London Uber strike
Uber drivers protested on Wednesday.
REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

Good morning! This is the tech news you need to know this Thursday.

  1. Uber and Lyft drivers across the world went on strike on Wednesday over pay, conditions, and the firm’s “orgy of greed.” The strike came ahead of Uber’s IPO, which promises to make investors such as founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick richer by potentially billions of dollars.
  2. Google took a major shot at Apple’s iPhone camera while announcing its new $400 Pixel smartphone. “What other smartphone cameras try to do with expensive hardware, we can deliver with software and AI — including high-end computational photography,” said Google VP of product management Sabrina Ellis.
  3. Facebook is loosening its ban on crypto ads as rumours swirl about its blockchain project. Advertisements on the social network about blockchain technology and industry news will no longer require pre-approval.
  4. Disney took a $353 million write-down of its stake in Vice, its second huge impairment on the investment in the last year. Disney wrote down another $157 million of its stake in the September 2018 quarter.
  5. Amazon revealed it was a target of “extensive” fraud impacting seller accounts. Hackers broke in to about 100 seller accounts and took the loan money intended to be used for business and startup costs.
  6. A Slack director is in hot water with the SEC for saying the company, which just filed to go public, “will be one of the most important tech companies in the world.” His comments appeared to violate “quiet period” rules that govern companies that have filed to go public.
  7. Waymo’s top scientist and CTO said that Elon Musk’s approach to self-driving cars is “very risky.” On Wednesday at an event at Google’s developer’s conference, I/O, Waymo executives said that Musk’s decision to leave out lidar from Tesla’s autonomous approach was a risk factor.
  8. A US senator introduced a bill to ban “loot boxes” in video games, the Washington Post reports. “Social media and video games prey on user addiction, siphoning our kids’ attention from the real world and extracting profits from fostering compulsive habits,” said Sen. Josh Hawley in a statement.
  9. Employees at NPM, a startup that provides a crucial service for 11 million software developers, have signed an open letter demanding better working conditions. In March, NPM faced a backlash from employees and users for its handling of the layoff of 5 employees.
  10. A week after the sudden departure of Bob Muglia, new Snowflake CEO Frank Slootman replaced two key executives with veterans of his previous employer. One analyst echoed speculation that Slootman was hired to lead Snowflake to an IPO, sooner rather than later.
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