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Michael McCaffrey, the former CEO of the crypto news publisher The Block, resigned today after it came to light that he failed to disclose a series of loans obtained from Alameda Research, the trading arm of Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX, to restructure and provide capital to the publication in early 2023, according to a statement released on the company’s blog. McCaffrey has also resigned from the company’s board.
The three loans, which totaled $43 million and reportedly included a $16 million payout to fund the purchase of an apartment in the Bahamas for the outgoing CEO, have called the credibility of the publication into question.
The Block’s Chief Revenue Officer Bobby Moran has been named the new CEO of the company, effective immediately. Moran is looking to restructure the company to buy out McCaffrey’s majority stake in the company, according to information shared with Axios.
The company claims McCaffrey was the only person with knowledge of the loans and that they have seen “no evidence” that he tried to influence the site’s newsroom or research team in any way.Why it matters:
Founded in 2023, The Block had bought out its investors in April 2023, making the publication 100 percent employee-owned. The company had previously raised over $4 million from venture firms like Greycroft, BlockTower Capital, Bloomberg Beta, and Pantera. However, that buyout was funded by a $12 million loan, the first of the three supplied by the now disgraced Alameda Research. The second loan of $15 million supplied capital to The Block by way of an LLC called Lonely Road, while the final $16 million loan went to an LLC called Red Sea that McCaffrey used to buy real estate in the Bahamas.
That a media platform in the crypto space received under-the-table funding from one of Web3’s most discredited names (and used a significant amount of that funding to purchase real estate for personal use) is a reputational disaster for both Web3 and The Block alike. It proves that the tremors from SBF’s shady professional dealings in the crypto space continue to ripple outward.
“This news came as both a shock and disappointment to The Block leadership team,” the new CEO Bobby Moran wrote in the company statement. “Mike’s decision to take out a loan from SBF and not disclose that information demonstrates a serious lack of judgment. It undermines The Block’s reputation and credibility, especially that of our reporters and researchers, as well as our efforts at industry-leading transparency.”
Moran goes on to say that no one on the team knew of McCaffrey’s loan deal, maintaining that he has seen no evidence of the money having any influence on the publication’s coverage. Moran himself said he learned of the loans for the first time just before Thanksgiving of this year.What’s next:
The Block has a hard time ahead of itself. The publication’s reputation has taken a serious blow, having not only dealt in off-the-books financials to fund its operations but having done so by using loans supplied by the year’s leading crypto villain. How Moran chooses to move the company forward will be crucial to its survival. One thing remains certain, however: the damage from the greed and lack of transparency that characterized the fall of FTX and gave a major black eye to the Web3 community is likely far from being revealed in its entirety.But wait! There’s more:
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Quantum computing’s full potential may still be years away, but there are plenty of benefits to be realized right now.
Launched 17 years ago by a team with roots at Canada’s University of British Columbia, D-Wave introduced what it called “the world’s first commercially available quantum computer” back in 2010. Since then the company has doubled the number of qubits, or quantum bits, in its machines roughly every year. Today, its D-Wave 2X system boasts more than 1,000.
The company doesn’t disclose its full customer list, but Google, NASA and Lockheed-Martin are all on it, D-Wave says. In a recent experiment, Google reported that D-Wave’s technology outperformed a conventional machine by 100 million times.
“We’re at the dawn of this quantum computing age,” Brownell said. “We believe we’re right on the cusp of providing capabilities you can’t get with classical computing.”
While the bits used by traditional computers represent data as 0s or 1s, qubits can simultaneously be 0 and 1 through a state known as superposition, enabling new levels of performance and efficiency. Equipped with that power, researchers can solve problems they couldn’t solve before — or so the thinking goes.
“In almost every discipline you’ll see these types of computers make this kind of impact,” Brownell said, citing examples like drug discovery and climate modeling. “It opens up a completely new tool chest for scientists and developers.”
IBM recently announced its own quantum capabilities that are available via the cloud.
That’s not to say there aren’t challenges.
Making those chips is no walk in the park, and neither is operating the resulting quantum systems. To achieve quantum effects, the D-Wave 2X’s lattice of 1,000 qubits is cooled to 0.015 degrees Kelvin — 180 times colder than interstellar space. The processor is shielded from almost all of Earth’s magnetic field and is kept in a vacuum, with pressure 10 billion times lower than that of the air around us.
