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These tech companies with Austin ties are sending help to Ukraine

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Earlier this week, Russia said it would scale back military operations near Ukraine’s capital. Still, after nearly 40 days into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, an estimated 6.5 million people have been displaced in the country, and companies with an Austin presence are looking for ways to help.


The local crypto scene offered donations after Ukrainian officials called for help on Twitter and now other tech companies in Austin have joined, with some even making adjustments to their platforms.

Razorhorse

This Austin-founded financial services company has two team members in Ukraine, so when the invasion happened, they felt called to action. “Our team members’ lives were turned upside down,” the company wrote in a post. “We’ve been supporting them as best we can, but we wanted to do more.”

Razorhorse donated $10,000 to Ukrainian causes and $1,500 through a 2-for-1-match Benevity, a charitable donation-management company, ran. Plus, funds given to the employees are being used to assist refugees, children, hospitals and volunteer soldiers.

Part of the contribution went to helping Ukrainians battle freezing temperatures through thermal underwear kits for territorial defense squads in Kyiv and elsewhere. Another share of the donation went toward acquiring wound therapy equipment for a military hospital in Vinnytsia.

Apple

At the start of the month, Apple said it would match employee donations at a rate of 2 to 1.

“This moment calls for unity, it calls for courage, and it reminds us that we must never lose sight of the humanity we all share,” Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote in an email to staff. “In these difficult times, I take comfort in knowing that we are united in our commitment to each other, to our users, and to being a force for good in the world.”

The company has also paused product sales in Russia and stopped exports into their sales channel in the country. Services like Apple Pay are limited; outside of Russia, the App Store doesn’t make RT News or Sputnik News available for download. On the safety side for Ukrainians, the company disabled traffic and live incidents in Apple Maps.

SpaceX

Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which is based in the Rio Grande Valley and has an Austin presence, responded to the invasion by sending Starlink satellite kits to Ukraine. They come equipped with an antenna, mounting tripod and WiFi router.

But there’s been concern that the satellites could be targeted by Russia and China. Musk recently responded with confidence, saying it would be challenging to target the satellites.

“If you attempt to take out Starlink, this is not easy because there are 2,000 satellites,” Musk told Insider. Still, he warned users in Ukraine to turn to the system “only when needed.”

Google

In early March, the tech giant announced it will use office space in Poland to offer humanitarian aid to Ukrainian refugees. One campus in Warsaw will serve as a space for refugees to receive legal and psychological support services from local non-government organizations.

The tech giant has also raised millions to help those affected by the war in Ukraine. “Our teams are working around the clock to support people in Ukraine through our products, defend against cybersecurity threats, and surface reliable information while taking extraordinary measures to stop the spread of misinformation and disrupt disinformation campaigns online,” Google wrote in a post.

Meta

The parent company of Instagram and Facebook has raised at least $20 million for humanitarian aid in Ukraine.

It has also added safety features. For example, their teams are working with non-governmental organizations to spread the word on tools like locking users’ Facebook profile. The company also temporarily removed the ability to view and search the friends' lists of Facebook accounts in Ukraine and Russia to prevent people from being targeted.

But Ukraine has requested more. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reportedly asked CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg to ban Facebook and Instagram within the country’s borders, which they denied.

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