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The Week of Sams
Thursday, June 1st, 2023
1. Sam Bankman-Fried Twisting, Turning and Shifting Blame Onto Anyone But Himself
Well, well, well, it seems that indicted FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried has found a brilliant scapegoat for his alleged crimes of fraud, conspiracy, and bribery: the lawyers! In a somewhat pathetic display of legal acrobatics, Bankman-Fried's attorneys at Cohen & Gresser have filed a motion hinting at blaming Fenwick & West, the law firm that helped establish FTX and Alameda Research. According to the motion, Fenwick & West advised FTX on critical matters like creating shell companies and conveniently neglected to mention the whole money transmitting business registration thing. Bankman-Fried's lawyers seem to be headed towards an "advice of counsel" defense, hoping that Fenwick's documents will exonerate their client. While Fenwick & West has not responded to the queries, it is safe to say they'd rather not hand over client files to Bankman-Fried, especially considering their involvement in a class-action lawsuit by FTX customers.
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2. Roger Federer and Waze: A (Kinda Random) Match Made in Heaven
In probably the most rogue news story we've covered, tennis icon Roger Federer is serving up his skills as the newest voice on Waze, the navigation app that apparently needed a touch of class. With the ability to give directions in English, French, and German, Federer becomes the first person to record custom navigation in three languages. But these aren't your typical, bland and frequently unhelpful directions from Siri. He also adds motivational messages to make your drive feel like you're playing for the Wimbledon title and is here to coach you through the roads with his soothing voice. Quel aléatoire!
3. GetYourGuide's $2 Billion Valuation Ensuring You Meet the Vatican Key Holder at the Crack of Dawn
GetYourGuide, a Berlin-based startup that offers a marketplace for booking tourist experiences, has raised $194 million in funding, defying the challenging market conditions for consumer-oriented startups. The company plans to use the funds to expand into new markets and enhance its offerings, such as organizing exclusive experiences like meeting some dude named Gianni, the Vatican key holder, at 6am and strolling through the halls with him. GetYourGuide also intends to incorporate more A.I. and technology to improve discovery and personalization on its platform, because every startup needs to say they're incorporating A.I. these days. This success is quite remarkable considering that just a while ago, GetYourGuide went from initial success to having zero revenues during the pandemic. It's inspiring to see a company that revolutionized guided tours bounce back, reminding us that even after a global pandemic, people still crave travel experiences that (preferably) can be shared on Instagram.
4. Toyota's Billion-Dollar Investment Better Late Than Never
Toyota, the legendary automaker that has long resisted the electric vehicle (EV) trend, has finally decided to join the party by investing an additional $2.1 billion in a battery plant in North Carolina. In a shocking twist, they even plan to build their first U.S.-made electric SUV in Kentucky, but don't get too excited—it won't be available until 2025. The company, known for its love affair with hydrogen-based vehicles, is now trying to catch up with other automakers by committing to introduce 10 new EV models. However, don't be fooled by Toyota's newfound enthusiasm for EVs. Out of the six production lines in the North Carolina factory, only two will be dedicated to all-electric vehicles, while the other four will be for hybrid EVs. So, if you're looking for a lukewarm commitment to the EV revolution, Toyota's got you covered.
5. Meta Threatens to Grace California with a News Content Blackout
Meta has threatened to pull news content from California if the state passes a bill requiring tech companies to pay publishers. A Meta spokesman Andy Stone referred to the payment structure as a "slush fund" and claimed that the bill would mainly benefit "big, out-of-state media companies" disguised as support for California publishers. This is not the first time Meta has fought against compensating news publishers, as they have previously threatened to remove news from their platform if similar bills were passed at the federal level or in other countries. In a show of solidarity, Google has also threatened to remove news links from Canadian search results in response to proposed legislation there. These companies seem to have a knack for making threats whenever they're asked to pay up. Remember when they threw a tantrum in Australia? Eventually, they struck deals after some amendments were made, but not before briefly shutting down Facebook news feeds in the country. Will Meta and Google ever learn to play nice and support the struggling news industry? We'll have to wait and see. Maybe they just need a timeout.