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A burned-out Silicon Valley house is now on the market for $800,000

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A house that suffered major fire damage two years ago is on the market for $800,000 in San Jose, California.

The listing, which has already attracted criticism online, would appear to be a clear example of Silicon Valley’s overheated housing market.

But the realtor behind the sale has defended the asking price, telling local media that the area and the land itself warrants it. The dilapidated and boarded-up house sits on a 5,800 square foot lot in San Francisco’s Bay Area, home to some of the country’s largest tech firms and start-ups.

“If you are in the market, you know real estate, you know that this is what it’s worth and the buyers set the price,” realtor Holly Barr told KTVU-TV, who posted the listing on Facebook page Willow Glen Charm, named after the neighborhood where the home is located.

The advertisement drew some angry comments, with one Facebook user writing “This is a joke, right?” and another asking “Who in their right mind would buy this?”

Another commenter bet that the house would end up selling for more than a million, while yet another simply wrote, “Why people are leaving California.”

Area real estate data reveals this is not, in fact, out of the ordinary.

“I’m not surprised at all,” Rick Smith, a board member of the Santa Clara County Realtors Association, told the TV station. He explained that houses in the immediate area are going for more than $1.5 million. Barr added that buying the severely damaged property and remodeling it actually offers a cheaper option than purchasing a new home.

According to real estate company Zillow, the median home value in San Jose is $1,078,300. That’s up 23.9 percent over the past year, and is predicted to rise 8.4 percent over 2018. The fact that severe fire damage only bumped that average down to $800,000 says a lot about the area’s market, where available housing is sparse and residents prioritize proximity to their employment. Barr said she has already been contacted by 10 interested would-be buyers.

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Democrats prepare new relief bill

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Alphabet settles shareholder lawsuit

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Alphabet has reached a settlement on a shareholder lawsuit that accused the board of allegedly mishandling sexual misconduct by its executives.

Execs will not be able to receive severance or amend their stock sale plans while they are while they are subject to investigations or a lawsuit for sexual misconduct, according to a summary of the settlement provided by the plaintiffs’ attorneys. The settlement also eliminates mandatory arbitration and limits Google’s use of non-disclosure agreements for employees involved in these cases.

It also includes a $310 million commitment to fund and create a diversity, equity and inclusion advisory council comprised of outside experts.

In a post announcing the settlement, Google’s head of people operations Eileen Naughton said the company is committing to five new guiding principles and a list of detailed changes. 

Among those changes:

  • The Settlement prevents employees with 10b5-1 stock purchase plans from amending them while under investigation for sexual misconduct or harassment. This would prevent, for example, an executive under investigation from accelerating sales of stock.
  • Alphabet will commit $310 million to fund the DEI Council and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives over 10 years.
  • The Advisory Council includes outside experts including Judge Nancy Gertner, former EEOC Commissioner Fred Alvarez, and employment lawyer Grace Speights as well as internal leaders, including CEO Sundar Pichai who will participate for the first year.
  • The settlement requires Alphabet to amend its leadership charters for its Leadership Development and Compensation Committee — the committee that approved payouts to former Google executives Andy Rubin and Amit Singhal — to oversee data regarding reports and resolutions of claims of sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation. It will also need to report to the board any compensation decisions for senior executives who may have engaged with claims of misconduct. Google’s chief diversity officer will also have access to misconduct allegation data and add it to its annual diversity reports.
  • On limiting Google’s use of non-disclosure agreements, employees of Alphabet, including its Other Bets segments, who settle claims will be able to discuss facts and circumstances of alleged harassment, discrimination or wrongdoing.
  • Google said it will also create a new “Employee Disciplinary Committee” to review the investigative team’s recommendations prior to taking disciplinary actions.
  • It will also expand its coaching for executives, and will emphasize that senior leaders will be held to a higher standard, “while ensuring fairness and consistency by having the relevant investigative team continue its existing practice of both formally calibrating corrective action recommendations and recommending a single disciplinary outcome,” plaintiffs’ attorneys stated.

“Over the past several years, we have been taking a harder line on inappropriate conduct, and have worked to provide better support to the people who report it,” Naughton stated. “Protecting our workplace and culture means getting both of these things right, and in recent years we’ve worked hard to set and uphold higher standards for the whole company.”

In early 2019, attorneys filed a lawsuit against Alphabet’s board of director’s on behalf of a company shareholder for allegedly shielding senior execs from accusations of sexual misconduct, claiming a breach of fiduciary duty, abuse of control, unjust enrichment and waste of corporate assets.

Google reportedly paid Android leader Andy Rubin a $90 million exit package, despite asking for his resignation after finding sexual misconduct claims against him credible, which led to a global walkout of employees and the amendment of some of its policies relating to sexual misconduct in 2018.

The settlement comes nearly one year after the board of Google parent company Alphabet formed a Special Litigation Committee of independent directors last year and hired the law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore to conduct an investigation into sexual misconduct by executives, CNBC first reported last November.  

The investigation encompassed behavior by Alphabet’s Chief Legal Officer David Drummond — one of the highest paid executives at the time — who ended up retiring from the company shortly after, in January.

In a statement, the plaintiffs’ attorneys said:

“This settlement is likely to have lasting, long-term success in bringing about major, transformative changes at Alphabet because, subsequent to the filing of Plaintiffs’ lawsuit, many of the enablers and perpetrators were forced to step back or leave the Company altogether: Chief Legal Officer David Drummond—whose unpunished violations of the company’s relationships policy epitomized Google’s double-standard—resigned, and Eric Schmidt—whose open affairs and flouting of company policies set the tone for Google’s executives—left the Board.”

A spokesperson for Schmidt declined to comment. Drummond could not be immediately reached.

WATCH NOW: Why Alphabet’s investigating executives over inappropriate relationships

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Chinese electric car start-up Xpeng shows off new flying vehicle 

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Electric vehicle start-up Xpeng unveiled its first generation prototype for a flying vehicle at the Beijing Auto Show on Sept. 26, 2020.

Evelyn Cheng

BEIJING — Alibaba-backed Xpeng is putting money into flying car technology as part of the company’s long-term strategy. 

The electric automaker revealed Saturday at the Beijing Auto Show the first in a series of electric flying vehicles the start-up said it is developing.

With eight propellers and a capsule-like frame, the vehicle resembles a human-carrying drone more than a flying car. The prototype was developed by Xpeng Heitech, a technology unit majority-owned by Xpeng and CEO He Xiaopeng.

Xpeng said in a release that the unit is part of the company’s long term research and development, and the core businesses and development strategy remain unchanged. The company foresees benefits from the research in areas such as precision and mapping technologies. 

The flying vehicle can hold up to two passengers and is designed for low altitudes of 5 meters to 25 meters (16.4 feet to 82 feet), according to Xpeng. The project is in a concept phase, and the company said it will evaluate prospects of the space before proceeding with any substantial investment.

“This is a long-range R&D exploration for us to really think about mobility in a greater context,” Brian Gu, vice chairman and president of Xpeng, told CNBC in an interview on the sidelines of the Beijing Auto Show on Saturday.

“We think in the future not only electric vehicles will have the smart mobility autonomous driving features, but with other technology, enable other devices that can create a multi-dimensional ecosystem, that will be very exciting,” Gu said. “That’s why we are investing in that area, and doing some exploration.”

Regulation has been a major hurdle for the development of human-carrying drones and self-driving cars.

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