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GameStop shares rise as it reveals plans to elect activist investor as chairman

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James Cook
·20-min read
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Gamestop
Gamestop

GameStop shares have risen in premarket trading after saying it intends to elect Ryan Cohen as its next chairman, cementing the activist investor’s influence at the video-game retailer.

Kurtis Wolf resigned effective April 5, GameStop said in a filing Thursday. The company said the resignation didn’t result from a disagreement over operations, policies or practices.

GameStop shares rose as much as 3.8pc to $184.80 in New York premarket trading. The stock has been on a wild, Reddit-driven ride, surging 845pc this year.

Ahead of its historic flight on the red planet, the Ingenuity helicopter has been captured in a remarkable selfie on Mars with the Perseverance rover.

Ingenuity is aiming to attempt the feat no earlier than 11 April and will undergo several tests over the coming days.

Elsewhere Apple has accused Epic Games, the company behind the popular video game Fortnite, of running a two-year campaign to portray it as the "bad guy".

And Microsoft has been hit with a £270m High Court legal claim from a British business today. Derby business ValueLicensing, a software licence reseller, alleges that Microsoft has abused its dominance over the software world to keep prices of services like Office365 artificially high.

05:47 PM

Farewell for now

That's all from us tonight. Thanks for reading, and hopefully see you tomorrow!

05:41 PM

Amazon opens supermarkets in Washington DC

Amazon has opened a pair of new supermarkets in the Washington DC metro area, bringing its physical shopping footprint to the doorstep of the US political class (and lobbying community).

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The shops are part of an ever-expanding estate that includes not only Amazon's advanced Go stores, which use technology to eliminate tills and charge customers as they go, and its more conventional Fresh line, but also Whole Foods, the US health food chain that it acquired in 2017.

04:33 PM

Facebook tests warning labels on parody posts

Facebook has begun adding a "satire" label to posts from spoof pages in an apparent attempt to reduce misinformation.

The new disclaimers, which are being tested in the US from Thursday, appear on posts shown in users' news feeds and warn users not to confuse them with posts from real public figures or news outlets.

A spokesman said the labels were an experiment designed to find out whether labels can help users distinguish actual elected figures from fakes, with labels for "public official" and "fan page" also being tested.

More broadly, the disclaimers' wording suggests they are intended to counteract the increasing role of satirical posts in the spread of online misinformation over the past few years.

Stories by parody news sites such as The Onion and the Babylon Bee are frequently shared as if they were real within partisan social media groups, even hoodwinking Donald Trump, while spoof Antifa Twitter accounts stoked conspiracy theories during last year's Black Lives Matter protests and wildfires in the US.

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More recently, parody Twitter accounts mimicking Amazon's controversial employee "ambassadors" sowed chaos as critics of the company found them hard to distinguish from the official ones.

Facebook's label says: "Satire pages [are] a way for people to share social commentary by using humour, exaggeration and absurdity to make a point.

"Posts from satire pages can appear very similar to posts from public figures or conventional news sources. Pages can label themselves as Satire pages to help avoid this conclusion.

"Facebook is providing this information to help you better understand this page."

The spokesman added that all three labels are currently voluntary, with Facebook checking their accuracy when pages apply them.

03:00 PM

World faces broadband router issues over semiconductor shortage

The global semiconductor chip shortage has continued for months, and the problem is now affecting broadband suppliers.

It's now taking more than a year to receive new broadband routers, with recent consignments held up in the blockage of the Suez Canal.

Some firms have reported delays of as long as 60 weeks when placing their orders, according to Bloomberg, more than double previous wait times.

Taiwanese router manufacturer Zyxel Communications has since January begun asking customers to order new broadband routers a year in advance to get around the long supply times.

02:21 PM

Index Ventures launches new $200m seed fund

Index Ventures, the prominent venture capital firm with a major presence in London, has announced a new $200m (£145m) fund designed to back early technology companies.

The new Index Origin fund will back fledgling start-ups before they begin to earn revenue.

Index Ventures is known for backing businesses including Deliveroo, Robinhood and Wise (formerly known as Transferwise).

Launching a new early stage fund is a smart way for Index to stake its claim early to future unicorns, placing it in prime position to benefit from any eventual exits.

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“Right now, as an early-stage founder, you’re making a trade-off between a multi-stage venture fund that invests in seed or a dedicated seed fund,” said Nina Achadjian, a partner at Index Ventures. “Index Origin offers founders a platform that scales with them, from inception to IPO. By offering seed-specific resources and by encouraging collaboration and co-investment with seed funds and solo general partners, we want to set up founders for success from day one.”

12:53 PM

Tesla slams German bureaucracy

Tesla has today said it is "irritated" by administrative delays to the construction of its new gigafactory outside Berlin, and put forward its own reform proposals.

