New Porsche mistakenly put on sale at bargain price in China

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 3rd Feb 2023) London, Uk – –

Potential car buyers in China have found that an online advert for a luxury sports car was just too good to be true.

A Porsche dealership in the the city of Yinchuan listed the brand new vehicle for 124,000 yuan ($18,300, £15,000).

That is just a fraction of what it should have been. The Panamera has a starting price of $148,000.

The promotion attracted hundreds of would-be buyers who rushed to secure what appeared to be a bargain.


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A spokesperson for the German car maker told the BBC that the promotion “contained a serious mistake in the listed retail price”, which was taken down immediately.

“As there was only one vehicle in stock, in accordance with the sales process, Porsche Centre Yinchuan has communicated with the first customer who made an online refunded reservation fee and has negotiated an agreeable outcome”, they added.

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The dealership also contacted “every bidder individually and explained the situation with apology”.

The incorrect information was posted on 30 January and customers who paid the 911 yuan reservation fee have been refunded, Porsche said.

The incident caused a stir on Chinese social media, with one commentator posting “This is why I don't buy Porsche lol”.

Others thought that it was just a promotional strategy that was “well conducted”.

It was also suggested that the company had been “irresponsible” and should have honoured the cut-price offer.

Another social media user claimed to be the first person to try to buy the car but had cancelled their order when they were told the real price. They said it would have been wrong to try to take advantage of a mistake.

Porsche started selling cars in mainland China more than 20 years ago.


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In recent years the company expanded its footprint in the world's second largest economy as it opened new dealerships.

The country is now Porsche's largest single market globally, with sales totalling $6.2bn in the first six months of last year.

By Monica Miller

Apple, Amazon and Google all offer gloomy outlooks in quarterly results

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Fri, 3rd Feb 2023) London, Uk – –

Fears of a recession have dampened explosive growth enjoyed by tech companies throughout the pandemic.

Three of Silicon Valley’s largest companies posted disappointing financial results on Thursday, compounding concerns about a slowdown in the tech sector.


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Recession fears have hit both corporate and consumer spending globally, leading to the likes of Apple, Alphabet and Amazon all signalling a tough recovery from the highs of 2021.

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, reported subdued quarterly revenues as spending on digital advertising was reduced amid economic uncertainty.

Revenue from Google’s advertising business, which includes Search and YouTube, dropped from £52bn to £48bn. Shares in the company fell by more than 5% in after-hours trading.

Last month, Alphabet announced 12,000 workers would be made redundant globally.T

The “difficult news” about the job losses – about 6% of the total workforce – was revealed by Alphabet chief executive Sundar Pichai in an email to employees.

Similarly, Apple missed both sales and profits targets in the last quarter, hampered by production issues and lower demand for the company’s flagship iPhone.

The company’s sales dropped by 5% to £95bn, and were down across all product categories except iPads and services, which saw modest growth.

Apple also missed its first Wall Street profits forecast since 2016, delivering earnings per share of £1.54 against analyst estimates of £1.59 per share.

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But there was one silver lining for the company: chief executive Tim Cook said production was now “back where we want it to be” following the relaxing of China's zero-COVID policies.
Meanwhile, e-commerce giant Amazon posted a positive quarter for the holiday period, but issued a warning about the pace of growth in its critical cloud computing division.

The company, which cut 18,000 jobs at the beginning of January, defied Wall Street expectations and reported sales of £121bn, a jump of 9% compared to the same period last year.

It also predicted that sales for the current quarter would be in line with analyst estimates.

But more concerningly, Amazon’s long-time profit engine has started to show signs of a sharp slowdown.

Amazon Web Services sales growth slowed to 20% in the last three months, the lowest rate of expansion since the company began publishing numbers on the division.


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After exploding in popularity during the pandemic and hiring some additional 800,000 workers, the current chief executive Andy Jassy has tried to sharply reduce spending, cutting non-essential business arms and slowing hiring, after Amazon’s share price fell by nearly 50% last year.

The drop wiped about £678bn from the company’s market valuation.

Twinkl education provider close to £500m joint venture with Vitruvian

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 1st Feb 2023) London, Uk – –

Jon and Susie Seaton are close to agreeing the sale of a stake in Twinkl to private equity investor Vitruvian Partners in a deal that will land them a windfall of more than £150m, Sky News learns.

The husband-and-wife team who founded one of Britain's biggest privately owned educational resources providers are close to sealing a deal that will propel them into the ranks of the country's richest entrepreneurs.


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Sky News has learned that Jon and Susie Seaton, who established Twinkl in 2010 in a bedroom in their Sheffield home, are in advanced talks with the private equity firm Vitruvian Partners about the sale of a minority stake.

One source said the couple were negotiating the sale of a large minority shareholding in a transaction that would value Twinkl at approximately £500m.

If they sold a 30% stake, that would hand the Seatons a pre-tax windfall of close to £170m.

Twinkl provides digital teaching resources to millions of educators around the world, and according to its website had 4m users globally by the year of its tenth anniversary.

That number is said to have grown substantially since then.

