Apple is preparing to introduce a major change to iPhone apps that will require users to opt in to personal tracking used by the likes of Facebook and Google to target adverts. The measures have led to a war between Apple and Facebook, which has said it will harm small developers who rely on advertising.
Speaking to investors at the company’s annual meeting, Tim Cook has said the move simply gives users choice:
Some may wish to share more information for the purposes of targeted ads and others may not. But we believe deeply that users ought to be able to make the decision. Because otherwise, they’re not the customer. They’re the product. We want to be the ripple in the pond that moves the whole industry forward.
Apple has sailed through the meeting itself, with all its directors approved by shareholders and two investor motions – on changes to pay and for giving shareholders a greater say in nominating directors – were defeated.
Apple’s first annual meeting is being held virtually for the first time. Normally, the meeting is one of a handful of public events held at Apple’s headquarters, but shareholders are missing that opportunity this year.
Last year, the company narrowly survived a shareholder revolt over how it deals with government censors, but there are no controversial proposals up for debate in today’s meeting. More interestingly, chief executive Tim Cook will face investor questions after the procedural part of the meeting.
Elon Musk no longer the world’s wealthiest person as Bitcoin plummets
Elon Musk is no longer the world’s wealthiest person after shares in Tesla and the value of Bitcoin plummeted, wiping more than $15bn (£10.65bn) off the billionaire’s net worth.
Tesla stock was down 10.3pc at 2.50pm on Tuesday, representing the biggest decline since September. Bitcoin meanwhile had dropped by 11.9pc to $46,689 at the same time.
The losses followed comments from the enigmatic founder who said over the weekend that the prices of Bitcoin and its smaller rival ethereum “seem high”. Musk sent his message via Twitter, two weeks after his electric carmaker announced it had added $1.5bn worth of Bitcoin to its balance sheet.
He has since dropped to second place on Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index, behind Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos. The Tesla chief’s worth is now estimated at around $183.4bn, down from a January peak of $210bn. The slump in Musk’s worth allowed Bezos to reclaim the top spot, even though his own wealth dipped by $3.7bn to $186.3bn.
The two tech billionaires have been trading places at the top since the turn of the year as Tesla stock fluctuated.
The car manufacturer’s shares had risen as much as 25pc since the start of the year before almost all of its gain was wiped out.
Bezos had held onto the top spot for three straight years before January when Musk’s worth swelled in line with Tesla’s 794pc rally.
Two weeks after @elonmusk announced that he spent $1.5 billion of shareholder money buying Bitcoin, #Tesla stock entered a bear market, plunging 20% from its all-time high set on Jan. 25th, and 16% since disclosing the #Bitcoin buy. Not an example other CEOs will likely follow!
Tesla’s recent slump has been down to the fact that the company is now tied “at the hip” with Bitcoin, according to Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush.
“Since diving into the deep end of the pool with its $1.5bn Bitcoin purchase last month for both good and bad the company’s stock is now heavily tied to this digital currency,” he said.
“Perception is reality on the Street and by Musk and Tesla aggressively embracing Bitcoin – from a transactional perspective as well – investors are starting to tie Bitcoin and Tesla at the hip.”
Mr Ives said he believed the move into crypto was a “strategic one for the long-term” and that it was likely to have a ripple effect.
“That said, Tesla is an EV play entering the golden age of EVs and there is a lingering worry that the Bitcoin sideshow could overshadow the overall EV growth story playing out for Tesla in 2021 and beyond in the eyes of the Street,” he said.
Swedish buy now, pay later firm Klarna could list on the stock exchange without raising money by selling shares, its chief executive has said.
In an interview with Reuters, Sebastian Siemiatkowski said that it was a “very interesting concept” and stated that Spotify “did it successfully”.
“I can see it’s a more modern way of making a company public … if you hear us having an interest in it that is true because we are interested in it,” he said. Mr Siemiatkowsi declined to comment on another private funding round where the company could raise at least $500m in the coming days.
Another funding round follows on from the $650m it raised in September from a group of investors led by Silver Lake that valued it at $11bn.
Facebook will restore Australian news pages, ending an unprecedented week-long blackout. The dramatic decision by the social media giant seems to have done nothing more than simply kick the can down the road, writes Harry de Quetteville:
It looks like a big win for the Australian government, and a big blow for Facebook.
