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Tech Roundup, May 15, 2020 | Remote work in Brazil — and internet speed

Tech Roundup May 15, 2020 | Remote work in Brazil — and internet speed Zoom call. Photo: Fizkes

You’re reading The Brazilian Report’s weekly tech roundup, a digest of the most important news on technology and innovation in Brazil. This week’s topics: Remote work in Brazil. The quality of internet speed. And the perils of video-conferencing.

Tech companies leading Brazil’s transition to remote work

As the world debates the disruptions caused by Covid-19 at work,

Brazil is already feeling the first impacts. XP, Inc. Brazil’s biggest independent brokerage firm, announced that it will extend remote work operations globally up until December, with the possibility of making it permanent.</p> <p><strong>Context. </strong>XP move echoes other tech companies&#8217; decisions, such as Google, which currently has its entire workforce in Brazil working remotely. Google also intends to maintain this regime until the end of the year, before <a href="https://cbn.globoradio.globo.com/media/audio/301077/google-se-prepara-para-manter-trabalho-remoto-ate-.htm">returning to normal operations gradually</a>.</p> <p><strong>Perspectives. </strong>XP is also reportedly considering turning its current office spaces into “concept offices” to host training, team dynamics, or hosting customers and partners.</p> <p><strong>Side effects of the remote life.</strong> As companies attempt to slash costs, remote work may also be an opportunity for companies to cut costs by moving to smaller spaces and renegotiating rent contracts. For Levante Investimentos stocks analyst Eduardo Guimarães, property managers’ pricing power to renegotiate rents seems to have weakened, as, in theory, there will be less demand for commercial spaces. “The first to feel the blow will be coworking firms, because small clients may break contracts right away. It is different when it comes to big firms, with well-established teams and longer rent contracts,” he says.</p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/2407576" data-url="https://flo.uri.sh/visualisation/2407576/embed"><script src="https://public.flourish.studio/resources/embed.js"></script></div> <p><strong>Too soon to say.</strong> For Mirae Assets stocks analyst Pedro Galdi, remote work is more of a trend created by necessity than a definitive change. “I believe that companies will be cautious while there is no vaccine for Covid-19, maybe rethink how the office is shaped, to allow more social distancing. But, ultimately, you cannot replace face-to-face interactions and the productivity of an office”, he told <strong>The Brazilian Report.</strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Market oscillations.</strong> While the analysts point out it is too soon to make predictions, the stocks of Brazil’s main listed property managers — BR Properties (BRPR3), São Carlos (SCAR3), and homebuilder Cyrela (CYRE3), which has a property management division — have nearly halved since the state of the year. For Mr. Guimarães, companies with more valuable portfolios — that is, more modern, well-placed properties —&nbsp;will come out stronger from the crisis.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Brazilian internet got faster, despite the quarantine</h2> <p>On March 25, as Brazilian states began implementing quarantine rules, our reporter Natália Scalzaretto asked the question: <a href="https://brazilian.report/tech/2020/03/25/brazils-internet-can-handle-the-covid-19-crisis-say-officials/">can the Brazilian internet handle the Covid-19 crisis</a>? With people working from home, Covid-19 would give Brazil&#8217;s networks a test of a lifetime. But experts claimed there was no reason to panic — and they have been proven right. According to measurements by SpeedTest/Ookla, Brazilian internet speed has actually got <em>faster</em> in recent months. Even mobile connections — significantly more numerous in Brazil — have become faster.</p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/2399951" data-url="https://flo.uri.sh/visualisation/2399951/embed"><script src="https://public.flourish.studio/resources/embed.js"></script></div> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/2399801" data-url="https://flo.uri.sh/visualisation/2399801/embed"><script src="https://public.flourish.studio/resources/embed.js"></script></div> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> With more people depending on their broadband connections for work, high-speed internet connections are key to the future of the economy.</p> <p><strong>What it means.</strong> Measures enforced by telecommunication companies — as well as content providers&nbsp;— worked. Streaming services have disabled higher resolutions such as 4K or Full HD. According to Globo, Brazil&#8217;s largest broadcaster, this alone saves 52 percent in data transmission.</p> <p><strong>But, but, but.</strong> With people at home and online 24/, perceptions in regards to the quality of internet services have worsened. Complaints to watchdog Anatel have <a href="https://www.tudocelular.com/nextel/noticias/n154856/anatel-aumento-reclamacoes-operadoras-banda-larga.html">jumped 32 percent</a> between March and April.