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Have a drink, the angst is ebbing
Also in today’s edition: The great Adani hive-off; Who wants to work in tech?; Netflix after Reed Hastings; Americans are gaslighting cooking stoves
Good morning! You know that American crime procedural trope where a bunch of FBI agents spy on a suspect from a white van? One that's decked out with the choicest surveillance equipment? Now imagine that with… pest control. Financial Times reports that Rentokil is using AI-aided facial recognition to track rats. The UK-based extermination company is offering clients a service that live-streams video of resident pests in order to determine how and when to strike. Idk about you but as someone with musophobia or a fear of rodents, I (Roshni) say thanks, but no thanks.
The Market Signal*
Stocks: As you would have guessed from our headline today, sentiment is turning positive in global markets. Indian markets will likely hang on to global cues until February 1, when Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman presents the last full budget of this government. That is the same day the US Fed Reserve will also indicate its next rate move.
Early Asia: The Nikkei 225 was trading up 1.18% at 7:30 am India time on Monday. The Singapore and Hong Kong markets were shut for Chinese Lunar New Year.
Here Comes The Positive Spin
Economists are following markets in their view on the global economy. Buoyant markets have been signalling that the odds of a bust are diminishing. Now economists are following suit.
Glass-is-half-full guys: A trading model of JP Morgan now shows seven in nine asset classes reflecting >50% chance of a recession. That’s way more optimistic than even a few weeks ago. The S&P 500 is indicating a 73% chance of a recession, down from 98% last year.
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The Adani Roadmap
Billionaire Gautam Adani will hive off at least five thriving businesses of his sprawling conglomerate in the next three years.
Big sale coming: Adani Group CFO Jugeshinder Singh told Bloomberg that Adani New Industries, Adani Airport Holdings, Adani Road Transport, AdaniConnex, and the group’s metals and mining business were already large-scale businesses and would be ready to raise capital from the public between 2026 and 2028.
The listed group’s flagship Adani Enterprises, the main incubator for sunrise industries, has filed to raise ~$2.5 billion in a follow-on offer.
The group has entered green energy, airports, data centres and media, made big-ticket acquisitions of cement and power companies, and bought distressed assets in bargain deals in a breathless, debt-fuelled expansion that is unsettling to analysts and investors. By revealing equity plans early, Adani perhaps is hoping to reassure them.
So Much For “Learn To Code”
Photo credit: ANTONI SHKRABA production/Pexels
The cuts in Alphabet’s ‘Other Bets’ divisions, i.e. its non-Google companies, were just the start. In slashing 12,000 jobs at Google itself, Alphabet joined Amazon (18,000 jobs) and Microsoft (10,000 jobs) in last week’s bloodbath.
Since 2023 began, Salesforce and Twitter have continued with the downsizing frenzy that’s been ongoing in tech since last year. Apple’s ‘slow and steady’ approach shielded it from outcomes suffered by rivals (due to their pandemic-era excesses); even so, it’ll enforce low-key cuts.
Closer home, ShareChat parent Mohalla Tech, Unacademy, Reliance-backed Dunzo, and Rebel Foods cut staff. What’s notable is that even engineers, often the last to be axed in both startups and Big Tech, aren't immune.
No wonder startups are witnessing an exodus of senior talent to established companies in other sectors. Data by Longhouse Consulting reveals that mid- and senior-level employees in Indian startups moved to tech roles within FMCG, banking, logistics, retail, and pharma.
It's not just startups, though. Indian Institute of Technology graduates, for whom placements at Google, Amazon, and Microsoft were a given, are reevaluating job and pay prospects as these companies cut back on campus recruitments. In the US too, Gen-Z is voicing its clear preference for “traditional” occupations as they prioritise professional stability, job fulfilment, and employers’ stances on social issues.
Expect tech salary corrections for pre-pandemic levels, and a cap on perks and stock packages. Also expect jobseekers to opt for tech roles within traditional industries, rather than shoot their shots in the tech industry itself.
My father just came in my room and told me to quit my tech internship and start preparing for government jobs
Jan 20, 2023
1.83K Likes 34 Retweets 116 Replies
What Will A Post-Hastings Netflix Look Like?
