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Exit Interview by Patrick Donegan – Newsletter #29

By: Patrick Donegan

For some time, I’ve been looking for one “source” that curates modern takes on HR Tech, perspectives from the people who build it, and its impact on enterprise — something that’s tailor-made by professionals for decision-makers.

I never found it — so I decided to build it.

Every week, I’ll be sharing fresh insights on tech platforms, design, data, and the future of work — straight to your inbox.

My Thoughts

The turnover tsunami is already underway. 649,000 retail employees gave their notice in April. The pandemic has encouraged workers in retail, food and beverage, and many other sectors to approach their opportunities differently. 💳👠💸 Millennial and Gen Z employees especially want to work for companies and brands they can trust — places that embrace new technologies, offer professional development, and have a mission they can believe it. In this competitive talent market, employers need to think differently about what they’re offering. ✊📈 It’s not just about a temporary pay raise — it’s about speaking your employees’ language.  What are you doing to make your company an attractive place to work? 

Tech Innovation at Work

Pequity, a San Francisco-based startup, has built a product that helps with a critical aspect of DEI: equitable compensation. Their product works by pulling data from HRIS, ATS, and payroll products to analyze and compare how compensation could look for existing and prospective employees. It compares the company’s data with trends and data from the wider market in order to provide insights. 📱🤔  Pequity has raised $19 million in a Series A led by Norwest Venture PartnersFirst Round CapitalDesigner Fund, and Scribble Ventures also participated. 

Here’s a case that might have far-reaching implications. LinkedIn‘s bid to stop third-parties from scraping data from its website took a blow when the company lost its case against Hiq Labs in 2019. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the CFAA does not prohibit a company from scraping data that is publicly accessible on the internet. 👩‍💻👨‍⚖️🔐 But the Supreme Court recently ordered the appeal’s court to hear the case again in light of its recent ruling, which found that a person cannot violate the CFAA if they improperly access data on a computer they have permission to use. Changes to the ruling could impact on whether journalists, archives, and businesses can continue to scrape data to preserve information and build products.☁️🔍🗞️

Retail media is on the rise, and big players in retail will be competing for a slice of the $100 billion high-margin annual revenue. 💪🍕 As privacy standards and expectations rise and third-party data becomes harder to access, retail media helps retailers close the loop by offering first-party data to track conversions and amp up personalization efforts. 🛍️☁️💅 Large retailers like AmazonWalmartTarget, and Kroger are all moving to secure their positions, and the market will likely subdivide into specialty segments with a few dominant players. BCG breaks down the benefits and challenges of retail media, its impact on data and ways of working, and the basics of how to get started.


It’s difficult to design a reverse logistics strategy. Products — commercial or consumer — that could have a second or third life are not generally returned or collected. Things like elevators, telecommunications infrastructure, medical equipment, and so on contribute an estimated 6.5% of total greenhouse gas emissions. 🚗✈️🌎But there does seem to be some progress in reducing waste and recuperating products to build a more circular economy. During last week’s Circularity 21 conference, three North American members of the Capital Equipment Coalition — leasing company DLL and enterprise software companies Microsoft and SAP — discussed improving reverse logistics by building it early into the B2B cycle. 🔄🌲👏 Natasha Pergl, director and global circular economy lead for SAP, says: “It is all about creating that visibility, that transparency and ultimately connecting buyers and sellers and other organizations to make reverse logistics happen more seamlessly.”

The Changing Workplace

Could the corporate waterfall model be coming to an end? 🚿👨‍💻Develop a strategy, build a plan, and execute is the way companies have generally operated. But with new tools and processes appearing on the market, and what it means to operate strategically is changing. That’s why when a startup wins, it so often does at the expense of an incumbent. 🔧☁️📱🔥 Seeing incumbents able to demonstrate the flexibility and agility of startups needs to be a key lesson of this past year, and scaling that up and making it truly routine is the defining change. Here’s a great piece on what this shift away from waterfall model looks like: focusing product instead of pure strategy, rethinking “alignment,” and paying attention to individuals — not just managers.

Recently, Revel CEO and co-founder Frank ReigRemix CEO and co-founder Tiffany Chu, and community organizer, transportation consultant and lawyer Tamika L. Butler spoke about mobility as a right at TechCrunch’s TC Sessions: Mobility 2001. Mobility is often misunderstood as accommodating a minority when it’s really about shifting how we think about access. 💼♿✊ Butler broke it down this way: “Who isn’t this helping? And it doesn’t matter if that’s a small amount of people, right? So you might say something like, people with disabilities might be proportionally a smaller number of people, Black people might be proportionally a smaller number of people. But if you make things better for folks with a disability, say, by adding curb cuts into sidewalks, that actually makes things better for a ton of people. And so you may be thinking of it … only helping a small group of people. And I think we really have to shift the way we think about equity. It’s not just numbers, who is this going to help the most, it’s … who is often intentionally neglected or pushed aside because their numbers aren’t big enough?”

All About Data

I’ve talked a little bit about no-code and low-code solution. I think it’s becoming clear that we’re seeing more and more of a shift toward a no-code economy. 😎👩‍🔧💻 Formstack recently did a survey of over 1,000 employees about no-code adoption across industries. They found that 83% of people believe their use of no-code tools will increase in the next year. You can download their full report here. Here are some insights from the report: 


Forerunner Ventures has been tracking consumer confidence and attitudes during and after the pandemic. 😷💳 Here’s another snapshot from them of consumer and workplace habits after the pandemic. 

  • 77% of people report at least some concern about an ongoing threat of Covid-19 or new pandemics.
  • 35% of people expressed greater interest in working for themselves than before the pandemic, including 45% of 25 to 29-year-olds and 47% of parents with kids under 18 living at home.
  • On average, people reported being more open to using or purchasing a clean alternative in cars (41%), energy (45%), and HVAC/home appliances (45%), compared to adopting more environmentally-friendly apparel (33%), travel (33%) and meat options (29%). Chipping in to offset one’s carbon footprint largely did not appeal with just 10% of respondents expressing interest. 💡🔋🌲
  • 40% of survey respondents expressed that they were not willing to change their meat-eating behaviors to better the planet.

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Patrick Donegan Chief Strategy Officer

Patrick Donegan

Chief Strategy Officer

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