</p> <p><strong>Our take.</strong> We at <strong>The Brazilian Report</strong> are all still working from home — and almost daily, at least one of our team complains about their internet provider.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Perils of videoconferencing</h2> <p>As people work from home, meeting rooms have been replaced by video-conferencing apps, like Zoom, Google Meet, or Skype. <a href="https://slate.com/human-interest/2020/04/work-videoconferencing-fails-funny-goofs-gaffes.html">Goofs and gaffes</a> of people holding business meetings from home have become instant classic internet humor —&nbsp;from people flossing, to couples fighting, to one person forgetting her camera was on and sitting on the toilet. But while all of these episodes are embarrassing, one Brazilian businessman managed to do the worse. He <a href="https://eurio.com.br/imagens/770x433/posts/2020/05/13769_videoconferencia-bolsonaro-fiesp-800x445-jpeg-jpg.jpg">appeared naked</a>, on camera, during a call … with the president.</p> <p><strong>Context. </strong>President Jair Bolsonaro held a video-conference on Zoom with business owners, asking them to &#8220;increase pressure&#8221; against São Paulo Governor João Doria —&nbsp;saying that reopening the economy was a &#8220;war to be staged.&#8221;</p> <p><strong>The businessman&#8217;s new clothes. </strong>While it would always be a tense meeting. Nobody could have predicted what would happen in this meeting after the president told Economy Minister Paulo Guedes: &#8220;Stop right there Paulo. The colleague in the last frame.&#8221; To which Mr. Guedes replied: &#8220;We have a naked one. He’s spending isolation bare naked at home, no problem.&#8221; He added: &#8220;This guy was hot and had to take a cold shower.&#8221;</p> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> It doesn&#8217;t, actually. But it is a good reminder to always check your camera before speaking to someone else on one of these apps.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Take note</h2> <ul><li>Brazil’s tax collection authority has launched a new “digital CPF (tax number)” <a href="https://g1.globo.com/economia/noticia/2020/05/14/receita-federal-lanca-cpf-digital-aplicativo-que-permite-ter-o-documento-no-celular.ghtml">app</a>, aiming to make it easier for citizens to access a piece of information essential to pretty much every public (and private) service in Brazil. The app also has a chatbot to help people file their tax return forms.&nbsp;</li><li>The Brazilian Space Agency (AEB), a division of the country’s Air Force, signed an agreement that allows AEB to negotiate using the Alcântara launch base in the state of Maranhão for commercial purposes. They expect the commercial operations to begin in 2021, as part of an agreement signed with the USA in 2019. The Brazilian government hopes that theAlcântara base will allow the country to attract 1 percent of the global space business, translating to about USD 3.6 billion.&nbsp;</li><li>Brazilian Fintech Stone Pagamentos <a href="https://link.estadao.com.br/noticias/empresas,stone-demite-20-dos-funcionarios-com-impacto-do-coronavirus,70003300165">announced</a> it will slash 1,300 jobs, or 20 percent of its workforce, in an attempt to adjust to the economic impact of the covid-19 pandemic. According to its CEO, Thiago Piau, Stone &#8211; which heavily relies on POS for small business &#8211; will also speed up investments in financial services and online sales tools.</li><li>Even amid the crisis, recruiting services startup Gupy managed to raise <a href="https://exame.abril.com.br/pme/startup-gupy-recebe-investimento-de-r-40-milhoes-durante-a-pandemia/">&nbsp;BRL 40 million</a> from asset management firm Oria Capital. Founded in 2015, Gupy offers a fully digitized recruiting service; they aim to hire 30 more employees, in addition to the current 150-people workforce and improve their platform, by adding mobile functionality and allowing for integrations with payroll systems.&nbsp;</li><li>As part of a global restructuring, <em>Vice Media</em> has closed shop in Brazil, firing all of its editorial team. According to weekly magazine <em>Época</em>, journalists will operate in a freelance-only capacity, as Vice reduces its operations to the U.S., México, UK, and an undetermined Asian country.

 
Gustavo Ribeiro

An award-winning journalist, Gustavo has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics and international affairs. He has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets and founded The Brazilian Report in 2017. He holds a master’s degree in Political Science and Latin American studies from Panthéon-Sorbonne University in Paris.

Natália Scalzaretto

Natália Scalzaretto has worked for companies such as Santander Brasil and Reuters, where she covered news ranging from commodities to technology. Most recently, she worked as an Editor for Trading News, the information division from the TradersClub investor community.

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