Amazon Offers $2 Million Pot to Get Workers Vaccinated; Apple Talks With South Korean EV Part Makers; Zynga Dumping SF HQ; Google Restricts Ads to Minors

As the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc, Amazon has jumped in and is offering $2 million in cash and prizes in a lotto to get its frontline workers vaccinated. Geekwire.com reports that they have dubbed the contest ‘Max Your Vax.’ There will be 18 prizes, including two $500,000 cash jackpots, 6 $100,000 jackpots, 5 new vehicles, and 5 vacation packages. Amazon still hasn’t mandated vaccines for its over 1.3 million employees, though. They have put in place mask requirements in fulfillment centers, including all workers, vaccinated or not, and are requiring proof of vaccination for anyone returning to the offices. Last week, Amazon backed its return to office date to January 3, 2022. 

As the buzz about the next iPhones continues to grow, with the usual September announcement date approaching, Cupertino is back in South Korea under the radar, talking to electric vehicle component makers. According to macdailynews.com, they aren’t talking to Hyundai/Kia about building an EV for them in this run (but may be…as well as to several other car makers Apple has been rumored to have spoken with), but are talking with LG, Sk, and Hanwha. Apple seems to be looking into powertrain manufacture, and particularly battery tech. They are reportedly considering using a Lithium iron phosphate battery (LFP) instead of the lithium ion batteries widely used in EVs right now. the LFP batteries have weaker performance at lower temperatures, but they cost less. Apple reportedly has figured out a way to ‘radically’ reduce battery costs AND increase EV range. THAT would be a ‘killer app’ for EVs!

Game maker Zynga is reading the tea leaves, and going to a modified WFH, limited days in office system for its more than 500 Bay Area employees. SFgate reports that this includes letting go of their iconic headquarters building with the giant dog sign just off the skyway in San Francisco. Right now, they lease 185,000 square feet in the building on Townsend…although the company originally bought the building and filled it. Later, they sold it off, and leased back some of the space. Airbnb leases more of the space in the building. Zynga says they will keep some employees full time in the office at Chartboost and Echtra, which it owns, as well as in San Mateo. Most will work from home, or come into the office 1 to 2 days a week…as is true of a number of tech and other companies. 

First off, this shouldn’t even be news. ALL big tech companies and others should have already restricted ad targeting of minors. The government pushed cereal makers into doing this over ads in Saturday morning cartoons decades ago. Nonetheless, theverge.com reports that Google will no longer allow ad targeting of kids based on age, gender, or interests. They are also adding an option to let users under 18 to ask for their images to be removed from Google search results, and making uploads to YouTube by youngsters default to the most private setting. This follows Facebook’s changes made last month to Instagram…although that applies to those under 16. Google notes that a request to remove photos can’t get them erased from the web entirely…but most kids are more aware of this than adults! These changes are rolling ones, but should be most places in the next few weeks. 



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