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Petition Asks the Developers of Phoenix OS to Open Source the Kernel
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '17 at 01:01 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's for-the-love-of-god department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Android is mainly considered an open source mobile operating system, but there are a number of closed source elements that hundreds of millions of people use every day. The actual requirements of Android is that the kernel be open sourced for the public. This is enforced by the GPL but sadly this is one of those gray areas where someone actually needs to take legal action to enforce it. Some companies have violated this time and time again, and a new petition is calling for the developers of Phoenix OS to do the right thing. For those who are unaware, Phoenix OS is one of the only full desktop versions of Android that is still being maintained. [...] So a dedicated fan of the platform, Karol Putra, has created a Change.org petition in hopes that it will change their minds.

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Millions of Time Warner Cable Customer Records Exposed in Third-Party Data Leak
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '17 at 11:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
About four million Time Warner Cable records containing details of its customers were found unsecured on an Amazon server last month, tech website Gizmodo reported on Friday. From a report: The files, more than 600GB in size, were discovered on August 24 by the Kromtech Security Center while its researchers were investigating an unrelated data breach at World Wrestling Entertainment. Two Amazon S3 buckets were eventually found and linked to BroadSoft, a global communications company that partners with service providers, including AT&T and TWC. The 4 million TWC records are not all tied to unique customers, meaning 4 million individual people were not exposed by the breach. Due to the sheer size of the cache, it was not immediately clear precisely how subscribers were affected. The leaked data included usernames, emails addresses, MAC addresses, device serial numbers, and financial transaction information -- though it does not appear that any Social Security numbers or credit card information was exposed.

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Juicero, Maker of the Infamous $400 Juicer, Is Shutting Down
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '17 at 11:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's enough-already department:
Beth Kowitt, reporting for Fortune: Juicero has run out of juice. The San Francisco-based maker of counter-top cold-press juicers said today that it is shutting down operations and suspending the sale of its presses and produce packs immediately. The announcement on the company's website comes after the startup said in July that it was undergoing a "strategic shift" to more quickly lower the cost of its $399 juicers and $5-7 juice packs filled with raw fruits and vegetables. As part of the shift, the company said then that it would lay off about a quarter of its staff. At the time, Juicero CEO Jeff Dunn wrote in a letter to employees obtained by Fortune that the current prices were "not a realistic way for us to fulfill our mission at the scale to which we aspire." But Juicero realized it couldn't bring down the cost of its products as a standalone company. It was too small to achieve the required economies of scale on its own. The company will now focus on finding a buyer, it wrote in Friday's blog post. From an article in April: After the product hit the market, some investors were surprised to discover a much cheaper alternative: You can squeeze the Juicero bags with your bare hands.

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Apple Acknowledges Siri Leadership Has Officially Moved From Eddy Cue To Craig Federighi
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '17 at 10:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's musical-chair department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Apple has updated its executive leadership page to acknowledge that software engineering chief Craig Federighi now officially oversees development of Siri. The responsibility previously belonged to Apple's services chief Eddy Cue. "Craig Federighi is Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering, reporting to CEO Tim Cook. Craig oversees the development of iOS, macOS, and Siri. His teams are responsible for delivering the software at the heart of Apple's innovative products, including the user interface, applications and frameworks," Apple says. Apple's leadership page is only now reflecting Federighi's role as head of Siri, but the transition has been apparent for several months, based on recent interviews and stage appearances at Apple's keynotes.

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US Employers Struggle To Match Workers With Open Jobs
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '17 at 10:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's where-we-are department:
In the United States, there's a record number of jobs open: around 6 million. That's just about one job opening for every officially unemployed person in the country. From a report: Matching the unemployed with the right job is difficult, but there are some things employers could do to improve the odds. Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist for the job site Glassdoor, says U.S. employers often complain that workers don't have the skills needed for the jobs available. That is true for some upper-level health care and technology jobs. "But for the most part, it doesn't look to be like there is a skills gap," Chamberlain says. "That's not the main reason why there are many job openings." Chamberlain says that with unemployment so low and the U.S. labor force growing slowly, there's no doubt it is harder for companies to find workers. But he says if that were the main problem, you would see wages rising more rapidly in the economy -- and that's not the case in many industries. Part of the hiring problem, Chamberlain says, lies in company hiring policies.