According to accounts filed at Companies House for the year ended 30 April, 2022, it recorded turnover of just over £55m and operating profit of £28.2m.


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At the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, Twinkl made its entire library of content free to the teaching profession for three months.

Later in 2020, Mr Seaton was awarded an MBE for services to technology and education during the pandemic in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Twinkl could not be reached for comment, while Vitruvian did not respond to enquiries.

By Mark Kleinman

 

‘Google it’ no more? How AI could change the way we search the web

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 30th Jan, 2023) London, Uk – –

The rapid rise of ChatGPT has accelerated an AI arms race that could change the way we search the web. As Google looks to its past for inspiration and Microsoft makes a multibillion dollar bet, could there still be room for someone new to make an impression?

It's hard to imagine the internet without Google.

The tech giant has become so synonymous with searching the web that it has become a verb – we don't look it up, we “Google it”.


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Google ended 2022 as it ends every year, as the most visited website in the world. Its estimated share of the search engine market stands at 92% (Microsoft's Bing is its closest rival, on 3%).

On the surface, it might not like a landscape that's ripe for change but don't be so sure.

The launch of ChatGPT, an AI chatbot, last year threatened to upend how people prepare for job interviews, journalists write stories, and children do homework.

Trained on a huge amount of text from across the internet, with the ability to provide human-like responses to almost any prompt, it sparked speculation it could pose a threat to Google.

Search engines ready to bet big on AI

The New York Times reports Google founders, Larry Page and Sergei Brin, have been brought back to help add ChatGPT-like features to the search engine they launched more than 25 years ago.

Google boss Sundar Pichai reportedly wants to speed up the firm's plans for conversational AI in its products and services, which go far beyond a chatbot that pretends to be a tennis ball (seriously, we tried it and it was really odd).

It comes as Microsoft makes a multibillion dollar investment in ChatGPT creator OpenAI, raising the possibility that it could find its way into products like Office (welcome back, Clippy and friends?) and – yes – Bing.

The potential AI arms race is one predicted by former Google advertising tsar Sridhar Ramaswamy, who wants to use what he learned during 15 years at the company, to get ahead of this potentially game-changing trend.

“We are at an interesting juncture,” he tells Sky News from his home in California, from where he co-founded startup search engine Neeva.

“Where large language models and AI offer unprecedented ability to peer into information, to sift through things and deliver answers in a way that simply was not possible before. This is a really exciting time for search – and I think it's going to be disrupted in multiple ways by multiple companies.”

How AI could change how you search the web

Among those would-be disruptors are the likes of You.com, a search engine launched out of California (where else) back in 2021, which added a bot called YouChat in December; and Neeva's own new AI.

Neeva, which launched in the UK in October, aims to provide informative and reliable search results without being driven by user data and advertising.

Its AI functionality is being added for UK users in February. The AI trawls the web for information, produces a single, written answer to the query, and – like YouChat – cites each of its sources for users to find out more.

And it works in real time, meaning it stays up to date with current affairs and provides references accordingly for its admittedly small pool of more than one million monthly users.

“It gives search the power to be a lot more fluid to what it's been so far,” says Ramaswarmy, who believes the advertising model he led at Google – which accounts for the majority of its revenue – needs to be challenged.

“The entire search experience becomes focused on just getting you to click on an ad,” he says.

“But there is a bigger reason – the obsession with ads on the internet has also steered the Google algorithm in a way that focuses on engagement, so more and more you see ‘made for Google' sites that game how to get on top.”

YouChat launched in December 2022, as an addition to search engine You
But is it all upside?

Neeva's commitment to being ad-free comes at a premium – £5.49 a month, or £44.99 a year.

The majority of its users are on its free tier, which limits them to 50 searches per month.

Allowing limitless searches via powerful AI isn't a particularly cost-effective business model, with OpenAI CEO Sam Altman admitting the computing costs to run ChatGPT are “eye-watering”.

Dr Andrew Rogoyski, from the Institute for People-Centred AI at the University of Surrey, says the infrastructure required to run such a service at the scale of a Google would be enormous.

“There is some way to go in streamlining conversational AI in a way that we can afford,” he tells Sky News.

“AI is getting bigger and consuming more energy, and that's the wrong direction – it's pushing it into the hands of big organisations.”

But there are more fundamental challenges that any search engine seeking to leverage AI will need to consider.

‘Incorrect or nonsensical'

Like ChatGPT, NeevaAI is a large language model, meaning it is trained on huge amounts of information.

But OpenAI acknowledges its answers can be “overly verbose” and “incorrect or nonsensical”.

“It doesn't know right from wrong, it doesn't know authoritative from gossip,” says Ramaswarmy.

Of course, it's one thing for a nascent ChatGPT to make mistakes, another entirely if a firm like Google rolls out a commercial product with similar failings. As Microsoft found out after its 2016 chatbot was taught to say offensive things.

“Conversational AI is very believable, certainly in short bursts, and that will improve over time, but because it's so believable and plausible, people will not necessarily challenge it,” Rogoyski says.

