Silicon Valley Tech News Roundup – May 14th

The Department of Commerce announces funding to turn cities in middle America into new tech hubs – 5/12

On Friday, the Department of Commerce announced NOFO (the first notice of funding opportunity) for the Regional Technology and Innovation Hub program (also known as Tech Hubs). The government’s initial investment is $500 million and aims to turn cities in middle America into new tech hotspots.

In a call with the media, Gina Raimondo (the Commerce Secretary) stated: “America leads the world in technological innovation. But the sad reality is that our tech ecosystem is extremely concentrated… there’s so much more potential for tech innovation all across the country. In the U.S. we have the best research institutions in the world. That’s indisputable. And frankly, many of them are in America’s heartland, far from the coast.” As she noted, more than 80% of venture capital money is concentrated in San Francisco Bay Area and California.

The current grant opportunity will award applicants designed as Tech Hubs $15 million in planning grants. The Department of Commerce plans to award between five and ten Tech Hub grants of $50 million to $75 million each so they can build out capacity in their area later in the year.

To be eligible, the applicants for the Tech Hub grants must be groups made out of at least one entity that includes: a subdivision of local or state government, a company or industry in relevant manufacturing or tech field, a higher education institution, a workforce training group or labor organization, and economic development group. The Tech Hubs also need to focus on a specific technology like artificial intelligence, cyber security, biotechnology, energy efficiency, robotics, natural disaster prevention, and more.

Gina Raimondo said: “President Biden is so clear on one point, which is that everyone in America deserves a fair shot at economic opportunity, no matter where they live, and they shouldn’t have to move in order to get a good job… Nobody should have to leave their family or support system or network to move to New York or San Francisco just to get a good job.” She also stated the program is an investment in national security.

Linda Yaccarino becomes the new Twitter CEO – 5/13

Elon Musk named Linda Yaccarino as the new Twitter CEO, and she will start her new position in six weeks. He confirmed the news by tweeting: “I am excited to welcome Linda Yaccarino as the new CEO of Twitter!” According to Musk, he will remain in his position as the chief technology officer and executive chairman. Yaccarino will focus on business operations.

Linda Yaccarino previously worked at Turner Entertainment for 15 years. After that, she joined NBCUniversal, where she was the chairman of global advertising and partnerships. She worked on launching the company’s streaming service. Likewise, her work included collaborating with big brands on product placement and advertising opportunities on TV shows.

Twitter relied heavily on ad sales as they made more than 90% of the company’s revenue. After Musk purchased Twitter in October of last year, the advertising revenue plummeted. Pathmatics by Sensor Tower (a digital marketing analysis company) reported top Twitter advertisers pulled their advertising dollars. The revenue from 625 top advertisers (out of 1000) went down by more than 60% from October until January 25th.

Pakistan shuts down mobile internet amid protests – 5/13

On Tuesday, the Pakistan government shut down the internet following the arrest of the country’s former Prime Minister, Imran Khan. The arrest sparked protests across the country.

Khan (a former cricket player) served as Prime Minister from 2018 until 2022. Through a no-confidence motion, he was ousted from office last year. Khan is also facing corruption charges to which he pleaded not guilty. The authorities arrested Khan during a court appearance in Islamabad. Following the arrest, protests erupted all over Pakistan, with more than 40 people arrested and one protestor killed.

Geo News (a Pakistani news outlet) reported The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority cut off mobile internet access on Tuesday to quell the unrest after videos of Khan’s arrest and protests started spreading on social media. According to another report by Geo News, mobile internet will be “suspended for an indefinite period” on the instruction of the country’s interior ministry.

Net Blocks (an international watchdog group) reported the government blocked mobile web services and social media platforms including Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. By Friday, the majority of the country had little access to the internet, and the government arbitrarily applied restrictions across the country.

Tesla forced to recall over 1.1 million of its vehicles in China – 5/12

On Friday, China’s market regulator announced Tesla has to recall over 1.1 million of its vehicles due to a flaw in the regenerative braking system. It amounts to almost all vehicles sold in the country. The recall applies to Tesla vehicles models S, X, 3, and Y imported to or manufactured in China between January 12th, 2019, and April 24th, 2023.

Because the drivers cannot set the intensity of the regenerative braking system or receive updates with a sustained press of the accelerator, China’s market regulator believes it could lead to crashes. Tesla can solve the issue with a software update that fixes the regenerative braking system and allows drivers to customize the system’s strength.

Earlier this year, Tesla had to recall 2,649 vehicles in China after China’s market regulator found a flaw with the hood of certain Model S vehicles.


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