Apple has pushed a silent Mac update to remove hidden Zoom web server

Apple has released a silent update for Mac users removing a vulnerable component in Zoom, the popular video conferencing app, which allowed websites to automatically add a user to a video call without their permission.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant told TechCrunch that the update — now released — removes the hidden web server, which Zoom quietly installed on users’ Macs when they installed the app.

Apple said the update does not require any user interaction and is deployed automatically.

The video conferencing giant took flack from users following a public vulnerability disclosure on Monday by Jonathan Leitschuh, in which he described how “any website [could] forcibly join a user to a Zoom call, with their video camera activated, without the user’s permission.” The undocumented web server remained installed even if a user uninstalled Zoom. Leitschuh said this allowed Zoom to reinstall the app without requiring any user interaction.

He also released a proof-of-concept page demonstrating the vulnerability.

Although Zoom released a fixed app version on Tuesday, Apple said its actions will protect users both past and present from the undocumented web server vulnerability without affecting or hindering the functionality of the Zoom app itself.

The update will now prompt users if they want to open the app, whereas before it would open automatically.

Apple often pushes silent signature updates to Macs to thwart known malware — similar to an anti-malware service — but it’s rare for Apple to take action publicly against a known or popular app. The company said it pushed the update to protect users from the risks posed by the exposed web server.

Zoom spokesperson Priscilla McCarthy told TechCrunch: “We’re happy to have worked with Apple on testing this update. We expect the web server issue to be resolved today. We appreciate our users’ patience as we continue to work through addressing their concerns.”

More than four million users across 750,000 companies around the world use Zoom for video conferencing.

India’s Byju’s raises $150 million to expand globally

Byju’s, India’s most valuable edtech startup, has received new $150 million as it races to expand the reach of its learning app in the country and some international markets.

The unnamed financing round was led by Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the sovereign wealth fund of the State of Qatar, and included participation from Owl Ventures, a leading investor in education tech startups. This is Owl Venture’s first investment in an Indian startup. A person familiar with the matter said the new round valued Byju’s at $5.75 billion, up from nearly $4 billion last year.

The startup, which has raised about $925 million to date, said it would use the fresh capital to aggressively explore and expand in international markets. The startup has previously said it plans to enter the U.S. and UK, Australia, and New Zealand.

It acquired Osmo, a U.S.-based learning startup that is popular among kids aged between five and 12 for $120 million early this year. Osmo recently unveiled a new product to serve the pre-schoolers market.

Byju’s helps all school-going children understand complex subjects through its app where tutors use real life objects such as pizza and cake. It also prepares students who are pursuing under graduate and graduate level courses. Over the years, Byju’s has invested in tweaking the English accents in its app and adapted to different education systems. It has amassed more than 35 million registered users, about 2.4 million of which are paid customers.

“Investment from prominent sovereign and pension funds validates our strong business fundamentals. Indian ed-tech firms attracting interest from eminent investors demonstrates that India is pioneering the digital learning space globally,” Byju Raveendran, founder and CEO of Byju’s, said in a statement.

In India, Byju’s competes with a handful of players, including Bangalore-based Unacademy, which is aimed at students who are preparing for graduation-level courses. It raised $50 million last month.

India has the largest population in the world in the age bracket of 5 to 24 years. A report by KPMG and Google in 2017 estimated that the country’s online education market would grow to $1.96 billion of sales by 2021.

Byju’s generated around $205 million in revenue in the fiscal year that ended in March. It plans to increase that figure to over $430 million this year. Raveendran has stated that the startup intends to go public in the next two to three years.

Bumble chief responds to reports of misconduct at parent company

Following an extensive report in Forbes about Bumble’s parent company and its billionaire founder Andrey Andreev, the female-first dating app’s founder Whitney Wolfe Herd has issued a statement.

While Wolfe Herd says she was “mortified by the allegations” and “saddened and sickened to hear that anyone, of any gender, would ever be made to feel marginalized or mistreated in any capacity at their workplace,” the exec also detailed that “Badoo is currently conducting an investigation into the allegations, as well as compiling documentation to expose the factual inaccuracies that exist within the article.”

