Deliveroo targets IPO valuation of up to £8.8bn

( via – – Mon, 22nd March 2021) London, Uk – –

Deliveroo is seeking a valuation of between £7.6bn and £8.8bn when it lists its shares on the London stock market.

The takeaway food delivery platform has said it plans to sell its shares at a price of between 390p and 460p, in what is set to be the biggest UK share listing in more than seven years.

It also said on Monday the total value of orders in January and February had more than doubled from last year.

Founder Will Shu said there were “huge” opportunities ahead.

Demand for takeaway meals has soared during the coronavirus pandemic, after lockdown measures were first implemented a year ago and restaurants have been forced to close.

Restrictions on hospitality businesses in England are currently set to start to ease on 12 April at the earliest.

‘Enormous opportunities'

Deliveroo – which has yet to announce a profit – said it would use the money raised to invest in the business.

The company was founded in London in 2013, and is active in more than 200 towns and cities across the UK.

It operates internationally in 12 countries, in mainland Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East.

Deliveroo said there were “enormous” market opportunities for expansion. “The way we think about it is simple: there are 21 meal occasions in a week – breakfast, lunch, and dinner – seven days a week. Right now, less than one of those 21 transactions takes place online. We are working to change that.”

Deliveroo will sell around £1bn of new shares, and current shareholders will use the opportunity to sell some of their stake.

On Sunday, Mr Shu told Sky News he would cash-in part of his 6.2% stake in the business, which could be worth £550m.

Customers who have placed at least one order with Deliveroo will have a chance to buy shares in the business, with what the company calls “loyal” customers being given priority.

Deliveroo is also planning to reward its busiest riders with bonuses of up to £10,000.

Riders who have delivered the most orders will share in a £16m fund, the company has said.

Workers' rights and competition

Deliveroo drivers in the UK have been at the forefront of the debate about new ways of working in the “gig” economy. Some drivers have taken industrial and legal action to improve their pay and conditions.

A recent court decision confirming worker status in the UK for gig economy giant Uber put down a new marker for workers' rights in this evolving sector. The Court of Appeal ruled that Uber's drivers should receive holiday pay, pension contributions and the minimum wage.

Uber last week said it would introduce these payments.

Susannah Streeter, from stockbrokers Hargreaves Lansdown, said the employment status of its drivers along with fierce competition among meal delivery firms were two potential drags on the company's prospects.

“Deliveroo competes with Uber Eats, Just Eat and a host of others. Just Eat has already announced its intention to ramp up operations in the UK. Until now it's been focused on just offering the delivery platform but now it will be scaling up its delivery fleet of riders over the coming year.

“Just Eat takeaway has also pledged to stop using the gig economy model and offer UK workers hourly wages, sick pay and pension contributions. This is in stark contrast to Deliveroo which has so far seen off challenges in the courts to its self-employment model… it's clear the challenge to Deliveroo's contractor model is likely to continue.”

Nokia unveiled plans to cut up to 10,000 jobs worldwide

( via – – Tue, 16th March 2021) London, Uk – –

Former high-flying Finnish phone firm to use estimated €600m in savings to fund R&D to catch up with rivals

The Finnish telecommunications company Nokia has unveiled plans to cut up to 10,000 jobs worldwide in the next two years, and wants to use the savings to catch up with rivals on 5G technologies.

The company said it would reduce its global workforce to between 80,000 and 85,000 over the next 18 to 24 months, from 90,000 now. The exact number will depend on market developments. Nokia will invest the estimated €600m (£515m) annual cost savings in research & development, particularly in 5G, cloud and digital infrastructure.

Pekka Lundmark, Nokia’s new chief executive who took over in August, has vowed to catch up in 5G, the new generation of mobile networks, after Nokia fell behind its main competitors, China’s Huawei and Sweden’s Ericsson. It missed out on the early rounds of 5G networks after focusing on the integration of Alcatel-Lucent, the French smartphone and wireless equipment firm bought in 2015.

Lundmark said: “In those areas where we choose to compete, we will play to win. We are therefore enhancing product quality and cost competitiveness, and investing in the right skills and capabilities.”

Nokia’s planned job losses include 96 in the UK. France will be spared this time, after 1,233 jobs were cut there last year, which slashed the workforce of its French subsidiary Alcatel-Lucent by a third.

A Nokia spokesperson said: “These plans are global and likely to affect most countries. It is too early to comment in detail, as we have only just informed local works councils and expect the consultation processes to start shortly, where applicable.”

About 300 jobs are expected to go in Finland, mainly at the Nokia headquarters. The spokesperson said the company would continue to recruit in the 5G area in the country, and that the changes would be net positive.

Last year, Nokia employed almost 40,000 people in Europe, 20,500 in the Asia-Pacific region, 13,700 in Greater China, 12,000 in North America and 3,700 in Latin America.

The global measures will result in one-off charges of €600m to €700m, half of which will be booked this year. Even so, Nokia stuck to its financial guidance for 2021.

Nokia now focuses on telecoms network equipment. Once the world’s biggest maker of mobile phone handsets, the company was left behind as it underestimated the popularity of touchscreen smartphones and sold its handset business to Microsoft in 2013, which later wrote it off.

Nokia phones made a comeback after a firm set up by former Nokia employees called HMD Global licensed the Nokia brand name from Microsoft.

By Julia Kollewe

How Roblox Became A $30 Billion Popular Gaming Platform Company

Source: CNBC

More than half of the children in the United States play video games on Roblox. In fact, the massively popular gaming platform has grown so much during the coronavirus pandemic, the company’s valuation has skyrocketed from $4 billion in early 2020 to $30 billion in early 2021. What makes Roblox so popular? It’s a social gaming platform where users can play a library of games and hang out and chat with their friends. There are games for all ages and tastes — games where you raise a virtual pet, operate a pizzeria with friends or run amok in an open-world take on cops-and-robbers. Here’s a look at Roblox’s business model, why investors are excited about the platform, and the company’s plans to go public in 2021.

NFT digital art by Beeple’s nets $69m at Christie’s auction house

( via – – Fri, 12th March 2021) London, Uk – –

The first digital-only art auction by Christie's auction house has netted $69m (£50m) for the artist Beeple.

