The company made sure it "didn't have enough money on the books to trigger the FTC stuff," said Michael Provenzano, one of Invite's co-founders, in an interview with Bloomberg.
Jamie Condliffe ( @jme_c) is the news editor at Protocol, based in London. Prior to joining Protocol in 2019, he worked on the business desk at The New York Times, where he edited the DealBook newsletter and wrote Bits, the weekly tech newsletter. He has previously worked at MIT Technology Review, Gizmodo, and New Scientist, and has held lectureships at the University of Oxford and Imperial College London. He also holds a doctorate in engineering from the University of Oxford.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo urged the House of Representatives to immediately pass a bill that includes roughly $52 billion of incentives for the semiconductor industry at a Monday roundtable discussion outside Detroit.
The billions of incentives would help reduce U.S. dependence on foreign sources of semiconductor manufacturing, which could help avert future disruptions in the chip supply, Raimondo said. The shortage of chips has cost the auto industry hundreds of billions in lost revenue, and triggered plant shortages in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world.
Raimondo noted that the U.S. was once a chip manufacturing leader, accounting for 37% of global production in 1990, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association. But it now accounts for 12% of global production, and produces none of the most advanced chips.
“If we are serious about increasing American competitiveness, protecting our national security, and hitting President Biden’s electric vehicle goals, it is imperative that we reinvest in this critical industry and ensure that more chips are made here at home,” Raimondo said.
The roundtable included Democratic lawmakers, union representatives, and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, among others.
Lawmakers have packaged the $52 billion worth of incentives, called the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America Act, or CHIPS Act, inside the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act which passed the Senate earlier this year, but has stalled in the House. The CHIPS Act includes provisions that would help boost domestic chip manufacturing, design, and research.
“We need the House to pass the Chips Act immediately,” Raimondo said at a separate event Monday, at the Detroit Economic Club.
Semiconductor shortages have hampered a range of industries because an increasing number of consumer goods use chips. But the automakers have been especially hard hit, and consulting firm AlixPartners has estimated the industry will lose $210 billion in revenue this year as a result. Newer cars also tend to use more chips to help power systems such as assisted driving and electric and hybrid propulsion systems.
The FTC said Monday it had sent information demands to Amazon as the agency delves into supply chain disruptions.
The commission is investigating "serious and ongoing hardships for consumers" as well as competitive concerns arising from issues that have delayed deliveries and raised prices ahead of the holiday season. The FTC sent letters to eight other companies in various parts of the global supply chain for goods, most of them primarily offline, including Walmart, Procter & Gamble and Kraft Heinz.
The FTC sent the letters on a bipartisan basis under powers that allow the commission to obtain information as it examines trends within or across industries. The commission said it wanted the companies to send internal documents related to strategies, pricing, marketing, profit margins and more.
The probes don't require a law enforcement purpose, though the responses can end up in competition or consumer protection probes that are the FTC's traditional focus. The commission is also investigating Amazon's competitive conduct.
The National Labor Relations Board has ordered Amazon to allow workers in the Bessemer, Alabama facility to participate in a second election to decide whether to unionize, after union organizers challenged a sweeping Amazon victory in the first vote earlier this year.
NLRB Region 10 Director Lisa Henderson ordered that a second election be conducted, NLRB spokesperson Kayla Blado confirmed. No date has been set for the new election and the NLRB has not yet determined whether it will be conducted in person or by mail-in vote.
The first election was rife with allegations of the company trying to coerce warehouse workers to vote against the effort to unionize with the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union. That election, a mail-in vote that ran over the course of several weeks, ended in April.
Immediately after the Amazon victory was announced, the RWDSU said it would file 23 charges of election interference against Amazon, including several charges related to Amazon having a post office box for the ballots installed directly in front of the facility, in violation of the NLRB's orders for the election. During the union's campaign, Amazon also posted anti-union flyers in bathrooms, held small meetings with workers, and created an anti-union website that gained widespread internet ridicule for its use of stock photos and pro-Amazon quotes.
