Category Archives: Science & Technology

Zoom, to “send 1,300 employees” back home.

Video conferencing service company, Zoom, has announced plans to lay off about 1,300 employees as it reacts to the global market contraction.

Zoom’s CEO, Eric Yuan, made the announcement in a memo to employees, noting that the layoff would impact every part of the organization.

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The affected workforce makes up 15% of Zoom’s net staff strength.

The layoff is the latest significant job cut in the tech industry following the pandemic-fueled surge where demand for digital services wanes.

According to Yuan, he and other executives would take a significant pay cut, adding that he had made “mistakes” in how quickly the company grew during the pandemic.

READ ALSO: Zoom set to rival Teams, Slack with new chat product. 2 other stories and a trivia

“As the CEO and founder of Zoom, I am accountable for these mistakes and the actions we take today– and I want to show accountability not just in words but in my own actions.

— Sign Up For 𝕹𝖔𝖇𝖑𝖊 𝕽𝖊𝖕𝖔𝖗𝖙𝖊𝖗𝖘 𝕸𝖊𝖉𝖎𝖆 —

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“To that end, I am reducing my salary for the coming fiscal year by 98% and foregoing my FY23 corporate bonus.”

In addition, however, Yuan said members of the executive leadership team will reduce their base salaries by 20% for the coming fiscal year and forfeit their fiscal year 2023 bonuses.



Recall with 𝕹𝖔𝖇𝖑𝖊 𝕽𝖊𝖕𝖔𝖗𝖙𝖊𝖗𝖘 𝕸𝖊𝖉𝖎𝖆 that other top tech companies globally, including Microsoft, Twitter, Google, have had to layoff a percentage of their workforce to gain stability in recent times

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WhatsApp introduces voice vote feature on status update.

WhatsApp on Tuesday announced a feature that would allow users to post voice notes as status updates on the platform.

The new feature was announced alongside other features on its official blog post seen by Ripples Nigeria.

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WhatsApp Status feature was launched in 2017 in response to Snapchat Stories.

The feature has since received a number of updates to make it more attractive and appealing to users.

One of the latest additions is the ability to set voice notes as status updates.

“We’re excited to add a set of new features to status on WhatsApp that make it easier to express yourself and connect with others,” the post reads.



The most recent WhatsApp status updates contain a “private audience selector” in addition to voice status, which enables users to simply select a privacy option for each status to control who can access their status updates

Elon Musk ready to grant Twitter API access to ‘good’ bots, “free of charges”

Billionaire Twitter CEO and tech industry leader, Elon Musk, has announced his resolution to grant Twitter API for free, a new development that contradicts his position last week.

Musk had, last week, stated that all developers would have to pay to use Twitter’s API.

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Days before the deadline, Elon Musk announced on his official Twitter handle that Twitter would offer a write-only API for “bots delivering useful content that is free” after hearing from developers.

READ ALSO: After five years in court, Jury clears Elon Musk of fraud over 2018 tweets

Recall with 𝕹𝖔𝖇𝖑𝖊 𝕽𝖊𝖕𝖔𝖗𝖙𝖊𝖗𝖘 𝕸𝖊𝖉𝖎𝖆 that Twitter, removed third-party apps’ API access in January, citing “long-standing standards.”

— Sign Up For 𝕹𝖔𝖇𝖑𝖊 𝕽𝖊𝖕𝖔𝖗𝖙𝖊𝖗𝖘 𝕸𝖊𝖉𝖎𝖆 —

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The company has also modified its developer conditions to prohibit third-party clients, ultimately ending the existence of apps like Tweetbot and Twitterific.

𝕹𝖔𝖇𝖑𝖊 𝕽𝖊𝖕𝖔𝖗𝖙𝖊𝖗𝖘 𝕸𝖊𝖉𝖎𝖆 understands that the removal of Twitter’s free API has an impact beyond bot developers.



Many student programmers and experts on hate speech or disinformation may not have the funds to pay a monthly fee

Google launches Bard to rival ChatGPT.

In direct competition with rival ChatGPT, Google has announced the launch of Bard, the company’s experimental conversational AI service driven by Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA).

Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google and Alphabet, made the announcement in a statement seen by 𝕹𝖔𝖇𝖑𝖊 𝕽𝖊𝖕𝖔𝖗𝖙𝖊𝖗𝖘 𝕸𝖊𝖉𝖎𝖆 on Tuesday.

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The product design follows a recent all-hands meeting where staff members expressed concerns about the business’ AI competitive edge in light of ChatGPT’s recent surge in popularity.

“Soon, you’ll see AI-powered features in Search that distill complex information and multiple perspectives into easy-to-digest formats, so you can quickly understand the big picture and learn more from the web: whether that’s seeking out additional perspectives, like blogs from people who play both piano and guitar, or going deeper on a related topic, like steps to get started as a beginner,” wrote CEO Sundar Pichai.

𝕹𝖔𝖇𝖑𝖊 𝕽𝖊𝖕𝖔𝖗𝖙𝖊𝖗𝖘 𝕸𝖊𝖉𝖎𝖆 gathered that to enable Bard scale to more users and get more feedback, Google will first deploy the lightweight model version of LaMDA, which uses substantially less computer power.



Prior to its planned general release in the upcoming weeks, Bard is now only available to trusted testers

Emirati ‘Sultan of Space’ mulls fasting on ISS during Ramadan.

Martial arts enthusiast Sultan AlNeyadi, who will be the second person from the United Arab Emirates to blast off into space, considers fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in orbit.

AlNeyadi, 41, dubbed the “Sultan of Space” by his alma mater, will blast off on Feb. 26 for the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

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During his six months in orbit – a record time for any Arab astronaut – AlNeyadi said he would like to observe the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, in space.

But space travel presents unique challenges. “The ISS travels quickly, meaning it orbits around the Earth in 90 minutes,” he told reporters in Dubai.

“On average, there are 16 sunrises and sunsets daily. When do you (start and) break your fast?” AlNeyadi said he could fast according to GMT time, which is used on the ISS, if circumstances allow. Fasting is not compulsory for certain groups of people, including those who are traveling or unwell. “I will prepare for the month of Ramadan with the intention to fast,” AlNeyadi said.

