Uber ride-hailing service wins appeal and granted a fresh licence to operate in London

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Mon, 28th Sept 2020) London, Uk – –

Uber to get London licence as court rules it ‘no longer poses a risk'

Ride-hailing service wins appeal a year after TfL refused extension over safety concerns

Uber has been granted the right to a fresh licence in London after an appeal found it was a “fit and proper” firm to run private hire car services.

Westminster magistrates court ruled in favour of Uber almost a year after Transport for London refused the ride-hailing firm a licence extension over safety concerns.

The deputy chief magistrate Tan Ikram said he had “sufficient confidence that Uber London Ltd no longer poses a risk to public safety … despite historical failings,” after hearing three days of arguments this month.

He said Uber had tightened up review processes to tackle document and insurance fraud and it now “seems to be at the forefront of tackling an industry-wide challenge”.

TfL’s safety concerns included the discovery that up to 14,000 trips by Uber passengers had been served by non-licensed drivers fraudulently logging on to the app using other people’s IDs.

Before the hearing, Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional general manager, said: “We have worked hard to address TfL’s concerns over the last few months, rolled out real-time ID checks for drivers, and are committed to keeping people moving safely around the city.”

The firm argued that it had fundamentally changed in the three years since TfL first refused it a licence, in September 2017, when TfL deemed it not “fit or proper” to operate in the capital. On that occasion Uber won a provisional extension on appeal, but it was again refused a licence last November over the identity concerns.

The exact length of Uber’s next licence and any conditions attached are yet to be decided. Uber had been allowed to continue to run services in London pending the appeal.

Steve McNamara, the general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, which represents black-cab drivers, called the decision “a disaster for London”.

He said: “Uber has demonstrated time and time again that it simply can’t be trusted to put the safety of Londoners, its drivers and other road users above profit. Sadly, it seems that Uber is too big to regulate effectively, but too big to fail.”

How Palantir Built Data-Mining Empire

Source: CNBC

After 17 years, data analytics company Palantir is making its public market debut. Best known for its sometimes controversial work with U.S. government agencies like the CIA, the DoD and ICE, Palantir has increasingly been working with commercial customers as well, which investors hope will put it on a path to profitability.

Pinewood studio blockbuster visitor attraction set to create 3,500 jobs

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Thur, 17th Sept 2020) London, Uk – –

The company said the strategy comes at a time when the need for investment in economic recovery has never been higher.

Film studio Pinewood has announced a £450m expansion, including a blockbuster visitor attraction, which it says could create around 3,500 new jobs.

The announcement, details of which were first reported by Sky News, “comes at a time when the need for investment in economic recovery has never been higher”, the company said.

Pinewood, which has played host to many instalments of the James Bond and Star Wars franchises, will open Screen Hub UK on a 77-acre site next to the existing studio.

It will include a 350,000 sq ft “film-inspired international visitor attraction” called Pinewood Studio Experience.

Pinewood group chairman Paul Golding said: “We have been looking at a visitor experience for some time and feel that now is the right moment to bring it forward.

“The project will strengthen UK film and bring much needed jobs and spending.”

Pinewood said it would start consultation on its planning application for the scheme next week.

Its new visitor attraction is likely to feature many of the most famous films made at the site during its 84-year history.

Among those at least partly shot at Pinewood during the last year have been Rocketman, Mary Poppins Returns, 1917, Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker and the 25th James Bond film, No Time To Die, which is due to be Daniel Craig's final outing as 007.

The latest instalment of the Jurassic World series is currently filming at the Buckinghamshire studio.

Pinewood's plans will deliver a huge shot in the arm to a film industry which, like many others, has been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Filming across the television and movie sectors has been postponed or cancelled during the last six months, resulting in substantial delays to film releases and in turn dealing a heavy blow to the finances of cinema chains around the world.

Other big investments in UK film production capacity include a state-of-the-art film and TV studio being developed by Sky, the immediate owner of Sky News, at Elstree.

Gravity Industries Aerodynamic Jet Suit Latest Flight Test

Source: Gravity Industries

Latest wing testing and the evolution of our aerodynamic control at speed with the #JetSuit never stops at Gravity. Here with the awesome Benjamin Kenobi chasing with his Inspire drone.
With a rich family history in Aviation, former Oil Trader & Royal Marines Reservist, Richard Browning, founded pioneering Aeronautical Innovation company, Gravity Industries in March 2017 to launch human flight into an entirely new era. The Gravity #JetSuit uses over 1000bhp of Jet Engine power combined with natural human balance to deliver the most intense and enthralling spectacle, often likened to the real life Ironman. Gravity has to date been experienced by over a billion people globally and covered by virtually every media platform. The Gravity Team, based in the UK, have delivered over 100 flight & Speaking events across 30 countries including 5 TED talks.

Amazon self-driving vehicles might soon be delivering parcels in the UK

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Tue, 8th Sept, 2020) London, Uk – –

The Amazon Scout has been developed to avoid obstacles in the street such as pedestrians and bins.

Britons could soon see their Amazon parcels delivered by a small self-driven vehicle. 

The online giant is hiring a team of engineers to develop its Amazon Scout vehicles for use in the UK following the growth in online shopping.

The Scout rolls along the pavement at walking pace before delivering to a customer's door.

