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HSN is an interactive multi-channel retailer with direct-to-consumer expertise and operates two business segments, HSN and Cornerstone. The company offers a retail experience on TV, online, via mobile, in catalogs, and in brick and mortar stores. The company delivers a curated assortment of products and brand names, and broadcasts live 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 364 days a year.

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Nov 1, 2021

The new Meta logo has dispelled a feeling of déjà vu among Chinese web users since Facebook announced its major rebrand: it resembles the logo of WeChat Channels, a short-video feature embedded within China's largest social media platform. Both logos look like an evolution from the infinite loop symbol "∞," only that the WeChat Channels logo is face-up and in orange, and the Meta logo is face-down and in blue. On Chinese social media, netizens reacted to the confusing similarity of the two logos by mockingly calling the Meta logo "an inverted WeChat Channels [logo]." Some joked that Meta intentionally copied the logo of WeChat Channels, a feature WeChat launched in early 2020. Facebook's big rebranding reflects Mark Zuckerberg's big-picture plans for the metaverse. Like Meta, Chinese tech giant Tencent, WeChat's parent company is also going gung-ho about metaverse. In September alone, Tencent applied for nearly 100 Metaverse-related trademarks, according to Chinese financial publication Yicai. For curious readers, the WeChat Channels logo is below. Keep ReadingShow less Staffing shortages, supply chain snafus and a flood of pandemic-induced online orders has Chipotle employees overwhelmed at their jobs while the company revenue soars, according to a new Marketplace report. Some Chipotle workers in the Bronx walked out in a strike Sunday afternoon to protest working conditions, after the company announced a Halloween promotion for online orders that would have flooded the system. A similar discount earlier this year led to chaos, overwork, food shortages and angry customers . Online sales for Chipotle are booming like never before; according to the latest data from the third quarter earnings call, the company has made $2.7 billion in online food orders this year, compared to $2.8 billion for all of last year. Chipotle revenue was up 27% year over year in the same quarter, while staffing has increased by less than 10%. The Service Employees International Union helped sponsor the Bronx walkout, though Chipotle workers are not unionized. The Halloween-day strike was a tiny cap on a month of walkouts across industries protesting staffing shortages and salaries, ranging from 10,000 employees nationally at John Deere to thousands at Kellogg and Kaiser Permanente. Amazon is also struggling to find and hire the workers it needs for jobs like warehousing and delivery, and the company is offering hiring bonuses and slightly higher starting wages to lure talent amidst a tight national labor market. The staffing shortages and protests aren't hitting just food service jobs or just the lower end of the wage spectrum; tech companies broadly are fighting desperately for talent (including Facebook, for top-level engineers ) and dealing with workers ready to walk out in protest (including Netflix and Activision Blizzard ). Keep ReadingShow less Lawmakers in the U.K. are considering making it illegal to post certain content online that causes "emotional, psychological, or physical harm to the likely audience" and punishing violators with jail time, according to The Sunday Times. The provision would be part of the forthcoming Online Safety Bill that is currently being drafted. According to the Times, the bill would outlaw "threatening communications" as well as "knowingly false communications," which spread false information with the intent to cause emotional, psychological or physical harm. The broad law would place an emphasis on the experience of the receiver of the message and the "harmful effects" the message had on that person, the Times reported. "We are making our laws fit for the digital age," a government spokesperson told the Times. "Our comprehensive Online Safety Bill will make tech companies responsible for people's safety and we are carefully considering the Law Commission's recommendations on strengthening criminal offences." The bill, which is set to be introduced to parliament next month, would also place a number of new requirements on tech platforms, including the requirement that they remove content that is legal, but could be harmful to users. Keep ReadingShow less B. Pagels-Minor and Terra Field, two Netflix employees who protested Dave Chappelle comedy special "The Closer" for its transphobic content, have filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board, according to the Verge. The workers are alleging Netflix retaliated against them for participating in protected activity. The two workers have stood out as leaders in opposition to Chappelle's special. Pagels-Minor, a Black