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  1. #1
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    [EN] Implausible unprofitability


    US Ambassador Willam Heidt, front seat, and Uber's Asia Pacific chief business officer Brooks Entwistle, back seat, sit in a Uber car travelling along a street in Phnom Penh. US-based Ube makes its debut in the capital Phnom Penh on September 28.


    Sam Kriss
    Oct 2 2017

    Why not just nationalize Uber? Now that London has finally struck back against an emerging monopoly—one that shows no respect for the safety of its customers or the security of its drivers or the law—why waste time with half measures? Uber has shown that it's not fit to run its own service: Couldn't we, together, do a much better job of it?

    After all, it's not enough to just clamp down on the worst excesses of techno-capitalism, to say that in the interests of fairness and decency we're no longer allowed to have the magic taxi that appears from nowhere, or the meals a computer dreams into your house, or the universal vacation slideshow that makes everyone feel miserable. If a more emancipatory way of doing politics and organizing society is going to succeed, it has to show it can do everything the shadowy Silicon Valley mega firms can do—except better, kinder, less rapaciously, less maliciously, and arriving not like the latest super weapon of some evil Californian genius but out of the collaborative work of hundreds of people trying to build themselves a better world. We could take over Uber's platform and its infrastructure, or build a new one, owned in common by the drivers rather than speeding them frantically across the city to escape a poverty that looms around every corner. And instead of going into the pockets of callous, invisible investors, the incredible surpluses that Uber used to take over the world could go back to the drivers themselves, the ones who made it all possible.

    It's a great idea, and it would probably be a popular one too. But it won't work, and for a very simple reason: There are no incredible surpluses to recapture.

    In its entire history, Uber has never once made a profit. In 2016 alone, the company lost $2.6 billion. The idea that we can nationalize these tech platforms and turn them toward better ends fundamentally misapprehends what these industries are: not a productive capitalism but a necrotising one—not an enterprise that blindly spits out useful objects and transforms surplus value into capital, but one fixated, relentless, and demented on bringing about a state of affairs that would make all our hopes of the common good meaningless for the rest of time.

    Uber isn't alone in its implausible unprofitability. Twitter has also been in the red for its entire existence. So has Spotify. And so has Snapchat, which breezily announced to investors that it expects to be in this condition forever. Facebook took years to work out that its massive user base could be instrumentalized into something that might actually cover its costs. And for most of its history, until very recently, Amazon too was unable to actually make any money—profits were sluggish or nonexistent, even as the company rampaged around the world, eviscerating smaller firms that actually made financial sense, turning shopping in general into a minor feature of the Amazon services constellation.

    These firms don't make money from their actual day-to-day business operations; instead, they suck in venture capital. Let's be honest: The reason you used Uber—and the reason I used it too —is because it was cheap. This is partly because Uber has significant scope to depress wages for its workers, but it's mostly because everyone who pays for Uber is actually enjoying a heavily discounted price. Only 40 percent of the cost of an Uber trip is actually paid for by the rider, while the rest is covered by the large amounts of investor money that's being pumped into the company: This way, Uber can mercilessly crush all competition by undercutting traditional taxi companies on fares.

    This is the way these companies are supposed to work—they run at a loss until they become a virtual monopoly, and hopefully, by the time they dominate the market entirely, they will have found a way to repay their investors. It's what Facebook and Amazon did. And Uber has a plan, too, a particularly unpleasant one. It was never meant to be a taxi firm; this is only its chrysalis. Uber's future most likely lies in financing self-driving cars: It could put down the cost of your car for you, on the condition that after dropping you off at work, your car will be free to roam off elsewhere, picking up other people, watching them with its inbuilt CCTV. Of course, if your car breaks down, you will have to cover the repairs. Uber is planning a world in which nothing belongs to you except the damage.

    This is one explanation. But there's something else simultaneously at work. Uber's investors are losing billions every year; they must be buying something, beyond the promise that everything will work out once there's a self-driving car in every garage and a chip in every brain. You could argue that companies like Uber or Amazon fill a role somewhat similar to that played by the state in more traditional capitalism: Their job isn't to produce a profit by themselves, but to ensure that the relations of production are upheld so that profits can be made elsewhere. Uber's shareholders are buying the world.

    Uber isn't just a company; it's a fully fleshed model for the economic structures emerging throughout the developed world. It breaks the laws of old-fashioned national and local governments with impunity (just watch; London will roll over eventually). Just about every new tech firm has to announce itself in relation to Uber: an Uber for dogs, an Uber for education, an Uber for sadness. It's a machine for processing human relations. We wander blindly in the darkness until an algorithm puts one person in another's car. From then on, all our relations are transactional, and all of them are processed—from tipping to conversation—through Uber's platforms. It's not just a piece of computer technology; it's a social technology, designed to individuate us, to turn us into consumers and entrepreneurs and nothing more, to leave us utterly alone and utterly powerless.

