An Astonishing 773 Million Records Exposed in Monster Breach

There are breaches, and there are megabreaches, and there’s Equifax. But a newly revealed trove of leaked data tops them all for sheer volume: 772,904,991 unique email addresses, over 21 million unique passwords, all recently posted to a hacking forum.

The data set was first reported by security researcher Troy Hunt, who maintains Have I Been Pwned, a way to search whether your own email or password has been compromised by a breach at any point. (Trick question: It has.) The so-called Collection #1 is the largest breach in Hunt’s menagerie, and it’s not particularly close.

The Hack

If anything, the above numbers belie the real volume of the breach, as they reflect Hunt’s effort to clean up the data set to account for duplicates and to strip out unusable bits. In raw form, it comprises 2.7 billion rows of email addresses and passwords, including over a billion unique combinations of email addresses and passwords.

The trove appeared briefly on MEGA, the cloud service, and persisted on what Hunt refers to as “a popular hacking forum.” It sat in a folder called Collection #1, which contained over 12,000 files that weigh in at over 87 gigabytes. While it’s difficult to confirm exactly where all that info came from, it appears to be something of a breach of breaches; that is to say, it claims to aggregate over 2,000 leaked databases that contain passwords whose protective hashing has been cracked.

“It just looks like a completely random collection of sites purely to maximize the number of credentials available to hackers,” Hunt tells WIRED. “There’s no obvious patterns, just maximum exposure.”

That sort of Voltron breach has happened before, but never on this scale. In fact, not only is this the largest breach to become public, it’s second only to Yahoo’s pair of incidents—which affected 1 billion and 3 billion users, respectively—in size. Fortunately, the stolen Yahoo data hasn’t surfaced. Yet.

Who’s Affected?

The accumulated lists seem designed for use in so-called credential-stuffing attacks, in which hackers throw email and password combinations at a given site or service. These are typically automated processes that prey especially on people who reuse passwords across the whole wide internet.

The silver lining in Collection #1 going public is that you can definitively find out if your email and password were among the impacted accounts. Hunt has already loaded them into Have I Been Pwned; just type in your email address and keep those fingers crossed. While you’re there you can also find out how many previous breaches you’ve been a victim of. Whatever password you’re using on those accounts, change it.

Have I Been Pwned also introduced a password-search feature a year and a half ago; you can just type in whatever passwords go with your most sensitive accounts to see if they’re out in the open. If they are, change them.

And while you’re at it, get a password manager. It’s well past time.

How Serious Is This?

Pretty darn serious! While it doesn’t appear to include more sensitive information, like credit card or Social Security numbers, Collection #1 is historic for scale alone. A few elements also make it especially unnerving. First, around 140 million email accounts and over 10 million unique passwords in Collection #1 are new to Hunt’s database, meaning they’re not just duplicates from prior megabreaches.

Then there’s the way in which those passwords are saved in Collection #1. “These are all plain text passwords. If we take a breach like Dropbox, there may have been 68 million unique email addresses in there, but the passwords were cryptographically hashes making them very difficult to use,” says Hunt. Instead, the only technical prowess someone with access to the folders needs to break into your accounts is the ability to scroll and click.

And lastly, Hunt also notes that all of these records were sitting not in some dark web backwater, but on one of the most popular cloud storage sites—until it got taken down—and then on a public hacking site. They weren’t even for sale; they were just available for anyone to take.

The usual advice for protecting yourself applies. Never reuse passwords across multiple sites; it increases your exposure by orders of magnitude. Get a password manager. Have I Been Pwned integrates directly into 1Password—automatically checking all of your passwords against its database—but you’ve got no shortage of good options. Enable app-based two-factor authentication on as many accounts as you can, so that a password isn’t your only line of defense. And if you do find your email address or one of your passwords in Have I Been Pwned, at least know that you’re in good company.


