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These tech companies with Austin ties are sending help to Ukraine


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.


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.


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.


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.”


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.


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.


With deposition and trial looming, Elon Musk has offered $44B for Twitter, again

Elon Musk has proposed once again to buy Twitter for $54.20 a share.

The news that Musk is offering to carry on with the $44 billion buyout was first reported by Bloomberg. Now, a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows Musk made the proposal in a letter to the tech giant on Monday.

The New York Stock Exchange temporarily halted trading in Twitter stock twice Tuesday, first because of a big price move and the second time for a news event, presumably the announcement of Musk's renewed offer.

While the per share offer price on this latest proposal remains the same as the original offer, it’s unclear if Musk has made other term changes or if Twitter would reject it. According to other reports, a deal could be reached this week.

The stock closed at $52.00/share Tuesday, indicating market uncertainty around the $54.20 offer.

After Musk informed Twitter of plans to terminate the original agreement in July, Twitter sued. A trial has been expected in Delaware Chancery Court on Oct. 17.

With the proposition of a buyout on the table again, it revives the question of whether Musk might move Twitter from San Francisco to Central Texas.

He’s done so with some of his other companies. Tesla’s headquarters in southeast Travis County had its grand opening earlier this year and tunneling business The Boring Company moved to Pflugerville. At least two other Musk companies, SpaceX and Neuralink, have a Central Texas presence without being headquartered here.

Technology journalist Nilay Patel this afternoon voiced concerns that owning Twitter and Tesla together could be problematic for Musk, as his Tesla manufacturing facilities in Germany and China are both in countries that have disputes with Twitter over content moderation and censorship.

Telsa shares fell after the Twitter news became public, before rallying to close up, at $249.44.

Austin rents nearly double in a year and are now in the top 5 nationwide

While searching for a place to live, Austin renters will face monthly rates of nearly $3,000, a recent guide from rental marketplace Dwellsy shows.

The median rent in August this year was $2,930, a more than 86% increase since August 2021. That’s $820 more than the nationwide median asking rent in August and puts Austin just below the Bay Area, Boston and New York for large cities with the most expensive asking rent.

“Within this group, Austin, TX stands out for the highest increases in asking rent, which has nearly doubled since this time last year,” the study notes.

Outside of those large cities, however, others are seeing even higher rent spikes. Metro areas that ranked above Austin in one-year increases include those like Kansas City, MO with a 112% change in rent since last August and Tucson, AZ with a 124% change.

The data reflects large apartment communities, single-family homes and 2-6 unit buildings.