With a Single 10-Word Tweet, Elon Musk Just Made a Stunning Announcement About How He Spends His Time

In this episode, I’ll start by sharing a tweet that Musk posted on Twitter Monday afternoon.

I will then explain the insane background of the story from two crucial angles–one about the tweet itself, and one about the insane thing it says about Musk.

In case that didn’t embed for some reason, it’s Musk tweeting simply, “Did meme review last night with Justin Roiland from @RickandMorty.”

Here are your promised two angles:

‘Did meme review’

Okay, if you’re not initiated in what I’m about to explain, just know that this part of the story is going to seem like a creative writing class dropped acid before doing a group project.

There’s a Swedish YouTuber named Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, who is 29 years old and goes by PewDiePie, and who is basically the most successful single YouTuber of all time.

Forbes estimated then that he he was making $12 million a year. A lot has happened since, but two key things for our purposes stand out:

Second, he’s locked in an epic battle with a giant Indian music company called T-Series, over which can get more YouTube subscribers. As I write this late on Tuesday evening, the score is:

  • PewDiePie 86,303,046 
  • T-Series 86,250,944

It’s neck-and-neck, and it seems as if almost any tiny little edge could give PewDiePie or T-Series the victory.

If only there were an eccentric billionaire who might provide that edge…

Hi, I’m Elon Musk

Okay. In telling that story, especially the part about the battle for YouTube subscribers, I’m reminded of an old quote: “Academic politics are so vicious because the stakes are so small.”

Kind of the same thing here. But, you also need to know that PewDiePie hosts a YouTube show called Meme Review. That’s the show Musk was saying he took time from his schedule to do.

There’s actually a whole debate right now online about whether Musk actually did the show, or if he’s just trolling everyone. But for our purposes, whether he did or not is more a matter of degree.

Because for someone like Musk, who is the CEO of one public company and at least two private ones, his time should be at a premium.

We’d be saying that even if Musk hadn’t laid off 7 percent of Tesla’s workforce less than a month ago.

Or if he hadn’t tweeted his way into an SEC oversight investigation, or a lawsuit over calling a British cave diver who helped rescue that Thai soccer team last year, a “pedo guy.”

The most important resource

And yet, here we are, talking about whether Musk really did Meme Review (along side Roiland, who as Musk points out is the creator of the Adult Swim series Rick and Morty), as part of what is almost certainly the effort to help PewDiePie get more subscribers.

The alternatives here aren’t great. Either Musk is serious, in which case he’s taking time away from his most important responsibilities to do a show that’s controversial to say the least.

Or, the whole thing is just a trollish joke, in which case: why is Musk even involved in talking about this? How does he even have time to know about it?

I wrote recently about how Jeff Bezos explained in one sentence that he realizes how much of a distraction the National Enquirer blackmail scandal could have been — and how much more important his time is than any other resource.

For Musk, the same is true. Time is what matters most. So why is he wasting it here?

And if we can’t come up with a good answer to that question, here’s another: Why would you still be willing to buy a Tesla?

Microsoft expands political security service to 12 European countries

Silhouettes of laptop users are seen next to a screen projection of Microsoft logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

(Reuters) – Microsoft Corp on Wednesday said it will offer its cyber security service AccountGuard to 12 new markets in Europe including Germany, France and Spain, to close security gaps and protect customers in political space from hacking.

Microsoft had recently detected attacks, which occurred between September and December 2018, targeting employees of the German Council on Foreign Relations and European offices of The Aspen Institute and The German Marshall Fund, the company said here in a blog post.

The attacks, which targeted 104 employee accounts in Belgium, France, Germany, Poland, Romania, and Serbia, are believed to have originated from a group called Strontium, the company added.

The AccountGuard service will also be available in Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal and Slovakia.

Ahead of a critical European Parliament election in May, German officials are trying to bolster cyber security after a far-reaching data breach by a 20-year-old student laid bare the vulnerability of Europe’s largest economy.

Reporting by Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

7 Reasons To Start Your Own Company in Your 20s

The traditional narrative for entrepreneurs is a step-by-step process that generally looks something like this:

  1. Get a degree
  2. Get a job
  3. Build a network
  4. Save some “seed capital”
  5. Start your business

The assumption is that you’ll be ready to launch your startup in your 30s or 40s. Or maybe your 50s because, well…, kids.

Now, I don’t want to burst any happy bubbles for those of you who are already treading the traditional pathway, but that traditional narrative no longer makes much sense because over the past two decades, big corporations, big academia, and big corporatist government have rigged the business world so that the longer you wait to start your own company, the less likely you are to be successful. 

