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Amazon Plans to Lay Off 10,000 Employees Days After Twitter, Meta Trimmed Jobs: Report

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By Press Trust of India | Updated: 15 November 2022

Technology giant Amazon plans to lay off 10,000 people in the coming days, adding to the bloodbath being witnessed in the technology world after Twitter and Facebook parent Meta significantly trimmed their workforces.

The New York Times said in a report Monday that Amazon plans to lay off approximately 10,000 people in “corporate and technology jobs starting as soon as this week.” While the NYT said in its report that the total number of layoffs remains “fluid”, the 10,000 people who could be let go represent roughly three percent of Amazon’s corporate employees and less than one percent of its global workforce of more than 1.5 million composed primarily of hourly workers.

“The cuts will focus on Amazon’s devices organisation, including the voice-assistant Alexa, as well as at its retail division and in human resources,” the report said.

Amazon’s layoffs come just weeks after Twitter’s new owner billionaire Elon Musk reduced the social media’s workforce by half and Meta announced it will lay off 13 percent of its workforce or 11,000 employees.

The report of impending layoffs at Amazon also comes on the day its founder Jeff Bezos told CNN he plans to give away the majority of his $124 billion (nearly Rs. 10,04,100 crore) net worth to charity within his lifetime.

Troubled times had been brewing at Amazon as the NYT reported that from April through September, the tech giant reduced its headcount by almost 80,000 people, primarily shrinking its hourly staff through high attrition.

“Amazon froze hiring in several smaller teams in September. In October, it stopped filling more than 10,000 open roles in its core retail business. Two weeks ago, it froze corporate hiring across the company, including its cloud computing division, for the next few months. That news came so suddenly that recruiters did not receive talking points for job candidates until almost a week later, according to a copy of the talking points seen by The New York Times,” it said.

The NYT report said that Amazon’s “planned retrenchment during the critical holiday shopping season — when the company typically has valued stability — shows how quickly the souring global economy has put pressure on it to trim businesses that have been overstaffed or underdelivering for years.

After experiencing its “most profitable era on record” during the COVID-19 pandemic years, which saw exponential growth in online consumer spending, “Amazon’s growth slowed to the lowest rate in two decades, as the bullwhip of the pandemic snapped.” The report noted that during the pandemic years, as consumers flocked to online shopping and companies to Amazon’s cloud computing services, the tech giant doubled its workforce in two years, and channelled its winnings into “expansion and experimentation to find the next big things.” However, as the world recovered from the pandemic and consumers scaled back on online shopping, Amazon faced “high costs from decisions to overinvest and rapidly expand, while changes in shopping habits and high inflation dented sales.” Amazon’s retail business covering its physical and online retail business and its logistics operations has been “under strain” after the surge of demand and “breakneck expansion” during the pandemic, NYT said. Amazon has said it has pulled back expansion plans and has told investors it sees uncertainty with consumers.

“We’re realistic that there are various factors weighing on people’s wallets,” Brian Olsavsky, the finance chief, told investors last month, according to the NYT report. He said the company was unsure where spending was heading, but “we’re ready for a variety of outcomes.” The NYT report added that in recent months, Amazon has shut down or pared back several of its initiatives, including Amazon Care, which provided primary and urgent health care after it failed to find enough customers; Scout, the cooler-size home delivery robot, that employed 400 people and Fabric.com, a subsidiary that sold sewing supplies for three decades.

For Amazon, Devices and Alexa have long been seen internally as at risk for cuts. The NYT report said Alexa and related devices “rocketed to a top company priority as Amazon raced to create the leading voice assistant, which leaders thought could succeed mobile phones as the next essential consumer interface.” From 2017 to 2018, Amazon doubled its staff on Alexa and Echo devices to 10,000 engineers. “At one point, any engineer getting a job offer for other Amazon roles was supposed to also get an offer from Alexa,” it said.

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FIFA World Cup 2022: Cybercriminals Using Fake Sites to Steal Personal Information, IT Security Firm Says

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By Press Trust of India | Updated: 29 November 2022

From fake entry permits and betting sites to fake cryptocurrency, cybercriminals have spun all the tricks to lure football fans in the name of the FIFA World Cup, IT security intelligence firm CloudSEK warned on Monday.

While India is not part of the FIFA World Cup, the Indian community is reportedly estimated to be the largest among the expatriate population in Qatar which is hosting the biggest football tournament.

The Bengaluru-based cyber security firm said that several Telegram channels were found selling Hayya cards (FIFA entry permit) for prices ranging from $50 (roughly Rs. 4,300) to $150 (roughly Rs. Rs. 12,300).

“To create Hayya cards, the threat actors claim to require the buyer’s valid IDs like passports. And payment is only accepted in Bitcoin,” CloudSEK said in a report.

Cyber criminals are also sharing hacking techniques that purportedly allow one to register for a Hayya card without a valid FIFA ticket number, for free.