“There are lots of folks around the world doing research projects at this level, where they run for a few minutes and then write up their results, but we’ve had to run 24×7 for years at a time,” Brownell said. “Lockheed Martin, our first customer, came on in 2010. There are a lot of challenges in combining ultralow temperatures with enterprise quality levels.”
In general, when a user models a problem using D-Wave’s technology, the processor considers all possibilities simultaneously. Multiple solutions are returned to the user, scaled to show optimal answers.
D-Wave has just a handful of reference applications that can show customers how a particular task can be accomplished, but it hopes to expand that number significantly.
“People shouldn’t have to understand physics at all to use these tools,” Brownell said.
With a focus on bringing a product to market as quickly as possible, D-Wave opted early on for a model focused on what’s known as quantum annealing, in which the technology uses quantum fluctuations to solve a particular type of problem. IBM uses what’s known as a “gate” or “circuit” model, Brownell said.
That model is “reasonably elegant and makes a lot of sense,” he said. It could also be more broadly applicable.
“The gotcha is that it’s super hard to do,” he said. “I admire the research by IBM and others, but it’s going to take at least a decade before there’s a product that does anything useful.”
“Will anyone ever be able to build a gate model with 10,000 qubits? That’s an open question,” Brownell said. “When and if that model becomes implementable, we’ll have the building blocks in place and will have tackled the hard problems before anyone else.”
Yet another approach is known as the topological model of quantum computing, and that’s the one Microsoft has taken, he said.
“It’s actually more elegant from a theory point of view, but it will require the discovery of new kind of particle that no physicist has ever seen before,” he said.
“We’re at the bleeding edge today,” he said. “It’s a very exciting time to be in the middle of all this.”
In Windows 10 Microsoft dumped Internet Explorer in favor of the brand new web browser Edge. The good thing about the new browser is that it is simple, modern, very similar to Firefox and Chrome and even has support for extensions. Moreover, just like Chrome and Firefox, Edge has the “about:flags” settings page.
If you are an admin and would like to restrict users from messing with the flags page, here’s how to do so.Disable about:flags in Edge Using Group Policy Editor
If you are using the Pro version of Windows 10, you can use the Group Policy Editor to disable the “about:flags” page in the Edge browser. Search for gpedit.msc in the Start menu and open it.
To apply the changes, restart the system. Alternatively, use the follow command as an administrator. The below command will force the changes.gpupdate.exe
After applying the changes, whenever a user tries to access the flags page they will receive an error message something like this.Disable about:flags in Edge Using Registry
Alternatively, you can use also the Windows Registry editor to do that same. To start, search for regedit in the Start menu and open it.
After opening the Registry Editor, navigate to the following key:
Once you are done creating the keys, this is how the key structure looks.
The above action will create a blank value. Name the value “PreventAccessToAboutFlagsInMicrosoftEdge” and press the Enter button.
This is how it looks when you are done setting up the value.
Restart your system to make sure that the changes take effect, and you are good to go. If you ever want to revert back, simply change the Value Data back to “0” or just delete the value completely. However, if you chose to delete the value, make sure that you have a good backup of the registry just in case of any mishaps.
Vamsi is a tech and WordPress geek who enjoys writing how-to guides and messing with his computer and software in general. When not writing for MTE, he writes for he shares tips, tricks, and lifehacks on his own blog Stugon.
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Google Print Halted Amid Publisher Copyright Concerns
Google Print, Google’s ambitious drive to scan the text of all books and make those books available to Google searchers worldwide, has run into a lot of flak from various publishers and has stopped its scanning of copyrighted books. Google announced their change of plans Thursday on the Google Blog and that Google Print will continue its pause of scanning copyrighted material until November.
Adam Smith, Google Print’s Product Manager writes “We think most publishers and authors will choose to participate in the publisher program in order to introduce their work to countless readers around the world. But we know that not everyone agrees, and we want to do our best to respect their views too. So now, any and all copyright holders – both Google Print partners and non-partners – can tell us which books they’d prefer that we not scan if we find them in a library. To allow plenty of time to review these new options, we won’t scan any in-copyright books from now until this November.”
