Amazon plans hundreds of job cuts in shift to faster growing areas


( via– Tue, 13 Feb 2018) London, Uk —

The cuts in its consumer business are expected to be completed in weeks as the firm shifts resources to other fast-growing areas.

Online retail giant Amazon is cutting hundreds of roles at its Seattle headquarters and elsewhere in its consumer business, news reports said.

The company said a “small” number of jobs would be cut but The Seattle Times said the layoffs would affect a few hundred people.

Details of the job losses were released by a source who wished to remain anonymous.

They said the cuts, which they described as rare, were decided as the company shifts resources into fast-growing areas like its work on voice assistant Alexa.

As the firm planned for 2018 it realised certain mature areas of its business no longer required as much staff for the results it was aiming to achieve, they added.

The layoffs are expected to be completed in the next few weeks, The Seattle Times reported.

Amazon did not say how many staff would be laid off and which specific offices and positions would be affected.

The company said it would consider those affected for other roles, adding it was still hiring aggressively in other areas.

“Our 2017 projections for Alexa were very optimistic, and we far exceeded them,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and chief executive, in a statement earlier this month.

“We don’t see positive surprises of this magnitude very often – expect us to double down.”

The firm has been exploring ways that minimise human labour. Its Amazon Go store concept – which recently opened in Seattle – involves no checkouts with all goods bought via an app

The company hired 130,000 people worldwide last year, with its full-time and part-time headcount rising 66% from 2016 to 566,000 in 2017.

That figure includes employees at grocery chain store Whole Foods, which Amazon acquired in a deal worth $13.7bn (£10.7bn) deal last summer.

Last month, Ocado showed off the “C-3PO” robots being introduced across its own warehouses as it seeks to reduce its reliance on human workers.


Elon Musk tech billionaire announces Tesla biggest quarterly loss ever

( via – – Thur, 8 Feb 2018) London, Uk – –

Loss of $675.4m announced day after Musk’s car sent into space in test of SpaceX rocket

The tech billionaire Elon Musk sent one of his Tesla electric cars into space yesterday, a day before the company that built it announced its biggest ever quarterly loss.

Musk’s Tesla electric car and energy storage company lost $675.4m in the three months ending 31 December, the company announced on Thursday, compared with a loss of $121m for the same period last year.

The company has been spending heavily as it rolls out the next generation of electric cars, the Model 3 sedan, a semi truck and other products.

The company has struggled to keep up with is production targets for the Model 3 but said it would probably build about 2,500 Model 3s per week by the end of the first quarter and that it plans to reach its goal of 5,000 vehicles per week by the end of the second quarter.

On Wednesday Musk’s private aerospace company, SpaceX, blasted a cherry red Tesla Roadster sports car into space in a successful test of its Falcon Heavy rocket.

The car and its dummy driver are now heading towards the asteroid belt.

Tesla delivered 101,312 Model S sedans and Model X SUVs last year, up 33% over 2016 and ahead of its targets, according to preliminary figures released last month. But it fell woefully short on the Model 3, which went into production in July.

Tesla made just 2,425 Model 3s in the fourth quarter, and has pushed back production targets multiple times. At one point, Tesla had 500,000 people on a waiting list for the Model 3, but it’s not clear if all of them are continuing to wait.

On a call with analysts Musk said production was getting back on track. “If we can send a Roadster to the asteroid belt we can probably solve Model 3 production,” he said.

Musk is set to collect a $55.8bn (£40bn) bonus – probably be the largest ever – if he can build Tesla into a $650bn company over the next decade. In the meantime the 46-year-old has agreed to work unpaid for the next 10 years.

By Domonic Rush




Lloyds Banking Group bans customers buying crypto-currencies on their credit cards

Money Bright/Flickr

( via – – Mon, 5 Feb 2018) London, Uk – –

Lloyds Banking Group has banned its customers from buying Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies on their credit cards.

The ban, starting on Monday, applies to Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland, Halifax and MBNA customers.

It will not apply to debit cards, only to the banking group’s eight million credit card customers.

