Elon Musk gave himself the new title of technoking of Tesla on Monday, while his chief financial officer Zach Kirkhorn became “Master of Coin”.
Musk is something of a coin master himself — Tesla has invested profitably in bitcoin, the cryptocurrency he has backed, and the billionaire was also an early investor in Stripe, which we revealed on Sunday had become the most valuable private company Silicon Valley has produced.
The online payments processor is now worth $95bn, based on its latest financing round, which raised $600m of new equity for backers including Ireland’s National Treasury Management Agency, Allianz, Fidelity, Baillie Gifford, AXA and Sequoia Capital.
Stripe was founded in 2010 by Irish brothers Patrick and John Collison — now aged 32 and 30 — who moved from Limerick to the Valley. Stripe’s valuation has almost tripled in less than a year, surpassing those achieved by Facebook and Uber before they went public.
Its earlier growth had been helped by it becoming the payment processor of choice for fellow start-ups such as DoorDash and Lyft. In the past year, it has been boosted by the growth of ecommerce under lockdown. More than 200,000 new companies in Europe have signed up to the platform since the start of the pandemic and its systems handled almost 5,000 requests a second in 2020.
Lex says less than a fifth of the world’s purchases take place online, so there is still plenty of room for Stripe to grow into its lofty valuation. It already processes more than European rival Adyen, meaning annual gross transaction volume exceeded $300bn last year. The Collisons are already masters of coin. They could end up being crowned as kings.
The Internet of (Five) Things
1. Xiaomi up on court ruling, Tencent down
Xiaomi shares rose sharply in Hong Kong on Monday after a US court granted the Chinese smartphone maker a reprieve from Trump-imposed restrictions. Tencent shares have been falling since Bloomberg reported on Friday that it was set to become the next target for a regulatory clampdown in China.
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2. Twitter and Facebook resist calls to ban Kennedy
Twitter and Facebook have ignored calls to ban Robert F Kennedy Jr from their platforms despite concerns over his latest documentary which critics say appears aimed at discouraging black Americans from getting vaccinated against Covid-19. However, Facebook said on Monday it was releasing new tools to make it easier for people to get vaccinated, including a feature to find a time and place to receive the jab.
3. PsiQuantum’s commercial quantum computer
A secretive quantum computing company set up in California by four UK university physicists is set to reveal the technology it has developed over the past five years with $215m in venture capital funding. PsiQuantum will build an ultra-powerful commercial computer based on photonics by the middle of this decade, its founders said, as they prepare to emerge from “stealth mode”
4. Food delivery wars intensify
The pandemic has meant rapid growth for food delivery companies, revealed in annual results last week from Just Eat Takeaway.com and its UK rival Deliveroo, following strong numbers last month from Uber, DoorDash and Delivery Hero. Tim Bradshaw has been charting the market’s development.
5. AI for armed forces
The UK armed forces will use artificial intelligence to predict adversaries’ behaviour, perform reconnaissance and relay real-time intelligence from the battlefield, according to technology companies that work for the government. Military chiefs hope that applying AI technology to warfare — a key feature of the government’s new defence and security strategy, out this week — will provide commanders with better information during critical operations.
Tech week ahead
Tuesday: It has been a bumper year for Zalando as the pandemic pushed shoppers online. Since the 2014 initial public offering, Zalando’s market capitalisation has more than quadrupled to more than €20bn and investors will be keen to learn if the quarter marks another period of strong growth for the online retailer.
Wednesday: Jennifer Bates, a union-supporting worker at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama will testify at a Senate Budget Committee hearing chaired by Bernie Sanders, who also (unsuccessfully) invited Jeff Bezos to testify. In the UK, former government adviser Dominic Cummings gives evidence to the Commons’ Science and Technology committee on the government’s plans, which he advocated, to establish a new scientific body, the Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA). In South Korea, Samsung Electronics shareholders will gather in Suwon for its annual meeting. Samsung is also set to unveil some mid-range phones at its Galaxy Awesome Unpacked online event.
Thursday: Gaming giant Nintendo will finally open a highly anticipated Mario-themed park in Osaka’s Universal Studios Japan that was twice delayed by the pandemic. Super Nintendo World will be the first amusement park to feature the game maker’s iconic characters, marking the company’s efforts to broaden its business portfolio.
Tech tools — Aston Martin Valkyrie simulator
The Curv AMR-C01 is a limited-edition simulator that is capable of transporting the diehard petrolhead from slobbing out in an armchair to experiencing the thrill of a 1,160-horsepower Aston Martin Valkyrie within seconds of stepping into its svelte, carbon-fibre cockpit, writes Simon de Burton for How To Spend It.
Based around the advanced Assetto Corsa simulator software platform, each of the 150 bespoke-built AMR-C01s gets a leather-trimmed race seat, a beautifully engineered and fully adjustable carbon and aluminium pedal box, and a simplified version of an F1-style steering wheel, complete with clutch and gear-change paddles and digital readouts for engine revs, lap times, speed and so on.
Directly in front is the curved, high-definition 49in screen that takes the driver into a virtual racing world where they can test their mettle on more than 50 of the world’s greatest circuits — from Britain’s Brands Hatch to the Suzuka in Japan and everywhere in between.
At a base price of £57,500 (before taxes) the AMR-C01 certainly represents a serious investment. But if you love driving and want to experience the thrill of the racetrack as closely as possible without actually being on one, you’re unlikely to be disappointed, says Simon.
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