The SEC is looking into Elon Musk’s tweet about taking Tesla private. The most problematic part is the two words: “Funding secured.” The tweet caused a big move in Tesla’s stock price; if funding isn’t actually secured, he may have a problem on his hands.
A group of Tesla board members released a statement yesterday saying Musk last week “opened a discussion with the board about taking the company private.” But it’s still not clear who is putting up the money.
Separately, two other tech leaders—Palmer Luckey and Trae Stephens, founder and chairman of Anduril Industries—have published a piece in the Washington Post saying their fellow techies should stop trying to block work with the U.S. military. An excerpt:
“(Vladimir) Putin in September 2017 said that AI leadership was a means to become ‘the ruler of the world.’ China has vowed to achieve AI dominance by 2030. Moscow and Beijing are aggressively pursuing full-scale tech collaborations between the public and private sectors. Meanwhile, much of the top AI talent in the United States is working on things such as ad optimization. That might contribute to the U.S. economy, but it does nothing to protect against competitors who are using their best and brightest to bolster their militaries.”
Well put. More news below.
Rep. Chris Collins says he will stay on the ballot in November, despite having turned himself in to the FBI yesterday to face insider trading charges. The New York Republican says he expects to be “fully vindicated and exonerated.” Prosecutors say he tipped off his son when he heard bad news about a drug trial at Innate Immunotherapeutics, so his son could avoid losses when the news became public. Washington Post
New York City won’t allow platforms such as Uber and Lyft to put any more cars on its streets over the next year. The city council, which voted for the move by 39-6, said it will use the year to study congestion and other issues. The council also voted for a minimum wage for the platforms’ drivers. Lyft said the new rules would disproportionately affect “communities of color and in the outer boroughs.” Fortune
Shari Redstone is reportedly scouting around for someone to replace Les Moonves, the CBS CEO at the center of multiple sexual harassment allegations. Redstone, the controlling shareholder, has apparently been quietly asking people for advice on a replacement, and former Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons has apparently been forwarding names to her. NBC
Walmart in China
Walmart and JD.com have put $500 million into Dada-JD Daojia, an online grocery delivery outfit that formed from the merger of a JD.com subsidiary and the crowdsourced delivery platform Dada Nexus. “By working with strong partners, and investing in digital capabilities, we will create easier and more convenient shopping experiences for customers,” said Walmart China chief Wen-Yuen Tan. CNBC
Around the Water Cooler
Turkey’s lira continues to tumble, falling nearly 3% in early London trading to hit a new historic low of 5.4364 units to the dollar. This is all to do with Turkey’s diplomatic scuffle with the U.S., which wants the country to release a detained American pastor. Russia’s ruble is also having a terrible time thanks to fresh U.S. sanctions that were prompted by the use of a nerve agent against a former Russian spy and his daughter in the U.K. Financial Times
21st Century Fox saw a Q4 revenue rise of over 17%, hitting $7.9 billion mostly thanks to hit films such as Deadpool 2. A lower U.S. tax rate also helped profits nearly double to around $920 million. The results came as the Murdoch clan prepares to break up the empire through a Disney sale. BBC
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. has questioned HNA Group over its ownership of 850 Third Avenue. The Chinese conglomerate’s property houses one of the two police precincts within a mile of Trump Tower. A report suggested Trump’s administration might buy a majority stake in the building, but HNA denied it was about to be subject to a “seizure or forced sale.” Bloomberg
China’s #MeToo movement is using social media to expose sexual harassment by leading figures, but the authorities have been intermittently cracking down through blockages of the relevant hashtags. That has led people to evade the censorship by using homophones such as “rice bunny,” which is pronounced “mi tu” in Mandarin, and an emoji such as that representing a rabbit with a bowl of rice. Financial Times