    There have been attempts to adapt Uber's platform to protect less vampiric industries—New York, for instance, has an Uber-like app that allows you to summon a traditional yellow cab. But a workers' co-op version of Uber simply wouldn't be able to compete with the original or its equally unscrupulous imitators (in Austin, Texas, which also banned Uber, another app called Fasten simply moved into its space), because it won't be able to depend on the vast reservoirs of venture capitalist investment. A fully nationalized People's Uber could turn instead to state subsidies—but it would still be reproducing, with every tap on every grease-smeared screen, the conditions for the most rapacious and exploitative capitalism.

    But there's a better alternative. We already have the means to move around a lot of drunk people on a Friday night, one that doesn't depend on icy individuation or the relegation of large sectors of the population to atomized terror. We can return to those years-ago memories of good-natured screaming and banging on windows, the lively stink of vomit and congealing booze, the scratch and flake of woven seat covers, the hypnotic blur of London from four feet in the air. Expanded fleets, unionized jobs. It's time to go home. It's time to go back to the night bus.

    https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/z...urned-a-profit

  2. #2
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    Who can grab the opportunity as Uber’s Asian ride gets bumpy?

    Smaller players such as Singapore-based Grab, the US firm Lyft, India’s Ola, Dubai’s Careem, Brazil’s 99 and the European outfit Taxify all have some form of financial backing from Didi.

    Bhavan Jaipragas
    1 Oct 2017

    As ride-hailing giant Uber struggles with its manifold problems worldwide, regional rivals such as the Southeast Asia-focused Grab are embracing one cardinal rule: don’t gloat just yet.

    Instead, with the titan on the ropes, the smaller players are quietly using the opportunity to expand into new countries and services, consolidating market share wherever possible.

    But even though its chips are down, Uber is unlikely to capitulate in Southeast Asia as it did to Didi Chuxing in China last year.

    Smaller players such as Singapore-based Grab, the US firm Lyft, India’s Ola, Dubai’s Careem, Brazil’s 99 and the European outfit Taxify all have some form of financial backing from Didi.

    Uber’s troubles, however, stem not from a lack of funds, but the Silicon Valley’s “move fast and break things” credo perpetuated by its co-founder and former chief executive Travis Kalanick.

    While the approach propelled the company’s meteoric rise to become the world’s most valuable start-up – worth some US$68 billion – it is also seen as the key reason why it is in the cross hairs of fastidious transport regulators in numerous cities.

    London’s much-publicised decision last week to rescind Uber’s operating licence arose because of the firm’s “lack of corporate responsibility”, city officials said.

    On the other hand, the likes of the US firm Lyft and Grab, first founded in 2012 by two Harvard-educated Malaysians tired of dishonest and unreliable taxi cartels, benefit from a “good guy” image accentuated by Uber’s deep public relations woes, industry analysts say.

    Amid Uber’s impending London ban – set for mid-October unless an appeal succeeds – Lyft is reportedly targeting the British capital as its landing site for international expansion.

    ‘Capitalising on Uber’s struggles’

    “Lyft is capitalising on [Uber’s] struggles in the US, and other competitors around the world are doing the same,” said Chris Jones, the co-founder of the industry consultancy Canalys.

    Grab, which claims to be the top ride-hailing app in Southeast Asia with some 3 million daily users across the region, was wrapping up a US$2.5 billion funding round last month as Uber eased in new chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi following the controversial ousting of Kalanick in June. The capital injection into Grab involved the likes of Softbank, Toyota and Didi, and was the region’s single biggest funding round.

    And this week, while Khosrowshahi racked his brain on how to reverse the London ban, Grab executives were laying the groundwork for an expansion into their eighth country: Cambodia.

    When the app goes live in Phnom Penh, the only three Southeast Asian countries without Grab coverage will be Brunei, Laos and East Timor.

    In Hong Kong this week, Grab co-founder Tan Hooi Ling told This Week in Asia the company was not resting on its laurels.

    The 33-year-old former McKinsey consultant cofounded Grab with Anthony Tan, the scion of a Malaysian automotive empire, while they were at Harvard Business School.

    Tan declined to be drawn into talking about Uber or its troubles with London transport regulators.

    She said Grab treated its relationship with local governments “just like any other long-term relationship”.

