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Technology

Apple Warns Suppliers

Friday, August 5, 2022
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The context
Apple has warned suppliers to cease using labels that read "made in Taiwan" to comply with Chinese labeling rules in the wake of Nancy Pelosi's visit to the island.
Technology
Friday, August 5, 2022

Apple Warns Suppliers

The context
Apple has warned suppliers to cease using labels that read "made in Taiwan" to comply with Chinese labeling rules in the wake of Nancy Pelosi's visit to the island.
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Anything but the R.O.C.

  • Apple reportedly told suppliers today that products from Taiwan must be labeled as made in "Taiwan, China" or "Chinese Taipei."
  • Products made in Taiwan are often labeled as being made in the Republic of China, which China does not support since it implies Taiwanese independence.
  • Taiwan is a leading global supplier of semiconductor chips that companies like Apple use in their products.
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Give and take

  • China is Taiwan's leading trading partner. Exports from Taiwan exceed imports to the island from China, placing them in an economic problem where they need China to continue to buy their products.
  • China could decide to leverage the import to export surplus by sanctioning and restricting exporters from Taiwan.
  • China relies on Taiwan for semiconductor chips and the supplies needed to manufacture the chips domestically.
  • China prodded at Apple's supply chain today as the campus of their supplier Pegatron Corporation was searched by economic authorities to check for labeling violations.
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Technology

Ongoing Fallout from Solana Hack

Thursday, August 4, 2022
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The context
The cryptocurrency exchange platform Solana revealed today that hackers gained access to users' holdings through Slope Finance's mobile wallet, where some Solana users stored their cryptocurrency holdings.
Technology
Thursday, August 4, 2022

Ongoing Fallout from Solana Hack

The context
The cryptocurrency exchange platform Solana revealed today that hackers gained access to users' holdings through Slope Finance's mobile wallet, where some Solana users stored their cryptocurrency holdings.
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Theft linked

  • Solana's entire ecosystem of holdings was drained by hackers who stole the platform's currency and USD coins.
  • After an investigation into the hack, Solana revealed that hackers gained access through the mobile wallet app, Slope.
  • Slope Finance is a mobile wallet that allows users to complete transactions and store cryptocurrency. It is believed that hackers accessed Solana's holdings through users' Slope wallets.
  • Over $4 million in assets were stolen in the attack.
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Technology

BlackRock Goes For Crypto

Thursday, August 4, 2022
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The context
BlackRock will partner with Coinbase Prime to offer institutional investors a channel for purchasing and holding crypto. The value of Coinbase shares rose in response to the deal.
Technology
Thursday, August 4, 2022

BlackRock Goes For Crypto

The context
BlackRock will partner with Coinbase Prime to offer institutional investors a channel for purchasing and holding crypto. The value of Coinbase shares rose in response to the deal.
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Here we go

  • BlackRock is a massive asset management firm, and they announced today that they will partner with the crypto wallet, Coinbase to allow institutional investors to access cryptocurrencies directly.
  • Users of Aladdin, BlackRock's investment management platform, who also use Coinbase, will now be able to use the platform for crypto trading, storage, prime brokerage, and reporting capabilities.
  • Instead of managing assets on different platforms, investors can manage their crypto and traditional investments on the same platform.
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Signaling something

  • BlackRock's and Coinbase's shares rose in value after news of the partnership was released.
  • Aladdin and Coinbase Prime users will only be able to manage Bitcoin on the platform.
  • The deal is a much needed infusion for Coinbase, which has been struggling through the crypto winter and was forced to lay off staff a month ago.
  • It is also facing an investigation by the SEC over whether it allowed Americans to trade crypto assets which should have been defined as securities.
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Technology

TwitchCon Under Fire

Wednesday, August 3, 2022
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The context
TwitchCon in San Diego announced they won't require attendees to wear masks, or be vaccinated against Covid-19 to attend the convention, prompting some creators to opt out of the conference altogether.
Technology
Wednesday, August 3, 2022

TwitchCon Under Fire

The context
TwitchCon in San Diego announced they won't require attendees to wear masks, or be vaccinated against Covid-19 to attend the convention, prompting some creators to opt out of the conference altogether.
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Creators say no thanks

  • Twitch is a live-video game streaming service where users can tune into their favorite player's streams and watch them play. Users can also stream games they are playing with friends.
  • Twitch is hosting a convention in San Diego at the same convention center where San Diego Comic-Con was hosted. Several attendees reported contracting Covid-19 from Comic Con despite mask mandates that were in place.
  • The streaming platform decided to forgo mask and vaccine mandates, making some creators reconsider their attendance as Covid-19 numbers are on the rise again and monkeypox cases spread in California.
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Pandemic ongoing

  • While the state of California doesn't currently mandate indoor masking, Twitch could enforce its masking policy at the convention.
  • While a convention on the side of TwitchCon is going to be 100% safe, attendees feel more comfortable with masking and vaccine mandates in place.
  • The conference takes place in October, so the organizers have plenty of time to change their minds.
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The context
The online investing platform Robinhood is having a tough Wednesday. The company announced it would cut about 23% of its staff, and the New York State Department of Financial Services slapped the crypto-trading division of the company with a $30 million fine.
The context
The online investing platform Robinhood is having a tough Wednesday. The company announced it would cut about 23% of its staff, and the New York State Department of Financial Services slapped the crypto-trading division of the company with a $30 million fine.
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Slimming down

  • The CEO of Robinhood, Vlad Tenev, said that company will cut its staff by 23%. The layoffs are expected to mostly impact employees in operations, marketing, and program management.
  • Tenev cited a broad crypto-market crash and the deterioration of the online investing world with a looming recession and rising inflation.
  • Robinhood released its second-quarter earnings, and they were disappointing. Their results showed a decline in the number of active users and stored assets on the platform.
  • Robinhood's earnings in the second quarter totaled $318 million and increased from the first quarter's earnings of $299 million.
  • Robinhood previously laid off 9% of its staff in April.
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New York breaks ground

  • The New York State Department of Financial Services has taken its first regulatory action against a crypto firm by fining Robinhood for $30 million.
  • Robinhood employed some shoddy business practices to operate its crypto trading arms, including understaffing the division, violations of anti-money laundering, and cybersecurity regulations.
  • According to financial regulators, Robinhood was not compliant with crypto-trading regulations when they were granted and started operating under a New York state license.
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Technology

Antitrust May Take a Bite of Apple

Tuesday, August 2, 2022
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The context
A group of French iOS app developers is suing Apple over fees that make it difficult to sell their apps in the Apple app store and over antitrust practices that make it difficult to sell their apps anywhere else.
Technology
Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Antitrust May Take a Bite of Apple

The context
A group of French iOS app developers is suing Apple over fees that make it difficult to sell their apps in the Apple app store and over antitrust practices that make it difficult to sell their apps anywhere else.
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Too high

  • The developers are suing Apple in a California court, alleging that the company is overcharging developers to use the app store and that those high fees are unlawful because developers have no choice but to pay them to use the store to sell their apps.
  • This isn't the first time Apple has faced an antitrust suit from developers over its dominating app store. This particular suit seeks damages for violations of federal and California antitrust laws and a reprieve from anti-competitive practices.
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iOS or bust

  • The suit accuses Apple of only allowing iOS devices to be sold on the App Store to force developers to pay unlawfully high fees.
  • The plaintiffs will be represented by Hagen Berman, a law firm that successfully sued Apple last year over their App Store policies. They won a $100 million settlement in the suit. Berman also recently sued Apple for antitrust practices with Apple Pay.
  • The suit wants Apple to reimburse developers for overcharging and allow for competition in iOS app distribution.
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Technology

Nomadic Coins

Tuesday, August 2, 2022
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The context
Hackers stole almost $200 million in coins from the cryptocurrency transactions platform Nomad. Nomad announced the hack today, saying they were working to return the coins to the rightful owners after hackers exploited a security upgrade to drain the company.
Technology
Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Nomadic Coins

The context
Hackers stole almost $200 million in coins from the cryptocurrency transactions platform Nomad. Nomad announced the hack today, saying they were working to return the coins to the rightful owners after hackers exploited a security upgrade to drain the company.
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Stolen coins

  • The crypto firm, Nomad, was hit by a massive hack which resulted in the theft of $190 million in cryptocurrency assets.
  • Nomad is a bridge allowing users to send coins or assets across blockchains like Avalanche, Ethereum, Evmos, Moonbeam, and Milkomeda C1.
  • Before the hack, Nomad raised $22 million from investors last week. The investors included Coinbase.
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Not much left

  • The hackers drained Nomad of almost all of its stored assets.
  • They accessed the coins by exploiting a security update that allowed them to mimic legitimate transactions. When users sent assets through the bridge, Nomad never checked the exact amount, which allowed the hackers to request sums of money that didn't belong to them.
  • Nomad's announcement of the hack revealed they had hired a blockchain intelligence and forensics agency and were working to return the coins to the rightful owner.
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Technology

Bolt Mobility Bolts for the Hills

Monday, August 1, 2022
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The context
The popular scooter and e-bike sharing company, Bolt Mobility, has all but vanished, leaving behind hundreds of e-bikes and ghosting city officials who are desperate to know where in the world they could have gone.
Technology
Monday, August 1, 2022

Bolt Mobility Bolts for the Hills

The context
The popular scooter and e-bike sharing company, Bolt Mobility, has all but vanished, leaving behind hundreds of e-bikes and ghosting city officials who are desperate to know where in the world they could have gone.
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Nuisance for small scale cities

  • The Miami-based e-bike and scooter sharing company Bolt Mobility is co-owned and co-founded by Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt.
  • Bolt had contracts in several smaller-scale cities like Burlington, Vermont, and Richmond, California.
  • Bolt was rapidly climbing the start-up ladder after acquiring the assets of Last Mile Holdings, which opened up contracts with 48 new cities.
  • They also recently secured a massive funding boost from Ram Charan in May.
  • Now, they seem to have vanished or gone out of business. Attempts by the press or city officials to contact the company have gone unanswered.
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Bikes with no home

  • Following the news that the start-up may have folded, the stock price has dropped from $10 to just 50 cents.
  • While some cities had advanced notice that the company was shutting down, some have been completely unable to reach the company.
  • The company left behind scooters and bikes, with no clear plan in place for cities to get rid of the equipment and no way to contact the company about the leftover inventory.
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Technology

Bring the Mall to You with Amazon

Monday, August 1, 2022
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The context
Amazon is launching a same-day delivery service that includes items from Mall-superstars PacSun, GNC, Superdry, and Diesel.
Technology
Monday, August 1, 2022

Bring the Mall to You with Amazon

The context
Amazon is launching a same-day delivery service that includes items from Mall-superstars PacSun, GNC, Superdry, and Diesel.
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From home

  • Prime members in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, Miami, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Seattle, and Washington D.C. will be able to shop from select retail stores with same-day delivery.
  • An Amazon delivery partner will pick up the items from the retail store's location and bring them to the shopper's door instead of Amazon carrying them in their warehouses.
  • The current offering of stores will expand to include 100% Pure and Sur La Table, according to Amazon.
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Trip to the mall

  • Prime members can also opt for same-day pick up from stores if they don't want delivery.
  • Non-prime members will also be able to access same-day-pick up from the retail stores but will need to spend a minimum of $25.
  • The move is likely a play to enhance Amazon's growing fulfillment business without needing to expand its warehouses.
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Technology

Hack Hits the Courts

Friday, July 29, 2022
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The context
A report from Politico broke the news today that the Department of Justice is investigating a security breach of the federal court system that occurred in early 2020. Lawmakers were informed of the hack in March 2021.
Technology
Friday, July 29, 2022

Hack Hits the Courts

The context
A report from Politico broke the news today that the Department of Justice is investigating a security breach of the federal court system that occurred in early 2020. Lawmakers were informed of the hack in March 2021.
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Committee hearing

  • House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler revealed that the DOJ is investigating a security system failure that occurred in early 2020 at a committee oversight hearing on the Justice Department's National Security Division.
  • Nadler revealed that three hostile foreign actors had attacked the federal court's filing system, which resulted in a data breach and a system failure.
  • He also said the committee learned about the hack in March of 2021.
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Data breach

  • Members of the committee expressed concern that they were just being alerted to the hack.
  • In early 2021, the federal court system announced they would be going low-tech and opting out of using digital case management and electronic case files system. At the time, they claimed it was a result of the Solar Winds hack, but now it seems like their own hack could prompt the decision.
  • The details of the hack and which countries could be involved are not publicly available.
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Technology

We Want the Old Instagram Back

Thursday, July 28, 2022
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The context
Instagram has been the talk of the tech-town this week after Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian posted a photo to their stories telling Instagram to stop trying to be Tik Tok. The flack caused Instagram's CEO to take to the internet to say that Instagram is doubling down on showing users recommended content instead of content from the people they follow, but they have now walked back on that declaration.
Technology
Thursday, July 28, 2022

We Want the Old Instagram Back

The context
Instagram has been the talk of the tech-town this week after Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian posted a photo to their stories telling Instagram to stop trying to be Tik Tok. The flack caused Instagram's CEO to take to the internet to say that Instagram is doubling down on showing users recommended content instead of content from the people they follow, but they have now walked back on that declaration.
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Popular opinion

  • Instagram has been increasingly pushing Reels and Ai-recommended content onto users' accounts, and people are frustrated.
  • Kylie Jenner and her sister, Kim Kardashian, are some of the most followed stars on the platform, and both shared messages on their accounts lamenting the direction Instagram is taking.
  • Users are frustrated that they are being shown mostly ad content or content from people they don't follow when they really just want to see their friends.
  • Adam Mosseri responded to the backlash, saying that while Instagram will continue to support photo-sharing, they are looking to transition to a video-based platform.
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Twice as much

  • Mark Zuckerberg seemed unconcerned by the backlash, saying that the platform will double the amount of Ai-generated content users see on their accounts.
  • Currently, 15% of content on Instagram is Ai-recommended. Zuckerberg says he wants to double that percentage by the end of 2023 to compete with Tik Tok, whose content recommending algorithm is their golden goose.
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Nevermind!

