Silicon Valley Tech News Roundup – November 26th
Sam Altman back as CEO of OpenAI – 11/23
Sam Altman is back as the CEO of OpenAI less than a week after he was ousted by the Board of Directors last Friday.
On Monday, hundreds of OpenAI employees signed an open letter stating if Altman is not reinstated and the Board of Directors does not resign, they would leave the company and move to work for Microsoft. Meanwhile, that same day, Satya Nadella (the CEO of Microsoft) stated on X that Microsoft would hire Altman and Greg Brockman (the Co-Founder of OpenAI who resigned on Friday) and that they would start a new AI lab within Microsoft.
On Wednesday, OpenAI confirmed it agreed to reinstate Altman back to the position of the CEO and reconstitute the Board of Directors that has ousted him. Altman also confirmed the news on X.
Following the news, Satya Nadella stated Microsoft (one of OpenAI’s biggest investors) is “encouraged by the changes to the OpenAI board.” Further, he added: “We believe this is a first essential step on a path to more stable, well-informed, and effective governance.”
Changpeng Zhao pleads guilty to money laundering charges and resigns from Binance – 11/22
Changpeng Zhao (the former CEO of Binance) pleaded guilty to money laundering charges and agreed to a plea deal with the U. S. Department of Justice.
The DOJ disclosed the case against Binance on Tuesday. It revealed the DOJ brought three criminal charges against the cryptocurrency exchange including conspiracy, conducting unlicensed money-transmitting business, and violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. The DOJ ordered Binance to pay $4.3 billion in fines and forfeitures. The spokesperson for the DOJ stated: “Binance enabled nearly $900 million in transactions between US and Iranian users, and facilitated millions of dollars in transactions between US users and users in Syria, and in the Russian occupied Ukrainian regions of Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk.”
Meanwhile, Zhao pleaded guilty to violating and causing a financial institution to violate the Bank Secrecy Act. The DOJ wants him to pay $50 million in fines. He has been released on a $175 million bond and the court scheduled his sentencing hearing for February 23rd.
In a post on X, Zhao stated: “I made mistakes, and I must take responsibility. This is best for our community, for Binance, and for myself.” He also stated he is proud of the fact the DOJ did not claim Binance misappropriated users’ funds or participated in market manipulations.
Zhao named Richard Teng, the former global head of regional markets, the new CEO. Teng stated on X: “With CZ, and our leadership team’s support I have accepted this role so that we can continue to meet and exceed the expectations of stakeholders while achieving our core mission, the freedom of money.”
Valeo sues Nvidia for stealing its tech secrets – 11/24
Valeo, a French car tech company, is suing Nvidia after a former employee revealed its source code files when mistakenly sharing them during a video call with members from both companies.
Mohammad Moniruzzaman, an engineer with Nvidia who previously worked for Valeo, shared the source codes of Valeo’s proprietary software by mistake during a video call when he shared the screen with members from both companies. Before he realized his mistake, Valeo’s employees took screenshots of the code.
Valeo and Nvidia are working on advanced driving and parking assistance technology. In the lawsuit, Valeo claims Moniruzzaman took gigabytes of data while working for the German arm of the company in 2021. He left that year to join Nvidia. In 2023, German authorities convicted him of unlawfully holding the data. The lawsuit claims: “When questioned by the German police, Mr Moniruzzaman admitted to stealing Valeo’s software and using that software while employed at Nvidia… In fact, Mr Moniruzzaman did not deny the charge of the crime at any point during the German criminal investigation.”
The German conviction resulted in Valeo’s lawsuit against Nvidia for stealing trade secrets. The lawsuit claims: “Nvidia has saved millions, perhaps hundreds of millions, of dollars in development costs, and generated profits that it did not properly earn and to which it was not entitled… In using these stolen trade secrets to develop a competing product, Nvidia has diminished the value of Valeo’s trade secrets.”
Valeo filed the lawsuit in California. It demands damages and the court to issue an injunction against Nvidia to prohibit it and its affiliates from using the Valeo code. Valeo submitted a letter from Nvidia as a part of the lawsuit. Lawyers representing Nvidia claim the company was unaware of the employee’s action until May 2022, when he informed the company he is under investigation.
Lawsuit against Meta reveals it “covets” under-13 demographic and fails to disable the accounts once discovered – 11/26
On Tuesday, an unsealed complaint from the lawsuit filed by 33 states against Meta revealed the company is aware children under the age of 13 use its platforms, and it is an “open secret” within the company. Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges Meta “coveted and pursued” the under-13 demographic on Instagram.
Meta’s policies for Instagram and Facebook stipulate an individual must be at least 13 years of age to join the platforms. However, it is easy to bypass the policy. The lawsuit alleges Meta is aware of that and has done little to prevent it. The complaint claims when Meta “received over 1.1 million reports of under-13 users on Instagram” between 2019. and 2023. it “disabled only a fraction of those accounts, and routinely continued to collect children’s data without parental consent.”
According to the lawsuit, Meta “routinely violates” the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 by targeting children and collecting their data without parental consent. Furthermore, the prosecutors claim the company exposes children to potentially harmful content, manipulates users into spending too much time on its platforms, and promotes body dysmorphia.