The digital art was sold as an NFT – the latest tech craze which has boomed in popularity in recent weeks.

Beeple – real name Mike Winkelmann – creates a new piece of digital art every day, and was selling the first 5,000 days (13 years) of his work.

That success puts Beeple “among the top three most valuable living artists”, Christie's said.

The company said the sale was the first NFT-based work of art sold by a “major” auction house, and set a new world record for digital art.

The collection is a collage of the thousands of individual daily images which Beeple, an American graphic designer, started in early 2007 and has done every day since.

Many of the individual pieces are surreal or unsettling, and he uses a variety of digital modelling and artistic programmes for them.

The auction had attracted a great deal of attention, with bidding ramping up to $10m earlier this week. But on the final day of bidding, it skyrocketed to a final price of $69,346,250.

Christie's told the AFP news agency a record 22 million people watched the final moments of the auction's livestream.

That may in part be down to the current hype surrounding NFTs – or “non-fungible-tokens”. They are a unique identifier of ownership for non-physical objects such as digital art.

Beeple responded to the sale by tweeting a series of expletives.

Critics say the digital tokens have a huge environmental impact, since they are stored on a Blockchain, similar to crypto-currencies including Bitcoin and Ethereum. Others have suggested their current popularity is an investment bubble.

But the unique tokens allow value to be assigned to digital art, and they can be sold and traded in a similar way to physical art being used as an investment.

The current craze surrounding NFTs has seen the musician Grimes sell a collection of her artwork for more than $6m at the beginning of March. The founder of Twitter has also put his first tweet up for sale, with a bid of $2.5m so far.

And in one of the most controversial cases, one group burned a genuine Banksy original before putting its digital token up for sale, for $380,000 (£274,000).

Rolls-Royce reported a loss of £4bn for 2020 due to coronavirus pandemic

( via – – Thur, 11th Mar 2021) London, Uk – –

Air travel restrictions forced firm to burn through £4.2bn in cash to keep afloat as revenues collapsed

Rolls-Royce has reported a loss of £4bn for 2020 as the jet-engine manufacturer’s business was shaken by the coronavirus pandemic.

The FTSE 100 manufacturer revealed it burned through £4.2bn in cash during the year as revenues from servicing passenger aircraft collapsed. It expects to burn through a further £2bn this year.

Rolls-Royce’s revenues were among the most vulnerable to the pandemic because of its reliance on making and servicing jet engines for passenger aircraft. In the year before the pandemic its civil aerospace business brought in £8bn in revenues, compared with £5bn in 2020.

The underlying loss before tax of £4bn compared with a profit of £583m the year before. The underlying loss partly reflected charges related to financing foreign exchange as it adjusted to lower than expected dollar earnings.

Losses before tax for 2020 were £2.9bn, including £1.4bn in write-offs and nearly £500m in redundancy costs.

Rolls-Royce scrambled last year to cut costs and raise cash when the extent of the pandemic became clear. That included cutting 7,000 jobs out of 19,000 across its global civil aerospace division, in what it said was the largest restructuring in the venerable company’s recent history.

It has also negotiated two-week shutdowns of its engine factories this summer in an effort to save more cash.

The hours flown by planes with Rolls-Royce engines slumped to only 43% of 2019 levels. In 2021, hours flown are expected to improve only gradually, to 55% of 2019 levels.

Rolls-Royce said it expected earnings to accelerate in the second half of this year, but even during 2022 it expected flying hours to be a fifth lower than 2019 as the slow recovery in international travel continues, in part because of new variants of the virus.

Deliveries of new engines are not expected to recover significantly for a “few years”.

Warren East, Rolls-Royce’s chief executive, said the job losses were “regrettable, but unfortunately very necessary”. East added that the company had made a “good start” on raising more money through sales of parts of its business.

East said the company would try to continue investing in lower-carbon technologies. By 2023, Rolls-Royce plans to devote 20% of its research and development budget to small modular reactors, hybrid, hydrogen and electric power technologies, as part of its plans to reduce its carbon footprint, up from 7% now.

By Jasper Jolly

Lego plans ‘to hire hundreds’ more in UK in digital drive

( via – – Wed, 10th March 2021) London, Uk – –

Danish toy giant Lego plans to recruit hundreds of computer experts in the UK, Denmark and China to expand its digital games and online sales operation.

In 2020, the company saw its fastest sales growth in five years, helped by locked-down families buying bigger Lego sets they could make together.

But a new Super Mario set, which blends physical bricks with online games, has been one of the biggest launches ever.

Boss Niels Christiansen told the BBC Lego would speed up its digital plans.

The company has just released Lego VIDIYO, a partnership with Universal Music, which allows children to make their own music videos with special effects and filters.

“For the past two years we've made large-scale investments in initiatives designed to support long-term growth,” the Lego chief executive said.

“We are accelerating our digital transformation. This is a big investment area for customers and suppliers,” he said.

Store expansion

He told the BBC that every 2.77 seconds “someone uploads a Lego creation to our digital platforms that they have created and want to share. The Lego community is based on the brick, but this shows there is no limit to where we can take this.”

While the Lego brick will always be at the heart of the business, he said: “Today's children are growing up in a digital world and they effortlessly blend online and physical play.”

The digital expansion will mean recruiting more computer games and website specialists over the next couple of years, said Mr Christiansen, who praised the UK's expertise in this sector. “We go where the talent is available. Where we find the best talent is in UK and Denmark. I think the number will be in the hundreds.

“We have a solid digital foundation, but must move faster. The past year has shown the importance of having an agile, responsive business built on strong digital foundations,” Mr Christiansen said.

In addition to its 17 stores – and another due to open in Edinburgh soon – Lego has two UK offices and employs almost 750 people.

Despite store closures across the world due to the pandemic, and temporary production shutdowns at factories in China and Mexico, Lego saw a 19% jump in profits to 12.9bn Danish kroner (£1.5bn) for 2020. Revenues rose 13% to 43.7bn kroner (£5bn). Sales growth in all Lego's markets was in the double-digits.

