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Twitter Culls Around 50% of Roles as Part of Elon Musk’s Reformation Plan

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Twitter Culls Around 50% of Roles as Part of Elon Musk’s Reformation Plan

Elon Musk has held true to his word on staff cuts at Twitter, with the company eliminating, reportedly, around 50% of its entire workforce, as it works to rationalize the business.

The Twitter transition team informed staff that they would receive an email today that would let them know whether they still have a job or not. And while there are no official numbers as yet, internal managers have pegged the cull at around 50% of staff, with many long-serving experienced Tweeps bidding farewell via tweet.

Musk had repeatedly highlighted the potential of job cuts in his presentations to potential investment partners, as he sought funding for his Twitter acquisition. One document that he showed to potential investors back in May noted that Musk would look cut around 1,000 staff on day one of his takeover at the app, while Musk’s friend Jason Calacanis, who’s working with Musk on the transition, had also suggested that they should look to cut roles on day one, using the eloquent description ‘Sharpen your blades boys’ to signal the staff reductions.

More recent reports had suggested that Musk would be looking to cut 75% of Twitter’s 7,500 workers, reducing the business to a skeleton crew of just over 2,000 to keep things running. Musk later denied this figure, claiming that it didn’t come from him – though today’s action is seemingly not so far off from that target.

In Musk’s original investor presentations, Musk did also note that Twitter would eventually look to bring in more staff once again, adding back over 2,700 employees by 2025, in line with platform growth.

Whether that happens or not, we obviously can’t know, but on balance, today’s cuts seems pretty much in line with his stated plan.

Which, of course, does nothing to soften the blow for the thousands of people now left jobless as a result of the shift. 

News of the coming staff cull first broke at around 8pm ET Wednesday, with leaked internal conversations and notes suggesting that Twitter’s transition management team would be looking to cut around half of the company’s 7,500 roles in order to reduce costs, as part of a broader effort to return the company to profitability.

Over the next two days, various reports suggested that significant moves were indeed in progress, with Twitter executives going dark in the company’s Slack channels, and some even (reportedly) being escorted out of the building by security.

In light of the pending news, Twitter also cancelled its upcoming Chirp developer conference, which had been scheduled for November 16th.

It’s a sad day for the app, especially for staff that have been busting their asses this week in a bid to impress their new owner, in the hopes of saving their jobs. Clearly, there’s not much they could have done, and for many, that also means that they’re leaving roles they’ve been passionate about for many years, as they’ve worked to keep Twitter on the right track.

It’s also not great news for those that are left, who will now be under more pressure, with fewer resources, to keep up with Musk’s reformation plans. On a related note, the Musk transition team has also called on the company to reduce infrastructure costs by $1 billion per year.

In other Musk transition news, Twitter’s also shutting down its newsletter offering, which incorporated Revue, the newsletter platform that it acquired last year, while it’s also shelving its Notes experiment, which enabled users to attack longer text elements to tweets.

Musk has hinted that he is open to facilitating long-form content options in the app, but obviously, not in these formats – though I suspect that newsletters will return at some stage as Twitter continues to revamp its subscription tools.

But it’s hard to see how any of these things will get done any time soon, with so many people leaving the company. Musk, however, seems confident that Twitter will continue on as normal, despite the cull – which either means that Twitter has been carrying a lot of dead weight, or Elon is underestimating the scale of work required to keep things running.

Seems we’ll find out, as we move into the next stage for the app.



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Josh Brolin Summarizes Dune 2 in Greatest Instagram Caption of All Time

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Josh Brolin Summarizes Dune 2 in Greatest Instagram Caption of All Time

The Dune: Part Two star took a unique approach to marketing the movie. Dune: Part Two is so close to hitting theaters, and no one is more excited than …

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Reddit’s Exclusive Data Sharing Deal with an Unnamed AI Company Could Mark a Key Industry Shift

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Reddit’s Exclusive Data Sharing Deal with an Unnamed AI Company Could Mark a Key Industry Shift

Is Reddit’s actually data worth $60 million per year?

That’s reportedly how much an as-yet-unnamed AI development company has paid to gain exclusive access to Reddit’s full data set, which will see said AI company incorporate Reddit user responses into its large language model (LLM), with a view to the system providing more human-like answers and insight, and becoming a bigger challenger in online search.

As reported by Bloomberg, after working to restrict access to its data over the last year, in order to stop AI companies from profiting off its content, Reddit has now signed an exclusive contract with “an unnamed large AI company”, which will see that company integrate Reddit insights into its models.

Which is a high price tag, considering that the top tier of X’s API access (200 million posts per month) costs around $2.5 million per year.

So could Reddit’s data be worth significantly more than that, and if it is, does it then make sense for Reddit to provide such on an exclusive basis?

The value of Reddit data is that it provides actual, human usage insight, which can often be of more value than online reviews that can be gamed and skewed by paid responses. That’s getting even worse in the age of generative AI, with some companies now employing AI tools to create human-sounding reviews online, in order to boost their product ratings.

As a result, more and more people have been turning to Reddit to get honest product reviews and performance insight. They’re still using Google, but more people are using the “site:reddit.com” qualifier to glean more specific insights from Reddit communities.

For example, if you were looking for a new hair dryer, you can look up “best hair dryer” on Google to get this:

Or you can add “best hair dryer site:reddit.com” for this:

Google example

The Reddit forum links connect through to actual people’s experiences, and include solid, functional insight from those who’ve used each device. The Reddit responses are also up and downvoted, making it easier to find the best response to guide your search process.

