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By Michelai Graham
Boardroom's Tech Reporter
October 22, 2023

Is anyone else overly excited about the MySpace documentary that will feature interviews with founders Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe? A part of me really wishes Anderson really went for the X CEO role because the platform would likely be closer to the Twitter we miss.

A peek into today’s edition: 

  • Amazon “Delivering the Future” recap and new drone tech
  • X begins testing ‘Not a Bot’ $1 subscription programs
  • LinkedIn lays off nearly 700 employees

Amazon Announces Slew of New Tech During Its 'Delivering the Future' Event

I’m penning this edition of Tech Talk from the lobby of a Seattle hotel after spending the week with Amazon and attending the Big Tech company’s “Delivering the Future” event. It was an insightful experience and refreshing to see the everyday people working on the ground throughout Amazon’s ecosystem. Among the fun tours, like a look into The Spheres indoor garden and a stroll through Amazon’s HQ, I also got to tour a fulfillment center and innovation lab where Amazon previewed new tech that better serves its customers, employees, and supporting communities.

Here are some high-level learnings from my trip:

  • Amazon revealed a new drone called the MK30 and is expanding its drone delivery program, including free medication delivery to customers in College Station, Texas. Prime Air is also expanding to Italy and the UK.
  • The Big Tech giant demoed two new robotics systems it’s using to sort and store packages, manage inventory, and move products. Amazon employs over 750,000 robots worldwide to work alongside its employees.
  • I got to see Agility Robotics’ bipedal robot, Digit, in action as Amazon tests how to implement them into their operations. Digit can reach high and low to grab items and place them where they need to go. To start, Amazon will be using Digit robots to pick up and move empty inventory containers.
  • Amazon has put roughly 6,000 electric delivery vehicles on the roads in India, with a goal of getting at least 10,000 on the ground by 2025.
  • Amazon announced that its fulfillment center in Euclid, Ohio, is the first in the US to fully replace plastic delivery packaging with paper packaging. Amazon’s engineers redesigned packaging machines that use sensors to identify the size of an item and precisely measure packaging needs.

It’s safe to say I learned a lot, and I’ll be sprinkling my learnings through my reporting on Amazon moving forward.


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X's New Bot Reduction Plan Costs Only $1

X is going to charge new users in New Zealand and the Philippines $1 a year to post and interact with content as it tests its new “Not a Bot” subscription program. The social media platform is implementing the fee to combat spam and bots, and users who decline to pay the $1 annual fee will only be able to view content and follow accounts. X didn’t share a timeline to roll the program out to more markets, but all I can think is — why $1? Why a fee at all when there are a variety of efforts to reduce spam, including two-factor verification features every other social network offers for free?

In other news, X Premium users can get a pink app icon as part of the platform’s partnership with Paris Hilton. Also, the US Labor Board filed its first complaint against X for allegedly illegally firing an employee who tweeted some thoughts about Elon Musk‘s in-office work policy.

California Passes New Crypto Regulation Bill

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a crypto regulation bill coined the Digital Financial Assets Law that will go into effect in July 2025 across the state. The new legislation requires individuals and businesses to obtain a Department of Financial Protection and Innovation license to operate with digital asset-focused offerings. The bill also requires licensees to maintain records for at least five years, which could include business expenses, asset holdings, and capital.

Sam Bankman-Fried Trial: What We Learned from Week 3

Week three of Sam Bankman-Fried‘s trial is behind us, and this time, FTX co-founder and former Director of Engineering Nishad Singh gave a pivotal testimony. Unlike the other key witnesses who took the stand, Singh knows SBF on a personal level since he’s been friends with his younger brother since their high school years. Singh told the courtroom that once he discovered that SBF was misusing funds, he pleaded with him to stop and consistently voiced his concerns, but he wouldn’t listen. Singh, who once lived in the much-talked-about FTX mansion in the Bahamas, testified that SBF spent about $1.13 billion on celebrity sponsorship deals, which included millions in payments to Stephen Curry, Tom Brady, Larry David, and Gisele Bundchen. Former FTX general counsel Can Sun also took the stand on behalf of the prosecution.

Singh’s testimony may be the nail in the coffin of SBF’s fate, but we have to remember the former engineering chief admitted to being implicit in these crimes because he was benefiting from them, too. The trial continues on Monday, and we may see the prosecution call Sam Trabucco, former co-CEO of Alameda Research, to the stand. Trabucco is the only former executive who has not been accused of wrongdoing himself since he left Alameda in August 2022, three months before SBF’s crypto empire came tumbling down.

  • Microsoft-owned LinkedIn laid off about 668 employees across its engineering, product, talent, and finance departments. The new wave of layoffs comes after the professional networking platform let go of roughly 720 workers in May as part of Microsoft’s larger cut of 10,000 employees earlier this year.
  • The Walt Disney Company turned 100 years old on Oct. 16, and as part of its celebration, the famous brand launched a content hub in partnership with TikTok to provide fans with interactive experiences and stories on the video-sharing platform.
  • The Biden administration is halting Nvidia and other chipmakers’ ability to ship AI computing chips to China in an effort to slow the country from making tech-forward military advances.
  • New York Attorney General Letitia James sued Winklevoss-owned Gemini and Genesis and its affiliate Digital Currency Group for allegedly defrauding investors of over $1 billion.
  • Apple unveiled a new $79 Apple Pencil model equipped with a USB-C charging port. This model can magnetically attach to iPad devices, but unlike other Apple models, it doesn’t have wireless charging capabilities.
  • Netflix has begun beta testing video games based on its popular series and films on more devices to a limited number of subscribers. The streaming giant is testing games on smart TVs, personal computers, and other smart devices.

After years of delays, Tesla will reportedly start delivering its much-anticipated Cybertruck vehicle to select customers on Nov. 30. I’m going to place a hot bet that we’ll see at least one recall or some sort of design change on the luxury electric SUV before the year is up.