Shares in the company dropped 14pc to $36.50 before the start of regular trading Friday in New York, setting the stock up for its sharpest decline since mid-December.
The company said its next test flight had been delayed by three months, to May.
The delay means the plan to carry billionaire Richard Branson into space on a separate test flight in the first quarter will also be pushed back. His trip will likely be moved to the summer.
In a conference call, President Mike Moses said electromagnetic interference problems caused a computer problem in December, when the rocket’s engine failed to ignite during a test flight.
Virgin Galactic replaced the flight-system computers but then discovered more electromagnetic interference issues during preparations for a flight due to take place on February 13. Those problems will take until May to correct, said Moses.
“Investors looking for a shorter runway for profitability or even commercialisation of their space tourism business have been disappointed,” said Andrew Chanin, co-founder and CEO of ProcureAM, which runs a space ETF that holds Virgin Galactic shares.
Nikola shares drop after company cuts Electric Truck production target
Nikola shares slipped 8pc in New York after the company cut projected output of its first commercial zero-emission vehicles.
The Phoenix-based startup now expects to deliver 100 battery-electric Tre semis to customers this year, down from a previous target of 600.
On a call with analysts CEO Mark Russell said the company may also look to raise more capital to invest in facilities such as a planned hydrogen-fueling network.
He blamed the global pandemic and supply-chain issues for the drop in planned production volumes.
“We see pent-up demand hitting the supply chain, creating global critical-parts shortages for components” such as display screens and batteries, Russell said on Thursday, after Nikola released its latest earnings.
“In light of all of these uncertainties, we believe it would be prudent to revise expectations for Nikola Tre BEV deliveries.”
The truckmaker said it aims to deliver 1,200 BEV trucks next year and 3,500 in 2023.
Government won’t shy away from protecting interests of the public from tech titans, says digital secretary
The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, has issued a stern statement after his meeting last night with Nick Clegg, Vice-President for Global Affairs and Communications at Facebook, saying the UK was ready to “protect the interests of the public” from tech titans.
The men discussed Facebook’s news ban in Australia which Dowden said “looked like Facebook was putting it’s bottom line above the public interest.”
In a statement released on Friday, he said: “Recent events have strengthened my view that we do not have properly functioning digital markets, and the UK will be at the forefront of global efforts to address this.”
He continued: “Tech titans have become the gatekeepers of online knowledge and the custodians of virtual public squares, and the government won’t shy away from intervening to protect the interests of the public when it needs to.”
Dowden said the government was working on a pro-competition regime to benefit not just news publishers, but also consumers and other businesses affected by the market dominance of a small number of big platforms.
“Here in the UK, we are taking action by building a coherent and comprehensive approach to digital regulation Whether through our pro competition regime enforced by the new Digital Markets Unit or through our upcoming Online Safety Bill, we are aiming to bring in fairer rules of the road.
“We will hold these companies to account and bridge the gap between what they say they do and what happens in practice. We will prevent these firms from exploiting their dominance to the detriment of people and the businesses that rely on them.”
“It is important to have a European solution because otherwise others will go into this vacuum,” she said. “Google and Apple are already offering solutions to the WHO and this is sensitive information, so we want to be very clear here that we offer a European solution.”
However within hours, a WHO spokesperson said “neither Google nor Apple” were involved in the process.
On Friday, a person close to von der Leyen said her understanding was now that experts from some technology companies were working with the WHO on a private basis but Apple employees aren’t among them.
Virgin Galactic tumbles after delaying Branson flight again
Shares in Virgin Galactic Holdings sank after the company said its next test flight had been delayed by three months, to May.
The company said the delay was down to electromagnetic interference problems.
The delay means the plan to carry founder Richard Branson into space will also be pushed back. The company had planned to take the billionaire into space on a test flight in the first quarter however his trip is likely to be moved to the summer.
Virgin Galactic had advanced 78pc this year as anticipation mounted ahead of its commercial debut.
But shares plunged 14pc to $36.50 before the start of regular trading Friday in New York, putting the stock on course for its sharpest decline since mid-December.
The Prime Minister’s former special adviser, Dominic Cummings, has set up a new tech advisory firm called Siwah.
According to a filing on Companies House, the nature of the business will be “information technology consultancy activities”.
It is unclear exactly what the business will do. However Siwah could be a reference to the Siwa Oasis or Wāḥat Sīwah in Egypt which was home to an oracle that told Alexander the Great he was the legitimate Pharaoh of Egypt.
Cummings is currently listed as director and the business is registered in Durham.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq was on course for its worst week since last March amid a wider stock slump due to a jump in Treasury yields.
Nasdaq closed down 3.5pc yesterday, in what was its worst day since October, and looked on course to drop again when the US markets open on Friday. This put it on track to wipe out almost all of its gains for February.
It came after a sharp rise in US Treasury yields to more than 1.5pc for the first time in a year.
Nasdaq Futures were down around 0.7pc this morning.
The wider sell-off bled across into the cryptocurrency market, with Bitcoin also taking a hit this week. The asset is down around 7pc, and was also set for its worst week since last March.
Figures including Bill Gates have been warning over investing in the cryptocurrency, and overnight the Microsoft founder said he preferred to invest in companies “that make products”.
