Tuesday, April 30, 2024

"Microsoft boss charms Indonesia with $1.7B AI, cloud injection"

From The Register, April 30: 

Promises to train 850,000 workers and build datacenters

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says the company will invest $1.7 billion in expanding its presence and building datacenters in Indonesia.

Nadella announced the investment during his grand tour of Southeast Asia, the same region Apple CEO Tim Cook visited earlier this month. During his trip to the island country, Nadella met Indonesian President Joko Widodo and his cabinet to discuss AI. In a blog post, Microsoft said it plans to "transform the nation into a global economic powerhouse."

"This new generation of AI is reshaping how people live and work everywhere, including in Indonesia," Nadella said. "The investments we are announcing today – spanning digital infrastructure, skilling, and support for developers – will help Indonesia thrive in this new era."

To support this infrastructure, Microsoft will train 840,000 Indonesians in AI, a big chunk of the 2.5 million AI trainees envisioned across Southeast Asia. It seems plans for the datacenters aren't set in stone yet, but according to Reuters, President Widodo said the small island of Bali just east of Java and the soon-to-be new capital city of Nusantara on the island of Borneo would both be good options....


"Elon Musk issues brutal email to Tesla staff as he goes 'absolutely hardcore' and fires two senior executives, his entire Supercharger team, and moves to lay off hundreds more employees"

There's a reason for today's Tesla, Tesla, Tesla theme. Something's up. As noted April 23

It is possible that Mr. Musk knows more about electric vehicles and the retail market for electric vehicles than I do. And it is possible that he intuits something about the industry or the regulatory or government policy framework toward electric vehicles that he hopes to either guard against or take advantage of....

From the Daily Mail, April 30:

  • Elon Musk announced two senior executives were fired Monday night
  • The Tesla boss revealed he will go 'hardcore' with layoffs amid falling sales
  • He made a surprise visit to China Sunday promising driverless cars

Elon Musk fired two Tesla senior executives and announced plans to go 'absolutely hardcore' with layoffs, frustrated by falling sales and the pace of job cuts so far, according to a new report. 

The Tesla boss, who sat down with Chinese premier Li Qiang on Sunday promising an imminent roll-out of driverless cars in the country, sent a brutal email to senior managers Monday night, The Information reported.

Rebecca Tinucci, senior director of the electric vehicle maker charging infrastructure, and Daniel Ho, head of the new vehicles program, will leave on Tuesday morning, the report said.

Musk also plans to dismiss everyone working for Tinucci and Ho, including the roughly 500 employees who work in the Supercharger group.

'Hopefully these actions are making it clear that we need to be absolutely hard core about headcount and cost reduction. While some on exec staff are taking this seriously, most are not yet doing so,' Musk said....


Today (so far):

Chips: "AMD’s outlook fails to impress, and its stock falls"

From MarketWatch, April 30:

Chip company gives a revenue forecast that’s in line with the consensus view at the midpoint 

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. late Tuesday reported quarterly earnings that met Wall Street’s expectations, but it wasn’t enough to boost the stock as the company also merely matched the consensus view with the midpoint of its outlook.

“This is an incredibly exciting time for the industry, as widespread deployment of [artificial intelligence] is driving demand for significantly more compute across a broad range of markets,” Chief Executive Lisa Su said. “We are executing very well as we ramp our data-center business and enable AI capabilities across our product portfolio.”

The company said it expects second-quarter revenue of $5.7 billion, plus or minus $300 million, which is in line with analysts’ forecasts of $5.73 billion.

That would represent year-over-year growth of about 6% at its midpoint, the company said. Non-GAAP gross margin for the quarter is expected to be around 53%.

AMD shares AMD dropped more than 3% in after-hours trading Tuesday....


Chip sales for the data center market were up 80%.

"Amazon stock rises as Q1 earnings top estimates with $143.3B in revenue; AWS sales up 17%" (AMZN)

The stock is trading up $3.95 (2.26%) at $178.95 in early after-hours action. Not quite making back the $5.96 lost during the regular session.

