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Wednesday, January 27, 2021
After years in development, Jeff Bezos' private space company Blue Origin aims to carry its first passengers on a ride to the edge of space in a few months. Blue Origin on Thursday completed the fourteenth test flight of its New Shepard rocket booster and capsule. Called NS-14, the successful test flight featured the debut of a new booster and an upgraded capsule. Beyond the upgrades, CNBC has learned that NS-14 also marked one of the last remaining steps before Blue Origin flies its first crew to space. The flight was the first of two "stable configuration" test flights, people familiar with Blue Origin's plans told CNBC. Stable configuration means that the company plans to avoid making major changes between this flight and the next. Additionally, those people said that Blue Origin aims to launch the second test flight within six weeks, or by late February, and the first crewed flight six weeks after that, or by early April. Blue Origin's next flight, NS-15, will also include a test of loading and unloading the crew, the people said. The company declined CNBC's request for comment on its plans for New Shepard. An ambitious timeline
Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple, speaks at the 2019 Dreamforce conference in San Francisco on November 19, 2019. David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images Apple's board of directors regularly discusses antitrust risks, the company said on Tuesday in an annual filing. The language, which is new in this year's proxy statement, highlights how regulatory pressure and antitrust issues have become a significant risk for Apple as policymakers increasingly scrutinize big technology companies. Apple doesn't have the same antitrust issues that rival companies such as Facebook and Google have, but Apple CEO Tim Cook testified alongside their CEOs in front of Congress last summer about antitrust topics. Cook later said he wanted to "unpeel" Apple from the investigation. The new passage reads as follows: "The Audit Committee and Board regularly review and discuss with management Apple's antitrust risks. Apple's Antitrust Compliance Officer is responsible for the development, review, and execution of Apple's Antitrust Compliance Program and regularly reports to the Audit Committee. These reports cover, among other matters, the alignment of the program with Apple's potential antitrust risks, and the effectiveness of the program's
Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Jamie Dimon. CNBC Haven, the joint venture formed by three of America's most powerful companies to lower costs and improve outcomes in health care, is disbanding after three years, CNBC has learned exclusively. The company began informing employees Monday that it will shut down by the end of next month, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. Many of the Boston-based firm's 57 workers are expected to be placed at Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway or JPMorgan Chase as the firms each individually push forward in their efforts, and the three companies are still expected to collaborate informally on healthcare projects, the people said. The announcement three years ago that the CEOs of Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase had teamed up to tackle one of the biggest problems facing corporate America – high and rising costs for employee health care  – sent shock waves throughout the world of medicine. Shares of healthcare companies tumbled on fears about how the combined might of leaders in technology and finance could wring costs out of the system. The move to shutter Haven may be
Curve CEO and founder Shachar Bialick. Curve LONDON — British financial technology firm Curve announced Tuesday that it's raised $95 million to fuel an expansion into the United States. Founded in 2015, Curve is among a flood of upstarts in Europe that have gained a following among mainly younger consumers in the last few years thanks to their online-only banking services. Unlike digital challenger banks such as Revolut and Monzo, which offer checking accounts via an app, Curve combines all of a customer's debit and credit cards into one platform and a linked "smart" card they can use for payments. The firm's app has a feature called "Go Back in Time" that lets users change the account they paid with after making a transaction. Curve's latest funding round, its Series C, was led by IDC Ventures, Fuel Venture Capital and Vulcan Capital, the investment house of late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. American lender OneMain Financial and Novum Capital also invested. "Despite the challenges Covid created for many businesses, we've seen great growth and are delivering on many of our targets," Curve CEO and founder Shachar Bialick told
Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit, with a rocket under the wing of a modified Boeing 747 jetliner, takes off for a key drop test of its high-altitude launch system for satellites from Mojave, California, July 10, 2019. Mike Blake | Reuters Virgin Orbit, the rocket company founded by billionaire Richard Branson, successfully put its first satellites into space using its novel air launch system. The California-headquartered company said that 10 mini-satellites had been carried into space by the same rocket, which was launched from the wing of an old Boeing 747 jumbo jet as it flew over the Pacific Ocean. The jet, nicknamed Cosmic Girl, took off from Mojave Air and Space Port at approximately 10:50 a.m. PST on Sunday. Almost 60 minutes later, it dropped the "LauncherOne" rocket about 50 miles south of the California Channel Islands at a height of 35,000 feet. After release, the rocket engine ignited, accelerating LauncherOne into space at speeds of up to 17,500 miles per hour. Just over an hour later, at an altitude of 500 km, it deployed 10 shoebox-sized satellites, which were developed by universities and selected by NASA.