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Linux Desktop Market Share Crosses 3%
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '17 at 09:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's milestone department:
Data for the month of August 2017 from reliable market analytics firm Net Applications is here, and it suggests that Linux has finally surpassed the three percent mark, quite possibly for the first time in recent years. According to Net Applications, the desktop market share of Linux jumped from 2.53 percent in July to 3.37 percent in August. There's no explanation for what amounted for this growth.

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Facebook Has Mapped the Entire Human Population of Earth
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '17 at 09:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's it's-getting-creepier-by-day department:
Facebook doesn't only know what its 2 billion users "Like." It now knows where 7.5 billion humans live, everywhere on earth, to within 15 feet. From a report: The company has created a data map of the planet's entire human population by combining government census numbers with information it's obtained from space satellites, according to Janna Lewis, Facebook's head of strategic innovation partnerships and sourcing. The mapping technology, which Facebook says it developed itself, can pinpoint any man-made structures in any country on earth to a resolution of five meters. Facebook is using the data to understand the precise distribution of humans around the planet.

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Windows 10 Fall Creators Update to Arrive October 17
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '17 at 07:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's next-act department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Microsoft announced this morning that the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update will be made available worldwide on October 17, in step with a new lineup of Windows Mixed Reality headsets that require this release. "We are coming up on our fourth major update to Windows 10, and our mission with these updates is to create a platform that inspires your creativity," Microsoft corporate vice president Terry Myerson says. "The next update of Windows 10, the Fall Creators Update, will be available worldwide October 17. With the Fall Creators Update, we are introducing some fun, new ways to get creative." The Fall Creators Update will upgrade Windows 10 to version 1709 and it brings a number of new features and improvements, especially to key experiences like gaming, security, and photos. But no new technology weighs as heavily on this update as Windows Mixed Reality, Microsoft's attempt to take virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) mainstream.

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Google Abused Its Power By Quashing a Report Critical Of Its Service, Reporter Says
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '17 at 07:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's big-G department:
In the wake of claims that Google got a think-tank research team sacked for criticizing the company, a respected journalist is alleging other abuses by the search giant. Kashmir Hill, a reporter at Gizmodo, is claiming that when she worked for Forbes six years ago, Google told the the magazine's staff that if publishers didn't add the "+" Google Plus social network button at the bottom of stories, those articles would come up lower in search results. From her report: I published a story headlined, "Stick Google Plus Buttons On Your Pages, Or Your Search Traffic Suffers," that included bits of conversation from the meeting. (An internet marketing group scraped the story after it was published and a version can still be found here.) Google promptly flipped out. This was in 2011, around the same time that a congressional antitrust committee was looking into whether the company was abusing its powers. Google never challenged the accuracy of the reporting. Instead, a Google spokesperson told me that I needed to unpublish the story because the meeting had been confidential, and the information discussed there had been subject to a non-disclosure agreement between Google and Forbes. (I had signed no such agreement, hadn't been told the meeting was confidential, and had identified myself as a journalist.) It escalated quickly from there. I was told by my higher-ups at Forbes that Google representatives called them saying that the article was problematic and had to come down. The implication was that it might have consequences for Forbes, a troubling possibility given how much traffic came through Google searches and Google News. [...] Given that I'd gone to the Google PR team before publishing, and it was already out in the world, I felt it made more sense to keep the story up. Ultimately, though, after continued pressure from my bosses, I took the piece down -- a decision I will always regret. Forbes declined comment about this. But the most disturbing part of the experience was what came next: Somehow, very quickly, search results stopped showing the original story at all. As I recall it -- and although it has been six years, this episode was seared into my memory -- a cached version remained shortly after the post was unpublished, but it was soon scrubbed from Google search results. That was unusual; websites captured by Google's crawler did not tend to vanish that quickly.

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Oracle Finally Decides To Stop Prolonging the Inevitable, Begins Hardware Layoffs
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '17 at 06:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's so-it-begins department:
Shaun Nichols, reporting for The Register: Oracle is starting layoffs that will hit its hardware division, The Register has learned. Current and some soon-to-be former staffers have whispered that the database giant is shipping out packages containing the paperwork for ending their employment. The workers have received alerts from FedEx that the packages, which will need to be signed for, are en route for a September 1 delivery. "One of my co-workers emailed that he received a notification from FedEx of a label created by Oracle America, Inc," writes one anonymous employee. "I just checked and a label has been created for my home address. This is in the US. Looks like Friday is it for Sparc MicroElectronics." The layoffs are hardly a surprise, given the performance of Oracle's hardware unit as of late. In the last financial year, Oracle reported hardware revenues of $4.15bn. By comparison, in 2016 the unit logged hardware revenues of $4.67bn. In 2015 it was $5.2bn, and 2014 saw $5.37bn.