He will become the second man from the wealthy United Arab Emirates to go to space, after Hazzaa al-Mansoori’s eight-day mission in 2019.

During the voyage, AlNeyadi will study the impacts of microgravity on the human body in preparation for future missions to the Moon and Mars, he said.

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Six months “may seem like a long time, but I don’t mind because the schedule is packed.”

It has already been a long journey for AlNeyadi, who served 20 years in the UAE military.

He also studied electronics and communications engineering in Britain and then completed a Ph.D. in data leakage prevention technology at Griffith University in Australia.

The UAE is a newcomer to space exploration but quickly making its mark. It sent an unmanned spacecraft to Mars in 2021, the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission, and a rover to the Moon last year.

AlNeyadi said he was “happy” to embark on the mission and would take “pictures of my family, maybe some toys that belong to my children.”

“I will also take my jiu-jitsu uniform because of my love for the sport,” he added.

Asked whether he would do any low-gravity grappling while floating around the ISS, he laughed, “We’ll see how it goes.”



Landlord Sues Twitter Over ‘Unpaid Rent’ On London Office.

Twitter’s British landlord said Tuesday it is taking the social media to court for not paying rent on its central London offices.

The Crown Estate, a company that manages land and property belonging to the British monarchy, said it has launched legal action at the High Court for rental arrears on an office space close to Piccadilly Circus.

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A representative said that it had contacted Twitter previously and is currently in discussions with the company.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


READ ALSO: Gunman Kill Three In Washington, US

Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, bought Twitter for $44 billion (£35 billion) in October last year.

He sacked half of the staff and reportedly stopped paying rent for office space to try to raise funds after taking on massive debt to buy the company.

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The San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday that the landlord of Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters has sued the company for allegedly failing to pay almost $6.8 million in rent for December and January.


Twitter has a London office in a complex on Air Street called Air W1, whose landlord is the Crown Estate.

The Daily Telegraph reported that Twitter’s signs and logos have been removed but a member of staff said the company was still present there.

Twitter UK began using this office in 2014, according to Companies House, which gives this as its registered address.

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The Crown Estate is an independently managed portfolio of land, property and other assets belonging to the monarchy.


Its commercial income goes to the Treasury and the monarch receives an annual allowance of 15 percent of its profits called the Sovereign Grant.

The Crown Estate says it owns more than 2.6 million square feet (241,550 square metres) of office space in central London.



Spotify To Cut 6% Of Workforce, Some 600 Employees.

Swedish music streaming giant Spotify said Monday it was cutting six percent of its roughly 10,000 employees, the latest cost-cutting announcement among technology companies.


“In hindsight, I was too ambitious in investing ahead of our revenue growth. And for this reason, today, we are reducing our employee base by about six percent across the company,” Spotify chief executive Daniel Ek said on Spotify’s official blog.

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“I take full accountability for the moves that got us here today,” Ek added.

READ ALSO: Billions Still Exposed To Toxic Trans Fat – WHO

The Swedish company, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, has invested heavily since its launch to fuel growth with expansions into new markets and, in later years, exclusive content such as podcasts.


Spotify has never posted a full-year net profit despite its success in the online music market.

In recent months, tech giants such as Google parent company Alphabet, Facebook-owner Meta, Amazon and Microsoft have announced tens of thousands of job cuts as the sector faces economic headwinds



Donald Trump returns to Twitter after Elon Musk hint.

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The Twitter account of Donald Trump has been restored, after the hint by Elon Musk.

On Saturday, the social media platform owner conducted a poll on the reinstatement of Trump’s account.

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“The people have spoken, Trump will be reinstated”, Musk tweeted later in the day.

In the results, 52 percent supported the restoration while 48 percent opposed.

Trump lost all followers after his account was taken down but was followed by more than one million in less than three hours.

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The former United States President was suspended early last year for violating Twitter rules.

After losing the 2020 election to President Joe Biden, Trump repeatedly took to his Twitter account to claim he won.

The Republican faces allegations of inciting an insurrection which caused the invasion of the U.S. Capitol.

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On January 6, Trump’s supporters marched to the building housing America’s legislature after his “never to concede” statement.

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Impersonation: Twitter will permanently ban “parody” accounts – Elon Musk

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Elon Musk says that Twitter will be permanently suspending verified users who impersonate other people, as a wave of accounts have changed their names to “Elon Musk” while making fun of the platform’s new owner.

“Going forward, any Twitter handles engaging in impersonation without clearly specifying “parody” will be permanently suspended,” Musk began. “Previously, we issued a warning before suspension, but now that we are rolling out widespread verification, there will be no warning. This will be clearly identified as a condition for signing up to Twitter Blue.”

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He clarified: “Any name change at all will cause temporary loss of verified checkmark.”

Comedian Kathy Griffin is one of the most noteworthy names to have been suspended from the platform for impersonating Musk in recent days.

The move comes as Musk has faced backlash for his decision to charge $7.99 per month for a verification checkmark on the platform. He is also being criticized for having let go a massive chunk of Twitter’s workforce. The firings resulted in a class-action lawsuit that cites the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. The law requires at least a 60 days notice prior to such massive layoffs.

After the lawsuit was filed, Bloomberg reports that the company is asking some of the fired employees to return to work.

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“Regarding Twitter’s reduction in force, unfortunately there is no choice when the company is losing over $4M/day,” Musk tweeted in defense of the move on Friday. “Everyone exited was offered 3 months of severance, which is 50% more than legally required.”

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After Twitter sale, Jack Dorsey launches “Bluesky”

Jack Dorsey, the founder and former CEO of the microblogging website Twitter, has launched a new social media platform called “Bluesky.”

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This happened just a week after business tycoon and owner of Tesla cars, Elon Musk,took over ownership of Twitter.

Drsey’s new app, which is in its testing stage, already has over 30,000 people signed up for its beta testing within two days of the announcement.

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According to Business Insider, Bluesky’s website stated that the new platform gives creators independence from platforms and developers and the freedom to design, allowing users to choose their experience.

