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Thursday’s top tech news: what does ‘funding secured’ mean anyway?

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If the CEO of a publicly traded company were to tweet that they planned to take their company private, and said they had “funding secured,” you’d be forgiven for assuming that, well, they planned to take their company private and had secured funding to make it happen. “Not so fast,” argue Elon Musk’s lawyers, in response to being sued by Tesla investors over this tweet that the investors say caused them to lose millions.

“It isn’t clear what funding secured even means in a tweet phrase,” say the Tesla CEO’s lawyers, “It’s not self-evident how one could be just considering something, and yet, all the details are set.”

Next up, a new rumor suggests Apple’s smart home ambitions are kicking into a higher gear. The company revealed a new Matter-compatible HomePod yesterday, and shortly afterwards a report claimed it’s working on a new iPad-like smart display to compete with similar devices from Google and Amazon.

Finally, in the US the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Amazon for alleged safety law violations in its warehouses. It’s proposed $60,269 in penalties. Amazon says it disagrees and intends to appeal.

For now, here’s a silly tweet to start your day:

Stay tuned, as we continue to update this list with the most important news of today: Thursday, January 19th, 2023.
  • Reed Hastings is stepping down as Netflix’s co-CEO

    Illustration of the Netflix wordmark on a red and black background.
    Nick Barclay / The Verge

    As Netflix announced its quarterly earnings, co-founder Reed Hastings revealed that after 25 years of running the company that grew from delivering video disc rentals by mail into a streaming behemoth, he is no longer its CEO.

    He named content chief Ted Sarandos co-CEO in 2020, and Sarandos will continue on in that role but will now share duties as co-CEO with Greg Peters, Netflix’s former chief operating officer. In other executive moves, Bela Bajaria is now Netflix’s chief content officer, and Scott Stuber has been named the chair of Netflix Film. 

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  • The United States Navy is doing an AMA right now with some of its “Cyber Warfare Engineers” and that’s pretty weird.

    Seeing faceless, anonymous nation-state hackers go on Reddit to do promo for the Navy is giving me some feelings. Feelings like: confusion, concern, amusement, vague embarrassment over my amusement, and more confusion.

    Unrelated: It’s been almost 10 years since Chelsea Manning, a military intelligence analyst, was convicted and sentenced to prison for leaking classified material to the press.

  • Microsoft starts testing tabs in Notepad for Windows 11

    A screenshot of the new tabs feature inside Notepad on Windows 11
    Notepad is the first built-in app to get tabs in Windows 11.
    Image: Microsoft

    Microsoft has officially started testing tabs in Notepad for Windows 11. A Microsoft employee accidentally revealed the feature was on the way over the holidays, and now tabs are showing up in an update to Notepad for Windows Insiders in the Dev Channel today.

    The tabs support in Notepad lets you use multiple files in a single window, much like how Microsoft has implemented tabs in File Explorer in Windows 11. “There are also new keyboard shortcut keys to support managing tabs as well as some improvements to managing unsaved files, like automatically generating the file name/tab title based on content and a refreshed unsaved changes indicator,” explains Dave Grochocki, principal product manager lead at Microsoft.

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  • Don’t trust Bill Gates’ taste in fake meat.

    Loved this Bloomberg review of how the fake meat market went awry.

    Here’s some free advice for all you VCs: the “crunchy set” is the actual market for meat replacement, so make black bean burgers with sweet potatoes and quinoa if you want to succeed. Good talk!

  • WhatsApp now lets you chat with yourself

    WhatsApp logo on a green, black, and white background
    Illustration: The Verge

    WhatsApp will now let you freely message yourself. The new Message Yourself feature has been gradually rolling out to WhatsApp users over the past couple of months and has appeared in the release notes for the latest app update this week. It’s not Meta’s latest AI invention but more of a digital notepad to let you send quick notes, reminders, links, and photos to yourself across multiple devices.

    You could also use this feature to have a full-blown conversation with yourself, but I wouldn’t recommend it. My colleague David Pierce texts himself every day to share links, notes, and reminders that are all searchable across devices.