TOP RISKS IN USING AI FOR SEARCH ENGINES (ACCORDING TO CHATGPT)
Bias: AI-powered search engines can perpetuate and even amplify existing biases, particularly if the data used to train the model is biased
Privacy: AI-powered search engines can collect and store large amounts of personal data, which can be used for targeted advertising or other purposes
Censorship: AI-powered search engines may be used to censor or suppress certain types of information
Misinformation: AI-powered search engines may return misinformation or fake news, particularly if the AI model is trained on unreliable sources
Job loss: AI-powered search engines may lead to job loss for certain types of jobs, such as librarians or research assistants
Security: AI-powered search engines may be vulnerable to hacking or other types of cyber attacks, which could compromise user data or disrupt search results
Dependence: People may become too dependent on AI-powered search engines, which could lead to a lack of critical thinking and research skills
Monopoly: AI-powered search engines may lead to the creation of powerful monopolies, which could lead to a lack of competition and innovation
Are we really ready for change?

Seeing the potential for a shake-up on the internet is one thing, but seeing it through is another entirely.

Elon Musk's tumultuous takeover of Twitter hasn't upended people's habits to the extent experts predicted, with the rapid rise in users at would-be rival Mastodon having stalled.


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Ramaswarmy admits causing an internet “mass movement” is difficult, but views ChatGPT's breakthrough as evidence that “a platform shift” is on the cards.

“Think of how we saw Microsoft, Nokia and Blackberry disappear from the mobile world and let Google and Apple become the dominant players,” he says.

“It feels like this is one of these face-off moments.”

By Tom Acres, technology reporter

 

JD Sports 10 million customers hit by cyber-attack

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 30th Jan 2023) London, Uk – –

Sportswear chain JD Sports has said stored data relating to 10 million customers might be at risk after it was hit by a cyber-attack.

The company said information that “may have been accessed” by hackers included names, addresses, email accounts, phone numbers, order details and the final four digits of bank cards.

The data related to online orders between November 2018 and October 2020.

JD Sports said it was contacting affected customers.


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The group said the affected data was “limited”. It added it did not hold full payment card details and did not believe that account passwords were accessed by the hackers.

“We want to apologise to those customers who may have been affected by this incident,” said Neil Greenhalgh, chief financial officer of JD Sports. “Protecting the data of our customers is an absolute priority for JD.”

The attack related to online orders placed for the JD, Size?, Millets, Blacks, Scotts and MilletSport brands and it is understood it was detected by the company in recent days, but only the historical data was accessed.

The company said it was working with “leading cyber-security experts” and was engaging with the UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in response to the incident.

Mr Greenhalgh said affected customers were being advised “to be vigilant about potential scam e-mails, calls and texts”.

Cyber-attacks have hit several UK companies in recent times. Royal Mail became the victim of a ransomware attack earlier this month which led to it halting post and parcel deliveries overseas.

In December, the Guardian newspaper was also targeted by a suspected ransomware attack.

Lauren Wills-Dixon, solicitor and an expert in data privacy at law firm Gordons, said retailers were among the most common targets for cyber-attacks because of the large amounts of customer data they hold, and said firms needed to do more to plan for them.

But she said the increased use of technology by the industry “to reduce overheads and streamline operations has raised the risk even further”.

“In this new world, it's not ‘if' but ‘when' a cyber-attack will happen,” she said.

A spokeswoman for the ICO confirmed it was aware of the attack and that it was assessing information provided by JD Sports.


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Scott Nicholson, co-chief executive of cyber security company Bridewell, said it was seeing a rise in malicious software, known as “malware” being used by criminals to steal information from companies.

“It is good to see JD Sports stating that they are working with experts to help from a containment and recovery perspective, but once the dust has settled their comments of ‘we take the protection of customer data extremely seriously' will be put to the test by the ICO,” he added.

By Michael Race

 

Why Wealthy Americans Love AmEx

Source: CNBC

Armed with impressive rewards and a loyal customer base, Amex has achieved impressive growth over the years. The company’s revenue has increased over 32% since 2017 and shares of the company have shown resilience and growth in a tumultuous market. Yet Amex is far from dominating the credit card industry compared to the likes of Visa and Mastercard. So what is the secret to Amex’s success and where is it headed next? Watch the video to find out.

 

HS2 may not run through to central London – report

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 27th Jan 2023) London, Uk – –

The HS2 rail line is a “specific priority”, the chancellor has insisted, following a report the scheme may no longer reach central London.

The Sun reported that rising inflation and construction costs mean HS2 trains may terminate in the suburbs of west London instead.

The paper said bosses were considering pushing back its Euston terminus to 2038, or scrapping it completely.

The government has not denied the report.


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The move would mean trains would run from a new hub at Old Oak Common, about 8km (five miles) away, and commuters would have to use the Elizabeth Line or Tube to travel to central London.

HS2, or High Speed 2, was originally intended to connect London with Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.

The leg to Leeds has since been scrapped.

In a speech setting out his long-term vision for economic growth, Jeremy Hunt said HS2 was a “specific priority for me in the Autumn statement”.

He said the government was “absolutely committed to showing that we can deliver big important infrastructure projects”.