Wolfe Herd’s statement is provided in full at the end of the article. We’ve reached out to Forbes for comment.

The Forbes report, titled “Exclusive Investigation: Sex, Drugs, Misogyny And Sleaze At The HQ Of Bumble’s Owner,” focused largely on Badoo founder Andrey Andreev and the toxic culture at his company alleged by former employees. The report alleged an early culture at Badoo that ranged from “Ketamine infused afterparties” to engineering updates named after porn stars, and a video shared internally of an employee receiving oral sex.

The allegations went beyond portraying a sexist work environment and detailed racist attitudes of the Badoo founder:

While Badoo’s popularity grew in Europe and Latin America in the early 2010s, adoption was slow in the U.S. The American user base then was mostly Latino. Andreev would complain when he saw too many dark faces on the app—he believed it lowered the value of the brand and made it look cheap, says a former employee who worked on marketing campaigns. “Andrey was always making it clear that white was better,” says the former high-ranking executive. “If someone were to arrive a little bit late to the office and they were Latino or African, he would make comments like, ‘Well, what can you expect,’ as if people who were not white were not hardworking.”

Quoted on-record was the company’s former CMO Jessica Powell, who said she was fired because she didn’t fit into the company’s “patriarchal” environment. The Forbes report further detailed:

“While serving as the company’s CMO, I was told to act pretty for investors and make job candidates ‘horny’ to work for Badoo,” Jessica Powell, Badoo’s chief marketing officer from 2011 to 2012 says in an email. “I was once even asked to give a designer candidate a massage.” She says she refused to do so, adding that “female employees were routinely discussed in terms of their appearance.”

“When female staff spoke up, their concerns were ignored or minimized,” she adds, decrying a “misogynistic atmosphere.”

Wolfe Herd’s comments showcases a broader effort to distance the Bumble brand, which is closely aligned with her own personal brand, from the allegations against Badoo and its founder. It is difficult to separate Badoo and Bumble from a business perspective, as both fall beneath Andreev’s recently created MagicLab parent company, and Andreev reportedly owns 79% of Bumble.

Though Wolfe Herd’s comment strikes a conciliatory tone, “I would never challenge someone’s feelings or experiences,” regarding former employees that alleged negative experiences at Badoo, the company’s billionaire majority stakeholder Andrey Andreev was more direct in his response to those quoted on-record: “There are many ways to promote a fictional book in order to attract attention, and Jessica is a very talented marketing professional,” he said in a statement to Forbes, noting that Powell had recently released a satirical novel.

Responding to Andreev’s statement on Twitter, Powell said, “We’ve all seen the way people try to cut down women who come forward, the way companies craft false narratives of bad behavior and try to make it seem like we were bad at our jobs or troublemakers and should not be listened to.”

A statement from MagicLab given to Business Insider aimed to discredit Forbes reporter Angel Au-Yeung: “We are extremely disappointed in the reckless reporting of the Forbes reporter. Not a single current employee is quoted, our fact-check corrections were largely ignored, and the journalist refused to talk to dozens of former and current employees who came forward to counter the sensationalist narrative of only a few former disgruntled employees.”

The statements from Andreev, MagicLab and Wolfe Herd utilize language that simultaneously takes responsibility for “anything that could have taken place” and portrays a desire to hear from marginalized employees — while also seeking to introduce doubts about the story and its sources.

For Bumble, the association with the alleged toxic culture and Andreev’s alleged discriminatory attitudes in this report could be dangerous to the brand largely because of the reputation Bumble has publicly built for itself as being a platform that puts female safety at the forefront.

“…I would never challenge someone’s feelings or experiences. I offered to the reporter to extend my contact info to anyone who felt their experience was negative and said I would be an ally and open ear to them. That offer still stands,” Wolfe Herd said in the statement. “As a woman who has been through dark times, please know that I am deeply sorry for anything that could have taken place that made anyone feel uncomfortable before my time building Bumble. And know that I feel personally responsible by association for the well-being of each and every team member in the group, regardless of what company or what office around the world, from the past or the present.”

