Longtime Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer is stepping down after thirteen years and will be replaced by Andrew Bosworth, another Facebook veteran executive.
Mark Zuckerberg announced the move in an internal company memo Wednesday. Schroepfer — or Schrep, as he's known around the industry — has been a public face at the company for years and helped lead its AI development, VR teams and blockchain efforts. He will take a newly created "senior fellow" role in order to make time for his family and philanthropic efforts, he wrote in an internal blog post.
"It has been a privilege to lead our technology teams during a time of incredible growth & advancement," Schroepfer tweeted. "I am proud of what the team has achieved, from unleashing the benefits of AI & bringing VR to life to connecting more people around the world through technology." According to a new Facebook SEC filing, Schroepfer first informed the company of his plans just two days ago.
In recent years, Schroepfer has been called on repeatedly to explain and defend the way Facebook works, often in the midst of one of the company's scandals. In 2018, following revelations about how Cambridge Analytica had abused Facebook data, a UK parliamentary committee called for Zuckerberg to testify; they got Schroepfer instead. As CTO he oversaw all of Facebook's moderation and content systems, helped lead the company's shift to remote work during the pandemic, and oversaw much of its push into VR and AR.
He also led a dramatic expansion in Facebook's computing capacity, helping build a world-class engineering organization that is considered on par with cloud computing giants like AWS, Microsoft and Google. Facebook opened its first data center in Prineville, Oregon in 2009, and now operates 18 data centers around the world.
Schroepfer only the latest high-profile executive to leave Facebook. Fidji Simo, who oversaw the Facebook app, left earlier this year to be Instacart's new CEO. Carolyn Everson, one of the Facebook's most important ad executives, followed suit. (Instacart has been pillaging Facebook's ranks for some time now, actually.) David Fischer, the company's chief revenue officer, said he's leaving by the end of 2021.
Bosworth — or Boz, as he's known — currently manages Facebook's augmented reality and VR teams and has been with the company since 2006. Making him CTO seems to be a signal of intent for Facebook, as it seeks to develop the hardware and software required to make the metaverse happen. He has also been one of Facebook's most visible executives talking about issues of privacy and security, particularly as he has launched products like Portal. And it's a clear step up for one of Zuckerberg's longest-serving and most senior lieutenants.
Bosworth is a different personality from Schroepfer, though. Where Schroepfer once famously teared up in an interview with The New York Times about Facebook's content moderation problems, Bosworth has shown a fondness for stirring the pot, most famously with his "The Ugly" memo that defended Facebook's actions as "de facto good" as long as the company continued to connect people, no matter the side effects or consequences. He said at the time that he didn't agree with what he'd written, and that his aim "was to bring to the surface issues I felt deserved more discussion with the broader company." Of course, that discussion is now happening in the open, in Congress and courtrooms around the world. And now Boz will be thrust into even more of it.
The news was met with concern by some former Facebook staffers, including former director of product management for civic integrity Samidh Chakrabarti, who left the company earlier this month. "For those who care about platforms operating in societally responsible ways, I can't even begin to tell you how worrisome I find this news about a post-Schrep [Facebook]," he tweeted. "Context: After I left [Facebook] earlier this month, many existing employees asked me who could now best be their ally on matters of societal import. Who was on my short list every single time? Schrep. So this is indeed significant."
Robinhood confirmed Wednesday that it is rolling out its own crypto wallets.
"Crypto wallets are coming to Robinhood," the company said in a blog post.
The online brokerage said a group of customers will begin testing the product which would allow users to receive, trade and send cryptocurrencies through the Robinhood app. The tests will begin next month and more Robinhood customers will be able to sign up through a waitlist, the company said.
Two tech trade groups, NetChoice and CCIA, filed a lawsuit Wednesday to block a Texas law governing social media platforms' ability to moderate content. The law, which Gov. Greg Abbott signed earlier this month, forces tech platforms to carry certain types of speech that they would otherwise prohibit — a violation of the First Amendment, the groups argue.
In a statement, NetChoice CEO Steve DelBianco said the law, called HB 20, "threaten[s] the safety of users, creators, and businesses."
"No American should ever be forced to navigate through harmful and offensive images, videos and posts," Delbianco said.
