Britain’s delay on Huawei 5G damaging international relations- UK lawmakers

( via — Fri, 19th July 2019) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s new prime minister must urgently make a decision on the role China’s Huawei will have in next-generation 5G networks as the ongoing debate is damaging international relations, a powerful committee of British lawmakers said on Friday.

Britain has emerged as a key battleground in a geopolitical battle over Huawei Technologies HWT.UL, the world’s biggest maker of telecom networking equipment.

The United States has threatened to cut off valuable intelligence sharing with allies who use the company’s equipment, which it says could be exploited by Beijing for spying. China has warned Britain that excluding the firm could hurt investment and trade.

Britain’s National Security Council, chaired by outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May, met to discuss the issue in April and a decision was made to block Huawei from all critical parts of the 5G network but to give it restricted access to less sensitive parts.

The final decision on Huawei was already supposed to have been taken by the British government but May’s decision to step down has stalled the process. Her replacement, either foreign minister Jeremy Hunt or former London mayor Boris Johnson who is the frontrunner, will be installed next week.

“Such an important decision therefore requires careful consideration,” parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) said in a statement. “However, the extent of the delay is now causing serious damage to our international relationships: a decision must be made as a matter of urgency.”

The ISC said Britain’s cyber security chiefs had been clear that the issue was not about one country or company, but that the national networks had to be able to withstand any attack, malicious action or simple human error.

The committee said this was best achieved by diversifying suppliers and the issue at the moment for 5G was that there were only three firms in the running – Huawei, Nokia and Ericsson. Overdependence and less competition resulted in lower security standards, it said.

“Therefore including a third company – even if you may have some security concerns about them and will have to set a higher bar for security measures within the system – will, counter-intuitively, result in higher overall security,” the ISC said.

Huawei Vice President Victor Zhang said he supported the committee’s comments on supplier diversity. “We agree that diversity improves resilience in networks,” he said.

The ISC also acknowledged, however, that the decision was not just technical and that the government had to take into account political concerns and so should not do anything to jeopardise the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance of the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

It argued that China would understand if Huawei were excluded as Beijing would not allow a British company to play a role in its critical national infrastructure.

“The public debate implies that we have to choose between good economic links with China and our own national security … This is a simplistic viewpoint, and those promoting it do a disservice to China,” it said.

Reporting by Michael Holden

Ryanair to close some bases and carry fewer passengers due to Boeing 737 Max crisis

( via – – Tue, 16th July 2019) London, Uk – –

Budget airline says it plans to close some bases and will carry fewer passengers

Ryanair has warned delays to deliveries of Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft will reduce passenger numbers next year and it plans to downsize or close bases at some airports as a result.

Europe’s biggest budget carrier has ordered 135 of the 737 Max models, which remain grounded after two crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed a total of 346 people. Boeing has yet to convince regulators that software modifications are sufficient to ensure the plane’s safety.

Ryanair will reduce the number of flights it operates next summer and now expects to carry 157 million passengers in the year to March 2021, rather than 162 million, cutting its summer 2020 growth rate to 3% from 7%.

The airline said the shortfall in aircraft deliveries will mean “some base cuts and closures” for the winter and next summer, and it has started talking to airports to identify which underperforming or lossmaking bases to shut from November. Ryanair will consult with its staff and unions.

It emerged this week that a 737 Max aircraft due to be delivered to Ryanair had the name Max dropped from the livery, fuelling speculation the manufacturer and airlines will seek to rebrand the troubled plane once it is given the all clear to fly again.

The Ryanair chief executive, Michael O’Leary, said: Ryanair remains committed to the 737 Max aircraft, and now expects that it will return to flying service before the end of 2019, however, the exact date of this return remains uncertain.”Timeline

Boeing’s 737 Max crisis

The carrier has ordered the larger version with 197 seats, called Max 200, and hopes to receive its first aircraft in January or February 2020. Since it can only take delivery of six to eight new aircraft each month, the carrier is now planning its summer 2020 schedules based on taking up to 30 deliveries up to the end of May, less than the 58 Max aircraft planned for.