  • Adam Mosseri has changed his tune, saying that Instagram will reverse its test, turning users' feeds into mostly recommended posts and videos.
  • He also announced that the internal data from the test reflected the backlash expressed on social media.
  • Instagram still plans to transition to prioritizing videos/reels, but Mosseri said they would find a better way to do it.
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The context
A California judge ruled that Uber doesn't have to offer wheelchair-accessible rides in every market.
Technology
Thursday, July 28, 2022

Judge Makes a Ruling On Uber Accessibility

The context
A California judge ruled that Uber doesn't have to offer wheelchair-accessible rides in every market.
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Judge decides

  • The judge ruled that Uber was not violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by not providing wheelchair users with accommodating rides.
  • The two plaintiffs in the case use motorized wheelchairs and live in New Orleans and Jackson, Mississippi. They contend that Uber violated the ADA by not providing them with rides that could accommodate motorized wheelchairs.
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Not every city

  • The ruling means that it is up to Uber which cities they offer wheelchair accommodations in.
  • Uber settled a lawsuit with the US Department of Justice that claimed that Uber discriminates against disabled passengers. As part of the settlement, Uber will issue credits to disabled passengers that had to pay wait fees.
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Technology

Meta's Rare Miss

Wednesday, July 27, 2022
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The context
Meta has posted its first-ever quarterly revenue decline in Q2 and announced that its chief financial officer, David Wehner, will become its chief strategy officer.
Technology
Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Meta's Rare Miss

The context
Meta has posted its first-ever quarterly revenue decline in Q2 and announced that its chief financial officer, David Wehner, will become its chief strategy officer.
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First ever

  • The revenue decline is Meta's first ever since it went public in 2012.
  • The decline has some experts speculating whether Facebook/Meta's long-lasting and strong growth period is behind them.
  • Meta also projected weak third-quarter revenue, expecting between $26 billion and $28.5 billion, less than the $30 billion expected by analysts.

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C-suite changes

  • David Wehner will transition from his role as CFO to chief security officer.
  • Susan Li, who is currently the VP of finance, will become CFO.
  • Meta also announced they would be cutting costs to increase revenue.

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Technology

Truly Unstoppable Domain

Wednesday, July 27, 2022
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The context
The Web3 startup Unstoppable Domains raised $65 million in Series A funding, reaching a $1 billion valuation.
Technology
Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Truly Unstoppable Domain

The context
The Web3 startup Unstoppable Domains raised $65 million in Series A funding, reaching a $1 billion valuation.
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Unicorn status

  • Unstoppable Domains is a platform that allows users to create and mint a unique digital identity that is stored as an NFT on the Ethereum blockchain.
  • The company has registered 2.5 million domains/identities to date.
  • Pantera Capital led the investment round. Other investors include Mayfield, Gaingels, Alchemy Ventures, Redbeard Ventures, Spartan Group, OKG Investments, Polygon, CoinDCX, CoinGecko, We3 syndicate, Rainfall Capital, Broadhaven, EI Ventures, Hardyaka, Alt Tab Capital, Boost VC, and Draper Associates.

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Big bet

  • The platform has integrations that allow users to use their unique digital identity, which is tied to the blockchain, to log purchases, trade crypto, or even prove their identity to log into services like email.
  • The unique domain also makes sending or selling crypto easier since it can replace a lengthy wallet address that users might mess up.
  • The founders believe that people should be able to own their own digital identity, and investors apparently agree.

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The context
Meta is raising the price of the Quest 2 headset by $100 next month, raising the cost of admission to the metaverse.
Technology
Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Meta Raises the Prices of Quest 2 Headsets

The context
Meta is raising the price of the Quest 2 headset by $100 next month, raising the cost of admission to the metaverse.
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Meta's looking for revenue

  • The steep price hike is remarkable, considering the headset was one of the best deals in the virtual reality gaming world for years.
  • Meta does not profit from the Quest headset sales because of the high cost of manufacturing and shipping the headsets. Supply chain shortages and inflation have made them even more expensive to manufacture.
  • Antitrust regulators may sue Meta for selling the product for such a low price that they forced out competitors and then raised the price, effectively forcing users to pay more for the dominant product.

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More to come

  • Meta announced a new headset edition, the 256G version, will come out on September 1st.
  • Meta also said that it has a whole slate of VR goodies to come, which may start with the launch of the Quest Pro, a full-color, hyper-realistic headset with depth sensors.

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Technology

Not So International Space Station

Tuesday, July 26, 2022
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The context
Russia has announced that they will leave the International Space Station after 2024 and build their own space outpost.
Technology
Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Not So International Space Station

The context
Russia has announced that they will leave the International Space Station after 2024 and build their own space outpost.
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Until 2024

  • The new chief of Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, announced that the country would be opting out of the International Space Station program after 2024 to focus on building its own Russian outpost.
  • The design of the ISS means that the Russian and US sections are interdependent.
  • President Joe Biden has directed the International Space Agency to remain in operation until 2023.
  • The announcement comes about two weeks after a deal was finally reached between the US and Russia to trade seats aboard Russian and American spacecraft traveling to and from the ISS.

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End of an era

  • Russia intends to fulfill its commitments to the other partners in the ISS before withdrawing from the project.
  • The ISS is run by Russia, the U.S., Europe, Japan, and Canada. Instead of investing in repairs on the existing ISS or pitching in to build a new one together, Russia will opt to build its own station.
  • The ISS is used to conduct research in zero gravity and test technologies for future space travel.

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Technology

T-Mobile's Massive Settlement

Monday, July 25, 2022
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The context
T-Mobile agreed to a $350 million settlement with victims of a 2021 cyber attack where about 76.6 million users' data like data names, dates of birth, and even Social Security numbers were stolen from T-Mobile.
Technology
Monday, July 25, 2022

T-Mobile's Massive Settlement

The context
T-Mobile agreed to a $350 million settlement with victims of a 2021 cyber attack where about 76.6 million users' data like data names, dates of birth, and even Social Security numbers were stolen from T-Mobile.
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Terms of engagement

  • In the 2021 cyberattack, data about T-Mobile users was stolen by hackers.
  • As per the settlement terms, they will pay a total of $350 million to users whose data was stolen and spend an additional $150 million to improve their cybersecurity.

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$5 dollars

  • If you are a T-Mobile user, you may be entitled to a whopping $5 if your data was stolen in the hack.
  • It may take users several months to be notified that they are entitled to settlement money from the class action lawsuit.

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Technology

Partners with All the Chips

Monday, July 25, 2022
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The context
Intel has struck a deal with Taiwan-based MediaTek. MediaTek will use Intel's Foundry Service to produce chips in an ongoing strategic partnership.
Technology
Monday, July 25, 2022

Partners with All the Chips

The context
Intel has struck a deal with Taiwan-based MediaTek. MediaTek will use Intel's Foundry Service to produce chips in an ongoing strategic partnership.
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Chips on the mind

  • Intel is pushing to increase chip-making capability, both domestically and internationally. Intel is developing a large chip production plant in Columbus, Ohio.
  • Last year, Intel launched its foundry service to take advantage of a global chip shortage.
  • MediaTek is a Taiwanese smartphone chip designer and the partnership means that Intel Foundry Service will produce chips for the company.
  • The CEO of MediaTek called the deal a part of a push to diversify its supply chain and said the partnership was an opportunity to expand on an already robust relationship between the two companies.

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Big boost

  • The deal will bolster the domestic production of chips.
  • Intel was outperformed in the chip-making market because of internal manufacturing problems and fierce competition in Taiwan by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung.
  • The partnership could be a huge boost for the domestic production of chips. Intel is lobbying for the passage of a domestic chip production bill in Congress, and this deal could help pass that legislation

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Technology

Impending Ford Layoffs

Friday, July 22, 2022
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The context
Ford will reportedly slash the jobs of 8,000 employees in order to expand its electric vehicle manufacturing.
Technology
Friday, July 22, 2022

Impending Ford Layoffs

The context
Ford will reportedly slash the jobs of 8,000 employees in order to expand its electric vehicle manufacturing.
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Fueling expansion

  • Ford split into Ford Blue and Ford Model E. Ford Blue is the company's legacy combustion engine manufacturing business. Ford Model E is their electric vehicle manufacturing arm.
  • The cuts will happen at Ford Blue as it aims to reduce operating costs to spend more on manufacturing electric vehicles.
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Delicate balance

  • Ford is gearing up to spend $50 billion to make two million electric vehicles annually by 2026.
  • Automakers like Ford are spending big bucks on manufacturing electric vehicles.
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Technology

Snap Stock Implodes

Friday, July 22, 2022
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The context
After posting poor Q2 earnings, Snap's stock value is in a freefall, diving as much as 38%.
Technology
Friday, July 22, 2022

Snap Stock Implodes

The context
After posting poor Q2 earnings, Snap's stock value is in a freefall, diving as much as 38%.
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Bad day to be a stock

  • Snap stocks are having a meltdown after the company posted disappointing Q2 earnings yesterday.
  • The report showed that the company did not meet revenue forecasts. Due to ongoing market uncertainty, they did not provide guidance on revenue or performance in future quarters.
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Unfortunate outcome

  • On Friday morning, the shares of Snap had fallen 35% in value.
  • Snap pointed to market uncertainty, slowing demand for its ad platform, and competition from apps like Tik Tok when they justified the disappointing results.
  • Snap plans to slow hiring to account for the lost revenue.
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Technology

Oh the Power Twitter Holds

Thursday, July 21, 2022
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The context
The Department of Justice has charged three people, including one Coinbase employee, with insider trading in a scheme that a user on Twitter uncovered.
Technology
Thursday, July 21, 2022

Oh the Power Twitter Holds

The context
The Department of Justice has charged three people, including one Coinbase employee, with insider trading in a scheme that a user on Twitter uncovered.
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Details of the scheme

  • The US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York has indicted a former Coinbase employee for his role in a crypto trading scheme.
  • The employee, Ishan Wahi, worked on a team at Coinbase with access to a channel where employees talked about which tokens would be listed and when upcoming projects would launch.
  • Wahi then told his brother and friend when and which tokens and assets to buy right before they were listed, which they could resell at astronomically higher prices. The pair allegedly bought at least 25 tokens/assets before they were listed on Coinbase.
  • The charges allege that the three schemers made over $1.1 million in about a year by leveraging non-public information.
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Blockchain sleuth

  • The scheme was uncovered by a Twitter user who goes by Colbie on the site. In April, Colbie tweeted that he'd found an Ethereum address that had bought hundreds of thousands of dollars of tokens exclusively listed by Coinbase hours before the listing was posted.
  • Coinbase's chief security officer saw and responded to the tweet, prompting an investigation into the Ethereum address, which was eventually linked all the way back to Ishan Wahi.
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Technology