    “All parties must be willing to have that open dialogue where it is not ‘hey, whatever you say I agree’,” Tan said, at the sidelines of a business conference.

    She painted a picture of the company’s growth strategy being driven mainly by internal factors.

    Grab’s last major launch – Yangon in March – came just ahead of Uber’s entry into the Myanmar city. Reports this week of Grab’s Cambodia foray meanwhile came as Uber launched its UberX services in Phnom Penh on Thursday. Tan said the response in Myanmar was “much better than expected”.

    “In those five months we are already the leading player there. It doesn’t happen out of nowhere,” she said. “We have a lot of built up know how that we have accumulated over the past five years...that we are now applying in Myanmar”.

    Analysts said the regional rivalry will continue, with the impending London ban for Uber unlikely to impact on the US company’s Southeast Asia strategy.

    “Individual regulators take decisions that impact either individual mobility service providers or the business model overall. But regulatory jurisdictions are limited, and any direct, tangible impact across borders resulting from one individual regulatory decision is likely to be limited,” said Jeremy Carlson, principal analyst for autonomous driving and mobility at IHS Markit.

    Didi and friends

    There had been some talk that Grab’s sheer dominance in Southeast Asia could force Uber to surrender the region to the Southeast Asian company, similar to its deal to sell off its Chinese business to Didi Chuxing last year. In a BBC interview earlier this month, L. Brooks Entwistle, Uber’s newly minted Asia-Pacific chief business officer, extinguished such speculation.

    Asia comprises “20 per cent of rides. There’s a huge percentage of drivers [and] it’s a growth market across the region for us,” Entwistle said. “We need to do what we can to contribute to that. So there’s no exit strategy for Asia.”

    Some commentators view the Grab-Uber battle in Southeast Asia as a proxy fight in a larger struggle for world dominance between Didi and Uber. Still, the two companies do not openly characterise each other as rivals – they hold stakes in each other following last year’s US$7 billion deal.

    But there are implicit signs that buttress suggestions of a rivalry between Uber, the number one player in the ride-hailing space, and Didi, the firm number two. Didi is worth about US$50 billion.

    With the impending proliferation of autonomous or “self-driving” vehicles, Goldman Sachs estimated the global market is likely to balloon to US$285 billion by 2030, more than twice the value of the current conventional taxi industry.

    Markus Villig, founder of the Estonia-based Taxify, said earlier this month that the app was launching in London as “Didi is making sure that Uber will not dominate”.

    And in July when Didi announced its investment in Grab, founder and chief executive Cheng Wei put on display his partisanship, describing the Singapore-based firm as having “clear leadership in Southeast Asia’s internet economy”.

    http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/articl...ide-gets-bumpy

  3. #3
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    Two rights at Uber in danger of making a wrong

    Robert Cyran
    October 2, 2017

    Two rights at Uber are in danger of making a wrong. Travis Kalanick’s newly appointed directors add useful expertise to a flawed board. And the effort by incumbents to limit the ousted founder’s power as part of a deal to raise capital from SoftBank also makes sense. Both stand to lose, though, if they dig in too firmly against each other.

    Kalanick stepped aside this summer as chief executive after a series of scandals, but he is still a force at the ride-hailing firm last valued at nearly $70 billion. A fresh attempt to shrink Kalanick’s influence prompted him to trigger his ability to install two additional board members. He picked former Xerox boss Ursula Burns and John Thain, who used to run Merrill Lynch and the New York Stock Exchange.

    Uber could use their skills. The board is overstocked with early investors and short on big-company experience. Burns not only adds needed diversity but knows a thing or two about distressed tech goliaths with recognizable brands. Thain brings with him some baggage, including having spent $1.2 million of shareholder money redecorating his Merrill office, but his banking and markets know-how could prove valuable as Uber sputters toward a potential initial public offering in 2019.

    Amid broader shake-ups that include new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber is also trying to freshen up its governance. Moving to a one-share, one-vote system, as is under discussion, would be preferable. Preferred holders, such as venture-capital firm Benchmark, and Class B owners with super-voting stock like Kalanick, are currently in direct conflict and can nearly veto important actions such as accepting new investments.

    It wouldn’t be surprising to see Kalanick’s directors oppose measures being considered. For one thing, Kalanick would need two-thirds support from investors and directors to return as CEO. The company also would be allowed to expand the board if more than one-third, but less than half, voted in favor of an IPO.

