October 1, 2022

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Seattle entrepreneur creates list of corporations boycotting Russia, and those that are not

3 min read

A sampling of tech giants that have taken action in Russia. (Source: Coalition of Ukraine)

Alex Algard watched in horror as the Russian army invaded Ukraine.

“This is a time when we all need to step up and take action in support of Ukraine and against Putin,” said Algard, the founder and CEO of Seattle-based communications software company Hiya.

Agard’s specific action is a simple, yet powerful, one. He created an online list at the Coalition for Ukraine that tracks the actions that more than 375 large corporations have taken to squeeze Russia economically. The list also points out a handful of “holdouts” that have yet to pull products, shut down stores or turn off services.

“I believe that through this collective action we can have a greater impact and, as someone who builds tech products for a living, I wanted to put together a resource that is accurate, up-to-date, and easy to use,” he said. Algard, who just last week visited his company’s team in Budapest, Hungary and was inspired by the support of Ukrainian refugees.

The Coalition for Ukraine list is segmented into three dozen sectors, from transportation and technology to retail and real estate. It also provides links to news coverage about the moves by the large corporations.

Hiya CEO Alex Algard

Algard is not the first to create a list showcasing the actions of large corporations.

Last week, a spreadsheet created by Yale University professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and his research team gained media attention for showcasing companies that – at the time – were still operating in Russia. Some of the laggards, like McDonald’s, have now switched course, temporarily closing operations in Russia. McDonald’s will continue to pay its Russian employees, and the PBS News Hour reported this week that the closures would cost the fast food chain about $ 50 million per month.

The New York Times also recently published a list of companies that have partially or fully pulled out of Russia, and yesterday reported that some companies that took initial steps to curtail business in Russia are under pressure to do even more.

In the Seattle area, tech companies such as Microsoft and Amazon have stopped selling services to new customers in Russia, but Ukrainian officials have pressed the tech giants to fully cut off cloud services. On Monday, Ukraine’s foreign minister called for a widespread economic boycott of global firms that have continued to operate in Russia.

Algard said he’s continuously updating the list at the Coalition for Ukraine, and has a small team researching developments. One of the insights he’s drawn from creating the list is just how quickly the global business community mobilized.

“When I look at the full list, it’s really impressive,” he said. “I’m not sure I’ve seen this level of collective action by global companies in my lifetime.”

And Algard is not the only Seattle area entrepreneur taking action.

Avi Schiffmann, a 19-year-old Seattle techie who previously set up a website to track COVID counts worldwide, just launched a new website called Ukraine Take Shelter to help Ukrainian refugees find safe spaces to stay.

Editor’s note: Know of Seattle area tech companies with operations and employees in Ukraine? We want to hear from you. Email us at tips@geekwire.com.

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