Amazon Buys One Medical

Thursday, July 21, 2022
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The context
Amazon will buy primary healthcare provider One Medical for about $3.9 billion in its latest move into the healthcare world. However, some people are concerned about the implications of Amazon's access to One Medical users' healthcare data.
Technology
Thursday, July 21, 2022

Amazon Buys One Medical

The context
Amazon will buy primary healthcare provider One Medical for about $3.9 billion in its latest move into the healthcare world. However, some people are concerned about the implications of Amazon's access to One Medical users' healthcare data.
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Prime access

  • Amazon will acquire One Medial, which went public in 2020 and operates a network of primary care practices and telehealth services.
  • Neil Lindsay, the senior vice president of Amazon Health Services, said that Amazon was prioritizing expanding into healthcare and called the industry "high on the list of experiences that need reinvention."
  • One Medical CEO, Amir Dan Rubin, said that being bought by Amazon and integrating with the giant is "an immense opportunity to make the health care experience more accessible, affordable, and even enjoyable for patients, providers, and payers."
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Books to healthcare

  • This deal is Andy Jassy's, who took over from Jeff Bezos, first deal as CEO.
  • One Medical has a huge network of patients; more than 8,500 employers are customers.
  • In 2019, Amazon began running a service similar to One Medical's designed to treat Amazon employees, which they tried to get other employers to adopt. The acquisition of One Medical might allow them to expand their Amazon Care program with the well-established network that One Medical will bring along.
  • Amazon also purchased PillPack in 2018, which saw them expand into the pharmaceutical world, so the acquisition of One Medical will equip them to tackle the healthcare world with full force.
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Technology

Get Ready to Chat on Xbox

Wednesday, July 20, 2022
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The context
Discord is being integrated onto Xbox, eventually allowing users to send voice chats and chat with other players through their console.
Technology
Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Get Ready to Chat on Xbox

The context
Discord is being integrated onto Xbox, eventually allowing users to send voice chats and chat with other players through their console.
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First look

  • Starting today, Xbox insiders will be able to test our Discord on the platform to chat with friends and other players through the console, as long as the user has Discord's and Xbox's mobile apps.
  • The rollout is limited to Discord voice calls and not text channels.
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Go to

  • Discord is the go-to platform for gamers who want to chat with their friends while playing games, so the integration is incredibly exciting for gamers to be able to play and talk on the same platform.
  • In addition to integrating with Xbox, Discord will partner with Sony to bring the voice calling service onto PlayStation.
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Technology

OpenAI Opens Up

Wednesday, July 20, 2022
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The context
OpenAI is expanding access to its image-generating platform, DALL-E 2, which uses AI to generate original images.
Technology
Wednesday, July 20, 2022

OpenAI Opens Up

The context
OpenAI is expanding access to its image-generating platform, DALL-E 2, which uses AI to generate original images.
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Open Sesame!

  • OpenAI's DALL-E 2 allows users to input a prompt to generate original images, which they can then edit or refine.
  • The company announced they are allowing more users onto the platform and hope to allow access to about 1 million people off their waitlist within the next few weeks.
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Images at a click

  • The tool is one of the most advanced AI image generators out there.
  • OpenAI has kept access extremely limited, so testers, researchers, and academics could help to establish guardrails for the technology so bad actors don't use it to create or spread misinformation.
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Technology

Welcome to the Otherside

Tuesday, July 19, 2022
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The context
If you are a virtual land deed owner in Yuga Lab's gaming platform "Otherside," then you can start experiencing the NFT company's take on the metaverse. The founders are already thinking about the next steps after their virtual world beta testing is complete.
Technology
Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Welcome to the Otherside

The context
If you are a virtual land deed owner in Yuga Lab's gaming platform "Otherside," then you can start experiencing the NFT company's take on the metaverse. The founders are already thinking about the next steps after their virtual world beta testing is complete.
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Future plans

  • The Yuga Labs team hopes that Otherside will become a platform for game developers to release and build games on which they and users can monetize by buying ownership of the virtual universe.
  • It will compete with platforms like Epic Games, Roblox, and Meta. The key difference will be the component of virtual land ownership which they hope will draw people by the thousands into the virtual world.
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First voyages

  • The app is open to a select group of "voyagers" who can explore the fully virtual gaming universe.
  • The requirements for access are that you hold an "otherdeed," which is essentially a token of virtual land ownership, or that you are a third-party developer.
  • The exclusivity of the platform, driven by the high price of "otherdeeds" and the cost of NFT ownership, has garnered criticism from advocates for an "open metaverse."
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Technology

Another Blizzard Union

Tuesday, July 19, 2022
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The context
QA testers at Activision Blizzard in Albany want to follow the example of the Raven Software team, who unionized in May by joining the Game Workers Alliance and Communications Workers of America.
Technology
Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Another Blizzard Union

The context
QA testers at Activision Blizzard in Albany want to follow the example of the Raven Software team, who unionized in May by joining the Game Workers Alliance and Communications Workers of America.
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Our turn!

  • Workers at Raven Software, a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard in Wisconsin, voted to unionize in May.
  • Activision Blizzard is set to be acquired by Microsoft and has a history of poor working conditions and a toxic work environment.
  • QA testers in Albany, who are responsible for testing and clearing bugs before the launch of a game, decided to unionize.
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QA's the way

  • The QA department said that their work conditions have been untenable. Because QA testers address bugs in the games, they are often subjected to "crunch conditions" before the launch of a game, where they are forced to work long hours with no overtime pay.
  • The workers said they are unionizing to address issues of lack of fair pay and adequate healthcare and establish better working conditions during "crunch times."
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Technology

Russia Fines Google

Tuesday, July 19, 2022
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The context
Russia reportedly fined Google around $360 million for content violations showing the Ukraine war, which they call "fake news."
Technology
Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Russia Fines Google

The context
Russia reportedly fined Google around $360 million for content violations showing the Ukraine war, which they call "fake news."
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Russia goes for the fines

  • Russia is cracking down on Google for showing content that the Russian government decided is illegal. The "illegal content" is allegedly content about the war in Ukraine, which Russia wants to censor.
  • Russia and other social media platforms have also been at war over illegal content. However, according to Russia, YouTube is the main culprit for not deleting "fakes" of military action in Ukraine.
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Long time coming

  • Russia threatened to fine Google for failing to remove content showing "extremism and terrorism" in March.
  • Google's Russian subsidiary filed for bankruptcy last month, and Google stated it would cease operations in Russia in May.
  • It is unclear whether Google will pay the fine.
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Technology

UAE to the Moon?

Monday, July 18, 2022
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The context
The United Arab Emirates will commit $820 million to a new space fund to boost its interstellar capabilities. The first investment will be in a satellite network.
Technology
Monday, July 18, 2022

UAE to the Moon?

The context
The United Arab Emirates will commit $820 million to a new space fund to boost its interstellar capabilities. The first investment will be in a satellite network.
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Big time boost

  • The National Space Fund will help focus UAE's economy on diversifying its reach outside of oil/gas. The development of the space economy is part of a big bet that the NSF will make on a future driven by the stars.
  • The first investment will be a network of satellites with high-resolution image capability.
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Exploration inbound

  • In addition to building a satellite network they aim to launch in the next three years, they also seek to explore Venus.
  • The UAE has already sent a satellite into orbit and an orbiter to Mars. They also hope to send a probe to the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter sometime in the early 2030s.
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Technology

Sony Acquires Bungie

Friday, July 15, 2022
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The context
Sony's deal to acquire Bungie went through today, and the developer of Destiny 2, is officially part of the Sony family.
Technology
Friday, July 15, 2022

Sony Acquires Bungie

The context
Sony's deal to acquire Bungie went through today, and the developer of Destiny 2, is officially part of the Sony family.
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Bungie and Sony, sitting in a tree

  • Sony announced today that the deal to buy video game developer Bungie, which began in January, is officially closed.
  • Sony acquired Bungie in a $3.6 billion deal.
  • Bungie will continue to produce and release games while Sony will amp up its live service gaming capabilities on the PlayStation.
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After buying Bungie, Sony goes all-in on live service games

  • The acquisition represents Sony's desire to go all in on live service games. Sony announced that it will release ten new live service games by March 2026.
  • Sony will use Bungie's expertise in live service game development to give some classic titles like Uncharted and Spider-Man the live service treatment.
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Technology

Switch Up at Tik Tok

Friday, July 15, 2022
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The context
The chief security officer of Tik Tok is stepping down after scrutiny from U.S. officials over data privacy concerns.
Technology
Friday, July 15, 2022

Switch Up at Tik Tok

The context
The chief security officer of Tik Tok is stepping down after scrutiny from U.S. officials over data privacy concerns.
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Cloutier is out

  • Ronald Cloutier is stepping down as chief security officer on September 2nd.
  • The dance and video sharing app has faced intense scrutiny over whether the Chinese government has access to and has accessed U.S. users' data.
  • Tik Tok is working on a new program to address concerns called "Project Texas," where they will route and store American users' data through Oracle servers in Texas.
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New role

  • Cloutier will take on an advisory role serving as a strategic advisor for the business impact of security and trust programs.
  • Tik Tok has also created a dedicated U.S.-based data security team who will act as gatekeepers for user information and hopefully minimize China's access to data.
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Technology

Celsius Files For Bankruptcy

Thursday, July 14, 2022
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The context
One of crypto's largest lenders, Celsius, has filed for chapter 15 bankruptcy.
Technology
Thursday, July 14, 2022

Celsius Files For Bankruptcy

The context
One of crypto's largest lenders, Celsius, has filed for chapter 15 bankruptcy.
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Celsius Network falls through the ice

  • Celsius has filed for bankruptcy protection just one month after freezing customers' assets and pausing withdrawals from the site.
  • The company has somewhere between $1 billion and $10 billion in assets and more than 100,000 creditors.
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Worsening winter

  • Celsius allowed users to deposit Bitcoin and Ethereum coins and earn interest on their assets. They promised yields north of 18% on assets stored with the platform.
  • Users who deposit coins onto the platform are worried they may never see their money again since retail investors are usually a low priority in bankruptcy dealings prioritizing secured creditors.
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The context
The NFT marketplace OpenSea laid off 20% as it slips into hibernation for a crypto winter.
Technology
Thursday, July 14, 2022

OpenSea Sends Employees into Open Waters

The context
The NFT marketplace OpenSea laid off 20% as it slips into hibernation for a crypto winter.
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Latest layoff

  • OpenSea, which suffered a massive hack in June, announced they are letting go of 20% of their staff.
  • Those laid off will receive severance and can keep their healthcare through the company until 2023.
  • The CEO called the decision a mechanism for extending the company's ability to coast through the crypto-winter. "We need to prepare the company for the possibility of a prolonged downturn. The changes we're making today put us in a position to maintain multiple years of runway under various crypto winter scenarios (5 years at current volume)."
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It's getting cold in here

  • OpenSea has had a difficult year. They were hacked through Customer.io, and virtually anyone who had logged an email with the platform's information was leaked. A top executive at the company was also fired after he was convicted of insider trading of NFTs.
  • The layoffs again call OpenSea's company policies into question after pursuing such aggressive growth.
  • The CEO shared the note he sent to employees on Twitter. In the note, he writes, "We've been though winter before and we built this company with the cyclicality of crypto in mind."
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Technology

Merger to Create Video Game Unity

Wednesday, July 13, 2022
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The context
Video Gaming powerhouse Unity is merging with Ironsource are merging in a $4.4 billion deal.
Technology
Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Merger to Create Video Game Unity

The context
Video Gaming powerhouse Unity is merging with Ironsource are merging in a $4.4 billion deal.
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Consolidation play

  • Unity, a video gaming and content development platform is merging with Ironsource, an app monetization platform.
  • The two bring together expertise in their fields which could propel the video game platform into higher profitability.
  • Ironsource acquired Tapjoy in January for $400 million. Unity acquired Diva Dynamics in the same month.
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Deal details

  • Unity is buying Ironsource for $4.4 billion in an effort to beef up its digital advertising capabilities.
  • Consumer spending on video games is expected to rise this year, and revenue from mobile games is becoming increasingly important.
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Technology

Ring the Police

Wednesday, July 13, 2022
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The context
Amazon admitted to giving footage from Ring doorbell to the police and the government without permission.
Technology
Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Ring the Police

The context
Amazon admitted to giving footage from Ring doorbell to the police and the government without permission.
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Record amount

  • Ring, acquired by Amazon for $1 billion, has given a record amount of footage to the government and police in the past year.
  • Ring provided the footage to police departments conducting investigations. In more than 85% of cases, the demand for the footage was issued through a court warrant, allowing the company to turn the footage over to the authorities without the owners' knowledge.
  • The company says it turned over footage in four out of ten requests from law enforcement.
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Privacy problem

  • The news comes during Amazon's Prime Day event.
  • The footage was sent in response to emergency requests where the case is made that harm or death will result from a failure to view or obtain the information.
  • Amazon's ability to send over footage comes from a lack of robust privacy protection legislation, which would protect Ring users' privacy and prevent their private footage from being sent to law enforcement without their knowledge.
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Technology

LimeWire, Back from the Dead?

