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By Michelai Graham
Boardroom's Tech Reporter
October 8, 2023

Regulators are not letting up on Big Tech giants. The UK is moving to investigate Amazon and Microsoft‘s cloud services after discovering that the companies account for 70-80% of the region’s cloud infrastructure services.

A peek into today’s edition: 

  • The US vs. Sam Bankman-Fried trial is underway.
  • Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella testifies in Google’s antitrust trial.
  • Google Bard and virtual assistant join forces.

The US vs. Sam Bankman-Fried Trial Begins

Sam Bankman-Fried is finally getting his day in court this week, where he is facing 12 charges spanning wire fraud and conspiracy, money laundering, and securities fraud. I laid out all the key facts you need to know about SBF and the collapse of his business empire, including details on some of the expected witnesses who will take the stand. Caroline Ellison, former co-CEO of Alameda Research, FTX co-founder and CTO Gary Wang, and Nishad Singh, FTX co-founder and former head of engineering, are slated to testify against their former boss. The trial is expected to last up to six weeks in a Southern District of New York Court. In opening statements, SBF’s defense said he acted in good faith and didn’t steal from anyone, while the prosecution said he purposely built his empire on lies to profit billions.

Federal prosecutors did not offer SBF a plea deal. If this trial doesn’t go his way, he’s facing up to 115 years in prison.

P.S. — I’m about 30% through Michael Lewis’s highly-anticipated book about SBF, Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon. I have a lot of thoughts, but preliminary, Lewis paints SBF as a misunderstood genius who often found himself disconnected from people and the world around him. While this might be true, that doesn’t give him a pass to be an alleged criminal.


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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Testifies in Google's Antitrust Trial

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella testified in Google‘s antitrust trial, telling the federal court that Google has an overwhelming power over the online search engine game. Nadella called the internet the “Google web” during his testimony and painted a picture that Microsoft could never compete with Google to become the default search engine. Now, it’s important to note that Google does maintain roughly 90% of the online search industry, but whether it used illegal tactics to get there is what’s up for debate in the courtroom. This could be another big blow to Google in the Department of Justice’s historic antitrust trial against the company. Nadella is the government’s highest-profile witness to take the stand, and his testimony lasted nearly four hours. A Google employee also testified this week that the Big Tech giant alters search queries to generate results that would drive users to make purchases.

So, what would happen if Google loses in its antitrust lawsuit battle with the DOJ? The likely outcome is that the government could force Google to break up its business offerings, much like the SEC is trying to push Amazon to do. For example, Google’s Chrome browser could be forced to spin off into its own company.

But there is still much to learn. The trial is expected to last for up to seven more weeks.

Tom Hanks, MrBeast & Gayle King Warn of Deepfake AI Scams

Tom Hanks, MrBeast, and Gayle King are the latest celebrities to fall victim to deepfake scams powered by artificial intelligence-generated versions of them. King warned her followers on social media that the AI video floating around about her promoting a weight loss product was not real and derived from a video she posted to promote her radio show. An AI dupe of Hanks appeared in an advertisement promoting a dental plan, so he took to his Instagram to send a similar message to his followers. YouTube creator MrBeast went as far as to call AI-generated content using peoples’ likenesses without their consent a serious problem. An AI-generated advertisement featuring MrBeast touted an Apple iPhone 15 giveaway, which posed a bigger problem since the creator recently inked a sponsorship deal with Samsung. MrBeast took to X to ask how social media platforms are gearing up to handle the rise of AI deepfakes. It’ll take way more than an AI-generated content tag.

Paris Hilton Partners With X as the Platform Battles Multiple Lawsuits

Paris Hilton and her company 11:11 Media inked a partnership deal with X that covers an array of content and commerce opportunities and includes a revenue-sharing agreement. Users can expect to see Hilton appear in content across X’s video, live video, shopping, and Spaces features. Now, it wouldn’t be X to announce some good news if bad news didn’t quickly follow. This week, Florida-based social media advertising agency X Social Media filed a lawsuit against X, alleging trademark infringement. X owner Elon Musk is battling a few lawsuits of his own as well. First, a man sued Musk and accused him of libel for applying social media posts that falsely identified him in a racially charged altercation. The US Securities and Exchange Commission is also suing Musk, alleging that he didn’t adhere to a subpoena to testify over his purchase of Twitter.

  • Google unveiled its next generation of mobile devices, the Pixel 8, with improved cameras, AI photo-editing tools, and a brighter screen. At its recent product event, the Big Tech company also announced that it’s adding its generative AI chatbot Bard to its virtual assistant product.
  • Generative AI leader Anthropic is in talks with big investors to raise $2 billion in fresh funding following a $1.25 billion commitment from Amazon and another undisclosed amount from Google.
  • Apple is releasing a special update for all iPhone 15 and Pro Max models to address iOS 17 glitches that are causing the devices to overheat and surpass 100 degrees.
  • Visa launched a $100 million generative AI ventures initiative to invest in startups building generative AI technologies and applications that will impact commerce and payment services.
  • Amazon is pulling back on its live audio ambitions and shutting down operations for its live audio platform Amp a year and a half after launching it. Elsewhere in the audio biz, Spotify is making select audiobooks free to paid subscribers.
  • Nike’s Web3 platform and virtual studio .SWOOSH is bringing its first digital sneaker to life with the drop of the Air Force 1 Low ‘TINAJ,’ available exclusively to .SWOOSH members.

Meta is testing a $14-a-month subscription service in the UK for users who want an advertisement-free Instagram or Facebook experience. TikTok is also internationally testing a similar feature for $4.99 a month. Since social networks don’t operate like streaming services, I’m going to bet that this offering won’t thrive in the US.