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  • PSVR2 adds Tetris Effect and Rez Infinite ports to its ‘launch window’ games list

    Verge reporter Victoria Song wearing the PlayStation VR2 virtual reality headset.
    Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

    A post on the PlayStation blog lists “over 30” titles for the PlayStation VR2’s monthlong launch window (you can scroll down to see the full list here) that starts when the hardware ships starting February 22nd.

    While the new additions consist mostly of ports from the first PS VR or PC headsets, that list does include two popular puzzle games made by Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s Enhance studio, Tetris Effect and Rez Infinite.

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  • Game developers aren’t so hot on NFTs, the metaverse, or huge acquisitions

    GDC logo over a multi-color illustration
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Ahead of the Game Developers Conference in March, the organizers of the event have released its annual State of the Industry survey results. Surveying 2,300 respondents, the questionnaire covered developer sentiment on a wide range of topics, including NFTs, unionization, the metaverse, and more.

    As overall sentiment on NFTs cools amid continuous stories of fraud and scandal, the GDC survey reports only 23 percent of developers say that their studios are interested in Web3 technology — a slight decline from 27 percent last year. There does seem to be a marked decrease in NFTs and crypto in video games, as anytime a studio announces a Web3-based project, consumer backlash usually causes it to reverse course. Of the 2,300 respondents to the survey, 75 percent of them marked “not interested” when asked if their studio was interested in blockchain technology. When asked how their opinion on Web3 had changed from last year, 56 percent said they weren’t interested then and still aren’t now. Despite this clear lack of support, Square Enix seems to be one of the lone holdouts on this trend, doubling down on its commitment to NFTs in its 2023 New Year letter.

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  • Emma Roth

    Jan 19

    Emma Roth

    Instagram now lets you pause notifications with Quiet Mode

    Instagram logo over green, black, and cream background
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Instagram’s adding a way to temporarily silence push notifications whenever you want to take a break from the app. The feature, called Quiet Mode, will send automatic replies to users who try to message you on the platform, letting them know you weren’t notified.

    Instagram will specifically prompt teen users to toggle on Quiet Mode “when they spend a specific amount of time on Instagram late at night.” However, the platform doesn’t state how much time teens have to spend on the app to see the prompt and also doesn’t say what timeframe it considers “late at night.” Meta spokesperson Liza Crenshaw tells The Verge the notification will appear after “several minutes.”

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  • Twitter Blue arrives on Android for $11 a month

    Twitter bird logo in white over a blue and purple background
    Twitter Blue is currently only available to users in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, regardless of what system you use to subscribe.
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Twitter has rolled out Twitter Blue to Android users a month after the service was relaunched on the platform’s iOS app. As seen in Twitter’s updated help page for Twitter Blue, Android users can now purchase a monthly subscription for $11 — the same price as iOS users. The service is currently still limited to users within the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.

    Along with providing users with a blue “verified” checkmark, a subscription to Twitter Blue currently grants users access to the ability to edit tweets, upload longer 1080p videos, and access reader mode. Additional features like seeing fewer ads than nonsubscribers and prioritizing Tweets from verified users are listed as “coming soon.”

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  • The laptops I’m most excited to test in 2023

    The Lenovo Yoga Book 9i folded into laptop mode with the keyboard attached.
    Spoiler alert: this is one of them.
    Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

    It’s going to be an interesting year for laptops. We’re coming out of CES 2023, the annual trade show where the tech industry shows off the products we’ll be seeing hit shelves throughout the upcoming year. Big players, from Dell and HP to Razer and MSI, unveiled their weirdest and wackiest new products. There’s a lot to look forward to this year when it comes to display technology, chip capability, AI features, build, and more. But a few products really stood out from the rest.

    In no particular order, here are the laptops that I’m most excited about testing in 2023.

