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The Apple Car is dead, but the innovation behind it lives on

The Apple Car is dead, but the innovation behind it lives on

 



innovation on wheels

Did Apple really crash the car? The tech giant canceled its electric vehicle project as it pivoted to artificial intelligence, with many observers declaring the venture a major failure for the company.

This is a paradoxical idea. That criticism misses the broader point of how Apple innovates. Because the company has used this project to strengthen its entire ecosystem of products and services that have seen unparalleled success.

Apple has invested billions of dollars into developing self-driving cars. Reports of a secret effort codenamed “Project Titan” surfaced in 2014, but the company has never publicly acknowledged its existence. However, the company told staff on Tuesday that many of its employees would be redeployed.

There was wider internal discussion about entering the automotive business. EVs were thought by some to be the ultimate data collection device and a way to diversify away from the iPhone.

But some questioned how the car would benefit, especially in a price-competitive market. The answer is nothing beats the profits packed into the iPhone and Apple Watch, which helped push Apple's valuation to his nearly $3 trillion.

This car project was research and development. Laboratory on wheels. In the same year that speculation about Project Titan began, Apple released his CarPlay. It was transformed into a software system that will be installed in 98% of new cars in the U.S. by 2022, drawing more consumers into Apple's world. Years of testing self-driving cars has also not only helped improve its platform, but also informed Apple Maps and provided data to further push augmented reality.

General Motors' decision last year to eliminate CarPlay has not been widely copied. He also suggested that former Apple executives, who worked on software at his GM and Ford, would have Apple's fingerprints all over the cars, even if they weren't building them. I am.

Apple investors seem satisfied. Shares rose after Bloomberg first reported the decision. Investors will likely welcome moves to improve Apple's efforts on AI, as they want more transparency about its work on AI.

And Elon Musk, who once considered selling Tesla to Apple, posted a post on X with a salute emoji and a lit cigarette.

what's happening here

Michigan voters send a warning to President Biden. Although Mr. Biden easily won the Democratic primaries in each state, more than 100,000 votes were irresponsibly cast to protest support for Israel regarding the Gaza war. That could jeopardize his re-election bid. He won the state in 2020 by just 150,000 votes.

A new alarm bell is ringing for the US economy. The Conference Board's consumer confidence index fell for the first time since November, led by concerns about layoffs and the upcoming presidential election. Elsewhere, Goldman Sachs Chief Executive David Solomon warned investors that a soft landing for the economy was far from certain. (One bright spot: Congressional leaders appear increasingly optimistic that Saturday's partial government shutdown can be avoided.)

Google's CEO said recent failures in artificial intelligence are completely unacceptable. Sundar Pichai told employees that structural changes were needed after mistakes made by the tech giant's AI image generation tool had offended users. This is a setback for Google as the tech giant rushes to launch its AI products despite well-known issues such as providing inaccurate information.

Major changes could occur at Starbucks

Starbucks is in talks with leaders about promoting unionization within its U.S. stores, a move that could represent a major shift in strategy and culture for the coffee giant.

More broadly, if even Starbucks, the poster child for resisting labor organizing in recent years, is willing to work with unions, could more American companies follow suit?

This is something of a reversal of Howard Schultz's efforts to prevent such organizing. For the former CEO who built the Seattle coffee shop chain into a global behemoth, the start of 2021 is a start, given that he pioneered providing part-time workers with benefits such as medical benefits, stock options and pro bono benefits. Efforts to unionize felt almost like a personal affront. University education.

What's happening in America is much bigger than Starbucks, Schultz said at the 2022 Dealbook Summit. If a company is as progressive as Starbucks and it's doing so many things in the 100th percentile that it can be threatened by a third party, then anyone can be threatened.

This led to sometimes violent clashes, especially as organizers succeeded in unionizing workers in hundreds of stores. The union accused Starbucks of repeated labor law violations, including retaliating against organizers. (The National Labor Relations Board has repeatedly ruled in favor of workers.)

A group of labor unions is also seeking to win three seats on Starbucks' board of directors, saying anti-union efforts are detrimental to the company's business.

Mr. Schultz's successor, Laxman Narasimhan, has taken a more open stance toward unions. In December, the company announced it would resume negotiations with Workers United to resume productive contract negotiations.

Notably, Schultz remains a major shareholder in Starbucks, but no longer holds an executive role.

