Apple banned Facebook's security app that also reports back on which apps people are using (FB)

apple ceo tim cookTim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple, attends the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 12, 2018 in Sun Valley, Idaho.Drew Angerer/Getty Images

  • Apple has banned a security app made by Facebook that monitored what apps users were using then sent the data to the social network.
  • Apple determined at Onavo Protect violated its new rules on data collection, and it has now been removed from the App Store.
  • It’s still available on Google’s Android, however.

Apple has determined that Onavo Protect, a Facebook-owned security app, is in violation of its rules, and asked the social network to take it down — which it did. 

The news was first reported on Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal, and a Facebook spokesperson confirmed its removal to Business Insider. It’s still available from the Google Play store on Android. 

Onavo, an Israeli security firm acquired by Facebook in 2013, has long been the source of controversy.

Its flagship app, Onavo Protect, offers users a number of security features, including security alerts and access to a virtual private network (VPN). But it also monitors the apps that users use, reporting the data back to Facebook HQ — something the social network has used to identify competitors early and even prompt acquisitions.

According to the WSJ’s report, Apple came to the conclusion that the app broke its new rules on data collection, and told Facebook as much earlier in August. 

Apple did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment, but a company spokesperson told CNBC:

“We work hard to protect user privacy and data security throughout the Apple ecosystem. With the latest update to our guidelines, we made it explicitly clear that apps should not collect information about which other apps are installed on a user’s device for the purposes of analytics or advertising/marketing and must make it clear what user data will be collected and how it will be used.”

In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said: “We’ve always been clear when people download Onavo about the information that is collected and how it is used. As a developer on Apple’s platform we follow the rules they’ve put in place.”

According to previous reports from the Wall Street Journal, Facebook has used Onavo to do everything from monitoring usage of competing apps like Snapchat to surfacing up-and-coming apps like videochat app Houseparty, and then cloning its core features.

Critics have long held that Facebook doesn’t do enough to advertise its ownership of Onavo — you have to scroll all the way to the bottom of its description in smartphone app stores to see that disclosure; something not every would-be user may do. Earlier this year, privacy advocates were upset when the core Facebook app suggested users download Onavo Protect, without disclosing that relationship. It’s been called “vampiric” and “spyware” by pundits. 

A Google spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment as to whether the company will take action on Onavo of its own. 

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Check out Google's idea for an 'interactive cord' that you could tap on to control devices and eliminate passwords (GOOG, GOOGL)

google, patent, interactive cordA copy of the interactive cord taken from Google’s patentUS Patent Office/Google

  • Google has filed for a patent for an “interactive cord” 
  • The cord has multiple applications, such as possibly offering a more secure way to create user  authentication, according researchers from CB Insights 
  • The cord could help gadget makers save money because it could make buttons and sliders obsolete. 

Google has filed a patent for an “interactive cord” that conceivably would give a user the ability to control devices by touching specific areas of the cord instead of buttons or sliders, according to the Aug. 14 filing.

Researchers from CB Insights who first discovered the patent filing, see a lot of different applications for the cords, such as helping to provide more data security.

Beyond replacing hardware, it could also provide an alternative to voice control,” CB Insights said in a report. “It has the potential to shake up user authentication methods, which often rely on the use of passwords. A touch-enabled cord could enable verification that goes beyond typing in passwords and the use of methods like facial recognition or Touch ID.”

google, patent, interactive cordMore photos from Google’s patent on interactive cordsUS Patent Office/Google

According to the patent, the interactive cord includes a cable wrapped within in a fabric cover. The fabric cover possesses  conductive threads woven into the fabric cover to “form a capacitive touchpoint” that senses the voltage in a person’s finger. It can also detect varying  contacts, such as taps and swipes. 

By touching one part of the cord, a person can play music. Touching another area can raise the volume. The difference here is that the cord won’t possess any buttons or sliders that malfunction due to sweat or skin and are costly to build.

CB Insights is most excited by the cord’s potential as a means to authenticate a user’s identity.