It has been developed with a camera and sensor to help it navigate around pedestrians, pets and obstacles such as bins and sign posts.

The technology is already being tested out in small areas in the States, including the area just outside Amazon's headquarters in Washington state.Advertisement

Engineers in the UK will be working with the Amazon Scout research lab in Seattle to develop the software.

“Our investment in this new Amazon Scout team in the UK, which will consist of dozens of engineers, is driven by our partnership with the Cambridge community and made possible by the talented people who live here,” the company said.

Last week, Amazon said it would create 7,000 jobs by the end of the year, taking its permanent UK workforce to more than 40,000 people.

But thousands of jobs have been lost in the retail sector since March, as non-essential shops were forced to close during lockdown and many turned to online shopping.

By Emily Mee

Napster sold to Uk’s Melody VR for $70m

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Mon, 7th Sept 2020) London, Uk – –

MelodyVR’s £52m purchase of the infamous disruptor turned heads, but investors are liking what they see (and hear)

“Going up against a Spotify, I don’t think anyone wants to be doing that,” says Anthony Matchett, the new owner of Napster. Last month, the 32-year-old’s London-based music tech startup, MelodyVR, made waves by announcing a surprise $70m (£52m) reverse takeover of the music streaming pioneer of the streaming revolution. Matchett is hoping that a marriage of MelodyVR, which films and streams gigs, with the 21-year-old Napster will be music to the ears, and eyes, of fans and investors alike.

“There is something very apt about a disruptive company that works with technology like MelodyVR and the original music industry disrupter,” he says. “We see synergies for a service that combines music streaming, immersive content, live events. Something that an Apple Music, a Spotify, or any other service doesn’t provide. Everything a music fan might really want.”

For the time being, the two companies will operate separately, although Matchett doesn’t rule out a potential renaming of his AIM-listed company in line with the well-known Napster brand in future. 

It is the fourth incarnation of Napster, founded in 1999 when Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys topped the charts, and it is now a relative minnow among the global music streamers. Napster, with 3 million subscribers, delivered 10.8bn streams and made $113m in revenue last year. “It is a shame, because a lot of people don’t realise they have a thriving business,” says an undeterred Matchett. “Although it is not the scale of a Spotify, it is growing and it is profitable. We are delighted to acquire it.”

Matchett is right to be confident. After more than a decade of plummeting CD sales and rampant piracy, the streaming revolution has put the music business back at the top of the charts for investors. Last year, global music sales grew for a fifth consecutive year, to $20.2bn, driven by a 23% growth in streaming (which accounted for $11.4bn of the total), having hit a low of $14bn in 2013.

Another British success is Hipgnosis, a London-listed company offering the chance to make money from the royalties of songs by artists from Beyoncé to Bon Jovi. Investors have been happy to front up more than £230m during the pandemic to allow it to continue its music catalogue-buying spree.

The music majors are also faring well. Earlier this summer, Warner Music, the world’s third largest music company and home to artists including Ed Sheeran, floated in the US, selling $1.9bn worth shares and achieving a market value of more than $12bn. Owner Len Blavatnik paid just $3.3bn for the company in 2011. And Universal Music, the biggest label home of stars including Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga and the Beatles, sold a 10% stake to Chinese tech giant Tencent that valued the business at €30bn (£26.7bn). 

And while the live music industry has ground to a halt, streaming has proved to be coronavirus-proof. Spotify, the world’s largest music streaming service, reported a jump in paying subscribers of more than 27% year-on-year to 138m in the second quarter.

The lockdown has also proved to be the best thing to have happened to MelodyVR, which has raised almost $30m from investors in recent months. “I probably wouldn’t phrase it in that way, but that said, naturally, as a virtual events company, we are one business that is continuing to grow,” says Matchett. “Since the start of coronavirus, our app installs and our usage has gone through the roof. We have seen a lot more people looking for live music. Our app installs are up 1,000% since the start of quarantine. And our month-on-month usage is growing at 36%.”

As the pandemic took hold, the company set up safe studios in London and Los Angeles to enable artists to perform gigs, with fans paying to watch via its app. The gigs can also be watched on virtual reality headsets, an experience that allows fans to choose what part of the auditorium they watch the performance from. The company has had 100 artists perform virtual gigs during lockdown, including Emeli Sandé, Liam Payne, The Chainsmokers and Cypress Hill. It also has a back catalogue of gigs performed in front of live audiences. To date, the company has charged on a per-gig basis, the average price being £9.99, but is now belatedly adding a monthly subscription option, the preferred model for digital content services from Netflix and Spotify to pay-

“When we launched, no one had really seen immersive or VR content and no one knew what it was worth,” says Matchett. “We didn’t want to overprice or underprice. Now we are in a place we feel confident about launching a monthly fee.”

While swallowing Napster has transformed the scale of its business, the Soho-based company has some way to go to reach profitability. Last year it made a loss of £16m and revenues plunged to £200,000, while Napster’s thin margins meant the streaming firm made just $1.8m in profits.

“[Profitability] is not something we are worried about,” says Matchett. “For a company like us, growth and investment is key, which is why we are buying Napster.”

• The image on this article was changed on 7 September 2020. A previous photograph purporting to show the group Cypress Hill was of the late rap artist Ty performing as support act for that band in 2018.