The law has quickly drawn comparisons to a similar law adopted in Florida by Gov. Ron DeSantis, which was almost immediately blocked by the courts. "Given that Florida's similar law has been enjoined because of constitutional violations, Texas should repeal this flawed attempt to force private businesses to host political speech against their will," DelBianco said.
The suit argues that social media companies have a First Amendment right to exercise editorial judgment and that the Texas law, which prohibits banning content based on "the viewpoint of the user or another person," violates that right.
Epic won't be able to bring Fortnite back to the iPhone, even if it agrees to play by Apple's standard developer rules and restrictions, according to Epic CEO Tim Sweeney. The reason: Apple has "exercised its discretion not to reinstate Epic's developer program account at this time," according to an email sent by Apple counsel to Sweeney that the chief executive has since posted to Twitter. And it won't consider a request to do so until the "district court's judgement becomes final and unappealable."
"Apple lied," Sweeney said. "Apple spent a year telling the world, the court, and the press they'd 'welcome Epic's return to the App Store if they agree to play by the same rules as everyone else.' Epic agreed, and now Apple has reneged in another abuse of its monopoly power over a billion users." As proof of Epic's willingness to abide by the developer program's rules, Sweeney posted an email sent to App Store chief Phil Schiller laying out Epic's intentions.
"If we get the account back, we'll bring Fortnite back to Mac as soon as possible, and we'll reincorporate Fortnite for iOS in our Unreal Engine development and testing process, which will benefit all of our mutual developers," Sweeney wrote in the email to Schiller. "Whether Epic chooses to bring Fortnite back to iOS consumers depends on whether and where Apple updates its guidelines to provide for a level playing field between Apple In-App Purchase and other methods of payment."
Late last night, Apple informed Epic that Fortnite will be blacklisted from the Apple ecosystem until the exhaustio… https://t.co/Yvsb1wwN0Q— Tim Sweeney (@Tim Sweeney)1632327428.0
Sweeney was expressing concern about the Epic v. Apple verdict, which has forced Apple to allow developers to advertise and link to alternative payment options within mobile apps, and whether Apple would "adhere to the language of the court" and "allow apps to include buttons and external links that direct customers to other purchasing mechanisms without onerous terms or impediments to a good user experience."
The court did not suggest any one solution here, only striking from Apple's developer terms the guideline prohibiting the linking out to third-party payment options. And because Epic appealed the ruling, it's not clear whether Apple will have to comply in the 90-day deadline set forth by the judge's ruling. As it stands right now, Apple has yet to update its guidelines, and there isn't any agreed upon pathway for apps on iOS to begin advertising their own payment options on the web through links, buttons or other forms of in-app advertising. Sweeney, however, made clear in his email to Apple that Epic intended to republish Fortnite so it could advertise its own payment option within the app alongside Apple's system.
That said, in a Sept. 10th statement sent to the press, Apple said, “As we've said all along, we would welcome Epic's return to the App Store if they agree to play by the same rules as everyone else. Epic has admitted to breach of contract and as of now, there's no legitimate basis for the reinstatement of their developer account."
Apple did not respond to Sweeney's concerns about the eventual implementation of the court's verdict. But it did sent a reply through its legal team. According to Apple's email, the iPhone maker points to Epic's "intentional breach of contract, and breach of trust" it committed by updating Fortnite in August of 2020 to include an alternative in-app payment system, the act that got Fortnite kicked off the iPhone and resulted in Epic's antitrust lawsuit against both Apple and Google.
Apple cites "Epic's duplicitous conduct" as another reason why it feels empowered not to reinstate the company's developer account, a necessary step in allowing Epic to republish apps on Apple's storefronts. It's unclear how long the appeals process will take, but Sweeney suggests it could be as long as five years.
SEC Chairman Gary Gensler compared stablecoins to casino gambling as his agency ramps up scrutiny of cryptocurrencies.
"These stablecoins are acting almost like poker chips at the casino right now," Gensler said at a Washington Post event Tuesday.
At a Senate hearing last week, Gensler was critical of cryptocurrencies, calling them a "speculative" asset class.
Stablecoins have been touted as a way to address the volatility in crypto markets, but they've also been cited as a potential threat to broader financial market stability, as they are backed by reserves that can include assets like Treasury bonds and commercial paper.