After the union election ended in favor of Amazon, the company said that the vote expressed its employees' disinterest in the effort. "It's easy to predict the union will say that Amazon won this election because we intimidated employees, but that's not true," an Amazon spokesperson said at the time.
No effort to unionize any Amazon workers has yet been successful, though since the start of the RWDSU's push in Alabama, two other major union organizing efforts have emerged at other facilities. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters union has committed to organizing delivery drivers and truckers as a nationwide priority, and an unaffiliated union effort in Staten Island has fought for enough employee signatures to request an NLRB election at the facilities there.
"Our employees have always had the choice of whether or not to join a union, and they overwhelmingly chose not to join the RWDSU earlier this year," Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel told Protocol. "It’s disappointing that the NLRB has now decided that those votes shouldn’t count. As a company, we don’t think unions are the best answer for our employees."
Jack Dorsey has stepped down as CEO of Twitter and has been replaced with Parag Agrawal, Twitter's current chief technology officer, according to an announcement from the company Monday morning.
Dorsey wrote in his departure note that Agrawal was his top choice for the CEO job and that he was selected by unanimous decision from Twitter's board. Bret Taylor, the president and chief operating officer of Salesforce, has been selected as the Independent Chair of the Board of Directors. Dorsey will remain on the board until his term expires in 2022.
"There's a lot of talk about the importance of a company being founder-led. Ultimately I believe that's severely limiting and a single point of failure," Dorsey wrote.
Agrawal has worked at Twitter for the last decade and served as CTO for the last four years. "We recently updated our strategy to hit ambitious goals, and I believe that strategy to be bold and right. But our critical challenge is how we work to execute against it and deliver results," Agrawal wrote in his all-staff note.
Dorsey, who is also the founder and CEO of payments device company Square, has come under repeated fire from investors for allegedly failing to focus his energies fully on running Twitter. In addition to his leadership of Square, the Twitter CEO has become a bitcoin evangelist and launched a new startup called TBD earlier this year that aims to build a decentralized cryptocurrency exchange.
Dorsey previously came closest to losing his job after he announced a controversial plan in late 2019 to spend half of his time living in Africa in 2020, a move that prompted activist investors at Elliott Management to try to force a leadership change. Dorsey survived the challenge from the Elliott investors and did not make the move, though he cited the coronavirus pandemic as the main reason for delaying the plan.
Correction: This story was updated to correct Parag Agrawal's current role at Twitter.
Elizabeth Holmes intentionally hid the use of third-party testing devices from Walgreens, its biggest partner, in order to protect "trade secrets," the former Theranos CEO testified in her third day on the stand for her ongoing fraud trial in San Jose.
She said that Theranos made modifications to use its tech with a blood testing device from Siemens, which could run a hundred patient samples and perform "dozens" of tests, claiming it was an "open source" device that could work with Theranos' "own proprietary chemistry." But the company hid this fact from Walgreens and others, worried that big medical device companies "could easily reproduce what we've done," she said. The company filed a non-public patent application for these devices.
The FDA, however, was made aware of the devices, a decision Holmes said was because the agency could ensure "trade secret protection."
"This was an invention that we understood as a counsel we'd have to protect as a trade secret," she testified.
The company decided against using its own proprietary devices because they couldn't handle "huge numbers of samples coming in at the same time," she said. Theranos said its own devices were meant to be used on-site, rather than in the central lab model it ultimately used for Walgreens testing.
Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes took the stand in a San Jose courtroom on Friday, beginning her testimony in the criminal fraud case against her.
So far, Holmes' attorneys have stuck to a few themes of her defense, including highlighting Holmes' inexperience as a college dropout and pointing the finger at Sunny Balwani, Theranos' former COO and president. She began her testimony by covering her background and how she came up with the idea of Theranos during college.
Her testimony comes after 11 weeks of prosecution with 29 witnesses called by the U.S. government. Despite it being the time for the government to make its case, Holmes' defense team has so far spent more hours interrogating witnesses during cross-examination than the government's attorneys did.
The prosecution rested on Friday and ended up removing a charge against Holmes after a patient was unable to testify. She now faces 11 counts of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud. Her testimony is expected to resume next week.