O’Leary said: “Ryanair will continue to work with Boeing and EASA [European Aviation Safety Agency] to recover these delivery delays during the winter of 2020 so that we can restore our growth to normal levels in summer 2021.”

Ryanair shares in Dublin rose as much as 1.5% in early trading to €10.30 each, perhaps on relief that the airline is taking action and that the damage appears to be limited.

Other airline shares also rose, on hopes that Ryanair’s capacity cuts will enable rival carriers to raise their fares – bad news for holidaymakers. EasyJet gained 3% and shares in IAG, the owner of British Airways, were up 2.4%.

By Julia Kollewe

Ocado hi-tech warehouse fire cost over £100m

( via – – Tue, 9th July 2019) London, Uk – –

Online grocer reports loss of £143m for first half but expects compensation from insurer

Ocado has said the fire at its hi-tech warehouse earlier this year cost it more than £100m.

The online grocer fell to a headline loss of £143m on sales of £882m in the six months to 2 June, dragged down by more than £100m of one-off costs relating to the fire that destroyed its distribution centre in Andover, Hampshire.

Ocado said the closure of the site – which had provided about a tenth of the company’s delivery capacity – knocked 2% off its 9.7% retail sales growth rate during the half.

The company made an underlying profit of £18.1m, down from £34.3m a year ago. Ocado said Andover-related disruption would punch a £15m hole in annual profits, but its finance director, Duncan Tatton-Brown, said it expected to be fully compensated by its insurer.

As part of its plans to maintain service for shoppers, Ocado has signed a deal with its client Morrisons, which allows the delivery firm to take back 30% of the space for two years at its new centre in Erith, south-east London. Andover is being rebuilt and Ocado also announced plans to build a new warehouse in Purfleet, Essex.

The fire put a dampener on Ocado’s plans for expansion as it prepares to embark on a new relationship with Marks & Spencer, which replaces an existing deal with Waitrose from next autumn. M&S is paying £750m for a 50% share of Ocado’s retail arm.

Investors shrugged off the Andover setback, sending Ocado shares up by more than 5%, to £12.34.

Bernstein analyst Bruno Monteyne said the company’s performance was in line with his expectations and questioned whether the “numbers even matter” given Ocado’s recent recent run of success selling its grocery-picking technology to foreign retail chains, including the US supermarket giant Kroger.

“Ocado’s valuation is driven by the solutions business,” he said.

By Zoe Wood

Boeing $5.9bn setback after Saudi airline scraps order for 737 MAX planes

( via– Mon, 8th July 2019) London, Uk – –

After two deadly crashes involving Boeing 737 MAXs, budget airline flyadeal will take delivery of a fleet of 30 Airbus A320 jets.

US plane maker Boeing has suffered a fresh setback after a Saudi budget airline chose not to go through with a $5.9bn (£4.7bn) order for 30 of its 737 MAX aircraft.

The decision by flyadeal comes after two 737 MAXs were involved in deadly crashes in 2018 and earlier this year.

A total of 346 people were killed in the Lion Air disaster in Indonesia last October and the Ethiopian Airlines tragedy near Addis Ababa in March, which led to all such aircraft being grounded and billions of dollars being wiped off the company's value.

Flyadeal has now had a rethink about the provisional Boeing order and decided instead to take delivery of a fleet of 30 rival Airbus A320neo jets.

The Saudi airline said: “This order will result in flyadeal operating an all-Airbus A320 fleet in the future.”

Flyadeal, which has operated leased A320 jets since launching in September 2017, will take delivery of the new Airbus aircraft from 2021.

The announcement comes just weeks after International Airlines Group – the owner of British Airways – signed a letter of intent to order 200 Boeing 737 MAX jets.