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Verizon deepens ties with Apple, offers free Apple Music to some U.S. customers

FILE PHOTO: An Apple company logo is seen behind tree branches outside an Apple store in Beijing, China December 14, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

(Reuters) – Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) said on Tuesday it will include free Apple Music subscriptions in some of its top-tier U.S. data plans, deepening its ties with the iPhone maker.

Apple Inc (AAPL.O) is increasingly turning for growth to its services segment, which includes businesses such as iCloud storage, Apple Music and the App Store, and has been partnering with rivals in recent months. Two weeks ago, it cut its revenue forecast, blaming iPhone sales in China.

Verizon customers opting for its “Beyond Unlimited” and “Above Unlimited” plans will also get access to free Apple Music from Jan. 17, the U.S. wireless carrier said in a statement vz.to/2RtAiYk.

Last year, Verizon and Apple announced a partnership, giving some customers six months of Apple Music streaming service along with their data plan. The Verizon “Go Unlimited” plan will continue to get a six-month free trial of Apple Music.

Apple in the last few months has made its iTunes service available on some of Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s (005930.KS) newer smart televisions and has made Apple Music available on Amazon.com Inc’s (AMZN.O) Echo smart speakers.

The Cupertino-based firm is facing a saturated global smart phone market and many users are hanging on to their old iPhones longer than ever.

Reporting by Subrat Patnaik and Supriya Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

Bracing for a Hazy Robo-Future, Ford and VW Join Forces

Sensor partnerships. Subsidiary acquisitions. Software collaborations. The autonomous driving world is about as incestous a place as Caligula’s palace, and it got a little more so today, when Ford and Volkswagen announced a formal and long-anticipated alliance.

“The alliance we are now building, starting from first formal agreement, will boost both partners’ competitiveness in an era of rapid change,” Herbert Diess, the CEO of Volkswagen, said on a call with reporters. He and Ford CEO Jim Hackett said the partnership—which is not a merger—will begin with the companies jointly developing and building medium-sized pickups and commercial vans, to debut as early as 2022. The automakers said the arrangement should “yield improved annual pre-tax operating results” by 2023. So hopefully, this makes everyone richer.

After that, well, the companies have signed a “memorandum of understanding” to collaborate on electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, and mobility services. The shape and details of those partnerships are yet to be determined.

Diess is right about that “rapid change” bit. The automotive industry has shifted remarkably in the last decade, with new vehicle and vehicle-adjacent tech players—Tesla, Waymo, Aurora, Argo AI—injecting fresh blood (and panic) into the business of building cars. Ford and VW seem to believe that banding together will help them not only survive, but thrive.

The companies will need to do that in a world where, eventually, someday, the human driver is obsolete. The path to self-driving domination is not yet clear. What services will automotive manufacturers manage for themselves? Which technologies will they build and own? Ford and VW have spent the last few years toying with different answers to these questions, and by joining forces, each has diversified its AV portfolio. It might be evidence, as automotive writer Pete Bigelow points out, that the companies are making smart, strategic decisions about how to spend their R & D dollars in this confusing, in-between time. Or that they’re flailing. Maybe both.

Both VW and Ford already have (quasi) in-house automated vehicle software teams. VW has built up a 150-person “Autonomous Intelligent Driving” unit as part of its Audi brand, which is building a full AV software stack. (Audi itself has pledged to spend $16 billion on electric and self-driving vehicles through 2023.) And the German automaker is working on self-driving with the AV developer Aurora, which is headed up by self-driving tech veterans.

Ford has a large stake in Pittsburgh-based AV software company Argo AI, whose work is a key element of the automaker’s pledge to have a fully automated robotaxi in operation by 2021. And it has spent time and money boning up on “mobility” tech, purchasing companies like transit software-maker TransLoc, transportation cloud platform Autonomic, (recently killed) shuttle service Chariot, and scooter-share company Spin. It’s trying to figure out how best to connect customers to transportation, and what they’d like to see out of a transportation service, anyway.

