Google, Meta Among Big Tech Firms Cutting Costs and Staff

Meta Platforms is planning staff reductions as part of a 10 percent cost reduction goal, reports say. Stalled growth and increased competition are among the reasons cited by 20 additional tech firms who have since the summer been contracting their workforce. In the case of Meta, it appears to also be a matter of reallocating funds so as not to drastically scale back its metaverse ambitions. Departments there are being reorganized and affected workers are being encouraged to apply for other jobs within the company. Word is Alphabet’s Google is also seeking to fill vacancies by reassigning existing staff. Continue reading Google, Meta Among Big Tech Firms Cutting Costs and Staff

Biden Calls on Congress to Cease Immunity for Social Media

President Biden welcomed guests to the White House last week for the inaugural United We Stand Summit, an event to combat hate speech and violence. “There are core values that should bring us together as Americans, and one of them is standing together against hate, racism, bigotry, and violence that have long haunted and plagued our nation,” Biden told the bipartisan group. Participants gave the president a standing ovation when he specified that he will work to “hold social media companies accountable for spreading hate.” “I’m calling on Congress to get rid of special immunity for social media companies and impose much stronger transparency requirements,” Biden said. Continue reading Biden Calls on Congress to Cease Immunity for Social Media

GlobalWafers Ties Proposal for Texas Foundry to CHIPS Act

Taiwanese semiconductor giant GlobalWafers wants to invest $5 billion to construct a state-of-the-art 300-millimeter silicon wafer factory in Sherman, Texas, but only if Congress can fund the CHIPS for America Act, which passed in January 2021 and has been promised $52 billion but sits with an empty purse. The new GlobalWafers factory would be the first of its kind in the U.S. in 20 years and is expected to create 1,500 jobs. GlobalWafers president Mark England says if government incentives are not unleashed soon the company will “pivot to South Korea.” Continue reading GlobalWafers Ties Proposal for Texas Foundry to CHIPS Act

Big Tech Taps AI to Advance Data Center Safety, Efficiency

Data centers can be hazardous to the workers that build and maintain them, with exposure to live electrical wires and dangerous chemicals part of the job. Now tech firms including Microsoft and Meta Platforms are exploring how artificial intelligence can be used to make data centers safer for employees. Microsoft is working on an AI system that triggers alerts to prevent or mitigate dangerous incidents, while Meta is also analyzing ways AI can optimize data centers operating under extreme environmental conditions in order to prevent safety hazards. Continue reading Big Tech Taps AI to Advance Data Center Safety, Efficiency

Supreme Court Blocks Texas Law Moderating Social Speech

The Supreme Court has blocked a Texas law banning major social media platforms from exercising editorial discretion to remove posts that violate community guidelines. Voting on the unsigned Supreme Court order was 5 to 4. Big Tech lobbying groups NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association requested the emergency halt. Their application was filed after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in May issued a stay that effectively reinstated the law. In December, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pitman hit pause on the legislation, HB 20, on First Amendment grounds. Continue reading Supreme Court Blocks Texas Law Moderating Social Speech

Biden Visits a Samsung Semiconductor Plant in South Korea

President Biden kicked-off his three-day visit to South Korea with a trip to a Samsung Electronics semiconductor plant, emphasizing an interest in strengthening supply chains and boosting competition with China in the technology sector. Biden remarked that the U.S. wants to shore-up business ties with allies including South Korea to offset the influence of  “countries that don’t share our values.” Located in Pyeongtaek, the plant churns out some of Samsung’s most advanced memory chips and is the largest semiconductor manufacturing facility in the world. South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol was present, marking the pair’s first in-person visit. Continue reading Biden Visits a Samsung Semiconductor Plant in South Korea

Legislators Continue Their Scrutiny of Big Tech, Social Media

Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) has introduced a new bill, the Digital Platform Commission Act, which proposes the establishment of a five-person commission to protect consumers in the Big Tech era. This, even as attorneys for groups representing Facebook and Twitter on Friday filed with the U.S. Supreme Court an emergency request to block Texas House Bill 20. The companies argue the law compels social platforms to disseminate propaganda and misinformation, including racist and pro-Nazi screeds. Calling HB 20 “an assault on the First Amendment,” the companies claim its implementation could undo billions in development. Continue reading Legislators Continue Their Scrutiny of Big Tech, Social Media

Amazon, Google Among Companies Testing Drone Deliveries

Companies including Amazon, Google and Walmart are quietly beginning drone deliveries across the U.S., according to reports. Everything from Advil to take-out meals are fair game for robot delivery to one’s doorstep, with the various companies experimenting in the space completing between dozens and up to hundreds of deliveries a day. Walmart has begin working with San Francisco startup Zipline on deliveries in Arkansas. Israeli startup Flytrex, specializing in U.S. food delivery, opened a station in Texas following testing in North Carolina. Wing, a unit of Google-owner Alphabet, is delivering in Virginia. Continue reading Amazon, Google Among Companies Testing Drone Deliveries