IAG – which also owns Spain's Iberia and Ireland's Aer Lingus – said it had every confidence in Boeing and expected the MAX to return to service in coming months.

The deal – worth more than $24bn (£19.1bn) at list prices though likely to have been reduced in negotiations between the two companies – would see the aircraft delivered between 2023 and 2027.

However, Oman Air warned in June it would hold talks with Airbus if Boeing did not provide support and recovery for the MAX.

Meanwhile, Emirati carrier flydubai said in April it could order A320s as replacements for the MAX jets.

A Boeing spokesperson said: “We understand that flyadeal will not finalise its commitment to the 737 MAX at this time given the airline's schedule requirements.”

After the two crashes, US investigators reportedly found a new potential flaw in the 737 MAX software update that was designed to improve safety.

The company has been working on a software fix to try to return the jets to service by the end of the year.

The 737 MAX remains grounded worldwide and regulators must approve the fix and new pilot training before the jets can fly again.

Jaguar Land Rover to invest hundred of millions of pounds to build a range of electric vehicles

( via – – Fri, 5th July 2019) London, Uk – –

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is investing hundreds of millions of pounds to build a range of electric vehicles at its Castle Bromwich plant in Birmingham.

Initially the plant will produce an electric version of the Jaguar XJ.

JLR says the move will help secure the jobs of 2,700 workers at the plant.

The news follows January's announcement, when the firm said it would cut 4,500 jobs, with the majority coming from the UK. That followed 1,500 jobs lost in 2018.

“The future of mobility is electric and, as a visionary British company, we are committed to making our next generation of zero-emission vehicles in the UK,” said Prof Ralf Speth, JLR's chief executive.

JLR has not announced when it will launch the battery version of the XJ, but it will replace the petrol and diesel versions which have been made since 1968.

The decision appears to contradict previous warnings by JLR that investment in the UK would be threatened by Brexit, and in particular a no-deal scenario.

However, industry experts say that JLR could not wait to see the outcome of the Brexit, as it needed to update its range of vehicles.

“Given where it is in its product lifecycle it [JLR] has to make this decision. The capacity is at Castle Bromwich and there's research and development nearby as well, so they've basically run out of time on this decision,” David Bailey, a professor of business economics at Birmingham Business School, told the BBC's Today programme.

He added that without the new investment the Castle Bromwich plant would “effectively be dead”.

The plant also produces the Jaguar XF, XE and F-Type.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “Today's announcement is a vote of confidence in the UK automotive industry – protecting thousands of skilled jobs.

“It reflects our determination for the UK to be at the forefront of the development and manufacturing of the next generation of electric vehicles.”

In January, JLR announced that its new battery making facilities would be located in the Midlands. It said the plant would be the most “technologically advanced” in the UK.

Investment in the UK car industry fell 47% last year from 2017 and the country is attracting a tiny fraction of the global investment in electric cars.

VW alone is investing £70bn in Europe, the US and China.

A no-deal Brexit would see new tariffs imposed on components and parts moving between the EU and the UK.

Vauxhall's parent company said that without a deal it would not make the next generation Astra at Ellesmere Port.

‘Confusing policies'

JLR's announcement comes a day after a report showed that in June sales of low emission cars had fallen for the first time in more than two years.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said the fall in alternatively fuelled cars, such as hybrid electric vehicles, was “a grave concern”.

It said efforts to sell such cars were being undermined by confusing policies and “premature” removal of subsidies.

In response, the government said its focus on zero emission models had been a success, with registrations of battery electric vehicles up over 60% this year compared with the same period in 2018.

By Simon Jack

Amazon’s Deliveroo investment attracts scrutiny from Uk competition watchdog

( via– Fri, 5th July 2019) London, Uk – –

A regulator has the power to block Amazon's investment if it judges that competition in the food delivery sector may be hurt.

An investment in food delivery app Deliveroo by Amazon, worth hundreds of millions of pounds, could be blocked by the competition regulator.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it was looking into any potential breaches of competition rules arising from a fund-raising – first revealed by Sky News – in May.