Google is asking the Justice Department to look into whether Jonathan Kanter, the new head of the antitrust division, should work on the lawsuit against the company.
Kanter, who was confirmed earlier this week, has been a favorite of progressive antitrust advocates and Big Tech skeptics across the aisle for his longtime work with Google foes like Yelp, Microsoft and the News Media Alliance.
A Google spokesman, Peter Schottenfels, said in a statement that Kanter's "work representing competitors who have advocated for the cases brought by the department raise serious concerns."
The Justice Department and several states are suing Google, alleging it violated antitrust laws with its efforts to distribute its search engine onto mobile phones in particular. The letter, from an outside firm representing Google, cites ethics regulations to question "whether a reasonable person would find [Assistant Attorney General] Kanter impartial with respect to the Department's investigations and litigation related to Google."
The letter echoes the so-far unsuccessful efforts by Amazon and Facebook to secure the recusal of Lina Khan, the Federal Trade Commission chair who has been critical of both companies' competitive conduct. Amazon is under FTC investigation, and the commission is suing Facebook. (The FTC and Justice Department share responsibility for antitrust enforcement.)
Given the Justice Department's purview, Kanter has faced questions about his former clients as well as those of his old law firm, which include Apple. Allies of Kanter's have argued that he is not "switching sides" in the Google matter, having opposed the company in his private practice and now doing so in public service. Though Yelp and Microsoft have both had disputes over producing documents in the U.S.'s Google case, his one-time clients also may be not "parties" to the lawsuit, which is generally the scope of ethics regulations.
In paperwork filed with the government ahead of his confirmation, Kanter agreed to consult with department ethics officials on recusal matters and follow all rules.
General Motors is getting into the chip business.
After months of chip shortages have crippled the world's largest automakers' production, costing the industry hundreds of billions of dollars in lost revenue, GM said that it is partnering with seven chip makers to design the silicon necessary to reduce the number needed and improve their quality.
GM has plans for three types of microcontrollers, an older type of chip used in cars for things such as braking and power windows. One of the families of microcontrollers planned could account for more than 10 million units a year, GM President Mark Reuss said on an investor call Thursday.
"We see the semiconductor requirements more than doubling over the next several years as the vehicles that we produce become more of a technology platform," Reuss said on the investor call Thursday. "What we're looking at doing and what we're going to do is a new strategy that will actually reduce the number of unique microcontroller units, or MCUs, required by 95% to the industry-leading levels."
Microcontrollers have proven one of the most problematic chips for the automakers to obtain during the recent shortages, in part because manufacturers produce the vital chips with aging machines. Chip companies typically expand capacity after the market demonstrates it can support the capital spending needed to build new plants, and are even more reluctant to expand capacity in older fabrication sites.
The chip crunch has been further exacerbated for automakers because features such as assisted driving and multimedia systems also need more powerful chips. Electric vehicles and hybrids typically contain a higher quantity of chips to run the more advanced systems.The greater number of semiconductors required and the supply shocks have prompted other automakers to more tightly vertically integrate. On Thursday, GM rival Ford unveiled a partnership with contract semiconductor manufacturing company GlobalFoundries.
Citadel CEO Ken Griffin said that he outbid the ConstitutionDAO group of cryptocurrency enthusiasts for a first-edition printing of the Constitution at a Sotheby's auction Thursday, killing the hopes of the ragtag bunch of online donors who had hoped to make a bold statement about the future of the internet.
Griffin plans to have a museum in Arkansas put the historic document on display. Had the ConstitutionDAO group beat Griffin in the auction — which closed at more than $42 million, more than double the Sotheby's estimate of $20 million — the group's founders had promised to have the people who donated to the bidding effort vote on where it should be displayed.
Protocol spoke to one of ConstitutionDAO's leaders on Monday ahead of the auction about how the organization coalesced and managed to raise over $40 million in cryptocurrency in just one week. "It's a much more participatory way to interact with history. We are going beyond museums. Everyone can choose where and how the Constitution is displayed," Will Papper, one of the DAO's founding members and the co-founder of Syndicate Protocol, said on Monday.
