holiday party season again, and as usual that entails alcohol. Lots and lots of alcohol. For many employees, the holidays are the one time of year that it’s appropriate to have a drink at work. But for tech workers, the annual Christmas party is just another boozy day in the office.

Kegerators, or at least well-stocked beer fridges, are standard fixtures at tech companies, right up there with ping-pong tables and beanbag chairs. Some, like GitHub and Yelp, even offer multiple brews on tap. Seminars and meetups are awash with free drinks.

In theory, all this booze is meant to construct the tech industry more appealing to employees. Companies with brew fridges look more laid back, freer, cooler than stuffy old firms where everyone wears a suit every day. But this posturing may actually be doing more harm than good by alienating non-drinkers, and exacerbating their own problems that exclude so many people from technology. That tension doesn’t mean the Valley needs to go dry, but it’s time for tech to rethink its relationship with alcohol.


People abstain from alcohol for many reasons: health, religion objections, problems with alcohol in the past, whether themselves or family members. Some are too young( for all of tech’s obsession with youth, the industry can be astonishingly inhospitable to people under 21 ). And mothers might not want to come home to their kids drunk.

Different companies have found different ways to address the issue of drinking at work. Yelp, for example, doesn’t allow employees to drinking while working. GitHub keeps its bar separate from the main office and has limited amounts of alcohol in the office itself. Representatives of both companies say management encourages responsible drinking.

‘ The expectation that people want to be showered in alcohol comes from the people at the top .’

But the problem isn’t so much that people drink at tech events, or even at work. Most of the non-drinkers we spoke to for this article didn’t mind being around people who drink, so long as those drinkers are not drunk. What genuinely bothers non-drinkers is feeling underappreciated.

” In the tech industry, alcohol is currency ,” Kara Sowles, a non-drinker who works for the Portland-based startup Puppet, wrote in a widely shared Model View Culture essay that forced some self-reflection in the industry. She points out that in the industry, employees are often rewarded with gifts of alcohol and company milestones are celebrated with boozy parties.

When companies rely on alcohol to reward employees , non-drinkers often end up shorted. Nabil Maynard, a former quality assurance technologist at Dropbox, recalls last year’s company vacation party that featured several brands of fancy Scotch but few concessions for non-drinkers.” All there was was mixers ,” he says.” Couldn’t they at least have bought some fancy root beers ?”

The company is at least trying to be more mindful.” Dropbox strives to build everyone feel like they belong, and we are mindful that no two Dropboxers are the same ,” a Dropbox spokesperson told WIRED.” We offer a wide variety of food and beverages, including non-alcoholic drinks, at company social events so employees have options .” But that’s just one company. Booze-fueled parties still leave many people feeling left out.


The tech industry’s diversity problem is well-known, and company cultures that closely resemble frat homes don’t help. Alcohol is just one piece of that culture, but it’s a big one.

A study by Cornell University researchers in 2004 determined a close connection between permissive workplace drinking cultures and sexual harassment. And while blaming sexual assault on alcohol would be a mistake, many incidents involve people who have been drinking. In short, heavy drinking at work or seminars builds employees-especially women-less safe.

Given the risks they take by providing alcohol, you might think that companies are calculating that if they don’t serve liquor, employees will leave for corporations that do. But it’s not clear that employees actually will change jobs just for liquor. Victor Yocco, a user experience researcher in Philadelphia, tells a funny thing happened when the company he works for decided to trench its keg in favor of dedicating employees credit at both a nearby coffee shop and a pizza place. Workers could still pick up bottles of brew at the pizza joint, charge them to the company tab, and drink them at their desks. But more employees opted to take advantage of the company-paid coffee instead.

In other words, given other options, even people who aren’t teetotalers will often opt for a non-alcoholic beverage. That reality suggests alcohol really isn’t the only sort of currency that tech workers will be adopting, or even want. Which attains sense. Most people get into the industry since they are love technology, invention, and problem solvingnot since they are love drinking.

” The expectation that people want to be rained in alcohol comes from the people at the top , not the people on the ground ,” Yocco says.

What to Do Instead?

” I think it’s important to look at how a culture treat the ones who do drink alcohol ,” Sowles tells WIRED.” Whether a culture or company is giving people options on a day-to-day basis says a lot about how much it respects them .”

The insight that employees might actually prefer rewards and activities that don’t involve getting loaded indicates a astonishingly simple solution to tech’s alcohol problem: selection. Puppet, for example, does still have multiple beers on tap at its Portland headquarters. But it also has snacks, gourmet coffee, and other perks. GitHub just opened a coffee bar in its San Francisco headquarters. Dropbox has other refreshments available as well.

And giving employees other activities can help keep conferences and company events from get out of hand.” One summer we had a big party with games and stalls, food trucks ,” tells Omair Mansoor, a customer success administrator at the San Francisco startup Springshot.” There was an open bar but people didn’t get drunk .”

But it doesn’t take an enormous amount of imagination to come up with alternatives to alcohol-focused squad events. It can be as simple taking a squad out to eat at a eatery where employees can get a beverage if they want, but also bond over food. Ultimately, what’s most important is for both leadership and rank-and-file employees to be more mindful of alcohol’s role in their company’s culture, and must be respected of other people’s choices.

So keep the beer, Silicon Valley. Just make sure it’s not the only thing on tap.

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