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Facebook appoints Treasury’s Kimmitt as lead independent board director

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Facebook has filled the lead independent board director role with former Deputy Secretary of the Treasury and U.S. Ambassador to Germany Robert M. Kimmitt. His job will be to serve as the go-between connecting Facebook CEO and controlling shareholder Mark Zuckerberg with the rest of the board.

Meanwhile, the CEO of The Cranemere Group Limited Jeffrey D. Zients will not seek re-election to Facebook’s board at the 2020 annual meeting, but will serve until then. Kimmitt replaces Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann, who was the former lead independent director but left the board in October.

When Zients departs, the only remaining independent directors besides Kimmitt will be long-time Zuckerberg loyalists and Facebook early investors Marc Andreessen and Peter Thiel. They, Zuckerberg, and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg will be the only board members who’ve been on the job more than a year.

“The lead independent director is an important role for us and we’ve been looking for a leader who can bring significant oversight and governance experience” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced. “Bob has deep experience working in business, technology and public policy at the highest levels — serving in senior roles at the Treasury, State, and Defense departments under multiple presidents, as US Ambassador to Germany, and on the National Security Council. He has also served as president of a public technology company in Silicon Valley” Zuckerberg wrote.

Before serving with the U.S. Treasury from 2005 to 2009, 72-year-old Kimmitt was on Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which has been eying Chinese Facebook competitor TikTok and how it acquired Musically to become a giant in short-form video. The Vietnam combat veteran was a Major General in the Army Reserve. He was also the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs during the Gulf War.

In the private sector, Ambassador Kimmitt was Executive Vice President of Global Public Policy at Time Warner, President of Commerce One, a partner at Wilmer Cutler & Pickering, and a managing director at Lehman Brothers. He’s now the Senior International Counsel at law firm WilmerHale.

“I am excited to take on this leadership role on Facebook’s board, as the company continues to improve the ways technology and innovation can bring us together” said Kimmitt.

Kimmitt’s appointment comes after several concerning changes to the board recently. Kenneth Chenault left the board at the beginning of the month following his push for Facebook to do more to protect elections, given its refusal to fact-check political ads. Disagreements with Zuckerberg about political policy led to Chenault’s exit.

In February, Zuckerberg’s friend Drew Houston, the co-founder of Dropbox, joined the board in what felt like a chummy appointment. Former White House Chief Of Staff Erskine Bowles and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings left in April 2019.

The board now consists of Zuckerberg, Kimmitt, Zients until the annual meeting, Sandberg, Thiel, Andreessen, Houston, PayPal’s Peggy Alford, McKinsey’s Nancy Killefer, and Estee Lauder’s Tracey T. Travis.

Fewer checks on Zuckerberg’s near-total power could make Facebook more efficient and decisive, but less able to foresee problems that those further removed from its rhetoric might predict.

TechCrunch

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Eight dogs at risk of being “destroyed” if not found homes

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Eight dogs at risk of being “destroyed” if not found homes

SAN ANGELO, Texas (Concho Valley Homepage) — Concho Valley PAWS posted on their Facebook page today that eight dogs are currently at risk of being “destroyed” if not found homes by 5 p.m. Friday, February 10, 2023.

Editors note: A ninth dog has been added to the list on the City of San Angelos’s Facebook page

The San Angelo Animal Shelter is currently at capacity with 180 dogs on the premise with more on the way.

CC PAWS

Listed below is a description of each at-risk dog from Concho Valley PAWS:

Leavey is a neutered male husky. High energy! Needs training and PAWS will provide new owners with professional training. He is 2 years and plays well in playgroup but requires 6 ft. fencing. No cats!

Charming is a 2-year-old male All-American Mix and prefers to be an only dog. He may do well with a submissive female in the home. He needs leash training. He does well with older children. He is still shy and a bit fearful so younger children may scare him. No cats!

Zeus is around 5 years old. He is a male lab mix that loves humans but not other animals. He does well on a leash and in a kennel. He’s neutered and ready to go home TODAY! No Cats!

Gilgo has anxiety issues and needs patience. He is GREAT with other dogs but does not trust humans and fear prevents him from showing well to adopters. He has the potential to be someone’s best friend. He needs a kind and patient soul to invest time and effort and we know he’s worth it! We are unsure if he will get along with cats.

Yowza is a female lab mix. She is one year old and has spent her life in the shelter and hasn’t even had a chance. She deserves to know what it’s like to be a part of a loving family! She’s high energy and needs training – she’s been confined her entire life. She does great with other dogs in the playgroup! PAWS will provide new owners with professional training. We are unsure if she will get along with cats.

Gummy Bear came to the shelter from a hoarding situation. He is shy and standoffish. He is fearful of men. He does great with other dogs – he lived in a home with 20 small dogs. But humans he does not trust. He is a male All-American breed approximately 3 years old.

Chewie is dog-selective and kennel reactive. He could benefit from living in a foster home where we could better get to know who he really is without the stress of the shelter environment. He is a large 60lb male dog and is approximately 2 years old.

Tac is a super fun boy with zero manners. Prior to living in the shelter, he had no opportunity for proper socialization or training. He has the potential to be a fantastic dog. He is loving and playful and has joy in life. PAWS will provide professional training for his new owner or foster.