Hot Topics at SXSW: NFTs and a Possibility of Ads on Netflix

Having risen to the position of world’s largest television network largely on the strength of its ad-free programming, there are now predictions that Netflix will over the next few years begin streaming advertisements. Fueled by a perceived softening in tone toward commercials by Netflix CFO Spencer Neumann at a recent investor conference, an analyst at the Variety Intelligence Platform’s “Future of Content” event at SXSW told festival attendees the change would come due to competition from so-called FAST channels — “free ad-supported streaming television.” Continue reading Hot Topics at SXSW: NFTs and a Possibility of Ads on Netflix

Pandemic Prepared Chipmakers for New Scarcity Due to War

Two years of global chip shortages resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have left the semiconductor industry better prepared for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The war has created turmoil in two countries that supply neon gas and palladium, essential ingredients to create processors. One estimate puts the countries’ combined output of semiconductor-grade neon at anywhere from one-quarter to half, while positing Russia has in the past originated as much as a third of the metal palladium. Potential shortages of both materials has raised concern in an industry already struggling to meet demand. Continue reading Pandemic Prepared Chipmakers for New Scarcity Due to War

Intel to Acquire Israel’s Tower Semiconductor for $5.4 Billion

Intel announced it will purchase Israeli chipmaker Tower Semiconductor in a deal valued at $5.4 billion. Tower — which specializes in analog semiconductor solutions for high-growth markets including mobile, automotive, medical devices and power management — will make Intel instantly more competitive in sectors dominated by Taiwan’s TSMC. Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger cited “Tower’s specialty technology portfolio, geographic reach [and] deep customer relationships” among the assets that will help scale Intel to “a globally diverse end-to-end foundry” to help meet growing chip demands across the nearly $100 billion addressable foundry market. Continue reading Intel to Acquire Israel’s Tower Semiconductor for $5.4 Billion

TSMC Earmarks Up to $44 Billion in Competitive Chip Sector

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) says it will increase production capacity by up to 47 percent for 2022 as demand continues to surge amid a global chip shortage. To support the increase and technology upgrades, the world’s largest contract chipmaker plans to set a company record for capital expenditure in 2022, with spending at $40-44 billion (compared to $30 billion in 2021). Speaking at an investor conference, company CFO Wendell Huang said about 70-80 percent of the 2022 capex will fund development of advanced 2nm, 3nm, 5nm and 7nm processors as TSMC fights to maintain its dominant market share while rivals step up. Continue reading TSMC Earmarks Up to $44 Billion in Competitive Chip Sector

Samsung Merges Mobile and Consumer Electronics Divisions

Samsung Electronics Co. is streamlining its corporate structure, merging its mobile and consumer electronics units and paring down to two CEOs to simplify its structure and focus on the logic chip business. Promoted to vice chairman and CEO, TV research and development expert Jong-Hee (“JH”) Han will continue to head Visual Display while also leading the merged SET Division, combining mobile and consumer electronics. Kye-Hyun Kyung has also been named CEO, running Device Solutions, a B-to-B components division led by chips. The former head of Samsung Electro-Mechanics brings experience in flash memory and processor design. Continue reading Samsung Merges Mobile and Consumer Electronics Divisions

Samsung Plans to Construct a $17 Billion Chip Plant in Texas

Samsung has announced plans to build a $17 billion chip plant in Taylor, Texas. The news comes on the heels of a government push to jump-start more U.S. semiconductor manufacturing and Senate approval of $52 billion in industry subsidies for new processor factories. The South Korea-based electronics giant already operates a chip fabrication plant in Austin, Texas, opened in 1997 and expanded in 2007. The Taylor facility will create new sourcing for chips, which have become precious amidst a global shortage, although the new factory is not expected to become operational until 2024. Continue reading Samsung Plans to Construct a $17 Billion Chip Plant in Texas

Netflix Debuts Five Games on Android for Global Subscribers

Netflix has released its first slate of mobile games. Available to the global Android market, the inaugural five titles are “Stranger Things: 1984” and “Stranger Things 3: The Game,” both developed by Texas-based BonusXP; “Shooting Hoops” and “Teeter (Up)” from Vancouver-headquartered Frosty Pop; and “Card Blast,” created by England-based Amuzo in conjunction with L.A.’s Rogue Games. The titles were released Tuesday for download on Google Play, then began rolling out on the streamer’s app. Netflix is offering the games as a value-added for subscribers, without advertising or in-app solicitation. Continue reading Netflix Debuts Five Games on Android for Global Subscribers