By Mark Sweney

Astronaut Jeanette Epps To Become The First African American Onboard The International Space Station

Source: TDIB

NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps will join astronauts Sunita Williams and Josh Cassada as a crew member on the first operational flight of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS), announced NASA. The six-month expedition, which is planned to launch in 2021, will make Epps the first Black woman to live and work in space for an extended period of time. Epps responded to her new assignment in a Twitter video, saying she’s “looking forward to the mission” alongside Williams and Cassada. NASA assigned Williams and Cassada to the Starliner-1 mission in August 2018. The spaceflight will be the first for Cassada and third for Williams, who spent long-duration stays aboard the space station on Expeditions 14/15 and 32/33.

HS2 rail project pledge 22,000 jobs as work officially begins

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 4th Sept 2020) London, Uk – –

Construction work on HS2 officially begins on Friday, with companies behind the controversial high-speed rail project expecting to create 22,000 jobs in the next few years.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said HS2 would “fire up economic growth and help to rebalance opportunity”.

He endorsed the rail link in February, with formal government approval granted in April despite lockdown.

But critics said HS2 will also cost jobs, and vowed to continue protesting.

HS2 is set to link London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. It is hoped the 20-year project will reduce passenger overcrowding and help rebalance the UK's economy through investment in transport links outside London.

HS2 Ltd chief executive Mark Thurston said the reality of high-speed journeys between Britain's biggest cities had moved a step closer.

When the project was mooted in 2009, it was expected to cost an estimated £37.5bn and when the official price tag was set out in the 2015 Budget it came in at just under £56bn.

But an official government report has since warned that it could cost more than £100bn and be up to five years behind schedule.

Some critics of HS2 describe it as a “vanity project” and say the money would be better spent on better connections between different parts of northern England. Others, such as the Stop HS2 pressure group, say it will cause considerable environmental damage.

When will HS2 open and how much will it cost?

The prime minister said HS2 was at the heart of government plans to “build back better” and would form “the spine of our country's transport network”.

“But HS2's transformational potential goes even further,” he added. “By creating hundreds of apprenticeships and thousands of skilled jobs, HS2 will fire up economic growth and help to rebalance opportunity across this country for years to come.”

HS2's main works contractor for the West Midlands, the Balfour Beatty Vinci Joint Venture, has said it expects to be one of the biggest recruiters in the West Midlands over the next two years.

Up to 7,000 skilled jobs would be required to complete its section of the HS2 route, it said, with women and under-25s the core focus for recruitment and skills investment.

Other firms hiring include:

Another joint venture partner, EKFB, said it would recruit more than 4,000 people over the next two years for its section from Long Itchington Wood site in Warwickshire south to the Chiltern tunnel portals

Skanska Costain Strabag, Balfour Beatty Vinci Systra, Align JV and Mace Dragados JV, based in Greater London, will collectively recruit more than 10,000

HS2 Ltd itself is already directly recruiting for 500 new roles over the next three months, with the majority based in Birmingham.

HS2 Ltd's Mr Thurston said the railway would be “transformative” for the UK.

“With the start of construction, the reality of high speed journeys joining up Britain's biggest cities in the North and Midlands and using that connectivity to help level up the country has just moved a step closer,” he added.

‘Destructive'

Campaign group Stop HS2 said Boris Johnson and others who hail the creation of 22,000 jobs are “rather less keen to mention that HS2 is projected to permanently displace almost that many jobs”.

Stop HS2 campaign manager Joe Rukin said: “Trying to spin HS2 as a job creation scheme is beyond desperate. Creating 22,000 jobs works out at almost £2m just to create a single job.”

But speaking on the BBC's Breakfast programme, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps disputed those figures.

“I can't see how there's an argument that making it easier to get about this country is somehow going to destroy jobs, quite the opposite in fact. It's clearly going to make the economy level up”, he said.

“Find those left behind areas, that have found themselves too disconnected before and join it together.”

Stop HS2 chairwoman Penny Gaines called the project “environmentally destructive” to wildlife: “This is why there are currently hundreds of activists camped out along the HS2 route. We don't expect them to go away any time soon.”

However, the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP), which fights for investment in the regional economy, said such major infrastructure projects are transformative and called for the planned extensions of HS2 to be started as soon as possible.

“Increasing capacity on the North's rail network and better connecting our towns and cities will be vital in the economic regeneration of the Northern Powerhouse – both now and long in the future,” said Henri Murison, director of the NPP.

Same dispute, new arguments

Analysis: By Theo Leggett

This is an important symbolic move for HS2, but in the real world it changes very little.

Work preparing for the new line – demolishing buildings and clearing sites for example – has already been going on for the past three years. And in some areas, construction work has also begun.

But the arguments over whether or not the railway should actually be built are continuing to rage.

The government has long insisted that it will help re-balance the country's economy, by promoting investment outside London. It now says the jobs created by the scheme will support the post-Covid recovery.

But opponents claim that lockdown has undermined the case for HS2 – by showing how easily people can work remotely, and how little business travel is really needed.

Same dispute, new arguments. But now shovels are – officially – in the ground.

Amazon to create a further 7,000 permanent UK jobs

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 3rd Sept 2020) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Amazon brought a little cheer to Britain’s troubled labour market on Thursday, saying it will create a further 7,000 permanent jobs in 2020, taking total new hires this year to 10,000.