Cheyenne is the ninth dog at risk and is listed as a Terrier, American Pit Bull / Mix. She is four years and six months old.

If interested, please contact [email protected] as soon as possible.

Click here for an Adoption Application

Click here for a Foster Application

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Layoffs Alone Won’t Solve Tech’s Problems: Parmy Olson

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Layoffs Alone Won’t Solve Tech’s Problems: Parmy Olson

The world’s largest tech companies are promising across the board to spend less, new territory for an industry that thrives on perks. Already last year, Facebook parent Meta Platforms shut down its laundry service for staff, and in January of this year, Alphabet’s Google included more than 30 massage therapists in its first big round of layoffs.

Tech giants are tightening up on fringe benefits and showing their talent the door. But there is still more to do.

Hiring freezes and cutting perks are the easy part. Now, having grown fat on old business models and morphed into sprawling bureaucracies, Silicon Valley’s biggest firms must become innovative again. That means spearheading a shift in culture away from protecting mini-fiefdoms and more toward getting ideas in motion and product features out the door. That’s an entirely new challenge for big tech’s stable, mostly technocrat leaders. Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg, and Google parent Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai have overseen years of continued growth largely by keeping things ticking along.

When the pandemic came, their steady growth went into overdrive. Collective profits at Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft grew by 55 percent in 2021 from an already eye-popping baseline. Their combined $1.4 trillion (roughly Rs. 1,15,83,670 crore) in sales would have made them the world’s 13th largest economy, overtaking Australia.

Now with shares and growth under pressure, Zuckerberg is talking about flattening his leadership structure and trimming middle management. Pichai wants to “re-engineer the company’s cost base in a durable way.” That will mean more layoffs because even the latest, painful cuts haven’t brought staffing levels anywhere close to pre-pandemic levels.

Facebook hired about 30,000 new staffers during the pandemic while Alphabet went on an even bigger hiring spree, swelling its ranks by 68,000 to 187,000. But Meta and Google have announced 11,000 and 12,000 job cuts, respectively, so far. Microsoft, which hired 58,000 people in the two years following the start of the pandemic, said last month that it was cutting 10,000 positions. The painful truth is that for these companies to earn the market’s trust in their pledges for efficiency, cuts will need to continue through 2023.

They also will have to continue to get the most out of their top talent, who might be less inclined to stay loyal to their employers now that they know that their bosses could cut them loose at any time.

An equally difficult task will be changing tech’s management culture. Already last year, months before the layoffs began, Zuckerberg and Pichai were telling staff they needed to work harder, with “greater urgency,” in the words of the Alphabet chief executive, and to come to the office more frequently.

Google especially needs to get better at executing on new product features. For all the attention that the company receives about its exciting moonshot projects, Google is notoriously conservative in its release of new products and services, because it doesn’t want to tinker too much with its $150 billion (roughly Rs. 12,41,000 crore) search business or its lucrative ad-tech operation. But the search business has come under threat from ChatGPT and other AI tools that generate conversational answers to any query.

Under pressure to respond, Google on Monday said it would soon release a ChatGPT competitor called Bard to the public. The service will be powered by LaMDA, Google’s highly sophisticated large language model. Google has rarely moved so quickly to develop a product, marking a risky new era for the company while it’s simultaneously trying to cut back on spending.

Doing more with less is much harder than it sounds for companies in Silicon Valley, who are used to throwing money at problems to make them go away. At least they know that needs to change. Meta Chief Technology Officer Andrew “Boz” Bosworth said in an email to the company’s 18,000 Reality Labs employees, who are driving its metaverse efforts, that “we have solved too many problems by adding headcount.” Now Meta needs to learn to solve problems by innovating and executing.

Zuckerberg used the word “efficient” or “efficiency” approximately 40 times in his earnings call with analysts last week. (By comparison, he mentioned “metaverse” just seven times.) Investors liked that direction of travel so much that they sent Meta’s shares up by more than 20 percent after earnings day, despite a miss on profit estimates.

A looming question is how much all this talk of efficiency from Alphabet, Meta, and Microsoft, the world’s biggest internet and software companies, will lead to real improvements. And if it doesn’t, will investors care? Meta’s rally last week could be a sign that investors are looking for any excuse to resume their love affair with some of the most profitable companies in history. Who wants to agitate for efficiencies from companies (barring Amazon) that have regular quarterly net margins of around 30 percent? Compare that with two other popular stocks, Walmart, and Walt Disney, that have margins of 6 percent and 5 percent, respectively, according to Bloomberg data.

Still, high margins weren’t enough to stop big tech stocks from getting bruised over the last year in the markets. Wall Street wants to see these companies become leaner and meaner. Big Tech’s investor-friendly, technocratic operators will almost certainly comply.

© 2023 Bloomberg LP


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Meta, Long an AI Leader, Tries Not to Be Left Out of the Boom

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Meta, Long an AI Leader, Tries Not to Be Left Out of the Boom

SAN FRANCISCO — Two weeks before a chatbot called ChatGPT appeared on the internet in November and wowed the world, Meta, the owner of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, unveiled a chatbot of its own. Called Galactica, it was designed for scientific research. It could instantly write its own …

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