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Microsoft hires up in China for secretive, ‘revolutionary’ real estate project

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Microsoft is quietly doubling down on its controversial presence in China as it hires staff for a major real estate project that the company is advertising to locals as “revolutionary,” The Post has learned.

The tech giant co-founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen is looking to hire staffers in Suzhou to join a “big global team” that’s focused on helping people find their “dream house,” little-noticed job postings spotted by The Post show.

“We’re transforming the real estate industry into a revolutionary state where all of the rental tasks are done entirely online,” read more than a dozen job listings from March.

Despite the ambitious promises to Chinese job seekers, Microsoft has not published any press releases about their new real estate ambitions and did not respond to repeated requests for comment from The Post.

The listings, which are for software engineering and management roles, are for a role on a team called “Bing Rentals.” They appear to indicate the company could be building a rental listings app to compete with the likes of Zillow and Realtor.com.

“Leveraging the great eco-system Microsoft has been building such as feeds, search engine, browser, and app, this investment has great growth opportunity and will empower people with rental need to find their dream house efficiently,” the job postings read. 

Microsoft says it is “transforming the real estate industry into a revolutionary state where all of the rental tasks are done entirely online.”

The current hiring push underscores that Microsoft already has a far larger presence in China than most other American tech firms — and has determined that cooperating with the Chinese government is a reasonable cost of doing business in the country.

History of censorship

While other Big Tech firms including Google and Meta are effectively barred from China, Microsoft has built a large presence in the country since it entered the market in 1992.

For example, Microsoft has run a version of its Bing search engine in China since 2009 and frequently censors results at the government’s request. 

From July through December of 2021, Microsoft removed more than 1,100 pieces of online content at the request of the Chinese government, according to the company’s transparency report.

Google, meanwhile, used to run a version of its search engine in China that withheld results but pulled the product in 2010, writing that “we have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results.”

Google later considered re-launching a censored search engine in China but abandoned those plans in 2018 after they were reported by the Intercept, sparking a political backlash in the US. 

In another example of Microsoft’s compliance with Chinese censorship, the company’s careers site LinkedIn had repeatedly followed government orders to remove posts from academics, journalists and other users since Microsoft purchased the site in 2016, drawing scrutiny from activists.

Microsoft Suzhou
Microsoft is looking to hire staffers in its Suzhou, China office to join a “big global team” that’s focused on real estate software. 
V-huawe / Wikimedia Commons

In October, Microsoft said it would shut down the Chinese version of LinkedIn, citing “greater compliance requirements in China.” The company later launched a new job-seeking product in China called InJobs, which appears designed to minimize controversy because it does not include a social feed or the ability to share posts or articles. 

‘We keep investing in China’

Though Microsoft did not respond to repeated requests for comment, the company’s then-China chief Alain Crozier gave an exclusive interview to Chinese state propaganda outlet China Daily in December 2020 where he outlined the company’s ambitions in the country. 

At the time, Crozier said Microsoft employed 8,000 people in China and was looking to up its employee count in the country 10,000 by June 2022. 

“About 90% of the new positions will be engineers and research and development staff members,” said Crozier, who left his role as China chief in February 2021. “We keep investing in China for a lot of reasons, including the quality of the people and the necessity for us to support our customers and partners on innovation.” 

Alain Crozier
Microsoft’s then-China chief Alain Crozier said in 2020 that the company wanted to have 10,000 employees in the country by June 2022.
Getty Images

But Crozier’s departure and Microsoft’s decision to kill the Chinese version of LinkedIn last year appear to have done little to slow the company’s growth in China.

Microsoft’s career site displays 759 open roles in China, mostly for software engineers.

The real estate job listings were first spotted by Chinese tech site Ping West but have not been previously reported in US media.

Capitol Hill jockeying

Microsoft’s Chinese expansion comes as the company maintains relatively high standing on Capitol Hill.

Even though Microsoft has a $2 trillion market capitalization that makes the company nearly as valuable as Google and Meta combined, many lawmakers who regularly rail against Big Tech have been conspicuously quiet about Microsoft’s $69 billion takeover of “Call of Duty” developer Activision.