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  • US arrests Russian crypto exchange owner for allegedly laundering over $700 million

    Art rendering of transparent laptop in front of a wall of surveilling eyes.
    The US Treasury Department has identified Bitzlato as a “primary money laundering concern” in connection with the Russian government. 
    Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

    US authorities announced on Wednesday that the Russian co-founder of Hong Kong-based crypto exchange Bitzlato had been arrested in Miami for allegedly processing $700 million in illicit funds. Bitzlato’s crypto assets were seized and its digital infrastructure was dismantled by French authorities working alongside the US (in addition to other international authorities). 

    The US Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has since identified Bitzlato as a “primary money laundering concern” in connection with the Russian government.

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  • I wish Amazon had been honest about why it’s sunsetting AmazonSmile

    Illustration of Amazon’s wordmark on an orange, black, and tan background made up of overlapping lines.
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Whenever I come across a sales campaign that boasts, “if you buy our product, we’re going to give part of our profit to this deserving charity,” I’m often tempted to call a doctor and consult them about all the grains of (to me) forbidden salt I’ve just eaten. I’m very well aware that the amount of money that is going to be moved to that charity is probably very small, that the tax advantages to the company will be worth more than what it may lose in immediate profit, and that I’d be better off just sending some cash to the organizations I support.

    All that being said, I must admit that I made an exception (practically and emotionally) for the AmazonSmile program. This decade-old program let me, as an Amazon customer, choose among a long list of charities that would get a small donation every time I made a purchase. Perhaps I felt that it was okay because, as far as I could tell, it didn’t really affect my buying habits — there was nothing that I bought from Amazon that I wouldn’t have if the program didn’t exist. Perhaps I also felt just a bit of self-justification — that new smartwatch at Amazon is a bit of an indulgence, but at least a little of the cost will go to Planned Parenthood. 

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  • Testing Nvidia’s GeForce Now RTX 4080, the most advanced cloud gaming platform yet

    An illustration of Nvidia’s RTX 4080 GPU inside a cloud server
    Image: Nvidia

    Google Stadia shut down overnight, but it’s hardly the end of cloud gaming. Nvidia’s GeForce Now streaming service already leapfrogged Stadia and many other rivals with its RTX 3080 tier, and now, it’s delivering an upgrade to RTX 4080 graphics alongside HDR and ultrawide resolution support.

    That means all the usual performance upgrades you’d expect to find with a modern GPU you’d purchase for a PC and an important advancement for latency: 240fps. While the old RTX 3080 tier could output at 120fps, doubling the frame rate is noticeable both in terms of performance and latency. It makes GeForce Now the most advanced cloud gaming platform yet and even close to feeling like you’re running games on your own PC.

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  • Green light.

    The HomePod is back, even if I’m not quite sure why Apple sent it away in the first place.

    Chris Welch already got our first demo, but if Mark Gurman’s rumors are correct (they tend to be), there’s more Apple smart home hardware on the way.

    Netflix will report its quarterly earnings this afternoon, while Elon Musk is expected to take the stand tomorrow when his securities fraud trial resumes.

  • The Steam Deck wasn’t born ready, but it’s ready now

    The Valve Steam Deck gaming handheld sits on a reflective table, with an orange background.
    Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

    The Steam Deck is my favorite gadget of 2022. I have no hesitation in recommending it anymore. The kind of person who would buy one should buy one. My only question: are you that kind of person?

    In February of last year, I truthfully wrote that the Steam Deck wasn’t ready, and I stand by every word of that review. But it’s ready now. And while it’s still not finished, and may never be finished, Valve has spent nearly a year and over 100 updates showing that an early access game console can actually be worth money. Valve has finally succeeded in proving doubters wrong about Linux, creating a gadget that’s spent 35 weeks atop the Steam bestseller list and attracted support from Sony, Microsoft and more. In my eyes, this was a triumph: a dark horse that will shape the gaming landscape for years to come.

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  • Google Stadia is how you shut down a service right

    Google Stadia is survived by its gamepad, fans, and its Nvidia and Amazon rivals.
    Google Stadia is survived by its gamepad, fans, and its Nvidia and Amazon rivals.
    Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

    Google made a few mistakes with its Stadia cloud gaming service. Maybe more than a few. Okay, it made a lot of promises it didn’t keep and said a lot of things that look pretty laughable in hindsight and totally pulled the rug out from under its indie developers. We did our best to warn you!