It's been a good week for Griffin. Robinhood, a notable partner of Citadel Securities, was recently cleared of collusion with the market maker when the online brokerage blocked purchases of popular meme stocks earlier this year.
Banks need to tell federal officials of large cybersecurity issues such as ransomware attacks within 36 hours under a new requirement approved Thursday.
The rule, which goes into effect in May 2022, requires that financial leaders report cybersecurity incidents like computer system problems, ransomware attacks and other online interruptions.
Ransomware attacks have been a major issue in recent months, including issues like the Colonial Pipeline hack and a breach on Kaseya software earlier this year. Lawmakers had also considered a bill earlier this year that would require financial institutions to report cybersecurity breaches within a day, rather than 36 hours.
The Chamber of Commerce, the most powerful business lobbying group in the U.S., launched a series of attacks on the Federal Trade Commission on Friday and threatened litigation to push back on the progressive agenda of chair Lina Khan.
Clark said the chamber, a longtime foe of the FTC, is showing it will "use every tool at our disposal, including litigation," to confront what it called the commission's "abuse of power."
Khan, a tech critic and advocate of aggressive antitrust enforcement, has been making procedural changes enabling her and her fellow Democrats to speed their agenda, which also includes resurrecting practices like rulemaking that businesses and Republicans have long fought.
The chamber in particular called out the controversial use of so-called "zombie votes." Khan, who has faced weeks with a 2–2 partisan split on the commission since the departure of Rohit Chopra to take over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has used votes that Chopra pre-cast on certain matters before he left.
The chamber's threats come as Republicans grow increasingly personal in their attacks on the Biden tech agenda, even though some Trump-allied conservatives expressed interest in Khan's potential to take on Big Tech when she was first nominated. GOP Commissioner Christine Wilson has criticized Khan repeatedly in speeches, and on Wednesday, Sen. Ted Cruz called Alvaro Bedoya, whom Biden has nominated to take over Chopra's spot at the FTC, "a provocateur, a bomb-thrower and an extremist."
Khan and Democratic allies still appear poised for their next moves, however. FTC spokeswoman Lindsay Kryzak told the Wall Street Journal the commission is "not going to back down because corporate lobbyists are making threats."
In addition, the Democrats' massive social-spending package, which passed the House on Friday morning, would boost the FTC's funding, create a privacy bureau inside the commission and expand its ability to impose penalties. The measure now goes to the Senate, where moderate Democrats may seek to scale it back and the chamber is already pushing changes on the FTC provisions.
Facebook is giving users more control over what they see in News Feed, the company announced Thursday. Over the coming weeks, the company will being allowing some users to tweak their preferences in News Feed to change the amount of content they see from different accounts, pages and groups, as well as the topics that appear in their News Feeds.
"Our Community Standards are in place to help keep the platform safe by defining what is and is not allowed in our community, but that doesn't mean everyone is interested in seeing or appearing next to the same content," Facebook's parent company Meta wrote in the release.
The company also said it will modify controls like Favorites, Snooze and Unfollow so they're "easier to access." These changes will be tested with a "small percentage of people" in different countries and slowly expanded in the next few weeks.
The move isn't a direct response to calls for a chronological feed (although you can set your feed that way manually), which lawmakers and Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen have endorsed in recent weeks. But it is a step toward loosening Facebook's singular hold on what billions of people around the world see everyday.
These changes also shouldn't come as a surprise, even though its News Feed has come under fire for prioritizing harmful content; the platform has run tests like this for years. "This is part of our ongoing work to give people more control over News Feed, so they see more of what they want and less of what they don't," Meta wrote.
In addition to the changes to News Feed, Meta announced that it would allow advertisers to begin excluding certain topics from their ad campaigns. Those topics include "News and Politics, Social Issues and Crime & Tragedy," Meta said. Advertisers who select those topics won't have their ads shown to users who have recently interacted with those topics. "We see this product as a bridge between what we can offer today and where we hope to go — content-based controls," the company said, noting that it plans to begin exploring more granular controls for advertisers in 2022.
