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Trump suspended from Twitch, as Reddit bans the ‘The_Donald’ and additional subreddits – TechCrunch



Two big new pieces of news today from the ongoing battle between social media and politics. Both Twitch and Reddit have made moves against political content, citing violations of terms of service.

Twitch confirmed today that it has temporarily suspended the president’s account. “Hateful conduct is not allowed on Twitch,” a spokesperson for the streaming giant told TechCrunch. “In line with our policies, President Trump’s channel has been issued a temporary suspension from Twitch for comments made on stream, and the offending content has been removed.”

Twitch specifically cites two incidents from campaign rallies, uttered by Trump at rallies four years apart. The first comes from his campaign kickoff, including the now infamous words:

When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting. And it only makes common sense. It only makes common sense. They’re sending us not the right people.

The second is from the recent rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, his first since COVID-19-related shutdowns ground much of presidential campaigning to a halt. Here’s the pertinent bit from that:

Hey, it’s 1:00 o’clock in the morning and a very tough, I’ve used the word on occasion, hombre, a very tough hombre is breaking into the window of a young woman whose husband is away as a traveling salesman or whatever he may do. And you call 911 and they say, “I’m sorry, this number’s no longer working.” By the way, you have many cases like that, many, many, many. Whether it’s a young woman, an old woman, a young man or an old man and you’re sleeping.

Twitch tells TechCrunch that it offered the following guidance to Trump’s team when the channel was launched, “Like anyone else, politicians on Twitch must adhere to our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines. We do not make exceptions for political or newsworthy content, and will take action on content reported to us that violates our rules.”

That news follows the recent ban of the massive The_Donald subreddit, which sported more than 790,000 users, largely devoted to sharing content about Trump. Reddit confirmed the update to its policy that resulted in the ban, along with 2,000 other subreddits, including one devoted to the hugely popular leftist comedy podcast, Chapo Trap House.

The company cites the following new rules:

  • Rule 1 explicitly states that communities and users that promote hate based on identity or vulnerability will be banned.
    • There is an expanded definition of what constitutes a violation of this rule, along with specific examples, in our Help Center article.
  • Rule 2 ties together our previous rules on prohibited behavior with an ask to abide by community rules and post with authentic, personal interest.
    • Debate and creativity are welcome, but spam and malicious attempts to interfere with other communities are not.
  • The other rules are the same in spirit but have been rewritten for clarity and inclusiveness.

It adds:

All communities on Reddit must abide by our content policy in good faith. We banned r/The_Donald because it has not done so, despite every opportunity. The community has consistently hosted and upvoted more rule-breaking content than average (Rule 1), antagonized us and other communities (Rules 2 and 8), and its mods have refused to meet our most basic expectations. Until now, we’ve worked in good faith to help them preserve the community as a space for its users—through warnings, mod changes, quarantining, and more.

Reddit adds that it banned the smaller Chapo board for “consistently host[ing] rule-breaking content and their mods have demonstrated no intention of reining in their community.”

Trump in particular has found himself waging war on social media sites. After Twitter played whack-a-mole with problematic tweets around mail-in voting and other issues, he signed an executive order taking aim at Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects sites from being sued for content posted by users.

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Hotel giant Marriott confirms yet another data breach – TechCrunch



Hotel group Marriott International has confirmed another data breach, with hackers claiming to have stolen 20 gigabytes of sensitive data including guests’ credit card information.

The incident, first reported by Tuesday, is said to have happened in June when an unnamed hacking group claimed they used social engineering to trick an employee at a Marriott hotel Maryland into giving them access to their computer.

“Marriott International is aware of a threat actor who used social engineering to trick one associate at a single Marriott hotel into providing access to the associate’s computer,” Marriott spokesperson Melissa Froehlich Flood told TechCrunch in a statement. “The threat actor did not gain access to Marriott’s core network.”

Marriott said the hotel chain identified, and was investigating, the incident before the threat actor contacted the company in an extortion attempt, which Marriott said it did not pay.

The group claiming responsibility for the attack say the stolen data includes guests’ credit card information and confidential information about both guests and employees. Samples of the data provided to purport to show reservation logs for airline crew members from January 2022 and names and other details of guests, as well as credit card information used to make bookings.

However, Marriott told TechCrunch that its investigation determined that the data accessed “primarily contained non-sensitive internal business files regarding the operation of the property.”

The company said that it is preparing to notify 300-400 individuals regarding the incident, and has already notified relevant law enforcement agencies.

This isn’t the first time Marriott has suffered a significant data breach. Hackers breached the hotel chain in 2014 to access almost 340 million guest records worldwide – an incident that went undetected until September 2018 and led to a £14.4 million ($24M) fine from the U.K’s Information Commissioner’s Office. In January 2020, Marriott was hacked again in a separate incident that affected around 5.2 million guests.

TechCrunch asked Marriott what cybersecurity protections it has in place to prevent such incidents from happening, but the company declined to answer.

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Rivian says it’s on track to deliver 25,000 vehicles this year – TechCrunch



Rivian said Wednesday the company produced 4,401 vehicles at its manufacturing facility in Normal, Illinois, and delivered 4,467 vehicles for the quarter ended June 30.

“These figures remain in line with the company’s expectations, and it believes it is on track to deliver on the 25,000 annual production guidance previously provided,” Rivian said in a statement.

In the first quarter of 2022, Rivian produced 2,553 vehicles and delivered 1,227 vehicles.

The production figures include a mix of the Rivian R1T pickup truck, R1S SUV and the commercial vans it is making for Amazon.


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Forever21’s parent company sued Bolt, but now it’s a shareholder – TechCrunch



A lawsuit that was filed against one-click checkout startup Bolt by one of its biggest customers will be dismissed as the two parties have agreed on a settlement, the companies announced jointly today.

