Netflix Lays Off Estimated 150 Staffers



Netflix is laying off approximately 150 employees across the company, according to an internal memo sent Tuesday and obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. This round of layoffs follows at least 10 full-time staff and contractors working under the editorial division on April 28, 2022. Those workers were part of Tudum Studio, which Netflix launched in December of 2021.

NPR reported that layoffs of employees and contractors for the Netflix site Tudum made waves online. People criticized the company for letting go of staff who had been recently recruited and for the lack of internal marketing of their work.

According to NPR, these layoffs are reflective of a change that Netflix is undergoing. In the wake of controversial programming on its platform, the tech giant recently altered its corporate culture memo to say employees may have to work on projects they find harmful.

Los Angeles Times reported that a spokesperson for Netflix provided the following statement:

“As we explained on earnings, our slowing revenue growth means we are also having to slow our cost growth as a company. So sadly, we are letting around 150 employees go today, mostly U.S.-based. These changes are primarily driven by business needs rather than individual performance, which makes them especially tough as none of us want to say goodbye to such great colleagues. We’re working hard to support them through this very difficult transition.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, a contractor who was part of a team that ran social media content promoting LGBTQ storytelling said, “This felt more of a matter of when, than if.” The contractor, who was not allowed to speak publicly, first became aware of the layoffs through the news, and hours later attended an all-hands on meeting where a group of people were informed they were losing their jobs.

Animation Magazine reported that Netflix was also eliminating two percent of roles from its animation workforce, largely in the U.S. According to Animation Magazine, at the beginning of the month, a trio of animated Netflix Kids & Family projects were nixed from the slate: Jeff King’s Dino Daycare (part of kids’ animation whiz Chris Nee’s initial slate with the streamer), Meghan Markle’s Pearl and Jaydeep Hasrajani’s Boons and Curses.

All of this comes after Netflix cracked down on account sharing (with someone outside of your household).

The Hollywood Reporter stated that in April, during its first-quarter earnings announcement, Netflix revealed it had lost 200,000 subscribers in the quarter and expected to lose an additional 2 million during the second quarter.


Apple Delays And Modifies Its Return To Office Plans



Apple, in a blow to its efforts to restore normalcy to its operations, has suspended its requirement that employees return to the office this month for at least three days a week because of a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, The New York Times reported.

According to The New York Times, the reversal was welcome news for thousands of employees who pushed back against the company’s demand that they begin coming to the office three days a week in early May. Earlier this month, the group which calls itself “Apple Together” published a letter calling on the executive team to allow for a hybrid and flexible work schedule, saying they could collaborate remotely using online tools such as Slack and spare themselves hours of commuting.

Personally, I’m not surprised by this change. Apple has a history of changing its COVID policy based on its assessment of what is the right thing to do. For example, in June of 2021, Apple chose to loosen its face mask requirement in Apple Stores as part of its COVID-19 policies in the United States.

Previously, in December of 2020, Apple closed all 53 of its locations in California. In May of 2020, it started gradually reopening stores in South Carolina, Alabama, and Alaska. Later, it began reopening stores with COVID-19 safety measures. In June of 2020, Apple closed 11 stores in Florida, North Carolina, and Arizona out of an abundance of caution. The decisions are made by Apple depended upon the number of COVID cases in a particular area.

9to5Mac noted that, as first reported by Bloomberg, Apple is still requiring employees to work in-person two days per week, but it will not ramp that up to three days per week on May 23 as originally planned.The company is delaying that requirement.

The Verge reported that Bloomberg retail employees in about 100 Apple stores were told that they will again be required to wear a mask.

9to5Mac reported the changes to Apple’s plans come as COVID-19 cases have once again started to increase in the United States and other countries. Hospitalizations are also increasing but at a much slower pace, according to data compiled by The New York Times.

Personally, I think the changes made by Apple are a step in the right direction. Requiring employees to wear masks in Apple stores, and also requiring employees at Apple to wear masks in common spaces (such as meeting rooms and elevators) can help stop the spread of COVID.

The problem I see with Apple’s plan is that it doesn’t really do much to protect workers who are immunocompromised. As someone who is part of that group, I understand how scary it can be to walk into a building that lacks the proper amount of air filtration to keep people like me safe.


Twitter Files Preliminary Proxy Statement for Acquisition by Elon Musk



There has been a lot of drama since Elon Musk decided to acquire Twitter. This has led to Twitter filing a preliminary proxy statement for acquisition by Elon Musk. It was posted in a press release on May 17, 2022, on PRNewswire.

Twitter Inc. today announced that it has filed its preliminary proxy statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with the previously announced agreement for Twitter to be acquired by affiliates of Elon Musk for $54.20 per share in cash.

Twitter is committed to completing the transaction on the agreed price and terms as promptly as practicable.

The preliminary proxy statement contains important information including the background of, and reasons for, Twitter’s transaction with Mr. Musk.

The transaction is subject to the approval of Twitter stockholders, the receipt if applicable regulatory approvals, and the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions, and is expected to close in 2022.