Fifty and twenty pounds bank notes and a bitcoin logo are seen in this photo illustration. Omar Marques | SOPA Images | LightRocket via Getty Images LONDON — Thinking of investing in a cryptocurrency? Be prepared to lose all your money. That's the message from the U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority, which on Monday warned investments and lending products related to crypto come with "very high risks." "The FCA is aware that some firms are offering investments in cryptoassets, or lending or investments linked to cryptoassets, that promise high returns," the financial services regulator said. "If consumers invest in these types of product, they should be prepared to lose all their money." The warning from the FCA comes amid wild volatility in the cryptocurrency market. Bitcoin and other virtual currencies plunged on Monday, wiping off some $170 billion from the total value of all cryptocurrencies combined. Bitcoin surged to new records last week, climbing as high as $41,973. Investors increasingly view the digital asset as a hedge against inflation — similar to gold — in times of unprecedented stimulus from governments. But bitcoin's wild rise
SpaceX founder Elon Musk looks on at a post-launch news conference after the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carrying the Crew Dragon spacecraft, lifted off on an uncrewed test flight to the International Space Station from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, March 2, 2019. Mike Blake | Reuters Armchairs in the shape of avocados and baby daikon radishes wearing tutus are among the quirky images created by a new piece of software from OpenAI, an Elon Musk-backed artificial intelligence lab in San Francisco. OpenAI trained the software, known as Dall-E, to generate images from short text captions. It specifically used a dataset of 12 billion images and their captions, which were found on the internet. The lab said Dall-E — a portmanteau of Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali and Wall-E, a small animated robot from the Pixar movie of the same name — had learned how to create images for a wide range of concepts. OpenAI showed off some of the results in a blog post published on Tuesday. "We've found that it [Dall-E] has a diverse set of capabilities, including creating anthropomorphized versions of
A woman plays at the stand of Xbox during the media day of the Gamescom video games trade fair in Cologne, western Germany, on August 20, 2019. Ina Fassbender | AFP via Getty Images Israeli mobile game developer Playtika is poised to debut on the Nasdaq on Friday with a market cap of over $11 billion. For investors looking to get in on the gaming boom, the IPO marks their first shot in what is shaping up to be a busy year. Playtika, known for its popular casino games, will be followed by kids game site Roblox, which is slated to go public in February. Gaming conglomerate AppLovin has reportedly hired bankers to prepare for a public listing in early 2021, and other high-valued developers like Niantic, Scopely and Jam City are potentially in the pipeline. The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 accelerated what was already a rapid shift to mobile gaming, fueled by a flood of powerful smartphones and tablets into the mainstream and a hefty investment by carriers into faster networks. According to research group SensorTower, the mobile game market grew 26% last year to $79.6
Nio may not be a recognizable name in the US, but it is becoming a leading player in China's EV market. But the company has had its fair share of problems along the way. Nio has racked up over $6 billion in costs since starting in 2014 and was on the brink of collapse in 2020. But it has managed to turn that around and become the world's 4th most valuable automaker. Despite setbacks due to the coronavirus pandemic, the company has continued to grow. In the third quarter of 2020, it reached $628 million in sales and delivered up to 12,206 vehicles. However, the company still has a long way to go before it can dominate the Chinese auto market. Watch the video to learn about Nio's impressive rebound and whether the automaker can become the Tesla of China.
Getty Images Google employee's newly formed Alphabet Workers Union said it is concerned about Google's decision to lock senior AI ethics researcher Margaret Mitchell out of her account. Google locked her out after it found she was downloading material related to Timnit Gebru, another AI ethics researcher who was forced to leave the company last month. The news was first reported Wednesday by Axios, which said Google was investigating Mitchell's recent actions. Mitchell was reportedly using automated scripts to look through her messages to find examples of discriminatory treatment of Gebru. "The Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) is concerned by the suspension of the corporate access of Margaret Mitchell, AWU member and lead of the Ethical AI team," the union said in a statement. "This suspension comes on the heels of Google's firing of former co-lead Timnit Gebru; together these are an attack on the people who are trying to make Google's technology more ethical." Google did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment, but a spokesperson told Axios: "Our security systems automatically lock an employee's corporate account when they detect that the account is
A Goldman Sachs sign is seen on at the company's post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Brendan McDermid | Reuters Goldman Sachs is coming off a banner year in tech investment banking, and now has to call on new leadership to keep up the momentum. The bank on Thursday promoted Sam Britton and Matt Gibson, two company veterans, to run its global tech, media and telecom group after Nick Giovanni, who ran the team for two years, left to become CFO of Instacart. In a year that included three of the 10 biggest IPOs ever for U.S. tech companies and the second-largest software acquisition on record, Goldman advised on all of them. The bank led overall in tech IPOs and mergers and acquisitions, beating Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase in both categories. There's no slowdown in sight, with online lender Affirm and gaming company Roblox on file to go public, along with cloud software vendor Qualtrics, which is spinning out of SAP. Goldman is leading the Roblox deal and listed second to Morgan Stanley on Affirm's prospectus. Instacart is among a lengthy list
In this photo illustration, the Steam application seen displayed on a iPhone. Guillaume Payen | SOPA Images | LightRocket via Getty Images LONDON — European antitrust regulators have fined Valve and five other PC game publishers a total of 7.8 million euros ($9.5 million) over a practice known as "geo-blocking." Valve is most well known as the creator of the popular PC game store Steam. The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, said Wednesday that Valve and other publishers restricted sales of video games based on the geographical location of users. Such practices breach EU competition law. The Commission said these practices were aimed at maintaining certain price differences between eastern and western European countries and blocking users from shopping around in the EU's single market. The publishers include Japanese gaming giants Bandai Namco and Capcom, American firm ZeniMax — which owns the well-known game studio Bethesda Softworks — French developer Focus Home and German group Koch Media. Fines for those publishers were reduced to a maximum of 6 million euros due to their cooperation with EU competition officials, the EU said. However, Valve was