It’s not clear yet how these various minglings will affect Ford and VW’s work. Argo AI is involved in the discussions between the companies, but specifics are scarce. “We’re not going to speculate on the details of the advanced discussions that are ongoing,” says Alan Hall, a spokesperson for Ford.

Khobi Brooklyn, a spokesperson for Aurora, did not say what role the company might play in the alliance. “As we continue to build relationships across the transportation ecosystem with providers of vehicles, transportation networks and fleet management operations, we are confident that we will be able to deliver the benefits of self-driving technology safely, quickly, and broadly,” she wrote in a statement. Aurora has said that it has not ruled out working with other automotive manufacturers on self-driving cars; it also has partnerships with Hyundai and EV startup Byton.

Another element of this “diversification” that should benefit both companies: They get easier access to the others’ regional strengths—and regulatory environments. VW has invested serious money in South America, Africa, and China. But despite a new plan to establish a plant in Tennessee, the German carmaker is weaker in the US, Ford’s home turf. “From Volkswagen’s perspective, it would make a lot of sense to cooperate with an American player given that the regulatory conditions for preparing the breakthrough of autonomous driving are more advanced in the US than they are in Europe,” Diess told reporters. Break out those German-English dictionaries.


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Bio-Printers Are Churning out Living Fixes to Broken Spines

For doctors and medical researchers repairing the human body, a 3D printer has become almost as valuable as an x-ray machine, microscope, or a sharp scalpel. Bioengineers are using 3D printers to make more durable hip and knee joints, prosthetic limbs and, recently, to produce living tissue attached to a scaffold of printed material.

Researchers say that bio-printed tissue can be used to test the effects of drug treatments, for example, with an eventual goal of printing entire organs that can be grown and then transplanted into a patient. The latest step towards 3D-printed replacements of failed human parts comes from a team at the University of California San Diego. It has bio-printed a section of spinal cord that can be custom-fit into a patient’s injury.

UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering

The scientists first printed out small implants made of softgel and filled them with neural stem cells, again using a printer. The implants were then surgically placed inside a tiny gap in a rat’s spinal cord. Over time the new nerve cells and axons grew and formed new connections across the cut spinal cord of the animal. These nerve cells connected not only with one another but with the host spinal cord tissue and the circulatory systems of the patient, which helps ensure their survival in the body. The precision 3D printing allowed the softgel and cellular matrix to fit accurately into the wound.

The UCSD team, led by Shaochen Chen, a professor of nanoengineering, and neuroscientist Mark Tuszinski, published their findings today in the journal Nature Medicine. Most work on 3D bio-printing is done in culture dishes, but this experiment was unique in that the team was able to do this in laboratory rats, and because the lab-grown cells then successfully bridged the gap of a cut spinal cord and partially restored movement to the animal’s hind quarters.

“They were able to reorient the cells that create scar tissue and create new connections,” says Christine Schmidt, a professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Florida who was not associated with this new research. “This has always been a huge challenge in the field. That is really novel.”

Bio-printers use a computer-guided pipette to layer living cells, referred to as bio-ink, on top of one another to create artificial living tissue in a laboratory. Most bio-printers can only print down to 200 microns, but this group developed a method of producing tissue down to 1 micron, Chen says. This higher resolution meant they were able to more accurately reconstruct the mixture of gray and white matter that makes up the spinal cord.

The team also was able to mimic the structure of a real spinal cord that has gray matter in the middle and a protective white sheath of myelin nerve cells around it. The hope is that as a result, the implant will be able to seamlessly replace a damaged section of a person’s spine, something that hasn’t been possible so far. “That’s the beauty of our 3D printing,” Chen says. “I can mimic the structure. Other people couldn’t do the same.”