    Since directors are already suing each other, it’s conceivable that investors could go to court to remove Kalanick’s appointees and that continued dysfunction prevents important reforms from being enacted. That might deter new money and further hurt Uber’s valuation. Compromise would prevent a costly collision course.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-u...-idUSKCN1C72OX

  4. #4
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    Robotaxis

    The most expensive part of driving is the human

    Jim Edwards
    Oct. 1, 2017

    ...

    Uber is already working on its driverless future. On September 28 the company published a patent application for an "autonomous vehicle communication configuration system" that will allow a central command to monitor multiple vehicles, none of which have drivers.

    There is a relentless logic to it.

    In a research note published by UBS on "the mass adoption of robotaxis" last week, analyst David Lesne and his team noted that in any transport system — private car, public transit, or Uber — the most expensive part is the person doing the driving.

    Driving to work in a private car imposes an average daily commuting cost on the owner of €24 per day (about $24), UBS says. In a world of robotaxis, with no need to buy a car, that cost falls to €7.2 per day. "Getting rid of their private car would enable the shared mobility user to travel about 10,000km per year in a robotaxi and save €5,000 per year," UBS calculates:

    "Robotaxis will likely price-compete with mass-transit systems. The shift towards electric autonomous vehicles, combined with more advanced fleet optimization and servicing platforms, next-generation traffic management and more intense competition, should reduce the fee charged to passengers of robotaxis by as much as 80% versus a ride-on-demand trip today. The technology to make robotaxis a reality is already available. In this new paradigm, owning a private car will cost almost twice as much as using robotaxis regularly."

    That is an extraordinary thought: An Uber ride that costs £10 today — already roughly half the price of a back cab — might cost only £2 in a few years' time, UBS says. The cost of providing cars without drivers might be so small that companies could offer rides for free, UBS speculates, and make money on the advertising inside them.

    That is a real problem if you're an Uber driver.

    The smart money says that in the short-term Uber will successfully challenge the ban and reach a compromise that will allow it to operate without interruption. The real threat to Uber drivers comes from Uber itself, and its long-term plan to get rid of all drivers. (Former CEO Travis Kalanick told Business Insider this was the plan back in 2016.)

    And it's not just 40,000 Uber drivers.

    The scale of the jobs carnage will be vast

    Any job that involves a human behind a wheel will be threatened in the next 20 years.

    The scale of the carnage in the jobs market will be vast. It's not just drivers. It is any job where artificial intelligence can do it cheaper than a human. The research team at Morgan Stanley sent a note to clients last week that calculated some of those savings (i.e. job losses):

    • Annual salary of a regulated financial institution IT operations worker in New York: $70-80,000.
    • Annual licence fee for a robot doing the equivalent work of up to five humans $8-11,000.


    Morgan Stanley says 90% of factory jobs and 50% of office jobs are at risk of disappearing in Europe and the US:

    "... not only the jobs with routine/repetitive tasks are at a high risk of automation (up to 90% we estimate) but AI also puts jobs involving cognitive skills at risk although the probability is lower at up to 40%. We estimate that 50% of the US/European white collar jobs (including office and clerical jobs) are at the risk of automation. We think it is unlikely that job losses would reach this level given that this is a long-term forecast (we assume only c.16% penetration by 2022) and new skills and jobs will be created over time. However, it is clear that some jobs will be permanently lost, which should impact staffing revenue and earnings growth."

    ...

    http://www.businessinsider.com/the-l...ss-cars-2017-9

  5. #5
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    Pivot to pennies

    Facebook’s key video ad program isn’t delivering much money to publishers

    Sahil Patel
    October 2, 2017

    Six months in, Facebook’s test of mid-roll ad breaks within live and on-demand videos is driving scant revenue for publishers.

    Five publishers participating in Facebook’s mid-roll ads test, which began in March, said the product isn’t generating much money. One publisher said its Facebook-monetized videos had an average CPM of 15 cents. A second publisher, which calculated ad rates based on video views that lasted long enough to reach the ad break, said the average CPM for its mid-rolls is 75 cents. (Facebook’s mid-roll ads don’t show up inside videos in the first 20 seconds, which means many three-second video views aren’t “monetized views.”)

    A third publisher made roughly $500 from more than 20 million total video views on that page in September.* (This publisher had not calculated its CPM, as its total video view count includes videos that were not monetized by Facebook mid-rolls.) A fourth publisher confirmed revenue was low without giving specifics. (A fifth publisher, when asked about its Facebook mid-roll CPMs, responded by texting lyrics to Flo Rida’s “Low.”)

    All six publishers Digiday interviewed for this story generate hundreds of millions of views per month on Facebook.