The ConstitutionDAO raised more than $40 million to win a copy of the U.S. Constitution, but ultimately it wasn't enough. The online group, which organized itself using blockchain technology, lost an auction at Sotheby's that ultimately ended with a winning bid of $43.2 million.
"While this wasn't the outcome we hoped for," said Julian Weisser, one of the group's leaders, "we still made history tonight with ConstitutionDAO. This is the largest crowdfund for a physical object that we are aware of — crypto or fiat."
Some speculated that the DAO's problem was with the volatility of the ether currency. Because of its high "gas" transaction fees, and the fluctuation in prices, the group actually had less money to spend than it appeared, and the price of the document simply went above its spending power. The real answer seemed to be somewhat related: They hadn't raised enough money to not just buy the document but also take care of it on an ongoing basis.
The auction started with a huge amount of confidence among the DAO members: Though most of the group had never met (virtually or otherwise) before last week, a smattering of the people who contributed to the fund for the auction watched — and drank — from Betaworks Studio New York as the bidding progressed. Even more filled the Sotheby's livestream chat with emoji and excitement, or observed the auction countdown clock from inside a virtual lobby of Sotheby's on Decentraland, a 3D VR platform.
Once the auction kicked off, a debate emerged: Viewers spent the auction trying to decide which bidder, David or Brooke, represented them. They got excited, and then slightly panicked, and then deeply confused when the gavel dropped. Ultimately, they were team David, and they lost. It's not yet clear who actually won the auction.
Spirits were still high after the action ended, though. A group of DAO supporters jumped onto Twitter Spaces and Clubhouse rooms to praise the community for coming together so quickly, raising so much money and bringing so many people along for the ride. The general consensus: We didn't win the auction, but we did start a movement, and we brought new people into crypto.
"We had 17,437 donors," Weisser wrote in the ConstitutionDAO Discord, "with a median donation size of $206.26." Donors can get their money back, minus gas fees, shortly. But more than a few members of the DAO said they wanted no such thing; they'd built something big, something exciting, and they didn't want to get out of it.
A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit against Robinhood that had accused the company of colluding with Citadel Securities to limit trading of GameStop and other meme stocks in January.
Investors had sued Robinhood alleging they lost money when they couldn't trade out of GameStop and other stocks. At the time, Citadel executed a large portion of Robinhood's trades under an industry business model known as payment for order flow.
The incident triggered Congressional hearings, where lawmakers grilled Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev and Citadel's Ken Griffin.
Previous court filings showed high-level communications between Robinhood and Citadel Securities on the day trading was curbed. Both companies denied the accusations.
A bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general today launched an investigation into Meta. The coalition seeks to determine whether Meta (formerly Facebook) promoted Instagram to children despite knowing the associated mental and physical health risks.
The coalition is known so far to include attorneys general from California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee, New York and Vermont. The full list of participating states has not been made public.
"When social media platforms treat our children as mere commodities to manipulate for longer screen time engagement and data extraction, it becomes imperative for state attorneys general to engage our investigative authority under our consumer protection laws," said Nebraska AG Doug Peterson in a press release announcing the probe.
"Time and again, Mark Zuckerberg and the companies he runs have put profits over safety, but our investigation seeks to end that behavior," added New York AG Letitia James. James further clarified that the investigation would focus on techniques used to boost children's screen time and engagement on Instagram and the resultant harms.
In September, the Wall Street Journal published leaked internal research that showed Facebook knew of Instagram's potential harm to teenagers, with teenage girls facing particularly acute risks.
One of the slides, leaked by whistleblower Frances Haugen, said: "Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse." Another concluded, "we make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls."
The Wall Street Journal found that top Facebook executives reviewed the research. In spite of this, the leadership team went forward with plans to launch Instagram Kids. The company has since put those plans on hold.