“A wide array of touch patterns can be used,” CB Insights wrote, “including tapping out a rhythm, touching specific or relative locations, applying varying amounts of pressure on the fabric cover, sliding down the cord, or manipulating the cord so one section touches another — to authenticate users on devices.”

Google said in the patent that this type of authentication is “less likely to be compromised by adversaries and those with malicious intent,” because a pattern is harder to discern than keying in codes.

Google’s drawing of the interactive cord depicted it as a part of a set of earbuds for listening to music and making phone calls.

That’s an interesting but odd use for such a cord, given that headphones and earbuds are increasingly wireless these days.

The patent is also interesting, given that Google is currently so focused on making computers and gadgets understand human voice commands. For example, users of Google Home can play specific songs, control volume, and create calendar events entirely through speech.   

But speaking commands out loud in public is not always practical or viable, and an interactive cord could open the door to lots of exciting new applications. 

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Facebook is warning 4 million users that another app may have mishandled their data (FB)

Ime ArchibongFacebook VP Ime Archibong.Getty
  • Facebook is warning 4 million users that an app called “myPersonality” may have mishandled their personal data.
  • It took action on “myPersonality” after failing to submit to the Facebook app auditing process. It’s been under investigation since April. 
  • It’s an incident similar to how the Cambridge Analytica scandal got started. In fact, the academic at the heart of the Cambridge Analytica incident contributed to “myPersonality.”

Facebook will warn 4 million users that the app “myPersonality” may have mishandled their personal data, according to a blog post by Facebook on Wednesday afternoon.

The app was “mostly active before 2012,” writes Facebook VP Ime Archibong, and is now banned from the platform. And there’s no indication that “myPersonality” had access to the data of its users’ Facebook friends, so it will only notify those affected.

This is evocative of the origins of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which the users of an app called “thisisyourdigitallife,” and that of those users’ friends, had their personal data improperly obtained by a political research firm with ties to the Trump presidential campaign. All told, the incident affected as many as 87 million Facebook users. 

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook instituted an app auditing process, where it would go through and vet every app that integrated with the social network — past and present — to make sure that it didn’t mishandle or resell the personal data that it gathered, in violation of Facebook’s policies. 

However, Archibong writes that “myPersonality” came to Facebook’s attention after “failing to agree to our request to audit and because it’s clear that they shared information with researchers as well as companies with only limited protections in place.”

In other words, while Facebook either can’t or won’t say how the data gathered by “myPersonality” was used, it’s confident enough that the data was mishandled to take action. 

Read more: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified to Congress about Cambridge Analytica and Russia

Notably, Facebook has been investigating “myPersonality” since at least April, when it suspended the app from the site. It was reported in May that the app had some 6 million users, 40% of whom shared their personal data with the site.

Also of note is that Aleksandr Kogan, the academic who created “thisisyourdigitallife,” also contributed to “myPersonality,” which was created in 2007 by Dr. David Stillwell at the University of Cambridge.

We’ve reached out to Dr. Stillwell for comment and will update if we hear back. However, an automated e-mail response indicates that he is out of the office until August 28th.

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The controversial Silicon Valley startup behind ‘Just Mayo’ has finally released what was supposed to be its signature product, after 6 years of development

just scramble omeletteHampton Creek

  • Just Inc., the Silicon Valley food startup known for its Just Mayo and egg-free cookie dough, will finally be selling its vegan scrambled egg product in grocery stores.
  • The product, called Just Egg, has been six years in the making.
  • Difficulties creating the right texture, flavor, and shelf-life held the product back since the company first began talking about it in 2011.

After several controversies and six years of development, Silicon Valley startup Just Inc. (formerly known as Hampton Creek) has finally cracked the eggless egg.

Since its founding in 2011, the $1.1-billion vegan food company known for its Just Mayo and vegan cookie dough has been promising an animal-free scrambled egg product that could be purchased in grocery stores. The company’s mission is to transform the way we eat by swapping the animal products we eat for equally tasty plant-based goods.

And in two weeks, big box retailers like Gelson’s and Safeway, along with a handful of Midwestern chains, will become the first stores to carry Just Egg. It’ll be sold alongside regular eggs.