Simply stated, Google is asking publishers to “opt-out” of the Google Print program during the next 3 months if the publishers do not want their books indexed in Google Print. Interesting tactic, especially since the whole idea behind copyrighting is to be legally opted out of anyone copying your works – even Google. Brad Hill of The Unofficial Google Blog explains “Gracious as this gesture might be, it makes Google appear to be completely unaware of how copyright works. Copyright is the opting out of allowing others to make copies. Nothing more is needed. The responsibility for not copying lies with Google. Exemptions and licenses to copy are granted upon request on an opt-in basis. It’s inconceivable that Google is unaware of this, so the real message from Google is this: ‘We’re going to copy the damn books unless you stop us.’”
Google’s new opt-out approach is addressing the concerns of publishers while it is possibly covering Google’s potential legal problems with the Google Print program. “We think most publishers and authors will choose to participate in the publisher program in order (to) introduce their work to countless readers around the world,” Smith added on the Google Blog, “But we know that not everyone agrees, and we want to do our best to respect their views too.”
Patricia Schroeder, President and CEO of the Association of American Publishers rebutts “Google’s announcement does nothing to relieve the publishing industry’s concerns. Google’s procedure shifts the responsibility for preventing infringement to the copyright owner rather than the user, turning every principle of copyright law on its ear.”
“Many AAP members have partnered with Google in its Print for Publishers Program, allowing selected titles to be digitized and searchable on a limited basis pursuant to licenses or permission from publishers. We were confident that by working together, Google and publishers could have produced a system that would work for everyone, and regret that Google has decided not to work with us on our alternative proposal,” Mrs. Schroeder added.
Google, Yahoo Stocks Fall Amid Privacy Concerns
Google shares fell 8.5% today as a recent dip search search stocks has affected the GOOG empire. The disturbing search engine stock trend has been reflective of recent tech stocks which have not met Wall Street expectations, which may be a bit inflated themselves.
* Over the past week, Yahoo has also experienced losses, dropping from over $40 per share to $33.74 on Friday.
* InterActiveCorp, the parent company of Ask Jeeves, showed a small dip over the week from reaching almost $30 per share, now down to $28.60.
* Apple, and its music download search iTunes store, also fell from $85 a share on monday to $76.09 per share on Friday.
* Additionally Microsoft, with its MSN and MSN Search divisions, also showed a dip in value, of about $1 over the week.
It was reported this week that Bush Administration attorneys had issued requests to the major search engines to turn over usage information in an attempt to build a case to instate the defend the Child Online Protection Act of 1998, which the Supreme Court blocked
While AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo all complied with Justice Department subpoenas to turn over search data, Google refused. Google’s courage of standing up against political aggression not only positions their search engine as being a champion of the people, but also breathed life into a privacy concern, which would have been a non-story had Google said yes.
Following the breaking of the story has been major announcements by the search engines which handed over their search data to the DOJ.
Yahoo acknowledged the handing over of search data, which did not include any personal information. “In our opinion, this is not a privacy issue,” Yahoo spokeswoman Mary Osako said. “We complied on a limited basis and did not provide any personally identifiable information.”
Microsoft issued a statement on their Microsoft Search Blog where Ken Moss, the General Manager of MSN Search wrote:
Over the summer we were subpoenaed by the DOJ regarding a lawsuit. The subpoena requested that we produce data from our search service. We worked hard to scope the request to something that would be consistent with this principle. The applicable parties to the case received this data, and the parties agreed that the information specific to this case would remain confidential. Specifically, we produced a random sample of pages from our index and some aggregated query logs that listed queries and how often they occurred . Absolutely no personal data was involved.
With this data you:
CANNOT look for users who queried for both “TERM A” and “TERM B”.
At MSN Search, we have strict guidelines in place to protect the privacy of our customers data, and I think you’ll agree that privacy was fully protected. We tried to strike the right balance in a very sensitive matter.
Kudos for MSN & Yahoo for stepping up and addressing user concerns. However, search being a multi-billion dollar business, Google is capitalizing on their press coverage of not turning over data info, although Google has come under fire by watchdog groups for their Web Accelerator, personalized search and other possible user tracking tools.
In the long term however, the average user will remember that it was Google who defended their search engine users. Google co-founder Larry Page told ABC News “Our company relies on having the trust of our users and using that information for that benefit,” said Page. “That’s a very strong motivation for us. We’re committed to that. If you start to mandate how products are designed, I think that’s a really bad path to follow. I think instead we should have laws that protect the privacy of data, for example, from government requests and other kinds of requests.”
This homegrown baby formula and food company has drawn some of the steepest line graphs of any cashflow statement the Australian Securities Exchange has seen. Key Takeaways
Bubs Australia – which listed on the ASX in 2023 – has grown by $48 million in three months.
