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Wing, Owned by Google’s Parent Company, Gets First Approval for Drone Deliveries in U.S.

Millions of drones buzzing through the air, delivering the groceries you need to make your dinner, the medicine you forgot to pick up from the pharmacy or even a hot cup of coffee.To some, it’s the inevitable, efficient future. To others, it might sound more like the beginnings of a dystopian horror story.Either way, it’s now closer to reality. The Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday that Wing, the drone-delivery unit of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, had received the agency’s first approval to use drones to carry and deliver packages commercially.Wing had previously been testing its drones in a suburb of Canberra, Australia, where the machines had made…

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The Most Measured Person in Tech Is Running the Most Chaotic Place on the Internet

Even by the nightmarish standards of the empire she oversees, Susan Wojcicki, the chief executive officer of YouTube, has had a dreadful start to 2019. During a single week in February, BuzzFeed reported that her company was running advertisements alongside anti-vaccine content; there was a nationwide panic over the platform abetting child suicide; and a viral video showed how pedophiles were flourishing on the site.And then there was the bestiality.Thumbnail images implying human-animal sex were discovered next to children’s videos, and after an uproar, Ms. Wojcicki was obliged to call a staff meeting to address it. The topic, she allowed during a recent interview, was one “I…

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Google Fined $1.7 Billion by E.U. for Unfair Advertising Rules

LONDON — European authorities on Wednesday fined Google 1.5 billion euros for antitrust violations in the online advertising market, continuing its efforts to rein in the world’s biggest technology companies.The fine, worth about $1.7 billion, is the third against Google by the European Union since 2017, reinforcing the region’s position as the world’s most aggressive watchdog of an industry with an increasingly powerful role in society and the global economy. The regulators said Google had violated antitrust rules by imposing unfair terms on companies that used its search bar on their websites in Europe.Europe’s regulatory approach was once criticized as unfairly focusing on technology companies from the…

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Skies Aren’t Clogged With Drones, but Don’t Rule Them Out Yet

If you’ve been worrying that drones would be filling the skies over your head, dropping packages off day after day at your neighbor’s house, leaving food on doorsteps or photographing your every move, you can relax a little. At least for now.The hype over commercial drones is, so far, largely just that. One of the people who contributed to that hype was Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder. In a "60 Minutes” interview in December 2013, he predicted that deliveries by drones could become commonplace within five years.The fifth anniversary of Mr. Bezos’s prediction has come and gone, but widespread deliveries by drone are not yet a reality,…

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Google Approved $45 Million Exit Package for Executive Accused of Misconduct

SAN FRANCISCO — Alphabet’s board of directors agreed to pay a former top Google executive as much as $45 million when he resigned from the company in 2016 after being accused of groping a subordinate.The previously undisclosed sum was in the separation agreement for Amit Singhal, a senior vice president who ran Google’s search operations until February 2016. The amount was revealed on Monday in a shareholder lawsuit accusing the board of directors of Alphabet, the parent of Google, of shirking their responsibilities by agreeing to pay executives accused of misconduct instead of firing them for cause.The suit was part of the fallout over how Google has…

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Alphabet’s Security Start-Up Wants to Offer History Lessons

SAN FRANCISCO — Ten years ago, Google was hacked by the Chinese military in one of the most startling cyberattacks on an American company by government-affiliated agents.This week, Chronicle, a security start-up owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet, plans to bring some of what it learned from that incident to other companies through a widely anticipated new product called Backstory.The idea, company executives said, is simple: Backstory will make Alphabet’s massive storage, indexing and search abilities available to other companies, allowing them to search through giant volumes of data, going years back, to trace the back story of a malicious attack.Chronicle is hardly the only company doing…

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Google Moves to Address Wage Equity, and Finds It’s Underpaying Many Men

SAN FRANCISCO — When Google conducted a study recently to determine whether the company was underpaying women and members of minority groups, it found that more men than women were receiving less money for doing similar work.The surprising conclusion to the latest version of the annual study contrasted sharply with the experience of women working in Silicon Valley and in many other industries.In response to the finding, Google gave $9.7 million in additional compensation to 10,677 employees for this year. Men account for about 69 percent of the company’s work force, but they received a disproportionately higher percentage of the money. The exact number of men who…

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Alphabet Is in a Tumultuous Time, but the Business Keeps Booming

SAN FRANCISCO — Google’s parent company, Alphabet, had a tumultuous 2018, with employee revolts, antitrust fines, tough privacy regulation in Europe and heightened political scrutiny in Washington.Through it all, the company managed to produce strong financial results with the numbing consistency of the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.On Monday, Alphabet said revenue rose 22 percent to $39.27 billion in its most recent quarter, while profits swung to $8.95 billion. Last year, Alphabet reported a loss after it took a $9.9 billion charge for the repatriation of foreign earnings after changes in the tax code.Alphabet’s financial consistency is easily explained. Google owns the internet’s ultimate beachfront…

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Board Sued Over Google’s Exit Package for Accused Executive

SAN FRANCISCO — A shareholder lawsuit says the board of directors of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, played an “active and direct role” in approving a $90 million exit package for Andy Rubin, a senior executive, even though an investigation into a sexual harassment claim against him was deemed credible.The lawsuit, filed on Thursday in California Superior Court, said minutes from board meetings showed that the directors had agreed to ask for Mr. Rubin’s resignation while approving the sizable separation agreement to “keep the matter quiet.” The minutes were redacted in the court filing.In October, The New York Times reported that Google had paid the exit package after…

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Big Tech May Look Troubled, but It’s Just Getting Started

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Silicon Valley ended 2018 somewhere it had never been: embattled.Lawmakers across the political spectrum say Big Tech, for so long the exalted embodiment of American genius, has too much power. Once seen as a force for making our lives better and our brains smarter, tech is now accused of inflaming, radicalizing, dumbing down and squeezing the masses. Tech company stocks have been pummeled from their highs. Regulation looms. Even tech executives are calling for it.In the face of such a sustained assault, this might be a good moment for Big Tech to lie low. It could devote some of its mountains of cash…

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