For the company, Just Egg “was definitely a signature product,” Josh Tetrick, Just’s co-founder and CEO, told Business Insider.

But that holy grail of an animal-free scrambled egg product turned out to be harder to make than the company initially envisioned.

‘We’ll be able to find something that scrambles like an egg in no time’

Hampton Creek Just MayoBiz Carson/Business Insider

When Tetrick first started trying to create an egg-free scrambled egg product, he figured it wouldn’t take more than a few months. But that’s not what happened.

“When I first started I thought, ‘You know, there’s so many plants out there, we’ll be able to find something that scrambles like an egg in no time,” Tetrick said.

But every time Tetrick’s team came up with an eggless recipe, one variable was always off. 

We’d find something that would gel like an egg but tasted too plant-like. Or we’d find something that had the egg taste but wouldn’t gel,” said Tetrick.

Then came the controversy. Allegations surfaced that members of the company had artificially inflated sales by buying up their own products. And former employees claimed to Business Insider that the company was using shoddy science, and spoke of an uncomfortable and unsafe work environment.

But despite lagging behind on a vegan egg product that could stand on its own, the company succeeded at making a handful of other tasty items that normally require eggs. Vegan cookie dough, mayo, and salad dressing began to grace grocery store shelves bearing the Hampton Creek label. The company raised $220 million.

Then, finally, hope surfaced in the form of a humble plant that Tetrick’s team simply calls “Jack.”

Cracking the eggless egg with ‘Jack’

just scramble pattyErin Brodwin / Business Insider

Plants are the centerpiece of Just’s operation. The company’s mission is to transform the way we eat by swapping the animal products in food for vegetable-based alternatives. Pea protein is the basis for Just Mayo, while Just Cookies and Just Dough are made with sorghum, a tall-growing cereal grain used widely in animal feed.

But to create a stand-alone egg product with a texture, flavor, and scrambling time similar to regular eggs, Tetrick’s team had to look beyond sorghum or peas. Then they found mung beans.

Mung beans, which Tetrick’s team simply refer to as “Jack,” give the liquid mixture the right consistency and nutritional makeup, along with a 60-day shelf-life. On a recent tour of the company’s headquarters, we gave the eggless egg a try. To us, it didn’t taste exactly like eggs on its own. But serve the steaming mixture atop a crunchy piece of toast or a bagel with a little seasoning, and we think it could fool most people.

The new product, which is free of egg, dairy, and cholesterol but high in protein and sells for $7.99 for a 12-oz bottle (the equivalent of roughly a half-dozen eggs), will be sold in 26 grocery stores across the country before the end of September. It’s also been accepted into Amazon Launchpad, the company’s brand accelerator program, which means it could also be sold on Amazon Fresh in coming months.

“We’re really happy with it,” Tetrick said of Just Egg. “Little did I know it would take 6 years and some of my hairs would turn gray, but thankfully we figured out a way to get it done.” 

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Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has grabbed a healthy slice of the smartphone market at an impressively quick pace

Following its Hong Kong IPO, Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi beat analyst’s expectations this past quarter, with revenue in the first half of 2018 now totaling 79.65 RMB, or $11.9 billion.

The rising revenue has been driven by brisk smartphone sales — Xiaomi said it sold 32 million smartphones this past quarter. As this chart from Statista shows, that’s translated into major market share gains, with Xiaomi’s share of the smartphone market surging from less than 4% share to roughly 9% over the past 18 months.

The Chinese company is the fourth largest smartphone maker in the world, and could become an increasing threat to giants like Samsung and Apple.

Chart of the day_8.22.18 tech chart of the dayShayanne Gal/Business Insider

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$3.2 billion self-driving car company Zoox has ousted its CEO

Tim Kentley-Klay, cofounder and former CEO of autonomous vehicle startup Zoox.Tim Kentley-Klay, cofounder of Zoox, was ousted from his role as CEO of the self-driving car company.Zoox

  • Tim Kentley-Klay has been ousted as CEO of high-profile self-driving car startup Zoox.
  • Kentley-Klay was voted out by Zoox’s board, Bloomberg reported.
  • He had no prior experience in cars or artificial intelligence before founding Zoox in 2014 with Jesse Levinson.