Dorsey co-founded Twitter 17 years ago and briefly served as its CEO. He returned as CEO from 2015 to 2021 when he resigned.

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Meanwhile, Bluesky has announced a number of job openings which include mobile application developer, react native expert, animation creator, and UI site manager.

Erdoğan says he could discuss Twitter blue check charge with Elon Musk

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he may negotiate with Twitter’s new boss Elon Musk to avoid paying the monthly $8 charge for the “verified” badge.

After buying Twitter for $44 billion last week, Musk said the company will charge $8 a month for its Blue service, which includes the sought-after blue check mark.

In an interview with Turkish broadcaster ATV on Wednesday, Erdoğan said he may speak to Musk and discuss the charge.

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“It might be different for us,” Erdoğan said, when asked about the new charge for the blue check. “We could carry out some diplomacy with him as well,” he added jokingly.

A blue check mark next to a person’s user name on the social media platform means Twitter has confirmed that the account belongs to the person or company claiming it. Twitter is currently free for most users.

More than 80% of Twitter users who took part in a recent poll said they would not pay for the checkmark. Some 10% said they were willing to pay $5 a month.

Musk said on Tuesday subscribers with blue check marks would get priority in replies, mentions and search and would be able to post longer videos and audios. They would see half as many ads.

He also offered subscribers a paywall bypass from “publishers willing to work with us.”

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Elon Musk Announces $8 Monthly Charge For Verified Twitter Accounts.

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New Twitter head Elon Musk said Tuesday the site will charge $8 per month to verify users’ accounts, arguing the plan would upend the platform’s “current lords & peasants system” and create a new revenue stream for the company.

The announcement comes days after the world’s wealthiest man took sole control of the social media giant in a contentious $44 billion deal.

“Power to the people! Blue for $8/month,” he tweeted, in reference to the platform’s famous blue checkmark that signals a verified, authentic account.

The new plan’s pricing would be adjusted by country “proportionate to purchasing power parity,” Musk added in the replies to his original tweet, and would also include “priority” in replying to and searching posts, which he called “essential to defeat spam/scam.”

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There would also be expanded video abilities, fewer ads, and the possibility for users to get a “paywall bypass for publishers willing to work with us,” he said.

“This will also give Twitter a revenue stream to reward content creators,” Musk tweeted.

In addition to offering verification privileges, the new program would take over the existing functions of Twitter Blue — currently available for $5 per month — which, for example, allows users to edit their tweets.

The SpaceX and Tesla chief floated the $8 subscription fee idea earlier Tuesday in a tweet reply to author Stephen King, who was complaining about reports that the verification service could cost $20 per month.

“We need to pay the bills somehow!” Musk responded.

“Twitter cannot rely entirely on advertisers. How about $8?”

The proposal is only one part of a series of sweeping changes the 51-year-old entrepreneur has implemented at Twitter, with the entire board, including CEO Parag Agrawal, let go last week.

The Washington Post has reported that Musk, whose account bio currently reads “Twitter Complaint Hotline Operator,” plans to fire some 75 percent of his new company’s 7,500 employees.

Musk’s previous comments condemning Twitter’s content moderation policies as heavy-handed — as well as his frequent posts of boundary-testing memes — has given pause to some advertisers, the company’s main source of revenue.

He tried to calm the nerves by reassuring that the site would not become a “free-for-all hellscape,” and announced the formation of a content moderation council.

AFP

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Billionaire tech guru, Elon Musk sack executives after taking Twitter.

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Elon Musk took control of Twitter and fired its top executives late Thursday in a deal that puts one of the leading platforms for global discourse in the hands of the world’s richest man.

Following the takeover, Musk tweeted that the “the bird is freed,” referencing the company’s iconic avian logo.

He wasted no time sacking chief executive Parag Agrawal, as well as the company’s chief financial officer and its head of safety, the Washington Post and CNBC reported citing unnamed sources.

Agrawal previously went to court to hold the Tesla chief to the terms of a deal he had tried to escape.

The takeover came hours before the court-appointed deadline for Musk to seal his on-again, off-again deal to purchase the social media network.

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Musk tweeted earlier in the day that he was buying Twitter “because it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner.”

Twitter did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the departure of its top executives, but the platform’s co-founder Biz Stone thanked the trio — Agrawal, Ned Segal and Vijaya Gadde — for their “collective contribution to Twitter.”

“Massive talents, all, and beautiful humans each.”

‘Chief Twit’
The closure of the deal marks the culmination of a long and drawn out back-and-forth between the billionaire and the social network.

Musk tried to step back from the Twitter deal soon after his unsolicited offer was accepted in April, and said in July he was canceling the contract because he was misled by Twitter over the number of fake “bot” accounts — allegations rejected by the company.

Twitter, in turn, sought to prove Musk was contriving excuses to walk away simply because he changed his mind.

After Musk sought to terminate the sale, Twitter filed a lawsuit to hold Musk to the agreement.

With a trial looming, the unpredictable billionaire capitulated and revived his takeover plan.

Musk signaled the deal was on track this week by changing his Twitter profile to “Chief Twit” and posting a video of himself walking into the company’s California headquarters carrying a sink.

“Let that sink in!” he quipped.

He even shared a picture of himself socializing at a coffee bar at Twitter headquarters earlier in the day Thursday.

Musk said during a recent Tesla earnings call that he was “excited” about the Twitter deal even though he and investors are “overpaying.”

Twitter free-for-all?
Some employees who would prefer not to work for Musk have already left, said a worker who asked to remain anonymous in order to speak more freely.

“But a portion of people, including me, are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for now,” the employee said.

The idea of Musk running Twitter has alarmed activists who fear a surge in harassment and misinformation, with Musk himself known for trolling other Twitter users.

But Musk said he realizes Twitter “cannot become a free-for-all hellscape where anything can be said with no consequences.”

Musk has vowed to dial content moderation back to a bare minimum, and is expected to clear the way for former US president Donald Trump to return to the platform.

The then-president was blocked due to concerns he would ignite more violence like the deadly attack on the Capitol in Washington to overturn his election loss.

