Daily Crunch: Tesla cuts its workforce

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here: 1. Tesla to cut workforce by 7 percent and focus on Model 3 production In an email to employees, CEO Elon Musk […]

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1. Tesla to cut workforce by 7 percent and focus on Model 3 production

In an email to employees, CEO Elon Musk says the focus must be on delivering “at least the mid-range Model 3 variant in all markets.” He also warns the employees who are not set to be axed that there are “many companies that can offer a better work-life balance, because they are larger and more mature or in industries that are not so voraciously competitive.”

“We unfortunately have no choice but to reduce full-time employee headcount by approximately 7% (we grew by 30% last year, which is more than we can support) and retain only the most critical temps and contractors,” he writes.

2. Nike’s auto-laced future

Matthew Panzarino makes the case for the new Adapt BB, a Nike shoe with powered laces that tighten to a wearer’s foot automatically.

3. Microsoft is calling an audible on smart speakers

Microsoft’s smart assistant has its strong suits, but thus far statement of purpose hasn’t been among them. CEO Satya Nadella appears to acknowledge as much this week during a media event at the company’s Redmond campus.

LAS VEGAS, NV – JANUARY 06: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings delivers a keynote address at CES 2016 at The Venetian Las Vegas on January 6, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world’s largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 9 and is expected to feature 3,600 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to more than 150,000 attendees. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

4. Netflix adds 8.8M paid subscribers globally, says it now accounts for 10 percent of US TV screen time

In its most recent quarter, the company added 8.8 million subscribers, well above the 7.6 million that it had predicted at the beginning of the quarter. However, revenue was a bit lower than expected — $4.19 billion, compared to predictions of $4.21 billion.

5. These are all the federal HTTPS websites that’ll expire soon because of the US government shutdown

We looked at domains of federal agencies and the executive branch, then poked every certificate to see if it had expired — and, if not, when it would stop working.

6. Twitter bug revealed some Android users’ private tweets

Twitter accidentally revealed some users’ “protected” (aka, private) tweets, the company disclosed yesterday. For some Android users over a period of several years, tweets were actually made public as a result of this bug.

7. Facebook says it will ask employees to take down glowing Portal reviews on Amazon

New York Times columnist Kevin Roose noticed something fishy in the Amazon reviews for Facebook’s new device, noting on Twitter that many of the verified reviewers bore the same names as Facebook employees.

Daily Crunch: Prosecutors may be building a criminal case against Huawei

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here: 1. U.S. will reportedly seek criminal case against Huawei for stealing tech secrets According to a new report from The Wall Street […]

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1. U.S. will reportedly seek criminal case against Huawei for stealing tech secrets

According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, U.S. federal prosecutors are preparing a criminal indictment against Huawei for stealing trade secrets — specifically in the company’s actions around a T-Mobile smartphone testing tool known as “Tappy.”

The Chinese phone maker has faced increased scrutiny, escalating to open hostility from U.S. agencies and lawmakers who believe that Huawei poses a security threat due to its close relationship with the Chinese government. The tension escalated considerably last December, when Canada arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou at the request of the U.S.

2. Behold, Slack’s new logo

Who knew that everyone would get so worked up by a redesigned logo?

3. Microsoft pledges $500M to create affordable housing around Seattle

Microsoft’s pledge comes half a year after Seattle City Council failed to pass a “head tax” that would have required companies making more than $200 million a year to pay $275 per employee in taxes.

4. Facebook finds and kills another 512 Kremlin-linked fake accounts

In its latest reveal of “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” the company says it identified two operations, both originating in Russia, and both using similar tactics, without any apparent direct links between the two networks.

5. Google raises its G Suite prices

In the United States, the prices of G Suite Basic and G Suite Business editions will increase by $1 and $2 per user/month, respectively. G Suite Enterprise pricing will remain the same.

6. Ford’s iconic F-Series trucks are going electric

The move is intended to “future-proof” the enormous truck business against rising gas prices and regulations favoring electric vehicles over internal combustion.

7. AWS launches Backup, a fully managed backup service for AWS

Early adopters of AWS Backup are State Street Corporation, Smile Brands and Rackspace. This looks like a service that will make the life of admins quite a bit easier.

Daily Crunch: Snap CFO departs

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here: 1. Snap CFO Tim Stone is resigning This marks Snap’s second CFO departure in the last 12 months. In a memo to […]

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1. Snap CFO Tim Stone is resigning

This marks Snap’s second CFO departure in the last 12 months. In a memo to employees, CEO Evan Spiegel said Stone’s departure is not related to any disagreements pertaining to company finances.

“Tim has made a big impact in his short time on our team and we are very grateful for all of his hard work,” Spiegel said.