The technique is based on brute forcing the ticket number based on an alleged ticket number pattern that the threat actor shared.

“Since the FIFA world cup is a popular event, the demand for tickets far exceeds the supply. To exploit this gap between the supply and demand, scammers have set up websites that sell fake tickets,” CloudSEK said.

The threat actors are trying to cheat netizens by selling limited edition fake cryptocurrency as crypto currency platform Crypto.com is an official FIFA sponsor and Binance has partnered with Cristiano Ronaldo to promote soccer-themed NFTs.

“Threat actors are piggy-backing on this hype to sell fake ‘World Cup Coin’ and ‘World Cup Token’ by promoting them as limited edition cryptocurrency. However, most of these purported coins don’t exist,” the report said.

CloudSEK researchers in the report said FIFA sponsors should bolster their security mechanisms and stay up to date on threat actors’ tactics and techniques.

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Amitabh Bachchan Wins Interim Order for Protection of His Personality Rights

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By ANI | Updated: 26 November 2022

Bollywood legend and veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan filed a suit in Delhi High Court seeking protection of his personality rights, image, voice or any of his characteristics without his consent, following which the court passed an interim ex-parte injunction in his favour.

Eminent lawyer Harish Salve along with Ameet Naik and Pravin Anand, instructed by Anand and Naik, appeared for Bachchan in the High Court. The matter was heard before Justice Navin Chawla.

Salve submitted that there is a complete misuse of Amitabh Bachchan’s name, image, voice or any of his characteristics without his consent.

“The misuse of his name, image and voice, especially by the mobile application developers, and people conducting lottery by illegally associating with KBC, book publishers, T-shirt vendors and various other businesses, has prompted Mr Amitabh Bachchan to approach the High Court, seeking a restraining order against the use of his personality traits,” Salve said.

The lawyer for Amitabh Bachchan also brought to the notice of the Delhi High Court that alleged infringers have illegally registered Bachchan’s name as web-domain names such as www.amitabhbachchan.com and www.amitabhbachchan.in.

Delhi High Court’s Justice Navin Chawla noted that the plaintiff/Amitabh Bachchan alleges a violation of his publicity right as a celebrity.

The court further noted that it could not seriously be disputed that the plaintiff is a very well-known personality and is aggrieved by the usage of his name, image voice etc without his consent.

“I am of the opinion that the plaintiff has been able to make out prima facie case in his favour. The defendants appear to be using celebrity status without his authorization, permission and consent,” the HC judge said.

Justice Navin Chawla in his interim order passed an interim ex-parte injunction in favour of the Plaintiff/ Amitabh Bachchan and against the defendants.

The plea stated that there is an infringement of the Plaintiff’s personality through various manners like digital means, instant messaging apps, physical means etc.

The digital means include several websites and mobile apps that have been found misappropriating the plaintiff’s photographs and/or other characteristics, to create popularity amongst the public and to entice members of the public to download such mobile apps.

The instant messaging apps include several unscrupulous parties that have been found using Bachchan’s photograph along with his name, and the representation of a TV Show Kaun Banega Crorepati (which is associated with Bachchan), to scam the public into believing that Kaun Banega Crorepati is offering lottery prizes to the members of the public.

The physical means include the cases where dishonest traders physically affix the actor’s images and posters on their places of business, on billboards or even on products that they engage in the manufacture and sale of, with the aim to unlawfully show a nexus/affiliation/sponsorship/association with the plaintiff, so as to boost their illegal profits.

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Amazon Said to End Two EU Antitrust Probes by Year-End to Avoid Fine

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By Reuters | Updated: 26 November 2022

US online retail giant Amazon may be able to end two EU antitrust investigations by the end of the year after tweaking concessions to address concerns over its use of sellers’ data, two people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

Settling the EU investigations means the company will avoid a fine of as much as 10 percent of its global turnover.

Faced with charges of using its size, power and data to push its own products to gain an unfair advantage over rival merchants that also use its platform, Amazon in July offered to refrain from using sellers’ data for its own competing retail business and its private label products.

The European Commission then sought feedback from rivals and customers and subsequently said the company needed to improve its concession.

Amazon has increased the range of data which it cannot use, one of the people said.

“It is possible an EU decision will come by the end of the year,” the person said.

The EU competition enforcer declined to comment.

Asked for comment, Amazon reiterated that it had engaged constructively with the Commission to address their concerns.

The company’s other concession is equal treatment of sellers when ranking their offers for the “buy box” on its website that generates the bulk of its sales.

It has offered to set up a second buy box for a rival product if it differs substantially in price and delivery from the product in the first box.

Bloomberg was the first to report the possibility of an EU decision by the end of the year.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Google May Use Performance Management System to Lay Off Underperforming Workers in 2023: Report

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By ANI | Updated: 23 November 2022

Amidst layoffs and a slowing down of the hiring process being seen by large companies as an avenue to strengthen their revenues, global tech major Google has introduced a new performance management system, which could push out thousands of underperforming employees, according to reports.