State AGs played an important role in pressuring Meta, then Facebook, to halt the planned roll-out of Instagram Kids. The investigation launched today doesn't have as clear-cut of an objective, and could instead involve a fine intended to dissuade Meta and other social media platforms from knowingly promoting harmful products to vulnerable users.One of the biggest issues is identifying those vulnerable users. For instance, Meta has admitted that many children skirt Instagram's age restrictions by simply lying about being younger than 13. The state AGs could pressure Meta to add ID verification systems, though this would likely elicit pushback from privacy and free-speech advocates.
OpenAI has removed the waitlist for GPT-3, its AI programming interface that can produce text such as emails, articles and code, it announced Thursday.
GPT-3 is now available in dozens of supported countries for developers to integrate into their services and apps. OpenAI attributed the increased availability to safeguards put in place to properly deploy the interface, including "more truthful question-answering" and a content filter to "mitigate abuse."
The company claims that GPT-3, which has been open to the public since last year for those willing to join the waitlist, is being used in over 300 apps by "tens of thousands" of developers.
Xbox chief Phil Spencer said Microsoft is in the process of reevaluating its relationship with major game publisher Activision Blizzard. His comments come in the wake of a Wall Street Journal report regarding CEO Bobby Kotick's prior knowledge of sexual assault and workplace discrimination, according to a leaked email sent to Microsoft staff and obtained by Bloomberg.
Spencer told Xbox staff that he was "disturbed and deeply troubled by the horrific events and actions" at Activision Blizzard, referring specifically to the WSJ report on Kotick. "This type of behavior has no place in our industry," Spencer added, saying Microsoft would, going forward, have to think about how closely it wants to associate with the publisher.
Spencer's comments come on the heels of PlayStation chief Jim Ryan similarly rebuking Kotick and the leadership at Activision Blizzard in an email to staff Wednesday. "We outreached to Activision immediately after the article was published to express our deep concern and to ask how they plan to address the claims made in the article," Ryan wrote, according to Bloomberg. "We do not believe their statements of response properly address the situation."
Taken together, Spencer and Ryan's statements form the harshest condemnation of Activision Blizzard from high-level game executives to date and reflect the severe atmosphere in which Kotick now attempts to navigate the crisis and hold onto his job in the process. The ABK Workers Alliance, an employee activist group, has called for Kotick's resignation, as has a group of investors.
Since the WSJ report published, a number of details surrounding Activision Blizzard's poor handling of the situation have come to light, including how it failed to pay the new female co-lead of Blizzard, Jen Oneal, the same salary as her male counterpart, leading in part to Oneal's resignation mere months after taking over for disgraced former president J. Allen Brack.
Despite the wave of negative stories and increasing backlash from the industry, the board of directors has stood by Kotick. The company has since tried to reassure employees that it is committed to change, though some workers have reportedly been unconvinced by many of the gestures, including a seemingly strategic week of time off for the Thanksgiving holiday.
"We respect all feedback from our valued partners and are engaging with them further," Activision said in a statement. "We have detailed important changes we have implemented in recent weeks, and we will continue to do so. We are committed to the work of ensuring our culture and workplace are safe, diverse, and inclusive. We know it will take time, but we will not stop until we have the best workplace for our team."
The Wall Street Journal's report on Tuesday detailed how involved Kotick has been in past instances of misconduct and helping cover them up, including his protection of high-level employees accused of sexual harassment and his role in reaching out-of-court settlements with accusers that he subsequently kept hidden from his board.
Activision Blizzard is now under investigation by the SEC for this alleged behavior, and the company also remains in a legal battle with California over an investigation the state launched in 2018 into the company's workplace issues. California's lawsuit kicked off a reckoning at the company this past summer and resulted in numerous firings, employee protests, a federal settlement and a number of measures from Kotick and upper management to try and quell the storm, including a pay cut for the chief executive and the end of forced arbitration clauses in worker contracts.
But mounting pressure on Kotick to resign for his complicity and active participation in the company's toxic workplace culture has brought renewed attention to company's failings.
In an effort to address its customers' requests quickly, Amazon reportedly put millions of them at risk. The company has allowed its workforce to abuse its access to large quantities of customer data, and has missed large outside security risks, a Wired investigation found.