trans program manager, was fired on suspicion of leaking confidential company information to the press, allegations they have rejected. Field was suspended, but later reinstated, after tweeting about the controversy. The employees say Netflix took action against workers to stop them from speaking up. "Rights exist to be exercised and defended, and nobody will silence me in my defense of myself, my coworkers, or my community," Field tweeted Friday. The complaints build on pressure from Netflix employees on the company. Earlier this month, workers staged a walkout over the special. Around the same time, they released a set of demands that call for more investment in trans-affirming content and disclaimers and labels on transphobic content, among other demands. A Netflix spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment. The company's CEO, Ted Sarandos, has stood by Chappelle's special but has walked back comments that "content on screen doesn't directly translate to real-world harm." Note: Protocol is owned by Axel Springer, whose chairman and CEO, Mathias Döpfner, sits on the board of Netflix. Keep ReadingShow less Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, has acquired VR fitness subscription service Supernatural, the fitness startup announced Friday afternoon. Financial details of the deal weren't immediately available. The acquisition will allow Supernatural to "have more resources to expand," Supernatural CEO Chris Milk wrote in a note to the company's subscribers. Milk will be joining Meta as part of the acquisition, and his entire staff got offers to join the company as well. Supernatural has been one of the first startups to use VR for fitness, effectively replicating the Peloton model of at-home workouts with a headset. "Our larger hope is that we can bring in a whole new type of audience into virtual reality that might not have been interested in it for the use case it has been promoted for thus far," Milk told Protocol last year. During Meta's Connect conference this week, Mark Zuckerberg highlighted fitness as one of the use cases for the company's expansion into the metaverse. Meta also announced that it would launch workout accessories for users of its Quest VR headset next year. Update: This story was updated to include more information about the acquisition. Keep ReadingShow less Meta is on everyone's minds. That's exactly what Meta wants. It's a brilliant public relations move; the company has been knocked down week after week, struggling to come up for air while a consortium of journalists, Protocol included , sift through thousands of pages of information leaked by whistleblower Frances Haugen. The company needed to take control of the news cycle, knowing that it certainly isn't getting out of it anytime soon. Twitter feeds — at least my feed — are now filled with Meta news, but there are pockets of people pleading for the conversation to stop. The company wants everyone to shift the conversation from Facebook's faults to the metaverse and everything shiny, and some users like Edward Snowden and the clothing company Patagonia are taking to Twitter to point that out. To save you from scrolling yourself, here are a handful of the many, many tweets to get a sense of the discussion. For starters, take a look at the people — and companies — that are having a ball with Facebook's rebrand. Then, there are the naysayers who aren't falling for the Meta hype. Patagonia is calling for an outright boycott of Meta. New names can't escape old problems, and a lot of people are still waiting for the company to admit fault and then change. Meta may just be a temporary distraction. Keep ReadingShow less It's been a long week of Big Tech earnings, with companies pointing out issues they've been grappling with for some time: supply chain woes, the chip crisis — you get the gist. At the same time, there were big moves among the biggest companies in tech: Tesla became a trillion-dollar company for the first time, while Microsoft recaptured its crown as the most valuable company in the world. There are plenty of headwinds facing the tech industry right now, but nothing seems to slow the biggest players down. Here's a rundown of some of the highlights — and lowlights — from this week's slew of tech earnings, and what they mean for the next few months. The holiday crunch is going to be real Amazon is trying as hard as it can to ensure everyone gets their presents in time for the holiday season. In fact, it's dropping billions of dollars to help to offset high shipping fees, supply chain issues and labor costs. "We've always said that when confronted with the choice between optimizing for short-term profits versus what's best for customers over the long term, we will choose the latter," Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said in its third-quarter earnings release on Thursday. Apple is feeling the holiday pressure, too. Tim Cook said on Thursday that the company lost about $6 billion because of production issues and shortages, and that number could go up in the next quarter if those