Plastic alternative

Mr Christiansen said there had been an increase in sales of bigger, more complicated Lego sets. “Instead of buying Lego sets for kids, families were buying big sets and building them together,” he said. And the growth in interest for adult Lego sets continues, he added.

A strong seller in 2020 – and a favourite of Mr Christiansen – was a complex Lamborghini car. However, his number one favourite is the traditional build-what-you-want box of bricks, which consistently remains in Lego's top ten best sellers each year.

Despite the pandemic, Lego continued with store openings – with another 134 new shops, including 91 in China, expanding the chain to 678. Lego plans to open another 120 sites in 2021, with 80 in China where development of the brand had not been as fast as in Europe and the US.

Mr Christiansen said bricks and mortar remained key to Lego's growth, in large part because “the shops are not about getting the product across the counter”.

He said: “The stores are much more a brand-builder and experience outlet. A lot of the new stores will be in China. It makes a big, big difference if there is a store in town for creating awareness of the brand.”

The company, founded in 1932 and still family-owned, is trying to find alternatives to plastic for its bricks. Lego said it could not give a figure for how many were made each year.

Mr Christiansen said Lego is investing heavily in researching new materials, but has already introduced more bio-based elements into the manufacturing. The plan remains to introduce a sustainable product by 2030.

Finding a quality, long-lasting material was not as easy as people might think.

“Lego sets will be used for 40, 50 years. They will still work even though they might have been lying in the basement until brought out for the grandchildren.

“That lasting quality needs to stay there even when we sustainably source. We cannot just go out and buy that material. We are actually trying to develop it,” he said.

By Russell Hotten, Business reporter

UK grocery market online share up by record 17% driven lockdowns

( via — Tue, 9th Mar 2021) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – COVID-19 lockdowns drove the online share of British grocery sales to a record 17% in February, a 1% increase in share in just a month, industry data showed on Tuesday.

Market researcher NielsenIQ said British shoppers spent 1.5 billion pounds ($2.1 billion) on online groceries in the four weeks to Feb. 27, a jump of 132% year-on-year.

It said the number of British households shopping for groceries online has more than doubled over the last year to 11.8 million or 41%.

“Online grocery has now become a permanent fixture for many UK shoppers – it is now past the ‘tipping point’ and is at the ‘sticking point’,” said Mike Watkins, NielsenIQ’s UK head of retailer and business insight.

England entered a third national lockdown on Jan. 4 to stem a surge in COVID-19 cases.

The rules in England closed schools to most pupils, people were told to work from home if possible, and all hospitality was closed. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland imposed similar measures.

NielsenIQ said total UK grocery sales in February grew 10.6% year-on-year.

However, it noted that in the week to Feb. 27 consumers spent less on essential items such as rice (down 15% year-on-year), dry pasta (down 18%) and toilet rolls (down 12%).

Sales for these items had shot up at this time last year as talk of lockdowns began.

“As vaccination programmes prove successful and with the government outlining a clear roadmap out of lockdown, it’s clear that this has been a boost to consumer confidence and signals another change in purchasing habits,” said Watkins.

NielsenIQ said that over the 12 weeks to Feb. 27, Morrisons was the best performer of the country’s four major supermarket groups with an 11.7% sales increase.

Sales at market leader Tesco rose 9.5%. They were up 8.7% at Sainsbury’s and up 6.8% at Asda.

($1 = 0.7233 pounds)

Reporting by James Davey

Deliveroo to distribute £50m funding pot to restaurants as £7.5bn float looms

( via– Fri, 5th Mar 2021) London, Uk – –

Deliveroo will unveil the fund days before formally confirming its blockbuster IPO, Sky News understands.

Deliveroo will distribute a £50m funding pot to restaurants, riders and community groups as it seeks to portray itself as a responsible corporate citizen following a blockbuster flotation that could value it at around £7.5bn.

Sky News understands that the restaurant and grocery delivery app will launch the Communities Fund after an initial public offering in London that will be formally unveiled on Monday.

The five-year pot of money will be earmarked for grants to restaurants to assist them with the cost of reopening after the nationwide lockdown, delivering meals to vulnerable groups and helping its army of riders access affordable electric bikes.

It will be announced just days before one of the most prominent IPOs in London for years – the details of which were exclusively revealed by Sky News last month.

Will Shu, Deliveroo's founder and chief executive, said: “Customers, restaurants and riders are at the heart of their local communities – and that's what we care about too.Advertisement

“Being recognisable in the community isn't enough; being part of local communities is what matters.

“We want to support the initiatives that matter most to our riders, restaurants and riders.”

Half a dozen investment banks, led by Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, have been lined up to oversee the flotation, which will take place at a big premium to a $180m fundraising announced just weeks ago.

Deliveroo recently announced plans to expand into a further 100 towns and cities across the UK, enabling it to reach an additional 4 million people.

It has appointed Claudia Arney, a former Premier League and Ocado director, as its chair, and Next's chief executive, Lord Wolfson, as an independent director.

This week, it confirmed that it would float in London with a dual-class share structure for three years that will allow Mr Shu to retain control of the company.

Its float will come after Lord Hill, the former EU commissioner, published a review of London's listings regime with the objective of attracting high-growth technology companies to the City.

Amazon-backed Deliveroo is one of Britain's best-known technology ‘unicorns' – companies worth at least $1bn.

Its decision to float in the UK was welcomed by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who hailed it as “a true British success story”.

Nevertheless, Deliveroo continues to face questions about the terms on which its riders work for it and the funding model it uses with restaurant partners.

Amazon's investment – following a lengthy competition inquiry – as part of a $575m fundraising has prompted Deliveroo to turn its attention towards further innovation in the fight against rivals Uber Eats and Just Eat

A bumper flotation will provide liquidity to many of Deliveroo's longest-standing shareholders, with notable names on its investor register including the private equity firm Bridgepoint and the institutional investors Fidelity and T Rowe Price.

Deliveroo now has around 45,000 restaurants on its platform in the UK, and it has recently started allowing customers to reward riders after their delivery has arrived.

