U.S. judge denies new government bid to remove China's WeChat from U.S. app stores
A U.S. judge in San Francisco on Friday rejected a Justice Department request to reverse a decision that allowed Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google to continue to offer Chinese-owned WeChat for download in U.S. app stores.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler said the government’s new evidence did not change her opinion about the Tencent app. As it has with Chinese video app TikTok, the Justice Department has argued WeChat threatens national security.
WeChat has an average of 19 million daily active users in the United States. It is popular among Chinese students, Americans living in China and some Americans who have personal or business relationships in China.
WeChat is an all-in-one mobile app that combines services similar to Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Venmo. The app is an essential part of daily life for many in China and boasts more than 1 billion users.
The Justice Department has appealed Beeler’s decision permitting the continued use of the Chinese mobile app to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, but no ruling is likely before December.
In a suit brought by WeChat users, Beeler last month blocked a U.S. Commerce Department order set to take effect on Sept. 20 that would have required the app to be removed from U.S. app stores.
The Commerce Department order would also bar other U.S. transactions with WeChat, potentially making the app unusable in the United States.
“The record does not support the conclusion that the government has ‘narrowly tailored’ the prohibited transactions to protect its national-security interests,” Beeler wrote on Friday.
She said the evidence “supports the conclusion that the restrictions ‘burden substantially more speech than is necessary to further the government’s legitimate interests.’”
WeChat users argued the government sought “an unprecedented ban of an entire medium of communication” and offered only “speculation” of harm from Americans’ use of WeChat.
In a similar case, a U.S. appeals court agreed to fast-track a government appeal of a ruling blocking the government from banning new downloads from U.S. app stores of Chinese-owned short video-sharing app TikTok.
Samsung Electronics has announced the death of its chairman, Lee Kun-hee. The company says he died on October 25th with family including his son, vice-chairman Lee Jae-yong, at his side. He was 78.
A cause of death was not given, but Lee had been incapacitated for many years after suffering a heart attack in 2014, causing him to withdraw from public life. Lee Jae-yong, also known as Jay Y. Lee, had been widely assumed to take over upon his father’s passing and has been viewed as the de facto leader in recent years.
“The motivating driver of the company’s vision”Lee Kun-hee was a controversial figure who played a huge part in pushing Samsung from a cheap TV and appliances maker to one of the most powerful technology brands in the world. He became the richest man in South Korea, with the Samsung group contributing around a fifth of the country’s GDP. In its statement, Samsung says that Lee’s declaration of “new management” in 1993 was “the motivating driver of the company’s vision to deliver the best technology to help advance global society.”
Lee also found himself in legal trouble. He was found guilty of bribing President Roh Tae-woo through a slush fund in 1995, and of tax evasion and embezzlement in 2008, but was formally pardoned for each conviction. The second pardon came in 2009 and was made “so that Lee could take back his place at the International Olympic Committee and form a better situation for the 2018 Olympics to take place in Pyongchang,” South Korea’s justice minister said at the time.
Lee’s passing will reignite inevitable speculation over the succession process. While Lee Jae-yong has long been groomed to become chairman, he’s had legal issues of his own since his father’s incapacitation, spending almost a year in jail for his role in the corruption scandal that brought down former South Korean president Park Geun-hye. South Korean law also means that anyone assuming Lee’s assets will face paying several billion dollars in inheritance tax, which may force them to reduce their stake in the company.
Source: The Verve
Facebook Inc on Thursday said its WhatsApp messaging app would start to offer in-app purchases and hosting services, as it moves to boost revenue from the app while knitting together e-commerce infrastructure across the company.The world's biggest social media company has been trying to boost sales from higher-growth units such as Instagram and WhatsApp, which it bought in 2014 for $19 billion but has been slow to monetize.
With the changes, WhatsApp will enable businesses sell products inside WhatsApp via Facebook Shops, an online store launched in May to offer a unified shopping experience across Facebook's apps.
The company will also enter the cloud computing sector, offering firms who use its customer service messaging tools the ability to store those messages on Facebook servers.
WhatsApp's chief operating officer, Matt Idema, said in an interview that the shopping tool would start rolling out this year, while message hosting would become available in 2021.
