Techmeme
December 16, 2021, 8:10 PM

Top News

The Citizen Lab:
Two Egyptians living in exile had their iPhones compromised in June 2021 using Predator spyware built by North Macedonian developer Cytrox  —  Key Findings  — Two Egyptians—exiled politician Ayman Nour and the host of a popular news program (who wishes to remain anonymous) …
Zack Whittaker / TechCrunch:
Meta bans seven surveillance-for-hire groups, including Cytrox, removing over 1,500 Facebook and Instagram accounts and alerting 50K users who were targeted  —  Cytrox is one of seven surveillance companies now banned from Meta's platforms  —  While NSO Group was taking flak for hacking …
Mark Gurman / Bloomberg:
Job listings show Apple is hiring engineers for a new office in Irvine, California to develop wireless chips that could replace Broadcom and Skyworks components  —  - Company seeks engineers for location in Irvine, California  — Apple is poised to attract employees from Broadcom, Skyworks
Zachary Basu / Axios:
The US bans investing in eight Chinese companies, including DJI and Megvii, for their alleged involvement in surveilling Uyghurs and other minority groups  —  The Treasury Department has added eight Chinese companies — including DJI, the world's largest commercial drone manufacturer …
Orla McCaffrey / Wall Street Journal:
Tax preparation company H&R Block sues Block, formerly Square, for trademark infringement, claiming Block's name and logo are “nearly identical” to its own  —  Square changed name to Block earlier this month, a nod to CEO Jack Dorsey's blockchain ambitions
Kris Holt / Engadget:
Sidewalk Labs plans to shut down, fold its products into Google, and spin out Canopy Buildings; CEO Dan Doctoroff says he is stepping down for health reasons  —  Alphabet's smart city project is winding down and Google will take over its products.  Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff announced …
Henry Mance / Financial Times:
Interview with Meta's VP of Global Affairs Nick Clegg on leaving politics, the impact of Haugen's leaks, and his leading role in the decision to ban Trump  —  Nick Clegg may be available in Berlin.  He has a slot in Paris.  He'll make time for lunch in Brussels.
Reddit:
Reddit confidentially files its S-1 with the SEC for an IPO; the number of shares to be offered and the price range have yet to be determined  —  Reddit, Inc. today announced that it has confidentially submitted a draft registration statement on Form S-1 with the Securities and Exchange Commission …
Tanya Basu / MIT Technology Review:
Meta says a woman was groped in Horizon Worlds on November 26; an internal review found she should have used the VR platform's Safe Zone tool  —  Last week, Meta (the umbrella company formerly known as Facebook) opened up access to its virtual-reality social media platform, Horizon Worlds.
Liza Lin / Wall Street Journal:
TikTok says it will adjust its recommendation algorithm to avoid negative reinforcement and let users pick words and hashtags to remove videos from their feed  —  The app says it is working to diversify the content it pushes to individual users in order to protect their mental well-being
Aisha Malik / TechCrunch:
Apple releases Swift Playgrounds 4, which lets users develop iPhone and iPad apps on their iPads, preview apps in real time, and upload them to the App Store  —  Apple announced that it has officially released Swift Playgrounds 4.  The tech giant first announced the upcoming launch of the new software at WWDC earlier this year.
Kyle Orland / Ars Technica:
Legacy, an NFT-powered game by Peter Molyneux's 22cans studio and Gala Games planned for next year, raised $54M in virtual land NFT sales in less than a week  —  But are these games a brave new world or a FOMO-driven gold rush bubble?  —  On Saturday, Peter Molyneux's 22cans studio …
Sara Fischer / Axios:
Spotify acquires Australian company Whooshkaa, which helps radio broadcasters turn existing content into podcasts and sell ads around them  —  Spotify on Thursday said it acquired Whooshkaa, a podcast technology platform that specializes in technology for radio broadcasters to turn existing content into podcasts.
Chainalysis:
Analysis: cryptocurrency scams cost victims $7.7B in 2021, up 81% from 2020, driven by DeFi-based “rug pulls” wherein developers unexpectedly abandon projects  —  This blog is a preview of our 2022 Crypto Crime Report.  Sign up here to reserve your copy and we'll email you the full report when it comes out in February!
Gearoid Reidy / Bloomberg:
Research: Japanese startups raised a record $3B+ in H1 2021, up from $2.37B in H1 2020, as China's crackdown leads SoftBank and others to invest in the country  —  Japan's startups are attracting increasing interest from overseas investors as the country starts to shake off a reputation as a unicorn-free venture backwater.
Todd Spangler / Variety:
Spotify rolls out a podcast ratings system that will let users rate a show from one to five stars only after listening to it  —  Spotify is borrowing a page from rival Apple with the addition of a five-star user ratings system for podcasts — a new tool for sorting through …
Bloomberg:
Sources: Indian edtech company Byju's is in advanced talks to go public via a SPAC on the NYSE, raising around $4B and seeking a $48B valuation  —  - Education startup is discussing deal with Churchill Capital  — SPAC merger could value Byju's at more than $40 billion
Washington Post:
As investigators examine the collapsed Amazon warehouse in Illinois where six people were killed during a tornado, Amazon says the building was built to code  —  A woman told 911 that one of the people sheltering with her had been ‘bent in half’ by rubble.  A driver detailed his frantic flight to safety.
Katie Jennings / Forbes:
Cerebral, an app-based mental health service provider that recently raised $300M at a $4.8B valuation, has made some staff health insurance contingent on quotas  —  I am a staff writer covering healthcare.  Email me at kjennings@forbes.com.  —  The company, which raised $300 million …

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