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Zendesk spurns $17B private equity takeover offer – TechCrunch

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When someone knocks on your door waving a check for $17 billion, you have to let them in for a chat. But when presented with that very offer this week from a consortium of private equity firms, Zendesk’s board rejected the deal on grounds that it undervalued the company.

In a statement, they said they were duty-bound to review such an offer, but after doing so, they felt confident about rejecting it:

“Consistent with its fiduciary obligations, after careful review and consideration conducted in consultation with its independent financial and legal advisors, the Board concluded that this non-binding proposal significantly undervalues the Company and is not in the best interests of the Company and its shareholders.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that the company could find itself in a shareholder battle concerning private equity interest in its business, along with its efforts to close the deal for the company that owns SurveyMonkey, so the matter may not be closed with management’s dismissal of this particular offering.

Jesús Hoyos, principal consultant at Cx2 Advisory, which monitors the customer experience (CX) market in which Zendesk competes, said the company made the right decision rebuffing the offer because it has plenty of opportunity to expand its CX market.

“It was wise to reject the takeover bid,” Hoyos told TechCrunch. “Their expansion in Latin America has been a success due to their integration with WhatsApp and excellent marketing. I see them being worth more than $17 billion in the future.”

Zendesk’s core product is help desk software, but it has expanded into other areas in recent years. It recently released the Zendesk Suite, which bundles Zendesk Support, Guide, Chat and Talk into a single package. It’s been doing well, with the company reporting that it accounted for $500 million in ARR and 35% of total ARR in its first year.

Last fall, the company purchased Momentive, owner of SurveyMonkey, giving it a more direct path into customer experience. Zendesk spent more than $4 billion for Momentive, betting on the company as a way to expand its market in the future. That projected growth is a big part of why it rejected the private equity offer, but it’s also a cause of controversy among activist investors who don’t like the direction Momentive would take the company.

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D.C. attorney general files lawsuit against Amazon, alleging stolen tips

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D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine on Wednesday announced that his office had filed a consumer protection lawsuit against Amazon, alleging that the e-commerce giant stole tips from drivers and deceived consumers about the tipping model.

The lawsuit alleges that Amazon used deceptive methods to lead consumers to believe that tip money went directly to drivers, when it actually was being used to subsidize wages. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

“Workers in the District of Columbia and throughout our country are too often taken advantage of and not paid their hard-earned wages,” Racine said in a statement. “What’s more, consumers need to know where their tips are going. This suit is about providing workers the tips they are owed and telling consumers the truth. Amazon, one of the world’s wealthiest companies, certainly does not need to take tips that belong to workers.”

The lawsuit concerns Amazon Flex, a service launched in 2015 that offers quick deliveries. When it was launched, the company encouraged consumers to tip delivery drivers and assured that 100 percent of the tip would go to the drivers.

According to the lawsuit, in 2016, Amazon changed the model so drivers could no longer see the tip amounts from each delivery, and a large portion of the tips were instead used to pay wages already promised to the drivers. The lawsuit further alleges that the company deceived consumers and workers about the model by hiding the reality of the tip policy.

An Amazon spokesperson said in an email that the lawsuit was without merit, adding that the company had changed its model in 2019 and that it had a compensation framework that ensures D.C. drivers earn more than the District’s minimum wage.

In 2021, Amazon reimbursed the Amazon Flex drivers as part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and agreed to a nationwide injunction that prohibits the company from changing the way driver tips are handled without notifying drivers in advance.

“Nothing is more important to us than customer trust. This lawsuit involves a practice we changed three years ago and is without merit — all of the customer tips at issue were already paid to drivers as part of a settlement last year with the FTC,” Amazon spokeswoman Maria Boschetti said in a statement Wednesday.

Racine argued that the company has not yet been held accountable for “consumer harm” violations of D.C.’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA), which prohibits deceptive and unfair business practices, such as misleading consumers.

The attorney general’s office is seeking civil penalties for each violation of the CPPA, payment to the District for costs of the case and a court order to ensure that the company cannot engage in the practice again.

This is the second lawsuit Racine has filed against the industry giant. In 2021, his office filed an antitrust complaint against the company, alleging that Amazon held monopoly power that resulted in higher prices for consumers. A D.C. Superior Court judge dismissed the antitrust suit earlier this year.

In April, the OAG and the U.S. Department of Justice both urged the court to reconsider its dismissal of the antitrust lawsuit against Amazon. Then in August, the Office of the Attorney General filed a notice of appeal. The city and Amazon must submit their arguments to D.C. Court of Appeals by the end of January before the case moves forward.

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Oh no, they added NFTs to Winamp • TechCrunch

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Winamp version 5.9.1 is here, rejoice! The venerable — nay, aged — but reliable media player has been receiving sporadic updates over the last couple decades, but little truly new functionality has appeared (and that’s just fine by us users). But this new version brings an unexpected and thankfully optional feature: NFT playback.

No, this doesn’t just read out the current valuation of your various square avatars; NFT-type tech has been applied to music as well, offering the capability of limited releases of digital tracks the way you might have a limited vinyl run. At least that’s the idea — I don’t think it’s quite caught on, and with the cryptocurrency world currently in disarray, it’s hard to blame anyone for declining to take part in a potentially risky ecosystem.

“Winamp was a key part of the first digital music innovation, when mp3s changed the way we listen and enjoy music. Now we’re supporting the leading edge of the next one, as more and more artists explore web3 and its potential,” said Winamp CEO Alexandre Saboundjian in a press release.