Idema said WhatsApp would offer the hosting service for free to try to draw new paying customers to its enterprise tools, which charge 0.5 cents to 9 cents per message delivered.
The app has a relatively small customer base of tens of thousands of businesses, while tens of millions use its more limited free tools aimed at small businesses.
In total, more than 175 million people interact with a business each day on WhatsApp, Idema said.
"The revenue is small today, by comparison to Facebook at large, but we think the opportunity is pretty big," he said.
Idema said chats with a business using the new hosting service will disclose that those conversations are stored elsewhere and not protected by the app's end-to-end encryption.
Facebook would not use message data hosted on its servers for other business purposes, he added.
DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Co said it has sold out the first year’s worth of its hulking GMC Hummer EV electric pickup truck after a splashy video reveal on Tuesday.
The GMC website showed a “reservations full” banner over the Hummer EV “Edition 1,” due to start production in the fall of 2021. The next version of the truck, the $99,995 Hummer EV 3X, is not scheduled to begin production until the fall of 2022.
The least expensive Hummer EV, starting at $79,995, is scheduled to go into production in the spring of 2024, GM said.
The Hummer EV was designed and engineered in 18 months, GM officials said during a presentation on Wednesday. The brawny truck can “crab walk” sideways on rough terrain using its four-wheel steering system, and has a “Watts to Freedom” mode that accelerates the truck to 60 miles per hour (97 kph) in 3 seconds.
The Hummer EV is in part a response to Tesla Inc’s Cybertruck, which has a very different but equally eye-grabbing design and a bevy of extreme performance features. The Cybertruck’s starting price is $39,900, though a model with 500 miles of range starts at $69,900.
Tesla has begun building a factory in Austin, Texas to build the Cybertruck starting in late 2021.
The head of GM’s GMC division, Duncan Aldred, said about half the brand’s dealers have agreed to sell the Hummer EV lineup. GM is taking orders on its website, and Aldred said the company’s intent is to offer no-haggle prices. The online reservations and firm pricing are similar to the Tesla approach.
High-performance electric pickup trucks could be a crowded niche in the U.S. market, with eight companies promising to launch models by the end of 2021.
Ford Motor Co is promising an electric version of its F-series pickup, though Ford has said its electric pickup will be aimed at customers who want to use the truck for work. GM has Chevrolet versions of its electric truck in the works.
Startups Rivian, Nikola Corp and Lordstown Motors are among other companies that have electric pickups in development.
Reporting by Joe White in Detroit; Editing by Matthew Lewis
Cyber security firm McAfee Corp MCFE.O sold shares in its initial public offering (IPO) on Wednesday at $20 a piece, within its target range, to raise $620 million.
The IPO valued McAfee, which is backed by U.S. private equity firms TPG and Thoma Bravo, at $3.3 billion. The company also had $4.8 billion in debt as of the end of June.
McAfee had aimed to sell 37 million shares at a target price range of $19-$22 per share. McAfee declined to comment.
TPG acquired a majority stake in McAfee from Intel Corp INTC.O in 2016 in a deal which valued the company at $4.2 billion, including debt. Thoma Bravo took a minority stake in McAfee in 2017.
In the last few years, McAfee has grown its main cyber security software business, which focuses on consumers, through price increases, new partner programs and good retention rates.
McAfee earlier this year hired ex-BMC Software CEO Peter Leav as its new chief executive to replace Chris Young, who created the company in its current form by carving it out of Intel.
McAfee has said its revenue in 2019 was $2.6 billion with a net loss of $236 million. In the first half of 2020, the company said revenue reached $1.4 billion, while net income was $31 million.
McAfee said it plans use to use a portion of the IPO proceeds to pay down part of its outstanding debt.
Shares in McAfee are due to begin trading on the Nasdaq on Thursday under the symbol “MCFE.”
Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, TPG Capital BD, BofA Securities and Citigroup are the lead underwriters for the offering.
Reporting by Chibuike Oguh in New York; Editing by Christopher Cushing
Tesla sets revenue record, makes profit thanks to pollution credit sales to rivals
(Reuters) - Tesla Inc on Wednesday reported its fifth consecutive quarterly profit on record revenue of $8.8 billion, boosted by an uptick in vehicle deliveries and sales of environmental regulatory credits to other automakers.