“That is why in the Autumn Statement we protected key projects like HS2, East West Rail and core Northern Powerhouse Rail”, he said.

The Sun also reported that a two to five-year delay to the entire project is also being considered.

Speaking at Bloomberg's European HQ, in London, Mr Hunt said he was “incredibly proud that under a Conservative government for the first time we have shovels in the ground”.

“But large infrastructure projects still take too long and if we are to deliver our ambitions we need to find a way to speed them up.”

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Work on the first phase of the project – between London and Birmingham – is well under way and that part of the line is due to open by 2033.

But the project has faced delays and mounting concerns over the exact route and its potential environmental impact.

Pressure group Stop HS2 said it believed the project would increase carbon emissions and damage areas of natural beauty. Protesters, including veteran eco-protester Swampy, have built tunnels in an attempt to disrupt HS2 construction.

The estimated cost of HS2 was between £72bn and £98bn at 2019 prices. A budget of £55.7bn for the whole of HS2 was set in 2015 – but this was made before the Leeds leg was cancelled.

A report published last October found it was unlikely that the £40.3bn target for the first section of the line would be met.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper has said HS2 was “experiencing high levels of inflation” and it was working with “suppliers actively to mitigate inflationary increases”.

Research from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Office for National Statistics published in September showed that construction materials across the UK experienced inflation of 18% from August 2021 to August 2022.

Mr Harper said inflation was not affecting the “overall affordability of HS2 in real terms” but it was “creating pressures against its existing annual funding settlements”.

Henri Murison, CEO of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership said that if the HS2 rail link did not go to Euston, this would have “a number of significant disadvantages”.

“Because actually people in the north of England, people in Birmingham will want to get access to central London – that's what they currently have through the normal mainline network”, he told the BBC.

However, Lord Tony Berkeley questioned whether more services to London were needed and said money would be better spent on local and regional services.

The Labour peer, who in 2019 was deputy chairman of a government review into HS2, said: “My view is that we should aim for the regions – the north and the midlands – to have a commuter service as good as in the south east.”

The head of the National Infrastructure Commission told BBC News in November that cutting back on the HS2 rail route would be “silly”.


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“I think you've got massive investment, which has happened in Birmingham ahead of HS2 – it just shows what can happen. And Manchester of course equally is now seeing investment off the back of HS2. I think that would be a very strange decision,” he said.

A senior figure at the Department for Transport warned last week that “quite tough decisions” could lie ahead for the scheme.

By Aoife Walsh

 

 

Ethereum Scaling Tool Polygon’s MATIC Token Surges Amid Spike in Transactions

(qlmbusinessnews.com via coindesk.com — Fri, 27th Jan 2023) London, Uk – –

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The token is up 48% this year. The blockchain has the second most daily active users, according to one research group.

Ethereum scaling tool Polygon’sMATIC token has surged 12% over the past 24 hours, continuing its strong momentum this year.

MATIC was recently trading at $1.11. It is up 48% since Dec. 31 amid a spike in daily transactions that have made the blockchain the second largest for daily active users (DAU), according to data from Token Terminal.


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The rally comes amid a January upturn in the crypto market that has seen Aptos’ APT token skyrocketing more than 400%, Fantom’s FTM jumping about 145% and bitcoin rising nearly 40%.

The Polygon platform ranks second behind Binance’s BNB chain recording 344,000 DAU’s, ahead of Solana and Ethereum.

Polygon’s announced partnerships and launches over the last month that have increased DAUs may also be behind the price increase, along with anticipation of Polygon’s mainnet launch of its zero knowledge-EVM. The mainnet launch is scheduled for early 2023. Its zk-EVM public testnet went live in October.

“We’re starting to see users and interest come back to these kinds of networks and seeing activity again,” Charles Storry, head of growth at crypto index platform Phuture, told CoinDesk.

“There’s also a lot of projects that have built on top of Polygon that haven’t released their tokens yet, which will be coming out soon and add to the already increasing activity levels,” Storry added.


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Polygon currently has around $1.1 billion total value locked (TVL) according to data from DeFi Llama, “We are seeing mass TVL increases for riskier projects and early stage applications,” Storry said. “In a bear market investors are more conservative and don't want to take on huge risk, but now prices have picked up a little, they are more open to newer and riskier ecosystems like Polygon.”
“We will see more of that come through as the market continues to pick up.”

By Lyllah Ledesma

Britishvolt ‘collapsed owing £120m’ after a desperate struggle to raise funds

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 26th Jan 2023) London, Uk – –

Several bids are understood to have been made for assets of failed electric vehicle battery startup

The site in Blyth, Northumberland, where Britishvolt had planned to build a factory to make batteries for electric vehicles.


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The battery startup Britishvolt owed as much as £120m to creditors when it collapsed last week in a major blow to hopes of sustaining the British car industry, it can be revealed.

Creditors are expected to recover a very small proportion of the debts, according to a source with knowledge of the matter, although there are understood to be several bids for the company and its assets. EY, a professional services firm, is handling the administration.

EY is hoping to find a buyer for the remainder of the business – which has 26 staff remaining on its payroll – and the ownership of the site in Northumberland. The deadline for initial offers for the Britishvolt assets was Tuesday evening.