The CEO of Zoox has left in a management shake-up at the the high-profile, well-funded, and idiosyncratic self-driving car startup.

Zoox has already started searching for a replacement for Tim Kentley-Klay, who cofounded the Silicon Valley-based company, a source close to Zoox told Business Insider. In the meantime, it has named board member Carl Bass as its executive chairman and cofounder Jesse Levinson as its president, the source said. Bass is the former CEO of Autodesk.

Bloomberg and the Information previously reported Kentley-Klay’s departure. He was voted out by the company’s board, Bloomberg reported, citing its own unnamed source. Neither Bloomberg’s source nor Business Insider’s offered an explanation for the move.

Zoox has raised some $790 million in funding to develop an autonomous vehicle. Most recently, it took in $500 million of funding at a valuation of $3.2 billion. 

In contrast to other companies in the nascent industry, Zoox is working on multiple aspects of self-driving cars, from the software, to the vehicles themselves, to building its own autonomous taxi service. Meanwhile, unlike other companies in the space, Zoox is building cars that are designed to be bidirectional — either end of its cars can serve as the front or the rear.

A native of Australia, Kentley-Klay had no background automobile engineering or artificial intelligence before starting Zoox, according to a recent Bloomberg profile. Instead, he had worked in online advertising.

He became interested in self-driving cars in 2012 after reading a blog post about Google’s autonomous vehicle effort, according to the Bloomberg profile. He eventually moved to the US and befriended Anthony Levandowski, then one of the lead engineers on Google’s self-driving car project and later the notorious Uber engineer who allegedly stole secrets from Google and passed them on to the app-based taxi company. Levandowski introduced him to Levinson, who at the time was a graduate student at Stanford researching autonomous car technology.

Levinson and Kentley-Klay founded Zoox in 2014.

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'You're literally shifting deck chairs on the Titanic': Here's why the SEC probably won't approve a bitcoin ETF anytime soon

Titanic 1997Paramount Pictures

  • The SEC makes its verdict on a bitcoin-futures linked ETF by ProShares on Thursday. 
  • Some market observers say that the fact that the product is based on futures, not bitcoin itself, could help its case. 
  • But market experts say the opaqueness of the crypto markets and possible manipulation still make an approval unlikely. 

Bart Smith, head of digital assets at Susquehanna International Group, is used to taking risks.  

As a trader, “You never say no chance,” he said. 

But Smith thinks there’s just a 1% likelihood that the Securities and Exchange Commission will on Thursday approve an exchange-traded fund linked to bitcoin for the first time. The funds, proposed by asset manager ProShares, were first filed with regulators last September and are linked to Cboe Global Markets’ bitcoin future contracts, not bitcoin itself. 

A bitcoin ETF has long been viewed as a next step in bitcoin’s maturation as an asset class and a way to breath new life into the crypto which has struggled to break through $10,000 for much of 2018. 

Some market observers think that the fund’s connection to the futures markets, which are regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, would make its approval more likely than past proposals, including one in July by VanEck which was also rejected by regulators.

Smith isn’t so sure. 

“You’re literally shifting deck chairs on the Titanic,” he said. 

A representative for ProShares could not be reached for comment. 

Issues in the market

Even though a futures-based ETF would trade on Cboe, the price of those contracts are still tied to unregulated bitcoin venues in international markets, according to Richard Johnson, a market structure specialist at Greenwich Associates. 

A slew of asset managers, including Bitwise Asset Management, GraniteShares, and Direxion have filed for a bitcoin ETF, and are all waiting in limbo for a verdict from the SEC. 

The SEC itself said after it denied a Winklevoss brothers’ bitcoin ETF in July for the second time that it could not “conclude that bitcoin markets are uniquely resistant to manipulation.”

Not much has been done since to address those concerns or prove that they are unwarranted, experts say. 

