Good morning! This is the tech news you need to know this Thursday.
- The head of SoftBank’s $100 billion Vision Fund reportedly tried to lure another company executive into a sexual “honey trap” to collect blackmail and secure his rise to CEO. A Wall Street Journal report said Rajeev Misra had a “dark-arts campaign” to sabotage two other SoftBank executives in the years leading up to his promotion to CEO of SoftBank’s investing arm in 2017 — but Misra and SoftBank deny the report.
- Microsoft said it won’t meet its sales forecast for the upcoming quarter because of the impacts of the coronavirus. The “uncertainty related to the public health situation in China” has affected Microsoft’s Windows and Surface hardware businesses, the company said.
- A former Microsoft engineer stole more than $10 million from the company and used it to buy a $1.6 million lakefront home and a Tesla. Volodymyr Kvashuk, who worked at Microsoft from 2016 to 2018, stole “currency stored value,” like online gift cards, and resold them online, according to the US attorney’s office.
- Clearview AI, the controversial facial-recognition company partnering with police, says its entire customer list was stolen in a breach. The company sells a facial-recognition tool that lets police upload a photo of a face and search it against a database of billions of images scraped from social media to identify suspects.
- Marc Benioff said in a call with analysts that coronavirus won’t have a major impact on Salesforce’s business because the company was built to withstand recessions and downturns. Many of Salesforce’s customers have signed long, multi-year contracts with the software maker, so the company is able to predict its revenue and growth far enough in advance.
- People are turning to Etsy for coronavirus-proof face masks, but it seems to be full of counterfeit antiviral gear that doesn’t work. So many people are turning to Etsy that “face masks for germs” became one of the top searches, and more than 200 postings for face masks have sprung up in the past two days.
- Facebook acquired virtual reality game studio Sanzaru Games. Since 2016, Sanzaru has developed 4 titles for the Oculus platform, including the critically-acclaimed role-playing game “Asgard’s Wrath.”
- SoftBank-backed software startup Improbable hired a new chief financial officer, after losing its former CFO, a top HR exec, and its chief creative officer in 2019. New CFO Dan Odell joins after 15 years at Disney.
- Your TV could cause an Amazon Echo or Google Home to accidentally listen to you up to 19 times a day, new report shows. As part of an experiment, researches exposed the smart speakers to 125 hours of content from Netflix across a range of categories.
- “Knives Out” director Rian Johnson revealed Apple won’t allow the bad guys in movies to have iPhones. As part of Apple’s guidelines, third parties can only show products “in the best light” and “in a manner or context that reflects favorably” on the company.
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