The failure of Britishvolt, after a desperate struggle to raise funds, came after a dismal year for the UK car industry. British factories built only 775,014 cars during 2022, the lowest annual figure since 1956, according to data published on Thursday by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), a lobby group.

Production fell 9.8% from 2021, and declined 41% from 2019, before the pandemic. Indian-owned Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) also lost its crown as the biggest UK carmaker by volume to Japan’s Nissan.

The UK car industry has been struggling with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic for three years, with output disrupted first by lockdowns, and then by supply chain problems including a severe global shortage of computer chips and interruption to supplies of parts from Ukraine after Russia invaded.

Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive, said “2020 was bad, ‘21 was worse, ‘22 was even worse.”

The collapse in output was mainly driven by the closure of Honda’s Swindon factory. Despite the company’s denials, industry analysts said Brexit was likely a major factor in that decision. Hawes said uncertainty over the future of the UK-EU trading relationship would make it harder to attract investment to the UK.

At the same time, the industry is gearing up to move to producing battery-electric vehicles. Britishvolt had been hailed by the former prime minister Boris Johnson as an “electric vehicle battery pioneer”, and was seen – in the absence of many more established rivals – as a flagship project for the government. Attracting battery production was seen as key to retaining automotive industry jobs and the government promised to give Britishvolt £100m in funding if it could meet milestones related to equipment purchases.

Britishvolt had received support from FTSE 100 companies Glencore, Ashtead and abrdn’s subsidiary Tritax. However, it ran out of cash before it could build its factory, amid revelations of profligate spending. Hawes said its collapse was a “disappointment”, if not a surprise.

“Maybe something from the ashes will arise,” he said.

Several companies have expressed a preliminary interest in the company or its assets. Tata, the Indian conglomerate that owns JLR, has also considered purchasing the site. DeaLab, a little-known Indonesia-linked private equity firm, put in an offer for the company before it went into administration.

Recharge Industries, an Australian startup, has publicly expressed an interest in buying assets from the administration. The company, run by a 38-year-old former employee of PwC, a professional services firm, is also trying to build a battery factory in Geelong in southern Australia.

Recharge put in its bid after being aided by Ian Botham, the former England cricketer, according to the Australian Financial Review (AFR), which first reported the offer. Lord Botham, who was awarded a peerage by Johnson, is now a UK-Australia trade envoy.


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“The UK is home to the most innovative and exciting companies in the world. It’s fantastic to have an Australian business wanting to invest in UK-Australia trade and investment opportunities,” Botham said in a statement to AFR. Botham was approached for comment.

EY declined to comment and to provide a list of Britishvolt’s creditors until it publishes its administrator’s report in six or seven weeks’ time. EY has said it will not vote in creditor resolutions, after confirming that it is itself one of the smaller creditors after carrying out consultancy work for Britishvolt.

By Jasper Jolly and John Collingridge

 

Microsoft confirms multibillion dollar investment in firm behind ChatGPT

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 24th Jan 2023) London, Uk – –

Company says deal with OpenAI will involve deploying artificial intelligence technology across its products

Microsoft has announced a deepening of its partnership with the company behind the artificial intelligence program ChatGPT by announcing a multibillion dollar investment in the business.


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It said the deal with OpenAI would involve deploying the company’s artificial intelligence models across Microsoft products, which include the Bing search engine and its office software such as Word, PowerPoint and Outlook.

ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence chatbot, has been a sensation since it launched in November, with users marvelling at its ability to perform a variety of tasks from writing recipes and sonnets to job applications.

It is at the forefront of generative AI, or technology trained on vast amounts of text and images that can create content from a simple text prompt.

It has also been described as “a gamechanger” that will challenge teachers in universities and schools amid concerns that pupils are already using the chatbot to write high-quality essays with minimal human input.

In a blogpost announcing “the third phase” of its partnership, Microsoft said the investment would include additional supercomputer development and cloud-computing support for OpenAI via Microsoft’s Azure platform.

It has been previously reported that Microsoft was considering a $10bn (£8bn) investment in OpenAI this time round.

“We formed our partnership with OpenAI around a shared ambition to responsibly advance cutting-edge AI research and democratise AI as a new technology platform,” said Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chairman and chief executive.

“In this next phase of our partnership, developers and organisations across industries will have access to the best AI infrastructure, models, and toolchain with Azure to build and run their applications.”

Monday’s announcement is Microsoft’s third investment in San Francisco-based OpenAI, which was co-founded by Elon Musk and the investor Sam Altman. As part of the investments, Microsoft has since built a supercomputer to power OpenAI’s technology, among other forms of support.


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Dan Ives, analyst at the US financial services firm Wedbush Securities, said: “With ChatGPT being one of the most innovative AI technologies seen in the industry, [Microsoft] is clearly being aggressive on this front and not going to be left behind on what could be a potential gamechanging AI investment.

“In the AI race today, Nadella & Co are ahead of the rest of Big Tech and this investment is a major notch on the AI belt.”

