Google Adopts Futuristic Hybrid Plan for Work Post-Pandemic

Google is creating a post-pandemic workplace to appeal to employees who got used to working remotely last year and may not want to return to the office full-time. Over the next year, the company plans to try out a variety of different ways to design office spaces, based on research done before COVID-19 hit. A variety of consultants were asked to imagine the future workspace, one of which is “Team Pods,” where desks, chairs, whiteboards and storage units are all on casters and can be rearranged in numerous configurations. Continue reading Google Adopts Futuristic Hybrid Plan for Work Post-Pandemic

States Lead the Way in Proposing Laws to Regulate Big Tech

Arizona, Maryland and Virginia are just three states pushing legislation to limit Big Tech companies such as Google and Apple on issues including digital advertisements, app-store fees and online privacy. Their actions appear to highlight a growing trend: that state capitals are emerging at the forefront of potentially regulating Silicon Valley behemoths. While the federal government is holding hearings and suing some Big Tech companies, states may beat them to passing laws that will become de facto national standards. Continue reading States Lead the Way in Proposing Laws to Regulate Big Tech

Maryland Becomes First State to Tax Big Tech on Digital Ads

The state of Maryland has taken a groundbreaking step, with its State Senate voting to approve the first U.S. tax on revenue from digital ads sold by Amazon, Facebook, Google and other major technology companies. The Senate had to override the governor’s veto to pass the measure, after its House of Delegates gave the law the greenlight. The new law is expected to generate an estimated $250 million in the first year, with money going to that state’s schools. Connecticut and Indiana have introduced similar bills to tax Big Tech companies. Continue reading Maryland Becomes First State to Tax Big Tech on Digital Ads

Section 230 Faces Bipartisan Scrutiny and Potential Updates

At the very end of his presidency, Donald Trump tried to strike down Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which essentially provides online platforms with immunity from liability based on third-party content. He failed, but Congress has received 20 proposals to update or change the section. On February 5, three Democratic senators introduced a bill to make social media firms accountable for enabling cyberstalking, harassment and discrimination. More recently, Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and John Thune (R-South Dakota) plan to reintroduce the PACT Act, a proposal to jumpstart change. Continue reading Section 230 Faces Bipartisan Scrutiny and Potential Updates

Facebook Developing a Product to Rival Chat App Clubhouse

According to sources, Facebook is developing an audio chat product to compete with Clubhouse, a social networking app that has gained popularity with young people who gather and chat about various topics. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, reportedly interested in audio products, has appeared on Clubhouse to chat about augmented reality and virtual reality. Facebook is also known for cloning popular products. Facebook’s audio product is, added the sources, in an early stage of development. Continue reading Facebook Developing a Product to Rival Chat App Clubhouse

Short-Form Video App Clash Acquires and Merges with Byte

Short-form video app Clash, which debuted in August, just acquired Byte, another short-form video app released a year ago. Byte creator Dom Hofmann was a co-founder of Vine, the once-popular six-second video app that shut down operations in 2016. Clash CEO and co-founder Brendon McNerney, formerly a star on Vine, explained that it is “more of an IP acquisition where we’re going to be taking over the community.” Byte and Clash will debut “in a few short months” as one product with monetization tools for creators. Continue reading Short-Form Video App Clash Acquires and Merges with Byte

Reuters Next: The Future of Further Education Post-Pandemic

The Reuters Next virtual conference, which runs the same days as CES 2021 this week (January 11-14), features more than 100 sessions and interviews across five key global areas: Policy & Progress, Radical Redesign, Recovering Growth, A Sustainable Future, and Media and Free Speech. Some of today’s sessions addressed how the blended digital and physical group work environment that will become the new normal post-COVID has direct parallels with how education in college and beyond will be handled, including points that will be of interest to ETC’s members and businesses in general. Continue reading Reuters Next: The Future of Further Education Post-Pandemic

Tech Employees Organize to Launch Alphabet Workers Union

The Alphabet Workers Union was just formed by 400+ Google engineers and other workers. The formation of this union, which is affiliated with the Communications Workers of America (CWA), is the result of years of activism at the Big Tech company focused on new policies on pay, harassment and ethics. The union was organized in secret for about a year and elected its leadership last month. Unlike most unions, this “minority union” represents only a small number of the company’s 260,000 full-time employees and contractors. Continue reading Tech Employees Organize to Launch Alphabet Workers Union