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Comcast Sues Vermont To Avoid Building 550 Miles of New Cable Lines
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '17 at 06:21 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's back-and-forth department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Comcast has sued the state of Vermont to try to avoid a requirement to build 550 miles of new cable lines. Comcast's lawsuit against the Vermont Public Utility Commission (VPUC) was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Vermont and challenges several provisions in the cable company's new 11-year permit to offer services in the state. One of the conditions in the permit says that "Comcast shall construct no less than 550 miles of line extensions into un-cabled areas during the [11-year] term." Comcast would rather not do that. The company's court complaint says that Vermont is exceeding its authority under the federal Cable Act while also violating state law and Comcast's constitutional rights: "The VPUC claimed that it could impose the blanket 550-mile line extension mandate on Comcast because it is the 'largest' cable operator in Vermont and can afford it. These discriminatory conditions contravene federal and state law, amount to undue speaker-based burdens on Comcast's protected speech under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution... and deprive Comcast and its subscribers of the benefits of Vermont law enjoyed by other cable operators and their subscribers without a just and rational basis, in violation of the Common Benefits Clause of the Vermont Constitution."

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The Oldest Known Human Remains In the Americas Have Been Found In a Mexican Cave
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '17 at 02:21 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's lost-and-found department:
schwit1 shares a report from Seeker: An ice-free corridor between the Americas and Asia opened up about 12,500 years ago, allowing humans to cross over the Bering land bridge to settle what is now the United States and places beyond to the south. History books have conveyed that information for years to explain how the Americas were supposedly first settled by people, such as those from the Clovis culture. At least one part of the Americas was already occupied by humans before that time, however, says new research on the skeleton of a male youth found in Chan Hol cave near Tulum, Mexico. Dubbed the Young Man of Chan Hol, the remains date to 13,000 years ago, according to a paper published in the journal PLOS ONE. How he arrived at the location remains a great mystery given the timing and the fact that Mexico is well over 4,000 miles away from the Bering land crossing. For the new study, Gonzalez, Stinnesbeck, and their colleagues dated the Young Man of Chan Hol's remains by analyzing the bones' uranium, carbon, and oxygen isotopes, which were also found in stalagmite that had grown through the pelvic bone. The scientists believe that the resulting age of 13,000 years could apply to at least two other skeletons found in caves around Tulum: a teenage female named Naia and a 25-30-year-old female named Eve of Naharon. Gonzalez said that the shape of the skulls suggests that Eve and the others "have more of an affinity with people from Southeast Asia." He and his team further speculated that the individuals could have originated in Indonesia.

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India's Workhorse Rocket Fails For the First Time In Decades
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '17 at 11:40 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's unknown-malfunctions department:
India's premier rocket, known as the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, failed to put a navigation satellite into orbit earlier this morning, after some unknown malfunction prevented the satellite from leaving the vehicle. The Verge reports: The rocket successfully took off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in southeastern India at 9:30AM ET. About a little over 10 minutes into the flight, however, the rocket seemed to be in a lower altitude than it need to be. A host during the live broadcast of the launch noted that there was a "variation" in the rocket's performance. Later, an official with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) confirmed that the payload fairing -- the cone-like structure that surrounds the satellite on the top of the rocket -- failed to separate and expose the satellite to space. So the satellite was effectively trapped inside the fairing and could not be deployed into orbit. It seems possible that the rocket's low trajectory had to do with the fact that the fairing didn't separate, making the vehicle heavier than it was supposed to be. It's an unexpected failure for a fairly reliable rocket. Over the last 24 years, the PSLV has flown 41 times and has only suffered two failures in its launch history -- the most recent mishap occurring during a mission in 1997. However, that mission was not a total loss as the satellite it carried was still able to make it to orbit. This was the first total failure of the rocket to happen since the PSLV's very first failure in 1993.