Last month the number of people in work in Britain suffered the biggest drop since 2009 and the coronavirus is expected to take a much heavier toll on unemployment when the government winds down its huge job-protection scheme.

The one bright spot however has come from online retail and logistics as orders surged during lockdown. Amazon’s latest recruitment will take its total UK workforce to over 40,000 by the end of the year.

The U.S. internet giant said the 7,000 new roles will be for warehouse workers, as well as engineers, HR and IT professionals and health and safety and finance specialists.

The jobs will be in over 50 sites, including two new distribution centres in the north east and central England and at corporate offices.

It said it needed more staff to meet growing customer demand for its services and to enable small and medium sized enterprises selling on Amazon to scale their businesses.

Amazon has also started recruiting for more than 20,000 seasonal positions across the UK for the festive period.

Last month the Confederation of British Industry said British retailers had cut the most jobs since the depths of the financial crisis and expected the pace of losses to accelerate.

Well-known British retailers Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Debenhams, WH Smith and Dixons Carphone have all announced job cuts in recent weeks, reflecting the rapid shift in demand to online sales.

Tesco, Britain’s biggest supermarket, said it would create 16,000 permanent roles to meet the surge in home deliveries.

Reporting by James Davey

Unilever aims to remove oil-based ingredients from all cleaning products by 2030

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Wed, 2nd Sept 2020) London, Uk – –

Consumer goods giant aims to develop renewable or recycled alternatives by 2030

The owner of Persil, Domestos and Cif is to invest €1bn in eliminating fossil fuel-based ingredients from its cleaning products by 2030.

Unilever’s “clean future” initiative aims to develop renewable or recycled alternatives to chemicals derived from the oil industry as part of the company’s pledge to eliminate carbon emissions from its products by 2039.

The investment in research and development for eco-products comes on top of €1bn Unilever has already committed over the next decade for environmental projects that will improve the “health of the planet”.

The company, which owns more than 400 brands including Marmite, Dove, Comfort and Sure, has also pledged to reduce the mountain of plastic rubbish that its products generate.

With nearly half of the carbon footprint of the consumer goods giant’s cleaning products coming from oil-based ingredients, reformulating with eco-friendly alternatives is expected to reduce their environmental impact by up to a fifth.

A whole “rainbow” of alternatives, varying from well-established palm oil-based chemicals to those derived from algae, plastic waste and carbon captured from energy production, is being investigated.

Peter ter Kulve, Unilever’s president of home care, said it was essential to investigate a diverse range of alternatives to “grow within the limits of our planet”.

He said that Unilever hoped that by sharing details of its “carbon rainbow” – outlining the different possible alternatives for sourcing fossil fuel-based ingredients – Unilever was “calling on an economy-wide transformation”.

“A new bioeconomy is rising from the ashes of fossil fuels,” he said.

“We’ve heard time and time again that people want more affordable sustainable products that are just as good as conventional ones. Rapid developments in science and technology are allowing us to do this, with the promise of exciting new benefits for the people who use our products, from ultra-mild cleaning ingredients to self-cleaning clothes and surfaces.”

This week, one of the first innovations will hit shelves in the UK: a Persil washing liquid including a stain remover derived from sugar cane. The Persil bottle will also now be made with 50% recycled plastic and has been redesigned to use less plastic, reducing the total virgin plastic by 1,000 tonnes per year.

Cif cleaning liquid on sale in the UK is also to be reformulated with a cleaning agent derived from recycled plastic bottles.

Meanwhile in southern India, Unilever is sourcing soda ash – an ingredient in laundry powders – made using a pioneering technology that captures carbon from energy production.

Madhu Rao, head of home cleaning products at Unilever, said that the company intended to transform existing well-established brands around the world to make them more sustainable, bringing lower carbon alternatives into the mainstream.

“We are on a big journey and this is the starting point,” he said.

Rao said Unilever continued to see an “unprecedented level of demand” for health and hygiene products around the world during the pandemic as families spend more time cleaning and disinfecting their homes as they try to fend off the virus.

But he said: “The heightened awareness around cleanness doesn’t take away the crisis everybody feels today – the climate crisis. The battle of our lifetime is climate change and consumers are very focused on this. Two-thirds of consumers want to buy more sustainable products and packaging that is sustainable.”

By Sarah Butler

Marks & Spencer offering full food range online today in a tie-up with Ocado

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Tue, 1st Sept 2020) London, Uk – –

Vans have been branded with Percy Pigs logos as the retailer makes a belated entry into the grocery delivery sector.

Marks & Spencer is offering its full food range online for the first time from today in a tie-up with Ocado.

The launch comes after Ocado split with its former delivery partner Waitrose after two decades.

M&S already sells clothes and other products online but is entering the grocery delivery market years behind rivals.

The launch will see its full range of 6,000 food products made available with Ocado Retail, together with Ocado's own label goods and branded lines.

Among them are M&S's popular Percy Pigs – with 20,000 packets already ordered prior to the launch and 10 Ocado vans branded with the sweets' brand's logo to mark the occasion.

The venture is being launched after Marks & Spencer last year agreed a £750m deal to buy a 50% stake in Ocado's retail arm – which is separate from Ocado's business selling its delivery know-how to global retailers.

It comes as the coronavirus places severe pressure on the wider M&S business, with sales of its clothing and homeware particularly badly hit.