Its own blockbuster valuation comes at a torrid time for many of its restaurant partners, with hospitality chiefs warning that hundreds of thousands of jobs will disappear from the sector without further state support.

By Mark Kleinman

UK regulator to investigate Apple over alleged App Store monopoly

( via — Thur, 4th Mar 2021) London, UK —

(Reuters) – Britain’s competition regulator said on Thursday it has opened an investigation into Apple Inc after complaints that the iPhone maker’s terms and conditions for app developers are unfair and anti-competition.

The probe will consider if Apple has a dominant position in the distribution of apps on its devices in the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said.

Payment policies related to Apple’s App Store have for long drawn complaints from app developers as it requires them to use its payment system, which charges commissions of between 15% and 30%.

The company has also been at loggerheads with Epic Games, the creator of popular game Fortnite, which last year tried to avoid the 30% fee by launching its own in-app payment system, leading to Apple banning Fortnite from its store.

The iPhone maker said on Thursday it will work with the regulator.

“The App Store has been an engine of success for app developers, in part because of the rigorous standards we have in place — applied fairly and equally to all developers — to protect customers from malware and to prevent rampant data collection without their consent,” Apple said in a statement.

The company is also being investigated on similar grounds by the Dutch competition authorities, who are nearing a draft decision, Reuters reported last month.

Last year, the European Commission too had opened a probe into the iPhone maker over App Store commission fee.

“Complaints that Apple is using its market position to set terms which are unfair or may restrict competition and choice – potentially causing customers to lose out when buying and using apps – warrant careful scrutiny,” CMA Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli said.

Reporting by Muvija M and Munsif Vengattil

Amazon Fresh contactless grocery store a first for the UK

( via – – Thur, 4 Mar 2021) London, Uk – –

tore in Ealing, west London, is available to Prime members who must scan in phone code to enter

Amazon has opened its first contactless grocery store in the UK today where shoppers can pick up their goods and leave without having to visit a till.

The Amazon Fresh store in Ealing, west London, is only available to those signed up to Amazon’s Prime subscription service, and customers must scan in a code on their phone to gain entry.

Once inside, shoppers can pick up the goods they want without scanning them or visiting a till as motion sensors, cameras and other technology monitor the goods chosen. The bill is automatically charged to shoppers’ Prime account when they leave the store.

While customers won’t need to interact with a member of staff, Amazon says workers will be on site to handle queries, restock shelves and prepare food.

The store will stock about 10,000 grocery products from well-known brands, its own By Amazon grocery range, as well as items from its retail partners Morrisons and Booths. The 2,500 sq ft store will also be a place to pick up or return other items bought on Amazon.

The online retailer is thought to have 10 sites for additional Amazon Fresh stores lined up in the UK after three years of research.

Clive Black, an analyst at Shore Capital, said he believed Amazon would want up to 30 such outlets in the first phase of its expansion here. The group already has more than 20 similar contactless grocery stores in the US under the name Amazon Go.

Black said the new store could be a “seminal moment in the history of the UK grocery market” and indicated Amazon’s ambitions in the sector.

“The patient and rather delicate expansion that the group has taken to date in the UK, revolving around gradually building its online service, notably in collaboration with Morrisons, and its investment in the rapid delivery channel through Deliveroo, were never to us going to be the full extent of its ambitions,” he said.

Amazon, which sells the vast majority of its goods online but already owns the Whole Foods Market business which has seven stores in the UK, has also previously opened pop-up shops for fashion and non-food items. It has offered its online grocery delivery service Amazon Fresh for several years.

By Sarah Butler

Aldi and Lidl lose out as surge in online grocery shopping hit new heights

( via – – Tue, 2nd Mar, 2021) London, Uk – –

Tesco market share up for first time in five years as shoppers turn to internet during Covid pandemic

Aldi and Lidl have lost share of the grocery market for the first time in more than a decade, while Tesco’s share rose for the first time since 2016, amid a surge in online shopping during the pandemic.

Online grocery sales accounted for a record 15.4% share of the market in the four weeks to 21 February, up from 8.7% last year, as all the big supermarkets increased their provision for deliveries according to market analysts Kantar.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail at Kantar, said: “Nearly a quarter of households bought groceries online during the past month, making the most of home deliveries especially to get hold of bulkier goods like canned foods, breakfast cereals and soft drinks. It’s been an extraordinary 12 months for online.”

He said 3m tonnes of food had been delivered to people’s homes over the past year and the habit seemed to be sticking, with those who bought online happier about the service they received than those who shopped in stores.

The switch to home deliveries, and a desire to shop either in a big supermarket that can supply everything, or a handy small local store, led to a change in fortune for Lidl, which does not sell online, for the first time since 2010. Its fellow German discounter Aldi, which only sells alcohol and some non-food items online, has been losing market share since May 2020, but last month was the first time in decade that both lost out.

McKevitt said: “[The discounters’] sales are up and up strongly, but sales are up more everywhere else. They have lost an opportunity but there is a question of what will happen once the pandemic ends.”

He said Tesco, by far the UK’s biggest supermarket business, had benefited from all the trends – increasing sales online, at its large supermarkets and at its small Tesco Express stores. Morrisons, Iceland and independent convenience stores also continued to gain share.

Supermarkets and other grocers have been enjoying strong sales during the pandemic.

With cafes, restaurants and many school and workplace canteens closed, British shoppers spent an extra £15.2bn on groceries in the past year, cooking up 7bn more meals at home and an additional 2bn cups of tea.

The average household has spent £4,800 on groceries in the pandemic so far, an increase of £500 compared with normal times.

The pace of sales growth rose to 15.1% in the four weeks to 21 February, the fastest pace since June last year when lockdown was still in place.

With lockdown restrictions beginning to ease later this month, a year on from a spike in sales amid fears of a national lockdown, McKevitt said he now expected sales to start dropping back year on year.

“We will have annualisation against last March when there was stockpiling and 20% sales growth,” he said. “As soon as the pandemic unwinds and out of home dining opens, including school canteens, there will be a change. As the year goes on, and hopefully the [pandemic] situation gets better, the performance [of supermarkets] is going to get worse.”