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Stanford Study Finds New Dads In US Are Older Than Ever
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '17 at 07:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's daddy-day-care department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Mercury News: American fathers keep getting older, raising the prospect of increased birth defects but also greater economic and emotional security for U.S. families, according to new research from Stanford University's School of Medicine. The average age of the fathers of newborns in the United States has climbed by 3.5 years over the past four decades, growing from 27.4 years in 1972 to 30.9 years in 2015, said the study -- the nation's most detailed analysis ever of paternal age. The number of newborns whose fathers were over age 40 has more than doubled over the past four decades. Those births now make up nearly 9 percent of births in the U.S., Dr. Michael Eisenberg and Yash Khandwala reported in the journal Human Reproduction. The share of fathers who were over age 50 rose from 0.5 percent to 0.9 percent. Asian-American fathers -- men of Japanese and Vietnamese descent, in particular -- are the oldest, becoming fathers at the average age of 36 years, the study said. Black and Hispanic men are the youngest fathers -- age 30.4 and 30, respectively. White men, on average, have children at age 31. Paternal age rose with educational attainment. The typical newborn's father with a college degree is 33.3 years old -- compared with 29.8 years for high school graduates.

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Hacking Retail Gift Cards Remains Scarily Easy
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '17 at 06:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's so-easy-a-caveman-can-do-it department:
Willium Caput, a researcher for the firm Evolve Security, examined a stack of gift cards he obtained from a major Mexican restaurant chain and noticed a pattern: aside from the final four digits of the cards that appeared to be random, the rest remained constant except one digit that appeared to increase by one with every card he examined. Andy Greenberg explains how Caput plans to defraud the system in his report via WIRED (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source): "You take a small sample of gift cards from restaurants, department stores, movie theaters, even airlines, look at the pattern, determine the other cards that have been sold to customers and steal the value on them," says Caput. To pull off the trick, Caput says he has to obtain at least one of the target company's gift cards. Unactivated cards often sit out for the taking at restaurants and retailers, or he can just buy one. (Not all cards change by a value of one, as that first Mexican restaurant did. But Caput says obtaining two or three cards can help to determine the patterns of those that don't.) Then he simply visits the web page that the store or restaurant uses for checking a card's value. From there, he runs the bruteforcing software Burp Intruder to cycle through all 10,000 possible values for the four random digits at the end of the card's number, a process that takes about 10 minutes. By repeating the process and incrementing the other, predictable numbers, the site will confirm exactly which cards have how much value. "If you can find just one of their gift cards or vouchers, you can bruteforce the website," he says. Once a thief has determined those activated, value-holding card numbers, he or she can use them on the retailer's ecommerce page, or even in person; Caput's written them to a blank plastic card with a $120 magnetic-strip writing device available on Amazon, and found that most retailers accept his cards without questions. (Caput only asks the store or restaurant to check the card's balance, rather than spend any money from the cards belonging to actual victims.) "It's a pretty anonymous attack," Caput says. "I can go in, order food, and walk out. The person's card says it has $50 on it, and then it's gone." Caput said he plans to present his findings at the Toorcon hacker conference this weekend.

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Samsung Gets Self-Driving Car Permit In California
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '17 at 06:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's join-the-club department:
Samsung on Wednesday has obtained a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to test autonomous cars on the streets of California. Samsung joins a group of other tech companies already on the list, including Apple, Uber, Nvidia and Alphabet's Waymo, as well as several automakers like Ford, BMW, Volkswagen and Tesla. CNET reports: Samsung confirmed the news, but said it doesn't plan to actually manufacture self-driving cars. "As a global leader in connectivity, memory, and sensor technology, Samsung Electronics looks forward to participating in California's Autonomous Vehicle Tester Program and joining in the pursuit of a smarter, safer transportation future," a Samsung spokesman said in a statement. "While we have no plans to enter the car-manufacturing business, we are excited to help develop and deliver the next generation of automotive innovation." The company received a permit from the South Korean government to test autonomous cars in that country in May. Last year, it bought a car tech company called Harman for $8 billion.