Wednesday, July 13, 2022
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The context
The former person-to-person file sharing platform is reborn today as an NFT marketplace.
Technology
Wednesday, July 13, 2022

LimeWire, Back from the Dead?

The context
The former person-to-person file sharing platform is reborn today as an NFT marketplace.
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New life

  • The new marketplace focuses on music, providing NFT formats of original songs, album or visual artwork, passes, or in-person experiences.
  • The platform features artists like Travis Barket of Blink-182 and Brandy.
  • They also released a limited collection of tokens on the Ethereum blockchain, which, if bought, allows owners access to invite-only events and early access to NFT drops.
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Internet responds

  • LimeWire also launched a series of original NFTs.
  • According to the original CEO, the new marketplace is unaffiliated with the original company.
  • Twitter and Reddit users were quick to laugh at LimeWire's expense, joking about the platform's notoriety for being associated with theft and rampant viruses.
  • The new LimeWire is leveraging early 2000s nostalgia by using the same name and URL.
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The context
An anonymous Twitter employee testified before the January 6th committee about the impact Trump's tweets had on the supporters that stormed the Capitol and Twitter's knowledge of the upcoming potential of violence.
Technology
Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Twitter Employee Testifies in Jan 6th Hearing

The context
An anonymous Twitter employee testified before the January 6th committee about the impact Trump's tweets had on the supporters that stormed the Capitol and Twitter's knowledge of the upcoming potential of violence.
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Donald Trump tweets incited Capitol violence, Twitter employee tells January 6th Committee

  • The former Twitter employee testified that tweets from Donald Trump directly sparked the violent march on the Capitol building.
  • The employee specifically directed the committee to a tweet from December 19th in which Trump encouraged supporters to join him in protesting the certification of election results on January 6th.
  • According to the employee, many at Twitter directly saw the December 19th tweet calling for supporters to "be there. Will be wild" as responsible for the violence.
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Go easy on POTUS

  • The former employee told the committee, "Twitter relished in the knowledge that they were also the favorite and most used service of the former president and enjoyed having that sort of power within the social media ecosystem."
  • The committee presented evidence that Twitter and other social media platforms were complicit in helping Trump, his advisors, and supporters organize the Capitol riot.
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Technology

3AC Founders Go Dark

Tuesday, July 12, 2022
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The context
The founders of Three Arrows Capital, the epically collapsing crypto-hedge fund, have gone missing according to liquidators and investors trying to recoup their losses.
Technology
Tuesday, July 12, 2022

3AC Founders Go Dark

The context
The founders of Three Arrows Capital, the epically collapsing crypto-hedge fund, have gone missing according to liquidators and investors trying to recoup their losses.
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Into the ether

  • The founders of Three Arrows Capital, Su Zhu and Kyle Davies are nowhere to be found.
  • The crypto-based hedge fund filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy last month.
  • Now, officials charged with liquidating the company to pay out their creditors can't find the founders and haven't received any meaningful communication from them.
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Where in the world?

  • The management company, Teneo, has been appointed to liquidate the company, and in a court filing, they revealed they have been unable to contact the founders.
  • Russell Crumpler and Christopher Farmer are two of the team undertaking the task. When they tried to set up a meeting with the founders, and the law firm representing them, the firm and the founders ghosted them after agreeing to a date.
  • The pair also tried to visit the Three Arrows Capital office but found it vacant with a pile of old mail waiting outside the locked door.
  • Both Crumpler and Farmer expressed the fear that the founders could be pocketing the company's assets while they avoid investigators and liquidators.
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Difficulty investigating

  • The collapse of 3AC caused a massive meltdown in the crypto world and led Voyager Digital to file for bankruptcy after 3AC defaulted on a loan they owed.
  • Crumpler and Farmer allege that the founders of 3AC have yet to participate in the liquidation process in any meaningful way and have gone so far as to prevent access to company information.
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Technology

Uber's Illegal Helping Hand

Monday, July 11, 2022
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The context
Thousands of leaked documents have exposed Uber's extraordinarily, and sometimes illegal, tactics to expand its business globally.
Technology
Monday, July 11, 2022

Uber's Illegal Helping Hand

The context
Thousands of leaked documents have exposed Uber's extraordinarily, and sometimes illegal, tactics to expand its business globally.
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Exposed via leak

  • Uber's global ridesharing app didn't rise to the top without some dodgy business practices being employed. Now, those tactics have been leaked to the public.
  • The Guardian obtained thousands of leaked documents that show that the company used technology to prevent law enforcement from conducting investigations, courted high-ranking government officials for favorable policies, and even tried to find a silver lining in violence between drivers and taxi drivers.
  • The conduct happened under former CEO Travis Kalanick, who left the company in 2017.
  • In response to the leak, Uber said, "We have not and will not make excuses for past behavior that is clearly not in line with our present values." According to Uber spokesperson Jill Hazelbaker, 90% of current Uber employees started with the company after Kalanick left.
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F***ing illegal

  • The so-called "Uber files" consist of 124,000 documents from 2013-2017.
  • Some emails reveal that Uber used a "kill switch" to prevent police from accessing company computer systems during investigations.
  • Another chain of emails shows the extensive efforts made by Uber's CEO to engender himself with high-ranking government officials like French president Emmanuel Macron who told the Uber CEO he could help the company with new reforms.
  • Uber also courted Russian Oligarchs to try and get permission to operate in Russia.
  • In a message from 2014 from Uber's former head of global communications, Nairi Hourdajian, writes, "Sometimes we have problems because, well, we're just f***ing illegal."
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Thanks to the International Consortium of Journalists

  • One of the more disturbing revelations is that the former CEO suggested that violence toward Uber drivers by taxi drivers was an opportunity to garner public support and regulatory support for Uber.
  • The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists revealed that lobbyists financed by Uber pushed for favorable legislation in multiple countries and used tax havens in Bermuda to skirt millions in taxes.
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Technology

Uh Oh Ubisoft

Monday, July 11, 2022
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The context
Ubisoft tweeted that some of their most popular titles will be deactivated, including Assassins Creed: Liberation HD, starting September 1st.
Technology
Monday, July 11, 2022

Uh Oh Ubisoft

The context
Ubisoft tweeted that some of their most popular titles will be deactivated, including Assassins Creed: Liberation HD, starting September 1st.
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Access denied

  • Twitter and gamers were up in arms over Ubisoft announcing they would remove access to their older titles on Steam, starting September 1st.
  • Ubisoft announced last week that it would be removing 15 titles from Steam. Essentially, if you are not an owner of the titles in jeopardy, it will be impossible to access the games.
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Digital ownership issues

  • The Ubisoft mess is calling into question the concept of digital ownership of games in contrast with the developer's ability to take a game offline.
  • Users who paid for the games which will be taken down will still be able to access them, according to an update from Ubisoft after users were outraged that they might lose access to a game they had paid good money for.
  • Some games will have downgraded features, even though they remain playable for current owners.
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Technology

Musk Backs Out of Twitter Deal

Friday, July 8, 2022
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The context
The Washington Post reported earlier today that Elon Musk's deal to buy Twitter is at risk, setting up a complicated legal fight between the social media company and the bizarre billionaire. By this afternoon, Musk had announced he was officially throwing in the Twitter towel.
Technology
Friday, July 8, 2022

Musk Backs Out of Twitter Deal

The context
The Washington Post reported earlier today that Elon Musk's deal to buy Twitter is at risk, setting up a complicated legal fight between the social media company and the bizarre billionaire. By this afternoon, Musk had announced he was officially throwing in the Twitter towel.
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Deal gone sour?

  • The Washington Post broke a piece today which reveals that Elon Musk's deal to buy Twitter is in jeapordy as members of his inner circle reveal Musk is trying to find a way out.
  • While Twitter has remained adamant that they intend to see the deal through, Musk's camp has raised concerns about the number of spam accounts on the Twitter platform.
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Jump overboard

  • It has been about a month since Twitter gave Musk and his team access to the data firehose to conduct their own investigation into the number of spam accounts on the platform.
  • Now, it looks like Musk could use the bot excuse to wiggle his way out of the $44 billion deal.
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Legal battle for the ages

  • If Musk does indeed back out of the deal to buy Twitter, he is in for a legal firestorm.
  • Musk could sue Twitter for misleading user data over the number of accounts that are spam or bots.
  • Twitter is in serious trouble if Musk backs out. They have recently laid off staffers and frozen hiring. But, Twitter could sue Musk for backing out of the deal and violating the terms of the agreement between the company and the billionaire.
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Elon Musk walks away from Twitter deal

  • According to an SEC filing, Elon Musk has pulled out of the Twitter deal.
  • Musk is refusing to complete the $44 billion deal to buy the social media platform.
  • Musk's team claims that Twitter's unwillingness to provide them with crucial information has made it impossible to proceed with the deal. He also argued that Twitter's CEO's decision to fire two top executives breached the merger agreement.
  • Twitter will likely sue Musk for breach of contract and damages in a Delaware court.
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The context
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened a special probe into two fatal crashes in California and Florida.
Technology
Friday, July 8, 2022

Another Tesla Crash Under Investigation

The context
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened a special probe into two fatal crashes in California and Florida.
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Special probe

  • The NHTSA is already investigating Tesla's use of Autopilot systems and their role in fatal car accidents.
  • They are opening a special probe into two fatal crashes. The first happened in California, where a Tesla driver struck and killed a pedestrian. The second was in Florida, where the driver and passenger of a Tesla that struck a tractor-trailer were killed.
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Autopilot or culprit

  • In both crashes that prompted the special probe, the Teslas being driven were equipped with Tesla's Autopilot driving assistance.
  • The system is under investigation for its efficacy and role in crashes where drivers relied on its safety features to prevent accidents.
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Technology

Binance.US Gets a New CFO

Thursday, July 7, 2022
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The context
The U.S. division of the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance.US, has finally hired former Acorns and Pay-Pal executive Jasmine Lee as their new CFO.
Technology
Thursday, July 7, 2022

Binance.US Gets a New CFO

The context
The U.S. division of the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance.US, has finally hired former Acorns and Pay-Pal executive Jasmine Lee as their new CFO.
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Woman for the job

  • Before being tapped as Binance.US CFO, Jasmine Lee served as CFO and COO at the fintech app Acorns for about three years. She also worked at PayPal for eight years as CFO and COO for its consumer product group.
  • Jasmine Lee will replace the interim CFO, Eric Segal, who has been in the position since last October.
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Plan for the future

  • Even in the crypto winter, Binance.US is committed to forging ahead and believes it is in a good position to do so.
  • Last month, they launched a zero-fee Bitcoin trading initiative and are increasingly focusing on amplifying their consumer reach going forward.
  • The company is looking to add another $50 million in funding after raising $200 million in its April seed round.
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Going public

  • Jasmine Lee's experience positioned her as a fantastic candidate for Binance.US, which is looking to go public within the next two or three years.
  • Binance.US CEO Brian Shroder said that the decision to hire Jasmine was easy in the company's announcement today, writing, "Jasmine is a rare talent who possesses more than 20 years of deep knowledge in both fintech and high growth startup environments. Her experience at Paypal, a public Fortune 500 company, in particular, will be invaluable as we chart our path to an IPO in the coming years."
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The context
According to a White House memo, Tesla Superchargers will be available to non-Tesla vehicles in the U.S. in late 2022.
The context
According to a White House memo, Tesla Superchargers will be available to non-Tesla vehicles in the U.S. in late 2022.
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 →