McKevitt added that not all spending in supermarkets had increased. “With fewer social occasions in the diary, personal care has fallen down the agenda and spending on toiletries dropped by 1%. Liquid soap and hand sanitisers proved to be an understandable exception and sales grew by 127% over the past year,” he said.

By Sarah Butler

Coinbase applies for SEC listing and reveals healthy revenue growth

( via — Thu, 25th Feb 2021) London, UK —

(Reuters) – Coinbase Global Inc on Thursday disclosed its regulatory filing to go public, revealing surging revenue growth and healthy earnings and setting the stage for a landmark stock market listing for the U.S. cryptocurrency exchange.

The procedural step of making its filing with U.S. regulators public brings Coinbase a step closer to listing its shares on the Nasdaq stock exchange, which would represent a landmark victory for cryptocurrency advocates vying for mainstream endorsement.

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Coinbase said in December that it had confidentially applied with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to go public.

Reuters was first to report last July that Coinbase started plans for a stock-market listing and was exploring going public through a direct listing instead of a traditional initial public offering.

Many cryptocurrencies have struggled to win the trust of mainstream investors and the general public due to their speculative nature and potential for money laundering.

The landmark decision from the SEC could be a major boon or blow to the legitimacy of cryptocurrencies, and determine which ones are allowed to trade on the platform.

In its latest filing, Coinbase cautioned that it was yet to receive the relevant approvals from regulators that would allow it to trade certain securities.

“Although we have applied to operate an ATS (alternative trading system) in the United States that would allow us to trade crypto assets that are deemed “securities” under U.S. federal securities laws, we have not yet received regulatory approval to, and do not currently, operate an ATS for trading of crypto assets deemed to be securities,” Coinbase said in its filing.

The listing would come after the price of bitcoin, the world’s biggest cryptocurrency, ended 2020 up more than 300% and earlier this month hit a record high of $58,354 with a market capitalization above $1 trillion.

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Bitcoin has come off its recent highs this week as investors grew nervous at sky-high valuations.

For the year ended Dec. 31, Coinbase pulled in total revenue of $1.3 billion, compared with $533.7 million in the year-ago period. It also reported net income of $322.3 million, compared with a loss of $30.4 million during the same period last year, according to the filing.

Coinbase is eschewing a traditional initial public offering where a company raises money by selling new shares, opting instead to go public through a direct listing where no new stock is sold and existing shareholders can sell stock.

Founded in 2012, San Francisco-based Coinbase is among the most well-known cryptocurrency platforms globally and has more than 43 million users in more than 100 countries.

The New York Stock Exchange, BBVA and former Citigroup Inc chief executive Vikram Pandit are among those that have invested in Coinbase, which was valued at more than $8 billion in its latest private fundraising round in 2018.

Reporting by Joshua Franklin 

NHS facing legal challenge with controversial Silicon Valley firm Palantir over data deal

( via–Wed, 24th Feb 2021) London, Uk – –

Palantir secured its first ever deal to handle NHS data in March last year for the nominal sum of £1.

The NHS is facing a legal challenge over its data deal with controversial Silicon Valley firm Palantir, Sky News can reveal.

Palantir, which has become notorious for its close ties to security services and immigration agencies in the United States, secured its first ever deal to handle NHS data in March last year for the nominal sum of £1.

Legal group Foxglove announced today that it was bringing a court case against the health service to force it to reconsider the contract, which was extended in December 2020 and is now worth £23.5m. Government's failure to publish COVID contracts details was unlawful, High Court rules.

The lawsuit is the latest challenge over procurement during the pandemic, which has become a highly contentious topic in recent months, with critics accusing the government of favouring its own contacts.

It comes as a batch of internal government emails uncovered by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and seen by Sky News reveal that high-level meetings took place between Palantir and the most senior officials in government and the NHS before the pandemic, raising questions about the role of personal relationships in the award of the contract.

The lawsuit claims that NHS England failed to consider the impact of the renewed deal on patients and the public by performing a fresh Data Protection Impact Assessment – a claim the health service denies.

“This is a giant tech company seeking to establish what will be a permanent beachhead in the NHS and we think that people have the right to know about that and debate it before it's too late,” said Cori Crider, co-founder of Foxglove, which is bringing the case on behalf of news site openDemocracy.

An NHS spokesperson said: “The company is an accredited supplier to the UK public sector, the NHS completed a Data Protection Impact Assessment in April 2020, and an update will be published in due course.”

NHS insiders say that Palantir's tool has proved immensely useful at marshalling the health service's disparate streams of data, but Ms Crider said that the NHS was “naive” to think its relationship with the much-criticised firm would not damage fragile trust among minority ethnic communities.

“The government's vaccine campaigns teach us that there is no public health without public trust,” Ms Crider told Sky News, citing criticism of Palantir by human rights groups for its work with US police forces and Immigration and Customs Enforcement as potential sources of unease.

The lawsuit comes as a trove of internal UK government documents released to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism under the Freedom of Information Act shows how Palantir wooed senior NHS and government figures long before it was awarded a contract with the health service.

The emails reveal that in July 2019 Louis Mosley, Palantir's UK head, hosted a dinner discussion chaired by Conservative peer David Prior, the chair of NHS England.

They drank watermelon cocktails, which Lord Prior later valued at £60.

The next evening, Mr Mosley emailed Lord Prior, thanking him for “a fascinating and thought provoking discussion”. He added: “I'm more convinced than ever that the UK is uniquely placed to pioneer the next generation of medical discoveries and treatments.”

Hours later Lord Prior replied, encouraging Mr Mosley to get in touch “if you can see ways where you could help us structure and curate our data”.

Despite this non-committal response, Mr Mosley continued to stay in touch with Lord Prior. In early October, the Palantir boss met with Matthew Gould, the former diplomat who had been appointed head of NHSX. “A very positive meeting,” he told Lord Prior over email, inviting him to a demonstration in San Francisco in January.

Lord Prior took up the offer. On 14 January 2020, he took a team of five NHS officials to Palantir's San Francisco headquarters, where they met with the company's “Healthcare Life Sciences brain trust”, a group of around 10 of the tech company's engineers and health science specialists.

