San Francisco, Mar 12 (AP/UNB) — Google paid former search executive Amit Singhal $35 million in an exit package when he was reportedly forced to resign after a sexual assault investigation, according to court documents released Monday.
Details of the exit package were revealed as part of a shareholder lawsuit against the company, one that followed a published report of payouts Google made to executives accused of sexual misconduct.
The lawsuit targets the board of Google parent Alphabet, charging that its members had a duty to protect the company and its shareholders from risk and reputation damage. Instead, it says, the board agreed to pay off and otherwise support male executives facing misconduct charges — opening the company to reputational and financial damage by doing so.
Previously redacted portions of the lawsuit were made available Monday, including quotes from Alphabet board committee meetings.
One portion of the minutes showed that Singhal, a senior vice president of search who left the company in 2016, received two $15 million payments and a payment of between $5 million to $15 million as part of a separation agreement. The total payment could have been up to $45 million.
Singhal was one subject of a New York Times investigation last year that revealed Google paid Android creator Andy Rubin $90 million in a severance package after the company found allegations of sexual assault against him were credible. Rubin has denied the claims.
Singhal has also denied the claims against him, saying in a statement to the AP in 2017 that he had not been accused of harassment before and that he left Google on his own terms. Singhal did not immediately return a request for comment Monday.
But the New York Times, citing three people briefed on the incident, reported that an employee claimed Singhal groped her at an off-campus event. A Google investigation found her claims credible, according to the Times.
Previously, the Times reported Singhal was paid "millions" in an exit package. Singhal later joined Uber, but left after just five weeks. News reports at the time said he failed to tell Uber he left Google because of a sexual harassment allegation.
Google acknowledged the unredacted claims in the lawsuit Monday and said in a statement that there are "serious consequences for anyone who behaves inappropriately at Google."
"In recent years, we've made many changes to our workplace and taken an increasingly hard line on inappropriate conduct by people in positions of authority," the company said in an emailed statement.
The company was pressured to make changes by employee action last year. After news of Rubin's massive payout, tens of thousands of Google workers around the world walked out of work in November to protest the company's handling of sexual misconduct claims.
Google promised to be more forceful in handling such cases and ended mandatory arbitration in cases of sexual misconduct.
But the backlash has continued. Google Walkout organizers are still fighting the company on specific demands, and high-profile engineers have quit the company.
Last month, Google ended mandatory arbitration for all employee complaints in response to pressure from Walkout organizers.
The lawsuit, brought by shareholder James Martin, also references board minutes and emails that reportedly show Rubin was awarded $150 million in equity compensation shortly before he left the company. The suit claims Alphabet CEO Larry Page awarded the grants, and only later received board approval.
Dhaka, Mar 11 (UNB)- The local electronics and electrical manufacturer ‘Marcel’ extended the replacement guaranty period of its televisions panel to 4 years.
Earlier, customers of Marcel televisions enjoyed two years replacement guaranty on the TV panel.
As per the recent announcement of Marcel authorities, the guaranty period of the panel of Marcel 32-inch or its above sizes televisions like 39, 43, 49 and 55-inch has been extended to four years from the previous 2 two years.
The customers of Marcel brand’s 20-inch to 28-inch televisions will enjoy the previous two year’s replacement guaranty on the panel.
Marcel officials came up with the announcement at a programme at its corporate office’s conference room in the capital on Sunday.
The programme was attended by the company’s Executive Directors Eva Rezwana, Md Humayun Kabir, Aminul Islam Khan (Amin Khan), Marcel’s Head of Sales Dr Md Shakhawat Hossen and Head of Service Md Mojahidul Islam.
Dhaka, Mar 10 (UNB)- Robi-10 Minute School (www.robi10minuteschool.com) has recently organised six master-classes in six of the renowned educational institutions in the port city Chattogram.
The six master-classes were held in BGC Trust University, Asian University for Women, Enayet Bazar Mohila College, Ispahani Public School and College, Saint Placid’s School and College and Southern University. Hundreds of students from these institutions attended the master-classes.
Robi’s Chief Financial Officer, Roni Tohme, Head of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs, Shahed Alam, Vice President, Media, Communications and Sustainability, Ekram Kabir, General Manager, Sustainability, Md Towfiquzzaman Chowdhury and, Robi-10 Minute School’ Founder and CEO, Ayman Sadiq conducted the master-classes.