Thousands of job cuts have been announced as the company seeks to accelerate its transformation under a “never the same again” strategy prompted by the pandemic.

The launch of the food delivery venture comes at a time when online grocery sales are enjoying strong growth as consumer shopping habits are transformed by the virus.

Stuart Machin, managing director of M&S Food, said: “Taking our full food range online for the first time is transformative.”

Meanwhile, Waitrose has invested in an expansion of its standalone online operations and is stressing the exclusivity of lines such as Duchy Originals via its own platform.

Last week the supermarket, which is part of the John Lewis Partnership – also struggling in the face of the pandemic – announced a trial tie-up with Deliveroo to delivery groceries in just 30 minutes.

Ocado boss Tim Steiner has fired a parting shot at his former partners, taking aim at an ad by Waitrose marking the end of the tie-up that pledged: “We'll take it from here.”

Mr Steiner told The Sunday Times: “Well, they can't take it from here because they don't have the technology, the infrastructure or the systems.”

Zoom shares hit record high fueled by the increase of remote work during the pandemic

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 1st September 2020) London, Uk – –

Company sees explosive growth in 2020, fueled by the increase of remote work during the pandemic

Zoom reported adjusted earnings of $0.92 per share, above the $0.45 per share predicted. 

Zoom shares hit a record high on Monday as the company announced blowout earnings for the second quarter of 2020.

The video conferencing platform has seen explosive growth in 2020, fueled by the increase of remote work during the Covid-19 pandemic. It made as much money in the past three months as it did in the entirety of 2019, beating the already-optimistic predictions of analysts.

The company reported adjusted earnings of $0.92 per share, above the $0.45 per share predicted. Revenue rose 355% from the same time last year to $663.5m, above analysts’ average estimate of $500.5m.

In remarks on an earnings call following the report, chief executive officer and founder Eric Yuan said Zoom has taken on a number of large businesses as customers, including oil and gas firm ExxonMobil and software firm ServiceNow in quarter two.

Zoom has seen an increase in paying customers this quarter, according to the report, with approximately 370,200 customers of businesses with more than 10 employees, up approximately 458% from the same quarter last fiscal year.

Shares of the company, which have surged almost four-fold this year, rose 9% after the bell and hit a record high in regular trading.

Zoom saw a massive increase in users as countries around the world instituted lockdowns to slow the spread of Covid-19. It has become nearly synonymous with the concept of video hangouts, being used for casual happy hours, teaching in schools, and events.

But in the immediate aftermath of its skyrocketing popularity, the app also faced intense criticism over privacy and security practices, causing some companies and institutions to pull back.

Since then, the company has released a number of updates to enhance security. However, it continues to face problems with “zoom bombing,” a practice in which pranksters terrorize people in Zoom events with racist language and other hate speech.

In light of the tremendous report on Monday, Zoom has raised its annual revenue target for fiscal year 2021 to the range of $2.37bn and $2.39bn, from $1.78bn to $1.80bn earlier.

By Kari Paul

Why The Plastics Industry is Betting Big on Chemical Recycling to Solve The World’s Plastic Problem

Source: CNBC

Plastics recycling is failing, and the plastics industry is betting big on a technology called chemical recycling to save it. This tech can supposedly convert any type of used plastic into plastic that's as good as new. But skepticism abounds.

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Dippin’ Dots – The Rise and Fall…And Rise Again

Source: Company Man

Dippin' Dots has famously been marketed as “The Ice Cream of the Future”. There was a time where I completely believed that statement but I can admit when I'm wrong. Dippin' Dots filed for bankruptcy in 2011 but have since made a respectable comeback. This video talks about the ups and downs of the business behind this unique product.

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TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer resigns

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 27th Aug 2020) London, Uk – –

In a letter to staff Meyer cited a ‘sharply changed’ political environment, after Donald Trump ordered ByteDance to sell up within 90 days

Kevin Mayer is stepping down from TikTik after just months in the job. 

Tik Tok’s chief executive, Kevin Mayer, has quit just months after his appointment, amid a “sharply changed” political environment after Donald Trump accused the platform of threatening national security.

The Financial Times reported on Thursday that the former Disney executive would be replaced in the interim by Vanessa Pappas, the general manager. In a letter to staff, parts of which have been seen by the Guardian, Mayer said he had decided to leave after Trump ordered TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, to sell its US assets to a US company within 90 days.

“In recent weeks, as the political environment has sharply changed, I have done significant reflection on what the corporate structural changes will require, and what it means for the global role I signed up for,” the letter said. TikTok suing Trump administration over executive orderRead more

“Against this backdrop, and as we expect to reach a resolution very soon, it is with a heavy heart that I wanted to let you all know that I have decided to leave the company.”

The Financial Times quoted an excerpt from the letter that said: “I understand that the role that I signed up for – including running TikTok globally – will look very different as a result of the US administration’s action to push for a sell off of the US business.”

Mayer said TikTok expected a resolution to Trump’s orders “very soon”.

TikTok said in a statement it thanked Mayer for his time and wished him well. “We appreciate that the political dynamics of the last few months have significantly changed what the scope of Kevin’s role would be going forward, and fully respect his decision,” it said.

US tech companies including Microsoft, Twitter and Oracle, have expressed interest or announced talks with ByteDance to acquire some of TikTok’s operations outside China.