As you may recall, Winamp was purchased by Radionomy in 2014, and in 2018 a new effort was announced to revivify the brand. The idea, Saboundjian told me at the time, was to act as a unifying layer for all the music services out there, so whether you use Apple Music or Spotify or Tidal or all three, you can just open Winamp and select a track or playlist. It opens up in a different interface, though.

Image Credits: Winamp

That unified experience hasn’t exactly come to pass. In fact the redone app still counts an equalizer among its “coming soon” features. So it’s a little odd to hear that a functioning NFT layer arrived first:

Winamp’s latest version lets music fans link their Metamask wallet via Brave, Chrome, or Firefox to Winamp. It then connects their favorite music NFTs to their tried-and-true player. Winamp supports audio and video files distributed under both the ERC-721and ERC-1155 standards, and is launching this new feature for Ethereum and Polygon/Matic protocols.

To be clear, the fabled new unified player still seems to be a distant prospect. It’s the original, old-school player that’s getting the new feature, alongside a boatload of bug fixes and optimizations. The changes are listed, as they pretty much always have been, in a post on the Winamp forum, followed by ardent thanks from the community and obscure bug reports.

I for one am grateful that this piece of software is still actively maintained. I won’t be using the NFT function, but it’s just one of many things added in 5.9.1, and as soon as the rest of the Winamp users (there are dozens of us!) get around to testing it for me, I’ll go ahead and download it. After all, it really still whips the llama’s ass.

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The Eve 6 Guy Advises Two People Who Hate Their Lives

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The thing I’m most grateful for is that those early years of success, and even the rudderless floundering that followed, are what facilitated (and subsidized) my eventually becoming an artist many years after my band’s commercial success. I still balk at using the term “artist” self-referentially, but here’s what I mean by it. Today, I make songs with my bandmate Jon Siebels without any delusion that they will be commercially successful, simply because I want and need to make rock. The composition is about the transcendent thrill of the moment — nothing more, nothing less. Whether I end up digging the recording a few months later or not doesn’t matter. I don’t identify with it; it’s of a particular moment.

It’s one thing to hear a line like “You are not your work” and be like, Yeah, sure, OK, sounds kinda sorta abstractly true. It’s another thing entirely to really, genuinely know it. In my experience, you can’t just make a decision to assimilate this belief into your consciousness. There’s an old cliché — “You can act yourself into a new way of thinking but you can’t think yourself into a new way of acting.” That said, I’m going to wax philosophical for a moment before I give you a list of actions to take.

Who am I? What really matters to me? I am as I exist in relationship to others. Friends and family. To people I love who love me. Yeah, yeah, I know we live in a society, but for the purposes of this conversation I think it’s OK to be a little reductive. Do I really need people who know me merely by a designation (former sorta rock star) to confirm or deny my feelings about myself? No. Being overly concerned with the way others may or may not perceive you is a great way to become beholden to status and lose your creative true north.

I realized that I could jettison all preconceived notions about myself, my band, my career, and create my own avant-garde world free from the shackles of association.

Well, these days you can’t be a self-help guru without having numbered steps (plus I’m writing for BuzzFeed now, and you guys fucking love lists), so here are Eve 6 ways to shift your perspective through simple, if not always easy, action:

  1. Call at least one friend or family member per day to check in on how they’re doing. Call, not text.
  2. Read great fiction. Reading literature will help you get to know yourself. I find truths about the human condition to be best revealed in stories. We also live in a time when the limits of real imagination are felt acutely. Fiction is important.
  3. Find your “third place”: a destination point that is neither home nor work where you will be tricked into community in spite of yourself. For me, this is the public pool where I swim for miles with other masochists. We check in with each other. We ask each other how quitting smoking is going and stuff. Your third place can be anything from a rec center to a recovery group — it doesn’t matter. Just find a way to see familiar, honest faces and talk to them outside of work.
  4. I could’ve worked this into step 2 or 3, but there need to be six steps to adhere to the gimmick. Anyway: Host a movie night. This might sound corny, and it probably is, but do it anyway. This is something a friend of mine did when we were in early recovery together, and now my girlfriend and I do it. One or two friends is all you need. Provide refreshments and a Criterion selection. Art and community are the antidote to loneliness and atomization.
  5. Take the social risks necessary to find your people. What this amounts to really is being willing to say hello and ask people questions about themselves. Don’t throw your work acquaintances out with the bathwater. There may be coworkers whom you have more in common with than you realize. If not, though, that’s OK — just go back to step 3.
  6. Summon a gentle perspective toward yourself and others. Be quick to catch your mind in its knee-jerk judgments of people you come into contact with on a given day. Cultivating an equanimous view toward others, even those who might annoy you on the surface, is a good way to learn to offer yourself a similar grace. Our egos want to maintain the illusion that we are separate from our fellow human beings. Counter this by choosing to see good in people when you can. Choose to see the good in others, and you will more readily see it in yourself.

I want to commend you for starting to see a therapist and for getting on medication to help with your depression. This is awesome and shows you’re willing to advocate for yourself. As for your studies, I’m not going to tell you whether you should quit, and thankfully you didn’t ask me to. But before you make a final decision in that regard, try going through the steps outlined above to the best of your ability. And please report back to eve6guy@buzzfeed.com in a couple months.

Yours,
The Eve 6 Guy

Have a question for the Eve 6 Guy? Send it to eve6guy@buzzfeed.com. (Your anonymity is guaranteed.) By doing so, you acknowledge and agree that any use and/or reliance on any information obtained through your email is at your own risk.

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