Techmeme
January 11, 2024, 10:20 AM

Top News

Louise Matsakis / Semafor:
Google lays off hundreds of staff working on Assistant and says the restructuring would help improve Assistant as the company explores integrating newer AI tech  —  Google is laying off hundreds of people working on its voice-activated Google Assistant software and eliminating a similar number …
Abner Li / 9to5Google:
Google reorganizes its Devices & Services teams responsible for Pixel, Fitbit, and Nest; Fitbit co-founders James Park and Eric Friedman are leaving Google  —  Google is reorganizing the Devices & Services teams responsible for Pixel, Nest, and Fitbit hardware.
Nico Grant / New York Times:
Sources: several hundred employees from Google's core engineering division received notices that their roles were eliminated and lost corporate access  —  The company, which has been working to trim expenses, laid off employees who worked on core engineering, the Google Assistant product and hardware such as the Pixel phone.
Reuters:
The US SEC approves spot bitcoin ETFs from BlackRock, Grayscale, ARK 21Shares, Bitwise, WisdomTree, Fidelity, VanEck, Invesco, Valkyrie, Hashdex, and Franklin  —  The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has approved 11 spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds, including those of Grayscale …
Jesse Hamilton / CoinDesk:
US SEC Chair Gary Gensler concedes that losing in court after rejecting Grayscale's spot bitcoin ETF left the agency with little choice but to approve such ETFs  —  The SEC chair said a court forced his hand and that the agency's decision to greenlight a spot bitcoin ETF doesn't signal support of that or any other digital asset.
Reuters:
USDC stablecoin issuer Circle confidentially files for a US IPO, without saying the number of shares for sale or price range; Circle had a $9B valuation in 2022  —  Circle Internet Financial, the company behind stablecoin USDC, said on Thursday that it had confidentially filed …
Abner Li / 9to5Google:
Google plans to remove 17 “underutilized” Assistant features in February, including voice-controlled Play Books audiobooks, media alarms, and Calm meditation  —  Bard is the future of Assistant.  Ahead of that happening, Google announced today that Assistant features with low usage will be removed in February.
Charisma Madarang / Rolling Stone:
Dudesy, a podcast generated by AI and curated by humans, releases an hour-long comedy special featuring an AI recreation of George Carlin, who died in 2008  —  The hour-long special arrived from Dudesy, a podcast run by artificial intelligence … Following the special's release …
Emma Roth / The Verge:
After announcing the $199 R1 “Large Action Model” AI handheld at CES, Rabbit sold 10,000 units in one day; second batch orders should ship in April to May 2024  —  The R1, the pocket-size gadget from Rabbit that's supposed to use your apps for you, has already sold out of its first batch.
Rachel Metz / Bloomberg:
OpenAI debuts a GPT Store for paid users to share and find custom chatbots and plans to start sharing revenue in Q1; users have already made 3M+ chatbots so far  —  The store will feature a bot leaderboard, and will eventually introduce payments.  —  OpenAI has launched an online store …
Kyle Wiggers / TechCrunch:
Bloomberg:
After spending $13M+ on US lobbying in the past decade, Huawei quietly shutters its in-house lobbying operation, ending an effort to overturn the US bans  —  - Chinese firm lost its last Washington fixers in recent months  — Hired hands and Huawei itself have told Congress they're done
Bloomberg:
Sources: OpenAI is in talks with CNN and Fox Corp. to license their text, video, and image content; Time “is in discussions with OpenAI” about a content deal  —  - Startup has said it's in discussions with dozens of publishers  — Negotiations come as OpenAI faces New York Times lawsuit

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