TikTok’s Chinese ownership has raised concern about the potential for sharing user data with Chinese officials as well as censorship of videos critical of the Chinese Communist Party government. TikTok says it does not censor videos and it would not give the Chinese government access to US user data.

In early August Trump threatened to ban TikTok on the basis of national security concerns.

He later issued a pair of executive orders banning US transactions with the Chinese companies that own TikTok and also WeChat, saying the US must take “aggressive action” in the interest of national security. TikTok is suing the US government over the executive orders.

In a blog post it said “the company does not take suing the government lightly, however we feel we have no choice but to take action to protect our rights, and the rights of our community and employees.”

“In our complaint we make clear that we believe the Administration ignored our extensive efforts to address its concerns, which we conducted fully and in good faith even as we disagreed with the concerns themselves.”

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Technology based company The Hut Group founder in line for £700m share windfall

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 26th Aug 2020) London, Uk – –

The Manchester-based technology company will this week signal its plan to float in London, Sky News learns.

The co-founder of The Hut Group, the digital consumer brands retailer, could land one of the biggest payouts in British corporate history from an incentive scheme to be disclosed this week alongside plans for a £4.5bn stock market flotation.

Sky News can reveal details of a long-standing share plan that could hand more than £700m-worth of shares to Matthew Moulding, the company's executive chairman, if it achieves a market capitalisation of £7.25bn by December 2022.

Mr Moulding, who helped establish The Hut Group in 2004 and has since grown it into a giant of Britain's digital economy employing 7000 people, already owns a significant minority stake in the company.

City sources said that The Hut Group would announce as soon as Thursday a plan to file its intention to float on the London Stock Exchange, with details of the incentive plan to be disclosed in its prospectus.

The company has pencilled in September 16 for its shares to begin trading, they added.

In order for the massive incentive scheme to pay out, it would require an uplift in The Hut Group's value after its initial public offering (IPO) of well over 30% during a relatively brief period that could be affected by souring investor sentiment about Brexit and COVID-19, according to insiders.

The Manchester-based business has become one of Britain's biggest technology success stories, being feted by politicians during its 16-year history including Boris Johnson, the prime minister, and David Cameron, one of his predecessors.

It owns cosmetics brands such as Christophe Robin, ESPA and Eyeko, and sells third-party branded products such as those made by Glossybox and LookFantastic.

Investors are particularly enthusiastic about its role as a third-party logistics and infrastructure provider, powering some of the world's biggest consumer brand-owners – including Johnson & Johnson, Nestle, Procter & Gamble and Walgreens Boots Alliance – through its tech platform THG Ingenuity.

Its IPO, which will be the biggest City float of 2020, will involve The Hut Group selling between £500m and £900m of new shares to institutional investors.

People involved in the deal said the company had already seen demand for shares from potential backers of well over £1bn, reflecting a conviction about the company's long-term growth prospects.

Institutions have been briefed on the incentive plans that could hand Mr Moulding the massive share windfall, and are broadly said to be comfortable with the proposals.

One insider added that more than 500 employees of The Hut Group “from the warehouse to the boardroom” had been given equity in the business, with roughly 200 participating in the scheme that could vest in just over two years' time.

By floating, the company would have created more millionaires than any other in British corporate history, he claimed.

Under the incentive scheme, Mr Moulding's stake would not rise above 25%, meaning that after being diluted in the IPO, the maximum he is likely to be awarded would be approximately 10% of the company – which at a £7.25bn market value would be worth £725m.

That would be in addition to an existing shareholding worth more than £1bn, propelling the entrepreneur firmly into the upper ranks of Britain's super-rich.

One investor cautioned that the final figure could be higher, with other employees also in line to receive – in aggregate – several hundred million pounds in shares.

The incentive stock would lapse if the market valuation threshold is not met, they added.

It would be one of the richest share schemes ever implemented by a UK-based public company, and dwarf that of Boohoo, the online fashion retailer which in June unveiled plans to award top managers shares worth £150m if its shares rose by two-thirds over a three-year period.

If The Hut Group shares do vest, the scale of such a payout may provoke controversy in the wake of a period when hundreds of thousands of workers have lost their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Nevertheless, allies of Mr Moulding point to the thousands of jobs created, and millions of pounds in taxes paid, by The Hut Group since it was set up.

A source said The Hut Group's share scheme had been put in place three years ago to compensate Mr Moulding and other employees for the dilution of their stakes when early investors including Balderton Capital injected money into the company in 2010.

KKR, the private equity giant which became a shareholder in 2014, is among the investors keen to cash out in the IPO

The Hut Group is understood to have opted to list in London despite protracted overtures from international exchanges, including New York's Nasdaq, which successfully lured the British-based online fashion business Farfetch last year.

As part of its IPO, the company has handed Mr Moulding a ‘founder share' that would enable him to veto any hostile takeover bid for the company for a limited period.

That structure, which has been developed in conjunction with the City's listing authorities and is widely deployed at US-listed companies, will lead to The Hut Group having a standard, rather than premium, listing.

One investor said The Hut Group's flotation would be “a rare bright spot for the City amid the worst IPO drought for more than a decade”.

“It's a sign that the LSE is keen to become more attractive to entrepreneurial businesses, and reverse the flow of UK tech companies listing on Nasdaq.