Games Workshop founder leads $15m investment into trio of games developers
Sir Ian Livingston, the co-founder of fantasy figurine maker Games Workshop and so-called father of Lara Croft, has led $15m (£10.76m) worth of investment into a trio of games studios across Europe and the US, writes Michael Cogley.
Hiro Capital, a London-based VC firm that he created alongside gaming veteran Luke Alvarez and LoveCrafts creator Cherry Freeman, has poured the cash into the “pandemic proof” gaming and esports sector.
Stockholm-based Snowprint Studios, San Franciscan firm Double Loop Games, and Belgian company Happy Volcano, have all been backed by Livingston’s Hiro Capital. Mr Livingstone said the studios had demonstrated expertise in developing “fun to play games which resonate with today’s audiences”.
“If only venture capital had been interested in the games sector back in the 1970s, I might not have had to sleep in a van during the early days of Games Workshop,” he said.
Ms Freeman said the latest investments means Hiro now has stakes in 11 studios with “more deals to come”.
Options traders are betting that GameStop shares could reach $800 later today, after the company’s stock more than doubled over the past few days.
According to Bloomberg, the most-active option traded on GameStop yesterday was a contract which bet that the company’s share price would hit $800 today, meaning they believe it could jump more than 600pc in one day.
It comes amid a renewed frenzy for the retro retailer’s stock, which hit the headlines in January for being caught at the centre of a row between hedge funds and Reddit day traders.
GameStop saw its shares double in the final 90 minutes of trading on Wednesday, and shares continued to spike yesterday – puzzling analysts as to what was behind the latest surge.
There was some speculation that it might have been driven by the GamesStop leadership shake-up announced on Wednesday – which had been brought about by activist investor Ryan Cohen, the founder of Chewy.com
“The Chewy founder and the current board members behind this action are trying to position GameStop for a more digital strategy versus what they were doing before and that gave a lot of optimism to retail investors,” explained Pauline Bell, equity research analyst at investment research firm CFRA.
Catherine Birkett, the chief financial officer of payments firm GoCardless, said it was “refreshing to see the government and industry coming together with the Kalifa Review, to address these concerns and protect and support such a vibrant sector that helps to drive the success of UK business”.
“Brexit – and the uncertainty it has brought – has placed enormous pressure on all businesses. Access to talent, the validity of EU regulations in the UK and maintaining London’s position as the world’s epicentre for fintech have all been heavily debated for years. Fintechs in particular have been left in the dark about what their future looks like without the EU.”
“Now is the time to act to cement the foundations that will enable the next phase of growth of the UK fintech ecosystem. This can help UK fintechs to unlock new economic opportunities, stoke innovation and create new jobs in the wider economy.”
Airbnb’s chief executive Brian Chesky has said the company is “laser-focused on preparing for the travel rebound” and that travel is “coming back”, but expected revenues to decline in the first quarter of the year.
Airbnb said quarterly revenues dropped by 22pc year-on-year to $859m as a winter Covid-19 wave led to new lockdowns.
It faced a crisis when the pandemic first hit, but has rebounded better than most travel companies by offering rural getaways and longer-term rentals to people fleeing cities.
As Britain’s Covid-19 vaccination scheme continues at pace, hopes were buoyed that vaccine passports could offer a route to restriction-free summer holidays.
Yesterday, European Union leaders inched closer to approving a vaccine passport scheme for the bloc, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying the member states “have all agreed that we need vaccine certificates”.
“In the future, it will certainly be good to have such a certificate but that will not mean that only those who have such a passport will be able to travel; about that, no political decisions have been made yet.”
Airlines have already been planning for the schemes to open up travel. Last month, Alan Murray Hayden, from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), told the Telegraph that “every airline is looking at this“.
“The thing is, they know that they can’t [check every passenger] manually. We have to have a way of actually automating the checking of both the vaccine and the test results, or our industry won’t start flying again.”
Huawei is reportedly planning to start making its own electric vehicles in what would come as a major strategic shift for the telecommunications giant.
Reuters reported that the Chinese tech giant was considering selling electric vehicles under its own brand, with some models potentially being launched later this year.
Huawei has historically been a market leader in the telecommunications industry, making just less than a third of the equipment used for operators for their mobile networks.
However, in recent years, various governments including the UK have taken steps to block Huawei from the networks, amid concerns over national security.
Operators such as BT and Vodafone will have to strip Huawei kit out of their networks entirely within the next seven years, costing as much as £2bn.
In the US, meanwhile, the company has faced significant sanctions which have stopped it from being able to access key supply chains.
A spokesman for Huawei told Reuters: “Huawei is not a car manufacturer. However through ICT (information and communications technology), we aim to be a digital car-oriented and new-added components provider, enabling car OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) to build better vehicles.”
Bitcoin on course for worst weekly slide since last March
Bitcoin slumped by as much as a fifth this week, putting it on track to record its worst weekly slide in almost a year.
Bitcoin was down by more than 11pc over the past day, slipping below $45,000. It comes amid wider volatility in the market, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 having also slipped in seven of the past eight sessions.
Bitcoin has also come under pressure following comments from figures including Bill Gates, who last night re-iterated his reservations about the asset. He said in an interview on social network Clubhouse that he preferred to invest in companies “that make products”.