But Chen and his team have several hurdles to clear before people with spinal cord injuries can walk again. First, most such injuries result from crushed, rather than cut or completely severed, spinal cord tissue. In this study, the animals’ spines were cut. Because real-world injuries typically don’t produce a clean break, it won’t be so easy to simply slot a new segment into a person’s spine. Second, the technique has to be tested in primates before entering human clinical trials. In the meantime, Chen and his colleagues have other ideas for bio-printing tissue, creating mini-organs to test the effects of various drug treatments. In the past two years, the team has also created bio-printed liver and heart tissue.

How far could bio-printing be pushed? Last year, bioengineers at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine created the first 3D printed brain “organoid” that contains all six kinds of cell types found in normal human anatomy. Of course that’s nowhere near an actual thinking brain. Florida’s Schmidt says that may take a few more decades of both engineering and brain science.

“Right now, they could print the materials that mimic the structure of the brain and add biochemical cues and extra-cellular matrix molecules,” says Schmidt. “But there is still so much that is not known about how the brain functions.” Bio-printing a new brain sounds like a neat idea, perhaps the trickier job is the programming.


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Screens Might Be as Bad for Mental Health as … Potatoes

Psychologists can’t seem to agree what technology is doing to our sense of well-being. Some say digital devices have become a bane of modern life; others claim they’re a balm for it. Between them lies a shadowy landscape of non-consensus: As the director the National Institutes of Health recently told Congress, research into technology’s effects on our thoughts, behaviors, and development has produced limited—and often contradictory—findings.

As if that uncertainty weren’t vexing enough, many of those findings have sprung from the same source: Giant datasets that compile survey data from thousands or even millions of participants. “The problem is, two researchers can look at the same data and come away with completely different findings and prescriptions for society,” says psychologist Andrew Przybylski, director of research at the Oxford Internet Institute. “Technological optimists tend to find positive correlations. If they’re pessimists, they tend to find negative ones.”

In the latest issue of Nature Human Behavior, Przybylski and co-author Amy Orben use a novel statistical method to show why scientists studying these colossal datasets have been getting such different results, and why most of the associations researchers have found, positive and negative, alike, are very small—and probably not worth freaking out about.

Consider the Millennium Cohort Study. An ongoing investigation into the long-term health outcomes of more than 200,000 Americans, the survey contains dozens of questions whose answers a researcher could reasonably interpret as relevant to a person’s well-being. Those questions span topics as disparate as self esteem, suicidal thoughts, and overall life satisfaction. “But different researchers have different conceptions of well-being, and can choose different questions to fit that conception,” Orben says.

Whether they realize it or not, a researcher who chooses to focus only on certain questions is making a decision to pursue one analytical path at the exclusion of many, many others. How many? In the case of the MCS, combining the survey’s questions on well-being with those on things like TV watching, video game habits, and social media use produces a total of 603,979,752 analytical paths a researcher could take. Combine them with questions directed to the caregivers of study participants, and that figure balloons to 2.5 trillion.

Granted, the vast majority of those 2.5 trillion results are not all that interesting. But the sprawling nature of these datasets allows for associations to emerge that are technically statistically significant but are very, very small. In science, large sample sizes are generally considered to be a good thing. Yet when you combine the large number of analytical paths afforded by subjective survey questions with an enormous number of survey participants, it opens the door to statistical skullduggery like p-hacking—the practice of fishing for favorable results in a large set of data.

“Researchers will essentially torture the data until it gives them a statistically significant result that they can publish,” Przybylski says. (Not all researchers who report such results do so with the intention to deceive. But researchers are people; science as an institution may strive for objectivity, but scientists are nevertheless susceptible to biases that can blind them to their misuse of data.) “We wanted to move past this kind of statistical cherry-picking. So we decided to look for a data-driven method to collect the whole orchard, all at once.”

He and Orben found that method in a statistical tool called Specification Curve Analysis. Rather than investigate a single analytical path through the Millenium Cohort Study, SCA allowed them to investigate 20,000 of them. It also permitted them to probe all 41,338 paths through two other large-scale datasets, called Monitoring the Future and the Youth Risk and Behaviour Survey, that are commonly used to assess the association between digital habits and adolescent well-being.

