10 things in tech you need to know today

Hi again. Employees are worried about Microsoft’s decision to buy Activision, and a leaked recording revealed that Peloton execs are discussing major layoffs.  

Without further ado… 

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Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft’s Xbox Division

1. Microsoft employees are voicing concerns about its Activision purchase. Leaked messages viewed by Insider show that workers are worried that the $68.7 billion deal to buy the “Call of Duty” publisher will bring Activision’s string of scandals into Microsoft’s culture. 

Along with Activision’s portfolio of big-name video games, Microsoft will inherit accusations of cultural issues at the company. Activision has been in turmoil since July, when California sued the firm, alleging widespread harassment of female staff.That problem was exacerbated last fall, when the Wall Street Journal reported CEO Bobby Kotick knew about sexual-harassment and rape allegations and did little to fix the problems. Kotick is reportedly expected to leave after the deal closes. “I’m really disappointed that we didn’t hear from Satya [Nadella] what his plans are to make sure that the awful culture that has taken root in Activision/Blizzard won’t fester and spread within Microsoft,” one employee wrote in an internal message board. 

See what else employees are saying in our exclusive report.

In other news:

2. Ten airlines signed a letter warning of chaos as AT&T and Verizon plan to roll out 5G.  AT&T agreed to delay the launch near airports while the rest of its 5G network goes live today, after major airline CEOs warned of massive flight disruptions and supply-chain issues. Why airlines and telecom companies are warring over the rollout.

3. Employers aren’t addressing the new realities of work — and it’s sparking a “Hidden Resignation” of burned-out employees. A former tech CEO argues that companies are pushing away workers by presuming they still think the way they did before the pandemic: that their jobs are the most important things in their lives. He breaks down the “Hidden Resignation”.

4. YouTube is scaling back its original series. After more than six years, the company will wind down its original productions team, and will only fund programs that are part of its Black Voices and YouTube Kids funds, according to a statement. Get the rundown on the decision.

5. Peloton plans to lay off 41% of its sales and marketing staff. In a leaked recording obtained by Insider, Peloton execs also discussed “stripping out low performers” in e-commerce, and noted that there are 15 retail stores on the cut line. Everything we learned from the leaked audio.

6. The family of an Amazon driver killed in a tornado warehouse collapse is suing the company. The lawsuit says Amazon had enough warning that severe weather could hit the building, but failed to evacuate, resulting in the deaths of six workers. Amazon previously defended its response, saying it followed federal tornado safety guidelines. More on the wrongful death lawsuit.

7. Amazon employees’ angst over pay has driven attrition higher across senior ranks, insiders say. At least 50 VPs left Amazon in 2021, a turnover rate of more than 10% at that level, based on Insider’s analysis and according to people familiar with the matter. More on the pay complaints, which insiders say have reached a crisis point.

8. Tencent is scanning kids’ faces to stop them from flouting China’s gaming restrictions. The tech giant is working to prevent kids from using older relatives’ accounts to bypass its gaming limit, which will restrict kids to 14 hours of play during their four-week winter break. Get the full scoop on Tencent’s face scanning.

9. Experts explain the sudden obsession with Wordle. We spoke with psychologists and social scientists to figure out why the simple puzzle game has captivated so many. They explained that its timing and wholesomeness contributed to its rise. Here’s what else they said.

10. These 25 books come recommended by tech CEOs. From biographies to sci-fi novels, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates have credited countless books with strengthening their business acumen and teaching them about leadership — so we outlined 25 of them for you to add to your 2022 reading list. 

What we’re watching today:

Predict 2022, a virtual conference looking at the year ahead, takes place today and tomorrow. This year’s Index Ventures AI Summit starts today. Half a billion free, at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests become available today.Earnings are expected from United Airlines, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, and more. Keep up with earnings here. 

Curated by Jordan Parker Erb in New York. (Feedback or tips? Email jerb@insider.com or tweet @jordanparkererb.) Edited by Michael Cogley in London.

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