Notably, Bloomberg published a report examining more than 50,000 trades on Kraken’s market that experts said raised red flags. Elsewhere, academics at the University of Texas published a paper alleging that Tether was last year used to manipulate the price of bitcoin, propping up its run to $20,000 in December.

Some steps have been taken to improve the surveillance of the market, Johnson said. Several cryptocurrency exchanges including the Winklevoss brothers’ Gemini are teaming up to form a new working group to create new standards to stamp out manipulation and address the opaqueness of the market. Still, the group excludes Coinbase — the largest crypto exchange in the US — and foreign exchanges in Asia, which command a large percentage of the market. 

Proponents for a bitcoin ETF counter that bitcoin markets are difficult to manipulate since they are very fragmented. Others point to the liquidity of the market, which sees turnover in the multi-billions, as another sign that market is ready for an ETF. 

But John Hyland, global head of exchange traded funds at Bitwise, says it’s unlikely the SEC will be convinced by that argument. 

“They’re not going to be swayed by what sounds plausible and what might be true,” he said. 

For that reason, it’s likely the ProShares filing will either get denied by the SEC or the firm with withdraw the proposal, Hyland said. 

Crypto exchanges need to cooperate 

For a bitcoin ETF to get approved, whether it’s based on futures or bitcoin itself, crypto exchanges will need to start cooperating more with each other to make the market more transparent, said Dave Weisberger, the chief executive of crypto data company CoinRoutes. 

Weisberger, who argues that bitcoin markets are robust enough to support a derivative product like an ETF, thinks such a product would have a better chance of getting off the ground if crypto exchanges allowed market data to be made public. That would help investors find the best venues to execute crypto trades, he said. 

Simply put, these exchanges have taken a legal approach that doesn’t allow the public to comparison shop for ‘best execution,'” Weisberger said.

If crypto exchanges were to adopt these policies and robustly address cross-exchange manipulation, then the SEC’s stance on a crypto ETF could change, he added. 

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Apple CEO Tim Cook is a few days away from a $120 million payday (AAPL)

Tim CookApple CEO Tim Cook.Brendan McDermid/Reuters
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook is in line to earn $120 million in Apple stock on Friday. 
  • His compensation is tied to Apple’s performance in the stock market. 

Tim Cook’s fortune is tied to Apple’s performance in the stock market. 

In 2013, two years after Cook became CEO, Apple updated his compensation plan to include large chunks of stock that would vest if, over a three year period, Apple outperformed two-thirds of the S&P 500, an index tracking 500 of the biggest public U.S. companies. 

Apple is up 31% in the last 12 months, and it’s outperformed 81% of the stocks in the index, according to reports from Bloomberg and CNBC

That means Cook is lined up to receive a massive payday: 560,000 shares, the maximum amount possible, worth over $120 million at Wednesday’s closing price of $215.05. 

If the 57-year-old executive is granted the full amount of shares, it will be the fifth consecutive time he’s received the maximum payout. 

Cook’s unvested shares actually make up the bulk of his estimated $625 million fortune. He currently owns 878,425 shares of Apple, worth about $188 million. 

Cook said in 2015 that he plans to give his entire fortune to charity. On Tuesday, he donated nearly $5 million in Apple stock to an unspecified charity, according to an SEC filing. 

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Jeremy Corbyn: Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Netflix should pay for the BBC

jeremy corbynBritain’s Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.REUTERS/Darren Staples

  • Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain’s opposition party Labour, wants to tax firms like Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Netflix to help pay for the BBC.
  • He said the companies should pay their way in the UK for extracting “huge wealth from our shared digital space.”
  • Tech firms are unlikely to welcome the tax on their UK operations, and it’s unclear whether even the BBC would be open to the idea.

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain’s opposition party Labour, has floated the radical idea of effectively taxing America’s tech giants to help pay for the BBC.

Theresa May’s most powerful adversary will raise the proposal in a speech on Thursday at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, where he will say that firms like Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Netflix should pay their way in the UK for extracting “huge wealth from our shared digital space.”

The BBC is currently funded to the tune of £3.8 billion ($4.9 billion) by the licence fee, paid by TV-owning British households. Corbyn’s plan is to supplement this with what he will call a “digital licence fee.”