UK-based Deliveroo then sought £450m from investors to fund its expansion plans as it battles rivals, including Uber Eats and Just Eat, for market share in the fast-growing restaurant delivery sector.

The exact sum of Amazon's investment, which gave it a stake in Deliveroo for the first time, was not disclosed.

Existing investors T Rowe Price, Fidelity Management and Research Company, and Greenoaks also took part.

The company said the latest funding – valuing Deliveroo at around £3bn – would enable investment in its London-based tech team, expansion to reach new customers and development of its delivery-only super kitchens, Editions.

But the CMA said it had “reasonable grounds for suspecting that it is or may be the case” that the deal could “result in Amazon and Deliveroo ceasing to be distinct”.

Its so-called phase one investigation means any merger plans the pair may have must be placed on hold.

There is widespread speculation Amazon is interested in buying Deliveroo after its own foray in the sector, Amazon Restaurants UK, was shut down amid tough competition.

The CMA has the ultimate power to block the deal – as it did when Sainsbury's and Asda sought a tie-up – if it determines consumers could have less choice.

The US company said on Friday its investment would allow more UK consumers to benefit from food deliveries through Deliveroo's expansion plans.

Deliveroo said of the investigation: “Deliveroo and Amazon have been working closely with regulators to obtain regulatory approvals.

“There are a number of major companies within the restaurant food delivery sector and this investment will enable Deliveroo to expand, innovate and, we believe, will enhance competition.

“This investment will help create jobs, help restaurants to grow their businesses and will improve choice for consumers.”

By James Sillars, business reporter

Bitcoin falls below $10,000 down 30% from last week

( via – – Tue, 2nd July, 2019) London, Uk – –

Cryptocurrency climbed to nearly $14,000 on news social network was launching rival

The price of bitcoin has fallen back below $10,000, down 30% from last week’s peak of nearly $14,000.

Continuing its wild ride, the digital currency dropped to $9,717 on Tuesday, down 8.1% on the day. Last Wednesday, the cryptocurrency shot up to $13,879, breaking through the $12,000 and $13,000 levels in less than two hours.

Bitcoin had languished below $6,000 for months, but was galvanised by Facebook’s plans to create a cryptocurrency called Libra next year.Q&A

What is bitcoin and is it a bad investment?

Other digital currencies have also fallen back. Reports that an investor placed a large short order on Sunday, betting that the bitcoin price would go down in coming days, sparked panic among investors.

Bitcoin has seen wild swings in the past, and some analysts say it could rise back to $20,000 again – or fall as low as $3,000. In late 2017, it rose to close to $20,000, before a spectacular collapse in 2018.

The cryptocurrency’s latest gyrations prompted the US economist Nouriel Roubini, a long-time critic, to say that the bitcoin price would eventually fall to zero. He tweeted: “Its true value is negative, not zero, given its toxic externalities! It will get to zero in due time.”

Simon Peters, an analyst at global investment platform eToro, said: “We appear to be in a period of indecision, where the market is figuring out where to go next after its heavy surge and sell-off.”

Investors hope Facebook’s entry into digital currencies will bring greater legitimacy to the sector. Regulators around the world have warned that the move could lead to greater controls and tougher regulation to protect consumers.

Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, cautiously welcomed Libra. He said the central bank would support new entrants into the UK financial system, but warned that Facebook would need to meet the highest regulatory standards.

Bloomberg reported last week that Henry Kravis, the co-founder of the US private equity firm KKR, had become the latest financier to bet on cryptocurrencies. He is investing in a cryptocurrency fund provided by ParaFi Capital. Other high-profile investors include British hedge fund manager Alan Howard, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and US hedge fund manager Louis Bacon.

By Julia Kollewe

Mobile phone customers can now switch providers with one simple text

( via – – Mon, 1st July 2019) London, Uk – –

Mobile phone customers can now switch providers with a single free text under new rules which have come into effect.

