Epic Games bans Russian trade in games

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Red Hat employees return to their Raleigh headquarters after a meeting at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. IBM is to acquire the Raleigh-based software maker in a $34 billion deal , the two companies announced on Sunday.

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In response to the bombing of Ukrainian towns, some of the largest employers in the Triangle have begun shutting down operations in Russia and supporting workers who may be under threat of attack in Ukraine.

IBM and Red Hat, two of the Research Triangle’s biggest tech employers, said this week they would halt sales and services to companies based in Russia and neighboring Belarus, which is supporting the Russian invasion.

Both companies have employees in Ukraine and Russia, and have begun efforts to support or help them leave the country. (Many workers cannot leave the country because Ukraine has banned adult men from leaving, instead asking them to stay and fight.)

Red Hat has chartered several buses to help the families of its employees flee to Poland. IBM has created a mapping app that helps Ukrainian employees and contractors connect with colleagues in Eastern Europe who can offer accommodation, transport and food.

“The safety and security of IBMers and their families in all areas impacted by this crisis remains our top priority,” IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said in a letter to employees.

SAS, Cary’s largest employer, has also halted operations in Russia and placed nearly 200 employees there on paid leave, an SAS spokesperson told the Triangle Business Journal.

SAS has no employees in Ukraine.

Epic Games, the Cary-based video game company behind popular game Fortnite, said: in a Tweet, that he was “stopping trade” with Russia in his games. However, the company added that it would not restrict access.

“We don’t block access for the same reason other communication tools stay online: the free world should keep all lines of dialogue open,” the company wrote.

Epic will however block russian players to be eligible for Fortnite tournament prizes.

Cisco, a major employer in Research Triangle Park, also ceased operations in Russia and said it was focusing on supporting its employees in Ukraine. “We stand with Ukraine and condemn this unwarranted war,” Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said in a letter to employees. according to Marketwatch.

GSK, a pharmaceutical company with around 1,300 employees in Durham, said in a declarationit has about 400 employees in Ukraine whom it supports.

Vis-à-vis Russia, GSK takes a position which seems be popular among many health-oriented companies: stop advertising, but not sales of health products.

“In line with our goal to support the health of people, regardless of race, gender, nationality, ethnic origin, language or religion, we believe that everyone has the right to access healthcare,” the company wrote. “…For this reason, we will continue to supply our products to the Russian people, as long as we can.”

It should be noted that leaving the Russian market does not pose a huge risk for most American companies. If exports to Ukraine and Russia were halted, it would reduce US gross domestic product growth by less than 0.1%, according to UNC’s Kenan Institute.

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Zachery Eanes is Innovate Raleigh’s reporter for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. It covers technology, startups and high street companies, biotech, and education issues related to these fields.

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