same issues persist. All of tech's big setbacks from 2021 are in the spotlight this holiday season. But at least execs have been giving us a heads up about the issues — labor and supply shortages, the chip crisis — for a while now. So get shopping now if you want to be ready for the holidays. The chip shortage is hitting everyone The chip crisis will be here for a while. Even Joe Biden wants to figure out a workaround to the problem. It's mainly affecting the electronics and cars industries, and the impact is drastic. Apple attributed some of its lost earnings and supply issues to the shortage. Cook also said COVID-related manufacturing setbacks in Southeast Asia have caused issues. Last week, Intel said the chip shortage hurt customers' ability to purchase laptops and servers because of "inventory challenges and supply challenges." Meanwhile, Samsung and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) have said efforts to ramp up production have been harder than expected. But perhaps the most vocal — and most affected — group is the car sector. Ford, General Motors and even Tesla have said it's difficult to meet customer demand because of the crisis. Some, like GM, are temporarily closing plants because of it. And as the holiday season approaches, companies' attempts at working around the crisis are being put to the test. The future is coming, but ads are here and now For all the talk of the metaverse, it's worth a reminder that Facebook is still an advertising business at its core, and a giant one at that. Facebook generated about 97% of its total $29 billion in revenue from advertising in Q3. The Meta rebrand is an attempt to convey to the public that Facebook isn't just a social network that sells ads. This, of course, draws parallels to the Alphabet rebrand: In Larry Page's 2015 letter announcing Alphabet, he mentioned "ads" exactly zero times. Instead, Page described ambitious Google projects such as a "glucose-sensing contact lens" and drone delivery. Fast-forward to 2021, and Alphabet is still very much an advertising company: Google advertising accounted for $53 billion of the $65 billion generated in Q3 2021, while the "other bets" segment that Page was so keen to emphasize generated a meager $182 million. Facebook could similarly shift public perception by focusing on its equivalents of "other bets" with VR, AR and the metaverse. Even if those don't pan out — as happened with Alphabet for the most part — Meta still has a bright future as an old-fashioned ad merchant. The rebrand could instead create a gap between the public perception of how Meta makes money and the reality of the business. This could help diffuse some of the public anger towards Facebook, and help attract engineering talent who are much more keen to work for a metaverse-building tech visionary than a company that sells attention for money. And as we learned from Protocol's Anna Kramer earlier this week, Facebook needs all the help it can get in the hiring department. Apple's privacy push hurt some more than others Some companies hate Apple's privacy change, and others don't seem to mind. Snap and Facebook said last week that Apple's privacy change, which requires apps to ask users if they want to be tracked, is killing business. Snap shares dropped substantially twice in a row the day after complaining of the privacy change. On the other hand, Google, Twitter and Amazon said the rule didn't put much of a dent in their business; in fact, they're fine without it. Amazon has enough customer data that it doesn't need to lean on Apple's tracking information, Google search already collects user data and YouTube was only impacted slightly. Twitter also walked away mostly unscathed. Still, the privacy change shows just how valuable ads are for business, and how one move on Apple's part can have a ripple effect on its peers. Now that companies have seen the impact from Apple's rule, they may need to figure out how to make their own data tracking work in their favor. The labor shortage hurts Amazon the most Amazon said it needs more manpower, particularly drivers and warehouse workers. The labor shortage is making it harder for Prime members to get their same-day delivery, and in some cases, packages need to be redirected to warehouses with enough employees, according to Reuters. The company is trying to offset the issue by hiring hundreds of thousands more seasonal and non-seasonal employees and offering them incentives to stick around. Heck, the company's weed legalization push has a lot to do with hiring. But those pushes may not be enough, as the company battles unionization pushes sparked by demands for better working conditions. The latest unionization drive comes out of Staten Island. Amazon's outlook highlighted the labor shortage the most, but it's not the only company affected by it. Over half of tech leaders indicated in a survey that finding skilled workers is their biggest worry at the moment, according to CNBC. Even the best perks may not bring workers back, and companies are realizing they need to think long and hard