Techmeme
January 11, 2024, 1:30 PM

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 Google engineering employees received notices that their roles were eliminated and lost corporate access; most hardware cuts were in AR  —  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.
Abner Li / 9to5Google:
Google plans to remove 17 “underutilized” Assistant features in February, including controlling audiobooks, media alarms, recipes, messages, events, and more  —  Bard is the future of Assistant.  Ahead of that happening, Google announced today that Assistant features with low usage will be removed in February.
Reuters:
USDC stablecoin issuer Circle confidentially files for a US IPO, without saying the number of shares for sale or a price range; Circle was valued at $9B in 2022  —  Circle Internet Financial, the company behind stablecoin USDC, said on Thursday that it had confidentially filed …
Carly Page / TechCrunch:
Ivanti confirms hackers are exploiting two critical vulnerabilities in its corporate VPN software, but says patches won't be available until the end of January  —  U.S. software giant Ivanti has confirmed that hackers are exploiting two critical-rated vulnerabilities affecting …
Emma Roth / The Verge:
After announcing the $199 R1 “Large Action Model” AI handheld at CES, Rabbit sold 10K units in one day; second batch orders are set to 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.
Charisma Madarang / Rolling Stone:
Dudesy, an AI-driven podcast curated by humans, releases an hour-long comedy special featuring an AI-generated 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 …
Naman Ramachandran / Variety:
Netflix removes an Indian film depicting a Hindu character eating meat after backlash from Hindu groups; producer Zee apologizes and plans to edit the film  —  Tamil-language film “Annapoorani: The Goddess of Food,” headlined by “Jawan” actor Nayanthara, has been pulled from Netflix …
Todd Spangler / Variety:
Netflix says its ad tier has 23M+ MAUs globally, up from 15M+ in November 2023, and 85% of subscribers on the ad tier are streaming for over 2 hours per day  —  Netflix is seeing strong growth of its advertising-based plan, having recently eclipsed 23 million global monthly active users, president of advertising Amy Reinhard said.
Andrew Martin / Bloomberg:
Canada partners with SecurityScorecard to assess the cyber resilience of companies critical to the country's infrastructure and assign them letter grades  —  - Country partnering with SecurityScorecard to assess resilience  — Biden official raised possibility of grades for US companies

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