The result was a series of visualizations that map the wide gamut of potential effects researchers could detect in the three repositories, and they reveal several important things: One, that small changes in analytical approach can lead to dramatically different findings along that spectrum. Two, that the correlation between technology use and well-being is negative. And three, that this correlation is very, very small, explaining—at most—0.4 percent of the variation in adolescent well-being.

To put it in perspective, the researchers compared the link between technology use and adolescent well-being to that of other factors examined by the large-scale datasets. “Using technology is about as associated with well-being as eating potatoes,” Przybylski says. In other words: Hardly at all. By the same logic, bullying had an effect size four times greater than screen use. Smoking cigarettes? 18 times. Conversely, getting enough sleep and eating breakfast were positively associated with adolescent well-being at a magnitude 44 and 30 times that of technology use, respectively.

Put another way: Technology’s impact on well-being might be statistically significant, but its practical significance—according to existing datasets—appears negligible. “The level of association documented in this study is incongruent with the level of panic we see around things like screen time,” says University of California Irvine psychologist Candice Odgers, who researches how technology affects kids’ development and was unaffiliated with the study. “It really highlights the disconnect between conversations in the public sphere and what the bulk of the data are showing us.”

What the study doesn’t do is close the book on questions surrounding technology’s effects. Instead, it highlights the need for more nuanced questions. Not all screen time is created equal, but most studies to date treat it as monolithic. “That’s like asking if food is good or bad for you, and in the end, questions like that will never help us,” says Orben. “We need to stop the debate about the effect of generic tech-use on well-being, and open space for more and better research about the kind of technologies people are using, who’s using them, and how.”


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MacKenzie Bezos and the Myth of the Lone Genius Founder

When award-winning novelist MacKenzie Bezos and her husband Jeff Bezos, the chief executive and founder of Amazon, announced on Twitter Wednesday they were getting divorced, public discussion over the uncoupling quickly centered on the impact it might have on Jeff’s company, and on each sides’ net worth. Were he and his wife to split their estimated $136 billion fortune equally, news articles speculated that MacKenzie could become the “richest woman in the world,” far wealthier than even people like Elon Musk.

TMZ reports that the couple did not have a prenup. Washington, where they live, is a community property state, meaning that all property and debts acquired during the 25-year marriage could be equally split if the Bezoses can’t negotiate an agreement. Amazon, for the record, is 24 years old. But thinking about the divorce as an opportunity for MacKenzie to become the richest woman in the world is a strange way of describing her situation, as Bloomberg points out. She is already the richest woman in the world, because she’s half of the richest couple on Earth.

This week has been full of stories with headlines like “How much could MacKenzie Bezos get in a divorce?” speculating on what will happen to “his wealth.” (Punctuated by the occasional outcry that any human being could stand to receive more than $60 billion at all.) What was often missing, or glossed over, is the fact that MacKenzie helped her husband start his historic company, starting by agreeing to leave their life and move across the country from New York City to Seattle, where Amazon was founded. It’s also part of a wider pattern of how the stories of tech companies get told, which erases the many individuals who help to build them in favor of highlighting the “lone genius” at the helm. Many of the people who fade to the background have been women.

“Both historically and today, it takes a lot more ‘proof’ for a woman to claim competence, importance, and intelligence—something we see powerfully played out on the national political stage every day, from Hillary Clinton to Alexandria Ocasio Cortez,” says Marie Hicks, a technology historian and the author of Programmed Inequality: How Britain Discarded Women Technologists and Lost Its Edge In Computing. “It seeps into how we talk about women associated with tech on an everyday basis, whether it’s at work, at school, online, or in the media.”

Empires like Amazon and Apple are not created by a single man in a vacuum; they are the product of a mix of luck and contributions from an entire team—including from a founder’s spouse.

