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Tech CEOs screwed up, and it’s time to hold them accountable

Happy first-Monday-of-the-month. I’m Matt Weinberger, deputy editor of Insider’s tech analysis team, filling in for Diamond Naga Siu. 

This particular Monday comes with something of a hangover in the tech industry, after a week that saw Meta, Alphabet, Apple, and Amazon report earnings that showed just how much of a toll the economy has taken on Silicon Valley. 

The tech CEOs have struck a tone of contrition, apologizing for over-hiring and losing focus at the height of the pandemic, even as they all lay off workers (all except Apple, that is) and call for a renewed drive towards efficiency. But where does the buck really stop?  

My friend Ed Zitron argues in a column for Insider that workers are taking the fall and losing their livelihoods for what’s ultimately those CEOs’ fault: “Any executive who participates in decision-making that leads to hundreds or thousands of people losing their jobs should be the one leading them out the door,” he writes. 

The one thing that everybody seems to agree on is that it’ll get darker before the next dawn in Silicon Valley, so expect a lot more conversation over how and why we got here. 

Here’s what you want to know as we enter the first full week of February:

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CEO of Alphabet and Google Sundar Pichai in Warsaw, Poland on March 29, 2022Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet and Google

Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto via Getty Images

1. Is it time for CEOs to start losing their jobs? Ed Zitron argues for Insider that the thousands of tech workers who lost their jobs in recent months are actually just taking the fall for the real problem in Silicon Valley — CEOs who aren’t up to the task of leadership.

  • “As the sole person in charge, they’re responsible for misjudging the macroeconomy, making terrible investments, and then following along with the industry in a shortsighted attempt to please Wall Street,” Ed writes.
  • CEO pay has skyrocketed over the years, but accountability of these top execs hasn’t kept pace, he writes. It means they share in the upsides of their companies’ growth, but rarely face consequences when something goes wrong.
  • He praised the CEOs of Apple and Intel for recently taking pay cuts as their companies hit tougher times. But says that there needs to be more serious consequences for chief executives who fumble tough situations, up to and including losing their jobs.

Read more about the tech CEO screw-up here.

In other news:

Elon Musk in 2020

Yasin Ozturk/Getty Images

2. Elon Musk secures a favorable verdict. Late Friday afternoon, a federal jury officially ruled that the Tesla CEO’s infamous “funding secured” tweet didn’t harm shareholders, making him not liable for damages.

3. Robots are a programmer’s best friend. OpenAI has a tool called Codex that writes code all on its own. But experts tell Insider’s Tom Maxwell that there’ll always be a good career for any human who knows how to program. Read more about how robots are helping programmers, not replacing them.

4. The most normal Amazon shopper. New data shows that Amazon’s typical retail customer is a white, college-educated woman who lives in the Southeast United States and makes about $80,000 a year. Now you know. Read more here.

5. Robots may be a Wall Street worker’s best friend, too. To go back to OpenAI again, here’s Insider’s look at how ChatGPT could shake up financial services. Industry insiders say that ChatGPT represents a powerful productivity-enhancing tool for portfolio managers, fraud investigators, and anyone else who works with money

6. Twitter wants $100 from developers. Twitter CEO Elon Musk says that it’s considering charging developers $100 a month for access to the social network’s API, which lets third-party software access the platform’s data. Musk says it’d help guard against “bad” bots, but it remains to be seen how those developers will respond. Read the full story.

7. “As cities move to ban gas stoves, I tried going all-electric in the kitchen.” Insider’s Adam Rogers set out to answer one simple question: How well does induction actually cook? The results left him fired up. Read the full story. 

8. Bill Gates says vaccines > Mars. The Microsoft cofounder and philanthropist says that Elon Musk’s self-appointed mission to go to Mars isn’t as good a use of money as investing in saving lives via spreading vaccine availability. No shade, though, as Gates also says that he thinks Musk’s Tesla has had a positive impact on the world.

Odds and Ends:

AI tool replaced ex with a snake


9. Raise the red flag with AI. A new app called Picsart promises to use AI to literally turn your lyin’, cheatin’, snake of an ex into a snake (or a dog, or a literal red flag) in your old photos. It seems like a good way to make a statement on social media, at the very least. Read more.

10. A Tesla loses its steering wheel. A Tesla driver says that the steering wheel on his brand-new Model Y fell off while he was driving on a New Jersey highway. Thankfully, nobody was hurt, but the driver is calling on Tesla to take accountability.

What we’re watching today:

  • Activision Blizzard, the video game giant that Microsoft is fighting American and European regulators to acquire, reports earnings after the bell.
  • Pinterest and Take Two Interactive Software (the publishers of “Grand Theft Auto V,” among other hit games) also report on Monday.

Curated by Matt Weinberger in San Francisco. (Feedback or tips? Email or tweet @gamoid.) Edited by Hallam Bullock (tweet @hallam_bullock) in London.

Read the original article on Business Insider