TikTok Pulling Out of Hong Kong; Microsoft Eyes Warner Game Unit; Former MS Exec Takes Reins at Magic Leap; Seattle Passes Tax on Highest Salaries

The US is looking at banning TikTok, allegedly over concerns the it is used by the Chinese government as a surveillance and propaganda tool…but certainly also due to the recent locking down of almost a million tickets to a Donald Trump rally which enraged him. Now, techcrunch.com reports that TikTok is pulling out of Hong Kong, which is under a massive wave of new controls and surveillance by the Chinese government after rolling out a national security law. While the US State Department is reviewing a ban here, it remains to be seen if TikTok maker ByteDance will relaunch a censored version of the app in Hong Kong. Since the new national security law, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Telegram have all said they would stop or suspend data review requests from Hong Kong authorities. Apple is also reviewing whether to do likewise, but is in a somewhat different position, since the company produces much of its hardware in China.

Microsoft is apparently eyeing Warner’s Game unit. According to the Information, they are interested in the intellectual property behind game franchises based on Batman, Harry Potter, and other marquis characters. As yet, Warner games parent AT&T hasn’t decided to let go of the unit. It may instead just pay down the $154 billion in debt…which partially flows from the telecom giant’s 2018 acquisition of Time Warner, which is now branded WarnerMedia. If Microsoft were able to cut a deal, grabbing such major characters and their ‘universes’ would be a big plus to the Xbox group.

Former Microsoft exec Peggy Johnson takes over the Big Chair as CEO of Magic Leap. Cnet.com says she will take the reins beginning August 1st. Magic Leap was started in 2011, and built one of the first AR headsets, sucking up $2.3 billion in the process…much of which came from Google. They reportedly only sold about 6,000 sets of the Magic Leap One headsets…which ran $2295 each! Johnson had been EVP for Business Development…joining Microsoft in 2014. Prior to that, she had been in leadership roles at Qualcomm for 24 years.

It’s been in the works for years, but Seattle finally approved a tax on the wealth generated by tech and other cash rich industries. The City Council Monday voted to tax the highest salaries from companies with annual payroll expenses of $7 million or more. Geekwire.com reports that the new tax will initially fund coronavirus relief, and eventually help fund affordable housing and homeless services. This tax incorporates a tiered system ranging from .7% (on a $150,000 salary) up to 2.4% (the latter on salaries above $400,000.) Stock grants are included, but stock options are not. The city thinks the tax will generate more than $200 million a year.


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