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Issue #14

Binance founder jailed, Italy wages war on ice cream, Tesla wants to be Uber for robotaxi, and more. 

News from April 25 - May 1, 2024

Binance Founder Jailed 

Changpeng Zhao, the former CEO of Binance, was sentenced to four months in jail for money-laundering violations. This sentence was given despite the Department of Justice’s request for a 36-month sentence, citing his unprecedented violation of U.S. laws. The court considered Zhao’s cooperation with law enforcement and character references as mitigating factors.

Zhao, a major figure in cryptocurrency known as CZ, founded Binance in 2017. It grew rapidly, becoming a significant player in the crypto industry. However, Binance faced allegations of failing to comply with U.S. anti-money laundering laws and report over 100,000 suspicious transactions. These included transactions linked to terrorist groups like al-Qaida, Islamic State, and Hamas. Zhao’s legal troubles highlight broader scrutiny within the crypto industry. 

As part of his plea deal, Zhao must pay a $50 million personal fine, and Binance is fined $4.3 billion. Zhao’s sentence also carries potential U.S. immigration consequences for him, a Canadian and Emirati citizen.


Global Debt Is Worst In 200 Years

The president of the World Economic Forum said that global debt levels are the worst in two decades. In an interview with CNBC, Borge Brende warned: “We haven’t seen this kind of debt since the Napoleonic Wars. We’re getting close to 100% of global GDP in debt.” 

According to the International Monetary Fund last year, global public debt hit $91 trillion, or 92% of GDP, by the end of 2022. Some estimates put British government debt at more than 200% of GDP by 1815. 

The Congressional Budget Office has said 2024 will mark the year that spending to service U.S. debt will exceed defense outlays. It also forecasts U.S. public debt could rise to 166% of GDP by 2054.


Amazon Deploys 750K Robots, Cuts Jobs

Amazon has rapidly increased its robotics workforce to over 750,000 units and reduced its human employees by over 100,000 since 2021. The shift comes as Jeff Bezos has invested $100 million into a startup developing general-purpose humanoids. 

The deployment of humanoid robots aims to enhance efficiency and safety in Amazon’s fulfillment centers, company executives say. These executives emphasize that robots have enabled the creation of 700 new categories of skilled jobs for humans, speeding up delivery in the process. 

One humanoid robot startup says it hopes to “make a positive impact on humanity and create a better life for future generations” by “eliminating the need for unsafe and undesirable jobs—ultimately allowing us to live happier, more purposeful lives.”


Bulletin Board

  • Tesla Wants To Be Uber For Robotaxi. Tesla is developing a rideshare service called "Cyber Cab," allowing users to summon self-driving cars. Announced by CEO Elon Musk, the service will feature both Tesla-owned and user-owned cars and is set to launch with Tesla robotaxis in August. The initiative was highlighted during Tesla’s Q1 earnings call, where app mockups were also presented. This follows recent scrutiny of Tesla's self-driving technology after a lawsuit settlement involving a fatal autopilot crash. Source
  • Chipotle Tells Staff To Eat Less. Chipotle has instructed its employees to exclude chicken from their meals due to high customer demand depleting supplies. An email directed store managers and corporate employees alike to avoid ordering meals with chicken or chicken al pastor. This has upset many employees, one in Michigan expressing, "It’s disrespectful, just on a personal level." Another employee questioned the future, asking, "It really has Chipotle employees wondering, if it’s chicken today, is it going to be, ‘Oh, we have a drinks shortage, you can’t get drinks’ tomorrow?'" Source
  • Lamborghini Inches Toward Electric. Lamborghini is getting closer to fully electric vehicles with the introduction of the Urus SE, a hybrid SUV that combines a V8 engine with an electric motor. Scheduled for delivery in early 2025, this 789-horsepower vehicle can hit a top speed of 193 miles per hour and accelerate to 62 mph in 3.4 seconds, with a price tag of $258,000. The company plans to delay its fully electric vehicle until 2028, focusing on optimizing hybrid technology amidst fluctuating global demand for electric vehicles. Lamborghini CTO Rouven Mohr stated, "The driving fun is much much more than the current Urus." Source
  • Google Is Now Worth $2 Trillion. Google's parent company, Alphabet, has maintained a $2 trillion market cap for a full day. It ranks as the fourth most valuable public company globally, behind Nvidia, Apple, and Microsoft. Facing regulatory challenges and the rise of generative AI, Google has restructured teams, launched the Gemini AI model, cut projects, and announced a $70 billion share buyback and its first dividend. For the first quarter of 2024, Alphabet reported a profit of $23.7 billion on $80.5 billion in revenue, marking a 15% increase in revenue and a 14% increase in profit year-over-year. Source
  • Italy Wages War On Ice Cream. Milan officials have proposed a ban on late-night takeaway food, including ice cream, to reduce disturbances in the city's nightlife. Deputy Mayor Marco Granelli explained, "The rule would strike a balance between camaraderie and fun, the peace and health of residents, and the free economic activity of traders and entrepreneurs who provide work." The secretary general of a local retailers’ association objected: "What does the average Italian family do in the summer? They go for a stroll after dinner and get an ice cream. It’s a classic tradition and so it’s clear that if you interfere with this type of cultural habit, people won’t be happy." Past attempts to implement similar restrictions were met with protests. Source

Disclaimer: This blog offers insights into international business and global events for informational purposes only. It is not intended as investment or business advice. WeavePay is not liable for any decisions made based on the content provided.

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