    “They are paying literal pennies in CPMs,” said the first publishing source. “They are only paying if a view gets to the 20-second mark and the user consumes the ad. But if Facebook is counting views at 3 seconds, the majority of the views are not going to quality. If you got a million views on a piece of content, maybe 100,000 of them would actually get to the mid-roll.”

    Facebook’s CPMs for its ad breaks are industry competitive, according to a Facebook source.

    Facebook declined to comment on the record.

    There’s some difficulty in assessing how many video views are being monetized by Facebook mid-rolls, which can account for the discrepancy between the CPMs calculated by publishers and the CPMs at which Facebook is pricing and selling its mid-roll ads. Facebook’s Insights panel tells publishers how much revenue they’re making on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, as well as how much revenue individual videos are bringing in. But it’s unclear how many of the video views are monetized since it’s not entirely certain how often Facebook runs the mid-roll ads on an individual video. This forces publishers to manually calculate inexact CPMs. The fact still remains: Revenue is low.

    Using a spreadsheet delivered through Dropbox, Facebook also provides publishing partners with raw data on its mid-roll test, which includes information such as the total number of videos that were monetized, according to publishing sources. In one of these reports that Digiday reviewed, Facebook did not appear to say how much money these videos were making or how many views were monetized, a data point that rival YouTube provides.

    “We have about a couple dozen videos that are actually getting monetized, but it’s tough to pick out which videos had the ad breaks and make sense of all the data,” said the third publishing source.

    Some of this will get easier soon as Facebook plans to offer a CPM metric in the coming weeks or months, according to a source familiar with Facebook’s plans.

    Facebook’s mid-roll test itself is still in its testing phase, which helps explain the limited results these publishers are seeing so far. According to one publishing source, Facebook tests every eligible video by running ads to a small set of users. In this test, only videos that successfully get 70 percent of users to watch through the ad breaks will get monetized more broadly, which means only a small number of videos are getting monetized. Facebook denied this practice.

    One challenge is that Facebook News Feed video is not the best format for mid-roll ads. Users are typically scrolling by, which means many don’t even get to the ad break, and for those that do, an ad break is enough to convince them to move on to the next post in the News Feed, publishing sources argued. Naturally, it’s causing frustration.

    “[News Feed video] is a terrible format; it’s a bad user experience because everyone abandons once the ad hits,” said the first publishing source.

    Not all publishers are down on the mid-roll ads test. As Digiday previously reported, distributed-media publishers that have a lot of scale on Facebook are seeing more revenue. In a previous example, one publisher said a video with 24 million three-second views was able to bring in $11,000 after Facebook’s 45 percent cut — which is still only a net 46-cent CPM.

    A sixth publishing source also claimed that while there was a “significant dip” in CPMs a few months after Facebook started testing mid-roll ads — likely due to more publishers being invited into the program — revenue has started to pick back up in the last month or so. “It seems to be correcting in a positive direction,” said this source.

    Part of the frustrations these mid-roll publishers have goes back to the revenue-sharing terms Facebook made with them to license their video in the first place. These publishers are getting paid licensing fees by Facebook to produce a minimum number of video minutes per month. Under these deals, Facebook keeps all of the ad revenue it makes from the mid-roll ads until it recoups the licensing fees, after which Facebook would take 45 cents of every additional dollar made. Facebook’s funding of original shows for Watch comes with similar terms.

    If Facebook mid-rolls are bringing in a low CPM, it means publishing partners are even more unlikely to see any additional dollars for their content anytime soon.

    It’s not all doom and gloom. Some publishers are optimistic about the possibilities of mid-roll ads in Watch. Since Facebook is incentivizing publishers to produce longer videos and is funding longer-form shows for Watch, the thinking is that the fledgling video-viewing section could create an environment where mid-roll ads can work.

    When Facebook unveiled Watch in August, the company said it will experiment with mid-roll ads inside Watch with a limited set of partners, with plans to expand that to more partners and shows over time.

    “What Facebook has to figure out is how to get enough viewership so that — whether it’s mid-rolls, pre-rolls or a straight licensing fee — there’s enough money on the table for both Facebook and publishers,” said the second publishing source. “I think they’re on the right track with Watch, which is about creating artificial scarcity.”

    But even with Watch, Facebook eventually wants to move to an ad revenue-sharing model instead of having to fund the content itself. That might not be great for publishers because the revenue would be less certain. As the second publishing source wondered aloud: “It’s an interesting universe a year from now if Facebook is not priming the pump for publishers, and enough publishers make the decision that there’s no economic value in publishing to Facebook.”

    https://digiday.com/media/facebooks-...or-publishers/

  6. #6
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    DEUTSCHE BANK: GM could release a self driving car 'within quarters, not years'

    Seth Archer
    Oct. 2, 2017

    "General Motors' autonomous vehicles will be ready for commercial deployment, without human drivers, much sooner than widely expected (within quarters, not years)," Rod Lache, an analyst at Deutsche Bank said in an Oct. 1 note to clients.