"Tesla has experienced first hand how obstacles in German authorisation procedures slow down industrial transformation," the company wrote in a letter to Berlin's highest administrative court seen by AFP.

"If these obstacles are not dealt with quickly, there is a high risk that Germany will miss its climate targets," the company added, as it backed a legal case against the government by German environmentalist group DUH.

Arguing that its own experiences with German bureaucracy would be relevant to the case, Tesla said that Germany needed to "modernise itself" if it were to meet its target of reducing emissions to 55 percent of 1990 levels by 2030.

Tesla aims to produce 500,000 electric vehicles a year at its first European gigafactory just outside of Berlin, which is slated to begin operations in July this year.

The new site still only has provisional construction permits, but Tesla has been authorised by local officials to begin work at its own risk, pending final authorisation.

Permission has been repeatedly delayed by a series of claims lodged against the company by local environmental groups relating to issues such as water supply and the relocation of wildlife.

Yet Elon Musk's company insisted in the letter that the Berlin gigafactory should be seen as a project which "helps fight climate change".

The carmaker set out 10 reform proposals to improve German approval procedures, including more digitalisation and faster procedures for projects judged to be sustainable.

It also backed the legal action by DUH, which is aiming to require the government to impose stricter measures in order to meet its climate goals.

12:15 PM

Payment giant Stripe funds fintech startup Ramp at $1.6bn valuation

Ramp, a fintech startup that offers corporate cards and software for managing employee expenses, raised $115 million in a funding round led by digital payments giant Stripe and D1 Capital Partners, valuing it at $1.6 billion, it said on Thursday.

The two-year-old New York-based firm competes with American Express, new-age fintech startups such as Brex and older expense management software makers like Expensify and SAP Concur.

Stripe, which had invested in Ramp previously as well, had in March raised $600 million at a valuation of $95 billion. Read more about Stripe's founders here.

11:37 AM

GameStop to elect Cohen as chairman following annual meeting

GameStop, which has been part of a recent Reddit-driven trading frenzy, said on Thursday it intends to elect Ryan Cohen, the videogame retailer's biggest shareholder and board member, as chairman following its annual meeting.

Shares of GameStop were up about 3oc in premarket trading.

The company also said it was nominating six people to stand for election to its board at the annual meeting of stockholders on June 9.

Since billionaire Cohen joined GameStop's board in January, he has been pushing towards transformation of the brick-and-mortar retailer into an e-commerce firm that can take on big-box retailers such as Target and Walmart Inc and technology firms such as Microsoft and Sony.

GameStop | How the trading frenzy started
GameStop | How the trading frenzy started

11:15 AM

Twitter won’t revive Trump’s account for archivists

Twitter is refusing to allow the National Archives to make ex-US president Donald Trump’s tweets available on the social media platform.

The National Archives and Records Administration has been working to create an official online archive of Trump’s tweets as president, according to a report in Politico.

NARA spokesperson James Pritchett said that while the National Archives “is still exploring the best way” to make Trump's tweets public, it would defer to Twitter on whether that archive should be available on the social media site.

It comes after Twitter permanently suspended Mr Trump’s account in January, citing “risk of further incitement of violence.”

10:39 AM

Say cheese! Perseverance rover takes selfie on Mars with Ingenuity helicopter

Nasa's Perseverance Mars rover took a selfie with the Ingenuity helicopter, seen here about 13 feet (3.9 meters) from the rover  - Nasa
Nasa's Perseverance Mars rover took a selfie with the Ingenuity helicopter, seen here about 13 feet (3.9 meters) from the rover - Nasa

Nasa's Perseverance rover has taken a selfie on Mars with the Ingenuity helicopter ahead of its first flight attempt on the red planet.

Ingenuity is aiming to attempt the feat no earlier than 11 April and will undergo several tests over the coming days.

The image was created by stitching together from 62 individual images taken while the rover was looking at the helicopter.

Earlier this week the mini-helicopter was dropped on the surface of Mars and survived its first night alone on the red planet, which Nasa described as a "major milestone."

The ultra-light aircraft had been fixed to the belly of the Perseverance rover, which touched down on the Red Planet on February 18. "MarsHelicopter touchdown confirmed!" Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory tweeted over the weekend.

"Its 293 million mile (471 million kilometer) journey aboard @NASAPersevere ended with the final drop of 4 inches (10 centimeter) from the rover's belly to the surface of Mars today. Next milestone? Survive the night."

A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet's geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith.

10:23 AM

Twitter launches milk tea emoji in defiance of China

Twitter has thrown its support behind the Milk Tea Alliance of democracy movements in Hong Kong, Taiwan and other parts of Asia, defying China at a time when Beijing is punishing Western companies for commenting on what it considers internal matters.