2. Fiserv is buying First Data in a $22B fintech megadeal

It’s technically a merger, but Fiserv will be getting the upper hand in the deal: its CEO Jeffery Yabuki will become CEO of the combined entity, while First Data’s CEO Frank Bisignano will become president and COO.

3. Roku now deleting Infowars from its platform after customer outcry

Roku’s initial decision to support the Infowars channel seemed especially egregious because the conspiracy theory-spreading media company had been purged from multiple social media and app platforms — including Apple, Facebook, Spotify, YouTube, Twitter, Periscope, Stitcher, Pinterest, LinkedIn and YouPorn — for violating their content policies or terms of service.

4. DuckDuckGo debuts map search results using Apple Maps

The privacy-focused search engine that promises to never track its users is now using data provided by Apple Maps to power its map-based search results. This will make DuckDuckGo one of the biggest users of Apple’s mapping data, six months after Apple said it would open up Apple Maps to the web.

5. China accounted for nearly half of app downloads in 2018, 40 percent of consumer spend

Global app downloads topped 194 billion in 2018, up 35 percent from 2016, according to App Annie’s annual “State of Mobile 2019” report. And consumer spending across app stores was up 75 percent, reaching $101 billion.

6. Infor lands $1.5 billion investment ahead of possible IPO

Infor may be the largest company you never heard of, with more than 17,000 employees and 9,500 customers in 100-plus countries worldwide. All of those customers generated $3 billion in revenue in 2018.

7. Another huge database exposed millions of call logs and SMS text messages

Back in November, another telecoms company, Voxox, exposed a database containing millions of text messages — including password resets and two-factor codes. This time around, it’s a different company: Voipo, a Lake Forest, Calif. communications provider.

Daily Crunch: Netflix hikes prices for U.S. subscribers

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here: 1. Netflix will raise prices for US subscribers, with its most popular plan going up to $13 per month For the most […]

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1. Netflix will raise prices for US subscribers, with its most popular plan going up to $13 per month

For the most popular plan (which includes high-definition streaming for up to two devices simultaneously), the price will increase from $10.99 to $12.99 per month. Meanwhile, the one-device plan will go up to $8.99 per month, while the four-device plan goes to $15.99.

It seemed inevitable that Netflix would have to raise prices to fund its continually growing bill for original content. At the same time, companies like Disney, AT&T/WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal all plan to launch competing services, which probably means they’ll be less interested in licensing their content to Netflix, and will charge a heftier fee when they do.

2. German court tosses Qualcomm’s latest iPhone patent suit

The chipmaker had argued Intel -powered iPhones infringed a transistor switch patent it holds. But in an initial verbal decision the court disagreed. Qualcomm has said it will appeal.

3. Turns out the science saying screen time is bad isn’t science

The paper, by Oxford scientists Amy Orben and Andrew Przybylski, amounts to a sort of king-sized meta-analysis of studies that come to some conclusion about the relationship between technology and well-being among young people. Their concern was that the large data sets and statistical methods employed by researchers allowed for anomalies or false positives to be claimed as significant conclusions.

4. 23andMe updates its ancestry reports, but they’re still not perfect

Starting today, customers will be able to see more granular ancestry results from more than 1,000 regions, as well as 33 population-specific pages about cultural information.

5. Facebook says it will invest $300M in local news

The company says the investments will go into two broad areas — supporting journalists and newsrooms in the newsgathering process, and helping them build sustainable business models.

6. Pandora launches a personalized voice assistant on iOS and Android

The feature will allow you to not only control music playback with commands to play a specific artist, album, radio or playlist, but will also be capable of delivering results customized to you when responding to vague commands.

7. TikTok is giving China a video chat alternative to WeChat

ByteDance, the world’s most-valued startup, just launched a new social media product under its Douyin brand in what many people see as a serious attempt to challenge WeChat.

Daily Crunch: Twitter’s new app for testing new features

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here: 1. A first look at Twitter’s new beta app and its bid to remain ‘valuable and relevant’ In the coming weeks, Twitter’s […]

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1. A first look at Twitter’s new beta app and its bid to remain ‘valuable and relevant’

In the coming weeks, Twitter’s going to launch a new beta program, where a select group of users will get access to new features, by way of a standalone app, and a way discuss new features with others. Twitter will then use data to decide how and if to turn those tests into full-blown product features for everyone else.

TechCrunch sat down with Sara Haider, Twitter’s director of product management, to take a closer look at the new app.

2. Apple HomePod comes to China at $400 amid iPhone sales woes

Apple said over the weekend that its smart speaker will be available in Mainland China and Hong Kong starting January 18, adding to a list of countries where it has entered including the US, UK, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico and Spain.