In its first year of operation, The Hut Group recorded £1m in sales, a figure which had grown by 2019 to £1.14bn, with earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of £114m.

In recent months, The Hut Group has held detailed talks with some of the world's leading technology funds about a private or public fundraising.

Seven banks, led by Citi and JPMorgan, have been appointed to work on the IPO.

The float's accelerated timetable is said to have scuppered plans to offer retail investors the opportunity to participate in the share sale, sources said.

A spokesman for The Hut Group declined to comment on Wednesday.

Crossrail £450m over budget and delayed until 2022

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Fri, 21st Aug 2020) London, Uk – –

Holdup only partly down to pause in construction because of Covid-19, TfL says

Crossrail, the mass-transit train line through London, has been further delayed until 2022 and gone another £450m over budget.

Transport for London said that the temporary pause in construction and ensuing slowdown because of Covid-19 distancing requirements had only partially contributed to the latest delays, which mean the Elizabeth line will open more than three years late and cost almost £4bn more than originally budgeted.

The announcement follows a Crossrail board meeting, which concluded that any 2021 opening date was an unrealistic target, only a month after it ruled out opening next summer.

Crossrail said it was working to finalise the cost estimates and the exact budget remains unclear, with additional Network Rail costs due to be factored in, but that it was at least £450m more than the estimated range in November 2019, which would make the current expected budget up to £18.7bn.Timeline

Crossrail – two decades of delays and rising costs

The giant infrastructure scheme had been planned to cost £14.8bn, with services across the heart of London to start operating in December 2018, but the problems in its delivery were formally admitted only months before the planned opening by the Queen was due to take place.

Crossrail’s chief executive, Mark Wild, said: “Our focus remains on opening the Elizabeth line as soon as possible. Now more than ever Londoners are relying on the capacity and connectivity that the Elizabeth line will bring and we are doing everything possible to deliver the railway as safely and quickly as we can.”

While delivery of the Elizabeth line was in its complex final stages, according to a Crossrail statement, the project was being completed at a time of great uncertainty because of the risk of more coronavirus outbreaks.

Crossrail admitted that construction had been slow, with “lower than planned productivity in the final completion and handover of the shafts and portals” of the line. It said it had also overestimated the speed at which it could finish and hand over the new stations built in central London. Covid-19 had exacerbated schedule pressures, it said, with constraints on how many people could work on site, currently reducing numbers by half to about 2,000 workers.

The business group London First described the delay as “disappointing but unsurprising” and said it should “not distract from the need for a fair and sustainable long-term funding solution for TfL”.

Crossrail hopes to start intensive testing of train services, or trial running, as soon as possible in 2021. Bond Street station remains incomplete and not ready to be part of the tests.https://www.theguardian.com/email/form/plaintone/3887Sign up to the daily Business Today email or follow Guardian Business on Twitter at @BusinessDesk

The scheme, when completed, is designed to carry up to 200 million passengers a year across the capital from beyond the far west of London to eastern suburbs. As well as relieving London’s normally congested tube system, it will eventually provide fast, direct links between Heathrow airport and Reading to central London, the financial districts, with branches to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

The central underground section has been the major work, with 13 miles of new tunnels from Paddington to Abbey Wood. However, even when it finally opens, Crossrail has not squared when it can join up with the other two parts of the Elizabeth line, which have different signalling systems and already operate services on existing, overground rail lines.

For an unspecified period, passengers wishing to travel from the western end, from Reading and Heathrow, will have to change at the Paddington mainline station to join Elizabeth line services for central London and passengers on the eastern branch to Shenfield will have to change trains at Liverpool Street.

By Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent

Britain’s Rolls-Royce to carry out extra inspections on some Trent XWB engines

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 11th Aug 2020) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Rolls-Royce (RR.L) will carry out extra inspections on some of its Trent XWB engines which power the Airbus A350 airliner.

Rolls-Royce said on Tuesday that the issue would not cause significant customer disruption or material cost, as it affected a small number of XWBs of a certain age.

The Trent XWB-84 engine is set to be subject to an Airworthiness Directive from regulator EASA, Rolls said, because of wear on a small number of Intermediate Pressure Compressor blades found on a minority of engines which have been in service for four to five years.

None of those engines have experienced abnormal in-flight operation, it said, adding that it would carry out inspections on all Trent XWB-84s of a similar service life as a precaution. There are just over 100 of them.

“Given the limited scale of additional work which we anticipate will be required at existing shop visits to address this wear, together with the availability of replacement parts and spare engines, we do not expect this issue to create significant customer disruption or material annual cost,” Rolls said in a statement.

Problems with its Trent 1000 engine which powers the Boeing 787 airliner are expected to cost Rolls-Royce 2.4 billion pounds ($3.1 billion) to fix over a 2017-2023 period.

Rolls recently said it was considering strengthening its finances to help it withstand the pandemic.

It burned through 3 billion pounds in the first half of the year as planes stopped flying, cutting the revenue it receives from flying hours.

Reporting by Sarah Young

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TikTok threatens legal action against Trump executive order

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri 7th Aug 2020) London, Uk – –

TikTok is threatening legal action against the US after Donald Trump ordered firms to stop doing business with the Chinese app within 45 days.

The company said it was “shocked” by an executive order from the US President outlining the ban.

TikTok said it would “pursue all remedies available” to “ensure the rule of law is not discarded”.

