Are tech money troubles cause for alarm, or business as usual?

Icy, cold, chilly…words that are appearing both in weather reports and outlooks on the tech market this week.

Driving the news: Regardless of what part of the tech ecosystem you look at, the last week has come with headlines that suggest financial struggles are going to stick around:

COP28 goes into overtime

The UN COP28 Climate Summit in Dubai went into overtime as environment ministers made like us in university and pulled an all-nighter desperately trying to finish a project.

Driving the news: COP28’s president is expected to announce the conference’s final draft of commitments sometime this morning despite the conference technically ending yesterday. Negotiations went deep into the night over how strict fossil fuel reduction goals should be.

AI invades the newsroom

They say you can’t teach an old newspaper new tricks, but The Grey Lady wants to get with the times and dabble in AI. 

What happened: The New York Times hired an editorial director of AI initiatives to chart a path forward for using AI in its newsrooms as more media companies experiment with the technology — a slight change in pace given its approach to AI has been cautious so far. 

A wartime effort to build more homes

When all else fails, try finding answers to today’s problems in the ol’ history textbooks. 

What happened: The federal government is rolling out a catalogue of pre-approved home designs to speed up housing development in the midst of a nationwide shortage — one that continues to fuel some of the most expensive housing costs seen across all G7 nations. 

Tipping propels TikTok to milestone

Like a bartender with a generous pour, TikTok creators have been reeling in the tips. 

What happened: TikTok has become the first non-gaming app to see users spend US$10 billion on the app. Per TechCrunch, the surge in spending has come from TikTok’s in-app purchases of “coins” — a virtual currency that users can spend to tip the app’s creators.

Canada cracks down on cow burps

Canada proposed a new strategy to slash methane emissions by offering cattle farmers incentives if they feed their cows food that will make them burp less. 

Yes, we are dead serious.

What happened: The plan would give farmers offset credits for switching their cows to feed with additives (like oil and extra grain) that reduce the amount of methane cattle produce. These credits can then be sold to companies to help them meet emissions reduction goals. 

BlackBerry jams its IPO plans

It’s starting to look like investors might be happier watching BlackBerry the movie than BlackBerry the company.

What happened: BlackBerry is walking back IPO plans for its Internet of Things (IoT) division — which creates in-car operating systems used in 235 million vehicles, among other things — and will promote John Giamatteo, president of its cybersecurity division, to CEO.

Sho me the money

Look away, Blue Jays fans: Shohei Ohtani just signed the biggest contract in pro sports history, and despite some dedicated flight tracking and internet sleuthing, it’s not with Toronto. 

Driving the news: Baseball phenom Shohei Ohtani agreed to a 10-year US$700 million contract (not a typo) with the Los Angeles Dodgers over the weekend, the largest ever in professional sports history.

EU sets landmark rules for AI

The EU is once again leading the charge on regulating tech, this time with a new set of rules for AI businesses. 

What happened: The European Union has reached a deal to establish the world’s most comprehensive AI legislation to date, including strict regulations for AI model developers and restrictions on the use of AI in biometric surveillance. 

Brian Armstrong on the future of crypto

On this week’s episode of Free Lunch by The Peak, we sat down with Brian Armstrong to talk about what's going on with crypto in Canada and what the future holds for the industry.

What to do this weekend

Our picks for what to eat, read, watch, and listen to this weekend.

Tesla fights a Scandi-insurgency

Tesla is learning the hard way that the only thing Scandinavians love more than skiing and cured seafood is the right to collective bargaining agreements. 

Driving the news: Denmark and Norway’s largest private sector unions and Finland’s transport union plan to halt the delivery of all Tesla vehicles destined for Sweden that come through their ports if the company fails to reach a labour deal with striking Swedish workers.

Hollywood actors cast in Russian propaganda

Would you be the face of a Russian disinformation campaign for $200? Well, that’s exactly the situation in which a handful of celebrities found themselves this week.  

Driving the news: Several famous faces like Elijah Wood and Priscilla Presley were tricked into making videos that were edited and used to attack Volodymyr Zelensky, the latest in a series of organized efforts by Russian trolls to warp perceptions around the war in Ukraine. 

Explain It Like I'm Five: Encrypted Messaging

What is end-to-end encryption?

A messaging system where only the users can participate. This means your internet provider, mobile provider, law enforcement and even the company that makes the app you are using can’t read your messages.

Is Google’s Gemini worth the hype?

Anyone paying attention to Google’s big AI announcement on Wednesday may have been left with two main questions: how is it different from ChatGPT, and is it any good?

Amazon’s satellite internet gets closer to a Canadian launch

Amazon is still preparing to send its first satellite into space, but it has started laying the groundwork for bringing its internet service to Canada.

What happened: Amazon’s job site currently has a posting for a country manager to run Project Kuiper, the company’s satellite broadband internet service, in Canada.

McDonald’s gets a McMakeover

The world’s biggest fast-food chain is going big in a quest for cold drink supremacy. 

What happened: McDonald's is launching a new restaurant concept called CosMc’s, a grab-and-go-style spin-off that will directly compete with the cold drink offerings at Starbucks, including menu items like churro frappes, pear slushies, and turmeric spiced lattes.

International students must beef up their bank accounts

The newest admissions requirement for foreign students looking to get into a Canadian university has nothing to do with grades or extracurriculars. 

What happened: International students planning to study in Canada next year need to prove they have at least $20,635 in their bank account—up from the current requirement of $10,000. 

Government agencies play iSpy

Not to alarm you, but for some reason, the federal agency managing our seafood has the power to snoop at your phone. Allow us to explain. 

What happened: The Parliamentary Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics is launching an investigation into the government’s use of spyware technology that can extract sensitive personal data from smartphones, computers, and tablets. 

The latest in a year of cyberattacks

People are used to getting surprises when they sign up for 23andMe, but “some hackers got their hands on your DNA” usually isn’t among them.

What happened: 23andMe, one of the world’s most popular DNA testing companies, confirmed that an October data breach resulted in hackers successfully swiping data from 6.9 million users—just a touch more than the 14,000 users that were initially estimated.