International Tech giants supporting the resistance and resilience of the Ukrainian ecosystem
- Elon Musk’s Starlink answered the demand from Mykhailo Fedorov’s – Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation – to give Ukrainians terminals and access to the Starlink high-speed Internet.
- Google provided $ 15 million in assistance to Ukraine, as well as direct grants and advertising loans, along with technical assistance to protect Ukrainian’s Google accounts, fight against the media that spread propaganda and misinformation and enable SOS alerts on the Search engine. In addition:
- YouTube blocked Russian propaganda channels in Ukraine (Channel One, Russia 24 and Russia 1, TASS, RIA Novosti, RBC, Zvezda TV Channel).
- Google Maps blocked two features in Ukraine to protect us from potentially unsafe data transmission.
- Bolt’s CEO – Marcus Willig – announced on March 1st in a tweet that the company will donate immediately € 1 million to support Ukraine and over € 4 million more to come over next 2 weeks. This is a part of the company’s initiative lasting two weeks to transfer 5% of every order in Europe to non-governmental organizations that support Ukraine and its people, including the Red Cross. On the overall, more than 5 million euros of support are foreseen. Furthermore, Bolt decided to remove from the Bolt Market product delivery service all products made in Russia or related to Russian companies. Its services also stopped working in Belarus.
- Grammarly – an Ukrainian-founded company valuated at $13 billion after a recent round of funding – decided to donate all the money it made in Russia since 2014, leading to a $5 million fund. Over the past week, Grammarly already donated $1 million to Ukrainian humanitarian groups
- Twitter launched a fundraiser for Ukraine among employees and will double the amount raised and send it to reliable organizations that help Ukrainian refugees. Furthermore, the company suspended advertising and blocked the ability to register new accounts in Russia.
- Snapchat provided $ 15 million in assistance to civilians in need and blocked advertising in Russia and Belarus. The company also highlighted that Ukraine is home to Looksery, the company that laid the foundation for the augmented reality platform Snap, and had more than 300 of the most creative and talented members of their team.
- Amazon will contribute $ 5 million to UNICEF, UNHCR, the World Food Program, the Red Cross, Polska Akcja Humanitarna and Save the Children in connection with the war in Ukraine. Furthermore, the company also organizes the collection of donations from the employees themselves, who similarly direct them to these organizations.
- Mastercard donated $ 2 million in humanitarian aid to the Red Cross, Save the Children and their staff assistance fund. They have also blocked several Russian financial institutions in its payment system due to sanctions.
- Visa also donated $ 2 million in humanitarian aid to Ukrainian people and $ 1 million for UNICEF and the Red Cross Response Funds in Ukraine. In addition, they announced blocking Russian financial institutions in alignment with the sanctions.
- Meta started to block Russian propagandists and state media by setting up a 24-hour special operations center to swiftly manage its media:
- Facebook advertising on and monetizing content was banned for Russian state media all across the world.
- Messenger : gave access to notification features for screenshots and disappearing messages in end-to-end encrypted chats.
- WhatsApp: added a “View once” feature for photos or videos to delete media files after viewing and “Disappearance Mode” to automatically delete all new chats after 24 hours for protecting the information privacy.
- Apple stopped selling its equipment in the official store in Russia and exporting there and shut down Apple Pay in Russia. In addition, Tim Cook personally sent a letter to all Apple employees, detailing the situation in Ukraine and the measures the company is taking to help.
- Microsoft’s Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) helps the Ukrainian government detect cyberattacks against and protect Ukraine’s digital infrastructure. Furthermore it has blocked the Russian channels Russia Today and Sputnik, according to an EU decision.
- Dmarket – an NFT and In-game Metaverse items trading platform canceled all user accounts from Russia and Belarus and transferred an amount of $ 4.5 million corresponding to these funds to cover the needs of the Ukrainian army.
- Airbnb’s non-profit arm (Airbnb.org) will offer free, temporary housing for up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine.
- Uber allows people to use the Uber app to donate to the International Rescue Committee direct donations, that the company will match up to $1 million. In addition, the company offers free transportation to staff at migrant welcome centers and for the delivery of donated goods at various warehouse locations throughout Poland.
- Russian punk band Pussy Riot joined forces with crypto groups Trippy Labs and UkraineDAO in an initiative to auction off the NFT of an Ukrainian flag and donate the proceeds to a local charity that allowed to raise up to now $3.5 million.
- Crypto giant Binance also donated $10 million.
- Several telecom providers – A1 Telekom Austria Group, Altice Portugal, AT&T (T.N), Deutsche Telekom (DTEGn.DE), Orange (ORAN.PA), Proximus (PROX.BR), Swisscom (SCMN.S), Telefonica (TEF.MC), Telenor (TEL.OL), Telia Company (TELIA.ST), TIM (TLIT.MI), KPN (KPN.AS), Vivacom and Vodafone (VOD.L) – offer free international calls to Ukraine or scrapping roaming charges there.
- Viber’s CEO – Hiroshi Mikitani – donated $8.7 million dollars to support Ukraine.
- The Polish developer 11 Bit Studios created a simulation title called “This War of Mine” to show what it’s like for civilians to survive during war and is donating all profits from this content on all platforms to support the Ukrainian Red Cross.
- Other multinationals also provided substantial financial support: Lego ($16 million), Carlsberg ($10 million), Biedronka and LVMH ($5 million).
Before this aggression, the Ukrainian tech ecosystem had largely demonstrated its potential, despite limited resources with respect to counterpart western ecosystems, to achieve outstanding results, as demonstrated by successful scaleups like Gitlab, Grammarly, Looksery, AIFactory, People.ai … This allows to foresee that the ecosystem will resiliently bounce back, as confirmed through an interview with Alex Bornyakov – Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine on IT industry development, head of a Diia City project. The minister answered the following questions:
- How much of a risk is now there for Ukraine’s ambitions of becoming a European tech hub?
We are confident in Ukraine’s victory over the aggressor. When we accomplish it, we will rebuild the country and fulfill our task of becoming the largest IT-hub in Europe. There is no doubt about that. We are supported by the world, we are united, we have brave and talented people. IT talent is a key factor for turning Ukraine into the largest hub in Europe.
- A study has suggested that more than $9 million and counting has been received in donations in Ukraine, using cryptocurrencies. Do you see that number going up, since the Ukrainian government is also officially accepting crypto donations?
About $17m have been transferred to the crypto accounts created to support Ukraine. Crypto financing is on the rise and will continue to do so, as many representatives of the crypto industry have expressed their wish to help Ukraine.
For instance, cryptocurrency trading platform Binance pledged to donate $10m to the humanitarian crisis relief fund for Ukraine, which suffers from the Russian aggression. Charity, the company affiliated with Binance, has already started to raise funds for Ukrainian refugees.
Total amount of cryptocurrency donations to Ukrainian charities is around $60m.
Big thanks for comprehensive support Paul Stefanut!