Wolfe Herd’s full statement:

All of us at Bumble are mortified by the allegations about Badoo (Bumble’s majority owner) from the years before Bumble was born, as chronicled in the Forbes story. I am saddened and sickened to hear that anyone, of any gender, would ever be made to feel marginalized or mistreated in any capacity at their workplace. From my time speaking with the reporter, I was only able to share my personal experiences, which have been nothing but positive and respectful, ranging from 2014, before Bumble existed, and during the 5 years since. To this day, we at Bumble have never seen or heard of any of this behavior from any team members, and if we had we would have never tolerated it. However, I would never challenge someone’s feelings or experiences. I offered to the reporter to extend my contact info to anyone who felt their experience was negative and said I would be an ally and open ear to them. That offer still stands. As a woman who has been through dark times, please know that I am deeply sorry for anything that could have taken place that made anyone feel uncomfortable before my time building Bumble. And know that I feel personally responsible by association for the well-being of each and every team member in the group, regardless of what company or what office around the world, from the past or the present. Badoo is currently conducting an investigation into the allegations, as well as compiling documentation to expose the factual inaccuracies that exist within the article. I’d like to take the opportunity to clarify that I was never copied on any email from these allegations, as Forbes suggested. I learned of the majority of these allegations at the same time as the public. We at Bumble remain fiercely committed to our mission, while being openly apologetic to anyone who feels our mission is compromised. We assure you that we would never conduct business in a manner contradictory to our values and would never tolerate the type of toxic behavior described by Forbes.

Mozilla blocks spy firm DarkMatter from Firefox citing ‘significant risk’ to users

Firefox maker Mozilla said it will not trust certificates from surveillance maker DarkMatter, ending a months-long effort to be whitelisted by the popular browser.

Months earlier, the United Arab Emirates-based DarkMatter had asked Mozilla to formally trust its root certificates in the Firefox certificate store, a place in the browser reserved for certificate authorities that are trusted and approved to issue HTTPS certificates. Mozilla and other browser makers use this store to know which HTTPS certificates to trust, effectively allowing these certificate authorities to confirm a website’s identity and certify that data going to and from it is secure.

But a rogue or malicious certificate authority could allow the interception of encrypted internet traffic by faking or impersonating websites.

DarkMatter has a history of controversial and shady operations, including developing malware and spyware to be used in surveillance operations, as well as the alleged targeting of journalists critical of the company. Just weeks ago, Reuters reported that the Emirati company — which employs former U.S. National Security Agency hackers — targeted several media personalities and dissidents at the behest of the Arab monarchy.

But the company has a clean record as a certificate authority, putting Mozilla in a tough spot.

Either Mozilla could accept DarkMatter’s record as a certificate authority or reject it based off a perceived risk.

As it turns out, the latter won.

“Our foremost responsibility is to protect individuals who rely on Mozilla products,” said said Wayne Thayer, certification authority program manager at Mozilla, in a discussion group post on Tuesday. He added that DarkMatter poses “a significant risk to our users.”

“I believe this framing strongly supports a decision to revoke trust in DarkMatter’s intermediate certificates,” he wrote.

Thayer added that although both sides of DarkMatter’s business were taken into account, the browser maker cited a core Mozilla principle — “individuals’ security and privacy on the internet are fundamental and must not be treated as optional” — as a reason to reject the proposal.

Mozilla said it would also distrust six intermediary certificates in the meanwhile.

DarkMatter did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

YouTube lands on Fire TV and Amazon Prime Video arrives on Chromecast, Android TV

It’s nice when people can come together and work through their differences to make it easier to watch stuff. That’s exactly what happened today, when the long-standing detente between Google and Amazon over streaming video services came to an end, with YouTube arriving on Fire TV and Prime Video making its way to Chromecast and Android TV.

Amazon’s second-generation Fire TV Stick, their Fire TV Stick 4K, the Fire TV Cube, Fire TV Stick Basic Edition and Fire TV Edition smart TVs made by partner OEMs will all get support for the official YouTube app globally starting today, and Amazon intends to extend support to even more of its hardware in the future. YouTube TV and YouTube Kids will also come to Amazon Fire TV devices later this year.