But the truth is that the last minute deal which has restored news to the social media giant down under is not the clear cut, agenda setting, new era-defining reset of relations between tech power and political power in the 21st century. That may come later.
And as we wait for a final outcome both sides can claim victory: Facebook has agreed to make payments to news sites – which appears a triumph for the Australian government specifically and news media generally.
Softbank said at the time co-working company WeWork had not fulfilled key conditions such as securing regulatory approvals and closing operations in China.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Neumann could now agree to an almost $500 million cut in his payout, a concession that would help WeWork move towards a second public listing attempt.
The deal currently on the table would mean Neumann sells about a quarter of his position in WeWork but remains a major shareholder. However the Wall Street Journal’s source stressed the negotiations, which have been rocky at times, are ongoing and the outcome could still change.
Softbank was due to face Neumann in court next week.
SoftBank took a majority stake in WeWork after its IPO collapsed in 2019, when public investors showed concern at the money the company was losing and at Mr. Neumann’s exuberant behaviour – he is known for walking around barefoot.
British drone company Skyports will deliver Covid tests for the NHS in western Scotland in a UK first.
During the three month trial, Skyport drones will carry up to 3kg of Covid tests, medicine and PPE across Argyll and Bute, a region which contains 23 inhabited islands.
According to Skyports, the drones will initially operated between four hospitals and will be able to reduce travel time from up to 36 hours for a road and ferry journey to just 15 mins.
The company will run both a scheduled and on-demand service, with NHS staff able to place orders through an online system developed by Deloitte.
Stephen Whiston, Head of Strategic Planning for Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “Argyll and Bute HSCP is delighted to once again be at the forefront of using this innovative technology to assess how unmanned drones can enhance our logistics operations and improve services for patients and clinicians in some of our most remote and island communities.”
Online car dealership Cazoo has continued its acquisition spree, snapping up Cluno, Germany’s leading consumer car subscription platform, as it eyes international expansion.
Cluno works by users paying monthly subscription fees for their cars as well as maintenance, service, warranty, tax and insurance.
It comes as the latest purchase by Cazoo, founded by veteran entrepreneur Alex Chesterman, which has been bulking out its operations over the past year.
Last week, reports emerged that the company had hired bankers for a public float, which could value it as high as £6bn.
Chesterman, who founded Zoopla, told the Telegraph last summer that Covid-19 had accelerated the trend for people to buy cars online. “If you surveyed people in the second half of 2019, which we did, and asked what percentage of them would be prepared to be keen to buy a car online. That number has now doubled.”
Luxury electric car maker Lucid is set to go public in the biggest SPAC deal to date, landing an equity value of around $24bn.
The company will be joining the public markets by merging with a blank-check firm controlled by dealmaker Michael Klein, Churchill Capital IV Corp.
The move comes amid growing interest in the electric vehicle space, as more countries put in place tougher emissions restrictions. The UK, for example, is banning the sale of new diesel and petrol cars by 2030.
Lucid is run by a former Tesla engineer, Peter Rawlinson, who told the Telegraph in 2020 that there was a gap for luxury electric vehicles.
“There isn’t a luxury EV available for anyone to buy anywhere in the world. I’m not hammering Tesla unduly here, I’m just an observer, I’m being pretty analytical. I think they’re beautifully engineered, super products, but not true luxury.”
Facebook has said it will not be forced into negotiations to pay for news on its site, as it agreed to lift a news blackout in the country.
The company said it had received clarification from Australia that it would “retain the ability to decide if news appears on Facebook so that we won’t automatically be subject to a forced negotiation”.
It said Australia had also agreed to give Google and Facebook more time to agree private deals with publishers, before the case was referred to a government-appointed arbitrator.
It will be reversing the news ban in the “coming days”, after reaching a deal with Australia.
It brings to an end a week-long standoff which led to widespread criticism from politicians across the globe who warned the step to block news was harming democracy. Facebook took the step ahead of the introduction of a new media code in Australia which requires it to pay for news which appears on its site.
Facebook said it would be investing in news globally, but would continue to “resist efforts by media conglomerates to advance regulatory frameworks that do not take account of the true value exchange between publishers and platforms like Facebook.”