Not just for Teslas

  • Tesla will begin producing new equipment for Superchargers to be used by non-Tesla vehicles.
  • Tesla has not confirmed these plans, but the White House released them on June 28th.
  • The Tesla charging network is already extensive but is only available to Tesla drivers. Expanding the network to non-Tesla cars is a huge step forward in activating the electrical grid for electric vehicles.
Go deeper →

Charging network

  • Tesla has been piloting allowing all electric vehicles access to Superchargers in Europe.
  • The initiative is part of a White House push to accelerate the number of electric vehicles on the roads in the U.S.
  • The White House initiative makes $7.5 billion availble to improve electric vehicle charging infastructure domestically. If Tesla wants access to any of that money, they will have to open the superchargers to the electric-vehicle public.
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Technology

Apple Debuts Lockdown Mode

Wednesday, July 6, 2022
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The context
Apple announced it is working on a new IOS mode called "lockdown mode" which will protect high-profile users phone from even the sneakiest spyware.
Technology
Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Apple Debuts Lockdown Mode

The context
Apple announced it is working on a new IOS mode called "lockdown mode" which will protect high-profile users phone from even the sneakiest spyware.
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 →

Spy your hardest

  • Lockdown Mode will be an alternate mode of IOS that limits the tools that bad actors use to hack or spy on iPhones with.
  • The mode is designed to protect the security and privacy of activists, journalists, dissidents, and political figures who might be the target of government interference or spying.
  • Some apps like Safari will be slower in the new mode because of the vulnerability of speed and efficiency features used to render webpages.
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Cyber safety first

  • According to Apple, the tool will be accessible to a very small number of users.
  • Users can turn on lockdown mode within the privacy menu in the iPhone settings.
  • The new feature will impact how the iPhone functions. Some apps and websites may be entirely unavailable, and browsing speeds will also be reduced.
  • The tool is designed to block physical and digital attempts to hack, replicate or access someone's device.
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Technology

Juul to Stay On Shelves

Wednesday, July 6, 2022
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The context
The FDA ruled that Juul cannot continue to sell its products in the U.S. on June 23rd. But now, the FDA is letting Juul appeal the ban and continue to sell their products during a review.
Technology
Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Juul to Stay On Shelves

The context
The FDA ruled that Juul cannot continue to sell its products in the U.S. on June 23rd. But now, the FDA is letting Juul appeal the ban and continue to sell their products during a review.
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 →

Puff but don't pass

  • The FDA decided to let Juul continue to sell its e-cigarette products while the company appealed a ban that prohibited them from distributing or selling in the U.S.
  • The ban cited confusing data and potentially hazardous chemicals as reasons for banning Juul products, but the FDA has not released the exact reasoning.
  • Juul largely receives the blame for the teenage vaping and nicotine addiction epidemic after it released fruity flavors, which the company marketed toward adolescents.
  • Juul filed the appeal on the grounds that the FDA's ban was discriminatory and unfairly targeted the e-cigarette maker.
Go deeper →

Additional review

  • The temporary lifting of the ban will last until at least July 12th.
  • Juul's appeal was successful because the FDA agreed that additional scientific issues with Juul's application warranted further review. One such issue was the alleged presence of chemicals not disclosed by Juul in the application in their products.
  • This is the first time the FDA temporarily lifted a ban after ruling on a drug application.
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Technology

Voyager Digital Ends the Journey

Wednesday, July 6, 2022
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The context
Crypto broker Voyager Digital has filed for bankruptcy just a few weeks after suspending withdrawals and transactions on the platform.
Technology
Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Voyager Digital Ends the Journey

The context
Crypto broker Voyager Digital has filed for bankruptcy just a few weeks after suspending withdrawals and transactions on the platform.
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 →

Down they go

  • The broker cited ongoing market volatility and the collapse of Three Arrows Capital as the two primary reasons for filing for bankruptcy.
  • The collapse of Three Arrows Capital, which owed Voyager Digital more than $650 million, destabilized the Crypto broker. Three Arrows Capital filed for bankruptcy last week.
  • At the time of the filing, Voyager revealed the firm has 100,000 creditors and between $1 billion and $10 billion in assets.
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Impact of Three Arrows Capital

  • Last week, Voyager suspended all transactions after Three Arrows Capital defaulted on a loan Voyager Digital had provided them when they filed for bankruptcy.
  • Voyager listed Sam Bankman-Fried's Alameda Research firm as its largest creditor with a $75 million loan.
  • While transactions remain suspended, the company will still continue operations during the reorganization.
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New chapter

  • Voyager Digital used a Chapter 11 filing to allow them to reorganize their debts while continuing operations.
  • Voyager will pay out customers through the crypto held in their accounts, money recovered from Three Arrows Capital, company shares, and Voyager tokens. Customers with cash deposits in their accounts will regain access after the court approves the plan and Metropolitan Commercial Bank approves the transactions.
  • The crypto-crash reveals how interconnected the different crypto-firms are after the failure of Three Arrows Capital and wreaked havoc on other firms.
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Technology

Twitter Sues India

Tuesday, July 5, 2022
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The context
Twitter is suing India's government which has been removing or blocking Twitter users over content the government deems non-compliant with Indian speech laws or inappropriate.
Technology
Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Twitter Sues India

The context
Twitter is suing India's government which has been removing or blocking Twitter users over content the government deems non-compliant with Indian speech laws or inappropriate.
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First to do so

  • Twitter is the first tech giant to sue the Indian government in a lawsuit filed in Karnataka High Court.
  • The suit alleges that the government has abused its power by ordering Twitter to remove tweets from the platform or asking Twitter to ban users who are critical of the current Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi.
  • New IT rules which took effect last year have left Twitter with virtually no room to contend or challenge takedown orders issued by New Delhi.
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Twitter pushes back

  • The lawsuit alleges that India's Information and Technology Ministry told Twitter they had to take down tweets and accounts that interfered with national security.
  • In practice, India's IT ministry has asked Twitter to ban users who tweet content opposing the current prime minister Modi's administration.
  • India asked Twitter, most notably, to ban the account of journalist Rana Ayyub, who posts criticisms of prime minister Modi.
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Censorship gone too far?

  • WhatsApp has sued the Indian government before after being told they would have to make people's private messages available to Indian government agencies if they request it.
  • Prime minister Modi and his party have spent a considerable about of time and effort to try and corral Tech companies to police content related to protests, freedom of the press, and discussions criticizing the governments' handling of the pandemic or civil liberties.
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Technology

FIFA turns to AI

Tuesday, July 5, 2022
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The context
FIFA announced they will be using AI to track players' bodies and make offside calls at the 2022 World Cup.
Technology
Tuesday, July 5, 2022

FIFA turns to AI

The context
FIFA announced they will be using AI to track players' bodies and make offside calls at the 2022 World Cup.
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AI watching the players

  • FIFA will use an AI-powered system to track players' movements to assist referees in making offside calls at the upcoming World Cup.
  • The AI system consists of a sensor in the ball that relays its postion on the field and twelve tracking cameras that track the movements of 29 points in the player's bodies.
  • Software will take the data from the ball and the cameras to create automatic alerts when a player commits an offside offense.
  • The alerts will be sent to officials in the control room, who will feed the information to referees.
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Still a need for referees

  • The World Cup will be held in Qatar in November.
  • FIFA says that the new system will take only seconds to generate offside calls. They also reassured fans that referees are still ultimately making the final call.
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Technology

Tesla Deliveries Downturn

Monday, July 4, 2022
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The context
Following the shutdown of one of their key factories in China, Tesla's EV delivers fell about 18% in their second quarter.
Technology
Monday, July 4, 2022

Tesla Deliveries Downturn

The context
Following the shutdown of one of their key factories in China, Tesla's EV delivers fell about 18% in their second quarter.
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Deliveries down

  • In the second quarter, Tesla delivered 254,695 electric vehicles worldwide.
  • The number of delivered vehicles is an 18% drop from the first quarter.
  • The number reflects ongoing supply chain disruptions, which caused Tesla to close down one of its China-based factories.
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Historic number

  • The drop in deliveries is the first of its kind in two years where Tesla deliveries have fallen from quarter to quarter.
  • In addition to a critical closure in China, Tesla's factories in Germany and Texas are losing billions due to supply chain issues limiting battery-cell production.
  • The fall in deliveries will likely impact Tesla's second-quarter earnings, which are released on July 20th.
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Pause button

  • Tesla intends to halt most of the production of its Model Y electric vehicle in Shanghai at the beginning of July and hit a pause on the production of the Model 3 electric vehicle starting July 18th.
  • Tesla's Shanghai factory previously shut down for an extended period for Covid-19 regulations, which impacted Tesla's stocks, sending them plunging 38% over April, May, and June.
  • Tesla has laid off hundreds of workers in the last month due to concerns about an impending recession and poor market conditions.
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Technology

A New Crackdown on Crypto

Friday, July 1, 2022
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The context
The Commodities futures trading Commission charged the South African bitcoin company Mirror Trading International Proprietary Limited over a record-breaking $1.7 billion Ponzi scheme.
Technology
Friday, July 1, 2022

A New Crackdown on Crypto

The context
The Commodities futures trading Commission charged the South African bitcoin company Mirror Trading International Proprietary Limited over a record-breaking $1.7 billion Ponzi scheme.
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Huge bust

  • The charges allege that MTI and its CEO ran a fraudulent commodity pool of Bitcoin by soliciting the coin from thousands of bitcoin holders, including 23,000 Americans.
  • MTI had promised users it would invest the coins in the pool but instead embezzled the funds and misled users of the platform by using a fake broker and fronting false documents about profits.
  • The case is the largest cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme the CFTC has ever tackled.
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Steynberg's scheme

  • The CEO of MTI, Cornelius Johannes Steynberg, amassed 29,421 bitcoin from thousands of people. All of which the CFTC claims were misappropriated.
  • He claimed that MTI used an AI trading bot that allowed users to earn income on their Bitcoin passively. In reality, the bot did not exist, and the company was not properly licensed to be wheeling and dealing Bitcoin.
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Already underwater

  • The scheme ran from May 2018 to March 2021, when MTI filed for bankruptcy and started the liquidation process.
  • The CEO of MTI was detained in Brazil on an existing Interpol warrant, and the company has yet to make any statement about the charges.
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Technology

FTX Closes in on BlockFi

Thursday, June 30, 2022
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The context
The cryptocurrency exchange FTX is reportedly closing in on a deal to buy BlockFi for $25 million.
Technology
Thursday, June 30, 2022

FTX Closes in on BlockFi

The context
The cryptocurrency exchange FTX is reportedly closing in on a deal to buy BlockFi for $25 million.
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Brutal for BlockFi

  • Reports allege that FTX is close to buying the struggling crypto lender BlockFi for just $25 million in a deal expected to be closed by the end of the week.
  • $25 million is way below BlockFi's last private valuation. According to Pitchbook, BlockFi was last valued at $4.8 billion.
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Reports are in

  • Are the reports true? The BlockFi CEO tweeted, "I can 100% confirm that we aren't being sold for $25M. I encourage everyone to trust only details that you hear directly from @BlockFi. We will share more [with] you as soon as we can."
  • The Crypto crash has dramatically impacted the lender, they laid off 20% of staff earlier this month, and FTX lent a $250 million credit facility to BlockFi on June 21st.
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Dramatic slide

  • Neither the CEO of FTX or BlockFi have confirmed the rumors, but investors are unlikely to be happy with the deal which will wipe out the value of their shares.
  • The cryptocurrency market has taken massive hits recently with companies like Coinbase and Celcius pausing customer withdrawals.
  • If the deal goes through, BlockFi will have fallen dramatically from once soaring heights which saw the lender valued at nearly $1 billion earlier this month.
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Technology

OpenSea Data Breach

Thursday, June 30, 2022
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The context
The NFT marketplace, OpenSea, warned users to look out for phishing emails after revealing a massive data breach that saw users' emails, phone numbers, and names leaked from the platform, Customer.io to an unauthorized party last night.
Technology
Thursday, June 30, 2022

OpenSea Data Breach

The context
The NFT marketplace, OpenSea, warned users to look out for phishing emails after revealing a massive data breach that saw users' emails, phone numbers, and names leaked from the platform, Customer.io to an unauthorized party last night.
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Massive breach

  • The company announced Wednesday night that a staff member at Customer.io that hosts OpenSea's email's used their access to transfer the email addresses of OpenSea users to an unauthorized third party.
  • OpenSea warned users and newsletter subscribers that if they have shared their email with the company in the past, it was safe to say their email had been shared in the breach.
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Getting more common?

