#1 | Microsoft Japan tested a four-day workweek and productivity jumped

Microsoft Japan tested a four-day workweek and has recorded increased productivity of its 2,300 employees. Sales per employee increased almost 40 percent compared to 2018 and the company used 23.1 percent less electricity and printed 58.7 percent fewer pages. The experiment also included self-development and family wellness schemes and 92.1 percent of employees supported reduced work hours. This initiative is part of a wider trend as companies try to reduce overwork and promote flexible working. Japan is notorious for long working hours with almost a quarter of employees working more than 80 hours of overtime a month. Read more: https://cnb.cx/32vdgRj

#2 | SoftBank’s CEO admits poor judgment after disastrous earnings

SoftBank reported an operating loss of $6.5 billion in the July-September quarter as the value of its tech bets like WeWork and Uber plummeted and its Vision Fund took $8.9 billion hit. CEO Masayoshi Son admitted poor investment judgment but said that WeWork remains a solid business that will eventually record profit. SoftBank spent more than $10 billion to bail out the office-sharing business. These problems have also put an additional focus on other debts held by the Japanese tech and investment juggernaut. SoftBank has $51 billion in outstanding bonds and $36 billion in bank loans with Moody’s and S&P rating its debt as junk. Son, however, remains confident that the second Vision Fund is to go ahead as planned. The existing Saudi Arabia-backed Vision Fund had invested around $70 billion in 88 companies with investments now worth $77.6 billion excluding exits, he confirmed. Read more: https://reut.rs/33CnqkR

#3 | Xerox mulls a bold takeover of HP

Xerox has made a $33 billion takeover offer for HP, a computer company more than three times its size. The bid is at a premium to HP’s $27 billion market value. The copy machine firm would finance the deal with $2.3 billion from selling stakes in joint venture to Fujifilm, and it has also secured financing from Citigroup. Xerox hopes that by joining forces with HP, both companies can cut costs and increase revenue. Some analysts pointed out that the deal would lead to the potential overlap and they also questioned Xerox’s ability to push the initiative through. HP is yet to announce its position on the proposed merger. Read more: https://reut.rs/36FnEtn

#4 | AI helps law enforcement units tackle sex trafficking

Nonprofit DeliverFund has teamed up with a computer vision startup XIX to more efficiently spot signs of human trafficking in online sex ads. The entire process is now automated as the AI-powered software analyzes images on sites used by traffickers and finds signs of women forced into prostitution by traffickers. For instance, the XIX’s program looks for ads that contain women depicted in degrading positions or covered with tattoos, both of which are likely signals that the person is not a willing sex worker but rather a trafficking victim. Partnerships with XIX and other tech firms like IBM and LexisNexis enable DeliverFund to reduce the time it takes to create an intelligence report from 22 days to six hours. The research is then forwarded to various law enforcement agencies to act upon. Read more: http://bit.ly/2PSKzvf

#5 | California AG accuses Facebook of not complying with privacy probe

California’s attorney general Xavier Becerra is asking a court to force Facebook to deliver documents to the state’s investigation into the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Becerra noted that the social media giant has ignored six document requests and nineteen interrogatories. Becerra wants to receive documents that detail communication by executives like CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg as well as documents related to the changes in the company’s privacy policy. Facebook is already fined $5 billion by the Federal Trade Commission for privacy violations and the company has banned now-defunct Cambridge Analytica from its platform. Read more: https://tcrn.ch/2JWRYph


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