Pandemic, Rising Costs Ignite Tech Exodus From Silicon Valley

In Silicon Valley, some tech companies, investors and venture capital firms are relocating to cities with lower costs and less traffic. Oracle is pulling up stakes in Redwood City, California and heading to Austin, Texas, saying it plans to implement remote-work policies. Hewlett Packard Enterprise is moving its headquarters to Houston, Texas, where Elon Musk, long a Los Angeleno, has also moved. Although the reasons for leaving vary, many relocations seem to have been triggered by rising costs and the COVID-19 pandemic. Continue reading Pandemic, Rising Costs Ignite Tech Exodus From Silicon Valley

Hollywood VFX Experts Gravitate to AR/VR Jobs in Big Tech

Apple, Facebook and Google are among the Big Tech companies that are hiring technologists behind Hollywood movies like “Avatar” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” All three companies are developing headsets or glasses for AR/VR or so-called extended reality, and the most cutting-edge Hollywood visual effects create needed photoreal computer-generated characters and landscapes. VFX veteran Paul Debevec, now a professor at the University of Southern California, was recruited by Google four-and-a-half years ago. Continue reading Hollywood VFX Experts Gravitate to AR/VR Jobs in Big Tech

Federal Government Probes Foreign Investments in U.S. Tech

As part of ongoing security concerns focused on technology, the Trump administration is now re-examining investments in U.S. tech startups by Chinese and other foreign groups, even investments that are years old. Heading the investigation is the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) which, after gathering information, can decide whether to probe specific deals more deeply and even demand that the foreign investor divest. The probe is based on the government’s belief that the United States did not sufficiently scrutinize these investments from China and other countries. Continue reading Federal Government Probes Foreign Investments in U.S. Tech

Facebook’s New Rules Aim to Quash Election Misinformation

Facebook has made several changes ahead of this year’s U.S. presidential election to prevent potential misinformation being shared by politicians, their campaigns and special interest groups. The social media company will bar new political ads beginning the week before the election and tamp down any posts trying to convince people not to vote. After the election it will quell attempts to claim false victories, directing readers to accurate election information. In India meanwhile, Facebook is under pressure after banning a politician for hate speech. Continue reading Facebook’s New Rules Aim to Quash Election Misinformation

Amazon Builds Mammoth Facility in India, Plans U.S. Growth

Amazon built its largest office building in the world in Hyderabad, a city of 10 million in southern India also known as Asia’s Silicon Valley. Amazon spokesperson Minari Shah said, “Hyderabad is a known software tech talent center, and the government has been an enabler for us to have a campus this size.” Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft also have bases in that city. In the United States, Amazon said it will hire 3,500 white-collar employees, including 2,000 in New York, continuing with plans it made prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Continue reading Amazon Builds Mammoth Facility in India, Plans U.S. Growth

Tech Firms Consider Remote Work Options After Coronavirus

Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter were among the first U.S. companies to send their employees home as the coronavirus spread. Now, as they reopen their campuses, they are also allowing some of employees to continue to work from home. If that policy becomes widespread, it will be a major change from the college-like corporate campuses the companies built to encourage creativity and spontaneous interactions. Working from home will be its own perk and allow companies to broaden their search for workers. Continue reading Tech Firms Consider Remote Work Options After Coronavirus

Clubhouse Becoming Elite Silicon Valley Virtual Meeting App

Marc Andreessen and other Silicon Valley venture capitalists are behind Clubhouse, an audio-based social media app that allows them to meet virtually. Still in beta, the invite-only app counts celebrity MC Hammer and activist DeRay Mckesson among its first members. According to sources, Andreessen Horowitz also beat out other venture firms to invest in Clubhouse, agreeing to infuse $10 million and pay $2 million to buy shares from the app’s existing shareholders. With the financing, Clubhouse is now valued at almost $100 million. Continue reading Clubhouse Becoming Elite Silicon Valley Virtual Meeting App

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