MacKenzie met Jeff after she graduated from Princeton in 1992 and took a job at the relatively new hedge fund D. E. Shaw, where Bezos already worked. In 1993 they married, and by 1994 they were driving to Washington, with MacKenzie reportedly at the wheel of the car. The couple was leaving behind a wealthy existence on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, according to Brad Stone, the author of the 2013 book The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon. “They gave up a really comfortable lifestyle and successful careers to move across the country and start something on the internet,” says Stone. “The only reason [Jeff] was able to do that is because he had an extremely supportive spouse. It was an incredible risk and one that they both took on jointly.”

In a 2010 commencement speech he gave at Princeton, Jeff himself acknowledged the gamble his wife had taken. “I told my wife MacKenzie that I wanted to quit my job and go do this crazy thing that probably wouldn’t work since most startups don’t, and I wasn’t sure what would happen after that,” he said. “MacKenzie … told me I should go for it.” (Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

In Bellevue, the Seattle suburb where Jeff rented a garage to be the site of Amazon’s first headquarters, MacKenzie helped get the company off the ground. While researching his book, Stone interviewed early employees who he says recalled how MacKenzie wrote checks and assisted in keeping track of the books. A WIRED profile of Jeff from 1999 noted that she helped negotiate the retail giant’s first freight contracts. As the company grew bigger and hired more staff, MacKenzie played less of a role in Amazon’s day-to-day operations, though she continued to support Jeff at company events. She wrote two novels, The Testing of Luther Albright, which won the American Book Award in 2006, and Traps, which was published in 2013.

Aside from a profile in Vogue published almost five years ago, MacKenzie, as well the four Bezos children, has maintained a low public profile. One noteworthy exception took place in 2013, after Stone’s book came out. MacKenzie personally left a one-star review on its Amazon page, disputing the book’s accuracy. She also emphasized her own role at the company: “I worked for Jeff at D. E. Shaw, I was there when he wrote the business plan, and I worked with him and many others represented in the converted garage, the basement warehouse closet, the barbecue-scented offices, the Christmas-rush distribution centers, and the door-desk filled conference rooms in the early years of Amazon’s history. Jeff and I have been married for 20 years.”

MacKenzie and other early Amazon employees, of course, aren’t the only contributors to the company’s—and Jeff’s—success. Amazon has benefited from other factors, like years of successfully avoiding collecting state sales taxes, undercutting competitors’ prices. The company also relied on external innovations like the the internet, developed in part by government researchers. This of course is hardly unique to Amazon. Elon Musk and his company Tesla might not be much without the billions of dollars they have received in government grants. Steve Jobs’ iPhone was made possible by researchers who spent decades developing touchscreen technology, beginning in the 1940s.

Admittedly, MacKenzie’s role in the history of Amazon may not be as crucial as the existence of the World Wide Web. Then again, it’s hard to say for sure. Would e-commerce look any different today if she had refused to move out to Seattle and be part of an internet startup? Countless decisions contribute to the success or failure of a company, some big, some small—and almost never by just one person. It’s not always obvious which choices tip the scale one way or the other. The lone genius myth has been largely debunked, but it can be all too easy to fall back into the familiar rhythms of Silicon Valley’s favorite narrative devices. Even, or maybe especially, when gossiping about the juicy details of a high-profile divorce. Plenty of people facilitate the creation of corporations like Amazon and the immense wealth that they generate, from inventors to employees to policymakers to taxpayers to spouses. Maybe it’s time to talk more about what all those contributions are actually worth.


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SpaceX to layoff 10 percent of workforce

(Reuters) – Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX will reduce its workforce by about 10 percent of the company’s more than 6,000 employees, it said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: The SpaceX headquarters is shown in Hawthorne, California, U.S. September 19, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The company said it will “part ways” with some of its manpower, citing “extraordinarily difficult challenges ahead.”

“To continue delivering for our customers and to succeed in developing interplanetary spacecraft and a global space-based Internet, SpaceX must become a leaner company. Either of these developments, even when attempted separately, have bankrupted other organizations”, a spokesman said in an email.