The product was born as an accident of sorts.
Now Bubs’ infant formula products sold around the world, including in more than 5,400 stores across 34 US states.
The road to the home of Bubs Australia founder and CEO Kristy Carr is a white-knuckle ride through Sydney’s hilly Northern Beaches and creates a fitting image of the journey her company has been on.
Her homegrown baby formula and food company has drawn some of the steepest line graphs of any cashflow statement the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) has seen. Revenue in the final quarter of FY2023 exceeded the entire previous year. Bubs Australia – which listed on the ASX in 2023 – has grown by $48 million in three months.
Sales are up 278% on the same quarter last year. Revenue from China alone has increased 523%, thanks in part to the lucrative Daigou channel – shopping agents in Australia who buy products on behalf of customers in China, then airmail them to the mainland.
The quarterly activities statement might give even a longtime investor vertigo.
“It’s been very, very exciting. An adrenaline-type ride,” Carr says, accepting one of the takeaway lattes that survived the journey. Finally, there’s a chance to take in the beachy interiors of her home. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows overlook foamy seas on a moody winter’s day.
“A lot of it has been dramatic and tear-jerking and disastrous, but most has been pretty positive,” she adds.
Carr laughs nervously at “tear-jerking”, then covers with a characteristic grin recognisable from almost any media featuring Bubs. (I’m told the Forbes photographer had an arm wrestle on his hands when he asked for some non-smiling options.) There’s been a fair bit of coverage this year.
In the US, a previously unbreakable fortress for formula exporters because of strict Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, sales have exploded after the Australian brand flew to the rescue amid a catastrophic shortage of infant formula. Bacterial contamination in a US manufacturing centre in February shut down a large factory and forced a swathe of local products to be binned. One in five US states was suffering 90% stock shortages by June. In May, president Joe Biden announced a fast-tracked opportunity for global manufacturers to gain interim FDA approval to sell infant formula in the US – a process that usually takes years. Bubs was the first international company to respond.
The Biden administration resolved to charter empty Boeing 747s to Australia to move tens of thousands of Bubs’ canned infant formula across the Pacific under “Operation Fly Formula”. The extraordinary deal is expected to deliver more than $55 million in sales in six months; the first six planes accounting for $21 million.
Rudder runs publicity for Bubs separately through his public relations firm. It’s a job that was somewhat snatched out of his hands amid the recent chaos as hordes of US journalists were waiting on the airport runway when the first plane landed. They mobbed Carr when she arrived on a subsequent flight. President Biden tweeted: “27.5 million bottles of safe infant formula manufactured by Bubs Australia are coming to the United States.” The brand became headline news.
“We were forecasting to grow from $46.8 million in the 2023-21 financial year, to around $80 million in the 2023-22 financial year, but that was before everything happened in the US,” Katrina Rathie, a Bubs board member, lawyer and former partner of King & Wood Mallesons, says.
“When we publicly listed, we had five employees. Now we have 75, and we’re recruiting every week,” Carr says.
“We really have a high-growth agenda. It’s not exactly normal for consumer goods. It’s normal for tech companies. But you can’t act like a normal consumer goods company if you’re trying to achieve that level of growth. It requires real agility. You have to be willing to take on risks.”
If her cliff-like driveway is a metaphor of the wild ride Bubs has been on, it’s also fitting that Forbes meets Carr in the same suburb where her infant nutrition products were conceived.
Carr spent a short stint living in a cramped share house in eastern Sydney. She upgraded after meeting her now-husband Jeremy on day one with Singleton.
The colleague-turned-boyfriend coaxed Carr to Newport, where they now reside with three daughters and a border collie, Shadow.
The family’s current digs is an upgrade from a previous tri-level home at the south end of Newport. That one had an internal lift and northerly views over the beach, and reportedly sold for something in the realm of $4.5 million in 2023.
“This is a Bubs upgrade, for sure,” Carr says, gesturing across the sandy-coloured wood dining table at cream leather lounges and a 180-degree view over the turbulent ocean.
“[When Bubs started], we didn’t have this view and didn’t have to walk that driveway. I had really taken almost nothing out of the business until we listed, and only then started paying myself a salary – not even an exciting one initially.”
It was just around the corner in a much smaller abode that, in 2006, Carr packed the first pouches of Bubs’ organic baby food into the boot of a station wagon to sell at Newport weekend markets. Her first customers – friends and family – became original shareholders when the company later went public.