The move follows a sharp fall in the value of digital currencies, prompting fears about people running up debts.

Lloyds is concerned it could end up footing the bill for unpaid debts should the price continue to fall.

Explaining the ban, a Lloyds spokeswoman said: “We continually review our products and procedures and this is part of that.”

Bitcoin ended last week down 30% at $8,291.87 – its worst week since April 2013 and far below the $19,000 it reached last November.

However, the cryptocurrency is still ahead of the $1,000 it was trading at this time last year.

Police have warned that digital currencies remain popular among criminals as they can use them to evade traditional money laundering checks and other regulations.

Prime Minister Theresa May recently said that action against digital currencies may be required “precisely because of the way they are used, particularly by criminals”.

She told Bloomberg: “In areas like cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, we should be looking at these very seriously.”

The Treasury said that it intends to update regulation to bring virtual currency platforms into anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regulation.

Facebook recently announcedit would block any advertising that promotes cryptocurrency products and services.



The Range Rover Velar 2018 instantly recognisable descendant of the original luxury SUV family


In Norway, minimalist design reigns. Clean lines and unfussy surfacing abounds, from the weather-beaten farmhouses and modern commercial buildings that dot the landscape, to the Scandinavian furniture and clothing carefully curated inside them. It’s all form-follows-function, it’s all gorgeous, and it’s no accident that none of it distracts from the country’s omnipresent scenic vistas. The same is true inside the Velar’s beautifully appointed cabin, where a brand-new infotainment interface, Touch Pro Duo, takes up residence in the center stack. The Intel-quad-core based system features twin 10-inch touchscreen TFT displays, one in the traditional mid-dash location, and the other canted just ahead of the drive selector, with a pair of ringed knobs poking through. The setup looks impressively simple — almost worryingly so. Land Rover has greatly reduced the amount of switchgear in the cabin, a practice that has become something of a car-designer obsession these days. The result of such approaches always seems to look pleasing, but too often comes with a heavy toll on ergonomics and usability. Fortunately, I’d have a couple of days behind the wheel to suss out whether that’s the case with the Velar.



Medopad UK healthcare startup plans $120m fund raise in China deal

( via – – Fri, 2 Feb 2018) London, Uk – –

UK healthcare startup is planning to raise $120m (£84m) in what would be one of the largest early-stage funding rounds for a British company.

Medopad creates a mobile app that lets doctors remotely monitor and connect to patients and give them health data. The company’s app can be modified to a number of medical conditions, from cancer to heart disease, sending real time data to smartphones or be set to work with wearables like the Apple Watch.

Founded in 2011, Medopad has secured the first part of its funding round, with $28m led by major participation from Chinese infrastructure group NWS Holdings. It expects to raise the rest in the coming months.

If it secures the full $120m, the deal would make Medopad one of the UK’s most valuable startups, although the company would not comment on a valuation. It would also be one of the biggest Series A investments, an early funding stage, of any British company.

Medopad has been prominently backed by Prime Minister Theresa May during her trade trip to China. During the trip, Medopad announced it had secured £100m worth of trade deals with 15 partners, including Chinese tech giant Tencent, which owns the messaging service WeChat, and hardware maker Lenovo.

The Tencent deal could see the companies developing artificial intelligence technologies to support doctors’ decision-making.

Medopad chief executive Dan Vahdat accompanied Mrs May on her visit to China, where the Prime Minister met with Chinese president Xi Jinping in Beijing.

Mr Vahdat said: “The trip has been an amazing success for us. There’s been a big push from Theresa May’s visit, which has given us an accelerated number of deals and partnerships.”

China’s ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming wrote in the Telegraph this week the visit “offers the opportunity to shift the China-UK ‘Golden Era’ into a higher gear and upgrade bilateral relations”.

Medopad is set to expand globally following its new Chinese backing. The company said it would create 500 new jobs in the UK by 2020 as a result of the funding round. UBS acted as financial adviser on the deal.

By Matthew Field



BT’s Openreach to connect fibre broadband into 3 million premises by the end of 2020

( via — Thur, 1 Feb 2018) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – BT’s Openreach said it would connect fibre broadband into 3 million premises by the end of 2020, kicking off a drive to build the ultrafast network that Britain’s homes and businesses have lacked.

