Silicon Valley Tech News Roundup – July 16th
Microsoft reports that China-based hackers targeted 25 organizations – 7/13
Microsoft reported that China-based hackers managed to breach the email accounts of 25 organizations in the latest cyber attack. Among the organizations affected are several government agencies.
Microsoft claims Chinese hacking group Storm-0558 is behind the attack and that it started in May. According to the Microsoft report, the hackers forged digital authentication tokens required by the system and managed to breach the emails. Furthermore, the company claims it managed to mitigate the attack. The report reads: “We added substantial automated detections for known indicators of compromise associated with this attack… and we have found no evidence of further access.”
Department of Commerce confirmed Microsoft notified them about the attack and, based on some reports, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo’s email was impacted. Department of Commerce released a statement: “Microsoft notified the Department of a compromise to Microsoft’s Office 365 system, and the Department took immediate action to respond… We are monitoring our systems and will respond promptly should any further activity be detected.” According to some news outlets, hackers also targeted the State Department.
The Chinese embassy in London refuted the claims to Reuters by saying they were “disinformation.” The Chinese officials also stated the US government is “the world’s biggest hacking empire and global cyber thief.”
Threads engagement drops off after the debut – 7/13
Based on the reports published by SimilarWeb and SensorTower, growth and engagement for Threads dropped since the weekend. However, Threads remains one of the fastest-debuting apps, with a reported 100 million sign-ups in five days.
SimilarWeb (digital data and analytics company) reported a drop of 25% in daily active users since the launch (July 7th) until Monday. The report applies to Android users worldwide, while the iOS data is still unavailable. Likewise, the usage time halfed (from 20 to 8 minutes).
SensorTower (a marketing intelligence company) reported similar data. Anthony Bartolacci (managing director of SensorTower) stated: “These early returns signal that despite the hoopla during its launch, it will still be an uphill climb for Threads to carve out space in most users’ social network routine.” But Bartolacci stated there is no denying Threads’ successful debut: “The Threads launch really did ‘break the internet,’ or at least the Sensor Tower models… In the 10-plus years Sensor Tower has been estimating app installs, the first 72 hours of Threads was truly in a class by itself.”
Meta’s spokesperson said of the launch: ” While it’s early days, we’re excited about the initial success of Threads, which has surpassed our expectations. We launched the app just over a week ago, and our focus now is on ensuring stable performance, delivering new features and continuing to improve the experience in the coming months.”
Binance plans to lay off up to 3000 people because of the Department of Justice investigation – 7/14
According to a report published by CNBC and a source familiar with the matter, Binance plans to lay off between 1500 and 3000 employees because of the ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice. Another report published by the Wall Street Journal claims Binance laid off 1000 people already.
The Department of Justice investigation is expected to result in either a settlement or a consent decree. Among the charges considered are sanctions evasion charges and anti-money laundering violations. Charges of both would mean Binance would encounter problems getting a license to operate. If Binance decides to settle, it could mean a multi-billion dollar payment.
Binance’s spokesperson denied the company would let go up to 3000 people. The statement reads: “As we prepare for the next major bull cycle, it has become clear that we need to focus on talent density across the organization to ensure we remain nimble and dynamic. This is not a case of rightsizing, but rather, re-evaluating whether we have the right talent and expertise in critical roles.”
The Department of Justice investigation is the latest challenge Binance faces. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued Binance and its founder Changpeng Zhao for violating securities law. SEC alleges Binance worked on attracting U. S. customers to its unregulated international exchange and mixed customers’ funds with their own. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed a similar lawsuit against the company in March.
Musk says Twitter’s cash flow is negative and ad revenue dropped 50% – 7/15
On Saturday, Elon Musk said Twitter’s cash flow is still negative because of a 50% drop in advertising revenue and heavy debt. Musk tweeted: “We’re still negative cash flow, due to ~50% drop in advertising revenue plus heavy debt load. Need to reach positive cash flow before we have the luxury of anything else.”
Musk’s statement comes after Twitter started paying out content creators via its ad-revenue-sharing program. The program is available only to users of Twitter Blue verified subscription service. Musk was replying to Twitter users who wanted to know why is the ad-revenue-sharing program so limited in scope. Many users with a significant following on the platform wanted to know why they did not qualify.
Among the users who received the payments are several right-wing influencers.