We still have a long way to go. Starbucks and Workers United are working to lay out the basic framework for labor negotiations that could lead to a new contract. And while more employees are voting to organize, with more than 20 stores filing petitions in one day last week, only a fraction of the stores are unionized.

All of this could increase pressure on other union resisters, including Amazon, Apple and outdoor goods retailer REI. If Starbucks is willing to bow out as support for unions grows among Americans, it could feel pressure to do so as well.

Bankman Freeze asks for leniency

Sam Bankman Freeze's legal team, his parents, and some of their inner circle have been arguing for months that the former cryptocurrency star should not spend the rest of his life in prison.

In a legal filing late Tuesday, they laid out the crux of the case: that creditors and customers can expect repayment, and that his prison sentence should be no more than 6 1/2 years. .

Bankman Freed was convicted last year of one of the biggest financial crimes in history. Prosecutors said his actions cost investors and customers $8 billion, according to the filing, and asked for up to 100 years in prison.

Lawyers for Bankman Freeze argue in their filing that such a ruling is flawed and grotesque. The legal team emphasized that FTX customers will receive a full refund, even if it is 1 yen, due to the sharp rebound in crypto asset prices. (DealBook asked this month what FTX's turnaround in financials means for the broader case.) They also point to the company's healthy holdings, including:

Invested $500 million in AI startup Anthropic. That stake is now worth up to $1.4 billion, according to his filing.

Shares in crypto token Solana were worth $4 billion as of Monday.

It's a long-term strategy. Bankman Freeze supporters ultimately hope to overturn the conviction and begin a public reassessment of the FTX leadership team's role in the collapse. But such criminal convictions are rarely overturned, and some legal experts say they believe Bankman-Fried will spend decades in prison. (His defense team plans to appeal after the verdict.)

The legal resistance is part of a broader strategy led by the Bankman Freezes' parents. Joseph Bankman and Barbara Freed, professors at Stanford Law School, decided to recruit former FTX employees to write letters of support on their son's behalf. And two lawyers, friends of the family, from Yale University and Stanford University, published an essay arguing that FTX had enough assets to keep its clients out of the picture forever.

Media (un)merger

Warner Bros. Discovery ultimately decided that acquiring Paramount Global didn't make sense. The media giant has pulled out of a potential deal with Shari Redstones Inc., which will report fourth-quarter results on Wednesday, The Times' Edmund Lee writes for Dealbook.

Perhaps there was no need to look too hard. DealBook previously revealed the cons of such deals. Even if the combination of a ballooning debt burden and two businesses reliant on still-dwindling TV assets wasn't enough to scare off investors, there was always a strong chance that regulators would intervene.

That doesn't mean more media deals won't happen this year. The Big Tech threat began a whirlwind of media partnerships five years ago after AT&T's blockbuster acquisition of Time Warner. (Note: The telecom giant bought the company and then sold it to Discovery, while Disney beat Comcast to buy a majority stake in Rupert Murdox Fox.)

Comcast, Disney, Paramount, and Warner still face fundamental threats from Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, and Netflix. Think of it this way. Amazon generated more ad spending in the fourth quarter than Warner and Paramount all of last year combined.

Silicon Valley is currently focusing on sports programming, the lifeblood of pay television. And Netflix is ​​also focusing on live broadcasting, broadcasting the Screen Actors Guild Awards ceremony last Saturday.

This explains some of the motivation behind the recently proposed sports streaming alliance that would combine ESPN, Fox, and Warner into one consumer service. But even that agreement is reportedly drawing the attention of regulators.

Redstone will want to seal the deal before things get even more difficult. She has expressed interest in her from Skydance, the studio headed by David Ellison, son of Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison. However, the deal could simply be for her control, which could displease Paramount shareholders unless the deal includes a special dividend.

And Brian Roberts from Comcast. He is perhaps the only executive in memory to pull off a major media deal, most recently when he bought NBCUniversal in 2009. Losing to Fox doesn't mean he's done with M.&A.

speed reading

Information of sale

Klarna is reportedly moving ahead with plans for an IPO in New York this fall, which would value the buy now, pay later Swedish company at about $20 billion. (Bloomberg)

Cable network operator Cox Enterprises has agreed to acquire government software maker OpenGab for a valuation of $1.8 billion. (WSJ)

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2/ https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/28/business/dealbook/apple-car-ev-innovation.html

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