    Lache also noted that additional businesses built off GM's new autonomous car, like a ride-hailing service akin to Uber, "will ramp much faster than is widely expected," and the Mobility business is a good candidate for a spinoff that could attract growth-seeking investors. Lache based his predictions on conversations with GM executives, who seem confident in their product, he said.

    This prediction is surprising, and would likely put GM as the first company to market with a fully autonomous vehicle. Lache said that GM's upcoming vehicle could be fully autonomous in "complex urban environments without a human backup driver."

    The company is close to this major milestone thanks to its strong artificial intelligence foundation, gained through an acquisition of Cruise Automation as well as the development of GM's in-house capabilities.

    If Lache's prediction is correct about the soon to come release of the autonomous vehicle, GM could leverage its manufacturing prowess to enhance its first-mover advantage. Lache said company executives agreed with his prediction for a large scale commercial operation by 2020.

    While the company could sell their autonomous cars to individual consumers, Lache said GM is working on its own ride-hailing service that would utilize the new vehicles. The service could be highly disruptive to Uber and Lyft, and could lead to a natural monopoly in major cities according to Lache.

    The autonomous cars would be electric, which extends the lifespan of the cars significantly. Lache predicted a lifespan of about 210,000 miles for the new vehicles but revised his estimate to 400,000-1,000,000 miles after talking with GM executives. This would translate to cost savings in a future ride-hailing service, as maintenance costs would be lower for than traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.

    Eventually, the growth potential of the new vehicles and associated services would be a good fit for a spin-off company Lache said. The move would unlock value for GM's shareholders and would allow investors attracted to the growth potential of the new company to invest more easily in the company.

    "We are seeking to avoid hyperbole in discussing the implications for GM’s stock. But clearly, the opportunity is very large," Lache wrote. He rates the company a Buy with a price target of $51.00.


    http://markets.businessinsider.com/n...-10-1002917595



    2017-10-03

    GM’s stock hit a record high after the largest U.S. automaker detailed plans for robotaxis and 20 new electric cars. It raises the bar for Ford CEO Jim Hackett. His new strategy needs concrete goals, especially on driverless vehicles and cost controls, to protect its premium to GM.
    Última edição por 5ms; 03-10-2017 às 16:06.

  7. #7
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    EU to tell Amazon to pay Luxembourg back taxes

    The EU competition enforcer estimated a tax bill of about 400 million euros a year ago.

    Foo Yun Chee
    October 3, 2017

    EU regulators are expected to order Amazon on Wednesday to pay Luxebourg millions of euros in back taxes, a person familiar with the matter said, the latest global company to be hit by an EU crackdown on unfair tax deals.

    The European Commission ruling wraps up a three-year long investigation into whether Amazon received an unfair advantage based on a 2003 Luxembourg tax ruling which allows an Amazon subsidiary to pay less tax there than other companies.

    The EU competition enforcer estimated a tax bill of about 400 million euros a year ago, two people familiar with the matter had told Reuters at the time. A revised figure is likely to be issued following discussions with other departments in the Commission.

    Commission spokesman Ricardo Cardoso and Amazon declined to comment.

    The Amazon ruling will come on the same day as the Commission unveils changes to the way sales taxes are levied in the European Union with the aim of tackling fraud and curbing companies’ excessive tax-planning.

    The EU competition authority said in 2014 the Amazon subsidiary paid a tax deductible royalty to a Luxembourg-based limited liability partnership which was not subject to the country’s tax regime. It said the royalty was not in line with market rates.

    Amazon revamped its European tax practices in 2015 so that it can book sales and pay taxes in Britain, Germany, Spain and Italy instead of channeling all sales through Luxembourg where it is headquartered, a move which may raise its tax bill.

    Fastfood chain McDonald’s and French energy company Engie are next in the EU crosshairs over their Luxembourg tax deals.

    IPhone maker Apple has already been ordered to pay back arrears of up to 13 billion euros to Ireland, coffee chain Starbucks up to 30 million euros to the Dutch authorities and a similar amount for Fiat Chrysler to Luxembourg.