To clarify, Reed Hastings isn’t going anywhere. Last week, he announced that Greg Peters would be the new co-CEO of Netflix alongside Ted Sarandos, while Hastings would transition to executive chairman. What this means, however, is that Peters—who oversaw the company’s push into non-core businesses such as gaming and ad-supported tiers—will shepherd a very different Netflix.
2.0: The Netflix Reed Hastings co-founded was a disruptor. Today, it’s an incumbent that functions as a media company rather than a tech one—evident in how it changed its key metrics from subscriber numbers to revenue, profit, and free cash flows. To that end, it’s become ruthless with show cancellations, a password-sharing crackdown, and wanting a Squid Game every other week.
Netflix under Sarandos and Peters will explore free ad-supported streaming TV and take more risks to diversify the business. As Peters says, “nothing’s off the table”.
A Gassy Affair
While India is racing to equip every home with cooking gas, a US federal agency wants to ban gas stoves altogether. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission says gas stoves emit harmful air pollutants.
Deets: It’s no secret that burning fossil fuels causes air pollution. And that’s not restricted to just factories, cars, and other outdoor sources. The gas stove in your kitchen also produces air pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and fine particulate matter, which are linked to respiratory illness, cardiovascular problems, cancer, and other health conditions, according to groups such as the Institute for Policy Integrity and the American Chemical Society.
The issue has led to fierce political debate in the US, with lawmakers introducing two separate bills aimed at blocking any ban on gas stoves. Unsurprisingly, the ban-gas-stove movement began in California.
Tragedy: At least 10 people were killed and another 10 hospitalised after a mass shooting near the site of a Chinese Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park, California.
Covid catastrophe: More than 12,600 people have died of Covid-related causes in China from January 13-19; a top health official says over 1.1 billion people have been infected since zero-Covid curbs were lifted.
Goodbye, Jacinda: Chris Hipkins will take charge as New Zealand’s next prime minister after current leader Jacinda Ardern steps down in February 2023.
Censorship: The Indian government has asked social media platforms YouTube and Twitter to take down videos and tweets about a BBC documentary on the 2002 Gujarat riots, called India: The Modi Question.
Twitting around: Elon Musk plans to revamp the size and frequency of advertisements on your Twitter feed, and also introduce a higher-priced subscription model with zero ads.
New kids on the bloc: Brazil and Argentina, South America’s two biggest economies, are preparing to launch a common currency called the ‘sur’ that may eventually be offered to other countries on the continent.
Slowdown: India shipped 151.6 million smartphones in 2022, a 6% drop compared with 2021, according to market research firm Canalys.
THE DAILY DIGIT
What Beyonce reportedly earned to perform at a private concert inaugurating Atlantis The Royal, an ultra-luxe resort in Dubai. Bey also stayed at the resort’s ‘Royal Mansion’, which at $100,000 a night is the world’s most expensive room. (Arabian Business)
When life gives you rice…: …make rice beer. That was the mantra of three Poland-based Malayalis, who were stuck with 20,000 kg of rice flakes after a client ditched the consignment when the Russia-Ukraine war began. Cut to today, Chandra Mohan and Sargheve Sukumaran run a business that supplies 2,400 litres of rice beer to Asian grocery stores in Poland. That business is Malayali Spirits, and it’s sold 50,000 bottles of the stuff so far. We’d like to try some ourselves.
How eggciting!: A team of Indian palaeontologists have reported the rare discovery of a dinosaur hatchery in Dhar district, Madhya Pradesh. The findings, published in PLoS One, detail that the 256 eggs found belonged to titanosaurs (huge plant-eating dinosaurs with long necks), which roamed the region over 66 million years ago. The paper suggests that the dinosaurs’ nesting patterns were similar to those of crocodiles.
French affair: This should hardly come as a surprise, but Paris has been ranked as the “world’s most powerful city for tourism”. The index, published by the World Travel & Tourism Council, ranks cities based on local tourism’s contribution to GDP, traveller spending, and employment. Three cities each from the US (New York City, Las Vegas, Orlando) and China (Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou) rounded off the top 10 alongside London, Tokyo, and Mexico City.