The master-classes included a number of sessions that emphasised on the need for skills development in order to prepare for the digital future that awaits the students. The students were appraised about Robi’s latest social awareness campaign on responsible digital lifestyle, #CommonSense.
Starting from Chattogram, the master-class sessions will tour all the eight divisions of the country shortly to disseminate the same message.
As part of the master-classes, students of the six participating educational institutions were introduced to the Robi-10 Minute School app (http://bit.ly/10MSapp).
Practical demonstrations of various unique features of the app were also demonstrated to help them get the most of out of the app.
Anchorage, Mar 9 (AP/UNB) — Far from competitors tackling the frozen wilderness in Alaska's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, a dozen people are holed up inside an Anchorage hotel behind banks of computers, tracking the punishing route and connecting with global fans seeking a real-time link to the off-the-grid sport.
As of Friday, 51 mushers are traveling long stretches between remote village checkpoints with no other company but the dogs pulling their sleds. But they're not competing in a vacuum on the 1,000-mile (1,600-kilometer) trail that spans two mountain ranges and the frozen Yukon River before it heads up the wind-scrubbed Bering Sea Coast to the finish line in the Gold Rush town of Nome.
Their progress is monitored from several hotel rooms whose 24/7 occupants are the Iditarod's electronic eyes and ears. Technology has increasingly made the 47-year-old race more immediate to fans and safer for competitors, said Chas St. George, acting CEO of the Iditarod Trail Committee, the race's governing board.
"This is a really low-tech event when you look at it from that perspective, but high-tech research has always been a huge part of the race," he said Wednesday during a tour of the Iditarod's hotel command post.
This is where volunteers and race contractors monitor the dog teams through sleds equipped with GPS trackers that allow fans to follow them online in real time and organizers to ensure no one is missing. Some serve as aircraft dispatchers for a cadre of pilots who ferry supplies as well as mushers and dogs that drop out.
Others process live video streamed from checkpoints along the rugged trail, using satellite dishes. Some volunteers handle race-standing updates sent through equipment first tested last year, making it possible to activate a super-size hot spot in the most remote places with satellite connections.
Long gone are the days where some race updates came through amateur radio and faxes, said Reece Roberts, a supervisor in the internal communications room who has been a race volunteer for 14 years.
"Now we use satellite phones and we have satellite modems essentially for data transfers," he said. "It's very slow, but it works."
In one room, Art Aldrich worked Wednesday in relative darkness, his face illuminated by his computer screen. He monitored a live video of two Iditarod pundits at the Nikolai checkpoint, 687 miles (1,100 kilometers) from the finish line on the race's third day. Veteran musher Matt Failor appeared on the feed in real time.
"Ladies and gentlemen, Matt Failor — live from Nikolai," Iditarod Insider interviewer Greg Heister announced, asking how the race was going for him.
"So far, so good," Failor said, grinning. "Are we really live right now?" He waved at the camera.
Aldrich also relays questions from live video chats to camera operators in the field. He said it's not the most sophisticated system, but it gets the job done. "The fans love it," he said.
The live chats, which are posted in the paid subscription platform Iditarod Insider, have attracted an online community from at least 164 countries, according to Mike Vann in the technology war-room.
"It's pretty amazing when we start interacting with them to see where people are joining us from," he said.
This year, race organizers introduced Gia, a digital sled dog mascot with a squeaky voice that fans can chat with through Facebook messenger. Before the race, the cartoon dog even helped organizers recruit donations of straw used for dog beds at the checkpoints, Iditarod officials said.
Veteran musher Scott Janssen is sitting out the race, but like other fans, is following the action through the GPS-rigged sleds required of every participant. As a competitor, he sees the benefits of GPS tracking and the satellite phones that mushers can now carry for emergencies.
Such technological additions make him feel safer — to a point.
"But to be honest, I would say conservatively that 90 percent of mushers would prefer that we had nothing at all on our sleds," Janssen said, adding that the technology eliminates the remote aspect of the race. "It takes some of the toughness away from it. And that's why we're doing that race, is to prove we can do this on our own, completely."
San Francisco, Mar 8 (AP/UNB) — After building a social network that turned into a surveillance system, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he's shifting his company's focus to messaging services designed to serve as fortresses of privacy.