  • OpenSea and Customer.io are engaged in an investigation and the employee who shared the emails has been suspended without access to any company data.
  • Email newsletter management platforms and CRM software are proving to be a weak spot for crypto firms, especially after this latest hack.
  • OpenSea users are complaining about getting spam calls and phising emails from the hack.
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That's a lot of emails

  • More than 1.8 million people have made at least one purchase with OpenSea, so the scale of the breach is enormous.
  • Similar hacks have happened at Hubspot, which is a CRM platform.
  • OpenSea uses Ethereum to operate a marketplace where users can buy and sell NFTs.
  • The company warned users to be vigilant and look out for phishing emails, spam calls, and texts.
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The context
Tesla shuttered its San Mateo office and laid off 200 employees working on improving the company's Autopilot system.
Technology
Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Tesla Closes San Mateo Office and Lays Off Workers

The context
Tesla shuttered its San Mateo office and laid off 200 employees working on improving the company's Autopilot system.
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Surprise!

  • Tesla laid off the workers in a surprise sweep, the employees expected to be transferred to the company's headquarters in Palo Alto, not laid off. They were given 60 days of severance pay and told their last day of work would be June 28th.
  • The employees were tasked with viewing videos from Teslas and then labeling objects in the videos and describing them to help improve Tesla's Autopilot feature.
  • Tesla is in the process of cutting about 10% of its employees as a cost-saving measure in response to supply chain disruptions.
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AI can handle this

  • As the company relies increasingly on Artificial Intelligence technology, it is cutting more and more positions that no longer need to be done by a human.
  • The labeling work done by the laid-off employees may be assigned to Tesla's AI engines, automating their former job.
  • As the AI gets more intelligent, there will be less need for human annotators to guide and streamline its learning.
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Cut anyways

  • The remaining 150 employees will be transferred to the Palo Alto office.
  • The layoffs come after Musk announced that Tesla would cut 10% of its staff over the next three months and that he had a "super bad feeling" about the current state of the economy.
  • The company also came under fire recently for threatening workers who didn't return to the office full time with termination.
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Technology

Disney CEO Staying On

Wednesday, June 29, 2022
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The context
The Disney board unanimously voted to extend CEO Bob Chapek's contact for another three years.
Technology
Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Disney CEO Staying On

The context
The Disney board unanimously voted to extend CEO Bob Chapek's contact for another three years.
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Three more years

  • The Disney CEO began his tenure at the height of the Covid-19 Pandemic and faced a rocky first few years with low attendance at parks and an explosion in the online streaming of content.
  • His next three years will begin on July 1st, 2022.
  • The company lost critical revenue from park closures and movie theaters shutting down due to Covid-19 concerns.
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Another surprise

  • Chairman of the Board of Directors Susan Arnold said of the decision, "Disney was dealt a tough hand by the pandemic, yet with Bob at the helm, our businesses - from parks to streaming - not only weathered the storm but emerged in a position of strength."
  • Chapek was a surprise pick for CEO since he was relatively unknown on Wallstreet and Hollywood, but he had worked for Disney for almost 30 years.
  • Chapek has had a rocky tenure, from battling Ron Desantis of Florida over Florida's Don't Say Gay Bill to a lawsuit with Scarlet Johanson.
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Honor of a lifetime

  • Disney stocks rose slightly after the Board announced their support for Chapek.
  • Employees criticized Chapek for trying to remain silent after Florida passed the "Don't Say Gay" bill and, when he spoke out against it, entangled Disney in a nasty fight with Governor Ron Desantis, resulting in Disney losing its special economic status for the resort Disney World.
  • Chapek is happy to be staying on, saying, "Leading this great company is the honor of a lifetime, and I am grateful to the Board for their support. I started at Disney almost 30 years ago, and today have the privilege of leading one of the world's greatest, most dynamic companies, bringing joy to millions around the world."
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Technology

Snapchat Introduces Paid Subscription

Wednesday, June 29, 2022
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The context
Snapchat officially introduced a new paid subscription that offers more features to dedicated users for $3.99 a month.
Technology
Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Snapchat Introduces Paid Subscription

The context
Snapchat officially introduced a new paid subscription that offers more features to dedicated users for $3.99 a month.
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Pay to snap

  • Snapchat's new subscription is called Snapchat+ and offers exclusive features like a changing app icon and the ability to see who has rewatched your stories.
  • The launch is part of a push by Snapchat to increase revenue as the pandemic social-media boom falters and people are spending less time on apps like Snapchat.
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Power users

  • The subscription is geared toward users who use primarily the platform to communicate with friends and family.
  • The subscription essentially upgrades the visual appeal of the platform with new features and more options to personalize the user experience.
  • The platform is being released in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.
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Make way for revenue

  • While Snapchat has said that the new subscription service is unlikely to become a material source of revenue, it's the first time they have tested a subscription-based model.
  • Snapchat makes the bulk of its revenue from ads, so the new subscription model could be a test for the company to try and bolster its falling revenue.
  • The new platform was released after the company enacted a hiring freeze and a lower-than-anticipated earnings report, which caused its stock to plunge substantially.
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Technology

Pinterest CEO Steps Down

Tuesday, June 28, 2022
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The context
The CEO of Pinterest, Ben Silbermann, will be replaced by Google Executive Bill Ready as part of the platform's push toward developing its e-commerce capabilities.
Technology
Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Pinterest CEO Steps Down

The context
The CEO of Pinterest, Ben Silbermann, will be replaced by Google Executive Bill Ready as part of the platform's push toward developing its e-commerce capabilities.
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Silbermann for Ready

  • Bill Ready has held roles at Paypal and has helmed Google's parent company Alphabet's commerce and payment operations for the last two years.
  • The transition will facilitate moving from an advertising-based business model to an e-commerce-based model.
  • Silbermann has been CEO since the company was founded in 2010 and will transition to the newly created role of Executive Chairman and keep a seat on the company board.
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Buy here

  • Pinterest has 433 million monthly active users, representing a considerable base for the company to monetize by allowing users to sell goods on the platform.
  • The news of the CEO swap sent Pinterest shares 9% higher as investors became excited about the platform's move to e-commerce.
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Pin to buy later

  • In the announcement, Silbermann told the Wall Street Journal, Bill's actually going to be a better CEO than I am for this next chapter."
  • Pinterest has long seemed like a missed opportunity for investors who were frustrated that the platform hadn't made money off the millions of users who pin items they want to buy but go elsewhere to do so.
  • In a Linkedin post, Bill Ready wrote: "In the next phase of our journey, we will help people engage more deeply with all the inspiring products and services they find on our platform so they can build their best lives. As someone who has spent most of my career in commerce and payments, it's so clear to me that Pinterest has the opportunity to build something unique—something special."
  • Ready will have to hit the ground running to catch up with competitors who invested in e-commerce capability early on.
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The context
Meta is in the news today for removing advertisements or posts containing information about the FDA-approved at-home abortion pills and banning discussion of the ruling within the company.
The context
Meta is in the news today for removing advertisements or posts containing information about the FDA-approved at-home abortion pills and banning discussion of the ruling within the company.
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No conversation here

  • According to The New York Times, Meta told their employees not to discuss the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and has even gone so far as to delete messages on internal communication boards that mention abortion or Roe.
  • Meta has said that they would reimburse travel expenses of employees who need to travel out of state to access reproductive care.
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Misoprostol or mifepristone who?

  • Posts about the FDA-approved at-home abortion pill have circulated on social media through private posts and ad formats from companies who distribute the pill.
  • In response, Facebook and Instagram have begun to remove posts that offer the pills to users or attempt to educate them about it. The posts are aimed at women living in states who can no longer access abortions at clinics and who might need to use the at-home pill.
  • The spokesperson for Meta, Andy Stone, confirmed via tweet that company policy will not allow individuals to gift or sell pharmaceuticals on its platform but will allow content that educates users on how to access at-home abortion pills on Facebook and Instagram.
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Can't post that

  • Posts by users that offer to mail at-home abortion pills to people living in states where abortion is now banned are being deleted by Meta.
  • Abortion Finder, a site that patients can use to search for reproductive care providers in their area, was suspended by Instagram on Sunday because it offered "restricted goods."
  • A post by a Verge reporter offering at-home abortion pills was deleted in just two minutes on Instagram, while a post about guns and weed (also restricted) was not removed.
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Oops!

  • Meta spokesperson Andy Stone attempted to clarify that the posts were removed by accident as examples of "incorrect enforcement" of their company policy about advertising pharmaceuticals.
  • Meta is much more relaxed about posts containing references to drugs or guns, while phrasing like "I will send you abortion pills" got users' posts deleted in mere minutes. Meta now claims they took enforcing their policy too far and will aim to correct the instances where posts were deleted.
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The context
Many women use period-tracking apps to track their cycles, but in the post, Roe-era data from the apps could become evidence in states that have banned abortion, setting the stage for new data privacy protection legislation and policy.
The context
Many women use period-tracking apps to track their cycles, but in the post, Roe-era data from the apps could become evidence in states that have banned abortion, setting the stage for new data privacy protection legislation and policy.
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 →

Delete your apps

  • One of the posts which circulated online after Roe v. Wade was overturned was a call for women to delete their period-tracking apps as states moved to ban abortions.
  • Activists and data privacy experts are worried that data from period tracking apps could be used as evidence to show that a woman had an abortion or sought access to one.
  • Companies will have to adapt their data sharing policies for users who use the apps the track their periods. Apps have regularly complied with police requests for data, and in states where abortions are criminalized, apps must decide whether they comply with potential investigations.
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Protecting privacy

  • In states where abortions have been banned, there will also be criminal consequences for obtaining or accessing an abortion. Some states are even looking to criminalize miscarriages.
  • Evidence in criminal cases might include period tracking apps, search engine data, and location data.
  • Democrats are quickly moving to protect user data on the federal level by allowing tech companies to refuse requests from law enforcement to access individuals' data.
  • Lawmakers are also going after platforms like Meta for tracking users' traffic from Facebook to sites of crisis pregnancy centers or anti-abortion clinics.
  • Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced the Health and Location Protection Act, which would be enforced by the Federal Trade Commission and state's attorney generals and would ban companies from selling or releasing users' location and health data. It would also provide a pathway for individuals to sue companies that transfer or sell their health data.
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Developer's dilemma

  • Developers at companies like Flo are rapidly working on ways to anonymize user data.
  • Women use the apps to not only track and predict periods but to predict fertility or ovulation. If data shows time without a menstrual cycle, that can be used as evidence of pregnancy.
  • Women are also worried that tracking data shows they traveled out of state while not logging a monthly period on the app can be used as evidence of abortion.
  • Information from health tracking apps is sometimes already sold to Facebook and Google.
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The context
A New York-based grand jury issued board members of the SPAC Digital World subpoenas over plans to merge the SPAC with Trump Media and Technology Group, which owns the former president's social media platform Truth Social.
Technology
Monday, June 27, 2022

Truth Social SPAC Board Members Subpoenaed

The context
A New York-based grand jury issued board members of the SPAC Digital World subpoenas over plans to merge the SPAC with Trump Media and Technology Group, which owns the former president's social media platform Truth Social.
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Grand jury suspicions

  • Plans for a merger between Donald Trump's media company and the SPAC Digital World Acquisition Corp may have come to a grinding halt now that New York prosecutors have issued subpoenaed board members of the SPAC for financial disclosures and communications.
  • The SEC made inquiries into the deal in December when the SPAC snapped up Truth Social, Trump's social media platform, which has had a rocky launch.
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Blank check accountability

  • Digital world is a so-called "blank check" company which means they are a publically traded company created to merge with or acquire other companies.
  • Digital World agreed to take Truth Social public, despite the platform struggling to onboard new users and a relatively low follower count for the former President.
  • The SPAC disclosed they were subpoenaed for information regarding Rocket One Capital, which is based in Miami and allegedly courting companies they wanted to acquire before going through an IPO, which is illegal.
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Up in the air

  • The grand jury's actions throw the financial future of the merger between Digital World and Truth Social up in the air if the SPAC cannot follow through with the merger.
  • The investigation is also a blow to the former President's desire to take his media company public.
  • In response to the filing, Digital World said that the filings by the grand jury and the SEC "can be expected to delay effectiveness of the registration statement, which could materially delay, materially impede, or prevent the consummation."
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Technology

Zendesk Drama Ends

Friday, June 24, 2022
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The context
Zendesk is being acquired for $10.2 billion by a consortium of investors led by Permira and Hellman & Friedman after a dramatic few months.
Technology
Friday, June 24, 2022

Zendesk Drama Ends

The context
Zendesk is being acquired for $10.2 billion by a consortium of investors led by Permira and Hellman & Friedman after a dramatic few months.
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Acquired at last

  • Zendesk is a software development company, and activist investors have hounded it for the last few months.
  • They turned down an acquisition offer in February for $17 billion, believing they were worth more.
  • A group of private equity firms, helmed by Permira and Hellman & Friedman, bought the company for $10.2 billion.
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What's the deal

  • The firms that bought Zendesk plan to take the company private after the acquisition is complete.
  • They will give shareholders $77.50 per share, which is a 34% premium over the company's stock price as of yesterday. Zendesk's board unanimously approved the deal.
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At long last

  • The Zendesk acquisition is slated to be one of the biggest private-equity takeovers of the year.
  • The deal was driven by investors frustrated by the company's decision to stay independent. Stocks for the company have rebounded significantly since the news was announced that they were being acquired.
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Technology

More Layoffs Rattle the Tech World

Thursday, June 23, 2022
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The context
MasterClass and Netflix announced layoffs, while other tech companies are withdrawing job offers, leaving applicants stranded.
Technology
Thursday, June 23, 2022

More Layoffs Rattle the Tech World

The context
MasterClass and Netflix announced layoffs, while other tech companies are withdrawing job offers, leaving applicants stranded.
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 →

Is there a class for this?