At the moment, customers have to phone their mobile provider when they want to switch to a new firm.

They are then given a porting authorisation code (PAC) to give to a new provider if they want to keep the same phone number.

But watchdog Ofcom says the need to speak to a provider can be one of the main factors stopping people switching.

As part of this process, customers can often find themselves dealing with unwanted attempts by the companies to persuade them to stay.

How to switch by text

  1. Customers who want to switch and keep their existing phone number text “PAC” to 65075 to begin the process
  2. Their existing provider will respond by text within a minute
  3. They will then be sent their switching code (PAC), which will be valid for 30 days
  4. The provider's reply must also include important information about any early termination charges or pay-as-you-go credit balances
  5. The customer then gives the code to their new provider, and this company must arrange for the switch to complete within one working day
  6. While most people want to keep their mobile number when they switch, about one in six do not. These customers can text “STAC” to 75075 to request a “service termination authorisation code”.

Ofcom says the new text-to-switch process will make it quicker and easier for people to leave their mobile company.

It will also give them control over how much contact they have with the firm.

After sending a single free text, customers should be switched within one working day. However, there may be early termination fees if you leave before the notice period of your existing contract.

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom's consumer group director, told the BBC that the changes were designed to deal with the issues that put people off switching mobile phone providers.

These included the need to pay for both the old and the new service at the same time during an overlap period.

“It really has never been simpler to switch,” she said.

If mobile phone providers did not abide by the new rules, they would be subject to investigations and even fines, Ms Fussell added.

In November last year, Ofcom fined Virgin and EE £13.3m for leaving customers who quit broadband and phone contracts early “out of pocket”.

“We won't hesitate to do the same again if we need to,” said Ms Fussell.

Why EV Start-Up Rivian Has Received $1B Investment From Amazon and Ford

Source: BI

Rivian is an up and coming startup company building high-performance electric adventure vehicles. So far the company has received investments from Ford and Amazon totaling over $1 billion. The company has progressed so much by making business decisions no other EV startup is making.

Carphone Warehouse owner blames 22% profit fall on consumers delaying phone upgrades

( via – – Thur, 20th June 2019) London, Uk – –

Owner of Currys, PC World and Carphone Warehouse blames 22% profit fall on consumers delaying phone upgrades

Shares in Dixons Carphone, Britain’s biggest electrical and mobile phone retailer, slumped almost 20% as it reported a big fall in profits and warned of “significant” losses in its mobile phone business.

The group, which owns Currys, PC World and Carphone Warehouse, said it had been hit by a growing trend among consumers to delay upgrading their mobile phones.

Profits for the year to 27 April fell by 22%, to £298m, down from £382m the previous year. New chief executive, Alex Baldock, who launched a turnaround strategy in December, warned profits would fall further this year, to about £210m. Analysts had been expecting a figure of about £296m.

This is the second profits warning from the group since Baldock joined in April last year. Dixons slashed its full-year dividend to 6.75p from 11.25p. Its shares tumbled almost 30% in early trading, to 91p, and later traded down 18% at 102p.

Baldock said the UK mobile market was changing rapidly and the group had to move faster to respond, but that would mean “taking more pain in the coming year, when mobile will make a significant loss”.Advertisement

He said: “Customers are hanging on to their handsets for longer, in some cases three to four years. Some say this is going to change with 5G but we are not going to be dependent on it.”

More customers are buying their handsets and sim cards separately, resulting in lower profits for Dixons, and when they do buy bundles they want more flexibility, Baldock said. In response, the company is preparing to launch its own 36-month credit-based bundle by next April.

He said Dixons had renegotiated all its network contracts, resulting in a £60m benefit to profits, and was offering customers a better choice, including packages with Virgin Media.

The group made a statutory loss before tax of £259m, compared with a profit of £289m the year before, reflecting charges of £557m, including a £383m writedown of its UK mobile business, Carphone Warehouse.