Openreach, the country’s national broadband infrastructure provider, said it would recruit 3,000 engineers in 2018 to ramp up its roll out of fibre into premises which can guarantee much faster speeds for users.

The biggest three tech giants in the US to release results in race to trillion dollars


( via – – Thur, 1 Feb 2018) London, Uk – –

When it comes to predictions for 2018, most financial analysts agree on one thing: one tech firm is likely to become America’s first ever trillion dollar company.

The question is: which one will it be?

On Thursday, we’ll get a big clue as to who might hit that incredible milestone first, as the three biggest tech giants in the US release their latest results.

Could it be Apple?

That largely depends on its latest and supposedly greatest smartphone, the iPhone X.

If sales are strong – and they’ll need to be very strong – Apple’s value will hurtle towards a trillion dollars in no time at all.

With a higher price tag – $999 – the iPhone X wouldn’t need to break sales records in order to draw record profits, and convince investors Apple still has the ability to bring innovation to its biggest product line by far.

But there have been reports lately that suggested Apple could cut its production targets for the device by almost half. That’s not what investors wanted to hear.

Still, even if iPhone X sales are modest, the company is still expected to report revenue growth of more than 10%. That would put it nicely on track to hit a market value of $1tn by the end of the year.

To increased synergies, and beyond

But Amazon might get there first.

Chief executive Jeff Bezos is now comfortably the world’s richest man. The share price of his company rose by more than 50% in 2017.

Most of that was fuelled by big growth in its cloud business – Amazon Web Services.

But the company now also has Whole Foods in its portfolio. There is talk of “increased synergy opportunities” here – the overlap of Amazon tech and Whole Foods physical locations could be extremely lucrative. The opening of one concept retail store last month was enough to give shares a bounce. Surely just the beginning.

What will probably hold Amazon’s value back, however, is the rate at which it will spend money. It is expected to spend more than $4bn creating content for its Prime TV service as it continues to tussle with Netflix.

There’s continued investment to be made in its Alexa assistant. Last year, Amazon told us it had more than 5,000 people working on developing the technology, which is going toe-to-toe with Google’s assistant system.

And in an effort to bring quicker delivery of more stuff to more people, Amazon is also opening more fulfilment centres in markets all over the world.

So that’s a lot of spending – and that’s before it starts building its second headquarters, wherever that may end up being. No wonder GBH Insight’s Daniel Ives told Amazon investors they were looking at a period of “short-term pain” but “long-term gain”.

Alphabet’s hardware play

OK then, so what about Alphabet?

The parent company of Google is expected to report overall revenues that are up by about 20% on this time last year. But, as ever, that’s mostly from search advertising and YouTube, its big earners.

If Alphabet is to get over that trillion-dollar mark, it’ll need to boost income from areas other than advertising.

Keep a close eye on how well its hardware is performing – the Pixel 2 phones came out last year, and there was a huge marketing push for its Google Home assistant.

Did it work? When it comes to hardware, Alphabet isn’t in the same league as Apple. But any promising signs there would have investors jumping for joy. So too would big gains in cloud computing – which is another thing analysts unanimously expect. Google’s market dominance in artificial intelligence could be useful if it wants to close the gap on Amazon Web Services.

As I write this, it’s Apple, with a value of $860bn, which is closest to that $1tn mark. Amazon rests at just under $700bn, while Alphabet jostles at $817bn. Which one will make it past this phenomenal, symbolic milestone?

You know, maybe they all will.



Thousands of free-to-use Uk cash machines may close due cut in operators fee


( via – – Wed, 31 Jan 2018) London, Uk – –

Thousands of free-to-use cash machines could be closed because of a cut in the fee  receive from banks each time an ATM is used, the industry has warned.

However, the fee will be unchanged for free-to-use ATMs which are 1km or more from the next nearest cash machine.

The move is an attempt by Link, which oversees ATMs, to encourage operators to place machines in more remote areas.