Because of this, young entrepreneurs (Millennials and Gen-Zers) should launch their startups immediately rather than waiting until they’ve got a degree and some experience. Here’s why:

1. College has become increasingly irrelevant.

If you already know you’re going to be an entrepreneurs, college is a waste of time. Business colleges are so out of touch that very few teach sales skills–the most important business skill for any entrepreneur. B-schools are also notorious repositories of wannabee entrepreneurs spouting clouds of fluffy biz-blab. Furthermore, colleges are always a decade behind the real world in technical skills and technology. Example: almost all computer animation college programs lack even a single class on real-time animation, the most important new technology in that industry.

2. College has become absurdly expensive.

How many thousands of times have you read about recent college graduates who can’t get a decent job in their field but are nonetheless saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in student debt? By contrast, how many times have you heard successful entrepreneurs say: “wow, I’m sure glad I graduated from college…”? Like never, right? Look, if you’re going to spend yourself $50,000 into debt, do you want to end up with a useless, but largely symbolic degree? Or do you want to own a business that cost $50,000 to start?

3. College doesn’t impress recruiters anyway.

Let’s suppose you want to start your own business but you’re banking on your college degree as a backup plan… as in “I’ll give this startup my best shot but if I fail I can get use my degree to get a job.” Well, IMHO, if you’re thinking that way, you’re setting yourself up to fail as an entrepreneur, but whatever. Let’s suppose it’s a reasonable plan. Hate to tell you, but recruiters are far more impressed by an effort to start your own company than whatever cookie-cutter degree you managed to eke out of the college system. Even fancy Ivy League degrees don’t have much cachet any longer.

4. Employers hire contractors not employees.

According to a recent study conducted by Allison & Taylor Reference Checking, “the current growth of freelancing is estimated to be three times faster than that of the traditional workforce, with approximately 47% of working millennials now working in some freelance capacity.  At the current growth rate, the majority of the U.S. workforce will freelance by 2027.” Freelance positions lack benefits and pay less, thus making it more difficult to put aside the money you’ll need to start your business. Can you spell “dead end street,” boys and girls?

5. Employers legally limit your options.

You may think you’re gaining valuable experience and contacts that you can use to launch your own business, but chances are that your employee agreement or “work for hire” agreement vastly limits your ability to use whatever you’ve learned. You might launch your business and find yourself at the short end of a lawsuit, from a company that can afford an entire staff of lawyers to make sure you’re properly crushed.

6. Resumes don’t impress investors.

Investors don’t give a rodent’s posterior about your college experience. They also don’t value your work experience much more than that, unless what you were doing was directly relevant to building and running the company you’re envisioning. Investors want people who’ve successfully started their own businesses or, at the very least, somebody who’s gained the valuable experience of starting a business that didn’t pan out.

7. Exuberance is a limited resource.

You may think all those long hours and hard work working for somebody else is preparing you for the long hours and hard work you’ll need to make your startup successful. But you’d think wrong. Their plan is to burn through your youthful energy and enthusiasm until you’re an empty husk. Even if you keep your spirits up and your body in tip-top shape while they try to suck you dry, as you get older, you will INEVITABLY find it more difficult to summon extra oomph. Far better to expend your youthful exuberance making your own business a success, rather than lining someone else’s pockets, right?.

Tesla rolls out 'sentry mode' safety feature

FILE PHOTO: A Tesla logo is seen at a groundbreaking ceremony of Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory in Shanghai, China January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

(Reuters) – Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc on Wednesday launched a safety feature called “sentry mode” for its electric cars, as it attempts to make its vehicles more attractive to buyers.

The feature will be compatible with U.S. Model 3 vehicles, followed by Model S and Model X vehicles that were manufactured after August 2017, the electric carmaker said.

When enabled, the “sentry mode” monitors the environment around an unattended car and uses the vehicle’s external cameras to detect potential threats, according to Tesla’s blog here

A minimal threat will be detected if anyone leans on the car, triggering a message on the touchscreen and warning that its cameras are recording.

For a more severe threat, like someone breaking a window, the mode activates the car alarm, increases the brightness of the center display, plays loud music and alerts owners on their Tesla mobile app.

The United States had 773,139 motor vehicles stolen in 2017 – the highest since 2009, according to data from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. here

Last week, Tesla lowered the price of its Model 3 sedan for the second time this year to make its cars more affordable for U.S. buyers. The Palo Alto, California-based company has been cutting costs as it looks to turn in profit this year.

Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

Japanese self-drive cars map developer to buy rival U.S. startup for $200 million

(Reuters) – Japanese map platform developer Dynamic Map Platform announced on Wednesday it plans to acquire Detroit-based map startup Ushr for up to $200 million in a bid to widen its geographical footprint in the burgeoning self driving cars market.

Dynamic Map Platform counts Japan’s Toyota Motor, Nissan and Honda among its investors, while Ushr provides 3D mapping data to General Motors.

The move comes as the Japanese car makers seek to challenge Alphabet Inc’s Google and Chinese rivals in the mapping business.

For the acquisition, Dynamic Map Platform said it would raise a combined 22 billion yen ($198.9 million) from investors including two existing shareholders – the Japanese state-backed INCJ fund and Mitsubishi Electric.

“Through the combination, we will be able to offer automotive OEMs a comprehensive high-definition mapping solution for the North American and Japanese markets, with the ability to expand globally in the future,” Tsutomu Nakajima, the head of Dynamic Map Platform, said in a statement.

Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru and Makiko Yamazaki in Tokyo; Editing by Stephen Coates and Muralikumar Anantharaman

Singaporean police looking into FT reports on Wirecard

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singaporean police on Monday said they were looking into reports by the Financial Times of alleged financial irregularities at German payments firm Wirecard AG.

FILE PHOTO: People walk past the Wirecard booth at the computer games fair Gamescom in Cologne, Germany, August 22, 2018. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

The FT last week published two reports about alleged wrongdoing at Wirecard’s Singaporean office that sent shares in the member of the blue-chip DAX index sharply lower.

“The police are looking into the matter,” a Singaporean police spokeswoman said in response to Reuters’ questions about the reports.

Wirecard has called the FT reports “inaccurate, misleading and defamatory”. The company’s Singaporean and Munich offices were not immediately available for comment on Monday.

The second report published on Friday, which wiped $5.7 billion off the company’s market value, said Singaporean law firm Rajah & Tann had found evidence indicating “serious offences of forgery and/or of falsification of accounts” at Wirecard.

Rajah & Tann declined to comment.

Munich-based Wirecard has been a repeated target of short-sellers – investors betting on falling share prices – who have questioned its accounting methods and rapid international expansion in recent years.

These speculative attacks have caused huge volatility in Wirecard’s stock, though its share price has rebounded repeatedly, with the company last year gaining elevation to the DAX.

The Munich state prosecutor’s office on Friday said it had found no evidence of the alleged wrongdoing reported by the FT.

Wirecard is set to hold a conference call on Monday at 1300 CET (2000 Singapore time).

Reporting by John Geddie and Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Stephen Coates

Tencent-backed Chinese movie-ticketing app Maoyan makes weak Hong Kong debut

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Tencent-backed Maoyan Entertainment, China’s biggest movie-ticketing platform by sales, fell 1.1 percent in its Hong Kong stock debut on Monday, the latest in a string of weak starts among Chinese tech firms listing in the financial hub.

FILE PHOTO: A sign of movie ticketing company Maoyan Entertainment is seen at a news conference during the Shanghai International Film Festival in Shanghai, China June 19, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

Shares in Maoyan Entertainment opened at HK$14.82 ($1.89), barely higher than the initial public offering (IPO) price of HK$14.8, which was already at the bottom end of an indicative range.

They then fell to as low as HK$14, a warning sign for other Chinese tech companies that may be eyeing IPOs after achieving lofty valuations in private funding rounds. The stock closed at HK$14.64.

However, thin trading volumes in a truncated trading session on the eve of the Lunar New Year could have contributed to Maoyan’s lackluster performance, said Ke Yan, co-head of research at Aequitas Research.

“While on one hand there’s a lack of demand for the name given the limited upside in the online movie ticketing market in terms of market penetration, on the other hand, the upcoming Chinese holiday season could be another contributing factor for the thin volume and the poor performance,” Yan said.

Loss-making Maoyan raised $250 million in a smaller-than-expected IPO, and could raise up to $287 million if a greenshoe, or over-allotment option, is exercised within the first month of trade. That is, however, a fraction of the amount it was looking to raise last year.

Its float is being watched as a test of investor sentiment for Hong Kong deals after a patchy performance by newly listed stocks in 2018 amid U.S.-China trade tensions.

Maoyan’s IPO already implied a “down round” for Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings Ltd, as it valued the ticketing platform at $2.16 billion – more than a quarter below the valuation reached in its last funding round in 2017.

Investors are bracing for further down rounds in China’s much-hyped tech sector, as weak stock markets worldwide and the country’s economic slowdown weigh on once-buoyant private markets.