Carphone Warehouse, which now has 560 shops compared with 662 a year earlier, made a loss of £438. The company does not expect it to return to profit until 2022. Baldock did not rule out further store closures, although there are no current plans to do so.

As part of its turnaround plan, the company is merging its mobile and electrical divisions. It has introduced 18 “gaming battlegrounds” in its stores, where customers can play video games, and is aiming for more than 80 by the end of its financial year. The group also plans to give more space to large-screen TVs and smart home technology.

Baldock said: “Stores need to be exciting places where customers go to experience technology. They should be palaces of discovery.”

Richard Hunter, head of markets at investment platform interactive investor, said: “In all, the ambitious five-year transformation plan carries many promises and targets, but it is simply too early to gauge whether these are achievable.

“Of late, there has been an element of investors running out of patience with Dixons. Even before today’s mauling, the shares had given up 37% over the last year, as compared to a decline of 8% for the wider FTSE250 index.”

By Julia Kollewe

Facebook to launch its own digital currency by 2020

( via– Tue, 18th June 2019) London, Uk – –

The company says it has taken a collaborative approach to its plans, which are expected to go live within the next 12 months.

Facebook is to launch its own digital currency within the next year, saying its plans will deliver an “inclusive and open” financial ecosystem.

The cryptocurrency, to be called Libra, forms part of a wider Calibra digital wallet package under development that will be available as a standalone app before mid-2020.

It will initially only allow payments between users, via smartphones or other devices, but Libra will be “open source” – meaning it can be included in existing and other digital wallets.

Facebook said Libra was to be included on trading exchanges – allowing for conversion to physical currency.

But the US tech firm said it should be seen as a medium for payments rather than a Bitcoin-style cryptocurrency – largely unregulated and vulnerable to wild fluctuations in value.

It explained that the value would be underpinned by real assets, including bank deposits and short-term government securities.

These would be managed by a string of big firms, under a not-for-profit umbrella organisation, with the aim of ensuring stability.

It said the Libra Association, to be based in Switzerland, was aiming to attract 100, largely multi-national, entities by the time of the launch.

Each firm must pay $10m (£8m) to get on board.

There are currently 28 signed up, including Mastercard, Spotify, Paypal, Uber and Vodafone.

Facebook said it would have “no special role” in governing Libra amid questions surrounding global regulatory oversight.

David Marcus, who started exploring the blockchain-powered currency for the company a year ago, said central banks had given “general cautious support” so far.

He said: “Libra holds the potential to provide billions of people around the world with access to a more inclusive, more open financial ecosystem.”

But the Bank of England told Sky News it had no comment to make on Facebook's plans while other regulators were yet to reveal an official view on the potential for global financial stability implications.

Jorn Lambert, executive vice president for digital solutions at Mastercard, admitted “we might not launch” if there was too much opposition – agreeing with the sentiment that discussions with central banks and other bodies were at an early stage.

Facebook said if the project progresses as expected, services available via the Calibra wallet would eventually be opened up to allow things such as payments for goods and services.

It also moved to ease concerns about data collection – following a string of scandals – by saying account information would not be shared with Facebook except for “limited cases” where the data may be shared “to keep people safe, comply with the law, and provide basic functionality to the people who use Calibra”.

Stefano Parisse, group director of product and services at Vodafone, said: “As a Founding Member of the Libra Network, Vodafone will extend its commitment to digital and financial inclusion by supporting the creation of a new global currency and encouraging a wide range of innovative financial services to be developed through its open-source platform.

“This has the potential to be truly transformative and will benefit those who have never used, or are struggling to access, financial services around the world.”

By James Sillars, business reporter

Huawei to cut production by $30bn amid US-led backlash

( via – – Mon, 17th June 2019) London, Uk – –

Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei has said the Chinese telecoms giant will slash production by $30bn (£23.9bn) over the next two years as a US-led backlash against the firm intensifies.

Speaking at the firm's headquarters, Mr Ren said sales were expected to remain flat at $100bn in 2019 and 2020.