    And yet, I don’t think Stadia will be remembered poorly now it’s gone — because in the end, Google did right by its customers. Pay attention, rival companies: this is how you shut down a service right.

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  • Amazon is closing its AmazonSmile charity platform

    Illustration of Amazon’s wordmark on an orange, black, and tan background made up of overlapping lines.
    The announcement of AmazonSmile’s closure comes as Amazon begins another round of job cuts.
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Amazon is shutting down its AmazonSmile charity program next month. The closure coincides with a variety of cost-cutting efforts announced by the e-commerce giant that includes laying off thousands of employees.

    The AmazonSmile program functioned like an overlay for the standard Amazon site, allowing users to shop as normal, but select a charity to which the e-retailer donated 0.5 percent of the cost of all eligible products. Amazon claims that over $377 million has been donated through the scheme since it launched in 2013, but in its closure notice suggested this was not sufficient to keep the scheme running.

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  • Amazon’s OSHA fine for warehouse safety violations could be about $60K

    Illustration of Amazon’s wordmark on an orange, black, and tan background made up of overlapping lines.
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, has issued a citation against Amazon, alleging that the company violated safety laws and failed to keep workers in three warehouses safe. The regulator has also proposed $60,269 in penalties related to the violations — a drop in the bucket for a company that recorded over $127 billion in sales during the third quarter of 2022 alone but a relatively high penalty compared to many of the ones it faced from OSHA before.

    According to a press release, the citation stems from inspections at three warehouses located in Deltona, Florida, Waukegan, Illinois, and New Windsor, New York. OSHA says that Amazon “exposed workers to ergonomic, struck-by hazards” in the location, putting them at “high risk for lower back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders.”

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  • Elon Musk’s tweets take center stage in opening day of his securities fraud trial

    Elon Musk, in a tux, looking befuddled
    Illustration by Lille Allen / The Verge

    Elon Musk tweets, and “regular people” watch their fortunes evaporate.

    That was the argument put before a jury by lawyers representing a class of Tesla investors in opening arguments in Musk’s securities fraud trial, which kicked off today in a courtroom in San Francisco. The plaintiffs are arguing that Musk’s 2018 tweets about taking Tesla private, in which he said he had “funding secured,” led them to lose millions of dollars.

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  • Apple is reportedly working on an iPad-like smart display

    Image of the Apple logo surrounded by gray, pink, and green outlines
    Illustration by Nick Barclay / The Verge

    Apple is working on a brand-new slew of smart home devices, at least according to a report by Bloomberg.

    In addition to the very similar but Matter-equipped relaunch of the original HomePod, Apple appears to be pushing deeper into the home space with a smaller display akin to a Google Nest Hub or Amazon’s Echo Show. According to sources close to the discussions, the device would be similar to an iPad but less expensive, oriented toward home use, and would include a magnet for mounting. The device would appear to be more limited in scope than an iPad and would mainly be used for FaceTime chats, as well as controlling other smart home devices. Here’s hoping it can solve the multi-user problem that makes current iPads unpleasant for home control use. There have also been talks about larger smart home displays down the line.

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  • Apple’s new HomePod unsurprisingly sounds close to the original

    A marketing image of Apple’s second-generation HomePod with an iPhone being held above it.
    Image: Apple

    I had a brief amount of listening time with Apple’s second-generation HomePod speaker this morning. There were numerous demos of its capabilities, but I’m only permitted to share details with you on what I heard in one specific room. While there, I heard a new HomePod playing by its lonesome and also got to sample the sound quality of two units grouped as a stereo pair, which produces a much wider soundstage.

    The original HomePod was discontinued nearly two years ago, so it’s been a fair amount of time since I’ve heard one. When I got back to the office, I grabbed our old review device out of the closet. As you can see from Apple’s marketing images today (I wasn’t allowed to photograph the new model), not much has changed from a design standpoint.

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