about what it will take to fill that gap. Cloud services are the engine that powers (most of) Big Tech Cloud services have proven to be more resilient to the economic impacts of the pandemic, particularly the ongoing supply chain issues and labor shortages. Nowhere was this more evident than with Amazon. AWS accounted for less than 15% of the company's net sales but just over 100% of its operating income. This means AWS is effectively subsidizing the rest of Amazon's business operations. And this will be particularly important for the company in the next few months, as CEO Andy Jassy expects to incur "several billion dollars of additional costs" in Q4 to contend with disruptions on the ecommerce side of the business. Google and Microsoft didn't have as stark of a difference between their cloud businesses and everything else. (Their non-cloud segments are more software-centric than Amazon's, and therefore less exposed to supply-chain and labor issues.) Google Cloud brought in just under $5 billion in Q3, which accounted for 7.7% of total revenue. Microsoft's intelligent cloud business generated $17.4 billion, which represented nearly 37% of total revenue. For both Google and Microsoft, the cloud businesses are growing at a faster rate than overall revenue. Microsoft had the largest gap, with Azure (a subset of Intelligent Cloud) revenue up 51% year-over-year relative to the overall revenue growth of 21%. Apple is leaning on services while supply chain disruptions drag on Apple's pivot to services has been several years in the making, and it's proven to be a savvy strategic decision in terms of making the company more resilient to all the aforementioned supply chain issues. Services generated $18.3 billion in the last quarter. This represented 22% of net sales but 37% of gross profit. Apple announced that it now had 745 million paid subscriptions, which was up by more than 160 million from the year prior. One bad sign for Apple is that revenue growth for services is now slower than that of the overall company. In recent years, Services had been a growth driver for the overall business. Apple seems to think that the launch of new services will help bring Services back to its former glory. Apple CFO Luca Maestri said in the earnings call , "We're adding new services that we think our customers will love and we continue to improve the breadth and quality of our current services offerings." It's still really good to be Big Tech Earlier this month, Bloomberg published an op-ed titled: " Give Amazon and Facebook a Seat at the United Nations ." No, this wasn't intended as satire. The author instead built his case for the UN expansion by pointing to the fact that "CEOs were more trusted than government leaders, religious leaders and journalists" and that "68% thought CEOs should step in when governments fail to fix societal problems." Whether you agree with the recommendation or not, it's difficult to argue that Big Tech companies have become primary powers on the world stage. The supposed "Big Tech crackdown" has been brewing for years now, but stock prices suggest investors don't take these threats very seriously. As of this writing, Microsoft and Apple have market caps of $2.5 trillion, Alphabet stands at $2 trillion and Amazon at $1.7 trillion. Even the "successful" efforts in the EU to rein in Big Tech have resulted in protracted legal battles rather than serious threats to its market dominance. In truth, Big Tech is as dominant as ever. There are few credible threats — regulatory or otherwise — to their power. Get used to living in the world of FAANG, or MANGA, or whatever you want to call it. China's powerful State Administration for Market Regulation released a set of draft rules on Friday that for the first time defines "super large platforms" and proposes special rules that only apply to them. In the proposed definition, internet platforms that meet all four requirements — over 500 million annual active users, a market cap of over 1 trillion RMB ($160 billion), strong capability to separate vendors and consumers, and the offering of at least two core services — will be categorized as "super large platforms." Popular Chinese apps like WeChat, Taobao, Alipay, Meituan and Douyin will likely meet all these criteria. In a separate document, SAMR outlines nine areas where "super large platforms" will be held to higher standards than smaller platforms, including fair competition, open ecosystem, data security, risk reviews and encouraging innovation. Keep ReadingShow less Tesla is about to get a run for its money. Lucid Motors is releasing the first 520 of its long-awaited Lucid Air electric vehicles on Saturday, and it has the stamp of approval from both critics and customers. The limited-edition Dream model, which starts at $169,000, is already sold out, and it's said to set a standard for the evolving EV industry. It makes sense that the vehicle could challenge Tesla: Lucid's leader, Peter Rawlinson, is a former Tesla engineer who worked on the company's Model S. Another Lucid engineer, Eric Bach, is also a Tesla