According to “quick rough notes” compiled by an official the day after the meeting, aides came away believing that Palantir's all-purpose data software product was “focused exclusively on the Heath Care Market in the UK”.

Palantir and NHS England declined to comment on the contents of the emails, but spokespeople for both organisations insisted that the meetings had nothing to do with the award of any contracts.

Ms Crider reacted to this with scepticism, saying: “What's the watermelon cocktail for if not to curry favour and influence?”

She said the emails raised questions about the contract first granted to Palantir in March 2020, which was portrayed as an immediate response to an “unprecedented challenge”, rather than a long-term arrangement.

The emails reveal the extensive contacts between Palantir and the UK government. The week after his meeting with Lord Prior, Mr Moseley met with the UK's top trade official, Antonia Romeo, who he hosted at Palantir's pavilion in Davos at the World Economic Forum.

According to briefing notes prepared for Ms Romeo, who was then permanent secretary at the Department for International Trade (DIT), the “objectives” of the meeting included stressing that the UK was “a great location for Palantir to expand their software business”.Details of NHS deals with tech giants released by government after legal threat

DIT officials also said they wanted to “understand how we can support their [Palantir's] growth in the UK”, saying they would like to know “how we help with recruitment, identifying real estate for expansion, planning for visas”.

A DIT spokesperson denied there was anything unusual about these exchanges, saying: “DIT officials engage with a wide range of businesses as part of their responsibility to support UK trade and investment.”

But critics point out that encouraging investment from Palantir is different, because its primary client is often the government itself.

“The sense from these exchanges is that senior officials are bending over backwards to accommodate Palantir, and not asking critical questions about the way their technologies will reshape the delivery of services,” said technology researcher Rachel Coldicutt.

Since the NHS's contract with Palantir was first announced, its terms have been extended to cover a far greater range of subjects, including Brexit, flu vaccinations and the ability to “drill down and view changes to workforce data over time”.

Defenders of Palantir said that showed how effective the software had been, but data policy experts warned that the government needed to be more transparent about the changes if it was going to secure public trust.

“The government will squander any opportunities that might exist to better serve the public through the use of data and new technology if it doesn't have the conversation about what's acceptable in public and with the public,” said technology researcher Gavin Freeguard.

Matt Hancock's new plan for health and social care reform, which he unveiled earlier this month, outlines extensive proposals for greater use of health data. It describes the NHS's work with Palantir as one of its “achievements”.

Last week, the health secretary was found to have broken the law by failing to publish the details of coronavirus-related contracts worth billions within the required time period.

Mr Hancock defended the decision, saying he prioritised fighting the virus over transparency, but Labour called on him to commit to greater transparency to win back public trust.

By Rowland Manthorpe

Tech giant Apple buys a company every three to four weeks

( via – – Wed, 24th Feb 2021) London, Uk – –

Apple has acquired about 100 companies over the last six years, the company’s chief executive Tim Cook has revealed.

That works out at a company every three to four weeks, he told Apple’s annual meeting of shareholders on Tuesday.

Apple recently delivered its largest quarter by revenue of all time, bringing in $111.4bn (£78.7bn) in the first-quarter of its fiscal year 2021.

Mr Cook told the shareholders meeting that the acquisitions are mostly aimed at acquiring technology and talent.

Apple's largest acquisition in the last decade was its $3bn purchase of Beats Electronics, the headphone maker founded by rapper and producer Dr Dre.

Another high profile purchase was music recognition software company Shazam, for $400m in 2018.

Most often, Apple buys smaller technology firms and then incorporates their innovations into its own products.

One example is PrimeSense, an Israeli 3D sensing company whose technology contributed to Apple’s FaceID.

Apple has also invested in back-end technology that wouldn’t be so obvious to iPhone or Macbook users.

Self-driving, podcasts and more

Apple's list of acquisitions and investments is extremely varied.

In the past year, Apple has bought several artificial intelligence (AI) companies, a virtual reality events business, a payments startup and a podcast business, among others.

In 2019, Apple bought, a self-driving shuttle firm, in an effort to boost its own foray into self-driving technologies. captionWATCH: Who are the ‘big four' and just how much power do they have?

In 2016, the company also took a $1bn stake in Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing, although it wasn’t a controlling interest.

Deep pockets

Apple is an immensely profitable juggernaut worth more than $2trn, so it has plenty of money to make acquisitions.

But even if it has bought 100 companies in six years, Apple appears to be very selective about what it buys.

For example, Tesla founder Elon Musk recently revealed that he approached Mr Cook to buy the electric car business when it was struggling in 2013.

Mr Cook didn't take the meeting, Mr Musk said.

Measured by value, Apple’s acquisitions are actually far more restrained than those of many of its tech rivals.

Microsoft paid $26bn for LinkedIn, Amazon paid $13.7bn for Whole Foods and Facebook paid $19bn for WhatsApp.

Apple’s ten largest purchases put together would still be worth far less than any of those deals.

10 Highest Earning YouTubers Influencers

Source: Alux

This Alux video we will be answering the following questions: What are the top 10 Highest Earning YouTubers 2020? What are the 10 Highest Earning YouTubers 2020? Who are the best paid YouTubers in 2020? Who is the highest paid YouTuber in 2020? Who are the highest paid YouTubers in 2020? How much do top YouTubers make? How much money do YouTubers make? What YouTubers earns highest salary in world? Who is the YouTuber with the highest earnings in 2020?

How Airlines Make Meals For Thousands Of Passengers

Source: CNBC

For many people economy class used to mean soggy pasta, rubbery eggs and dried-out chicken. For a time U.S airlines even stopped serving free meals altogether in economy class. But in 2019 U.S. airlines posted their tenth straight year of profitability and premium and economy cabins are seeing more food options than ever before.

Cazoo online car platform plotting moves to go public with a valuation of over £5bn

( via– Fri, 19th Feb 2021) London, Uk – –

The firm's founder, Alex Chesterman, is starting to explore a merger with a US-listed SPAC, Sky News learns.