On the Google side, both its own Chromecast devices, as well as partner TVs and hardware that support Chromecast built-in, or that run Android TV, will gain support broadly for Prime Video. Plus, any Chromecast Ultra owners will also get access to Prime Video’s 4,000-title library normally reserved for Prime members, at no additional cost, as part of the new tie-up between the two companies.

Prime has been available on some Android TV devices to date, but it’s expanding to a much broader selection of those smart TVs and streaming boxes from today.

This has been a long time coming — several years in fact, with the most recent spat between the two coming as a result of Amazon’s implementation of YouTube on the Echo Show. Then, in May, the companies announced they’d reached an agreement to put the feud behind them in the interest of consumers, which is what resulted in this cross-platform launch today.

Let the streams flow!

India’s Android antitrust case against Google may have some holes

India ordered an investigation into Google’s alleged abuse of Android’s dominance in the country to hurt local rivals in April. A document made public by the local antitrust watchdog has now further revealed the nature of the allegations and identified the people who filed the complaint.

Umar Javeed, Sukarma Thapar, two associates at Competition Commission of India — and Aaqib Javeed, brother of Umar who interned at the watchdog last year, filed the complaint, the document revealed. The revelation puts an end to months-long interest from industry executives, many of whom wondered if a major corporation was behind it.

The allegations

The case, filed against Google’s global unit and Indian arm on April 16 this year, makes several allegations including the possibility that Google used Android’s dominant position in India to hurt local companies. The accusation is that Google requires handset and tablet vendors to pre-install its own applications or services if they wish to get the full-blown version of Android . Google’s Android mobile operating system powered more than 98% of smartphones that shipped in the country last year, research firm Counterpoint said.

This accusation is partly true, if at all. To be sure, Google does offer a “bare Android” version, which a smartphone vendor could use and then they wouldn’t need to pre-install Google Mobile Services (GMS). Though by doing so, they will also lose access to Google Play Store, which is the largest app store in the Android ecosystem. Additionally, phone vendors do partner with other companies to pre-install their applications. In India itself, most Android phones sold by Amazon India and Flipkart include a suite of their apps preloaded on the them.

“OEMs can offer Android devices without preinstalling any Google apps. If OEMs choose to preinstall Google mobile apps, the MADA (Mobile Application Distribution Agreement) allows OEMs to preinstall a suite of Google mobile apps and services referred to as Google Mobile Services (GMS),” said Google in response.

The second allegation is that Google is bundling its apps and services in a way that they are able to talk to each other. “This conduct illegally prevented the development and market access of rival applications and services in violation of Section 4 read with Section 32 of the Act,” the trio wrote.

This also does not seem accurate. Very much every Android app is capable of talking to one another through APIs. Additionally, defunct software firm Cyanogen partnered with Microsoft to “deeply integrate” Cortana into its Android phones — replacing Google Assistant as the default virtual voice assistant. So it is unclear what advantage Google has here.

Google’s response: “This preinstallation obligation is limited in scope. It was pointed out that preinstalled Google app icons take up very little screen space. OEMs can and do use the remaining space to preinstall and promote both their own, and third-party apps. It was also submitted that the MADA preinstallation conditions are not exclusive. Nor are they exclusionary. The MADA leaves OEMs free to preinstall rival apps and offer them the same or even superior placement.”

The third accusation is that Google prevents smartphone and tablet manufacturers in India from developing and marketing modified and potentially competing versions of Android on other devices.

This is also arguably incorrect. Micromax, which once held tentpole position among smartphone vendors in India, partnered with Cyanogen in their heyday to launch and market Android smartphones running customized operating system. Chinese smartphone vendor OnePlus followed the same path briefly.

Google’s response: “Android users have considerable freedom to customise their phones and to install apps that compete with Google’s. Consumers can quickly and easily move or disable preinstalled apps, including Google’s apps. Disabling an app makes it disappear from the device screen, prevents it from running, and frees up device memory – while still allowing the user to restore the app at a later time or to factory reset the device to its original state.”