On May 16, 2022: CEO of Twitter Parag Agrawal tweeted a lengthy thread that started with “Let’s talk about spam. And let’s do so with the benefit of data, facts, and context…”

The thread continued with: “First, let me state the obvious: spam harms the experience for real people on Twitter, and therefore can harm our business. As such, we are strongly incentivized to detect and remove as much spam as we possibly can, every single day. Anyone who suggests otherwise is just wrong.”…

Axios reported that Elon Musk responded to Parag Agrawal’s thread with a poop emoji.

Axios also posted a screenshot of a tweet from Elon Musk in which he wrote: “20% fake/spam accounts, while 4 times what Twitter claims, could be *much* higher. My offer was based on Twitter’s SEC filings being accurate. Yesterday, Twitter’s CEO publicly refused to show proof of the <5%. This deal cannot move forward until he does.”

According to Axios, analysts believe Musk is using allegations that Twitter’s user base has more bots than the company claims to either back out of the deal or negotiate down a price, especially now that Twitter’s stock price has plummeted amid a broader market downturn.

What’s really going on? Matt Levine at Bloomberg offered some potential possibilities in a post titled: “Elon Musk Does Not Care About Spam Bots”. From the article:

“…I think it is important to be clear here that Musk is lying. The spam bots are not why he is backing away from the deal, as you can tell from the fact that the spam bots are why he did the deal. He has produced no evidence at all that Twitter’s estimates are wrong, and certainly not that they are materially wrong or made in bad faith. (Musk can only get out of the deal if Twitter’s filings are wrong in a way that would cause a “material adverse effect on Twitter, which is vanishingly unlikely)”…

According to Matt Levine, “…Twitter has published the same qualified estimate – that fewer than 5% of monetizable accounts are fake – for the last eight years. Musk knew those estimates, and declined to do any nonpublic due diligence before signing the merger agreement. He knew about the spam bot problem before signing the merger, as we know, because he talked about it constantly while announcing the merger agreement

In addition, Matt Levine wrote: “What has happened in the last three weeks? Well, the prices of stocks have gone down, making the $54.20 price that Musk agreed to look a bit rich….”

In my opinion, Elon Musk is having a very expensive temper tantrum because of the reasons Matt Levine explained in his article. It’s not a good look, especially for someone as rich as Elon Musk is. To me, it sounds like Elon Musk is having “buyers remorse” about his decision to buy Twitter.


Don’t Run Your Government On Cryptocurrency



On February 2, 2022, Mayor Francis Suarez tweeted: “I’m so excited to announce that the @CityofMiami has received it’s first-ever disbursement from @mineCityCoins totaling $5.25M. This is a historic moment for our city to collaborate with an innovative project that creates resources for our city through innovation not taxation.”

Quartz reported (on May 16, 2022) that MiamiCoin’s creator, an organization called CityCoins, has been no less enthusiastic, portraying the coin as a financial experiment that will empower citizens with a “community-driven revenue stream” while spurring new digital city services.”

According to Quartz, CityCoins announced a similar cryptocurrency for New York in November 2021, and plans to release a coin for Austin, Texas soon. Other cities have launched their own crypto ventures: Fort Worth, Texas, for example, will soon be running bitcoin mining rigs in city hall.

How did cryptocurrency work out for Miami? Quartz explains: Over the last nine months, however, MiamiCoin has lost nearly all of its value, falling about 95% from its September peak to just $0.0032 as of May 13. Its rapid descent has burned investors on the way down, muting the dreams of Miami’s city leaders, and possibly raising red flags for regulators now investigating cryptocurrency transactions.

On April 19, 2022, Mayor Francis Suarez tweeted: “As President of the @usmayors,we’re leaning into this next era of American innovation. Today’s eGov Summit Crypto Panel at @eMergeAmericas welcomes everyone to learn the fundamentals of crypto and the impact this technology will have on democracy!”

Houston Chronicle reported that The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages the state’s electrical grid, is projecting that the explosion in cryptocurrency and other “large load” operators could bring as many as 16 gigawatts of new electricity demand by 2026. That’s about a quarter of the grid’s current capacity and enough to power 3 million homes on a summer day.

Will that work? According to Houston Chronicle – For a state that failed so spectacularly to secure the power supply during last year’s winter blackouts, piling on more demand will be a critical new test, especially in the face of climate change. Last week alone, unseasonably high temperatures drove electricity demand to midsummer levels. Late Friday, the state asked Texans to conserve power after six natural gas-fired power plants tripped offline.

The Atlantic reported about the recent “Crypto Crash”. From the article: …As fear and interest rates spike, investors are selling off their positions and billions of dollars of value are being erased from the industry. By one estimate, more than $200 billion of stock-market wealth has been destroyed within crypto alone, in just a matter of days…

In my opinion, if that much crypto wealth can be so quickly erased, there is absolutely no valid reason for state (or federal) governments to decide to make cryptocurrency into the thing that is going to – supposedly – fund everything. All of it could be gone in the blink of an eye, depending on the market.