The product was born as an accident of sorts.
Carr was stumbling through the all-consuming first months of motherhood, back in Newport after giving up a role in Hong Kong as a marketing executive for Cathay Pacific.
Attempts at blending vegetables for her daughter, Chloe – who sprayed them all over the wall – inspired Bubs’ organic baby food. Bubs’ easy-digesting goat milk formula, now the top-selling goat formula brand across Australia’s big retailers, Coles, Woolworths and Chemist Warehouse, was the answer to Chloe’s allergies as she transitioned from breast milk.
“I’ve always been quite entrepreneurial. As a kid, I had many lemonade stands,” she says.
“I remember once when my parents came home from the US with all this Disney paraphernalia because they felt so guilty that they’d gone to Disneyland without their kids. So, I set up a little cul-de-sac store and made quite a bit of profit selling it.
“It wasn’t so much about being my own boss. I just really liked the idea of creating something.”
Work and life tend to meld into one when you’re the CEO and founder of a company experiencing such a spectacular growth spurt. Carr has been known to sleep at the office. Like when the team went into war-room mode for Operation Fly Formula. Her team hashed out a response plan – which they dubbed Operation Maverick while the new Top Gun was hitting cinemas – over 24 hours, fuelled by “about nine Uber Eats deliveries”.
The pandemic delivered a brutal shock in 2023 when border closures burst the bubble of previous panic buying of infant formula, and the Daigou sales channel to China collapsed. Bubs’ share price plummeted. Carr says she managed to retain all staff, reduce manufacturing, and “cling on”.
But while other retail businesses have been slow to reconnect breaks in supply chains, Bubs has a strong foothold in the entire chain right back to the farm gate – from exclusively owning the milk of about 13,000 goats on farms across Victoria and New Zealand, to controlling its canning and manufacturing facility in Dandenong.
“It’s a pretty unique supply chain – infant formula – it can’t be stockpiled, it’s perishable, there are very long lead times, and safety is more paramount than any other food manufacturing. This is the most highly safeguarded food manufacturing there is. This is what has been exposed in America,” Carr explains.
Prior to the current crisis in the US, Carr estimated that just 2% of retail infant formula stocks came from imported brands. More than 90% of US brands relied on just four manufacturers, and the plant that closed had a major share of the market. When the US government came knocking, Bubs’ vertical integration of its supply chain meant the company could sail through as retail and regulatory floodgates opened.
Carr spoke with Forbes in July, while the company was in the middle of a capital raising venture for $63 million to invest in working capital, inventory and to triple its output to meet the skyrocketing demand.
Of that, the original $32 million institutional placement offer appears to have been a low-ball, considering it was oversubscribed and Bubs had secured $40 million within days. The retail entitlement offer closed on $30.6 million on 26 July.
“I used to dream about being a one million [dollar business]; now I’m thinking, what’s next? We’ll be at one billion thinking, what’s next. And I think that’s within reach now,” Carr says.
But no matter what heights her company reaches, there remains a down-to-earth approachability about this maverick CEO.
An Ugg-boot-clad neighbour makes this clear when he clops into the home in the middle of our interview (the front door has been left unlocked). Unperturbed, he announces he’s “looking for Rendang”.
Carr jumps up to help him locate a Tupperware container of her housekeeper’s apparently famous curry and the neighbour strolls back out with a wave.Operation Fly Formula
7 February – The largest manufacturer of baby formula in the US recalls dozens of brands.
Abbott’s Sturgis plant in Michigan, which supplies a big chunk of the country’s infant formula, closes.
16 May – FDA issues industry guidance of intention to exercise enforcement discretion.
27 May – The FDA approves Bubs to import infant formulas into the US and President Biden tweets the good news that “27.5 million bottles of safe infant formula manufactured by Bubs Australia are coming to the United States”.
11 June – First Boeing 747 flight stocked with about 300 pallets of Bubs formula leaves Melbourne headed to Los Angeles.
20 Jun – First Bubs products appear on shelves in US retail stores.
7 July – FDA commits to long-term, streamlined approval framework for Bubs to continue selling infant formula beyond November 2023.
22 July – Sixth flight leaves Melbourne for the US, carrying 90,000 tins.
Now – Bubs’ infant formula products sold in more than 5,400 stores across 34 US states.
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