Additionally, Google says it requires OEMs to “adhere to, a minimum baseline compatibility standard” for Android called Compatibility Definition Document (COD) to ensure that apps written for Android run on their phones. Otherwise, this risks creating a “threat to the viability and quality of the platform.”

“If companies make changes to the Android source code that create incompatibilities, apps written for Android will not run on these incompatible variants. As a result, fewer developers will write apps for Android, threatening to make Android less attractive to users and, in turn, even fewer developers will support Android,” the company said.

The antitrust is ongoing, but based on an initial probe on the case, CCI has found that Google has “reduced the ability and incentive of device manufacturers to develop and sell devices” running Android forks, the watchdog said. Google’s condition to include “the entire GMS suite” to devices from OEMs that have opted for full-blown version of Android, amounts to “imposition of unfair condition on the device manufacturers,” the watchdog added.

The document also reveals that Google has provided CCI with some additional responses that have been kept confidential. A Google spokesperson declined to comment.

India’s Android antitrust case against Google may have some holes

India ordered an investigation into Google’s alleged abuse of Android’s dominance in the country to hurt local rivals in April. A document made public by the local antitrust watchdog has now further revealed the nature of the allegations and identified the people who filed the complaint.

Umar Javeed, Sukarma Thapar, two associates at Competition Commission of India — and Aaqib Javeed, brother of Umar who interned at the watchdog last year, filed the complaint, the document revealed. The revelation puts an end to months-long interest from industry executives, many of whom wondered if a major corporation was behind it.

The allegations

The case, filed against Google’s global unit and Indian arm on April 16 this year, makes several allegations including the possibility that Google used Android’s dominant position in India to hurt local companies. The accusation is that Google requires handset and tablet vendors to pre-install its own applications or services if they wish to get the full-blown version of Android . Google’s Android mobile operating system powered more than 98% of smartphones that shipped in the country last year, research firm Counterpoint said.

This accusation is partly true, if at all. To be sure, Google does offer a “bare Android” version, which a smartphone vendor could use and then they wouldn’t need to pre-install Google Mobile Services (GMS). Though by doing so, they will also lose access to Google Play Store, which is the largest app store in the Android ecosystem. Additionally, phone vendors do partner with other companies to pre-install their applications. In India itself, most Android phones sold by Amazon India and Flipkart include a suite of their apps preloaded on the them.

“OEMs can offer Android devices without preinstalling any Google apps. If OEMs choose to preinstall Google mobile apps, the MADA (Mobile Application Distribution Agreement) allows OEMs to preinstall a suite of Google mobile apps and services referred to as Google Mobile Services (GMS),” said Google in response.

The second allegation is that Google is bundling its apps and services in a way that they are able to talk to each other. “This conduct illegally prevented the development and market access of rival applications and services in violation of Section 4 read with Section 32 of the Act,” the trio wrote.

This also does not seem accurate. Very much every Android app is capable of talking to one another through APIs. Additionally, defunct software firm Cyanogen partnered with Microsoft to “deeply integrate” Cortana into its Android phones — replacing Google Assistant as the default virtual voice assistant. So it is unclear what advantage Google has here.

Google’s response: “This preinstallation obligation is limited in scope. It was pointed out that preinstalled Google app icons take up very little screen space. OEMs can and do use the remaining space to preinstall and promote both their own, and third-party apps. It was also submitted that the MADA preinstallation conditions are not exclusive. Nor are they exclusionary. The MADA leaves OEMs free to preinstall rival apps and offer them the same or even superior placement.”

The third accusation is that Google prevents smartphone and tablet manufacturers in India from developing and marketing modified and potentially competing versions of Android on other devices.

This is also arguably incorrect. Micromax, which once held tentpole position among smartphone vendors in India, partnered with Cyanogen in their heyday to launch and market Android smartphones running customized operating system. Chinese smartphone vendor OnePlus followed the same path briefly.