Tech Industry Appeals Texas Social Media Law



Two Washington-based groups representing Google, Facebook, and other tech giants filed an emergency application with the Supreme Court on Friday, seeking to block a Texas law that bars social media companies from removing posts based on a user’s political ideology, The Washington Post reported.

According to The Washington Post, the Texas law took effect Wednesday after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans lifted a district court injunction that had barred it. The appeals court action shocked the industry, which has been largely successful in batting back Republican state leaders’ efforts to regulate social media companies’ content-moderation policies.

NetChoice posted information titled: “NetChoice Announces Request for Emergency Stay from the U.S. Supreme Court”. From the information:

…On May 13, 2022, NetChoice and CCIA filed an application for an emergency stay with Justice Alito of the Supreme Court. Under Court procedures, Justice Alito may rule unilaterally or refer the matter to the full Court for consideration…

“The divided panel’s shocking decision to greenlight an unconstitutional law – without explanation – demanded the extraordinary response of seeking emergency Supreme Court intervention,” said Chris Marchese, Counsel for NetChoice.

“Texas HB 20 strips private online businesses of their speech rights, forbids them from making constitutionally protected editorial decisions, and forces them to publish and promote objectionable content,” continued Marchese. “The First Amendment prohibits Texas from forcing online platforms to host and promote foreign propaganda, pornography, pro-Nazi speech, and spam.”…

…”We are hopeful the Supreme Court will quickly reverse the Fifth Circuit, and we remain confident that the law will ultimately be struck down as unconstitutional.”

The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) posted news titled: “CIAA Files Emergency Brief Asking Supreme Court To Halt Texas Social Media Law”. From the news:

“The Computer & Communications Industry Association jointly filed an emergency brief Friday asking the U.S. Supreme Court for immediate action to prevent an unconstitutional Texas social media law from going into affect. The joint filing, submitted with co-plaintiff NetChoice, asks the Court to reinstate a lower court’s decision blocking the enforcement of the Texas statute while it is being reviewed under the First Amendment…

…CCIA has advocated for free speech online for more than 25 years. This effort has included protecting the First Amendment right for citizens and businesses to exercise both the right to speak and not be compelled to speak online.

The Verge reported that NetChoice had previously won a similar case in Florida last year, making the constitutional issues in this case even more pressing to address.

According to The Verge, the three-judge panel on the Fifth Circuit appeared to be confused about many of the basic terms being used – one judge seemed to think that Twitter was not a website, and another seemed to think there was no difference between a phone company like Verizon and a social media company like Twitter or Facebook.

It is not unheard of for a court to pick a side to support when presented with a case. Personally, I do not have any faith at all in the decision making process of the Supreme Court as it stands today.


Elon Musk Said His Twitter Deal is “On Hold”



Elon Musk said his planned acquisition of Twitter Inc. was “temporarily on hold” because of concerns about fake accounts, a surprise twist that jolted investors and raised questions about his willingness to go through with the $44 billion transaction, The Wall Street Journal reported.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Musk’s “grenade” came in a tweet posted at 5:44 a.m. Eastern Time that was followed just over two hours later by another saying he was “still committed to acquisition.” Lawyers close to Mr. Musk urged him to send that follow-up tweet, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that the initial announcement was unorthodox not just in its timing and format, but because Mr. Musk referenced a recent Twitter disclosure about fake and spam accounts that it has made consistently for years – and because Mr. Musk has already signed an agreement for the purchase and waived detailed due diligence on the deal.

The Washington Post reported that Elon Musk’s declaration cast fresh doubt on the seriousness of his offer just as he was scrambling to find new investors to help him fund the deal. It also played into his hand by sending Twitter’s stock price tumbling, though the tweet had the potential to draw regulatory scrutiny.

According to The Washington Post: Spam bots, accounts that peddle cryptocurrency scams and otherwise seek to exploit vulnerable users, have long been a pet peeve of the technology mogul who regularly encounters impersonators in his activity on site.

Axios reported: For Musk to liquidate a significant amount of Tesla stake and to wrangle bankers into giving him billions of dollars in financing, only to backtrack due to a single [Reuters] article, shows how manic the entire takeover process has been.

The New York Times referenced Elon Musk’s contradictory tweets, and reported: The seemingly contradictory messages left many wondering whether Mr. Musk was getting cold feet, trying to drive down the acquisition price or looking for a bit of attention. Perhaps it was some combination of the three. Twitter’s stock yo-yoed in response to his posts.

Personally, I cannot even begin to guess what, exactly, Elon Musk is trying to do. Maybe he doesn’t know, either. It seems that having more money than most people will ever see in their lifetime gives Elon Musk the leverage to play with the rules. I’ll leave it to regulators to determine if he’s crossed the line.


Apple iPod Touch end of an Era #1601



Apple has decided to stop the production of the iPod Touch. This is sad as the first iPod debuted in 2001. So the series of devices have had a pretty great run. I will be on the hunt to add one of the older models to the device graveyard in the studio.

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