Tag: tech

Source: EWN

Elon Musk, the charismatic chief of electric automaker Tesla, has overtaken Bill Gates to become the world’s second richest person, according to the Bloomberg list of billionaires.

The South African-born Musk, 49, added $7.2-billion in wealth on Monday alone following Tesla’s latest surge. He now has an estimated $128-billion.

The outspoken Musk, who is also cofounder of SpaceX, had already overtaken numerous luminaries in recent weeks, including Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and Bernard Arnault, the head of French luxury giant LVMH.

Now the only person he stands behind is Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, whose wealth is estimated at $182 billion.

The upheaval of the coronavirus pandemic has allowed the ultra-rich to amass even more wealth as technology companies have gobbled up more market share of the economy.

In 2020, Tesla shares have surged more than 500% and the company is now valued at more than $500-billion.

Musk, who owns about 18% of the shares, has made some $100-billion during this stretch.

Tesla shares have gained further since the presidential election of Joe Biden, who favours more aggressive policies to address climate change. Tesla was also boosted by an announcement that it is being added to the prestigious S&P 500 index.

 

Naspers to invest R1.4bn in SA tech start-ups

Source: BizNews

Naspers Limited, the multinational Internet group which is known for its principal operations in Internet communication, entertainment, gaming and e-commerce, held its 106th annual general meeting last week.

Naspers Limited, the multinational Internet group which is known for its principal operations in Internet communication, entertainment, gaming and e-commerce, held its 106th annual general meeting

Following the Prosus listing, Naspers is still the largest South African company on the JSE.
We are one of the foremost investors in the South African technology sector, with the country’s leading etailer and its leading print and digital media business.
Through Naspers Foundry we aim to invest R1.4bn in the next generation of outstanding South African tech start-ups in the coming years. And Naspers Labs is pioneering an innovative hyper-local programme to tackle youth unemployment.

We also continue to contribute significantly in terms of tax: in total, Naspers group paid R13.2bn in taxes in South Africa during the year. In April 2020 we donated R1.5bn in emergency aid to the government’s response to the Covid-19 crisis.

This comprised R500m to the Solidarity Response Fund announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa, and R1bn of personal protective equipment and other medical supplies, which we sourced in China, in partnership with the Chinese government and Tencent, to support South Africa’s health workers.

This included the logistics to fly the equipment to South Africa and, in conjunction with the South African government, the distribution to medical facilities across the country.

Source: MyBroadband

While the impact of COVID-19 on IT and telecoms companies is not as severe as many other industries, these industries are still faced with big challenges because of the downturn in the economy.

ICT companies which have a lot of exposure to the travel, tourism, and restaurant industries, for example, have to deal with a significant loss in revenue.

One of these companies is Adapt IT, which said the negative impact of the lockdown on its clients in the hospitality sector has resulted in 20% of its employees being unable to work or perform their regular duties.

The poor forecast of the hospitality sector has forced Adapt IT to consider staff cuts, and it is currently in a consultation process with 4% of its permanent staff who may be affected.

Altron COO Andrew Holden told MyBroadband they have had to effect temporary layoffs due to the inability of some customers to pay for services as their businesses had been affected by the lockdown.

“Where possible, Altron will seek alternative opportunities for affected employees within the group. Retrenchments are a last resort, and will be limited as far as possible,” said Holden.

Many other large tech companies like Altron, Dimension Data, Blue Label, and Alviva have also indicated that staff cuts may be necessary in the event of a prolonged economic downturn.

Salary cuts
Many South African IT companies had to implement salary cuts to mitigate the financial impact of the lockdown.

Salary cuts in the IT industry were necessary for two main reasons:

Many clients stopped paying because of the impact of the lockdown on their businesses.
Employees could not work because their clients had to close their businesses during lockdown.
In April, EOH CEO Stephen Van Coller announced that the company’s executive committee would take a salary reduction of 25%, with other staff taking a 20% pay cut.

This was needed because of the anticipated drop in payments from clients and future uncertainty on the full impact of COVID-19 on the economy and the company.

Cell C also implemented salary cuts and used the COVID-19 TERS Relief Funds to cover the shortfalls for those employees to the extent provided by the UIF.

Alviva told MyBroadband there were no mass pay cuts at the company, but that it had to implement salary reductions in a few isolated cases.

Altron followed a different approach to ensure the sustainability of the company. Instead of cutting salaries, it reversed all salary increases granted as of 1 March.

Good news for the telecoms industry is that very few of the large mobile operators and ISPs had to implement salary cuts during the lockdown.