Google’s response: “Android users have considerable freedom to customise their phones and to install apps that compete with Google’s. Consumers can quickly and easily move or disable preinstalled apps, including Google’s apps. Disabling an app makes it disappear from the device screen, prevents it from running, and frees up device memory – while still allowing the user to restore the app at a later time or to factory reset the device to its original state.”

Additionally, Google says it requires OEMs to “adhere to, a minimum baseline compatibility standard” for Android called Compatibility Definition Document (COD) to ensure that apps written for Android run on their phones. Otherwise, this risks creating a “threat to the viability and quality of the platform.”

“If companies make changes to the Android source code that create incompatibilities, apps written for Android will not run on these incompatible variants. As a result, fewer developers will write apps for Android, threatening to make Android less attractive to users and, in turn, even fewer developers will support Android,” the company said.

The antitrust is ongoing, but based on an initial probe on the case, CCI has found that Google has “reduced the ability and incentive of device manufacturers to develop and sell devices” running Android forks, the watchdog said. Google’s condition to include “the entire GMS suite” to devices from OEMs that have opted for full-blown version of Android, amounts to “imposition of unfair condition on the device manufacturers,” the watchdog added.

The document also reveals that Google has provided CCI with some additional responses that have been kept confidential. A Google spokesperson declined to comment.

Spotify Lite for Android gets an official launch in 36 countries

Spotify’s Lite app is now official. The app has been in beta since last year, and now Spotify is officially releasing it in 36 countries worldwide.

The app is designed to work on patchy or weak internet connections and, at just 10MB, it is small enough to cater to lower-end devices that have limited storage or older phones. Spotify Lite is limited to Android devices running version 4.3 or newer, and it is open to both paying and non-paying users. For those worried about maxing out their data plan, the app comes with an optional limit that can tell you when you are close to hitting that buffer.

Spotify claims that 90 percent of the features of the main app are available in Lite, in particular areas around multiple — including video and cover artist — are omitted as they are not critical to the core experience.

A spokesperson told TechCrunch that, as of now, there are no plans to bring the Lite experience to iOS. That makes sense as the majority of people who would benefit from the stripped-down experience would be Android owners.

India is likely to be a key focus. Spotify introduced Lite in India in June, months after the full service went live in the country in February.

The overall goal here is to expand Spotify’s reach beyond the current user base by focusing on emerging markets or older users. The company currently claims 217 million users, of which 100 million are paying customers. For comparison, Apple Music passed 60 million users in June.

spotify

Cecilia Qvist, Global Head of Markets, Spotify (left) announced the release of Spotify Lite on stage at Rise in Hong Kong (Photo By David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

According to Google Play Store data, Spotify Lite has been downloaded more than one million times. Expect that numbers to rocket as the company goes to town promoting Lite as an alternative entry point for its service.

Lite apps have been popularized by services such as Facebook, Messenger and YouTube which have tapped demand, particularly in emerging markets where data speeds tend to be inconsistent and lower-end devices are more prevalent.

HQ Trivia has paid out $6M, but winners complain of delays

HQ Trivia’s troubles continue after a failed mutiny to oust the CEO, a 92% decline in downloads since versus a year ago, and layoffs of 20% of its staff last week. Users continue to complain about delays for payouts of their prizes from the live mobile trivia game, and about being booted from the game for no reason while on the final question.

Notably, Jeopardy winner Alex Jacob claims he hasn’t been paid the $20,000 he won on HQ Trivia on June 10th. This could shake players faith in HQ and erode their incentive to compete.

An HQ Trivia representative tells TechCrunch that the game has paid out $6.25 million to date and that 99% of players have been eligible to cash out within 48 hours of winning, but some winners may have to wait up to 90 days for it to ensure they didn’t break the rules to win. Given Jacob’s large jackpot, it’s possible the delay could be due to the company investigating to ensure he won fairly, though he’s clearly skilled at trivia given he won Jeopardy’s Tournament Of Champions in 2015. Jacob did not respond to requests for interview.