3. Some of the biggest web hosting sites were vulnerable to simple account takeover hacks

In some cases, clicking on a simple link would have been enough for Paulos Yibelo, a well-known and respected bug hunter, to take over the accounts of anyone using five large hosting providers — Bluehost, DreamHost, Hostgator, OVH and iPage.

4. Wiliot nabs $30M from Amazon, Avery Dennison, Samsung for a chip that runs on power from ambient radio frequencies

Wiliot makes semiconductors that harness ambient nanowatts of electromagnetic energy from cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth networks to work without batteries or other traditional wired power sources. (The startup has yet to manufacture or commercialize its chips, but TechCrunch’s Ingrid Lunden has seen a demo.)

5. Samsung’s new Galaxy M smartphones will launch in India first

Samsung is currently trying to recover its lead in India, the world’s second-largest smartphone market behind China, after losing it to Xiaomi at the end of 2017.

6. How open-source software took over the world

Mike Volpi of Index Ventures argues that a number of fundamental changes have advanced the prospects of open-source businesses.

7. Scape Technologies raises $8M to let machines visually understand their surroundings

The technology will initially target augmented reality apps, but also can be used to power applications in mobility, logistics and robotics. More broadly, Scape wants to enable any machine equipped with a camera to understand its surroundings.

Daily Crunch: Well Facebook, you did it again

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here: 1. Facebook is the new crapware  Well Facebook, you did it again. Fresh off its latest privacy scandal, the troubled social media […]

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here:

1. Facebook is the new crapware 

Well Facebook, you did it again. Fresh off its latest privacy scandal, the troubled social media giant has inked a deal with Android to pre-install its app on an undisclosed number of phones and make the software permanent. This means you won’t be able to delete Facebook from those phones. Thanks, Facebook.

2. The world’s first foldable phone is real 

Chinese company Royole has beaten Samsung to the market and has been showing off a foldable phone/tablet this week at CES. While it’s not the most fluid experience, the device definitely works at adapting to your needs.

3. CES revokes award from female-founded sex tech company
Outcries of a double-standard are pouring out of CES after the Consumer Tech Association revoked an award from a company geared toward women’s sexual health.

4. Everything Google announced at CES 2019 

Google went all in on the Assistant this year at CES. The company boasted that the voice-enabled AI will make its way onto a billion devices by the end of the month — up from 400 million last year. But what’s most exciting is the expanded capabilities of Google’s Assistant. Soon you’ll be able to check into flights and translate conversations on the fly with a simple “Hey Google.”

5. Rebranding WeWork won’t work 

The company formerly known as WeWork has rebranded to the We Company, but its new strategy has the potential to plunge the company further into debt.

6. Despite promises to stop, US cell carriers are still selling your real-time phone location data

Last year a little-known company called LocationSmart came under fire after leaking location data from AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint users to shady customers. LocationSmart quickly buckled under public scrutiny and promised to stop selling user data, but few focused on another big player in the location tracking business: Zumigo.

7. The best and worst of CES 2019 

From monster displays to VR in cars, we’re breaking down the good, the bad and the ugly from CES 2019.

Daily Crunch: Black Friday’s online sales are projected to hit $5.9B

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. (This one’s a little shorter than usual — it’s a holiday weekend in the United States.) If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here: 1. Black Friday predicted to hit […]

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. (This one’s a little shorter than usual — it’s a holiday weekend in the United States.) If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here:

1. Black Friday predicted to hit $5.9B in online sales, $645M spent so far

After a record-breaking Thanksgiving with $3.7 billion in digital sales across desktop and mobile devices, it looks like Black Friday will also pull in a bumper year for e-commerce. Adobe — which tracks trillions of transactions across a range of retail sites — says that as of 7am Pacific Time, there has already been $645 million spent online.

Shopify, which provides a real-time sales visualisation for some 600,000 merchants on its platform, notes that the average sales per minute for those merchants is hovering at just over $400,000 per minute.

2. Amazon warehouse workers in Europe stage ‘we are not robots’ protests

They’ve timed the latest protest for Black Friday, one of the busiest annual shopping days online as retailers slash prices and heavily promote deals to try to spark a seasonal buying rush.

3. Be a Thanksgiving security hero with these family-friendly tips

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re: Pretty good at tech stuff, spending time with your family for Thanksgiving and bored because you’re reading this newsletter right now.

4. Silentmode’s PowerMask is a $200 connected relaxation mask

Someone described the PowerMask as a kind of small scale take on a sensory deprivation tank — and sure, why not?

5. BlueCargo optimizes stacks of containers for maximum efficiency

Under current sorting methods, yard cranes end up moving a ton of containers just to reach a container sitting at the bottom of the pile. BlueCargo wants to optimize those movements by helping you store containers at the right spot.

6. Gift Guide: 16 fantastic computer bags

Yep, it’s another TechCrunch gift guide, this one focused on Matt Burns’ favorite subject.