The electric car maker also affirmed its target to deliver half a million vehicles by the end of this year, a goal that will require it to significantly ramp up vehicle sales in the fourth quarter.
Shares were up 2.5% at $433.88 in extended trade as the carmaker beat analysts’ estimates.
Tesla said it had the capacity installed to produce and deliver 500,000 vehicles this year, but added that achieving its goal has become more difficult.
“Achieving this target depends primarily on quarter over quarter increases in Model Y and Shanghai production,” the company said.
Asked by an analyst during a conference call whether Tesla aimed to deliver 840,000 to 1 million vehicles next year, based on its factories’ current maximum capacity, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk responded the target was “in that vicinity,” while another Tesla executive said the company would provide guidance next quarter.
Tesla has defied a downward trend in the wider auto industry in 2020 and bucked a pandemic and economic upheaval with steady sales and profitable quarters, sending shares up around 400% this year.
At $394.5 billion, Tesla’s market capitalization has become the largest among all global automakers, despite the company trailing rivals in sales, revenue and profit.
Tesla’s ascent highlights investor confidence in the future of electric vehicles and the company’s shift from niche carmaker to global leader in clean cars.
But Craig Irwin, an analyst with Roth Capital Partners, cautioned that Tesla’s lead could soon narrow.
“The company is still valued incredibly richly, like it’s operating in a vacuum, yet competitors are working furiously to catch up,” he said, referring to more than 400 new electric vehicle models scheduled to hit the roads by 2024.
General Motors Co on Wednesday revealed an electric version of its Hummer pickup truck that will compete with Tesla’s futuristic Cybertruck, which is scheduled to go into production next year.
Musk on Wednesday said Cybertruck orders will be delivered in 2022, or toward the end of 2021 the earliest.
Tesla in September outlined plans to cut battery production costs by producing larger cells in-house to power a growing fleet, including heavier, more energy-intense vehicles.
But Musk on Wednesday said the company would not depend on internal cell production before 2022, suggesting that Tesla will continue to rely on its external battery suppliers Panasonic Corp, LG Chem and CATL.
He also said Tesla would roll out what it calls “Full Self Driving” more widely by the end of this year. Tesla on Wednesday launched the feature for an undisclosed number of “expert, careful” drivers in a pilot launch.
Musk has been promising fully autonomous features for several years and Tesla buyers can pay $8,000 in hopes of eventually receiving the upgrade.
Safety groups have criticized the term “Full Self Driving” as dangerously misleading, with the system expected to be capable of functioning only in limited-use cases.
Revenue rose to a record $8.77 billion from $6.30 billion a year earlier. Analysts had expected revenue of $8.36 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Excluding items, Tesla posted a profit of 76 cents per share. It reported net income of $331 million, or $874 million excluding stock-based compensation awards given to Musk.
Revenue from the sale of regulatory credits made up $397 million. Without that revenue, Tesla would not have achieved a profitable quarter.
So far this year, regulatory credits account for $1.18 billion, or 7% of total automotive revenue.
Pollution credits became a more meaningful source of revenue for Tesla about a year ago when California and other U.S. states increased the mandatory share of zero-emission vehicles sold per manufacturer. As competitors begin selling more electric vehicles, that revenue is expected to dry up.
With recovery in the United States sluggish and Europe struggling with a second bout of the virus outbreak, some analysts have pinned their hopes for Tesla on growth on China, which has begun to recover as consumers shake off the pandemic’s effects.
Tesla does not break out regional sales, but data from China’s auto industry association, CPCA, showed Tesla Model 3 sedan sales remained roughly flat from July to September. Overall, Tesla sold around 34,100 Shanghai-made Model 3s in the third quarter.
Tesla on Wednesday said Model 3 production at its Shanghai plant has increased to 250,000 vehicles a year, its targeted production rate.
Its main factory in Fremont, California, has a capacity of 590,000 vehicles, including the Model Y.
The carmaker said it would focus on improving manufacturing cost and efficiency and increase capacity as quickly as possible.
Tesla is building additional vehicle and battery plants in Berlin, Germany, and Austin, Texas, to ramp up production of existing vehicles and launch new models, including its Cybertruck and Semi truck.
Production at the German factory is expected to start in 2021.