alum. "I'm truly excited to hand the keys to our first dear customers and accompany them on an inaugural drive through the iconic California countryside," Rawlinson said. The Lucid Air Dream edition, an electric sedan, outpaces the Tesla EVs in terms of range. The vehicle tacks on 100 more miles than the Model S Long Range Plus, Tesla's longest-range vehicle. Lots of the car's other features, from charging rates to acceleration, appear to directly rival Tesla. Early reviews of the Air have been overwhelmingly positive. Some touted the looks of the vehicle itself: Simple but in a futuristic way, with a luxury feel on the inside. Others put their trust in the carmakers themselves, who come from companies like Ford and General Motors, saying the general assembly is solid and its battery is particularly powerful. "The Air strikes me as an instant classic," The Wall Street Journal said . Tesla was overdue for a challenger as the EV industry ramps up. Lucid Motors has talked a big game for a long time, but appears to have delivered in more ways than one. Keep ReadingShow less Andy Jassy's tenure as CEO is off to a rocky start, at least by Amazon's standards. Jassy issued a stark warning during the company's third-quarter earnings call on Thursday: "In the fourth quarter, we expect to incur several billion dollars of additional costs in our consumer business as we manage through labor supply shortages, increased wage costs, global supply chain issues, and increased freight and shipping costs—all while doing whatever it takes to minimize the impact on customers and selling partners this holiday season. It'll be expensive for us in the short term, but it's the right prioritization for our customers and partners." That pronouncement came on the heels of Amazon disclosing a relatively disappointing third quarter during which its net income decreased by nearly half, from $6.3 billion in Q3 2020 to $3.2 billion in Q3 2021. Overall revenue increased 15% year-over-year to reach $110.8 billion. AWS helped drive this growth, with its growth rate increasing to 39% year-over-year. Amazon said it expects to generate revenue between $130 billion to $140 billion in the upcoming quarter, which would still represent a year-over-year growth of 4-12%. Keep ReadingShow less Yet, the business is becoming more profitable, albeit slowly. In 2020 it reported revenue of $4.9 billion on a loss of $1.35 billion, compared with the previous year when it logged sales of $5.8 billion and a loss of 1.37 billion, according to the prospectus . GlobalFoundries see the industry as entering a "new golden age" propelled by cars, mobile devices and intelligent software, which has increased the number of chips needed in many products across a range of industries. GlobalFoundries counts big chip designers such as Qualcomm and AMD among its customers. The roster also includes companies such as Samsung Electronics and Broadcom. More than half of the chips the company makes for its customers can only be made with its manufacturing technology. GlobalFoundries pointed out in its IPO filing that it's one of the few chip makers that isn't based in China or Taiwan, theoretically giving investors a hedge against geopolitical tensions there. But, it's worth pointing out that even though the company is based in Malta, N.Y., it is controlled by Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund, Mubadala Investment. After the IPO, Mubadala will own an 89.4% stake in the business, giving it de facto control. AMD created GlobalFoundries in 2009 when it spun out its chip manufacturing business, opting to just design the chips it sells. Keep ReadingShow less Facebook is going to release a new high-end standalone VR headset in 2022, the company revealed during its Connect developer conference Thursday. Separately, the company also announced that it was going to retire the Oculus brand for its VR products. Code-named "Project Cambria," the new VR headset will be backwards-compatible with the company's Quest platform, but not a Quest device itself. That suggests that apps specifically developed for Cambria won't run on Quest headsets. The new VR headset will feature eye, facial and body tracking, and high-resolution video pass-through as well as 3D room sensing for mixed-reality experiences. The headset will use something Facebook calls "pancake optics" for a slimmer lens design. Facebook didn't announce a launch date or price for Project Cambria yet, but Zuckerberg said that it would be at "the higher end of the price spectrum." "Our plan here is to keep building out our most advanced technology before we can hit the price point that we target with Quest." Following the keynote and Zuckerberg's announcement that Facebook is rebranding as Meta , the company's top AR/VR exec Andrew Bosworth revealed that it would be retiring the Oculus brand next year. "You'll start to see the shift from Oculus Quest from Facebook to Meta Quest and Oculus App to Meta Quest App over time," Bosworth wrote in a Facebook post . "We all have a strong attachment to the Oculus brand, and this