Last month, the US put Huawei on a list of companies that American firms cannot trade with unless they have a licence.

The move marked an escalation in efforts by Washington to block Huawei.

The US argues that the Chinese company – the world's largest maker of telecoms equipment and the second biggest smartphone maker – poses a security risk.

“In the coming two years, the company will cut production by $30bn,” Mr Ren said at a panel discussion at the firm's headquarters in Shenzhen.

However, Mr Ren said the company would “regain [its] vitality” in 2021.

Spending on research and development would not be cut, Mr Ren added, despite the anticipated hit to the firm's finances.

The Huawei founder had previously downplayed the impact of the US restrictions on the Chinese firm.

However, the actions by the US have prompted tech companies around the world to retreat from Huawei.

Google barred Huawei from some updates to the Android operating system, meaning new designs of Huawei smartphones are set to lose access to some Google apps.

Japan's Softbank and KDDI have both said they will not sell Huawei's new handsets for now.

UK-based chip designer ARM told staff it must suspend business with Huawei, according to internal documents obtained by the BBC.

Surveillance fears

Washington's clampdown on Huawei is part of a broader push-back against the company, over worries about using its products in next-generation 5G mobile networks.

Several countries have raised concerns that Huawei equipment could be used by China for surveillance, allegations the company has vehemently denied.

Huawei has said its work does not pose any threats and that it is independent from the Chinese government.

However, some countries have blocked telecoms companies from using Huawei products in 5G mobile networks.

So far the UK has held back from any formal ban.

Sweetgreen the restaurant world’s first “unicorn,” valued at over $1 Billion

Source: CNBC

Sweetgreen is now the restaurant world's first “unicorn,” valued at over $1 billion. Started by three college friends out of their dorm room at Georgetown University, the salad company has 91 locations with more in the works and is vying to become the digital food platform of the future.

How Comcast is looking to invest $50M dollars in a new esports stadium in Philadelphia

Source: Bloomberg

Telecom titan Comcast is investing $50M dollars in a new esports stadium located in the center of the Philadelphia sports complex. But that’s just the beginning of their plan to build a global esports empire.

WhatsApp to take legal action against people using its platform for spam messages

( via – – Tue, 11th June 2019) London, Uk – –

From December, those engaging in certain types of automated or bulk messaging could face legal action from the messaging platform.

WhatsApp has revealed it will begin to take legal action against people using its platform for spam messages.

In an update to the messaging app's FAQ section, WhatsApp confirmed the crackdown will start on 7 December.

The company said: “WhatsApp will take legal action against those we determine are engaged in or assisting others in abuse that violates our terms of service.”

WhatsApp also warned that legal action could be taken “based on information solely available to us off our platform”.

These violations include “automated or bulk messaging, or non-personal use”, which leaves room for WhatsApp to license particular tools for businesses who use the messaging platform to communicate with customers.

The company currently offers a free WhatsApp Business app which allows small firms to automate, sort and respond to messages.

Meanwhile, the Whatsapp Business API enables medium and large companies to communicate with customers and staff over the app.

Uber uses the service to put drivers in contact with support staff, while uses it to share booking confirmations and other updates with customers.

The announcement comes as the Facebook-owned company aims to grow the messaging platform into one that can handle payments too, with a team of developers working on payments features in London.

Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg confirmed that WhatsApp mobile payments would be launching this year after a successful test phase for the feature in India.

Speaking at the F8 developer conference, he said he believed “it should be as easy to send money to someone as it is to send a photo” – but the financial world is far more regulated than image messaging is.

Confirming plans for the payments platform, Matt Idema, the chief operating officer at WhatsApp told Sky News: “We're eager to work with some of the best technical and operational experts in both London and Dublin to take WhatsApp into its second decade.