And interestingly, that same customer — Authentic Brands Group (ABG) — is now a shareholder of the company.

ABG declined to comment on the settlement beyond a jointly issued press release, but in an interview with TechCrunch, Bolt CEO Maju Kuruvilla did acknowledge that the two parties had “settled out of court” and that ABG is now in fact a “shareholder.”

“We’re putting our differences behind and finding a path forward,” he told TechCrunch. “So it was settled on amicable terms for both sides.”

According to the joint statement, Bolt will offer its one-click checkout services to ABG’s brands Forever 21 and Lucky Brand, “while evaluating the possibility of expanding Bolt’s technology to more portfolio brands in the coming months.”

Jamie Salter, founder, chairman and CEO of ABG, said in a written statement: “ABG looks forward to deepening its ties with Bolt by becoming shareholders under the new leadership of Chief Executive Maju Kuruvilla and we are excited to continue exploring broader opportunities with our businesses.” 

Those sentiments are a far cry from the allegations that ABG made earlier this year.

In late April, Bloomberg reported that Bolt was being sued by “its most prominent customer,” ABG, which owns dozens of retail brands. ABG alleged that San Francisco-based Bolt failed to deliver technology that it promised and that it missed out on over $150 million in online sales during the company’s integration with fashion retailer Forever 21. On top of that, ABG’s complaint went on to say that Bolt had raised funding “at increasingly high valuations” by “consistently overstating” the nature of its integrations with the company’s brands in an effort to make it seem like it had more customers than it actually did. For even more context, Bolt in January raised $355 million in a Series E financing that valued the company at $11 billion.

As TC’s Christine Hall wrote at the time, Bolt’s one-click checkout product aims to give businesses the same technology Amazon has been known for since 1997, and at the same time, incorporate payments and fraud services meant to ensure transactions are real and payments can be accepted.

According to Bloomberg, Bolt reacted to the complaint by saying that ABG’s claims were without merit, and “a transparent attempt” to renegotiate the terms of the companies’ agreements.

Then on April 28, Insider reported that it heard from unnamed sources that ABG’s lawsuit was really an attempt by the firm to claim an ownership stake in the company. Apparently when ABG became a Bolt customer in October 2020, reported Insider, Bolt entered a deal to award the group stock warrants, which give the holder the right to buy shares at a specified price before a specified date — under certain conditions.

It turns out that speculation around ABG’s motives may have had some merit.

Kuruvilla took the helm as CEO of Bolt in January after its outspoken then-27-year-old founder, Ryan Breslow, stepped down. Breslow, who started the company after dropping out of Stanford, now serves as its executive chairman. Kuruvilla, who joined the company as its chief product and technology officer in 2019 and became its COO in August of last year, previously worked at Amazon for nearly eight years.

When asked about how involved Breslow currently is in day-to-day operations, Kuruvilla said:

“He’s not. He is obviously a big investor, shareholder and involved as part of the board but he and the board are looking to me to run the company,” he said.

Since its 2014 inception, Bolt has raised more than $1 billion in funding and was valued at $11 billion at the time of its $355 million Series E raise in January. Investors include funds and accounts managed by BlackRock, Schonfeld, Invus Opportunities, CreditEase, H.I.G. Growth, Activant Capital and Moore Strategic Ventures.

In an early May blog post, Kuruvilla revealed the following figures around the company’s performance, writing that Bolt has a total of 13.8 million total “shopper accounts,” marking a 131% year-over-year increase, and has 836 total active merchant accounts across all product lines, representing a 192% YoY increase.

The disclosed figures appeared to be an indirect response to what The Information reported, which was that the number of merchants Bolt works with “has been hovering in the low 300s since 2020.” The publication had also reported that “revenue from transactions Bolt processed grew around 10% to $28 million last year after it slashed the fees merchants pay for its services,” according to an internal document viewed by The Information.

On July 5, Kuruvilla declined to discuss specifics around revenue, telling TechCrunch that the company is close to having 14 million shoppers on its network currently. 

“We continue to expect that will grow a whole lot through the rest of the year and going forward,” he said.

Kuruvilla added that Bolt is “looking at doubling” the live gross merchandise value (GMV) that operates through Bolt “again” for the rest of the year.

In late May, Bolt was reported to have laid off one-third of its staff — the exact number of affected employees was reported to be as much as 250, although the company did not specify.

This week, Kuruvilla said the decision was a painful one, but necessary, as Bolt looked for ways to extend its runway. He added that the move was part of a number of “cost adjustments and budget corrections” that Bolt had made that led it to reduce around 30% of its expenses.

“We did that by reducing some new initiatives and really doubling down on things that are a core value proposition for us and our customers,” he told TechCrunch. “As a result, we are close to having a three-year operating runway for us as a company, which is really important in this market. A lot of big merchants look for that. Also, it will help us on our path to profitability.”

Kuruvilla acknowledged that while e-commerce numbers were still higher than before the pandemic, e-commerce traffic is down about 25% year-over-year. As such, he believes that Bolt has the opportunity to help merchants see more conversions on their websites and fewer people drop off at checkout, get customers to be repeat customers and create shopper accounts. He also believes it can help them by providing data. 

As for Bolt’s new cozy alliance with its formerly frustrated customer, Kuruvilla suggests now that it’s all water under the bridge.

He noted that “both Forever21 and Lucky Brand have been using Bolt for a long time and they will continue to use it going forward with this renewed partnership.”

“Both ABG leadership and myself are working together to find out how to expand it further and that’s coming directly from their CEO, because he has a very high bar for the kinds of partners he wants to associate with,” Kuruvilla added. “Clearly, he has a strong belief in Bolt and our products. So we’re excited to take it to the next level.”

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