The more specific, personal insight can add significant value to the answers provided, and many people have found that this is now a better, more valuable discovery process than trusting Google results within themselves.

And now, one AI company will get all of this insight exclusively to itself.

That could be a big boost to its business ambitions, with a view to making AI chatbots more of a rival for traditional search behavior. Already, more people are turning to conversational chatbots for online discovery, and with this, whichever LLM can access Reddit data will have an exclusive trove of valuable consumer insights, which it can repackage within its responses.

For example, using the same hair dryer prompt in ChatGPT, the system currently gives me a listing of technical considerations and recommendations based on top sellers. But with added Reddit commentary, it could also provide a more personalized addendum:

“According to users, the best hair dryer for curly hair is the Ella Bella Ionic hair dryer, while those with straight hair tend to prefer the Dyson Supersonic.”

The system could then provide more specific answers based on your requirements, by sourcing that info from subreddit communities.

It’s a significant value-add, which will make whichever company gets this info a far more viable option as a search consideration, though the $60 million per year ongoing price tag is high, and is also at least somewhat reliant on Reddit continuing to grow, in order to maximize its value and utility.

And Reddit is growing. Reddit’s added 20 million more users over the past three years, and it continues to see strong engagement in over 100,000 active communities. The company’s been working to highlight its business value, ahead of a planned IPO, which could come next month, and this deal will now be factored into the valuation of the platform moving forward.

In some ways, it’s possible that Reddit could be limiting its opportunities by signing an exclusive data contract. But that’s why the price tag is so high, and it’ll be interesting to see which chatbot comes out with “Reddit exclusive insights” as a value add sometime soon.

I mean, it seems likely that it’ll be OpenAI, with the backing of Microsoft, as it looks to take on Google’s Search dominance. With the rise of conversational searches, that does seem like a logical investment, and with another data source taken out of the mix, that could also lead to more differentiation in the market.

It could also point to similar exclusivity deals in future, as each company tries to differentiate and dominate with their chatbot tools. Current AI chatbots have been able to scrape vast amounts of data from across the web, which means that their initial models will all be relatively similar as a result, but in future, as information evolves, and new data is required to match search intent, fresh sources will also be required to maintain relevance, and audience interest.

Meta claims to have an advantage in this respect, because it has all of the insights published to Facebook and Instagram to work with, while Elon Musk will view xAI as holding a lead, due to his platform being the leading real-time news discussion app.

But maybe, considering broader trends, Reddit insight is actually the real leader in terms of refining search queries.

And maybe, that will prove to be more important than most think.  



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EU launches probe into TikTok over child protection

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The European Commission said it launched formal infringement proceedings against TikTok over the protection of minors online

The European Commission said it launched formal infringement proceedings against TikTok over the protection of minors online – Copyright AFP KARIM JAAFAR

Raziye Akkoc

The EU on Monday announced a formal investigation into TikTok over alleged breaches of its obligations to protect minors online, under a landmark new law on policing digital content.

It is the second probe into a major online platform since Brussels introduced the Digital Services Act (DSA), after targeting tech billionaire Elon Musk’s X in December.

Brussels is particularly concerned that the video-sharing app owned by China’s ByteDance may not be doing enough to address negative impacts on young people.

A key worry is the so-called “rabbit hole” effect — which occurs when users are fed related content based on an algorithm, in some cases leading to more dangerous content.

The European Commission’s concerns also include TikTok’s age verification tools, which it said “may not be reasonable, proportionate and effective”.

The commission opened “formal proceedings to assess whether TikTok may have breached” the DSA in other areas including “advertising transparency” and “data access for researchers”.

The action comes after analysing a risk assessment report by TikTok and its replies to Brussels’ requests for more information about what measures the video-sharing platform has taken against illegal content, the protection of minors and access to data.

– ‘Spare no effort’ –

Regulators will continue to gather evidence, the commission said, adding that the move empowered it to take further enforcement steps if necessary.

“As a platform that reaches millions of children and teenagers, TikTok must fully comply with the DSA and has a particular role to play in the protection of minors online,” said the EU’s internal market commissioner, Thierry Breton.

“We are launching this formal infringement proceeding today to ensure that proportionate action is taken to protect the physical and emotional well-being of young Europeans. We must spare no effort to protect our children,” Breton added.

TikTok has over 142 million monthly users across the EU, up from 125 million last year.

“TikTok needs to take a close look at the services they offer and carefully consider the risks that they pose to their users — young as well as old,” commission executive vice president Margrethe Vestager said.

The formal probe will focus on four areas: how TikTok assesses and mitigates systemic risks; how the company is complying with protecting minors’ privacy and safety; TikTok’s measures on providing a “reliable” advertisement repository and the steps taken to increase transparency.

TikTok said it was working to protect minors online.

“TikTok has pioneered features and settings to protect teens and keep under 13s off the platform, issues the whole industry is grappling with,” a TikTok spokesperson said.

“We’ll continue to work with experts and industry to keep young people on TikTok safe, and look forward to now having the opportunity to explain this work in detail to the Commission.”

– Risk of fines –

There is no deadline for the completion of the proceedings.

The DSA gives Brussels the power to levy heavy fines, with penalties for violations that can include fines going up to six percent of a digital firm’s global revenues.

The commission can even block platforms in the 27-nation bloc for serious and repeated violations.

The EU law came into effect last year for the world’s biggest online platforms including TikTok and X as well as Facebook and Instagram.

The new rules demand companies do more to police content online, but also expect digital retailers to act swiftly and effectively to protect shoppers online.

The DSA law has applied to all platforms since February 17.

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