was a very difficult decision to make. While we're retiring the name, I can assure you that the original Oculus vision remains deeply embedded in how Meta will continue to drive mass adoption for VR today." Mark Zuckerberg also teased the company's first set of AR glasses, code-named "Project Nazaré," during his keynote. Zuckerberg shared even fewer details about Project Nazaré, but a look at some of the technology that is being developed for these kinds of devices suggested that a release may still be several years away. Update: This post was updated with information about the fate of the Oculus brand. Keep ReadingShow less The cat is out of the bag: Mark Zuckerberg unveiled Meta as Facebook's new corporate name at the company's Connect developer conference Thursday morning. "We have a new north star: to bring the metaverse to life," Zuckerberg said. "From now on, we're going to be metaverse first, not Facebook first." Zuckerberg also published a new founder's letter to further explain the name change. "Right now our brand is so tightly linked to one product that it can't possibly represent everything we're doing today, let alone in the future," the letter reads in part. "Over time, I hope we are seen as a metaverse company, and I want to anchor our work and our identity on what we're building towards." Meta is being positioned as the new corporate entity overseeing both the company's existing apps and services business, including Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp, as well as its AR, VR and metaverse efforts. To further formalize this change, the company is going to change its stock ticker from FB to MVRS in December. Earlier this week, the company told investors that it was going to break out those two lines of business separately in earnings starting this quarter. At the time, the company also revealed that it was going to spend more than $10 billion on AR, VR and metaverse tech this year alone. This is a developing story. Keep ReadingShow less Facebook is expanding the test of its Project Aria glasses with a new partnership with BMW. As part of the partnership, BMW will get a handful of Facebook's Project Aria research glasses, which the carmaker will test near Facebook's Mountain View campus. "We think that AR glasses could eventually help drivers navigate their surroundings," the company stated in a blog post Thursday. "Before we can get there, partners like BMW are interested in exploring how AR technology could integrate into tomorrow's vehicles." It's worth noting that the Project Aria device tested by BMW doesn't offer a fully immersive AR experience. Aria glasses are equipped with cameras and other sensors, but not screens. Facebook first announced Project Aria at its Connect conference in 2020. "The point of it is to gather data sets from the point of view of the human head, which will help us hopefully figure out what sensors we need," said Facebook Reality Labs head Andrew Bosworth at the time. Facebook is looking to minimize any potential backlash against this type of data collection by scrubbing video recordings to blur faces and other identifying features. The same is true for any footage captured by BMW's employees; in addition, BMW will put stickers on the cars it is using to test Aria to inform bystanders that video is being recorded. Facebook also announced Thursday that it would expand Project Aria tests in the coming months, bringing the total number of devices used to 3,000. Keep ReadingShow less A new diversity report by the Catalyze Tech initiative, a new initiative aimed at driving diversity, equity and inclusion in tech, was released on Thursday. The ACT report, which stands for Action to Catalyze Tech, contains a broad set of recommendations for how tech companies can address diversity, including approaches to leadership, program design, goal-setting and hiring. "Tech is a microcosm of our country's broader dichotomy: America is a land of opportunity, yet continues to grapple with systemic racism," the report states. Although the tech industry may not be the cause of systemic racial inequities, as a monolithic force, it plays a large role in shifting this reality. Signatories of the report, which include major tech players such as Google, Apple, Twitter and Netflix, have pledged to share data and publicly report progress towards diversity goals. Protocol's Diversity Tracker project has highlighted the problems with inconsistencies in the industry's self-reported diversity data. The report also outlines why diversity efforts have failed in the past: from DEI teams lacking real authority, to "piecemeal diversity solutions," and encouraging assimilation rather than addressing structural biases. These examples are illustrative of the need for corporate systems "to be intentionally redesigned to root out bias and drive equity," the report states. The report was developed over a number of months by the Catalyze Tech Working Group, which includes the Aspen Institute, Brookings and Harvard University and others. The report was also endorsed by organizations such as the