Cazoo, the online car retailer founded by one of Britain's best-known technology entrepreneurs, is plotting a blockbuster move to go public with a valuation of well over £5bn.

Sky News has learnt that Cazoo, which was launched by Alex Chesterman just a year ago, is working with bankers at Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and Numis on options for accelerating its growth prospects.

City sources said on Friday that this could involve a London listing, but that a merger with a New York-listed special purpose acquisition company was at least as likely an outcome.

Any move to go public would not take place until much later in the year, but would underscore the explosive growth of Mr Chesterman's latest venture.

Cazoo has already raised £450m from an array of blue-chip investors – a staggering sum for a British start-up founded just two years ago.

The London Stock Exchange is expected to push hard for Cazoo to list in its home market, but sources said that the company's founders had already been approaching potential investors about the idea of a SPAC deal in the US.

SPACs have raised tens of billions of dollars this year alone, persuading a spectrum of tech-enabled companies in clean energy, healthcare, urban mobility and space travel to take themselves onto the public markets.

Cazoo has built a workforce of around 2,000 people, partly through a number of acquisitions.

If it succeeded in securing a valuation as high as £6bn, it would potentially add another £1.8bn to Mr Chesterman's already-sizeable wealth by virtue of his 30% stake in the company.

In a statement issued to Sky News, a Cazoo spokesman said on Friday: “Cazoo is pioneering the shift to online car buying in the UK and, since our launch just over a year ago, we have already sold almost 20,000 cars to consumers across the UK who have embraced the selection, transparency and convenience of buying high quality used cars entirely online.

“As one of the UK's fastest growing businesses, with revenues of over £160m in our first year alone, it is not surprising that there is speculation around whether or when we might IPO but we do not comment on speculation and should we have an announcement to make on this or any other matter we shall do so at the appropriate time.”

Mr Chesterman, who founded successful start-ups Lovefilm and Zoopla, has raised money from backers such as Fidelity and D1 Capital Partners, which has also invested in the payments group TransferWise.

Cazoo, which sponsors Premier League teams Aston Villa and Everton, claims to be transforming the little-changed method of buying a used car by having it delivered to a customer's door within as little as 72 hours.

It claims to have become “the country's leading online car retailer” since its launch, even as the market for new cars has plummeted to sales levels not seen since the immediate aftermath of the Second World War.

Cazoo competes with rivals such as Cinch, which is owned by BCA Marketplace.

Investors in the sector say that on a relative basis, the business had become more attractive because of the prospective shift of consumers to digital channels once the pandemic abates.

Mr Chesterman came up with the idea for Cazoo soon after leaving the property portal Zoopla, which he sold in a deal worth more than £2bn to the tech-focused buyout firm Silver Lake in 2018.

“Used cars are one of the last remaining consumer markets yet to benefit from any digital transformation,” the entrepreneur said soon after its launch.

“Cazoo makes used car buying simple and convenient like buying any other product online today.

“We take away the need to travel, to haggle, to spend countless hours at a dealership and to risk any buyer's remorse.”

By Mark Kleinman

Uber drivers deemed as workers not self-employed by UK’s Supreme Court

( via – – Fri, 19th Feb 2021) London, Uk – –

Uber drivers must be treated as workers rather than self-employed, the UK's Supreme Court has ruled.

The decision could mean thousands of Uber drivers are set to be entitled to minimum wage and holiday pay.

The ruling could leave the ride-hailing app facing a hefty compensation bill, and have wider consequences for the gig economy.

Uber said the ruling centred on a small number of drivers and it had since made changes to its business.

In a long-running legal battle, Uber had appealed to the Supreme Court after losing three earlier rounds.

Uber is being challenged by its drivers in multiple countries over whether they should be classed as workers or self-employed.

In the US, California voters passed a measure called Proposition 22 that will see freelance workers continue to be classified as independent contractors in November, overturning a landmark labour law passed in 2019.

‘Massive achievement'

Former Uber drivers James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam, who originally won an employment tribunal against the ride hailing app giant in October 2016, told the BBC they were “thrilled and relieved” by the ruling.

“I think it's a massive achievement in a way that we were able to stand up against a giant,” said Mr Aslam, president of the App Drivers & Couriers Union (ADCU).

“We didn't give up and we were consistent – no matter what we went through emotionally or physically or financially, we stood our ground.”

Uber appealed against the employment tribunal decision but the Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld the ruling in November 2017.

The company then took the case to the Court of Appeal, which upheld the ruling in December 2018.

The ruling on Friday was Uber's last appeal, as the Supreme Court is Britain's highest court, and it has the final say on legal matters.

Delivering his judgement, Lord Leggatt said that the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed Uber's appeal that it was an intermediary party and stated that drivers should be considered to be working not only when driving a passenger, but whenever logged in to the app.

The court considered several elements in its judgement:

  • Uber set the fare which meant that they dictated how much drivers could earn
  • Uber set the contract terms and drivers had no say in them
  • Request for rides is constrained by Uber who can penalise drivers if they reject too many rides
  • Uber monitors a driver's service through the star rating and has the capacity to terminate the relationship if after repeated warnings this does not improve

Looking at these and other factors, the court determined that drivers were in a position of subordination to Uber where the only way they could increase their earnings would be to work longer hours.

Jamie Heywood, Uber's Regional General Manager for Northern and Eastern Europe, said: “We respect the Court's decision which focussed on a small number of drivers who used the Uber app in 2016.

“Since then we have made some significant changes to our business, guided by drivers every step of the way. These include giving even more control over how they earn and providing new protections like free insurance in case of sickness or injury.

“We are committed to doing more and will now consult with every active driver across the UK to understand the changes they want to see.”

‘Drivers are struggling'

The Supreme Court's ruling that Uber has to consider its drivers “workers” from the time they log on to the app, until they log off is seen as a key point.

Uber drivers typically spend time waiting for people to book rides on the app. Previously, the firm had said that if drivers were found to be workers, then it would only count the time during journeys when a passenger is in the car.