Vodacom, MTN, Telkom, Liquid Telecom, Rain, Afrihost, Cool Ideas, and Cybersmart said they have not implemented any salary cuts during the lockdown.

The outlook for the South African ICT industry
While many large IT and telecoms companies were able to prevent retrenchments, they warned that the full impact of COVID-19 may result in staff cuts in future.

Alviva said the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy and the company will inform their decision regarding future staff cuts.

Blue Label echoed this view. “Should the lockdown persist indefinitely, and economic conditions continue to adversely impact ourselves and our customers, hard decisions regarding retrenchments will have to be made,” the company said.

Dimension Data told MyBroadband should the need arise to reduce its workforce to ensure sound and responsible fiscal management, it would be done only after exhausting all possible alternatives.

“We will always take a long-term view of the market opportunities, trends, economic outlook, and investment and spend forecasts and put them in the context of our strategy and vision before making any decisions,” Dimension Data said.

Telkom said while it has not cut any salaries at this stage, it is still studying the impact of the virus and the lockdown on the business.

Big tech companies no longer attractive employers

By Jessica Stillman for Inc.com

Look at any list of America’s most in-demand employers from the last decade and you’ll find it’s dotted with big tech companies like Google, Amazon, and Facebook. This prominence, coupled with these firm’s legendary perks and generous pay, might lead you to believe the best and brightest tech talent is knocking down the door to work there.

But according to a handful of fascinating recent reports, the appeal of working at big tech companies is actually on the wane.

The “techlash” comes to college campuses
A parade of ethics scandals, from Facebook’s disinformation problem to Google’s troubles with sexual harassment and Chinese censorship, combined with younger generations’ commitment to working for companies that align with their values, has made going to work for big tech something of an embarrassment at many of America’s elite universities, Emma Goldberg writes in the New York Times.

College seniors and recent graduates looking for jobs that are both principled and high-paying are doing so in a world that has soured on Big Tech. The positive perceptions of Google, Facebook and other large tech firms are crumbling.

Many students still see employment in tech as a ticket to prosperity, but for job seekers who can afford to be choosy, there is a growing sentiment that Silicon Valley’s most lucrative positions aren’t worth the ethical quandaries.

“Working at Google or Facebook seemed like the coolest thing ever my freshman year, because you’d get paid a ton of money but it was socially responsible,” reports one senior Goldberg interviews. Now, “there’s more hesitation about the moral qualities of these jobs. It’s like how people look at Wall Street.”

Another grad, this one from Stanford, relates that when fellow students announce they’re going to work for the likes of Facebook there is “an awkward gap where they feel like they have to justify themselves.”

Working on Wall Street, of course, hardly makes you a pariah, nor are financial firms unable to attract smart young people. But tech companies once enjoyed rock star-like appeal. To find themselves suddenly consigned to the same uncool category as the amoral (at best) finance industry is a big come down.

And Goldberg has numbers to back up this reputational slide. Pew research shows that the percentage of Americans who believe tech companies have a positive impact has fallen from 71 percent just five years ago to 50 percent in 2019. A former recruiter for Facebook revealed the acceptance rates for job offers is down around 40 percent.

Nor is Goldberg the only reporter digging into the story. April Glaser wrote a deep dive into anti-big tech activism at Stanford for Slate last summer. She describes how various groups are warning classmates about the ethical lapses of potential employers, including handing out leaflets at career fairs. Others are nudging computer science grads towards more ethical gigs at non-profits.

A headache for Big Tech, an opportunity for others
For big tech all this is definitely a headache (and possibly a wakeup call). For smaller companies without the ethical entanglements of the industry’s biggest players, it’s an opportunity to win exceptional talent at slighting less eye-watering cost by framing your work as a force for good. Finally, for tech-savvy employees, the so-called “techlash” may represent a dawning realization of their own power.

“Tech companies can hire new cafeteria workers and gig economy drivers, but talented software engineers, security researchers, and mathematicians are in short supply,” Boing Boing points out. “They have incredible leverage over the Big Tech companies, and, as they start to build solidarity with their users and more easily replaced co-workers, they have it within their power to bring Big Tech to its knees.”

Tech billionaires are just getting richer

By Yusuf Khan for Business Insider US

Tech billionaires are leading the ultra-wealthy in growing their fortunes, according to a UBS report titled “The Billionaire Effect” released on Friday.

The Swiss bank found tech tycoons’ wealth grew 3.4% or $1.3 trillion (roughly R19.1 trillion) in 2018, and the number of tech billionaires nearly doubled from 76 to 148 in five years.

Billionaires have become a key policy issue in the US as Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other Democratic presidential candidates have proposed wealth taxes.