Far-right users were quick to rejoice on the network, posting comments such as “masks don’t work” and other taunts, under the belief that moderation rules will now be relaxed.

“Free speech will always prevail,” tweeted Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, prompting replies including “says the party that bans books.”

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Facebook-parent Meta’s to third quarter profit sinks to $4.4B.

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Facebook-parent Meta reported Wednesday that its profit more than halved to $4.4 billion in the third quarter from $9.2 billion a year earlier, and said it plans “significant changes” to bolster efficiency in a tough economic environment.

The social networking giant, which faces stagnating user numbers and cuts in advertising budgets, also said revenue slipped to $27.7 billion from $29 billion a year earlier.

“We’re approaching 2023 with a focus on prioritization and efficiency that will help us navigate the current environment and emerge an even stronger company,” Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg said in an earnings release.

“While we face near-term challenges on revenue, the fundamentals are there for a return to stronger revenue growth.”

The number of monthly active users on Facebook was up just 2 percent to 2.96 billion at the end of September, Meta reported.

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Meanwhile, the number of employees at the tech titan tallied 87,314, a 28 percent increase from a year earlier, the earnings report stated.

“We are making significant changes across the board to operate more efficiently,” Meta said in the release.

“We are holding some teams flat in terms of headcount, shrinking others and investing headcount growth only in our highest priorities.”

The Silicon Valley-based tech firm said that it expects to hold headcount levels in check over the next year.

Apple squeeze
Big tech platforms have been suffering from the economic climate, which is forcing advertisers to cut back on marketing budgets, and Apple’s data privacy changes, which have reduced leeway for ad personalization.

Apple last year began letting iPhone users decide whether to allow their online activity to be tracked for the purpose of targeting ads – a change that it said shows its focus is on privacy, but which critics note does not prevent the company itself from tracking.

Meta expected that policy, which impacts the precision of the ads it sells and thus their price, to cost the social media giant $10 billion in lost revenue this year.

This week, Apple updated its App Store rules to require that apps offered there use its payment system for sales of “boosted” posts, which are essentially ad messages promoted to the top of social media feeds for a price.

The App Store is the lone gateway for digital content to get onto iPhones or iPads.

The change means that Apple can collect its 30 percent commission on that type of advertising on Facebook and Instagram, where all the money made previously had gone to Meta because they used their own payment system.

“Apple continues to evolve its policies to grow their own business while undercutting others in the digital economy,” Meta said in reply to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) inquiry.

“Apple previously said it didn’t take a share of developer advertising revenue, and now apparently changed its mind.”

Meta had long delivered seemingly endless upward growth but reported early this year its first decline in global daily users.

In July, Meta reported its first quarterly revenue drop and a plunging profit.

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Doc shows twitter losing vital users.

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“Is Twitter dying?” billionaire Elon Musk mused in April, five days before offering to buy the social media platform.

The reality, according to internal Twitter research seen by the Reuters news agency, goes far beyond the handful of examples of celebrities ghosting their own accounts. Twitter is struggling to keep its most active users – who are vital to the business – engaged, underscoring a challenge faced by the Tesla Inc chief executive as he approaches a deadline to close his $44bn deal to buy the company.

These “heavy tweeters” account for less than 10 percent of monthly overall users but generate 90 percent of all tweets and half of global revenue. Heavy tweeters have been in “absolute decline” since the pandemic began, a Twitter researcher wrote in an internal document titled “Where did the Tweeters Go?”

A “heavy tweeter” is defined as someone who logs in to Twitter six or seven days a week and tweets about three to four times a week, the document said.

The research also found a shift in interests over the past two years among Twitter’s most active English-speaking users that could make the platform less attractive to advertisers.

Cryptocurrency and “not safe for work” (NSFW) content, which includes nudity and pornography, are the highest-growing topics of interest among English-speaking heavy users, the report found.

At the same time, interest in news, sports and entertainment is waning among those users. Tweets on those topics, which have helped Twitter burnish an image as the world’s “digital town square,” as Musk once called it, are also the most desirable for advertisers.

Twitter declined to specify how many of its tweets are in English or how much money it makes from English speakers. But the demographic is important to Twitter’s business, some analysts say.

The platform earned more advertisement revenue from the United States alone than all other markets combined in its fourth quarter, according to its investor letter, and most advertisements in the US are likely targeting English-speaking users, said Jasmine Enberg, an analyst at Insider Intelligence.

Twitter’s study examined the number of heavy tweeters in English who displayed an interest in a topic, based on the accounts they followed, and how that number of users changed over the past two years.

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Twitter was motivated to investigate “disturbing” trends among users that may have been masked by overall growth in daily active users and better understand the decline in the company’s most active users, the documents said. The study made no specific conclusions about why heavy users of the platform are declining.

“We regularly conduct research on a wide variety of trends, which evolve based on what’s happening in the world. Our overall audience has continued to grow, reaching 238 million mDAU in Q2 2022,” said a Twitter spokesperson on Monday when asked to comment on the internal documents’ findings, using an acronym for monetisable daily active users.

‘Not safe for work’ content
The number of heavy users interested in NSFW and cryptocurrency content grew, the research found.

Twitter is one of the few leading social media platforms that permit nudity on their services, and the company has estimated that adult content constitutes 13 percent of Twitter, according to a separate internal slide presentation seen by Reuters. The presentation did not elaborate on how the figure was calculated.

Advertisers generally steer clear of controversy or nudity for fear of damaging their brands. Major advertisers, including Dyson, PBS Kids and Forbes, suspended advertising due to accounts that were soliciting child pornography on Twitter, Reuters reported in September.

In response to the September story, Twitter said it “has zero tolerance for child sexual exploitation” and was investing more resources into its work against such material.

Twitter’s most active English-speaking users were also increasingly interested in cryptocurrencies, reaching an all-time high in late 2021, the internal documents showed. But interest in the topic has declined since the crypto price crash in June, and the study noted cryptocurrencies may not be an area of growth in the future.

Current and former Twitter employees who spoke with Reuters said they feared Musk’s calls for less content moderation and his reported plans to gut the staff, which they said will exacerbate the deterioration of the quality of content.