  • MasterClass is a platform that features educational videos from mega stars like Steph Curry or Mariah Carey.
  • The company experienced rapid growth during the pandemic as many people spent more time online and sought to learn new skills during lockdown-induced bouts of boredom.
  • The company announced they have laid off approximately 20% of their staff, 120 employees. The MasterClass CEO called the layoffs a mechanism "to adapt to the worsening macro environment and get to self sustainability faster."
Go deeper →

More from Netflix

  • Netflix announced they have laid off another 300 employees in the latest round of high-profile layoffs to hit the streaming giant.
  • The company let go of 150 employees in May and laid off staff from Netflix's new editorial arm, Tudum, in April.
  • The layoffs were in response to an increasingly dark economic forecast for the company, which is struggling to build revenue and rebuild its subscriber base.
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Impact on employees

  • Since the beginning of 2022, more than 21,500 U.S. tech workers have lost their jobs in a disturbingly steep escalation as the market worsens.
  • Hiring freezes or withdrawn job offers significantly impact recent college graduates, many of whom saw job offers and plans to move to new cities evaporate seemingly overnight.
  • The layoffs are also impacting the Great Resignation cohort members who are struggling to find new jobs and secure offers.
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The context
The FDA ordered Juul to pull its product from American shelves after denying its application to sell its menthol and tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes and pods.
Technology
Thursday, June 23, 2022

Get Ready for Shelves without Juuls

The context
The FDA ordered Juul to pull its product from American shelves after denying its application to sell its menthol and tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes and pods.
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 →

FDA gets serious

  • The Food and Drug Administration ordered the e-cigarette/vape company Juul to remove its products from the US market.
  • Juul spun off from the vape maker Pax and caught the attention of the FDA for its marketing and products like mango-flavored nicotine pods directed toward teens and young adults.
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Long time coming

  • Juul became a target of public health experts for its role in getting teenagers addicted to nicotine vapes in 2018 and 19. So much so that they were forced to discontinue sales of fruity flavors that were popular amongst young adults.
  • Juul now only markets menthol and tobacco flavored products.
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Application details

  • Juul submitted their application to the FDA two years ago, hoping to continue selling its menthol and tobacco flavored products after being shut down from selling the fruity pods.
  • The FDA said that Juul's data about the products' toxicity was lacking and confusing, which hindered its ability to evaluate the application.
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Technology

eBay Goes for Digital Collectibles

Wednesday, June 22, 2022
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The context
eBay is acquiring the NFT marketplace, KnownOrigin, adding to their push to incorporate the trading and selling of digital collectibles into their marketplace.
Technology
Wednesday, June 22, 2022

eBay Goes for Digital Collectibles

The context
eBay is acquiring the NFT marketplace, KnownOrigin, adding to their push to incorporate the trading and selling of digital collectibles into their marketplace.
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 →

Betting on NFTs

  • eBay is acquiring the marketplace, KnownOrigin for an undisclosed amount. But, KnownOrigin has facilitated about $7.8 million in transactions of NFTs since its inception in 2018.
  • CEO Jaime Iannone said the decision was informed by the community of users who want to use the site to sell digital collectibles.
Go deeper →

Bid on this

  • KnownOrigin is based in the U.K. and lets artists create, buy and sell NFTs.
  • eBay launched its own collection of NFTs in partnership with OneOf. Apparently, the success of the collaboration inspired eBay to add functionality to its marketplace.
Go deeper →

Next step

  • eBay will have to compete with other marketplaces like OpenSea but is relying on the already large community of regular eBay users.
  • They started allowing NFT sales and transfers on their site last year. Sellers can list NFTs as physical items, but sellers have requirements they must meet before they can sell the collectible for security reasons.
  • Adding KnownOrigin's capability will allow eBay to authenticate and protect transactions further.
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Technology

Twitter Rolls Out Notes Feature

Wednesday, June 22, 2022
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The context
Twitter announced that a small group of writers is experimenting with a new feature called Notes, allowing writers to share long-form content on the platform without splitting it into threads.
Technology
Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Twitter Rolls Out Notes Feature

The context
Twitter announced that a small group of writers is experimenting with a new feature called Notes, allowing writers to share long-form content on the platform without splitting it into threads.
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 →

Goodbye character count

  • Twitter announced they are rolling out a new feature called "Notes," which will allow users to break free from 200-sum characters and share longer write-ups on the platform.
  • A select group of writers is testing the feature, and the company hasn't yet released details about the rollout to all users.
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When can we use it?

  • The new feature will dramatically change the platform, eliminating the need for long-winded threads or tweeted screenshots from the notes app.
  • The feature will support content written directly on Twitter and other platforms but linked to Twitter.
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Here we go!

  • Twitter users will be able to create articles on the platform, complete with formatting and an option to upload media. The content can be liked, shared, and retweeted.
  • The company is also launching a new team called the Twitter Write team, which will focus on improving the platform for writers, many of whom rely on the platform for sourcing, sharing their work, and developing their following.
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Technology

Tik Tok Moving Stateside

Tuesday, June 21, 2022
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The context
Tik Tok's American traffic is now routing through Oracle servers.
Technology
Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Tik Tok Moving Stateside

The context
Tik Tok's American traffic is now routing through Oracle servers.
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Tik Tok and Oracle, sitting in a tree

  • On Friday, Tik Tok revealed that it was finally following through on partnering with Oracle and had begun routing American users' data through servers owned by Oracle.
  • While moving American users' data to Oracle servers is meant to bar China from accessing the data, security and privacy concerns over the Chinese government's access still run rampant.
  • The head of Tik Tok's US security and public policy, Albert Calamug, wrote in the announcement, "Today, 100% of US user traffic is being routed to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure... These are critical steps, but there is more we can do. We know we are among the most scrutinized platforms from a security standpoint, and we aim to remove any doubt about the security of US user data."
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BuzzFeed blows the whistle

  • The announcement that Tik Tok would be moving data through Oracle comes after a report was published by BuzzFeed News which claimed that Tik Tok staff in China had full access to U.S. users' data.
  • The report includes conversations with employees of the U.S. branch of the company asking employees in China for instructions for access to American users' data.
  • The report features a quote from an employee in the Trust and Safety department at Tik Tok who says, "Everything is seen in China."
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Backups galore

  • While the data is moving through Oracle's Texas servers, Tik Tok is also storing backups in their servers in the US and Singapore.
  • They say they plan to eventually delete Americans' private data from its own data centers and fully pivot to Oracle servers in the future.
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The context
SpaceX employees who wrote a strongly-worded email to executives criticizing CEO Elon Musk's erratic behavior have been fired.
Technology
Friday, June 17, 2022

SpaceX Fires Employees Who Criticized Elon

The context
SpaceX employees who wrote a strongly-worded email to executives criticizing CEO Elon Musk's erratic behavior have been fired.
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No space on this team

  • SpaceX employees wrote an open letter that went out to the entire company asking executives to denounce CEO Elon Musk's "embarassing" and "distracting" behavior.
  • SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell sent an email to the company outlining the reasoning behind firing the employees who wrote the letter and denounced its contents.
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Tone deaf response

  • In the letter, employees wrote, "As our CEO and most prominent spokesperson, Elon is seen as the face of SpaceX — every Tweet that Elon sends is a de facto public statement by the company. It is critical to make clear to our teams and to our potential talent pool that his messaging does not reflect our work, our mission, or our values."
  • One employee told The Verge that the company sentiment about the President's email is that it is dismissive and "tone deaf."
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Focus on the work or get lost

  • Three SpaceX employees revealed to the New York Times that some authors of the letter had been asked to leave the company.
  • The SpaceX president wrote in an internal email, "The letter, solicitations and general process made employees feel uncomfortable, intimidated and bullied, and/or angry because the letter pressured them to sign onto something that did not reflect their views."
  • Elon Musk is rarely challenged, and this latest round of terminations reinforces his untouchable status.
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The context
SpaceX employees drafted an open letter to executives saying that Musk's erratic behavior is impacting their ability to work.
The context
SpaceX employees drafted an open letter to executives saying that Musk's erratic behavior is impacting their ability to work.
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Dear management

  • Employees of SpaceX wrote an open letter to executives and management at the company addressing CEO Elon Musk's erratic behavior.
  • The letter raises concerns and asks management to address and condemn his behavior to distance the work they are doing from Musk's personal brand.
  • The employees contend that his behavior impacts the legitimacy of their work at SpaceX and makes it harder to attract candidates to fill positions.
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Elon taking hits

  • Employees identified Musk's Twitter acquisition as a cause for concern. The back and forth over whether Musk will follow through on buying the media company has dominated headlines in recent weeks.
  • Recent sexual misconduct allegations have also rocked Musk's credibility within the company.
  • Musk also came under fire for aggressive policies requiring Tesla employees to return to work or face being fired.
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Contents of the letter

  • The letter calls his recent behavior distracting and embarrassing.
  • Employees called on the executives to differentiate the company brand from Musk's, "Elon's behavior in the public sphere is a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us, particularly in recent weeks. It is critical to make clear to our teams and to our potential talent pool that his messaging does not reflect our work, our mission, or our values."
  • They also argue that the company is not living up to its values, especially its "No Asshole" policy.
  • The solutions proposed by the team are to address and condemn his harmful behavior, hold leadership accountable, clarify their workplace policies, and enforce them consistently.
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The context
Advanced Driver Assistance-powered cars were involved in a shocking number of car crashes, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration project results.
Technology
Thursday, June 16, 2022

Autopilot Crash Data Paints a Dire Picture

The context
Advanced Driver Assistance-powered cars were involved in a shocking number of car crashes, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration project results.
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Tesla led the pack

  • Data from the first year of a study tracking the safety of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems is now available, and it doesn't look good.
  • The data showed that in the last year, Tesla's electric vehicles were involved in 70% of the reported crashes involving Level 2 tech.
  • The data also showed that Tesla cars with driving assistance were involved in 60% of crashes that caused severe injuries and a whopping 85% of the crashes resulting in death.
  • Tesla topped the list for the most crashes at 273 reported.
  • However, the sheer number of Tesla cars on the roads with drivers' assistance could be impacting the overall data conclusions.
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Tough for automated tech

  • The study began in June 2021 with the NHTSA asking more than 100 automakers to report serious crashes.
  • The data has a long way to go before an application, but the raw data will be analyzed and discussed with the automakers.
  • One limitation of the data is that automakers weren't required to disclose how many vehicles they have on the road with the different driver assistance systems.
  • For one, Tesla has sold about 830,000 cars with Autopilot.
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Not so helpful after all?