In June, Elon Musk fired at least seven people in the senior management team leading a SpaceX satellite launch project, Reuters reported in November. The firings were related to disagreements over the pace at which the team was developing and testing its Starlink satellites.

SpaceX’s Starlink program is competing with OneWeb and Canada’s Telesat to be the first to market with a new satellite-based internet service.

The management shakeup involved Musk bringing in new managers from SpaceX headquarters in California to replace a number of the managers he fired in Seattle.

Last month, SpaceX launched its first U.S. national security space mission, when a SpaceX rocket carrying a U.S. military navigation satellite blasted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral.

In December, the Wall Street Journal reported that SpaceX was raising $500 million, taking its valuation to $30.5 billion.

The Hawthorne, California-based company had earlier outlined plans for a trip to Mars in 2022, to be followed by a manned mission to the red planet by 2024.

Another Elon Musk company, electric car maker Tesla Inc, said in June it was cutting 9 percent of its workforce by removing several thousand jobs across the company in cost reduction measures.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh and Supriya Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Sandra Maler

Get to Know Jeff Bezos’ Almost-Ex, MacKenzie Bezos, Who Could Soon Be One of the World’s Richest Women

Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos are divorcing after 25 years of marriage. While the Amazon founder’s name is well known, the news has left some people wondering, who is MacKenzie Bezos? Who is the wife of the richest man in the world, someone who has led a relatively private life as the partner of the powerful founder and executive?

MacKenzie Bezos was also instrumental in the founding of Amazon in 1994, a year after marrying Jeff in 1993. She was one of the first employees at the online bookseller, according to USA Today. MacKenzie and Jeff were married six months after they first met at Wall Street hedge fund firm D.E. Shaw, where Jeff was a vice president and interviewed MacKenzie. Together, they have four children.

But she is perhaps best known as the author of several novels, including Traps and her debut, The Testing of Luther Albright, which won an American Book Award. She studied at Princeton University and served as a research assistant to famed author Toni Morrison, who called Bezos “one of the best students I’ve ever had in my creative-writing classes” in a 2013 Vogue profile. And in 2014, she founded an anti-bullying organization, Bystander Revolution.

In 2018, the Bezoses also jointly committed $2 billion of their combined fortune to create the Day One Fund, which will fund a network of preschools in low-income communities as well as support existing nonprofits that assist homeless families.

MacKenzie may also soon be one of the world’s richest women. Jeff Bezos is worth roughly $139 billion, and under communal property laws in Washington State, that could mean each individual Bezos could walk away from the marriage with around $69.5 billion. That would make MacKenzie roughly 26 times richer than Oprah Winfrey and 100 times richer than the Queen of England, according to Marketwatch. She would also end up with some serious real estate holdings, as the Bezoses reportedly own at least five homes around the country.

Jeff Bezos announced the couple’s plan to divorce in a tweet posted Wednesday. MacKenzie Bezos has yet to release her own statement.

Exclusive: GM's Cadillac will introduce EV in fight against Tesla – sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Cadillac is expected to become General Motors Co’s (GM.N) lead electric vehicle brand as the largest U.S. automaker gears up to introduce a new model under that luxury marquee to challenge Tesla Inc (TSLA.O), two people briefed on the matter said Thursday.

The Cadillac booth displays the company logo at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., January 16, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

GM is set to announce Friday as part of an investor update that a Cadillac will be the first vehicle based on its forthcoming “BEV3” platform, the people said. The vehicle platform is the basis for vehicle underpinnings, including the battery system and other structural and mechanical parts.

GM is not expected to disclose on Friday additional details, including precisely when the Cadillac EV will be built, whether it will be a crossover or sedan, or where it will be assembled, the sources said.

A GM spokesman declined to comment.