By Dan Milmo

 

AstraZeneca boss says Technology can help the NHS

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 23rd Jan 2023) London, Uk – –

The chairman of Covid vaccine giant AstraZeneca has said that investment in technology can help the NHS cut costs.

Leif Johansson said more spending on areas such as artificial intelligence and screening could prevent illness and stop people going to hospital.

The NHS is under severe pressure, with A&E waits at record levels and strike action exacerbating ambulance delays.


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Mr Johansson said about 97% of healthcare costs come from “when people present at the hospital”.

He said only the remaining 3% is made up of spending on vaccination, early detection or screening.

Mr Johansson told the BBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos: “If we can get into an investment mode in health for screening or prevention or early diagnostics on health and see that as an investment to reduce the cost of sickness then I think we have a much better model over time that would serve us well.”

Commenting on the UK, he said: “All countries have different systems and the NHS is one which we have learned to live with and I think the Brits, in general, are quite appreciative about it.”

He said he was not talking about “breaking any healthcare systems down”. Rather, he said, “we should embrace technology and science”.

Mr Johansson said that artificial intelligence, or AI, could be used to diagnose lung cancer through X-rays by “just running them through software”. Or technology could be used to screen diabetes or cardiovascular diseases.

“All of that can be done within the institution of the NHS and would still have a very beneficial impact,” he said.

The NHS is facing more industrial action on Monday when ambulance workers in some parts of England and Wales, who are members of the Unite union, go out on strike in a dispute over pay.

There are further strikes planned by ambulance workers and nurses later this month and in February.

Following the UK's exit from the European Union, Mr Johansson had expressed concern about whether AstraZeneca would continue investing in the country.

But he now says that the UK has the opportunity to innovate in technology for the healthcare sector outside of European regulations.

“The UK already has a very, very good life science sector academically but also industrially with a couple of very large players, ourselves included.

“Anything that we can do in the UK would be beneficial for the country on a broader aspect than only using it in the UK.”


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Mr Johansson will step down as non-executive chairman of AstraZeneca in April.

He will be replaced by Michel Demaré, currently a non-executive director at the pharmaceutical company who holds similar roles at Vodafone among others.

By Dearbail Jordan & Faisal Islam

 

Digital nomad’ visas are easier to get than ever — especially if you’re rich

Source: CNBC

Money can buy many things — a tasty meal, a nice car, a luxurious home.

But what about a long-term stay as a digital nomad on the beautiful Indonesian resort island of Bali? Well, for people with $130,000 to spare in their bank account, that could become a reality too.

Digital nomads are “people who choose to embrace a location-independent, technology-enabled lifestyle that allows them to travel and work remotely, anywhere in the world,” according to one firm that links independent consultants with clients.

As of June 2022, more than 25 countries and territories had issued digital nomad visas to draw remote workers, whose number has increased since the pandemic started.

The Indonesian government, however, is taking a slightly different approach through a “second home visa” that permits wealthy foreigners, professionals, investors and retirees to stay in the country for up to 10 years.

Watch the video above to learn how this visa stacks up against the ones issued by other countries, and to learn about the difficulties policymakers face in making it a success.

 

Crypto lender Genesis preparing to file for bankruptcy

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 19th Jan, 2023) London, UK —

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Cryptocurrency lender Genesis Global Capital is planning to file for bankruptcy as soon as this week, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday, citing people with knowledge of the situation.

A bankruptcy filing has been expected for weeks, after the company froze customer redemptions on Nov. 16 following the downfall of major cryptocurrency exchange FTX.


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The collapse of FTX in November has claimed several victims including crypto lender BlockFi and Core Scientific Inc , one of the biggest publicly traded crypto mining companies in the United States, both of which filed for bankruptcy protection in the following months.

Genesis, its parent Digital Currency Group and creditors have exchanged several proposals, but have so far failed to come to an agreement, the Bloomberg report said, adding that Kirkland & Ellis and Proskauer Rose have been advising groups of creditors.

Genesis did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Genesis is also locked in a dispute with Gemini, founded by the identical twin crypto pioneers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss.

Gemini offered a crypto lending product called Earn in partnership with Genesis, and now says Genesis owes it $900 million in connection with that product.


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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last week said it had charged Genesis and Gemini with illegally selling securities to hundreds of thousands of investors through their crypto lending program.

Reporting by Niket Nishant and Mehnaz Yasmin 

Morgan Stanley veteran to become CEO of digital wallet provider HyperJar

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 18th Jan 2023) London, Uk – –

Rob Rooney, who spent more than 30 years at the Wall Street giant, has agreed to take over as CEO of the British fintech start-up, Sky News understands.

A veteran of one of Wall Street's most powerful banks is to take over as the boss of an ambitious British digital wallet provider.


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Sky News understands that Rob Rooney, whose most recent role at Morgan Stanley was heading its technology operations, has agreed to become chief executive of HyperJar.

Sources said his appointment, three months after he joined HyperJar's board as a non-executive director, had been announced to staff and investors on Wednesday morning.

Mr Rooney's appointment is a coup for the start-up, which was founded in 2016 and claims to have 500,000 customers.