That may be because Microsoft President Brad Smith has positioned himself as an ally to lawmakers as they take on other Big Tech companies, arguing that tech firms should work with Congress to craft rules rather than fighting tooth-and-nail against all regulation.

Microsoft
Microsoft has 759 open roles in China.
V-huawe / Wikimedia Commons

“They’ve flown under the radar well,” said Paul Rosenzweig, a cybersecurity consultant and former Homeland Security deputy assistant secretary, adding that the company has not yet been forced to “choose a flag” between the US and China.

In another move that’s angered Microsoft’s rivals, the company has also publicly supported bills in Australia and Europe requiring Google to pay publishers for news content, leading Google to accuse Microsoft in 2021 of being “willing to break the way the open web works in an effort to undercut a rival.”

Meta and Google have also sought to portray antitrust bills as national security risks, claiming that anti-Big Tech legislation could boost China by undermining America’s competitiveness.

Brad Smith
Microsoft President Brad Smith has a far better standing with anti-Big Tech lawmakers than Mark Zuckerberg or Tim Cook.
Getty Images

Another awkward aspect of Microsoft’s presence in China is the fact that the company itself appears to have been a victim of Chinese hackers.

Last summer, Microsoft and the US and UK governments blamed hackers affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of State Security for breaching Microsoft’s Exchange email service, stealing emails from thousands of accounts associated with businesses, government offices and schools around the world.

Yet the company’s current real estate push shows that even being hacked by the Chinese government isn’t enough to drive Microsoft out of the country.

Rosenzweig said that Microsoft is a huge contractor for the US government, which may make US regulators less likely to raise concerns about the company’s large operation in China — even though he argues it poses a legitimate national security risk.

“Dependency makes you kind of silent,” Rosenzweig said of the US government.

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What Time Will ‘Riverdale’ Season 6 Be on Netflix?

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The season finale of Riverdale aired in late July on The CW. Notice we said season finale? Thankfully, the beloved series will return for a seventh season, but, unfortunately, Season 7 will be the final installment of Riverdale.

If you already streamed the current season, make sure to read Alex Zalben’s interview with Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa on Decider. If you’re waiting to binge Season 6 on Netflix, well, you better clear your calendar because all 22 episodes are about to drop on the streamer. What time will the sixth season of Riverdale debut on Netflix? What time does Netflix release shows? Here’s everything you need to know.

WHEN IS THE RIVERDALE SEASON 6 NETFLIX RELEASE DATE?

Riverdale Season 6 premieres Sunday, August 7 on Netflix.

HOW MANY EPISODES ARE IN RIVERDALE SEASON 6?

The sixth season of Riverdale consists of 22 episodes.

WHAT TIME DOES NETFLIX RELEASE NEW SHOWS?

Netflix releases new episodes at 3:00 a.m. ET/12:00 a.m. PT.

WHAT TIME WILL RIVERDALE SEASON 6 BE ON NETFLIX?

Netflix is based out of California, so Riverdale Season 6 will be available to stream at 12:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time (3:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time) beginning Sunday, August 7. If the clock strikes 12:00 (or 3:00 a.m. for folks on the East Coast) and you don’t see the new episodes, give it a moment, hit refresh, and then enjoy the show!

WILL THERE BE A SEASON 7 OF RIVERDALE?

Yes! Decider recently covered that very topic.

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Actress Anne Heche Suffers Severe Burns After Crashing Car Into Los Angeles Home

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Actress Anne Heche, known for her roles in such films as Donnie Brasco, Volcano and I Know What You Did Last Summer, was involved in a fiery car crash in the Mar Vista area of Los Angeles on Friday.

According to TMZ, Heche was driving a blue Mini Cooper and had first crashed into the garage of an apartment complex. Residents of the apartment complex tried to get her out of the vehicle but she backed up and sped off.

Footage of Heche speeding down the streets of her neighborhood had been obtained by TMZ as well as her initial encounter at the apartment complex.

In the first clip, you can hear her car crash towards the end. It has been reported that the actress crashed into someone’s home, causing her vehicle and the house to erupt into flames. Heche suffered severe burns and was resisting being taken away in a stretcher. You can also view footage of this via the TMZ article.

It has not been confirmed whether alcohol has been involved in the incident since her condition prevents doctors from performing any tests to determine if she was driving under the influence. She is currently intubated in the hospital but expected to live.