    At least 35 companies, among them Anheuser-Busch InBev ABI.B, BP and BASF ASFn.DE have been told to pay back taxes of about 700 million euros to Belgium because of their participation in an illegal tax scheme.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-eu...-idUSKCN1C827P

  8. #8
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    EU orders Amazon to repay €250 million in Luxembourg back taxes

    Robert-Jan Bartunek
    October 4, 2017

    Amazon on Wednesday was told to pay about 250 million euros in back taxes to Luxembourg, the latest U.S. tech company to be caught up in a European Union crackdown on unfair tax deals.

    The fine was much lower than some sources close to the case had expected and is only a fraction of the 13 billion euros that Apple Inc APPL.O was ordered to pay to Ireland last year.

    EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who has other big U.S. tech companies in her sights, has taken a tough line on multinational companies’ approach to tax.

    “Luxembourg gave illegal tax benefits to Amazon. As a result, almost three quarters of Amazon’s profits were not taxed,” Vestager said.

    Amazon said it was considering an appeal.

    “We believe that Amazon did not receive any special treatment from Luxembourg and that we paid tax in full accordance with both Luxembourg and international tax law,” Amazon said in a statement after the announcement.

    Though the EU has taken on several U.S. tech companies, both in antitrust and in tax avoidance cases, Vestager said that her approach was not biased against foreign companies

    “This is about competition in Europe, no matter your flag, no matter you ownership,” Vestager said.

    She also welcomed the debate kicked off by French President Emmanuel Macron who called for more integrated corporate tax regimes in Europe, aiming to close the loopholes used to reduce tax bills.

    The Commission said the exact amount of tax to be reclaimed from Amazon would still need to be calculated by Luxembourg authorities.

    The 250 million euros is significantly less than the 400 million euros which sources close to the matter told Reuters a year ago was under consideration by Vestager.

    The Commission said Luxembourg allowed Amazon to channel a significant portion of its profits to a holding company without paying tax. The holding company was allowed to do this because it held certain intellectual property rights.

    “The Commission’s investigation showed that the level of the royalty payments, endorsed by the tax ruling, was inflated and did not reflect economic reality,” the Commission said in a statement.

    Amazon, which employs 1,500 in the grand duchy, is one of the biggest employers in the country of half a million people. The U.S. company, which has a Europe-wide staff of some 50,000, in 2016 made a $2.4 billion profit on global revenues of $136 billion.

    Amazon’s corporate set up with subsidies in Luxembourg construction was also subject of a $1.5 billion court case with U.S. tax authorities, which Amazon won in March.

    Luxembourg, whose tiny economy has benefited from providing a European base for multinational companies, rejected the finding and said it was looking at its legal options.

    European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was prime minister of Luxembourg for almost two decades until 2013 and has been criticized for his role in enabling the many tax deals which are now being unraveled. He denies doing anything wrong and says the Commission is committed to ensuring fair taxation.

    In 2014, Luxembourg made international headlines in the wake of the publication of “LuxLeaks”, documents which showed how large accounting firms helped multinational companies channel proceeds through the country while paying little or no tax.

    Luxembourg is also under EU scrutiny over tax deals with fast food chain McDonald’s and French energy company Engie. Luxembourg has appealed against a ruling in 2015 that carmaker Fiat should pay it back taxes. As well as Ireland, tax for multinationals in Belgium and the Netherlands have also come under Commission scrutiny.

    Vestager also said on Wednesday that she was taking the Irish government to court for failing to recoup the taxes from Apple which she had ordered over a year ago.

    Amazon revamped its European tax practices in 2015 so that it can book sales and pay taxes in Britain, Germany, Spain and Italy instead of channeling all sales through Luxembourg where it is headquartered, a move which may raise its tax bill.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-eu...-idUSKCN1C913S

  9. #9
    WHT-BR Top Member
    Data de Ingresso
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    18,473

    Shopify slides after Citron criticizes marketing business model

    13-year-old Shopify, which has a market cap of over $11 billion, has yet to turn a profit.

    Solarina Ho
    October 4, 2017

    Shopify Inc shares fell over 11 percent on Wednesday after short-seller Citron Research said the stock of the Canadian provider of online retailing software was overvalued, according to traders and analysts.

    Citron’s Andrew Left criticized the company’s marketing practices in a report, saying that it used a network of affiliates to promote its services.

    He set a price target of $60. The stock, which had been trading near all-time highs recently, was trading at $103.7 in New York and C$129.5 in Toronto.

    Representatives with 13-year-old Shopify, which has a market cap of over $11 billion and has yet to turn a profit, could not be immediately reached by phone or email for comment.

    In the past, Shopify has said partners are an important part of its business, and while it “can not expect every single merchant to succeed, we are confident that Shopify gives merchants the best chance at success.”

