It’s usually not a good sign when everyone on Twitter is talking about the same thing, least of all when that thing is Twitter itself. Today the story on everyone’s
lips tweets is that a lot of Twitter’s remaining employees have left the company after Elon Musk’s Thursday night ultimatum expired, which demanded that employees work “long hours at high intensity” or GTFO.
Well GTFO is exactly what hundreds of Twitter’s remaining employees are doing. Now the question is exactly how small the company’s workforce can get before it’s fundamentally unable to keep the service operational.
Continuing on the theme of tech layoffs, Roku is saying goodbye to 200 US employees (a shame given it should be riding high on the success of its best original film to date), and Amazon expects to lay off more employees next year after reports emerged that it plans to axe as many as 10,000 roles this week.
And pull on your mittens everyone, because everyone’s favorite ice queen is heading back to Overwatch 2. Mei was removed from the game late last month thanks to a glitch with her trademark ice wall ability that was allowing players to access “unintended locations.”
Here’s the most important tech news of today: Friday, November 18th, 2022.
Nov 19, 2022Is Taylor Swift the one to take down Ticketmaster?
You probably heard that Taylor Swift’s pre-sales event for her The Eras Tour crashed Ticketmaster, which the operator blamed on “unprecedented demand.”
But now it’s bringing renewed attention to the combined market power of Ticketmaster and its parent company Live Nation Entertainment. The New York Times reports the DOJ has opened an antitrust investigation.
One way or another, the story isn’t over — you can keep up with the updates as they come in right here.
Nov 19, 2022Important Vergecast correction.
I said Bruno Mars mixes every album in an old Cadillac Escalade; it is actually a 2010 Cadillac CTS. Per Rolling Stone:
There’s a decade-plus-old Cadillac CTS parked in an alley next to the studio. “I got it washed four days ago,” Mars says proudly. In a way, it’s become one of his closest musical confidants — he’s mixed every album he’s put out since 2010’s Doo-Wops & Hooligans by listening to it inside the Caddy, getting a sense for it in the sort of real-world scenario he deems optimal: A pimped-out American luxury sedan so old it has a CD player.
Now, does anyone know what Taylor Swift’s go-to headphones are?
Nov 18, 2022
Elizabeth Holmes has been sentenced to 135 months, or just over 11 years, in prison, according to journalist John Carreyrou. She will have to report to prison on April 27th, 2023, and will have an additional three years of supervised release once she’s out, according to Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Keenan.Read Article >
Judge Edward Davila, who has overseen the case, declared that the charges she had been found guilty of made her responsible for defrauding 10 victims out of $121 million, according to The New York Times’ Erin Griffith. Davila said that Holmes’ refusal to accept responsibility for the fraud counted against her in his sentencing decision, according to The Wall Street Journal.
- Twitter’s now-former head of Trust and Safety predicts what’s next for its “custodians of the internet.”
In this op-ed, Yoel Roth examines why he left Twitter last week (because all decisions now lie with one person, Elon Musk) and the hellish rules about content moderation Musk will have to navigate, whether made by regulators or the planned moderation council.
But, as Roth explains, the most notable check on Elon’s “unilateral edict” and free speech platitudes may be Apple and Google:
Twitter will have to balance its new owner’s goals against the practical realities of life on Apple and Google’s internet — no easy task for the employees who have chosen to remain. And as I departed the company, the calls from the app review teams had already begun
Nov 18, 2022
Elon Musk begins reinstating banned Twitter accounts, starting with Jordan Peterson and the Babylon Bee
Elon Musk has begun reinstating Twitter accounts that were previously subject to lifetime bans, taking the first steps toward his promise of lighter moderation on the platform. Announced Friday, the first affected accounts belong to author Jordan Peterson, comedian Kathy Griffin, and conservative parody outlet The Babylon Bee.Read Article >
Notably, two of the three accounts were banned because of tweets misgendering trans people. Peterson was banned in July for tweets misgendering trans actor Elliot Page, which he said he would “rather die” than delete. The Babylon Bee was banned in March for similar tweets misgendering Rachel Levine, a trans woman currently serving as US assistant secretary of health.
Nov 18, 2022
After three years in space, the Planetary Society’s LightSail 2 mission burned up in the atmosphere on Thursday, November 17th. During its mission, the crowdfunded spacecraft made 18,000 orbits of the planet using its giant reflective sail and demonstrated that controlled solar sailing is possible.Read Article >
LightSail may now be over, but it has opened the door to the use of solar sailing in space exploration. “It doesn’t fit every situation, but now it gives another arrow in the quiver of options for types of propulsion you can use,” said Bruce Betts, Chief Scientist and LightSail program manager.
- If you (still) work at Twitter and you can code, head to the HQ now.
How many people took their new boss’s offer and quit their jobs at Twitter last night?
We don’t have a number to put on that, but Alex Heath has this email that was just sent from Elon Musk to Twitter’s software engineers.
Anyone who actually writes software, please report to the 10th floor at 2pm today.
Before doing so, please email me a bullet point summary of what your code commits have achieved in the past ~6 months, along with up to 10 screenshots of the most salient lines of code.
The strangest part of all this is that just 18 hours ago, Twitter told employees that all office buildings will be closed until the 21st. But maybe they could really use the help.
Nov 18, 2022Carvana to layoff 8 percent of its workforce.
That translates to around 1,500 workers, which is not totally surprising, considering the used car dealer has lost almost 98 percent of its value in recent weeks. Carvana’s rapid growth during the pandemic appears to have run into the same economic headwinds many tech companies are now facing. Not unrelated, you can get a 2012 Honda Fit for about $14,000 delivered on Tuesday.
Nov 18, 2022We updated our redesign a little.