“In the digital age, we should consider whether a digital licence fee could be a fairer and more effective way to fund the BBC,” he will tell an audience of the UK’s most senior TV and media executives.

“A digital licence fee, supplementing the existing licence fee, collected from tech giants and Internet Service Providers, who extract huge wealth from our shared digital space, could allow a democratized and more plural BBC to compete far more effectively with the private multinational digital giants like Netflix, Amazon, Google and Facebook.”

tony hallBBC director general Tony Hall.WPA Pool/Getty Images

Making the idea a reality could be fraught with difficulty. Tech firms and ISPs are unlikely to welcome what would effectively be a tax on their operations in the UK.

Indeed Tech UK, a trade body that represents tech firms in the UK and counts the likes of Apple and Google among its members, immediately trashed the idea. “It is good to see Mr. Corbyn engaging on these issues, however we need better ideas than just another proposal to tax tech companies,” it said in a statement.

It’s unclear whether the BBC would even welcome such a move, which could be seen as a threat to its independence. And then there’s the fact that Corbyn’s party is not in power, and that the BBC’s funding arrangements and operating agreement, or charter, is set in stone until 2027.

What is clear, however, is that the BBC regularly complains of being under threat from firms like Apple and Netflix. In a speech in February, BBC Director General Tony Hall said the “Fang” companies — Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google — are doing a smash and grab job on the UK television industry and will “skilfully mine every ounce of personal data to drive growth and profit.”

Corbyn will say that “we need bold, radical thinking on the future of our media” because trust is waning and control is being concentrated in the hands of a “few tech giants and unaccountable billionaires.”

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Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said he was taught to be seen, but not heard — which is why he can be so shy with his employees (SNAP)

Evan SpiegelSnap CEO Evan Spiegel says he has a shyness problem.Snap/YouTube
  • Until recently, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel never presided over companywide meetings, and he rarely interacted with employees, according to a new Bloomberg report.
  • Spiegel said he’s shy and his religious upbringing taught him to avoid the spotlight.
  • But in response to criticism, he’s been trying to interact more with employees and managers.

Evan Spiegel is a billionaire thanks to the app he co-created, Snapchat, which is used by millions of people around the world. He is married to Miranda Kerr, a supermodel who is a celebrity in her own right.

But until recently, he was reluctant to be the center of attention among his own employees, according to a new profile of Spiegel published Wednesday by Bloomberg. Spiegel never presided over companywide meetings, because Snap didn’t hold any. And, until recently, Spiegel would rarely roam the campus and talk with workers, according to the report.

“I remember thinking, Why would I go around the company and just chat with people? Like that would be so awkward,” he said.

Spiegel is shy, he told Bloomberg. And his religious Christian unbringing encouraged him to be modest and not seek attention for himself, he said.

He is “uncomfortable or intimidated speaking to large groups,” he said.

“I remember growing up I was taught to be small, be a turtle,” he continued.

Spiegel’s shyness contrasts with his celebrity lifestyle

Spiegel’s reticence stands in contrast to the public nature of his life and company — and his outsized compensation. He made headlines when he married Kerr last year and when Kerr gave birth to their first child together earlier this year.

But he’s also well known for running the company that makes Snapchat, the popular messaging app that has some 188 million daily users. He’s also drawn scrutiny for being the mostly highly compensated CEO in the US last year.

After coming under criticism for his management style and his company’s poor performance since its initial public offering last year, Spiegel has been trying to be more outgoing and a better manager. He hired a management coach last year and anoymously surveyed employees about how he could improve as a leader, according to the report. He’s also started to interact more with workers.

“Now I go walk around the office and get a ton of emails like, ‘Oh, my God, that was awesome you came by,'” he said.

In December, for the first time ever, Spiegel held a meeting with senior managers to go over priorities, Bloomberg reported. And in March, the company started holding all-hands meetings.

Apparently, though, Spiegel’s shyness still can get the best of him. At a staffwide meeting in July, he mostly let his fellow executives do the talking, Bloomberg reported.

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