“We strive to make a game that is fair and fun for all players. As such, we have a rigorous process of reviewing winners for eligibility to receive cash prizes. Infrequently, we disqualify players for violating HQ‘s Terms of Service and Contest Rules” HQ Trivia’s press alias anonymously reponded to our request for comment. “It may take some eligible winners up to 90 days to receive cash prizes, however 99% of players have been able to cash out within 48 hours of winning a game and we have paid out a total of $6,252,634.58 USD to winners since launch.”

It seems that HQ’s internal problems are now metastasizing into public issues. Its team being short-staffed and distracted by weak morale could lengthen payout delays, which make players worry if they’ll ever get their cash. When they share those sentiments to social media, it could discourage others from playing. That, combined with concerns that bots and cheaters are winning the games, splitting the jackpots into tiny fractions so legitimate winners get less, has hurt the perception of HQ as a game where the smartest can win big.

Back in April, TechCrunch reported that 20 of HQ’s 35 staffers were preparing a petition to the board to remove CEO and co-founder Rus Yusupov for mismanagement. Yusupov caught wind of the plot and fired two of the leaders of the movement. However, HQ’s board decided it would bring in a new CEO. Board member and Tinder CEO Elie Seidman told TechCrunch that Yusupov had accepted he would be replaced by someone with the ability fire him and that a CEO search was ongoing. The startup’s lead investor Lightspeed has pledged to provide 18 months of funding once a new CEO was hired.

However, multiple sources tell TechCrunch that a new CEO has yet to be installed. One source tells me that management had promised a new CEO by the beginning of August, but that Yusupov had stalled the process seemingly to remain in power. HQ Trivia, Yusupov, and Seidman did not respond for requests for comment regarding the CEO search.

When asked about morale at the company, a source familiar with HQ’s internal situation told me “It’s terrible.” Yusupov is said to continue to be tough to work with, making decisions without full buy-in from the rest of the company. A substantial portion of the team was allegedly unaware of plans to launch a $9.99 subscription tier for HQ’s second game HQ Words until the company tweeted out the announcement.

Hopefully HQ Trivia can find a new captain to steer this ship back into smoother waters. The game has hundreds of thousands of players and many more with fond memories of competing. There’s still hope if it can evolve the product to give new users a taste of gameplay without waiting for the next scheduled match, find new revenue in expanded brand partnerships, fight off the bots and cheaters, and get everyone paid promptly. Perhaps there’s room for television tie-ins to bring HQ to a wider audience.

But before the startup can keep quizzing the world, HQ Trivia must endure its internal tests of resolve and find a champ to lead it.

New Instagram features flag potentially offensive comments, allow you to quietly ‘restrict’ users

Instagram announced two new features today that it said are designed to combat online bullying.

In both cases, the Facebook -owned service seems to be trying to find ways to limit bad behavior without outright blocking posts or banning users.

“We can do more to prevent bullying from happening on Instagram, and we can do more to empower the targets of bullying to stand up for themselves,” wrote Instagram head Adam Mosseri in the announcement. “Today we’re announcing one new feature in both areas. These tools are grounded in a deep understanding of how people bully each other and how they respond to bullying on Instagram, but they’re only two steps on a longer path.”

The first feature is supposed to use artificial intelligence to flag comments that “may be considered offensive.” In those cases, users are asked, “Are you sure you want to post this?” and then given the option button to “undo” their comment before it posts.

This might seem like a relatively tame response, particularly since users can still go ahead and post the original comment if they want, but Mosseri said that in early tests, his team found that the prompt “encourages some people to undo their comment and share something less hurtful once they have had a chance to reflect.”

Instagram warning

The other addition, which Mosseri said the service will start testing soon, is the ability to “restrict” users looking at your account.

“We’ve heard from young people in our community that they’re reluctant to block, unfollow, or report their bully because it could escalate the situation, especially if they interact with their bully in real life,” Mosseri wrote.

So by using this new option, you can limit another user’s interaction with your account without making it obvious. If you’ve restrict someone, their comments on your posts will only be visible to them, unless you approve a comment for general consumption. They also won’t be able to see if you’re active on Instagram or if you’ve read their direct messages.

Mosseri described earlier versions of these features at Facebook’s F8 developer conference in April.