The social-media company on Thursday prominently displayed flags of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Myanmar and Thailand while unveiling an emoji to support pro-democracy activists in places that have all seen historic protests in recent years and share a love for the milky, caffeinated drink popular in Asia.

It will automatically show up when users post the MilkTeaAlliance hashtag, which the company said appeared 11 million times since first popping up a year ago.

10:13 AM

Co-founder of Elon Musk's Neuralink says 'we could probably built Jurassic Park'

Max Hodak, the entrepreneur who started brain-computer interface company Neuralink with Elon Musk, beleves we have the technology to recreate Jurassic Park.

“We could probably build jurassic park if we wanted to. wouldn’t be genetically authentic dinosaurs but [shrug]”, Hodak tweeted. “Maybe 15 years of breeding + engineering to get super exotic novel species”.

Neuralink has already implanted chips in the brains of pigs and monkey but it has yet to show off animal cloning.

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09:50 AM

Facebook refuses to notify half a billion users caught up in massive data leak

Facebook has said it will not notify the the more than 530 million users whose personal details were caught up in a huge data leak.

Business Insider reported last week that phone numbers and other details from user profiles were available in a public database.

Facebook said in a blog post on Tuesday that "malicious actors" had obtained the data prior to September 2019 by "scraping" profiles using a vulnerability in the platform's tool for synching contacts.

The Facebook spokesman said the social media company was not confident it had full visibility on which users would need to be notified. He said it also took into account that users could not fix the issue and that the data was publicly available in deciding not to notify users. Facebook has said it plugged the hole after identifying the problem at the time.

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The scraped information did not include financial information, health information or passwords, Facebook said. However, the collated data could provide valuable information for hacks or other abuses.

Ireland's Data Protection Commission, the European Union's lead regulator for Facebook, said on Tuesday it had contacted the company about the data leak. It said it received "no proactive communication from Facebook" but was now in contact.

The Facebook spokesman declined to comment on the company's conversations with regulators but said it was in contact to answer their questions.

You can use third-party tools to find out if you've been affected by the leak. Read more about that here

09:33 AM

Revolut will allow staff to work abroad for two months each year

Revolut, the British digital banking app, will allow its more than 2,000 employees to work overseas for as long as two months per year once Covid travel restrictions have been lifted.

The bank, one of Europe's most valuable start-ups, said those who “wish to work outside their country of employment for personal and non-business related reasons will be able to do so for a period of up to 60 calendar days over a rolling 12 months."

The policy is a sign of the increasing flexibility some firms are starting to offer their workforces after the pandemic led to a shift toward remote working.

Earlier this week, the government said civil servants will be able to drop into "hybrid" office spaces across the country. Meanwhile, HSBC has said that it's moving 1,200 of its call centre staff to permanent home working to reduce office space by 40pc over the next few years.

A survey of Revolut’s staff found that over 56pc would prefer to work from home between two to four times a week, while 36pc wanted an entirely remote job, according to the statement. Only 2pc of respondents said they would prefer to come into the office every day.

Revolut has previously given all employees flexibility to work from home or from the office. People can choose to attend between one and five times a week.

09:04 AM

ICYMI: Bitcoin is a 'Chinese financial weapon', says tech billionaire Peter Thiel

Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel has suggested that Bitcoin should be treated as a "Chinese financial weapon", describing the cryptocurrency is a threat to US global power.

The Silicon Valley mega-investor said the US should ask "tougher questions" about the rise of Bitcoin, which he warned could undermine the US dollar's status as the world's reserve currency.

The remarks, made during a panel discussion at the Richard Nixon Foundation with Donald Trump's former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, cut against Mr Thiel's continued support for Bitcoin and his substantial investments in cryptocurrency start-ups.

Laurence Dodds has more on the story here

08:59 AM

Nikola loses key executive heading fuel-cell development

Nikola, the troubled hydrogen-powered and battery-electric truck startup, lost a key member of its executive team with the departure of the former head of its fuel-cell development program.

The company said Jesse Schneider, executive vice president of technology, hydrogen and fuel cells, left his position on April 1. He had led its engineering teams working on fuel-cell systems, a planned hydrogen-fueling station network and storage technology.

Nikola’s first hydrogen-powered truck is due to go into production starting in 2023 - Nikola 
Nikola’s first hydrogen-powered truck is due to go into production starting in 2023 - Nikola

“Jesse Schneider recently departed Nikola on good terms, we understand to pursue a business opportunity in the hydrogen industry,” Mark Russell, Nikola’s chief executive officer, said Wednesday in an emailed statement. “Jesse’s contribution over the last three years included helping Nikola build world-class fuel cell and hydrogen teams.”

Shares of Nikola fell 7opc to close at $12.29 in New York trading -- the lowest since it went public in a reverse merger last year with a blank-check company. The stock is down more than 80pc from its June high.