As per a report by The Information, a new performance management system, which once implemented early next year, could make way for human resource managers to push out underperforming Google employees.

The tech publication also said Google’s managers could also use the performance ratings to avoid paying employees bonuses and stocks.

“Under the new system, managers have been asked to categorise 6 percent of employees, or roughly 10,000 people, as low performers in terms of their impact on the business,” The Information reported quoting people with knowledge of the new system.

In the previous performance review system, managers were expected to put 2 percent of employees in that bucket, the reports said.

Recently, some of the global tech leaders -Amazon, Twitter, and Meta have laid off thousands of employees.

Twitter head Elon Musk after having taken over the micro-blogging site was set to cut roughly half of Twitter’s 7,500-person global workforce.

Further, the New York Times last week reported that Amazon too was planning to lay off approximately 10,000 employees in corporate and technology roles. The report said the cuts would be the largest in the company’s history.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has announced that it was laying off about 11,000 employees, or 13 per cent of its global workforce. It’s the first mass redundancy exercise for the 18-year-old social media behemoth.

Reports also said Microsoft too has enforced job cuts.

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NPCI Said to Be in Talks With RBI on Implementing 30 Percent UPI Volume Cap Deadline

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By Press Trust of India |  Updated: 21 November 2022

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), which runs the UPI digital pipeline, is in talks with the Reserve Bank on implementation of its proposed December 31 deadline for limiting the volume cap of players to 30 percent. At present, there is no volume cap. So, two players, Google Pay and PhonePe, account for a market share of about 80 per cent. NPCI in November 2022 had proposed a 30 percent volume cap for third-party app providers (TPAP) in a bid to avoid concentration risk.

In this regard, sources said, a meeting was convened to comprehensively look at all aspects. Besides NPCI officials, senior officials of the finance ministry and RBI also participated in this.

At the moment, NPCI is evaluating all the possibilities and no final decision has been taken to extend the December 31 deadline, the sources said.

NPCI has also received representations from industry stakeholders to extend the deadline and they are being examined, they added.

According to the sources, NPCI is likely to decide on the issue of UPI market cap implementation by this month-end.

NPCI in 2020 came up with a directive to cap the share of transactions a third-party application provider (TPAP) could process at 30 percent of the volume of transactions handled on UPI, effective January 1, 2021, which is to be calculated on the basis of the volume of transactions processed during the preceding three months.

NPCI has also received representations from industry stakeholders to extend the deadline and they are being examined, they added.

According to the sources, NPCI is likely to decide on the issue of UPI market cap implementation by this month-end.

NPCI in 2020 came up with a directive to cap the share of transactions a third-party application provider (TPAP) could process at 30 percent of the volume of transactions handled on UPI, effective January 1, 2021, which is to be calculated on the basis of the volume of transactions processed during the preceding three months.

The government later issued a statement noting that UPI is a digital public good with immense convenience and productivity gains for the economy, and there are no plans to levy any charges for UPI services.

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FIFA 2022: Madras HC Blocks TV Cable, Internet Service Providers From Streaming World Cup Matches

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By Press Trust of India | Updated: 21 November 2022

The Madras High Court has restrained the cable and internet service providers in certain countries from telecasting the football matches to be held at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar from November 20. Justice M Sundar granted the injunction on Friday while passing interim orders on an application arising out of a civil suit from Viacom-18 Media.

The petitioner has made out a prima facie case for the grant of the injunction, the judge said. It is the owner of the copyright in the sporting event. It will lead to an irreversible situation and therefore, irreparable injury incapable of compensation parameter has also been satisfied, the judge said.

“Therefore, there shall be an order of interim injunction restraining the respondents herein or any other person or entity from infringing the copyright in the sporting event FIFA World Cup 2022 in any manner so as to prevent copying, transmission, communication, displaying, releasing, showing, hosting, streaming, uploading, downloading, exhibiting, playing and exhibition of the event,” the judge said.

For this purpose, if blocking of websites/web pages becomes necessary, the authorities concerned shall do so. The interim injunction shall operate for a period of four weeks, i.e., upto December 16 on the above terms, the judge added and posted the matter for further hearing on that day.

Earlier, the plaintiff submitted that it was granted licence and various media rights, including exclusive TV and radio, mobile transmission rights for the territories of of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and by the Federation Internationale De Football Association (FIFA) qua FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

In this situation, several cable and internet service providers are involved in illegal activities and unauthorised retransmitting, recording, streaming, audio-visual clips and full sports event that are transmitted by the plaintiff and such activities would cause heavy loss, damage and prejudice to the plaintiff. It has exclusive rights to broadcast the event.

It has invested substantial sums of money in acquiring the licence and exclusive rights, according to the plea.

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