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By Michelai Graham
Boardroom's Tech Reporter
March 3, 2024
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Tech Talk is a weekly digest by Boardroom’s Michelai Graham that breaks down the latest news from the world’s biggest tech companies and the future of industry-shaping trends like AI.

To cap off Black History Month, I penned a piece highlighting the 20-year marketing career of Kelley Walton, Amazon Music’s head of global brand, product, and integrated marketing. I don’t want to spoil anything because it’s truly worth the read. Check it out if you haven’t already.

A peek into today’s edition: 

  • Bitcoin briefly hits $64K
  • No EV car from Apple is coming
  • Alphabet faces $2B lawsuit from media publishers

Bitcoin Briefly Hits $64K for the First Time in 2 Years

Suddenly, it feels like November 2021 again since Bitcoin briefly broke the $64,000 threshold earlier this week and is holding steady above $61,000 as of Friday morning. The token just closed out its best month since 2020, and its value is up 40% this year already. In this past week alone, Bitcoin was up nearly 20%. This is a big deal for the world’s most valuable digital asset, which hasn’t traded in the $60,000 range since it hit its all-time high of $68,789 in November 2021.

So, what’s driving Bitcoin’s rally right now? Demand, increased interest, spot Bitcoin ETFs, and the impending Bitcoin halving event could all be playing a role in the token’s success right now. Personally, I don’t think there is enough of the crypto to account for all this new demand, though some investors are liquidating their assets as the token climbs. It’s important to note that around the year 2140, Bitcoin will cap at 21 million total coins in circulation, meaning no more tokens will be mined after that, ever. The Bitcoin network is currently producing roughly 900 tokens per day. Originally, the halving event was supposed to happen in May, but it got pushed up due to increased demand.

I’m going to hold on to my biggest Bitcoin hot take for now, but expect to see one as my Bet of the Week very soon.

Apple Pulls the Plug on its Decade-long Electric Car Project

After 10 years of development, Apple has decided to nix its electric vehicle plans coined Project Titan, the company told employees on Tuesday. Apple CEO Tim Cook first announced the tech company’s plans to foray into the auto industry in 2017, even though reports surfaced in 2014 that Apple was building a driverless car. Apple had nearly 2,000 employees working on Project Titan, and some of them will be relocated to other AI teams while others will be laid off. Apple’s EV ambitions have been plagued with reorganizations and new leadership shuffles over the years.

Apple spent billions on its EV project, but its investors seem to be pleased it stopped development since the Big Tech company’s stock rose by 1% following the internal announcement that was prematurely leaked to the press.

TikTok Removes More of Universal Music Group's Catalog from Platform

This week, TikTok began removing more music from Universal Music Group‘s catalog as their battle over royalties continues. UMG’s contract with TikTok ended on Jan. 31, and the pair decided not to renew it after they failed to reach a new agreement on royalties for artists and songwriters. Initially, TikTok only removed music owned and distributed by UMG, but it extended its removal to include songs published by the music company as well. That even includes some songs with non-UMG artists who feature songwriters and artists under UMG’s umbrella.

It seems like TikTok and UMG are inching further away from reaching a new agreement, but I still have faith the companies will come to some sort of resolution sooner rather than later.

Tech Talk Reviews: Bose Ultra Open Earbuds

Audio giant Bose recently launched the Ultra Open Earbuds, a new product I’ve been testing for the last month. The earbuds feature a fashion-forward, cuff-like design, and they were built for users to hear their favorite audio and physical surroundings at the same time. I shared my thoughts on Bose’s newest device in the latest edition of Tech Talk Reviews, a series highlighting my experience testing new tech gadgets, emerging platforms, apps, games, and more.

  • Elon Musk is suing Sam Altman and OpenAI, alleging the company has abandoned its founding mission to develop artificial intelligence “for the benefit of humanity broadly.” The lawsuit says that OpenAI‘s focus on maximizing profits for Microsoft negates that.
  • While Google announced the expansion of its Gemini AI tech in its messaging system, wearables, and Android Auto, 32 media groups banded together to hit its parent company, Alphabet, with a $2.3 billion lawsuit filed in a Dutch court. The media companies, including Axel Springer, allege that they suffered losses due to Alphabet‘s digital advertising practices.
  • Automattic, the parent company of WordPress and Tumblr, is nearing a deal to sell user data to OpenAI and Midjourney, 404 Media reports. This could include private and deleted posts, so millennials, it’s time to get back into those Tumblr accounts and see what you posted back in the day.
  • Meta is putting together a team focused on tackling voter disinformation and generative AI abuse in the European Parliament elections in June. The Big Tech giant will launch an Election Operations Center to mitigate threats in real-time.
  • New money: Photo-sharing app Lapse closed a $30 million Series A that will go toward product and team expansion, while Humanoid robot startup Figure AI raised $675 million from notable investors, including Jeff Bezos, Nvidia, Microsoft, and OpenAI.
  • Spotify announced that it paid out nearly $4.5 billion to independent labels and publishers last year, marking a new record for the streaming platform.
  • Sony Interactive Entertainment is shuttering its London PlayStation studio and is laying off 900 employees, or an estimated 8% of its global workforce, from its PlayStation division. The staffing cuts come after Sony also cut its sales forecast for the PS5 after lower demand.

Nokia phone maker HMD announced a collaboration with Mattel to develop the real-life version of the Barbie Flip Phone, which is slated to be released this summer. Nostalgia and the Barbie movie will drive potential interest in the device, so I’m going to bet that sales will at least top 100,000 at launch.