Amazon's meager internal security system allowed lower-level employees to snoop on customer purchases, accept bribes from sellers to sabotage their competitors and tamper with customer reviews. The company reportedly had no system in place to prevent employee security risks; Amazon's former CISO, Gary Gagnon, called it a "free-for-all."
Its security system also lets outside threats slip through the cracks. According to the investigation, Amazon's seller metrics program gave third-party developers the ability to hoard customer data, including a Chinese data firm which stockpiled the information of millions of its users. Around 24 million American Express card numbers and names lived in an unsecured spot within Amazon's system for two years too, with no way for the security team to check if the data was improperly accessed.
The company's strapped information security staff may have been part of the problem, as its team of 300 couldn't keep track of the tens of thousands of terabytes of user data.
Amazon spokesperson Jen Bemisderfer told Wired in an email that the company has "an exceptional track record of protecting customer data. The fact that Amazon's privacy and security issues are extensively documented with extensive review from senior leadership highlights our commitment to these issues and demonstrates the vigilance with which we identify, escalate, and respond to potential risks."
Ford struck a deal with recently public contract chip manufacturer GlobalFoundries to secure enough semiconductors for its auto production amid a shortage, it announced Thursday.
The two companies said the deal would help Ford secure more chip supplies for its current products and includes joint research and development projects to address the increased demand for chips in cars thanks to features such as assisted driving and for electric vehicles. Those are two of the most significant contributors to the rise in demand for chips in autos.
"This agreement is just the beginning, and a key part of our plan to vertically integrate key technologies and capabilities that will differentiate Ford far into the future," Ford CEO Jim Farley said.
Neither company disclosed the financial terms of the deal.
The auto industry has been severely damaged by the global shortage for chips, which may cost the industry $210 billion in lost revenue, according to AlixPartners. Thursday's agreement is another sign of how a range of businesses have been upended by the surge in demand for chips. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, an agreement between an automaker and a chip manufacturer would have been quite surprising.
GlobalFoundries had a lackluster debut on Wall Street last month, after its controlling shareholder, Mubadala Investment Company, elected to take the company public. Mubadala is an arm of the Abu Dhabi government, and continues to retain a controlling stake in GlobalFoundries.
Apple won't call its employees back to the office until Feb. 1, according to news reports.
The company reportedly told employees Thursday that they can work remotely full-time through the end of January. Most people will only have to come in once or twice per week in February, with exceptions for teams whose work requires them to meet in person more often.
Starting in March, Apple will start its full hybrid schedule, where most employees come in Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
The company's inflexible hybrid work schedule has been the subject of some internal controversy and an employee movement in support of more remote work flexibility. According to The Information, Apple will now allow for up to four weeks of full-time remote work per year, up from the two it had previously indicated.
Apple spokesperson Chloe Sanchez Sweet declined to comment on the news.
German neobank N26 plans to shut down its U.S. operations, it announced Thursday. The service won't be available to U.S. customers after Jan. 11, 2022.
The company plans to expand into additional verticals such as investing and to other countries in Europe, it said in a release. N26 stopped its U.K. operations last year.
Last month, N26 was ordered by German regulators to slow down onboarding new customers due to potential money laundering issues.
Meanwhile, last month U.K. neobank Monzo said it had pulled its application for a banking charter in the U.S.
On Thursday, China officially launched the new national bureau to supervise anti-monopoly work.
According to the bureau's website, the new administration will consist of three divisions, each focusing on a different task: policymaking, rules enforcement and M&A reviews.
What pops out from the official description of each division's responsibility is the focus on the digital economy. It is the only industry singled out as an emphasis of the bureau's work going forward, after several major Chinese tech companies like Alibaba have gone through anti-monopoly reviews this year.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, nearly one quarter of all Americans said that they find meaning and purpose in their lives because of their work and their jobs. Now, that number has declined by more 9% in a new Pew research study, affirming anecdotal stories about the American population's increasing disinterest in participating in the labor market.
The survey researchers, writing in a summary of an analysis that compares global surveys about the meaning of life from 2017 and early 2021, suggest that the rapid falloff in finding meaning in work for Americans is related to the way people were forced to work from home and how shifting values and priorities during the pandemic affected people's relationship to work.