‘Devastating’ losses
Topics that have traditionally made Twitter a popular platform for its millions of users are now in decline among the most active English-speaking users, the documents show.

Interest in world news, as well as liberal politics, showed spikes during major events such as the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. But the categories have since lost the highest number of heavy Twitter users and have shown no signs of recovery, the report said.

Twitter is also losing a “devastating” percentage of heavy users who are interested in fashion or celebrities such as the Kardashian family. These users are likely decamping to rival platforms like Meta Platforms Inc’s Instagram and ByteDance’s TikTok, a Twitter researcher wrote.

The study also expressed surprise about the decline in interest in e-sports and online streaming personalities, which were previously growing quickly across Twitter. “The big communities are now in decline,” the report said.

“It seems as though there is a significant discrepancy between what I might imagine are our company values and our growth patterns,” one Twitter researcher wrote.

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WhatsApp suffers global downtime.

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WhatsApp is currently experiencing global disruption as users cannot send or receive messages.

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The world’s most popular messaging platform stopped working on Tuesday morning, affecting its over two billion monthly active users.

A Meta spokesperson said the company was working to restore services “as quickly as possible.” » Watch this video on how to make money 🤑💰 online without stress

“We’re aware that some people are currently having trouble sending messages and we’re working to restore WhatsApp for everyone as quickly as possible,” the spokesperson said, as quoted by Reuters.

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As of 8:30 am, there had been over 5,000 complaints that the messaging platform was experiencing downtime.

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Science & Tech: Elon Musk’s goal of selling 20 million Tesla

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The secret behind Elon Musk’s goal of selling 20 million Tesla’s a year by 2030 lies in its pioneering battery technology.

The good news is that by using bigger cells and a new process to dry-coat electrodes, Tesla could halve the cost of a Model Y battery, saving more than 8% of the car’s U.S. starting price, battery experts with ties to the company said.

The bad news is that it’s only halfway there, according to 12 experts close to Tesla or familiar with its new technology.

That’s because the dry-coating technique used to produce the bigger cells in Tesla’s 4680 battery is so new and unproven that the company is having trouble scaling up manufacturing to the point where the big cost savings kick in, the experts told Reuters.

“They just aren’t ready for mass production,” said one of the experts close to Tesla.

Still, the gains Tesla has already made in cutting battery production costs in the past two years could help boost profits and extend its lead over most electric vehicle (EV) rivals.

Musk’s promised improvements in battery cost and performance are seen by investors as critical to Tesla’s quest to usher in an era where it can sell a $25,000 EV for a profit – and stand a better chance of hitting its 2030 targets.

Battery systems are the most expensive single element in most EVs, so making lower-cost, high-performance packs is key to producing affordable electric cars that can go toe to toe with combustion-engine rivals on sticker prices.

Tesla is one of only a handful of major automakers that produce their own EV batteries and by manufacturing Model Y cells at U.S. plants, the SUV will remain eligible for U.S. tax credits when many rival EVs may no longer qualify.

Among the 12 battery experts Reuters spoke with, nine have close ties to Tesla and three of the nine have examined Tesla’s new and old battery technology inside and out through teardowns.

Tesla did not respond to requests for comment.

‘He will solve it’
The sources predict that Tesla will find it difficult to fully implement the new dry-coating manufacturing process before the end of this year and perhaps not until 2023.

Stan Whittingham, a co-inventor of lithium-ion batteries and a 2019 Nobel laureate, believes Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk has been overly optimistic about the time frame for commercializing the new technique. “I think he will solve it, but it won’t be as quick as he likes. It’s going to take some time to really test it,” he said.

In August, Musk told shareholders Tesla would be producing high volumes of 4680 batteries by the end of 2022.

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According to the experts, Tesla has only been able to cut the Model Y’s battery cost by between $2,000 and $3,000 so far, about half the savings Tesla had planned for the 4680 battery, which it unveiled two years ago.

But those savings have come mainly from the design of the new 4680 cells, which are bigger than those in Tesla’s current 2170 battery, they said.

But the heart of the drive to push down costs is the dry-coating technology, which Musk has described as revolutionary but difficult to execute.

According to the sources, it should deliver as much as half of the $5,500 cost savings Tesla hopes to achieve, by slashing manufacturing costs and one-time capital spending.

Tesla acquired the know-how in 2019 when it paid over $200 million for Maxwell Technologies, a company in San Diego making ultracapacitors, which store energy for devices that need quick bursts of electricity, such as camera flashes.

Building on Maxwell’s technology, Tesla began making 4680 dry cells this year, first in a pilot near its Fremont, California plant and more recently at its new global headquarters in Austin, Texas.

‘Best in class’
The technology allows Tesla to ditch the older, more complex and costly wet-coating process. It’s expensive because it needs a substantial amount of electricity, machinery, factory space, time, and a large labor force.

To coat electrodes in the wet process, battery producers mix the materials with toxic binder solvents. Once coated, the electrodes are dried in massive ovens, with the toxic solvents that evaporate in the process being recovered, treated and recycled – all adding to the cost.

With the new technology, electrodes are coated using different binders with little use of liquids, so they don’t need to be dried. That means it’s cheaper, faster and also less environmentally damaging.

Because of its simplicity, the process allows Tesla to cut capital spending by a third and slash both the footprint of a factory and its energy consumption to a 10th of what would be needed for the wet process, Tesla has said.

But the company has had trouble commercializing the process, the sources said.

Maxwell developed its dry-coat process for ultracapacitors, but the challenge with coating electrodes for EV batteries is that they are much larger and thicker, which makes it hard to coat them with consistent quality at mass-production speeds.

“They can produce in small volume, but when they started big volume production, Tesla ended up with many rejects, too many,” one of the sources with ties to Tesla told Reuters.

Production yields were so low that all the anticipated cost savings from the new process were lost, the source said.

If all the potential efficiencies from dry-coating and the bigger cells are realized, the manufacturing cost for Model Y’s 4680 battery pack should fall to $5,000 to $5,500 – roughly half the cost of the 2170 pack, according to the sources.

