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By Michelai Graham
Boardroom's Tech Reporter
October 15, 2023

The Meta Quest 3 was officially released on Oct. 10, and while I haven’t gotten my hands on the virtual reality and mixed reality headset just yet, early reviews are looking pretty good for the product.

A peek into today’s edition:

  • Microsoft closes Activision Blizzard deal
  • New legislation could halt AI-generated content
  • OpenAI paces toward $1.3 billion in revenue

Microsoft Puts Video Game World on Notice with $69B Activision Blizzard Acquisition

After beating regulatory scrutiny, Microsoft is finally in the clear to close its $69 billion purchase of gaming giant Activision Blizzard. The Big Tech leader first put its bid in to acquire Activision in January 2022, with its biggest hurdle being UK regulators. After UK regulators approved a revised deal on Friday, Microsoft and Activision shared the news before the ink dried on the contract. The revised acquisition includes giving its rival, Ubisoft, purchasing control of streaming rights to Activision’s current and future console and PC games. The deal brings gaming franchises like Call of Duty, Overwatch, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Halo, and Candy Crush Saga under Microsoft’s roof.

This very well may be the biggest merger in the gaming industry’s history, and it’s for sure the biggest deal Microsoft has pulled off. If I were Sony and PlayStation, I’d be gearing up for war, as Microsoft and Xbox are primed to take over the gaming space for some time.

Sidebar: The IRS reported that Microsoft owes $28.9 billion in back taxes, though the Big Tech company disputes the claim. The agency has been probing Microsoft’s profits, both nationally and internationally, specifically between 2004 and 2013. It is likely Microsoft will fight these fees in court.


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The Bipartisan 'NO FAKES' Act Could Put a Stop to AI Music

I’m pretty sure Ghostwriter expected some talk of lawsuits when they published the viral AI-generated “Heart On My Sleeve” featuring vocals from Drake and The Weeknd, but I can bet bipartisan legislation wasn’t on their bingo card. The track inspired a bipartisan group of US senators to draft legislation to protect musicians, actors, and other entertainers from the unauthorized use of their likenesses. The Nurture Originals, Foster Art, and Keep Entertainment Safe Act — aka the NO FAKES Act — comes the same week Ghostwriter sat down with Billboard for their first exclusive interview.

This new legislation also comes as the PGA Tour’s social media team is under fire after using AI to expand players’ headshots, in which the players of color are portrayed in questionable environments. There is also some controversy around a promotional poster for the second season of Loki since professional designers claim it was partially created using generative AI and a Shutterstock image.

EU Accuses Meta, X of Allowing Disinformation

Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk both received letters from the European Union with threats of investigations into misinformation on Meta’s Facebook and X surrounding the war between Israel and Hamas. The EU is alleging that Zuckerberg and Musk allowed their platforms to spread disinformation. Both tech leaders were urged to respond within 24 hours of receiving the letters, though reports don’t show updates on the matters yet.

More news updates from Meta and X this week:

  • Zuckerberg announced that Threads is rolling out post-edit and voice notes features on Friday.
  • X is rolling out a new display of links, which take away headlines and preview text.
  • Threads is working on launching a feature similar to Twitter’s Trends that we knew and loved.
  • Meta expanded its Sharing to Reels widget for mobile apps to developers to boost third-party offerings.

Sam Bankman-Fried Trial: What We Learned from Week 2

The second week of Sam Bankman-Fried‘s trial has concluded with testimonies from Caroline Ellison, former co-CEO of Alameda Research and SBF’s ex-girlfriend. Ellison was the prosecution’s star witness who painted a picture that SBF kept Alameda and FTX closely tied in order to commit fraud. Ellison said Alameda often used FTX customer funds at the request of SBF to cover the research firm’s financial obligations, which included shelling out business and personal loans. Ellison also had to detail her personal relationship with SBF, and the prosecution had her diary in hand to back her story up.

In the coming weeks, we’ll hear testimonies from a portfolio of witnesses, including Nishad Singh, an FTX co-founder who served as the exchange’s Director of Engineering, and Sam Trabucco, former co-CEO of Alameda Research. I’ll likely continue to share weekly updates on SBF’s trial here in Tech Talk, so please continue to follow along.

In Other News

  • OpenAI is pacing toward generating $1.3 billion a year in revenue, $100 million of which comes in per month. This is up 30% from summer predictions and is due largely in part to ChatGPT subscriptions. Reuters reported that the AI leader is also exploring making its own AI computing chips.
  • Utah state officials are suing TikTok, alleging that it illegally baits children into addictive and unhealthy use of the video-sharing platform. Elsewhere, TikTok and five content creators teamed up to challenge Montana’s ban on the app in front of a federal court this week. Montana’s TikTok ban is scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024.
  • Sony officially announced a slimmer PS5 model coming in November, ranging in price from $499.99 with the drive included and $449.99 for the digital edition. The slim PS5 consoles are 24% lighter in weight than the earlier versions, and disc drives will be sold separately for $79.99.
  • Nvidia canceled its AI conferences in Tel Aviv next week amid safety concerns following the Hamas attack on Israel. CNBC reports that the summit was expected to attract 2,500 developers, researchers, and tech workers and feature more than 60 live sessions. It’s unclear if the event will be rescheduled.
  • Google Cloud launched a new generative AI-powered search tool for healthcare workers, and Google is expanding its AI stoplight program, Project Green Light, to more cities next year. The Big Tech giant is also testing a community notes feed in YouTube’s mobile app.

Joby Aviation Founder JoeBen Bevirt said his company can deliver on launching a commercial air taxi service in 2025. We didn’t get flying cars in 2000 as promised, so I’m going to bet that flying taxis won’t arrive in 2025 or this decade.