The former Morgan Stanley executive invested in the business in a previous funding round.

HyperJar says it helps people to plan their financial journey from depositing money to spending it.

Customers organise their money in what the company calls “digital jam jars”, and are able to earn rewards which give them access to partner brands such as Boden and Costa Coffee.


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As part of a management reshuffle triggered by Mr Rooney's appointment, the company's founders – Paul Rolles and Mat Megens – will hold the respective titles of architect, business and architect, consumer.

Scott Davies, a HyperJar board member since 2019, has become the company's chairman.

HyperJar declined to comment.

 

Battery startup Britishvolt enters administration as rescue talks fail

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 17th Jan 2023) London, Uk – –

Staff told majority of firm’s 300 employees would be immediately made redundant on Tuesday morning

The battery startup Britishvolt has collapsed into administration with the majority of its 300 staff made immediately redundant after talks about a rescue bid from several investors failed.

Britishvolt filed notice to appoint an administrator in the insolvency courts on Tuesday and the accountancy firm EY has confirmed it has taken on the administration.


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Staff were told the “majority” of its 300 employees would be immediately made redundant on Tuesday morning.

The company’s efforts to build a large facility near Blyth in Northumberland had stalled in recent months as it struggled to find a cash injection to pursue the project.

EY said the company had entered administration “due to insufficient equity investment for both the ongoing research it was undertaking and the development of its sites in the Midlands and the north-east of England”.

The administrators, one of the big four accountancy firms, will now assess the company’s assets, including its intellectual property and research, in an effort to pay creditors and will subsequently wind down its affairs.

Britishvolt had said on Monday that it was in talks over a “majority sale” of the business but those discussions appear to have failed.

Shareholders had been voting on potential new investors in the £3.8bn “gigafactory” project, which was seen as a key pillar in supplying the next generation of electric vehicles built in the UK.

The company’s management had been in talks with a number of potential investors, including existing investors keen to prevent the value of their holdings from being wiped out, and an obscure Indonesia-linked group with little experience in manufacturing.

The Guardian revealed last week that DeaLab Group, a UK-based private equity investor, and an associated metals business, Barracuda Group, were in talks over a £160m rescue deal.

Sources close to the situation said the existing investors had been closer to securing a deal than the Indonesia-linked consortium which “did not have the necessary funding” required to take on Britishvolt. However, ultimately, both appear to have failed to reach a deal.

The administration came after numerous delays to expected announcements in recent days as executives weighed weaknesses in the bids. Most notably, the company’s leadership had concerns that it had no guarantees that promised follow-on funding would materialise, according to two sources with knowledge of internal discussions.

Dan Hurd, joint administrator and partner at EY-Parthenon, said: “Britishvolt provided a significant opportunity to create jobs and employment, as well as support the development of technology and infrastructure needed to help with the UK’s energy transition.

“It is disappointing that the company has been unable to fulfil its ambitions and secure the equity funding needed to continue.

“Our priorities as joint administrators are now to protect the interests of the company’s creditors, explore options for a sale of the business and assets, and to support the impacted employees.”

Britishvolt was hoping to build the 30 gigawatt hours gigafactory in phases, manufacturing enough battery cells a year for more than 300,000 electric vehicle battery packs, equivalent to about a quarter of current UK vehicle manufacturing. However, construction work stopped last autumn as its focus turned to staving off collapse.

Building gigafactories is seen as a key aim by the government, which had promised £100m support to the project.

Britishvolt asked for a £30m advance on the funds last year but was rejected as the company had not hit certain milestones needed to access the funds. That was reportedly followed by two further requests, for £11.5m and then just £3m, raising concerns in government about the financial stability of the project.

Ian Lavery, the Labour MP for Wansbeck, where the factory was to have been built, said the situation was “deeply concerning” and noted that the project was “once the crown jewel of the government’s levelling up policy in the north-east”.


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Britishvolt narrowly avoided entering administration in October after it secured a last-minute injection of £5m from the FTSE 100 mining company Glencore, which was already an investor. Glencore had a deal with Britishvolt to supply cobalt to the factory.

A Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spokesman said: “We remained hopeful that Britishvolt would find a suitable investor and are disappointed to hear that this has not been possible, and therefore no ATF [Automotive Transformation Fund] grant has been paid out.

“Our thoughts are with the company’s employees and their families at this time, and we stand ready to support those affected.”

By Alex Lawson and Jasper Jolly

 

How Tech Is Betting Big On AI Generated Art

Source: CNBC

Silicon Valley is abuzz over a new kind of artificial intelligence — generative AI. It's a somewhat new field that exploded in popularity and attention in recent weeks, thanks to a steady stream of novel — and sometimes very weird — pieces of digital art hitting social media.

The art was made by generative AI software, using simple text prompts from humans. These kinds of tools not only produce unique pieces of art, they can also generate audio, text and video based on user prompts. While their results are less than perfect, the AI tools can turn what were once hours-long projects into minutes-long tasks.

Proponents of generative AI software say the tools could one day replace the armies of visual effects artists who work on major blockbuster films. In a shorter time frame, they could help white-collar workers whip up slideshow presentations, design corporate logos and even craft written content such as blog posts or social media posts.