NAACP and Colors of Change. Keep ReadingShow less The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recommended in a recent report that consumers be given a "choice screen" to select their default search engine. The ACCC said this would only be a first step and requested power to implement further measures in a bid to break up Google's search dominance. The ACCC recommendation reflects a similar effort by EU regulators to rein in Google's search dominance. In 2018, EU antitrust regulators levied a $5 billion fine after finding that Google used Android to "cement the dominance of its search engine." Google added a choice screen for Android users in Europe in response to the decision. The ACCC found that Google Search held 94% market share in Australia. They attributed this in part to Google's status as the preset default search engine for Google Chrome and Apple's Safari. The commission also alleged that Google "is able to effectively leverage its market power in mobile operating systems and mobile app distribution to foreclose important entry points for rival search engines." Even if Australia succeeds in forcing Google to mandate a choice screen, it likely wouldn't have much impact. The choice screen in the EU has done little to disrupt the dominance of Google Search. If the ACCC takes any steps against Google, it will also undoubtedly kick off a protracted legal battle. Google is still actively appealing the EU ruling on its alleged anti-competitive contracts with Android device makers. A Google lawyer told an EU panel in September that regulators "mistakenly found Google to be dominant" and the commission actually ignored "the real competitive dynamic in this industry — that between Apple Inc. and Android." Advertising is still Google's golden goose: Alphabet generated $37.9 billion from "Google Search & other" revenue in Q3 2021, which represented 58% of total revenue for the quarter. Keep ReadingShow less In an interview with CNBC, General Motors CEO Mary Barra said she believed the company could "absolutely" catch up with Tesla in EV market share. Barra went on to reference GM's growing portfolio of EVs — including the upcoming Hummer, Silverado and Cadillac Lyriq — to make the case for why GM could reasonably achieve this goal. Last year, GM announced that it would invest $27 billion in EV development. It plans to have as many as 30 different EV models sold globally by 2025. However, GM's Q3 2021 earnings released earlier this week show that it's still grappling with immediate supply chain issues: The company only shipped 423,000 vehicles in the quarter, which was around half the shipments from a year prior. GM's net profit also declined 40%. For comparison, Tesla shipped 241,300 EVs in Q3 2021, which exceeded analyst expectations. "Our third-quarter results, which while reflecting the near-term challenges of the global semiconductor supply chain issues, clearly shows the strength of our underlying business," Barra said in the Q3 2021 earnings call on Wednesday. She also said, "We're selling everything we can sell. It is totally due to what we're able to supply." GM isn't the only automaker that has struggled to keep up with demand. Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess said that "customer demand is high" but that the Q3 results "show once again that we must now systematically drive forward the improvement in productivity in the volume sector." Ford also saw its profit for Q3 2021 decline by $600 million compared to the year prior. Its CFO, John Lawler, said in the earnings call on Wednesday: "We're doing everything we can to get our hands on as many chips as we can. But we do see that running through 2022. It could extend into 2023, although we do anticipate the scope and severity of that to reduce as we move through '22 into '23." Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick told employees that he is taking a pay cut, amid numerous allegations of a sexist and toxic workplace culture that have rocked the company. Kotick previously had a $155 million pay package approved by the company's board. Kotick announced the change, which will reduce his salary to $62,500, in a letter to employees . The letter also said the company will waive "required arbitration of sexual harassment and discrimination claims" in response to employee feedback, and will "increase visibility on pay equity." Kotick also committed the company to increasing its percentage of women and non-binary employees by 50%, and said it will invest $250 million to help achieve that. Activision Blizzard has been under fire for months after a lawsuit was filed alleging sexual harassment and discrimination at the company. Numerous senior executives have resigned, and the SEC opened an investigation into the company. The company's stock price has tumbled amid the crisis, falling over 16% since the start of July. Keep ReadingShow less The Department of Justice is examining Visa's interactions with fintech companies PayPal, Square and Stripe in an antitrust probe, according to the WSJ. Antitrust investigators are