If Then

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An employment economist explains what cities had to gain from the company’s HQ2 contest—and what they had to lose.

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On today’s show, host Will Oremus will talk about the employee uprising at Google and the changes that it and other tech companies have made to their sexual harassment policies in response. Joining him is Caroline O’Donovan, senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News, who was there to cover the employee walkouts in person and has continued to report on the fallout.


And then, a story that has been making headlines for months and finally reached its culmination this week with a big announcement. That would be Amazon’s HQ2 contest—or maybe now it’s HQ2.5, or HQ2 and 3, HQ2a and HQ2b. Whatever you call it, we’ll talk about the company’s decision to open not one but two new headquarters. One will be in Arlington, Virginia, just outside D.C. And the other in Long Island City, just across the East River from Manhattan. That, of course, prompted an outcry from critics around the country, not to mention all the cities that weren’t chosen. Here to help Will make sense of all this will be Tim Bartik, a senior economist at the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. He’s done some fascinating research on the incentives that cities offer to companies to try to get them to locate there—and whether it really pays off for their residents in the long run.


2:47 - Interview with Caroline O’Donovan
14:32 - Interview with Tim Bartik
32:00 - Don’t Close My Tabs

Stories discussed on the show:

• Slate: Why Social Media’s Social Media Problem Will Never Be Fixed

• BuzzFeed News: Google Women Are Sharing Stories of Harassment During a Massive Walkout

• BuzzFeed News: Despite Changes to Sexual Misconduct Policies, Google Walkout Organizers Say There’s More to Be Done

• The New York Times: How Google Protected Andy Rubin, the “Father of Android”

• Slate: Amazon Did Exactly What Every Company Does. What Was the Point?

W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research

Don’t Close My Tabs:

• The Atlantic: The Problem With Feedback

• GoFundMe: How to Help Those Impacted by the Fires in California


• Chico, California, Enterprise-Record: How You Can Help Camp Fire Victims

• Twitter: Martha McSally for Senate (Concession Video)

Podcast production by Max Jacobs.

If Then plugs:

You can get updates about what’s coming up next by following us on Twitter @ifthenpod. You can follow Will @WillOremus and April @Aprilaser. If you have a question or comment, you can email us at ifthen@slate.com.

If Then is presented by Slate and Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State UniversityNew America, and Slate. Future Tense explores the ways emerging technologies affect society, policy, and culture. To read more, follow us on Twitter and sign up for our weekly newsletter.