GM had previously focused on making electric vehicles under its mass market Chevrolet brand, including its plug-in Chevrolet Volt and battery electric Bolt. GM announced last year it was ending production of the plug-in Volt as well as a low-selling plug-in Cadillac CT6, even as it moved to boost EV spending.

GM said in November as part of its restructuring efforts it was doubling resources for electric and autonomous vehicle programs over the next two years.

Last month, two Ohio senators asked GM to commit to building all future electric vehicles for U.S. buyers within the country.

GM said in 2017 it planned by 2021 to introduce a new dedicated flexible electric vehicle architecture and an advanced battery system to support the development of at least 20 new models in the United States and China.

GM said in 2017 that a new electric vehicle platform in 2021 will serve as a base for at least nine derivatives, ranging from a compact crossover to a large seven-passenger luxury sports utility vehicle and a large commercial van.

Johan de Nysschen, who was then Cadillac’s president, told Reuters at the Detroit auto show in January 2018 the luxury brand will play a “central role” in GM’s electrification strategy, including China. He added that Cadillac would be “at the forefront” of rolling out new electric vehicles in the United States and China. He left GM in April.

This week, GM said Cadillac sales in China rose 17.2 percent in 2018, surpassing 200,000 units for the first time. GM Chief Executive Mary Barra has said that GM aims to sell 1 million electric vehicles a year by 2026, many of them in China, which has set strict production quotas on such vehicles.

Barra said in 2017 the company plans to introduce at least 10 new electric or hybrid vehicles to the Chinese market by 2020. GM opened a battery plant with Chinese partner SAIC Motor Corp Ltd (600104.SS) last year.

In October, GM urged the Trump administration to back a nationwide program to boost sales of zero emission vehicles like electric cars, even as the government has proposed ending California’s ability to require more clean vehicles.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Richard Chang

Will Microsoft Break the Internet?

When the Internet became popular in early 1990s, Microsoft was late to the partly. In a desperate catch-up move, Microsoft decided to drive Netscape (the most popular browser of the time) out of business by grafting Internet Explorer onto Windows.

The U.S. government slapped Microsoft with an anti-monopoly lawsuit, which hung around in court for about a decade, by which time Netscape had become an historical footnote, rendering the issue moot.

By that time, though, Microsoft no longer dominated high tech. Industry growth was shifting to up-and-comers like Google and Facebook, as well as a resurgent Apple. And so it remains today: Microsoft is too big to ignore but, frankly, about as exciting as IBM.

All that might change in the next few years, though, according to a recent article in Business Insider. Turns out that Microsoft is quietly testing a product, code-named “Bali,” that would completely disrupt and even destroy the business models of its chief rivals.

Today, online firms gather information about us, and use that information to increase the effectiveness of the ads they display by better targeting them to prospective buyers. Under this business model, Facebook and Google get 90% of the world’s online ad revenue.

Microsoft’s Bali turns that equation around. With Bali, you own your personal online data, which you can (if you choose) sell to the companies that want to target you with ads. Facebook and Google would only know what you want them to know.

Everything about you would, by default, be private. If you wanted it to remain so, fine. But you’d also have the choice to tell Facebook, Google and other online firms that “you can track me and sell ads to me but only if I get a piece of the action.”

In short, you’d get paid to use the Internet.

Will it work? Well, in the wake of multiple privacy scandals, this seems like an idea whose time has definitely come. And there’s no question whatsoever that Microsoft has the technical chops to develop and bulletproof the environment.

On the downside, though, Microsoft’s most successful products (Windows, Xbox, Azure, etc.) are imitations of innovations from other firms. The company’s track record launching something completely new is spotty, at best.

Still, if Microsoft pulls this off and Bali catches on, Microsoft might easily find itself in the same enviable position of massive market dominance it had back before the Internet upended their erstwhile Windows monopoly.

Frankly, I’m not sure I want Microsoft to have that kind of power. I am sure of this, though: if a single company is destined to dominate the future of the Web, I’d damn sight rather it be Microsoft than Facebook.