The rising cost of battery materials and energy pose a risk to those forecasts, however, and Tesla has not yet been able to significantly improve the new battery’s energy density or the amount of power it packs, as Musk has promised.

Still, despite those factors, the savings Tesla is expected to achieve will end up making the 4680 battery the industry’s “best in class” for the foreseeable future, one source said.

Bulking up
Much of the $2,000 to $3,000 cost savings achieved with the 4680 battery so far have come from other improvements, and using bigger cells has proven particularly potent, the experts said.

The 4680 cells are 5.5 times the size of the 2170 cells by volume. The older cylindrical cells measure 21 millimeters in diameter and 70 millimeters in height, hence the name. The 4680 cells have a 46 millimeters diameter and are 80 millimeters high.

With the older technology, Tesla needs about 4,400 cells to power the Model Y and there are 17,600 points that need to be welded – four per cell – to create a pack that can be integrated into the car, the sources said.

The 4680 battery pack only needs 830 cells and Tesla has changed the design so that there are only two weld points per cell, slashing the welding to 1,660 points and leading to significant cost savings.

The simpler design also means there are fewer connectors and other components, which has allowed Tesla to save further on labor costs and machine time.

Another source of efficiency has been the larger cell’s far sturdier outer case. Tesla can now bond the cells together with adhesive into a rigid honeycomb-like pack which is then connected directly to the inner body structure of the Model Y.

This eliminates the intermediate step of bundling cells into larger modules which are then installed in a traditional battery pack, the sources said.

By shifting to this “cell to vehicle” design, Tesla can reduce the weight of a traditional 1,200-pound battery pack by 55 pounds or more – saving about $500 to $600 per pack, one of the sources said.

But mastering the dry-coating technique remains the holy grail.

“Bulking up the battery cell helped a lot in boosting efficiency, but pushing for 50% cost savings for the cell as a whole is another matter,” one source said.

“That will depend on whether Tesla can deploy the dry-coating process successfully in a factory.”

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NASA cancels second attempt at moon rocket launch due to fuel leak.

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For the second time in five days, NASA on Saturday halted a countdown in progress and postponed a planned attempt to launch the debut test flight of its giant, next-generation rocket on Saturday as another dangerous fuel leak forced launch controllers to call off the launch that was to send a crew capsule into lunar orbit with test dummies.

The first attempt earlier in the week was also marred by escaping hydrogen, but those leaks were elsewhere on the 98-meter (322-foot) rocket, the most powerful ever built by NASA.

Launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson and her team tried to plug Saturday’s leak the way they did the last time: stopping and restarting the flow of super-cold liquid hydrogen in hopes of removing the gap around a seal in the supply line. They tried that twice, in fact, and also flushed helium through the line. But the leak persisted.

Blackwell-Thompson finally halted the countdown after three to four hours of futile effort.

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Judge dismisses lawsuit against Musk, Tesla and Twitter fan

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A federal judge in California has dismissed a securities fraud and defamation lawsuit filed by a Tesla investor against CEO Elon Musk, one of Musk’s supporters and Tesla.

In an order filed Thursday, Judge James Donato threw out the lawsuit by the investor, Aaron Greenspan, who runs a legal document website. Donato wrote that the lawsuit had failed to make plausible legal claims.

Donato had previously dismissed the case in June, but he offered Greenspan the opportunity to file another complaint on federal legal issues. The judge wrote that claims such as defamation that were made under California law would be taken up later as warranted. In Thursday’s order, Donato dismissed all of Greenspan’s case, which was originally filed in 2020.

Among other things, the lawsuit alleged that Omar Qazi, a Musk fan, defamed Greenspan in a series of tweets that made baseless accusations against him. Greenspan asserted that the tweets were part of a campaign of 80,000 coordinated tweets that praised Tesla and attacked critics.

Donato ruled that Greenspan failed to provide facts to support his allegations that Qazi acted as an agent of Tesla or Musk. Qazi had previously called the allegations “absurd,” and Tesla’s lawyers had disputed Greenspan’s allegations as conspiracy theories.

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In other legal news connected to Musk, a Delaware judge agreed Friday to expedite a Twitter shareholder lawsuit challenging his proposed buyout of the social media giant, while nevertheless saying she was “extremely skeptical” of the plaintiff’s claims.

In granting a motion to expedite requested by the Orlando Police Pension Fund, Chancellor Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick noted that the threshold for granting such a request was relatively low.

“While I’m skeptical of the plaintiff’s theories, and extremely skeptical at that, on a motion to expedite the strike zone is far larger for the plaintiff,” the judge said. “It’s like the strike zone applied when Little League players start pitching their own games.”

McCormick said the pension fund could pursue “extremely limited discovery” regarding its allegations that the deal must be delayed for at least three years under an anti-takeover provision in Delaware corporation law.

The judge nevertheless said she was “dubious” that the proposed Twitter buyout is the sort of deal the provision is intended to address. The provision prevents any shareholder who owns 15% or more of a company’s stock from buying out other shareholders for a period of three years after reaching the 15% threshold unless certain conditions are met. One such condition is approval of the deal by at least two-thirds of the outstanding voting stock not owned by that “interested stockholder.”

While Musk owned only about 9.6% of Twitter’s stock when the company’s board approved his proposed $44 billion acquisition, the complaint alleges that he is an interested stockholder because he had an “agreement, arrangement or understanding” with Morgan Stanley and Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey.

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The plaintiffs allege that Dorsey, who owns about 2.4% of Twitter’s stock, and Morgan Stanley, which owns about 8.8%, worked with and encouraged Musk to take the company private.

The defendants, who have filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, say there was no “meeting of the minds,” and that the notion that Musk is an interested stockholder under Delaware law is “wholly speculative and conclusory.”

They note, among other things, that the Morgan Stanley entity serving as Musk’s financial adviser, and a separate Morgan Stanley unit that has offered to help finance the buyout, are not among the entities that own Twitter stock. They also argue that Morgan Stanley Investment Management, which owns most of the Twitter shares in question, is a registered investment advisor prohibited from voting for a business transaction for any reason other than its clients’ best interests

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Boeing docks Starliner capsule to ISS for the first time.