Instead of just being the network that connects everyone, Facebook wants to encourage small groups of people to carry on encrypted conversations that neither Facebook nor any other outsider can read. It also plans to let messages automatically disappear, a feature pioneered by its rival Snapchat that could limit the risks posed by a trail of social media posts that follow people throughout their lives.
It's a major bet by Zuckerberg, who sees it as a way to push Facebook more firmly into a messaging market that's growing faster than its main social networking business. It might also help Facebook ward off government regulators, although the Facebook CEO made clear that he expects the company's messaging business to complement, not replace, its core businesses.
But there are plenty of obstacles. Facebook has weathered more than two years of turbulence for repeated privacy lapses, spreading disinformation, allowing Russian agents to conduct targeted propaganda campaigns and a rising tide of hate speech and abuse. Zuckerberg submitted to two days of grilling on Capitol Hill last April. All that increases the challenge of convincing users that Facebook really means it about privacy this time.
Encrypted conversations could alleviate some of those problems, but it could make others worse. Security is an "admirable goal," said Forrester Research analyst Fatemeh Khatibloo. "I'm just not sure it addresses the bigger issues Facebook is facing right now."
Facebook grew into a colossus by vacuuming up people's information in every possible way and dissecting it to shoot targeted ads back at them. Anything that jeopardizes that machine could pose a major threat to the company's share price, which would also affect its ability to attract and retain talented engineers and other employees.
In a Wednesday interview with The Associated Press, Zuckerberg predicted Facebook's emphasis on privacy will do more to help the company's business than hurt it. While most of the stock market slipped in Wednesday trading, Facebook's shares gained $1.25 to close at $172.51.
The Facebook CEO has been telegraphing some of these changes to investors for the past six months, but his Wednesday blog post is the first time he has explained the idea to the more than two billion people that use Facebook's services and look at its ads. Those ads are expected to generate $67 billion in revenue this year, according to the research firm eMarketer.
If everything falls into place, Facebook will also display similar advertising on the privacy-protected messaging services. Those services are also likely to offer other moneymaking features, such as a digital wallet, as Facebook attempts to build something similar to Tencent's popular WeChat service in Asia.
"If you think about your life, you probably spend more time communicating privately than publicly," Zuckerberg said during the AP interview. "The overall opportunity here is a lot larger than what we have built in terms of Facebook and Instagram."
That's far from proven. While Facebook has already tried to show ads in the Messenger app, it's seen only limited success. It hasn't even tested the concept in WhatsApp since it acquired that service for $22 billion in 2014.
"There are some huge unknowns about how successful Facebook is going to be rolling advertising into a more private messaging environment," said eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson.
Some critics are convinced that Facebook has become so powerful — even a threat to democracy as well as to people's privacy — that it needs to be reined in by tougher regulations or even a corporate breakup.
But unraveling Facebook could become more difficult if Zuckerberg can successfully stitch together the messaging services behind an encrypted wall.
"I see that as the goal of this entire thing," said Blake Reid, a University of Colorado law professor who specializes in technology and policy. He said Facebook could tell antitrust authorities that WhatsApp, Instagram Direct and Facebook Messenger are tied so tightly together that it couldn't unwind them.
Combining the three services also lets Facebook build more complete data profiles on all of its users. Already, businesses can already target Facebook and Instagram users with the same ads, and marketing campaigns are likely coming to WhatsApp eventually.
Facebook's focus on messaging privacy raises other concerns. Messaging apps have in the past helped fake news and rumors spread fast, sometimes with deadly consequences. A report from University of Oxford researchers last year found evidence of widespread disinformation campaigns on chat applications like WhatsApp. In one particularly brutal example, the Indian government last year accused WhatsApp of fueling rumors that led to lynchings and mob violence that wounded dozens.
Facebook responded by restricting the number of groups to which a message could be forwarded and labeling forwarded messages as such. On Wednesday, Zuckerberg said that Facebook needs to protect both privacy and safety as it encrypted messaging services, although he noted to an "inherent trade-off" between security and safety, simply because Facebook won't be able to read encrypted conversations.
And in some cases, Facebook could allow some content to automatically disappear in a day or two, as if it were a fleeting mirage.
"Some people want to store their messages forever and some people think having large collections of photos or messages is a liability as much as it is an asset," Zuckerberg told the AP. "Figuring out the balance is a really important one."