“WhatsApp is a truly global service and these teams will help us provide WhatsApp payments and other great features for our users everywhere.”WhatsApp points finger at Israeli firm over hackA sophisticated hacking group has developed a tool which can take control over victim's phones by sending them a call

Earlier this year, Facebook announced that Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp were all being brought under one umbrella earlier this year.

The integration of the three platforms would see the company combine its data collection from hundreds of millions of users around the world.

It is believed this would potentially allow Facebook to introduce a payments feature, helping the company to generate the kind of revenues seen from Chinese apps such as WeChat.

That app is so widely used in China that street market stalls and buskers use it for trade, and alongside its rival AliPay it comprises a market worth of $9tn (£7tn) in 2016, according to Research Consulting Group.

Ocado to invest £17m in high-tech ‘vertical farms’ to grow produce near distributors

( via – – Tue, 11th June 2019) London, Uk – –

£17m investment includes formation of venture to develop systems to sell to other retailers

Ocado is investing £17m in high-tech farming with the aim of growing herbs and other produce alongside its robot-run distribution centres around the world.

The online grocery specialist has bought a 58% stake in Jones Food, a “vertical farm” that grows 420 tonnes of basil, parsley and coriander a year in stacked trays under 12km (7.5 miles) of LED lights in a warehouse in Scunthorpe. The grower currently supplies businesses such as sandwich maker Greencore.

Duncan Tatton-Brown, finance director of Ocado, said the group could open at least 10 more similar farms within five years. He said it could take less than a year to build a Jones Food facility and the two companies were now considering how Ocado’s expertise in robotics and AI could be used to make Jones Food more efficient.Advertisement

James Lloyd-Jones, chief executive of Jones Food, said the group’s Scunthorpe farm recycled all its water, did not use pesticides and was powered by renewable energy, such as wind turbines and solar panels.

Ocado’s £17m investment also includes the formation of a new joint venture – Infinite Acres – with US-based vertical farming business 80 Acres and Priva, a Netherlands-based horticultural technology provider, on a four-year project to develop off-the-shelf vertical farming systems that can be sold to retail and other businesses worldwide. The 80 Acres farms, which are based in Ohio, Arkansas, North Carolina and Alabama, are able to grow tomatoes and courgettes as well as leafy salads and herbs, without using pesticides.

Tim Steiner, Ocado’s chief executive, said: “We believe that our investments today in vertical farming will allow us to address fundamental consumer concerns on freshness and sustainability and build on new technologies that will revolutionise the way customers access fresh produce.

“Our hope ultimately is to co-locate vertical farms within or next to our [distribution centres] and Ocado Zoom’s micro-fulfilment centres so that we can offer the very freshest and most sustainable produce that could be delivered to a customer’s kitchen within an hour of it being picked.”

Ocado Zoom is a new one-hour delivery service offering a more limited range of goods, launched earlier this year and being trialled in west London.

Only eight people work at the Jones Food facility, where the herbs are grown hydroponically – getting all the nutrients they need without soil. The plants, the first of which were only grown last year, are not touched by humans from seed to bagging ready for stores. A robot called Frank stacks trays of plants ontoon to towers of shelving while machinery automatically harvests them when ready.

Every element inside is monitored to ensure it is clean and primed for growing the herbs quickly. Anyone entering must wear protective clothing including overalls, wellies and hairnets and step through an air shower that blows off any dust. Air is filtered to ensure insects cannot enter.

Ocado currently sells Waitrose groceries via its website in the UK and provides distribution for Morrisons’ website. Next year it will swap Waitrose for Marks & Spencer under a £750m joint venture, raising the prospect of specialist robot farms serving the 134-year-old high street retailer.

Ocado has sold its hi-tech robot grocery picking and packing technology around the world to retailers wanting to develop online businesses. In one blockbuster deal it is to build 20 warehouses for US supermarket giant Kroger. It has also struck grocery delivery technology partnerships with Groupe Casino in France, Sobeys in Canada and ICA Group in Sweden, creating a ready-made potential market for its robot farms.

By Sarah Butler