 

Will Flippy The Robot Be The New Face Of Fast Food?

Source: CNBC

This robot named Flippy runs the fry station at a White Castle outside of Chicago. With a mechanical arm and using computer vision technology Flippy can cook everything from french fries and onion rings to cheese sticks. White Castle said it plans to add 100 Flippy’s to its kitchens’ nationwide. Up to 82% of restaurant positions could, to some extent, be replaced by robots. Automation could save U.S. fast food restaurants over $12 billion in annual wages. And restaurants are also struggling to find workers. American restaurants are down more than 560,000 jobs or about 4.6% of its workforce from their pre-pandemic levels. So what impact will robots have on the fast food industry and the livelihood of its workers? CNBC got a behind the scenes look at restaurant robot maker Miso Robotics to find out.

 

Apple boss to take 40% pay cut after investor backlash

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Fri, 13th Jan 2023) London, Uk – –

Apple says he requested the move after just 64% of investors supported his pay arrangements at the company's last annual meeting.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook is to take a pay cut of more than 40% after shareholders turned on the size of his awards last year.


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The company said he requested the move after fewer than two-thirds of Apple investors supported his pay package at the tech firm's annual meeting in 2022.

Regulatory filings on Thursday showed his basic salary and bonus would remain the same at $3m (£2.45m) and $6m (£4.9m), respectively.

But stock bonuses would depend more, in future, on how well the iPhone maker's shares perform relative to market peers.

Mr Cook's compensation for Apple's financial year to the end of September 2022 was $99.4m – up slightly on the previous year's $98.7m.

Elon Musk breaks world record for largest loss of personal fortune in history

That would likely be achieved, Apple said, through stock awards of around $40m, with $30m of those being tied to share price performance.

Many of the big US tech firms have seen sharp share price falls over the past year – linked to the inflation-led slowdown in the global economy.


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In Apple's case, supply chain woes – particularly in China – have contributed to its decline.

A year ago, it became the first US company to achieve a $3trn market value but it currently stands at $2.1trn.

 

Crypto exchange Binance registered as a financial institution in Sweden

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 12th Jan, 2023) London, UK —

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Sweden's financial watchdog said on Thursday it had registered crypto exchange Binance this week as a financial institute in the country.

The registration allows Binance to launch a website in Swedish and in other ways market itself directly to consumers in the Nordic country, Per Nordkvist, deputy head of the Financial Supervisory Authority's banks division, told Reuters.


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Binance accounts for over half the global crypto trading market. With its registration in Sweden, it has now received regulatory permissions or approvals in 15 jurisdictions, including several European Union states and Australia and New Zealand.

The core of the company's business, the giant Binance.com exchange, last year processed trades worth over $22 trillion.

Binance, founded by CEO Changpeng Zhao in Shanghai in 2017, has declined to reveal where the exchange is based.

A Reuters analysis in December of Binance's corporate filings in 14 jurisdictions showed that the Binance.com exchange remains mostly hidden from public view.

The public filings do not show, for example, how much money flows between the units and Binance.com. The Reuters analysis also found that several of the units appear to have little activity.

Binance said in a statement shared on Thursday by its CEO on Twitter that with the latest registration, Swedish residents can legally access services including crypto trading and withdrawing and depositing euros on the exchange.

However, Nordkvist said, the registration of the local unit, Binance Nordics AB, does not mean that the company is fully supervised by the watchdog.


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Unlike licensed financial services providers, companies that are registered are obliged to provide the Swedish watchdog with information on anti-money laundering measures but little more.

“Binance continues to demonstrate its commitment to work closely with regulatory agencies to uphold global standards,” Richard Teng, Binance's head of Europe and MENA, said in a blog post on Wednesday.

Reporting by Anna Ringstrom and Tom Wilson

Three UK warehouses, employing 1,200 staff to be shut by Amazon

 

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 10th Jan, 2023) London, UK —

Amazon (AMZN.O) plans to shut three warehouses in Britain in a move that will impact 1,200 jobs, but workers will be given the chance to transfer to other units, the online retail giant said on Tuesday.


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The company said it opened a consultation to close three older British warehouses this year in Hemel Hampstead, Doncaster and Gourock, sites employing 1,200 people in one of Amazon's biggest markets outside the United States.

Those employees will be given the chance to move jobs internally, said Amazon, with those from the first two sites moving to other warehouses nearby. Amazon says it operates 30 large warehouses across the United Kingdom.

Amazon said it planned to open two new warehouses in central and north east England over the next three years, a move it said will create 2,500 new jobs.

The Seattle-based online retailing giant said earlier in January it wants to shed 18,000 roles globally, bracing for slower growth as consumers and businesses cut spending as a result of high inflation.

The planned closing of the British warehouses are not part of the wider restructuring which mainly covers non-warehouse roles in e-commerce and human resources.


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Separately, Amazon's UK business has also faced demands for better pay from its warehouse staff, about 300 of whom plan to go on strike on Jan. 25.

Reporting by Akash Sriram, Sachin Ravikumar and Sarah Young