“This is a win-win-win for drivers, passengers and cities. It means Uber now has the correct economic incentives not to oversupply the market with too many vehicles and too many drivers,” said James Farrar, ADCU's general secretary.

“The upshot of that oversupply has been poverty, pollution and congestion.”

However, questions still remain about how the new classification will work, and how it affects gig economy workers who work not only for Uber, but also for other competing apps.

Mr Aslam, who claims Uber's practices forced him to leave the trade as he couldn't make ends meet, is considering becoming a driver for the app again. But he is upset that it took so long.

“It took us six years to establish what we should have got in 2015. Someone somewhere, in the government or the regulator, massively let down these workers, many of whom are in a precarious position,” he said.

Mr Farrar points out that with fares down 80% due to the pandemic, many drivers have been struggling financially and feel trapped in Uber's system.

“We're seeing many of our members earning £30 gross a day right now,” he said, explaining that the self-employment grants issued by the government only cover 80% of a driver's profits, which isn't even enough to pay for their costs.

“If we had these rights today, those drivers could at least earn a minimum wage to live on.”

Impact on Uber

When Uber listed its shares in the US in 2019, its filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) included a section on risks to its business.

The company said in this section that if it had to classify drivers as workers, it would “incur significant additional expenses” in compensating the drivers for things such as the minimum wage and overtime.

“Further, any such reclassification would require us to fundamentally change our business model, and consequently have an adverse effect on our business and financial condition,” it added.

Uber also wrote in the filing that if Mr Farrar and Mr Aslam were to win their case, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) would then classify the firm as a transport provider, and Uber would need to pay VAT on fares.

The company has long argued that it is a booking agent, which hires self-employed contractors that provide transport.

By Mary-Ann Russon

Moonpig recorded strongest week of sales in its history leading up to Valentine’s Day

( via – – Thur, 18th Feb 2021) London, Uk – –

Card and gift retailer says it had its strongest ever week in run-up to 14 February

People have flocked to Moonpig over the last year to buy cards and gifts. 

Moonpig recorded the strongest week of sales in its history in the run-up to Valentine’s Day as it benefited from online spending during the latest lockdown.

The company, which floated on the stock market this month, said it was on track to double its annual revenues as Covid restrictions drive greater demand. Revenues last year were £173m.

Consumers have flocked to the site to buy cards, and many are also choosing gifts, which has raised the average amount spent on each Moonpig order.

Moonpig’s shares jumped 17% on its stock market debut on 2 February, valuing the company at £1.4bn by the end of its first day as a listed company. The company placed 140m shares at an initial price of 350p, to give new investors a 41% stake in the company and raise £20m to fund its expansion.

The trend towards online card and gift purchases has come at the expense of established high street names including Paperchase, which has shut 27 stores and cut 270 jobs as part of a rescue deal with the private equity fund Permira.

However, in its trading update on Thursday Moonpig warned investors that it expected the frequency of customer orders, and the number with attached gifts, to “moderate” when lockdown restrictions begin to ease and shoppers are allowed back on to the high street.

The company added that its soaring revenues would be tempered by higher costs from extra staffing and Covid-19 measures.

Ford motor plan all-electric passenger range in Europe by 2030

( via– Wed, 17th Feb 2021) London, Uk – –

The plans come as manufacturers worldwide seek to develop zero-emission vehicles in the face of strict emission targets and bans.

Ford has announced its entire passenger range in Europe will be all-electric by the end of the decade.

The motor giant also said its commercial models would be 100% zero-emissions capable, all-electric or plug-in hybrid by 2024.

The move comes after Ford reported a return to profit in Europe in the fourth quarter of 2020. How does the UK's new green drive compare to the rest of the world?

The firm said it was investing at least $22bn (£15.8bn) globally in electrification to 2025, nearly twice the company's previous investment plans.

Ford of Europe president Stuart Rowley said: “We successfully restructured Ford of Europe and returned to profitability in the fourth quarter of 2020.

“Now we are charging into an all-electric future in Europe with expressive new vehicles and a world-class connected customer experience.”

The company's plans include a $1bn cash boost to modernise its vehicle assembly facility in Cologne, Germany.

The investment will transform the existing operation for the manufacture of electric vehicles, Ford's first such facility in Europe.

Ford confirmed that its first European-built, volume all-electric passenger would be produced at the site from 2023.

Speaking to Sky News' Ian King Live programme, Mr Rowley said Ford's Dunton Technical Centre in Essex, which is responsible for the design and engineering of its commercial vehicles, would be “contributing strongly” and playing as leading role in the electrification of the range.

“So we don't produce vehicles, but it is a very important part of our overall operation,” he said.

Mr Rowley added: “The European region is really leading the way in the electrification of our industry and obviously as we invest heavily, not only Ford but the entire industry, as part of that we will be bringing down costs as we establish scale.”

But he indicated that further job losses could be in the pipeline with the shift to electrification.

He said: “It's obviously a huge transition for Ford and the entire industry as we move from conventional powertrains, engine transmissions to battery, so we have worked very closely with our social partners… to manage that transition in an appropriate way.”

He added: “We will continue to resize our operations. We would expect to see some continued descaling in our European operations as we make this transition.”Where the jobs have been lost during the COVID pandemic

Mr Rowley would not be drawn on a figure but pointed out that over the last two years Ford's workforce in Europe had been reduced by around 20% or 10,000 people.

Earlier this week, Jaguar Land Rover committed to keep all three of its British plants open in the drive for all its models to be fully electric by 2030.

The firm, owned by India's Tata Motors, said the Jaguar brand would lead the way with a complete electric vehicle range by 2025.

The plans come as car groups worldwide pursue zero-emission strategies to meet strict CO2 emission targets.

A number of countries have also announced bans on new fossil-fuel vehicle sales.

Boris Johnson, who welcomed the company's commitment in a tweet on Monday evening,confirmed last year that sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans would be phased out by 2030, as part of his 10-point plan for a “green industrial revolution”.

In November, luxury car brand Bentley Motors, owned by Germany's Volkswagen, said its model range would be fully electric by 2030.

Last month, General Motors Co said it aimed to have a zero-emission line-up by 2035.