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With only a test dummy aboard, Boeing’s astronaut capsule pulled up and parked at the International Space Station (ISS) for the first time, a huge achievement for the company after years of false starts.

With Starliner’s arrival late on Friday, NASA has finally realised its longtime effort to have crew capsules from competing US companies flying to the space station.

SpaceX already has a running start. Elon Musk’s company pulled off the same test three years ago and has since launched 18 astronauts to the space station, as well as tourists.

“Today marks a great milestone,” NASA astronaut Bob Hines radioed from the orbiting complex. “Starliner is looking beautiful on the front of the station,” he added.

The only other time Boeing’s Starliner flew in space, it never got anywhere near the station, ending up in the wrong orbit.

This time, the overhauled spacecraft made it to the right spot following Thursday’s launch and docked at the station 25 hours later. The automated rendezvous went off without a major hitch, despite the failure of a handful of thrusters.


If the rest of Starliner’s mission goes well, Boeing could be ready to launch its first crew by the end of this year. The astronauts likely to serve on the first Starliner crew joined Boeing and NASA flight controllers in Houston as the action unfolded nearly 435km (270 miles) up.

NASA wants redundancy when it comes to the Florida-based astronaut taxi service. Administrator Bill Nelson said Boeing’s long road with Starliner underscores the importance of having two types of crew capsules. US astronauts were stuck riding Russian rockets once the shuttle programme ended, until SpaceX’s first crew flight in 2020.


Boeing’s first Starliner test flight in 2019 was plagued by software errors that cut the mission short and could have doomed the spacecraft. Those were corrected, but when the new capsule awaited liftoff last summer, corroded valves halted the countdown. More repairs followed, as Boeing chalked up nearly $600m in do-over costs.

Before letting Starliner get close to the space station on Friday, Boeing ground controllers practised manoeuvring the capsule and tested its robotic vision system. Everything checked out well, Boeing said, except for a cooling loop and four failed thrusters. The capsule held a steady temperature, however, and had plenty of other thrusters for steering.

Once Starliner was within 15km (10 miles) of the space station, Boeing flight controllers in Houston could see the space station through the capsule’s cameras. “We’re waving. Can you see us?” joked Hines.

There was only silence from Starliner. The commander’s seat was occupied once again by the mannequin dubbed Rosie the Rocketeer, a space-age version of World War II’s Rosie the Riveter.


The gleaming white-with-blue-trim capsule hovered 10 metres (33 feet) from the station for close to two hours – considerably longer than planned – as flight controllers adjusted its docking ring and ensured everything else was in order. When the green light finally came, Starliner closed the gap in four minutes, eliciting cheers in Boeing’s control centre. Applause erupted once the latches were tightly secured.

The space station’s seven astronauts will unload groceries and gear from Starliner and pack it up with experiments. Unlike SpaceX’s Dragon capsule that splashes down off the Florida coast, Starliner will aim for a landing in New Mexico next Wednesday.

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Germany boosts monitoring of Facebook’s Meta.

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Germany’s anti-cartel watchdog said Wednesday it has placed Meta, the company which owns Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, under close watch for any possible abuse.

The Federal Cartel Office said it has determined Meta to be a company of “paramount significance for competition”, a move paving the way for the authorities to clamp down “against potential competition infringements”.

Meta therefore joins Google in falling under reinforced monitoring made possible by the German Competition Act, which came into force in January 2021.

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The act allows the authority to intervene earlier, particularly against huge digital companies.

“The digital ecosystem created by Meta has a very large user base and makes the company the key player in social media,” said Federal Cartel Office chief Andreas Mundt.

Having determined Meta’s significance, the office is “able to intervene against potential competition infringements more efficiently than with the toolkit available to us so far”.

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Meta has also waived its right to appeal the German office’s decision, he said.

Big tech companies have been facing increasing scrutiny around the globe over their dominant positions as well as their tax practices.

The EU and Britain in March opened antitrust probes into a 2018 deal between Google and Meta allegedly aimed at cementing their dominance over the online advertising market

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Judge bounces Elon Musk’s bid to free tweets from oversight.

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Twitter’s new buyer Elon Musk still must have his tweets about his electric car company Tesla pre-approved after a US judge on Wednesday rejected an appeal to free him from oversight.

Musk last month filed a motion to overturn Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) restrictions imposed following his 2018 tweet, in which he said he had acquired funding to take Tesla private, but did not provide proof or file paperwork with the securities regulator.

The tweet, which caused share prices to fluctuate wildly, was ruled to be “false and misleading” and shareholders have accused Tesla of securities fraud.



The SEC also charged Musk with fraud and ordered him to step down as chair of Tesla’s board of directors, pay a $20 million fine and, after another unfortunate tweet in early 2019, demanded his tweets directly related to business of the company be pre-approved by a competent lawyer.

Musk said he was forced to agree to the deal, and denies lying to shareholders.

However, “Musk’s claim that he was the victim of economic duress is wholly unpersuasive,” Judge Lewis Liman wrote in his ruling.

The judge said Musk’s argument that the SEC has used the agreement “to harass him” and investigate his speech is “meritless” and “particularly ironic,” since free speech rights do not allow him to make statements that are “considered fraudulent” or violate securities laws.

“Musk cannot now seek to retract the agreement he knowingly and willingly entered by simply bemoaning that he felt like he had to agree to it at the time but now — once the specter of the litigation is a distant memory and his company has become, in his estimation, all but invincible — wishes that he had not.”

The judge also rejected Musk’s request to quash part of the SEC’s demand for documents about his November 6, 2021 tweet calling for followers to vote on whether he should sell 10 percent of his Tesla stock.

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The tweet sent the company’s share price lower, and the SEC wants to know if it was approved as required. The agency also is investigating possible insider trading after Musk’s brother — a Tesla board member — sold $108 million in the car-maker’s stock a day before the poll.

Musk’s headline-grabbing deal to buy Twitter comes with a clause specifying that he is free to tweet about the pending $44 billion merger provided his posts “do not disparage the company or any of its representatives,” a copy filed with US regulators shows.