Tech billionaires are leading the ultra-wealthy in growing their fortunes, according to a UBS report titled “The Billionaire Effect” released on Friday.

UBS, one of the world’s largest wealth managers with roughly 1 000 billionaire clients, found tech tycoons’ wealth grew 3.4% or $1.3 trillion (roughly R19.1 trillion) in 2018, and the number of tech billionaires nearly doubled from 76 to 148 in five years.

The Swiss bank estimated the wealth of tech entrepreneurs like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg almost doubled in the last five years – growing 91%.

“If tech billionaires’ wealth were a country, it would rank second only to the US,” the report said. “Looking back over five years, tech billionaires have driven almost a third of the growth in billionaire wealth. US tech billionaires accounted for more than half of that growth.”

Billionaires have become a key policy issue in the 2020 US presidential election with Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other democratic presidential candidates saying they would implement a tax on the ultra wealthy.

Warren has been criticised by billionaires such as Leon Cooperman for her proposed wealth tax of roughly 3% to 6%. Cooperman said she was “s——- on the American dream”.

Meanwhile, tech billionaires have come under fire for issues such as data protection and political advertising on their platforms. Zuckerberg – who’s worth $72.9-billion (roughly R1-trillion), according to Bloomberg – was recently grilled by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over Facebook’s sale of personal user data to third parties and policy of allowing false political adverts.

“I think there will be a change in behaviour [of billionaires] driven by the mainstream, with a reduction in risk appetite and I think there will be a reduction of output,” said Josef Stadler, head of UBS’ global ultra-high net worth department. “Whether that’s a good or bad thing I don’t know,”

Stadler made the comments at the report’s launch event in London, in response to a question about whether billionaires will be forced to clean up their acts.

The report highlighted that entrepreneurs who built software, the internet, and equipment are the wealthiest in the tech industry. However, fintech and multimedia have grown rapidly – 419% and 504% respectively in the past five years.

“Even so, pioneers of the future such as e-commerce, fintech, ride hailing, and data systems are making headway, as they stand to disrupt swathes of the global economy,” the report said.

“Banking today is already different today than it was five years go. You look at Revolut and Monzo and the newly developed systems and this will fuel new billionaires or at least millionaires,” said Marcel Tschanz, Swiss head of wealth management at PWC, at the event.

By Jeanny Yu for Bloomberg, Fin24 

China’s biggest online platform Tencent’s accelerating sell-off could get a lot worse if the stock fails to hold above its key support level.

There’s a risk that will happen Thursday: Asia’s biggest stock was down 0.6% in Hong Kong as of 1:03 p.m. local time, despite an otherwise upbeat stock market.

Tencent is now trading below the key level of HK$320 that supported its shares on three occasions this year. The stock has lost about 20% since a peak in April, equivalent to some $93 billion in market value.

Naspers, which via its new digital company Prosus owns a 31% stake in Tencent, is also feeling the pain. Both shares fell by more than 5% yesterday, losing R145 billion of their combined market value in a single day.

While the Tencent shares have been stuck in a downtrend for months, selling was particularly aggressive Wednesday despite no apparent trigger.

Theories circulating round some trading floors included souring sentiment from investors in China, as well as concern that Tencent’s decision to air National Basketball Association games may backfire.

Adding to jitters this week was a local media report that China is considering revising a law to control young people’s online gaming activities – a business that remains one of Tencent’s most profitable.

The Internet giant will report third quarter earnings on November 13.

Prosus, which is currently trading at around R1,020, has now lost almost 18% of its value since its listing in Amsterdam and on the JSE mid-September.

ACSA to spend R1.2bn digitising SA airports

Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) has set aside R1.2 billion to digitise the country’s airports, according to a recent article in ITWeb.

The announcement was made as the company released its financial results to 31 March.

Highlights include:

  • Profit fell by 58%, largely due to a 50% increase in security costs
  • R287-million was spent on data centre and network upgrades in 2018/19
  • The organisation says it has embarked on a five-year IT upgrade programme
  • The board has set aside R1.2-billion in capital expenditure to spend on IT infrastructure
  • Upgrades will focus on digitising local airports
  • R301-million will be spent on IT network optimisation
  • R142-million will go towards IT backup and storage solutions
  • R240-million will be spent on improving and upgrading the company’s physical IT infrastructure
  • Legacy equipment will be replaced
  • Paperless travel will require it to tightly integrate its passenger processing systems with databases residing with the Department of Home Affairs and Department of Transport, as well as with other airlines
  • Faster passenger processing will allow the retail component of the airport to generate more non-aeronautical revenue
  • A new mobile application will allow customers and passengers to interact with airports remotely

Image credit: ACSA

Shoprite launches standalone tech stores

Retailer Shoprite has launched new standalone tech stores, called K’nect, in an effort to make it easier for its customers to access services including global money transfers, mobile phone purchases, bill payments, tickets and insurance.