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These are the vulgar license-plate requests the DMV has rejected

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Stay CL4SSY, New York!

The state Department of Motor Vehicles nixed 3,752 requests for vanity license plates in the last three years because it deemed them too raunchy, radical or simply ridiculous.

New York’s personalized plates go for $60 initially, and then $31.25 annually for renewal. You can get any plate as long as no one else has it and it’s not offensive.

Odds are a request for a plate that marks a wedding anniversary or shows your allegiance to a team — like METS86 — will pass muster with the DMV gatekeepers.

Vulgarity won’t get you to first base.

So plates with the phrase LFGM — the acronym for Pete Alonso’s “Let’s F–king Go Mets” rallying cry — did not make the cut.

And you won’t see anyone driving around with the custom plates MILFDAD, AS5M4N and WLHUNG.

Crude meanings such as “MILFDAD” are unacceptable by the DMV.
Crude meanings such as “MILFDAD” are unacceptable by the DMV.
New York DMV
NYC123
New York state Department of Motor Vehicles denied more than 3.5 thousand requests for license plates deemed inappropriate.
New York DMV
“AS5M4N” was rejected for referring to “Ass man.”
“AS5M4N” was rejected for referring to “Ass man.”
New York DMV

The DMV also put NICEBUNS, FATFANNY, GOTAPOOP and BENDOVER in the rear-view mirror.

One player unsuccessfully tried to score the plate YESDADDY, to no avail.

The DMV also shot down such dark requests as DEADGIRL, GENOC1DE, S8TAN, DETONATE and MURDERM3.

“SUM8ITCH” is not allowed.
“SUM8ITCH” is not allowed.
New York DMV
The DMV thoroughly nixed a request for “CNNLIES.”
The DMV thoroughly nixed a request for “CNNLIES.”
New York DMV
BOOBIE is prohibited.
BOOBIE is prohibited.
New York DMV

Getting political is a dead end too — FJOEBIDN, FDTRUMP and CNNLIES were nixed.

LUDEDUDE, NARCO, GOT METH and BLUNT also went up in smoke.

Staten Island attorney Bill Dertinger said his blue 1995 Jaguar SJS was tagged with ESQLTD after his company and his 2014 Porsche had the plate GHOSTGTS because the sleek sportscar was white.

“The plates can make you stand out — which can be a curse or a blessing,” the 54-year-old Dertinger said. “Make sure you don’t cut anybody off.”

A man attempted to sneak in “YESDADDY” onto his license plate.
A man attempted to sneak in “YESDADDY” onto his license plate.
New York DMV
The DMV stopped a request for “FJOEBIDEN.”
The DMV stopped a request for “FJOEBIDEN.”
New York DMV
The DMV also rejects any license plates referring to politics.
The DMV also rejects any license plates referring to politics.
New York DMV

There must be a New York Jets fan playing referee at the DMV because a request for the seemingly innocent plate GASE was sidelined. Ex-Jets head coach Adam Gase had an offensive 9-23 win-loss record during his forgettable two-year tenure.

The DMV would not reveal who gives the final yea or nay.

“The DMV reviews all custom license plate requests and works hard to ensure that any combinations that may be considered objectionable are rejected,” said agency spokesman Tim O’Brien.

“GLOCKS” referring to guns is not accepted by the DMV.
“GLOCKS” referring to guns is not accepted by the DMV.
New York DMV
“FLYMOFO” is not approved by the DMV.
“FLYMOFO” is not approved by the DMV.
New York DMV

He said guidelines on what plate combinations are restricted can be found on the DMV website: https://dmv.ny.gov/learn-about-personalized-plates. Approximately 50,000 personalized and custom plates are sold per year, O’Brien said.

Bagged Tags

The state DMV has rejected 3,752 requests for custom license plates in the last three years because it deemed them potentially offensive. Here are some:

YESDADDY

FJOEBIDN

FDTRUMP

GLOCKS

FLYMOFO

BOOBIE

AS5M4N

BUDLIGHT

DEADGIRL

SUM8ITCH

GENOC1DE

S8TAN

CNNLIES

DETONATE

MURDERM3

MILFDAD

WLHUNG

Source: NYS DMV

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