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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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Essay: One Giant Step for a Chess-Playing Machine

In early December, researchers at DeepMind, the artificial-intelligence company owned by Google’s parent corporation, Alphabet Inc., filed a dispatch from the frontiers of chess.A year earlier, on Dec. 5, 2017, the team had stunned the chess world with its announcement of AlphaZero, a machine-learning algorithm that had mastered not only chess but shogi, or Japanese chess, and Go. The algorithm started with no knowledge of the games beyond their basic rules. It then played against itself millions of times and learned from its mistakes. In a matter of hours, the algorithm became the best player, human or computer, the world has ever seen.The details of AlphaZero’s achievements…

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Tech Workers Got Paid in Company Stock. They Used It to Agitate for Change.

SAN FRANCISCO — Silicon Valley technology firms are known for giving stock to their workers, a form of compensation that often helps employees feel invested in their companies.But tech workers are now starting to use those shares to turn the tables on their employers. As many tech employees take a more activist approach to how their innovations are being deployed and increasingly speak out on a range of issues, some are using the stock as a way to demand changes at their companies.At Amazon, more than a dozen employees who had received stock grants recently exercised their rights as shareholders. In late November and early December, they…

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Chase for Talent Pushes Tech Giants Far Beyond West Coast

SAN FRANCISCO — This generation’s biggest technology companies — including Apple, Amazon and Google — have long been tied to their hometowns. Now these giants are increasingly outgrowing their West Coast roots.Driven by a limited pool of skilled workers and the ballooning cost of living in their home bases of Silicon Valley and Seattle, as well as President Trump’s shifting immigration policies, the companies are aggressively taking their talent hunt across the United States and elsewhere. And they are coalescing particularly around a handful of urban areas that are already winners in the new knowledge-based economy, including New York City, Washington, Boston and Austin, Tex.This eastward expansion…

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Google Hearing to Preview Democrats’ Strategy on Big Tech

WASHINGTON — Democrats and Google executives worked arm in arm for years, particularly during the Obama administration. But when Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, testifies before Congress on Tuesday, some of the toughest questioning is likely to come from Democrats.The hearing will provide an early glimpse of how Democrats plan to approach Silicon Valley giants in the coming year as they assume control of the House of Representatives. And the testimony from Mr. Pichai, who is appearing before lawmakers after initially resisting, may provide clues about how he and the company will approach them.Democratic lawmakers, angry about Russian misinformation online during the 2016 campaign and concerned about…

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Google Cloud Executive Who Sought Pentagon Contract Steps Down

SAN FRANCISCO — Diane Greene, whose pursuit of Pentagon contracts for artificial intelligence technology sparked a worker uprising at Google, is stepping down as chief executive of the company’s cloud computing business.Ms. Greene said she would stay on as chief executive until January. She will be replaced by Thomas Kurian, who oversaw product development at Oracle until his resignation in October. Ms. Greene will remain a board director at Google’s parent company, Alphabet.The change in leadership caps a turbulent three years for Ms. Greene, who was brought on to expand Google’s cloud computing business. Google Cloud has struggled to make major inroads in persuading corporate customers to…

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Corner Office: Sundar Pichai of Google: ‘Technology Doesn’t Solve Humanity’s Problems’

[Subscribe to “With Interest.” It’s a Sunday newsletter with essential business insights that’ll prep you for the week ahead.]Google is facing more challenges today than at any time in its 20-year history. Employees are outraged over sexual harassment. Executives are under scrutiny for an effort to secretly make a censored version of its search product for China. Google will shut down its social network next year after a data breach was discovered. Political and social debates, including one over building military-grade artificial intelligence, are roiling the work force. Yet the man responsible for leading Google through this minefield is not one of the company’s founders — Larry…

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Google Is Said to Be Shopping for More Real Estate in New York

SAN FRANCISCO — Amazon may not be the only technology giant considering a big expansion in New York.Google is in discussions to move into a planned 1.3 million square foot office complex at the St. John’s Terminal building on Manhattan’s West Side, according to a person with knowledge of the company’s plans but not permitted to speak about it publicly.The property, which is expected to be completed in 2022, would allow the internet giant to significantly increase its presence in the city. Google employs around 7,000 in New York, and a space that size could allow it to more than double its local work force.The potential expansion,…

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Senior Google Lobbyist Is Stepping Down From Her Role

WASHINGTON — Susan Molinari, who leads Google’s federal lobbying and policy effort and is a former Republican congresswoman from New York, is stepping down from her role at the company.The change, during a turbulent time for Google, is the latest indication of a shake-up at the company’s large Washington operation.Google has been under fire from lawmakers in Washington and Europe and faces growing antitrust scrutiny on both sides of the Atlantic. Corporate leaders at Alphabet, Google’s parent company, have been criticized by their workers for working on artificial intelligence with the Pentagon and for developing a search engine that would censor results in China.Google subsequently did not…

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