But the ATM industry body said the move would see up to 30,000 ATMs disappear.

The fee, known as the interchange rate, will be reduced from 25p to 20p per withdrawal, in annual steps over four years, to protect the network, according to Link.

The cut in the fee will take effect from 1 July. The situation will be reviewed each year to assess the impact on consumers.

Who do we trust after cash?
The High Streets with ‘too many’ ATMs
Link said that the move, alongside other measures, would “shift the incentive” for operators which have been clustering ATMs in city centres to move some to rural and less affluent areas.

An extra subsidy of 10p per withdrawal, currently available to 300 ATMs, will be tripled to 30p for some of the cash machines in areas with little access to cash.

John Howells, chief executive of Link, said: “The UK has a near record number of ATMs, yet the recent growth has led to the majority of these being placed in busy areas where there simply is no need for a new ATM.

“The combination of a reduction of the interchange, with the significant strengthening of the Financial Inclusion Programme, will begin to rebalance the network, making sure we protect and install new ATMs in locations that really need them.”

The confirmed plans have been criticised by the industry and some consumer groups.

Ron Delnevo, executive director of the ATM Industry Association (ATMIA), said that the current network of 55,000 ATMs was “providing financial inclusion everywhere”.

“To lose any of them would be a disaster, but we will lose 25,000 to 30,000 from these measures if they are allowed to go ahead, which they should not,” he said.

Consumer group Which? said the move could lead to “mass closures” of free-to-use machines, adding to the 200 communities in Britain that already had poor ATM provision, or no cash machines at all.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) called for a full public consultation on Link’s plans.

He said the FSB was not convinced that the proposals included enough protection for vulnerable communities.

“There’s no guarantee that having everyone within a kilometre of a cashpoint will be enough to meet demand. Equally, we need to question whether it’s right to make vulnerable ATM users travel a kilometre every time they need cash.

The Treasury Committee of MPs has also expressed concern over whether there will be an even spread of ATMs across the country. Any big fall in the number of cash machines would “clearly be of concern”, said Nicky Morgan, who chairs the committee.



BP invests $5 million in U.S. mobile electric vehicle charging company FreeWire

( via — Tue, 30 Jan 2018) London, UK —

(Reuters) – BP Plc (BP.L) said it had invested $5 million (£3.6 million) in U.S. mobile electric vehicle charging company FreeWire, helping it provide rapid charging at its retail sites in Britain and Europe, as demand for cleaner vehicles is expected to soar.

BP joins rival Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L), which last year agreed to buy Dutch-based NewMotion, the owner of one of Europe’s largest electric vehicle charging networks, marking the company’s first deal in electric mobility.

The expected rapid growth in the use of electric vehicles in the coming decades is threatening oil companies’ business model as demand for some road fuels could plateau as early as the late 2020s.

BP, whose venturing business invested in FreeWire, said it plans to roll out the San Francisco- based technology firm’s Mobi Charger units at selected retail sites in the United Kingdom and Europe this year.

“Mobility is changing and BP is committed to remaining the fuel retailer of choice into the future. EV charging will undoubtedly become an important part of our business, but customer demand and the technologies available are still evolving,” BP’s Downstream CEO, Tufan Erginbilgic, said.

By Noor Zainab Hussain and Ron Bousso



Mitch Langstein director for Cellular Accessories: Make Your Business Dream Your Reality


Mitch Langstein is the marketing director for Cellular Accessories. Mitch explains what entrepreneurship means to him and how he knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur out of college. Mitch talks about where he got the idea for his business and how he turned that idea into a reality!


Google signed patent cross-licensing agreement with Tencent



( via – – Fri, 19 Jan 2018) London, Uk – –

Google has signed a tie-up with Tencent in a bid to enhance its presence in China.

The patent cross-licensing agreement will be “long-term” and covers a range of technologies, according to Google. Further terms of the deal were not disclosed but the company said it could open the door to closer collaboration in the future.

It marks a significant leap for Google into China, where most of its services are blocked by authorities.