looking at the incentives Visa gave to the fintech companies and whether they caused them to send transactions over Visa's payment rails instead of other networks. The DOJ is looking at whether Visa's incentives resulted in PayPal encouraging consumers to use Visa cards, the WSJ said. Visa is the largest card-based payment network in the U.S. But smaller competitors have been growing, from "buy now, pay later" providers such as Klarna and Affirm to PayPal and Square's own network. Keep ReadingShow less A federal judge in Florida ruled Tuesday that Donald Trump is not exempt from following Twitter's terms of service just because he used to be president. Twitter previously filed a motion to transfer the case from the Southern Florida federal court district to Northern California, which is a stipulation in the company's user agreement that Twitter account holders must sign. Trump had argued that he wasn't able to accept this clause because he was president when his Twitter account was suspended. But U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola Jr. granted Twitter's motion , asserting that "Trump's status as President of the United States does not exclude him from the requirements of the forum selection clause in Twitter's Terms of Service." He further said Trump "had not advanced any legal authority to support his contention." The former president was banned from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube after his encouragement of supporters participating in the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection. In July, he announced he was suing the companies for alleged censorship. Trump announced the launch of conservative social media platform TRUTH Social last week. Keep ReadingShow less The European Commission said Wednesday it opened an in-depth investigation into Nvidia's proposed $40 billion acquisition of U.K.-based chip technology vendor Arm. The European Union regulator said it is concerned about the implications of the deal, which would give Nvidia the theoretical capability to restrict access to Arm processor technology, used in billions of smartphones around the world. The Commission also said that the proposed acquisition cloud could lead to higher prices, and reduce innovation in the semiconductor industry. "Our investigation aims to ensure that companies active in Europe continue having effective access to the technology that is necessary to produce state-of-the-art semiconductor products at competitive prices," Margrethe Vestager, European Commission executive vice president responsible for competition policy, said. Nvidia said that it is working with the Commission through the process, and the deal will "help to accelerate Arm and boost competition and innovation, including in the EU." The Commission's probe will look into the potential for the deal to reduce competition for chips designed for data centers, autos, video game consoles and computers. It will also examine whether the potential of Nvidia refocusing Arm's research and development spending on products that are the most profitable for Nvidia at the cost of Arm's technology that others rely on. Wednesday's decision was anticipated after Reuters reported that concessions Nvidia offered to assuage the EU's concerns were insufficient. Nvidia acquisition of Arm has the potential to upend the chip industry, giving Nvidia, long known for its graphics processors, access to the underlying technology that powers chips designed by the likes of Apple and Qualcomm. Keep ReadingShow less People under 18 and their parents are now able to request the removal of pictures from Google search results. The change is one of many new under-18 protections Google announced in August, according to TechCrunch . Users can fill out this form to ask that Google delete images from its search results. People requesting removal need to include the image URL, confirm the image is of someone currently under the age of 18, and that whoever is submitting the request is either the person depicted, the legal guardian of that person or an authorized representative. Once submitted, Google will review the request and ask for additional information if necessary. Once a decision is made, Google will offer a brief explanation if it chooses not to remove the photo. Google plans to introduce a series of protections on YouTube, as well, including making the default video option private, turning off autoplay and setting up bedtime reminders for 13- to 17-year-olds. YouTube Kids will no longer have "overly commercial content." The planned changes come at a time of increased scrutiny of tech platforms and how minors may come to harm on their sites. Executives from Snap, TikTok and YouTube testified before the Senate on Tuesday and committed to sharing research on their impact on kids. In the wake of the Facebook Papers and renewed emphasis on Instagram's sometimes detrimental effects on teens, lawmakers want to know what tech companies are doing to protect children online. Keep ReadingShow less

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