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Streaming trickles out
Also in today’s edition: EV push stalled by fire; Putin likes, Binance shares; Indian software pioneer ends life; End of Future
Good morning! Jack Dorsey is a Block Head. That’s not a jab by us, but an update by the Twitter cofounder-turned-crypto-honcho himself. The Verge revealed that Dorsey changed his designation from Block CEO to ‘Block Head and Chairperson’ in an SEC filing. What’s more, the change came into effect on 4/20. If you know, you know.
The Market Signal*
Stocks: Markets were spooked when Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said that a 50-basis point interest rate hike was "on the table". Retail investors have been showing some love for Paytm as they doubled their stake to 7.72%. Earnings of heavyweights will keep investors busy this week. It begins with Coca Cola and Activision Blizzard on Monday and will be followed by almost all Big Tech stocks and old economy giants such as Visa, GE, Exxon Mobil and Barclays among others. In India, Hindustan Unilever, Bajaj Auto, Axis Bank and Vedanta are some of the major ones lined up.
Early Asia: The SGX Nifty was trading -0.36% lower at 7.35 am India time. The Nikkei 225 was in the red as well.
EVs Face Trial By Fire
Trouble incoming: EV woes didn't stop with Okinawa Autotech and Pure EV. Ola Electric is recalling 1,441 units of its electric two-wheelers because of the rise in accidents. Not too long ago, an Ola customer in Guwahati blamed the company for an accident. The EV maker says it was a case of overspeeding by the rider and not faulty brakes.
Stop-start: An EV battery explosion—Corbett 14 manufactured by Boom Motors—has claimed the life of a 40-year-old man in Andhra Pradesh.
🎧 The good word around EVs is turning into smoke, what with a string of recalls and battery explosions. Spoiler alert: India is also in the midst of a power crisis. Hop in.
Is Binance Dancing To Putin’s Tunes?
So says Reuters in its investigation. The world’s largest crypto exchange is accused of sharing Russian clients’ data with the country’s law enforcement–specifically, Rosfinmonitoring or Rosfin, Russia’s financial intelligence services unit.
Details: While Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao publicly decried Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, his company reportedly tracked opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s donations for Rosfin. The exchange’s business has boomed in Russia since the war. Binance has denied all allegations.
In other news: Binance helped recover $5.8 million of the $625 million worth of cryptocurrency that was stolen in the massive Axie Infinity heist last month. The hack was reportedly executed by North Korean hacking group Lazarus.
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All’s not well with subscription streaming. CNN+ is being shuttered after attracting fewer than 10,000 daily active users. The platform drew comparisons to Quibi, the mobile-only streamer that also launched with a bang and ended with a whimper. Netflix reported losing subscribers for the first time in a decade; that it expects to lose two million subscribers in Q2 2022 tanked its stock by up to 35% last week.
The whys: Netflix chief Reed Hastings attributed the slump to password sharing, competition, and macroeconomic factors such as the Russia-Ukraine war (which prompted Netflix to terminate 700,000 Russian accounts). While analysts also point to the glut of platforms and viewers tiring of volume-over-prestige content, there’s a bigger catalyst: inflation.
Consumer optimism is at its lowest since mid-2020 levels. This means Netflix and CNN+ aren’t, and won’t be the only casualties of subscription fatigue. The subscription economy itself is on shaky ground: Financial Times reports that apart from streaming, subscription meal kit services, takeaway businesses, and retail have also hit a ceiling as consumers realign spending choices in context of shrinking disposable incomes.
Consumer discretionary stocks worldwide fell 14% this year due to global inflation. This is why households are cancelling video subscriptions in record numbers; Apple TV Plus and Disney Plus haven’t been immune. HBO Max may not escape the blitz either.
The exceptions? Travel, cinemas, and concerts, which are benefitting from pent-up demand.
Indian Silicon Valley Pioneer Dies
Umang Gupta, among the first to blaze the now well-trodden career path of graduating from an IIT, following it up with a US MBA, becoming a Silicon Valley tech executive, and finishing as an entrepreneur, has passed away. The 73-year-old, who was suffering from terminal cancer for two years, ended his life by legal suicide.
Trailblazer: He was among those who wrote Oracle‘s first formal business plan in 1981 but later launched his own company Gupta Technologies, which competed with Oracle and Microsoft. The rather unsuccessful venture, however, pioneered tools that helped companies in client-server operations.
In his second, more successful innings as an investor-chief executive at Keynote Systems, Gupta set the business template of offering software as a service that companies subscribed to.
🎧 Umang Gupta was one of the earliest to take the IIT-Silicon Valley route, paving a now-familiar path for several Indian-American technology leaders. We look back at Gupta’s legacy on his passing. Tune in.
Reliance Not To Have Future
It’s curtains down for Future Retail after Reliance Industries decided to walk away from a ~₹25,000 crore deal more than two years in the making to buy the Future Group’s assets.
No deal: The Kishore Biyani-founded company, among India’s large-format retail pioneers, would likely go bankrupt after having missed multiple deadlines to repay loans. Lenders and creditors also rejected Future’s latest plan that envisaged RIL taking over most of its obligations. Reports suggest lenders baulked after Reliance appeared cool to the plan.
Future Lifestyle Fashions chairperson Shailesh Haribhakti quit saying the board was unable to push through solutions. Amazon, which is fighting a legal battle to acquire FRL, believes the Indian retailer is playing games in collusion with RIL to thwart its efforts.
Dark days: After heavy rains disrupted electricity generation six months ago, peak summer has snapped power supply in many states as India struggles with a coal shortage. The union coal secretary, however, disagrees.
No more fries: Cooking oil prices will soon be on fire as Indonesia prepares to ban palm oil exports.
Write it down: Banks want NPCI to come out of the shadow and put down restrictions on buying and selling cryptocurrencies using UPI in writing.
X trio: Elon Musk has created three holding companies, one of which would likely be the vehicle for his tender for Twitter shares.
IPO shrinks: The LIC share sale size is likely to be reduced by two-thirds to ₹21,000 crore. It's now slated to open on May 2.
Status quo in Europe: French voters re-elected Emmanuel Macron as president. He got 58% votes to challenger Marine Le Pen’s 42%, but 28% voters abstained.
Hear me out: Twitter and its potential acquirer Elon Musk are meeting on Sunday, after the board indicated it might be receptive to his $43 billion buyout proposal.
Call of Duty? Being South Korea's biggest cultural export isn't enough. Even BTS may have to serve 18 months of military service in South Korea's army. According to law, Olympic and Asian Games medallists, and globally recognised award-winning classical musicians are exempt from public service. Fans are divided.
Hype train: Foodpreneur Andy Nguyen has a dream—take away the "stigma" from NFTs. Enter Bored and Hungry in California, an NFT-themed restaurant where burgers, fries and soda can be paid for with $APE and $ETH. Much better deal than pixelised burgers.
Offshoot: Russia's war against Ukraine has made the Cyrillic word: "ruscism," mainstream. The word, which roughly translates to Russian fascism, is increasingly used by Ukrainians to condemn the war. The term became common among locals during the Russo-Georgian War in 2008. Even Ukraine’s social media page is in on it.
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