Naomi Osaka and Questions of Mental Health at Work

Naomi Osaka and Questions of Mental Health at Work

Naomi Osaka and Questions of Mental Health at Work

Naomi Osaka and Questions of Mental Health at Work

Businesses stay quiet on a failed Texas effort to restrict voting access. An effort by Republican lawmakers to enact some of the strictest voting laws in the nation failed on Sunday, after Democrats walked out of the state capitol. But companies that had openly opposed those efforts have said little — including American Airlines, based in Fort Worth, and Dell, headquartered in Round Rock, both of which declined to comment beyond previous statements — even as Republicans plan to reintroduce the bill at a special session.

In a lengthy profile that we devoured over the weekend, The New Yorker traces the arc of Chamath Palihapitiya, the Facebook executive turned investor who has become one of the biggest moguls in the world of SPACs. The article — and a separate Twitter thread needling Palihapitiya — show how an outspoken presence can generate a fortune, but also make someone a huge target for critics.

Palihapitiya’s bravado helped launch the SPAC boom, The New Yorker argues, as he applied his innate showmanship to the necessary process of selling blank-check funds to Wall Street and mainstream investors alike.

  • It helped him win over converts, according to the article: In a meeting to pitch his first SPAC’s plan to merge with Virgin Galactic, one listener rattled off a list of criticisms. Palihapitiya responded by calling the man an “idiot” (augmented by a few expletives) and asked, “Have you even looked at the prospectus?” An audience member later called the outburst “brilliant.”

  • That braggadocio and careful stoking of his celebrity allowed him to raise billions for venture capital funds — and then pivot to SPACs when he needed a change in strategy (and image). “The returns that we’ve generated — you can’t B.S. those,” he told The New Yorker.

Still, Palihapitiya isn’t lacking for critics, including those who say his claims about SPACs are inflated. The latest emerged over the weekend, when Christopher Bloomstran, the investment chief of Semper Augustus Investments Group, took to Twitter to poke holes in Palihapitiya’s latest letter to investors.

  • Bloomstran noted errors in counting years in a time period and in quantifying the S&P 500’s return for last year, and raised questions about Palihapitiya’s comparisons of his own firm’s returns to those of Berkshire Hathaway. “Perhaps there’s room at your shop for a fact checker?” Bloomstran concluded. (So far, Palihapitiya has answered two of those criticisms.)

At the urging of business groups, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Friday made clear how companies can issue vaccine mandates to workers coming back to the office, and what incentives those employers can offer to promote inoculation.

Companies can require vaccines only of employees returning to the workplace, the E.E.O.C.’s note on Friday said. But doing so still counts as a mandate, so companies must make the same considerations that companywide vaccine requirements would entail, like accommodations for employees who can’t receive the vaccine.

  • “I do think it’s important that the E.E.O.C. addressed this because I worry that some employers were sort of going down the wrong path, and thinking that it wasn’t that big of a deal to have a vaccination requirement,” Jessica Kuester, an employment benefits lawyer at the law firm Ogletree Deakins, told DealBook.

Employers can also offer vaccine incentives, the E.E.O.C. clarified. That includes enticements like giving workers paid time off to get vaccinated, as well as rewards for employees who show proof of inoculation, like the $75 bonus that Walmart is offering. Companies have also been offering the opportunity to go mask-free at the office as a type of inducement, though several aren’t asking for proof of vaccination, perhaps as a concession to practicality. (“Are you really going to go around and, when you see an employee without a mask, are you going to run back to H.R. and verify that that person really was fully vaccinated?” Kuester said.)

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