Mr Trump issued a similar order against China's WeChat in a major escalation in Washington's stand-off with Beijing.

WeChat's owner, Tencent, said: “We are reviewing the executive order to get a full understanding.”

As well as WeChat, Tencent is also a leading gaming company and its investments include a 40% stake in Epic Games – the company behind the hugely popular Fortnite video game.

The president has already threatened to ban TikTok in the US, citing national security concerns, and the company is now in talks to sell its American business to Microsoft. They have until 15 September to reach a deal – a deadline set by Mr Trump.

The Trump administration claims that the Chinese government has access to user information gathered by TikTok, which the company has denied.

TikTok, which is owned by China's ByteDance, said it had attempted to engage with the US government for nearly a year “in good faith”.

However, it said: “What we encountered instead was that the administration paid no attention to facts, dictated terms of an agreement without going through standard legal processes, and tried to insert itself into negotiations between private businesses.”

The executive orders against the short-video sharing platform and the messaging service WeChat are the latest measure in an increasingly broad Trump administration campaign against China.

On Thursday, Washington announced recommendations that Chinese firms listed on US stock markets should be delisted unless they provided regulators with access to their audited accounts.

What did Donald Trump say?

In both executive orders, Mr Trump says that the spread in the US of mobile apps developed and owned by Chinese firms “threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States”.

The US government says TikTok and WeChat “capture vast swaths of information from its users”.

“This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans' personal and proprietary information.”

The executive order also claims both apps gather data on Chinese nationals visiting the US, allowing Beijing “to keep tabs” on them.

Mr Trump's executive order also says TikTok's data collection could allow China to track US government employees and gather personal information for blackmail, or to carry out corporate espionage.

He notes that reports indicate TikTok censors content deemed politically sensitive, such as protests in Hong Kong and China's treatment of the Uighurs, a Muslim minority. 

The orders have been issued under legal authority from the National Emergencies Act and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

What does TikTok say?

In its most robust response so far to the US government, TikTok says the executive order that has been issued is based on “unnamed reports with no citations”.

“We have made clear that TikTok has never shared user data with the Chinese government, nor censored content at its request,” it said.

“We even expressed our willingness to pursue a full sale of the US business to an American company.”

Mr Trump said this week he would support the sale to Microsoft as long as the US government received a “substantial portion” of the sale price.

TikTok said the new executive order “risks undermining global businesses' trust in the United States' commitment to the rule of law”, adding it sets “a dangerous precedent for the concept of free expression and open markets”.

“We will pursue all remedies available to us in order to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and our users are treated fairly – if not by the administration, then by the US courts,” it said.

WeChat ban puts US-China personal ties in peril

Zhaoyin Feng, BBC News Chinese, Washington DC

The TikTok ban is hardly a surprise, as the app has faced scrutiny in the US for months. But the almost identical ban on WeChat is more of a bombshell.

Immediately after President Trump's executive order was announced, I received a flood of messages on my WeChat. Friends in America and their loved ones in China were in an absolute panic.

They are thousands of miles apart but asking the same question: How are we supposed to keep in touch after WeChat is banned in the US?

It's nearly impossible to avoid WeChat for those who have any connections to China.

The billion-user app is like WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, PayPal, Uber, and even Tinder, all in one ecosystem.

America's move to block WeChat, a prominent example of China's tech innovation, will be seen as an attack on its culture, its people and the state. It'll enhance the popular view in China that Washington is unreasonably suppressing its biggest competitor in technology.

If the ban is fully enforced, it'd be a disaster for anyone who has families, friends or a business in China.

While tit-for-tat has become the new normal in US-China relations, this move will cut off virtually all people-to-people communication between the world's two most influential countries.

What is the background?

Mr Trump has been waging a trade war against China since taking office.

The US government took action last year against two Chinese communications companies, Huawei and ZTE, including locking them out of government contracts.

Most recently, he has blamed the country for the global coronavirus pandemic, which has crippled the US economy.

Meanwhile, many of the biggest US platforms – Google, Twitter and Facebook – are banned inside China.

TikTok – which has up to 80 million active monthly users in the US – has exploded in popularity in recent years, mostly with people under 20.

The app is reported to have around 800 million active monthly users, with its biggest markets having grown in the US and India.

India has, however, already blocked TikTok, as well as other Chinese apps.

Australia, which has already banned Huawei and ZTE, is also considering banning TikTok.

WeChat is very popular among those users who have connections to China, where major social networking platforms – such as WhatsApp and Facebook – are blocked.

It is also viewed as being a key instrument in China's internal surveillance apparatus – requiring local users who have been accused of spreading malicious rumours to register a facial scan and voice print.

A seminar held earlier this year by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute think tank discussed how groups within the app would be used to recommend holiday destinations, restaurants and the like on a day-to-day basis, but then switch to spreading political messages in line with Beijing's thinking at critical times.

Italy’s $1 Billion Marble Mountains

Source: BI

A slab of Carrara marble can cost up to $400 per square meter. The luxury stone comes the Apuan Alps, a mountain range in northern Tuscany that stretches for 58 km and reaches 2,000 meters high. The Carrara quarries have produced more marble than any other place on Earth. The market as a whole is worth over €1 billion ($1.1 billion) and produces 4 million tons of marble every year, with 13,000 people involved.

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