Tencent has been on a streak of partnerships and acquisitions outside of China lately. In December, it agreed to swap a 10 per cent stake in its music business for an equivalent share in Spotify.

Earlier this month it was announced that it would be working with Lego to develop children’s online games. It also bought a stake in Snapchat back in November, with the aim of helping to enhance the app’s gaming abilities.

Google has also ramped up its activities in China, with an AI lab planned for Beijing and an investment in streaming service Chushou.

US tech companies are increasingly looking to Chinese counterparts for growth opportunities, but regulators have been known to block deals which would see Chinese companies take over US ones due to security fears. Authorities blocked the $1.2bn sale of MoneyGram to Alibaba’s payments arm last month, while Canyon Bridge was prevented from completing its purchase of Apple chip supplier Lattice Semiconductor Group.

By Alys Key



CES 2018: internet-connected Wine Bottle Opener


Coravin has unveiled an internet-connected version of the cork-sealing gadget it makes to preserve bottled wine. By linking the Model Eleven to an app, the US firm says it has been able to introduce several new features. These include the ability to match vintages with classic rock albums. The BBC’s Chris Foxx was given a demo at the CES tech show in Las Vegas.



Facebook changing news feed in favour of “more meaningful social interactions”

( via– Fri, 12 Jan, 2018) London, Uk – –

Mark Zuckerberg says posts from businesses and media are crowding out “personal moments” that help us “connect” with each other.

Facebook is changing the way its news feed works to encourage “more meaningful social interactions” and reduce the amount of content from “businesses, brands and media”.

In a post on the social media site, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said branded content was “crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other”.

The 33-year-old added that “video and other public content have exploded on Facebook in the past couple of years” meaning there was “more public content than posts from your friends and family”.

That has shifted the balance “away from the most important thing Facebook can do – help us connect with each other”.

Mr Zuckerberg said the company had examined academic research on social media. He said it showed that when sites such as Facebook were used to connect with “people we care about”, they can improve well-being.

“We can feel more connected and less lonely,” he said, “and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health.”

In contrast, “passively reading articles or watching videos – even if they’re entertaining or informative – may not be as good”.

Branded content will not only be reduced – its content will be “held to the same standard” as posts from friends and family.

“It should encourage meaningful interactions between people,” Mr Zuckerberg said.

There have been serious concerns about the effect social media can have on people’s mental health, particularly children and teenagers.

Last week, the Children’s Commissioner for England called for compulsory digital literacy to be taught in primary schools to help children cope with the pressure of getting likes, comments and views.

Researchers say children become increasingly anxious about their online image and “keeping up appearances” as they get older.

Mr Zuckerberg said the shift in focus was likely to reduce “the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement”, at least initially.

But he also expects that time to be more “valuable”, saying he believes the changes to be “good for our community and our business over the long term”.

A Facebook vice president, John Hegeman, said advertising on the site would be unaffected.

Facebook is the largest social media network in the world, with more than two billion monthly users.

By Andy Hayes



Worlds biggest tech show marred by row over lack of diversity


( via – – Mon, 8 Jan 2018) London, Uk – –

The start of the world’s biggest technology show has been marred by a row over a lack of female speakers.

The top six speakers at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), among them Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich and Ford’s Jim Hackett, are all male for the second year in a row.

This has led to a backlash from campaigners who say it is symbolic of a lack of diversity in the tech industry.

CES, an enormous festival held each year in Las Vegas, is meant to be a showcase for the best of the technology industry and a glimpse of the inventions of tomorrow.

But after a year in which Silicon Valley was forced to confront a culture that is seen as male-dominated, the line-up has struck some critics as tone-deaf.

The Consumer Technology Association has sought to deflect criticism, pointing to the number of female speakers at lower-level talks, and saying there is “a limited pool when it comes to women in these positions”.

But over the weekend the organisation promised to do more next year. In a letter to Gina Glantz, the head of Gender Avenger, an organisation that campaigns for more women in speaking roles, the CTA said it would “redouble our efforts to expand women’s voices throughout the conference and as featured speakers”.

A number of prominent male investors have been forced to step down from their roles after allegations of harassment emerged.