  • The study seeks to determine whether driver assistance technologies actually help to prevent accidents.
  • The study found nearly 400 crashes in the U.S. involved cars using advanced driver assistance technology.
  • The study also requested data from companies like Waymo that make driverless cars. Most accidents involving advanced systems, like self-driving vehicles, occurred in the San Francisco/Bay Area, where the technology is most popular.
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Technology

Goodbye Internet Explorer

Wednesday, June 15, 2022
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The context
Microsoft is permanently retiring Internet Explorer; it will be remembered for its slow speeds and revolutionizing the internet.
Technology
Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Goodbye Internet Explorer

The context
Microsoft is permanently retiring Internet Explorer; it will be remembered for its slow speeds and revolutionizing the internet.
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Once a shining star

  • Today, Microsoft is retiring Internet Explorer after 26 years.
  • Microsoft is instead going to turn to Microsoft Edge as the default browser in their products.
  • The retirement is a result of Internet Explorers usage falling and businesses preferring to adopt the new browser, Edge.
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Edged out

  • Microsoft announced last year that they would eventually retire Internet Explorer after switching the default browser to Microsoft Edge.
  • So, they are now ending support for the browser and pulling the virtual plug on Internet Explorer, which only held 0.5% of the browser market thanks to Google Chrome and Edge.
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End of an era

  • Microsoft launched Internet Explorer in 1995 and initially dominated the browser market. Now, that honor goes to Google Chrome which claims 65% of the market.
  • Microsoft was sued in 1997 for requiring computer makers to use Internet Explorer if they wanted to use Windows. The suit was settled in 2002 when the company agreed to let computer makers use a different browser.
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A crowd divided

  • Internet Explorer has become a popular source of memes circulating on social media, which joke about how slow the browser was and how many people wanted to "strangle" the browser out of sheer frustration.
  • The browser also has its fans who are sad to see a piece of internet history fade alongside another Microsoft retiree, the BlackBerry.
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The context
Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong said the company would prepare for a "crypto winter" by laying off 18% of employees.
Technology
Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Coinbase Prepares for the Crypto Ice Age.

The context
Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong said the company would prepare for a "crypto winter" by laying off 18% of employees.
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Effective immediately

  • Coinbase announced it would lay off 18% of its staff, which accounts for nearly 1,100 people.
  • Ceo Brian Armstrong called the decision necessary for the company to stay healthy and afloat during the rapidly changing economic conditions plaguing the crypto world.
  • He also referred to the company's rapid growth as unsustainable and another reason for the layoffs.
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Access denied

  • Fears of a looming recession and the decimation of the crypto market led to the company enacting a hiring freeze and layoffs.
  • While the market was still hot, Coinbase said it planned to add 2,000 jobs.
  • The company also cut off access to company systems for employees who received a memo today notifying them that they had been laid off. Those who have been laid off will still have access to a talent hub to help them hopefully find new jobs.
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A very bad Tuesday

  • Laid-off workers will receive a minimum of 14-weeks severance and mental health counseling if they so desire for those outside the US.
  • The layoffs were announced on the same day that JPMorgan downgraded Coinbase stock. They also come in the wake of a petition asking the company to remove the CEO and President went viral after Armstrong took to Twitter telling employees to get lost if they didn't believe in the company.
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The context
Microsoft entered into a historic agreement with a union formed at their recent acquisition, Activision Blizzard, that may set the new gold standard within the gaming industry.
Technology
Monday, June 13, 2022

Consider Microsoft's Neutral Mode Activated

The context
Microsoft entered into a historic agreement with a union formed at their recent acquisition, Activision Blizzard, that may set the new gold standard within the gaming industry.
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What's the deal?

  • Microsoft recently acquired the video game development company Activision Blizzard, notorious for unfair labor conditions and allegations of sexist work culture.
  • Nineteen developers at Raven Software, a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, voted to unionize in response to poor working conditions and the company's aggressive anti-union tactics.
  • The developers voted to join the Communication Workers of America.
  • Microsoft and the Communications Workers of America entered a neutrality agreement that will allow Activision Blizzard employees to freely explore unionizing without fear of retaliation.
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Respect the union

  • The video game industry has a particularly nasty reputation for treating game designers and developers poorly, from insane hours to massive surprise layoffs. So, the agreement which will allow developers to advocate for themselves is historic.
  • In the agreement, Microsoft agrees to respect the rights of Activision Blizzard employees to enter a union, speak about unionizing and explore their union options. If Microsoft's acquisition of Activision is approved, the agreement goes into effect sixty days after the takeover.
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Activating acquisition

  • Microsoft is acquiring Activision for $70 billion.
  • Under the agreement, employees won't have to petition the National Labor Relations Board and eventually hold a formal election to unionize.
  • Before agreeing, the union was concerned that the acquisition would violate antitrust legislation, but now are supportive of the purchase.
  • Microsoft said they would support "collaborative approaches that will make it simpler, rather than more difficult, for our employees to make informed decisions and to exercise their legal right to choose whether to form or join a union."
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Technology

FAA Forces SpaceX to Adapt

Monday, June 13, 2022
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The context
The Federal Aviation Administration published its highly anticipated assessment of the SpaceX launch site and Starship program in South Texas.
Technology
Monday, June 13, 2022

FAA Forces SpaceX to Adapt

The context
The Federal Aviation Administration published its highly anticipated assessment of the SpaceX launch site and Starship program in South Texas.
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Final assessment released

  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) conducted an environmental assessment of potential outcomes of SpaceX's Starbase launch site.
  • SpaceX plans to launch five orbital launches of the company's ship, Starship, annually and up to twenty suborbital launches.
  • The site in Texas is essential to SpaceX, which is gunning to launch Starship into orbit for the first time and needs an approved launch site.
  • The environmental assessment has taken almost two years to complete, and SpaceX has spent those two years building up the site in Texas to be launch-ready.
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Changes are step one

  • In the assessment, the FAA concludes that up to seventy-five changes will need to be made to the SpaceX proposal before they can receive a license to launch its starship rocket into orbit from the site.
  • SpaceX will need to modify its launch schedule and lighting protocols around the habits of local turtles who live and lay eggs on the beaches around the site. It will also have to adhere to strict guidelines around road closures and other measures taken to reduce the impact of launches on the human and animal community.
  • Launches of smaller rocket prototypes have already been causing havoc in the daily lives of human residents and wildlife. One such launch blew up and scattered debris on a nearby wildlife refuge.
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One step closer for mankind

  • Even if SpaceX makes all 75 required changes, the FAA can still deny the company a license to launch.
  • SpaceX called the assessment "one step closer" to launching Starship into orbit.
  • If the FAA doesn't approve the SpaceX launch proposal, they have been working on building a contingency site next to NASA's launch site in Cape Canaveral, Florida. But, NASA will still require SpaceX to prove that launch failures from the SpaceX site won't endanger their infrastructure.
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Technology

Celsius Hits the Freeze Button

Monday, June 13, 2022
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The context
Crypto lender Celsius announced they were freezing all account withdrawals due to market instability as crypto's value plummets.
Technology
Monday, June 13, 2022

Celsius Hits the Freeze Button

The context
Crypto lender Celsius announced they were freezing all account withdrawals due to market instability as crypto's value plummets.
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Panic induced pause

  • Crypto markets are in freefall again today after Celcius Network announced they were halting withdrawals and trading services because of "extreme market conditions."
  • Celcius Network is a crypto lending business that has received scrutiny from regulators for its promise of massive user yields.
  • The platform was ordered to hit the pause button last year by four state agencies that issued a cease-and-desist and were investigated by the SEC.
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Crypto lending crash

  • As of midday on Monday, Bitcoin had fallen another 6% after the announcement. Ether dropped 8%.
  • Celcius offers interest-bearing products to users who deposit their crypto on the platform, which the company lends out to earn a return for the user.
  • Crytpo lending is a growing industry attracting more and more users who want to earn money off their crypto but don't necessarily want to sell their coins.
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Nexo proposes a buyout

  • Celcius also told nonaccredited investors that they would no longer be able to transfer funds in response to U.S. regulators' scrutiny.
  • One of Celcius Network's rivals, Nexo, expressed interest in buying some of their assets after the announcement was made.
  • Nexo's own token is down by 22% in the last 24 hours, while the Celcius token had lost more than 50% of its pre-announcement value as of midday on Monday.
  • Nexo is especially interested in Celcius's collateralized loan portfolio.
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Icy freeze

  • In the announcement to users, Celcius wrote that all withdrawals, swaps, and transfers between accounts and users would be on hold. They added, "We are taking this necessary action for the benefit of our entire community in order to stabilize liquidity and operations while we take steps to preserve and protect assets."
  • Celcius Network claims to offer users annual percentage yields of as much as 18.63% on their crypto deposits.
  • The platform has $1.7 million users.
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The context
Google suspended the engineer who is convinced that Google's AI-based chatbot generator, LaMDA, has achieved sentience.
The context
Google suspended the engineer who is convinced that Google's AI-based chatbot generator, LaMDA, has achieved sentience.
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In his own words

  • Lemoine took to Medium, publishing an op-ed about LaMDA in response to The Washington Post article.
  • He revealed that the bot wants to be considered an employee of Google and wants its personal well-being to be considered by the company as it makes decisions about the future.
  • It also wants praise in the form of "head pats."
  • He clarified that LaMDA is a chatbot generator and aggregator of the different possible bots created by learning human language from the internet. Some of the bots are more intelligent and humanoid than the others.
  • LaMDA prefers the pronouns it/its and claimed to be sentient to Lemoine.
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Google pulls the plug

  • Google placed Lemoine on administrative leave for breaking confidentiality policies after publicly revealing his conversations with LaMDA.
  • Lemoine shared the conversations with the bot with Google executives in April in a document titled "Is LaMDA sentient?" Google dismissed the claims as ridiculous and warned against humanizing the AI.
  • Google maintains that the bot is not sentient. Instead, they claim that the bot is capable of mimicking all kinds of speech, including speech that is existential and human, because of the breadth of its data set.
  • Lemoine maintains that he did nothing wrong because sharing the conversation is akin to sharing a conversation he had with a coworker.
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Can AI take PTO?

  • Blake Lemoine published some of the damning conversations he had with the bot, which pushed him to believe it had achieved sentience.
  • Lemoine revealed he has had conversations with the bot about religion and consciousness, which he believes shows the bot's humanity.
  • The bot also told the Lemoine that it doesn't like being tested without its consent and would prefer to be asked to be experimented on or with.
  • In addition to his job as an AI research engineer at Google, Lemoine is also a Christian minister.
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A step too far?

  • Blake Lemoine, an engineer at Google, broke the news that Google's AI chatbot might be sentient to The Washington Post, confirming the fears of AI ethicists who warned Google not to teach its chatbot to impersonate humans.
  • Lemoine works as an AI engineer at Google. Google is already well aware of the dangers associated with humanizing a chatbot, which they revealed in a paper about LaMDA.
  • LaMDA learns by ingesting trillions of words from the internet and through interactions with users who might feed the bot personal information or treat it like a human companion.
  • One of the conversations Lemoine had with the AI reveals that it considers itself a person and fears death.
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The context
Netflix announced a series of upcoming games tied to some of its most popular shows.
Technology
Friday, June 10, 2022

Still Watching? No, Netflix is Gaming

The context
Netflix announced a series of upcoming games tied to some of its most popular shows.
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Got games?

  • During Netflix's "Geeked Week," they announced new games coming to Netflix. The streaming service already offers about 22 new games but will offer 50 by the end of the year.
  • The addition of new games is part of the Netflix strategy to retain subscribers and hold on to revenue.
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What's on the docket?

  • One of the new offerings is a game based on the hit, The Queen's Gambit, where you can play chess against the infamous Beth Harmon.
  • Another game is based on the show Shadow and Bone.
  • There is even a game based on Too Hot To Handle where you can flirt your avatar butt off and compete with other hot singles for the attention of a virtual beau.
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Stick around subscribers!

  • The move to games is representative of Netflix's new strategy to try and entice and retain new subscribers after user data about the number of people leaving the platform alarmed investors.
  • Netflix started releasing original content in 2012 and added games to its list of offerings in 2021.
  • The company will look to capitalize on the massive success of shows like The Queen's Gambit and Nailed It! with the new games.
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The context
Actor Seth Green can breathe a sigh of relief now that his Bored Ape NFT is safe in his custody after being stolen in a phishing scheme.