Many firms such as online food delivery-to-ticketing services provider Meituan Dianping and smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp, which raised billions of dollars in their listings, are trading below their IPO prices in Hong Kong.

Maoyan offers ticketing services through its Maoyan and Gewara apps in China – the world’s second-largest movie market after the United States – and mainly distributes domestic films.

It also helped with the local distribution of the 2017 romantic drama “The Shape of Water”, which won four Oscars, according to its prospectus.

Maoyan’s revenue almost doubled in the first nine months of 2018 to 3.1 billion yuan ($459.76 million), the prospectus showed. It has yet to turn in a net profit, but its loss narrowed to 144 million yuan over the same period from 152.1 million yuan a year earlier.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley were joint sponsors for the Maoyan listing.

Reporting by Julia Fioretti; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Muralikumar Anantharaman

Tech Companies Have a Brand Image Problem: Here's How to Solve It

Tech companies everywhere, but especially those in Silicon Valley, have a serious brand image problem. Over the past few years, major tech companies have drawn ire from the public for their lack of diversity, apathy toward privacy issues, as well as their accumulation of wealth.

This isn’t exactly stopping people from using the tech products we’ve come to rely on so heavily, but it is having an effect on share prices–and it’s attracting stricter regulations from governments all over the world. If these corporate juggernauts are going to earn back the trust of consumers, shareholders, and policymakers, they need to take serious strides to change how they’re publicly perceived. There are several ways to accomplish this, but it’s going to take a concentrated effort.

Diversity and Representation

First, Silicon Valley has a major diversity problem–and has had one for many years. The overwhelming majority of tech CEOs (and even tech employees) are white men. This is problematic both for the vision and products of the companies and for the reputation of those companies in the general public. Having a leadership team without representation from women and minority groups means your company is less likely to consider the wants, needs, and perspectives of those groups; it’s why we end up with algorithms that discriminate against women and minorities.

There is a fix, though it’s not necessarily a simple one. The most obvious solution is to hire more people from underrepresented groups, but tech companies don’t always have the luxury of having equal or proportional quantities of applicants from each of those groups; in other words, you can’t hire more women if there aren’t many qualified women applying.

So instead of simply adjusting HR practices to hire more applicants who belong to underrepresented demographics, companies need to take part in programs designed to incentivize people from minority groups to pursue careers in tech. As an example, Women in Technology (WiT) programs are becoming more popular, offering mentorship and guidance for young women looking for careers in fields like software engineering, mechanical engineering, or signal processing. Given a few years of development, enough early-stage outreach programs like these could fill the pipelines with more appliances from diverse groups, and slowly change the overall composition of these companies.

Consumer Privacy and Corporate Transparency

Tech companies have also taken a hit on the consumer privacy front, with Facebook showing up in the headlines many times in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, when it was a London-based political consulting firm was capable of harvesting the personal data of millions of Facebook users for political manipulation purposes. Apple, Amazon, Google, and other companies have also been called to testify in front of a Senate Committee on consumer privacy protections.

We use devices, software, and digital products capable of collecting and storing ridiculous quantities of data on our lives, from where we are at any given time to what we’re talking about in our homes. With opaque and hard-to-understand terms of service agreements and an increasing diversity of connected devices, consumers and policymakers are more concerned than ever that data could be used for nefarious purposes–and tech brands are getting labeled as malicious, data-hungry consumer manipulators, working in darkness to take advantage of us.

There’s no quick fix to this dilemma, but offering more transparency is a good start. Giving users more options when it comes to their privacy, giving them simpler tools so they can truly understand what’s at stake when they use a product or service, and taking accountability when breaches do occur are the only path to restore trust.

Leadership and a Company “Face”

Tech brands also suffer from being faceless, corporate conglomerates. They’re either so massive they don’t have a public face, or their public face seems too detached from reality to seem relatable. Take, for example, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg; this man serves as the “face” of Facebook, but has become generally disliked and distrusted due to his reclusiveness and seemingly robotic disposition when testifying before Congress. Or take Jeff Bezos, who is periodically caricatured as a cartoonish supervillain due to his similarly reclusive nature, his ambition for growth, and his access to practically unlimited resources.

Having a stronger, more trustworthy public face isn’t going to fix everything, but it would give the public someone more relatable to associate with the brand. And it doesn’t have to be a charismatic, charming CEO either–it can be a handful of PR reps or even customer representatives who make consumers feel like there are “real” people behind these companies, instead of just automated tech and reclusive billionaires. It would be a massive investment, to be sure, but it’s one of the only reliable ways to rebuild public trust.