A lot of readers told us they wanted a list of big stories right at the top, so we moved the “Must Reads” box to the top of the page and renamed it “Top Stories” to be clearer. The Storystream feed is now all in one place just below — and we’ll be adding comments to posts like this very soon, which is exciting. More to come!
The line between hearing aids and hearables has blurred ever since over-the-counter hearing aids hit shelves last month. Case in point: a new iScience study that claims a $249 pair of AirPods Pro can sometimes perform as well as prescription hearing aids that often cost thousands more. But while AirPods may seem like an affordable hearing aid alternative, it’s not quite that simple.Read Article >
Researchers recruited 21 participants in the study to test how well second-gen AirPods and AirPods Pro performed compared to a premium hearing aid costing $10,000 and a basic aid costing $1,500. The participants were asked to repeat verbatim short sentences that were read to them while wearing each device. The AirPods Pro were found to be comparable to basic hearing aids in quiet environments and only slightly worse than the premium hearing aids. The second-gen AirPods performed the worst of the four devices but were better than nothing.
Nov 18, 2022Today on the Vergecast we talked Taylor Swift, Twitter, and the disaster of Meta’s latest headset.
Okay, those weren’t the only topics!
But Adi did join us to talk about her Meta Quest Pro review and just how bad this product and some of the software surrounding it is. Then Nilay relayed his adventures in buying Taylor Swift tickets, Twitter news broke live on the podcast, and we all agreed knobs are good.
- Elon Musk’s long-term plan to make Twitter less dependent on advertising.
For This Week in Elon, Liz Lopatto investigates what Elon Musk might actually envision for Twitter 2.0.
If Musk can figure out a way to make inroads into the creator economy, that could maybe bring people to the platform in a way that’s cheaper than the $10 sign-up bonus he’s proposed.
If there’s a way to keep the most fun, prolific Twitter users on the platform — either by paying them directly or by letting their fans pay them — I can imagine a world in which that creates a revenue stream that makes Twitter less dependent on advertising.
Nov 18, 2022Pokémon meets open-world.
The first truly open-world Pokémon games are here with the release of Violet and Scarlet on the Switch today.
They’re great games, offering more freedom than any Pokémon adventure before — but that comes at a cost, with some frustrating technical issues that hamper the experience. At least the new grass cat starter is plenty adorable.
It’s true that you usually get what you pay for. But every so often, you come across a device that offers way more bang for your buck. The $199 Amazfit GTR 4 is not going to compete with the Apple Watch Series 8 or the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 on features. It’s not as stylish as the Pixel Watch. But it offers several features you’d expect to see on more expensive watches, such as multiband GPS, a vibrant OLED display, and turn-by-turn route navigation. After spending some time with the GTR 4, I wholeheartedly recommend this over the new Fitbit Versa 4 or Sense 2.Read Article >
The GTR 4 probably won’t win any design awards, but it looks pretty good for a budget watch (especially when compared to previous iterations). The 1.4-inch always-on OLED display is housed in a 46mm aluminum case. It looks fine, if a bit nondescript. But the fluoroelastomer strap on my review unit feels chintzy. Although it’s the same type of material as Apple’s Sport Band, it doesn’t look like it. After about two weeks of wear, one of the keepers is already showing some damage. Thankfully, you can use any standard 22mm strap with the GTR 4 to elevate the look.
Hundreds of Twitter employees have resigned ahead of Elon Musk’s “extremely hardcore” cultural reset of the company, according to internal messages seen by The Verge and employee tweets.Read Article >
The fresh purge of Twitter’s ranks comes after Musk recently fired dozens of employees who criticized or mocked him in tweets and internal messages. Musk then set a deadline of 5PM ET on Thursday for all employees to respond “yes” on a Google form if they want to stay for what he is calling “Twitter 2.0;” otherwise, today would be their final day of work and they would receive a severance package.
Nov 17, 2022
Amazon will be cutting jobs again at some point in early 2023, CEO Andy Jassy informed employees in a memo on Thursday. The company publicly confirmed some layoffs on Wednesday, and Jassy says that as Amazon’s annual planning process extends into the new year, “there will be more role reductions as leaders continue to make adjustments.”Read Article >
Jassy says the company hasn’t determined exactly how many additional roles will be cut but did state that there will be “reductions in our Stores and [People, Experience, and Technology] organizations.” Amazon will inform who will be impacted by the future cuts early next year.
Nov 17, 2022
Roku has announced that it’s laying off 200 US employees, or around 7 percent of its workforce, according to Variety. According to the company’s statement, the cuts are meant to reduce its “headcount expenses” by around 5 percent as it tries to spend less on operations in the face of “current economic conditions” in the advertising and streaming industry.Read Article >
Nov 17, 2022
Everybody mark your calendars: instead of the Christmas holiday season, it’s gonna be Mei. After a brief hiatus to fix a glitch that allowed Mei’s ice wall to boost players to places they shouldn’t be, today’s Overwatch 2 update added her back to the game alongside a host of other hero tweaks and bug fixes.Read Article >
In addition to releasing feral Mei mains back onto the general, unsuspecting public, several heroes, including two current meta-defining characters — Genji and Zarya — are also getting hit with the nerf bat.
Nov 16, 2022
Elon Musk gave Twitter employees an ultimatum in a midnight email: commit to a “hardcore” culture at Twitter or leave with severance. The Washington Post reports that Musk has asked Twitter employees to sign an online form by 5PM ET on Thursday committing to “long hours at high intensity.” If Twitter employees refuse to sign the form then they will reportedly receive three months of severance pay.Read Article >
Former Uber engineer Gergely Orosz, who has been reporting on Twitter’s internal changes this week, says Musk’s email outlines a “Twitter 2.0” that will be driven by engineers with “those writing great code” taking a more important role inside the company.