08:30 AM

Apple's App Store fees explained

Apple's App Store fees have caused controversy - and not just with Epic Games.

Other companies have also protested against Apple's cut. Tinder and Netflix have stopped offering subscriptions through the App Store, while Spotify, which competes with Apple’s music service, has lobbied regulators to launch monopoly investigations.

In August, Facebook accused Apple of placing a huge burden on small businesses that are trying to bring more of their services online during lockdown.

In response, Apple agreed to offer a three-month respite of fees for businesses that have been forced to move to online-only events. Here's everything you need to know about how the fees work:

Apple's app fees: at a glance
Apple's app fees: at a glance

08:02 AM

Prosus earns $14.6bn from Tencent share sale

Prosus, the Dutch-listed technology spin-off from Naspers, has confirmed that it has sold part of its stake in Chinese technology giant Tencent.

A Prosus spokesman confirmed that the company sold a 2pc stake in Tencent which earned the business $14.6bn (£10.6bn)

"Prosus intends to use the proceeds of the sale to increase its financial flexibility to invest in growth, plus for general corporate purposes," the company said yesterday. It has agreed not to sell any further Tencent shares for three years.

Prosus remains Tencent's largest shareholder with a 29pc stake after the sale.

07:21 AM

Apple reveals Epic Games’ two-year anti-Apple campaign

Fortnite - Shutterstock
Fortnite - Shutterstock

Apple has accused Epic Games of mounting a carefully planned public relations campaign in a bid to set up its own payment system and app store on the iOS platform.

It claims the Fortnite-maker hired PR companies two years ago to develop a strategy called “Project Library” aimed at portraying Apple “as the bad guy.”

"Epic carefully prepared to launch a media campaign against Apple,” the document alleges. “The battle begins. It’s going to be fun,” an email from an Epic Games employee quoted in the document reads.

It comes after Epic sued Apple last year in a federal court in California, alleging that the so-called 15 to 30pc "app tax" Apple charges developers on its App Store gives it gives it control over which apps can be installed on its devices.

The dispute arose after Epic tried to implement its own in-app payment system in the popular "Fortnite" game and Apple subsequently banned the game from its App Store.

Apple presented a California federal judge this morning with a road map of how it will push back against Epic in a high-stakes antitrust fight over how much the App Store charges developers.

The filing comes ahead of a May 3 trial before the judge with no jury.

In a summary of its legal arguments, Apple contends the commission it charges developers isn’t anti-competitive as it’s a standard fee charged by online and mobile app platforms.

Epic wants no restrictions on apps, whether on technology or content, accessed through the App Store, Apple said in its filing. But Epic overlooks the benefits of Apple’s app review process such as controlling malware attacks on the iOS platform that have helped developers and consumers, Apple said.

Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook and Epic CEO Tim Sweeney are among company executives that will testify at trial. Both companies have also engaged a small army of economists to lay out their positions to the judge.

For Apple, this countersuit is about defending its position as a fair provider of apps. Epic Games, however, claims it’s abusing that position to bully developers into handing it cash.

06:34 AM

Microsoft faces £270m High Court claim in the UK

Microsoft has dramatically changed its image since its famed US antitrust case in 2001, with the company now taking great pains to publicly support governments.

So today’s filing of a £270m antitrust legal claim against the business in the UK is a rarity for modern Microsoft. What’s more unusual is this lawsuit comes from a British business.

ValueLicensing is alleging hundreds of millions of pounds in lost revenues because it claims Microsoft dominates the software world and prevents businesses from reselling software they bought.

Jonathan Horley, the chief executive of the business, claims that “Microsoft’s illegal behaviour has impacted almost every organisation that provides desktop software for its workforce in the UK and the EEA.”

So far, Microsoft has declined to comment on the case, with a spokesman instead saying that the business is “unable to comment on ongoing legal cases.”

06:31 AM

Five things to start your day

1) Bitcoin is a 'Chinese financial weapon' that threatens the dollar, says tech billionaire Peter Thiel The Silicon Valley mega-investor suggested Bitcoin should be treated as a 'Chinese financial weapon' and subject to stricter US scrutiny

2) Uber to spend $250m to coax drivers back onto the road Company is seeing shortage of supply in the US as passengers seek to get back in cars

3) ‘Deliveroo’s algorithm makes looking after my family feel impossible’ Deliveroo drivers reveal the human cost of Will Shu’s ambition to become Britain’s food delivery king

4) Robin Pagnamenta: Britain’s new tech watchdog is a toothless tiger There is fat chance of the Digital Markets Unit curbing the dominance of the tech giants until it has some actual regulations to enforce

5) Professor Sarah Gilbert to net £15m after Oxford vaccine start-up makes US debut Oxford University spin-out Vaccitech was involved in the early development of the Covid-19 vaccine