That did not stop Musk on Wednesday from tweeting his displeasure with content moderation moves made by Twitter’s top attorney Vijaya Gadde who is seen as a moral champion of the platform.

Musk additionally tweeted a meme critical of Gadde

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European car sales surge as Ukraine war hits struggling industry.

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Car sales in Europe dropped sharply in March, industry data showed Wednesday, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine added to the woes of a sector that has been long struggling with shortages of semiconductors.

Passenger car registrations fell 20.5% compared to the same period last year, with 844,187 units sold, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA).

Excluding 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic paralyzed the global economy, it was the worst performance for a month of March since statistics began in 1990.



Car production has been hampered worldwide since last year by a severe shortage of semiconductors, a key component for modern cars as they power everything from antilock braking systems to airbags to parking assistance technology.

The war has led to shortages of other parts, such as the cables used in car wiring harnesses and of which Ukraine is a manufacturer.

Several factories in Europe have had to go idle due to the lack of cables, with Volkswagen temporarily suspending production at a number of German sites.

Europe’s top automaker saw sales fall by nearly a quarter in March, according to ACEA figures.

“The ongoing supply chain disruptions, further exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, negatively affected car production,” the ACEA said.

Most countries in Europe had double-digit drops in car sales in March, the association said, with a fall of 17.5% in Germany, the biggest market.

There were even larger falls of around almost 20% in France, around 30% in Italy and nearly 40% in Spain.

Outside the European Union, sales fell by 14.3% in Britain.

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Stellantis halts production at Russia car plant.

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American-European automaker Stellantis announced Tuesday the suspension of production at its factory in Russia, citing a lack of parts and sanctions against Moscow over the Ukraine war.

The group, which was formed in January last year when Fiat-Chrysler and PSA merged, had already announced in March that it was halting imports and exports to and from Russia.

Production for the local market at the Kaluga factory southwest of Moscow also slowed down, and the company had warned that it would have to suspend work due to shortages of components.

The factory was meant to produce Peugeot, Citroen and Opel vans for the European market.

However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted it to transfer that production to Hordain, in France, and Luton, in England.

“Given the rapid daily increase in cross sanctions and logistical difficulties, Stellantis has suspended its manufacturing operations in Kaluga to ensure full compliance with all cross sanctions and to protect its employees,” the company said in a statement.

The factory’s 2,700 employees have been temporarily laid off or placed on holiday until June.

Most automakers have suspended their production in Russia since Moscow invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Hundreds of foreign companies, ranging from retailers to banks, have also halted operations there since the war broke out.

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Pressure mounts on Biden to stop US imports of Russian oil.

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Abipartisan group of United States senators on Thursday introduced a bill to prohibit U.S. imports of Russian oil, saying the shipments could be replaced by boosting output in North America and other places.

The bill would have to pass the Senate and House and be signed by President Joe Biden to become law, but the White House has indicated reluctance to support moves that could increase the price of gasoline at a time when inflation is already high.



The bill, Banning Russian Energy Imports Act, is intended to punish President Vladimir Putin over his invasion of Ukraine and is sponsored by 18 senators in the 100-member chamber, including Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat, and Lisa Murkowski, a Republican. Similar legislation has been offered by Sen. Ed Markey, a liberal Democrat.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi also said she supports a ban. “I’m all for that,” she told reporters. “Ban the oil coming from Russia.”

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The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether Biden, a Democrat, would sign the bill.

“I don’t believe this country should be importing anything from Russia,” Jon Tester, a Democrat from oil-producing Montana who supports the Manchin-Murkowski bill, told reporters. “It will send even a bigger message that the United States is in this with Ukrainians for the long haul.”

It was unclear if the bill will win the 60 votes in the Senate that are likely necessary for it to pass, but the fact that several Democrats are co-sponsoring it increases its chances.

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The U.S. imported more than 20.4 million barrels of crude and refined products a month on average in 2021 from Russia, about 8% of U.S. liquid fuel imports, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

On Thursday, Par Pacific Holdings became the first U.S. refiner to suspend purchases of Russian oil for its Hawaii-based refinery. Russia accounted for nearly 28% of Hawaii’s crude imports last year, according to the EIA.

Russia is the second-largest exporter of crude oil, shipping out 4 million to 5 million barrels of crude every day, trailing only Saudi Arabia. A series of sanctions imposed by the West, while exempting Russian oil and gas, have nonetheless disrupted the global oil trade, as buyers shun Russian barrels and search for supply elsewhere.

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‘Pad Putin’s pockets’
Russia produces about 10% of the world’s crude and, while it has imposed a series of sanctions on Russia since the conflict in Ukraine escalated, the Biden administration has so far been careful to not take actions that could send oil prices higher.

“We don’t have a strategic interest in reducing the global supply of energy… that would raise prices at the gas pump for the American people,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters on Thursday.

Psaki said a ban on U.S. imports of crude from Russia could further increase oil prices, which hit decadelong highs this week. Retail gasoline prices have been steadily rising in the U.S., the world’s largest oil consumer; the average per-gallon price for regular gasoline was $3.73 on Thursday, according to the American Automobile Association.

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“It also has the potential to pad the pockets of President Putin which is exactly what we are not trying to do,” Psaki said. Russia’s economy is heavily dependent on oil and gas and many of its energy companies are state-owned.

Still, Biden has said everything is on the table in terms of punishing Russia.

Backers of the bill said it would only affect Russian oil exports to the United States and that U.S., Canadian and other supplies from allies could replace the Russian barrels without boosting prices.

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Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, who has not backed the Manchin-Murkowski bill, said “this is not the moment” for Congress to be setting a different direction from the Biden administration.

Murphy did seem to support the idea in the theory of limiting Russian oil imports, however. “It still feels like the right thing to do,” he told reporters, adding that any move in that direction should be done in coordination with Europe.

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White House deputy national security adviser Daleep Singh said on Wednesday the Biden administration was looking at reducing U.S. consumption of Russian oil while maintaining the global supply of energy.

“There are other producers in the world that could backfill for any Russian oil we don’t import,” Singh said on CNN.

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