Higher-income and college-educated people were the most likely to find meaning in work before the pandemic, and the falloff in valuing careers can be seen within those specific groups as well. "While Americans with higher incomes and those with a college degree remain the most likely to bring up their jobs, both groups have become less likely to do so, with a decline from 37% to 27% among those in the upper-income tier and a decline from 39% to 26% among the college-educated," the researchers wrote in the report.
Tech companies have broadly reported an increasingly difficult battle to hire top talent over the last year, while the labor market as a whole is facing an unusually high shortage of applicants for all types of jobs and income levels. At Facebook, company internal reports described top engineers willing to turn down job offers and new tech startups flush with VC money on hiring sprees; on Glassdoor, Facebook's lowest ratings came from people fed-up with their lack of work-life balance. Both Microsoft and Amazon have said publicly that they want to hire hundreds of thousands of people for jobs in fulfillment, truck driving, cybersecurity, and corporate. Workers with unlimited paid-time-off aren't taking the vacation, and then reporting unusually high levels of burnout. Candidates are opting for companies that offer ever-increasing flexibility with when and how they work, and they feel empowered to demand more workplace benefits as part of their job offers.
The Great Resignation is not a myth — and this new Pew study shows that it stems, in part, from a fundamental shift in how people value their work, and what place they believe their jobs should have in their lives.
Midweek is the most popular time for tech workers to go to the office. But that's not the case everywhere.
Friday was one of the most popular days for Bay Area tech workers to show up to the office last month, according to a new report from Robin, a hybrid work management platform. In Boston, Chicago and New York, Friday was the slowest day at tech offices, Robin found.
Los Angeles tech offices were by far the most bustling on Wednesdays, the day when workers made 43% of their weekly desk bookings. In Chicago, 38% of desk bookings came in on Thursdays, making that the busiest day at local tech offices.
New York and Boston saw a pretty even split among Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, which are the most popular days to go to the office across the industry.
But things are different in the Bay Area. San Francisco-area tech offices are the busiest on Wednesdays (22%), Thursdays (24%) and Fridays (22%), with Mondays the slowest at 13%.
And across geographies, the lights are coming back on at tech offices: There were 30% more desk bookings in October than in September. Even with that increase, the average tech worker only came in once a week, Robin found.
PFM Health Sciences partner Brian Grossman invested in Theranos despite red flags raised during diligence, according to evidence presented Wednesday in the ongoing fraud trial of former CEO Elizabeth Holmes.
During the process of vetting the blood-testing company, a colleague asked a contact at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois about Theranos, only to be told its tech didn't work. "They said they evaluated service and came to the conclusion that it does not work. They have no contract with Theranos and they did extensive diligence on the machine and came to this conclusion," a PFM team member said in an email to Grossman.
In another review on the FDA risk, Grossman was warned by an analyst that it was possible that the FDA might never grant approval to some of Theranos' tests. "My conclusion is that we have to account for risk that the FDA will decide to regulate Theranos much earlier than they think, which may slow down or derail the launch," the analysis said an email. "We also have to assume that there is a possibility that they will never be able to get certain tests approved by the FDA and they will remain venous blood draw tests (which they mentioned.)"
Even with the warning signs, Grossman went ahead with the investment, his confidence partially buoyed by a call to Stanford professor Channing Robertson who had ties to his father-in-law, Stanford professor David Brady. On Jan. 26, Grossman wrote to his partner at PFM that he was feeling better about the investment. "Valuation and terms aside, which are obviously tough to swallow, I'm feeling even better about this now. I had a mind blowing call yesterday w/ Elizabeth's professor who helped her start this," he wrote.
Still, Grossman knew and acknowledged that there were risks to the investment, he said in conclusion of his testimony. He didn't expect Elizabeth Holmes being untruthful and not disclosing the use of third-party devices to be one of them.
"Did you think one of the risks here was that the founder and CEO was not being truthful to you?" prosecutor Robert Leach asked.
"We did not think that was one of the risks," Grossman said.