    In its last quarterly report, it said it has more than half a million merchants using its software, including major brands like Visa Inc and BuzzFeed.

    Trading volume was about five times its 90-day average in the United States and about double in Toronto.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-sh...-idUSKBN1C92JI

  10. #10
    WHT-BR Top Member
    Data de Ingresso
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    18,473

    Tesla fires hundreds from headquarters, factory

    The maker of luxury electric vehicles, battery storage and solar roofs has failed to post an annual profit even as its stock has soared on promises of revolutionary products. About 450,000 customers have placed $1,000 deposits for the Model 3 but the company manufactured only 260 last quarter.


    Louis Hansen
    October 13, 2017

    Tesla fired hundreds of workers this week, including engineers, managers and factory workers, even as the company struggles to expand its manufacturing and product line.

    The dismissals come at a crucial point for the company, which is pushing to increase vehicle production five-fold and reach a broader market with its new Model 3 sedan. The electric vehicle maker missed targets for producing the lower-cost sedan, manufacturing only 260 last quarter despite a wait list of more than 450,000 customers.

    The company said this week’s dismissals were the result of a company-wide annual review, and insisted they were not layoffs. Some workers received promotions and bonuses, and the company expects to hire for the “vast majority” of new vacancies, a spokesman said.

    “As with any company, especially one of over 33,000 employees, performance reviews also occasionally result in employee departures,” a spokesman said. “Tesla is continuing to grow and hire new employees around the world.”

    In multiple interviews, former and current employees told this news organization little or no warning preceded the dismissals. The workers interviewed include trained engineers working on vehicle design and production, a supervisor and factory employees.

    Workers estimated between 400 and 700 employees have been fired. Tesla refused to say how many employees were let go, although the company expects employee turnover to be similar to last year’s attrition.

    The spokesman said most of the dismissals were administrative and sales positions, and outside of manufacturing. Tesla employs about 10,000 workers at its Fremont factory.

    Workers spoke on the condition of anonymity because they feared reprisals from the company. Employees said the firings have lowered morale through many departments. Several said Model X, Model S and former SolarCity operations seemed to be targeted.

    Juan Maldonado, a production worker, felt the tap on his shoulder on Thursday. He worked at Tesla for nearly four years, and said he heard about 60 other workers in his section of the factory were dismissed.

    Maldonado, 48, said he ran late for work twice in recent months, but thought he had straightened things out with his supervisor. Now, he said, “I’m going to try to find a job.”

    CEO Elon Musk said factory output will increase production to a half-million electric vehicles in 2018. The company expects to deliver about 100,000 vehicles this year.

    Musk has told investors the company is focused on Model 3 production and expects to eventually build 10,000 cars a week. The manufacturing will become highly automated, but Musk told investors during the early ramp up he expected high overtime costs.

    He also joked to employees they would be going through “production hell” to meet demand for the new car. The company said recently a manufacturing bottleneck caused it to fall far short of its goal to produce 1,500 Model 3s in the quarter.

    The company has also started to cut some former SolarCity operations, which were acquired by Tesla last year. In August, Tesla told state regulators it would layoff 63 workers in Roseville, including sales and administrative staff. Tesla lost $336 million in the second quarter.

    This week’s dismissals have not been reported to the state Employment Development Department, a spokeswoman said. The state generally requires companies to report layoffs of more than 50 employees in a 30-day period.

    Tesla said the performance-based departures were not considered layoffs and not subject to state notifications. It also said the moves have generally boosted worker morale, as high-performing employees have been rewarded.

    The clean energy company — maker of luxury electric vehicles, battery storage and solar roofs — has failed to post an annual profit even as its stock has soared on promises of revolutionary products. About 450,000 customers have placed $1,000 deposits for the Model 3.

    Tesla has faced ongoing discontent from some factory workers, who have complained about work conditions and wages below the auto industry average.

    Tesla has a hearing before the National Labor Relations Board in November for charges that company supervisors and security guards harassed workers distributing union literature. Tesla denied the accusations.

    Openly pro-union workers were among those fired this week. Some believe they were targeted.

    The company denied union activities played a role in the dismissals.

    Michael Harley, managing editor at Kelley Blue Book and Autotrader, thought the dismissals could be an effort to improve vehicle production.

    “It’s no secret that Tesla’s Model 3 development and ramp-up for production has been derailed,” Harley said. “A major change in staff – whether dismissal or layoff – is an indication that there is an upper level movement to put the train back on the tracks.”

    http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/10/13/4819750/

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