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SanDisk Breaks Storage Record With 400GB MicroSD Card
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '17 at 05:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's record-breaking department:
SanDisk has managed to cram 400GB into a microSD card, making it the largest microSD card currently on the market. The company said the capacity breakthrough was the result of Western Digital, the company that owns SanDisk, "leveraging its proprietary memory technology and design and production processes that allow for more bits per die." The nitty-gritty details weren't revealed beyond that. ExtremeTech reports: The speed appears to come with a tradeoff. SanDisk trumpets its A1 speed rating, saying: "Rated A1, the SanDisk Ultra microSD card is optimized for apps, delivering faster app launch and performance that provides a better smartphone experience." This is a generous reading of the A1's target performance specification. Last year, the SD Association released a report discussing the App Performance Class memory card specification and why the spec was created in the first place. When Android added support for running applications from an SD card, there was a need to make certain the cards people bought would be quick enough to run apps in the first place. The A1 is rated for 1500 read and 500 write IOPS, with a sequential transfer speed of 10MB/s. This SanDisk drive should run applications just fine. SanDisk claims it can be used for recording video, not just storing it. But it's not going to be fast enough for 4K data; Class 10 devices are limited to 10MB/s of sequential write performance. Obviously not all phones support shooting in 4K anyway, so whether this is a limitation will depend on what device you plan to plug it into. The 100MB/s speed trumpeted by Western Digital is a reference to read speeds; write speeds are lower and likely closer to the 10MB/s sequential target mentioned above. The microSD card is expected to retail for $250.

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Hollywood is Suffering Its Worst-attended Summer Movie Season in 25 years
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '17 at 05:01 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's reality-check department:
The number of movie tickets sold in the U.S. this summer (425 million) is likely to be the lowest level since 1992, the L.A. Times reports. "Theaters, studios hit by summer box-office blues." The reason: Too many bad movies, including sequels, reboots and aging franchises that no one wanted to see. Some point to rising ticket prices, which hit a record high in the second quarter. From the report: Then there are long-term challenges, including competition from streaming services such as Netflix and the influence of the movie review site Rotten Tomatoes. How about all of the above? What is clear: This summer was marred with multiple high-profile films that flopped stateside, including "The Mummy," "Baywatch," "The Dark Tower" and "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword." Sequels in the "Alien," "Transformers" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchises also disappointed. The business is also reckoning with broader, longer-term threats that have kept Americans from flocking to theaters the way they used to. People now have more entertainment options than ever, and cinemas have struggled to keep up, despite efforts to adapt with improved technology and services, industry analysts say. The problem is exacerbated by an unforgiving social media environment in which bad movies are immediately punished by online word of mouth.

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Amazon Sold Eclipse Glasses That Cause 'Permanent Blindness,' Alleges Lawsuit
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '17 at 03:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's blinded-by-the-light department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A South Carolina couple claims in a proposed federal class-action lawsuit (PDF) that Amazon sold defective eclipse-watching glasses that partially blinded them during the historic coast-to-coast solar eclipse on August 21. Corey Payne and fiance Kayla Harris say in their lawsuit that because of the eyewear Payne purchased from Amazon, the couple is now suffering from "blurriness, a central blind spot, increased sensitivity, changes in perception of color, and distorted vision." Amazon issued a recall of defective and perhaps counterfeit eclipse eyewear in an e-mail sent out to customers before the event. Payne said he did not receive the message. His suit seeks to represent others who were injured or may be injured from the eyewear purchased on Amazon. The alleged Tennessee-based maker of the glasses, American Paper Optics, is not named in the suit. The suit seeks funds "for medical monitoring" because "Plaintiffs and members of the proposed class have or will experience varying degrees of eye injury ranging from temporary discomfort to permanent blindness." The suit also demands unspecified monetary damages, punitive damages, and legal fees and costs.

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Postmates Lays Off All Its City Managers
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '17 at 03:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's expanding-and-contracting department:
According to TechCrunch, Postmates has let go of all of its city managers, as it centralizes some of its operations at its headquarters in San Francisco. "The total number of people affected by the move is 15 across markets like Boston, Denver, Las Vegas, Nashville, New York, Philadelphia, St Louis, San Diego, and Washington, DC," reports TechCrunch. From the report: In a statement, Postmates said that general managers will take on city managers' responsibilities. "Postmates has grown rapidly over the last six years -- and continues to grow in more than 200 cities across the U.S. As part of that growth, we've decided to centralize some of our regional marketing efforts within our San Francisco headquarters," a spokesperson said in the emailed statement. "Centralizing these functions will enable us to execute more quickly -- and ultimately help us be more nimble and effective as we continue to aggressively scale the company. Our general managers will remain in place and continue to help lead our local efforts. We are thankful to our city managers for all their hard work, and we're confident that they will be successful in their future endeavors." One of the tipsters, an ex-city manager, said that employees were taken by surprise: Postmates had just earlier this month organized a retreat for the city managers, which they saw as a team building exercise. The tipster also added that the murmurs were that the cost-cutting was being done "as a precursor to an acquisition," but Postmates' spokesperson denied that this is the case, and also ruled out a merger and fundraising as reasons for the cuts.

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