  • The first store was successfully launched at the Delft Mall in Cape Town in May 2019
  • Six new stores will open between end July and mid-August 2019
  • The stores will be located in Hatfield, Rosebank, Riverside Mall, Mmabatho, Watergate Mall and Illanga Mall
  • Stores include specialist tills for money transfers, tickets for travel and events, insurance and mobile devices and accessories
  • Express tills cater for quick transactions, including bill payments (accounts and bills), airtime and data (top-up and recharge), electricity purchases and Lotto ticket purchases

Image credit: MyBroadband

By Sean Hollister for The Verge

In 2014, The Verge reported how Google had effectively created its own island in Silicon Valley, something akin to a company town, exacerbating a housing and traffic crisis that now characterizes much of the San Francisco Bay Area — the place with the highest housing costs in the nation.

Now, Google CEO Sundar Pichai is announcing the company’s biggest commitment by far to fix its broken backyard: a $1 billion investment over the next 10 years to build some 20,000 units of housing.

According to the official Google blog post, the new commitment includes:

  • $750 million worth of the company’s existing office space, which Google will convert into an estimated 15,000 units
  • $250 million toward “incentives” for other developers to build 5,000 units of affordable housing
  • $50 million to nonprofits that help the homeless find shelter

That sounds good! But let me bring you down to reality with some more bullet points:

  • We were already expecting Google to free up as many as 9,850 units in its Mountain View backyard, with Google offering to build some 5,700 itself. (The company leases a lot of property, too.) Google tells The Verge that plan hasn’t yet been approved by the town, but whatever housing it builds in Mountain View is included in this total.
  • This is an investment, not a charity. Google says it’s leasing this land to developers who will rent and sell units — you know, for money — and won’t restrict what they do with it. That does mean no explicit preference to house Google employees, though, and cities will require a certain percentage to be affordable housing. Google proposed 20 percent affordable housing in Mountain View.
  • We’re not talking about single-family homes. Google simply doesn’t have enough office space for 15,000 traditional homes, so it’s going to need to build upward. Expect apartments and condos in multistory units.
  • We don’t know where they’ll be. Optimally, Google can help Bay Area traffic woes by building housing close to its big campuses, and that’s likely, but Google says they could be anywhere in the Bay Area it has office space. The details are up in the air as of today.
  • Google won’t be building 5,000 units of affordable housing itself. The $250M will help developers secure land and permits for affordable housing, incentivizing developers to build.
  • This is a 10-year commitment, all while Google keeps growing. In addition to its holdings in Mountain View, San Francisco, and generally across 24 of the 50 US states, the company’s planning a whole new giant campus in San Jose.

If you want more insight into the kind of relationship that Google believes it can have with the Bay Area, take a peek at the company’s pitch to transform North Bayshore (that’s the portion of Mountain View that Google primarily occupies) with housing, $77M for transportation, plus parks, schools, and more. There’s also a North Bayshore FAQ you might want to read — it explains why Google’s offering 5,700 units there, not 9,850.

But you also might want to think about how Google tried to use housing as a bargaining chip to get more Bay Area office space to begin with — and the damage that big companies like Google can cause if they wind up pulling out of a major infrastructure project early.

By Stephanie Butzer for The Denver Channel

Amazon will expand its Denver Tech Hub, creating 400 new high-tech jobs in fields like software and hardware engineering, cloud computing and advertising, the company announced Tuesday morning.

Amazon plans to open a new office in downtown Denver to accommodate the new positions. This comes in the wake of the company opening a new office in Boulder in the fall of 2018.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said he’s excited the company chose to add 400 new jobs here.

“We have a terrific workforce that continues to attract the ideas and businesses that thrive in a knowledge-based economy and we are a great place to do business,” he said. “Amazon’s current Colorado presence spans from distribution centers to robotics, corporate and operations. It’s wonderful to see their continued investment in our community.”

The new office, which will span 98,000 square feet, will be located in Invesco’s 1515 Wynkoop LEED Platinum building in Denver’s LoDo neighborhood.

Currently, Amazon has more than 350 employees in the Denver area and more than 3,500 full-time jobs in the state. It has invested more than $1.5 billion in the state since 2016.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 4

Follow us on social media: 

               

View our magazine archives: 

                       


My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective


SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
Top