From Seattle's own, GeekWire, April 30:

Amazon topped estimates for its first quarter earnings, reporting $143.3 billion in revenue, up 13% year-over-year, and earnings per share of $0.98.

Analysts expected Q1 revenue of $142.7 billion and earnings per share of $0.83.

Amazon’s two big profit drivers, Amazon Web Services and advertising, posted year-over-year revenue growth of 17% and 24%, respectively.

Overall operating income reached $15.3 billion in the first quarter, compared to $4.8 billion a year ago, and well ahead of estimates....

....MUCH MORE including pre-conference call guidance.

"Ford Lost $130,000 on Every EV It Sold in the First Quarter" (F)

Making a business of electric vehicles is hard.

From Car&Driver, April 26:

The Blue Oval reported an 84 percent drop in revenue in its Model e electric division.

  • Ford's Model e EV division reported a net revenue of around $100,000,000 in the first quarter.
  • Adding in expenses, though, the Blue Oval's EV arm lost $1.3 billion for the quarter.
  • Ford largely blames margin-cutting price cuts for the massive drop in revenue compared to Q1 2023.

Ford reported a net income of $1.3 billion for the first quarter of 2024, a figure largely bolstered by the success of the company's Ford Pro fleet division and the $3 billion it brought in—more than three times that of the internal-combustion-engine-focused Ford Blue arm. The Blue Oval's battery-electric–oriented Model e division, however, remained a drain on company funds, losing $1.3 billion for the quarter—around twice what it lost during the same period in 2023. The company blamed "industry-wide pricing pressure" in its first-quarter earnings presentation....


The article goes on to point out it is a damn good thing the rest of Ford's business is profitable.

Watch Out Elon: "Wireless EV Charging Hits Key Benchmark"

One of the current (!) and future cash flows that go into analyst models of Tesla's valuation is the charging business. In North America they basically own it, with by far the largest network of charging points and with 20 out of 22 competitors having signed on to the standard.

One figure that's been tossed around is $5 billion in annual revenue by 2030. Whether that's a good guess, I don't know but that's the order of magnitude. Plus it's easy to remember.

From IEEE Spectrum, April 18:

Wireless EV Charging Hits Key Benchmark
Oak Ridge researchers move plugless electric future forward 

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee recently announced that they have set a record for wireless EV charging. Their system’s magnetic coils have reached a 100-kilowatt power level. In tests in their lab, the researchers reported their system’s transmitter supplied enough energy to a receiver mounted on the underside of a Hyundai Kona EV to boost the state of charge in the car’s battery by 50 percent (enough for about 150 kilometers of range) in less than 20 minutes.

“Impressive,” says Duc Minh Nguyen, a research associate in the Communication Theory Lab at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia. Nguyen is the lead author of several of papers on dynamic wireless charging, including some published when he was working toward his PhD at KAUST.

The Oak Ridge announcement marks the latest milestone in work on wireless charging that stretches back more than a decade. As IEEE Spectrumreported in 2018, WiTricity, headquartered in Watertown, Mass., had announced a partnership with an unspecified automaker to install wireless charging receivers on its EVs. Then in 2021, the company revealed that it was working with Hyundai to outfit some of its Genesis GV60 EVs with Wireless charging. (In early 2023, Car Buzz reported that it had sniffed out paperwork pointing to Hyundai’s plans to equip its Ionic 5 EV with wireless charging capability.)....


Another development was the unveiling of a battery at the Beijing Auto Show last week. 

From Reuters, another example of those advantage flywheels accruing incremental gains for the best-of breed-companies, in this case the world's largest EV battery producer. From Reuters, April 25:

Chinese EV battery maker CATL unveils LFP battery with 1,000 km range

It's not just the 620 mile range. The battery can handle extremely fast charging. From Electrek, also April 25:

CATL unveils world’s first LFP battery with 4C ultra-fast charging for 370-mi in 10 mins

"....that can add 370 miles (600 km) range in 10 minutes..."

And the flywheels? From the time CATL introduced the predecessor to the new battery, July 11, 2023:

"CATL announces new battery with 400 kilometer range on 10 minute charge"
Have I ever mentioned the "Flywheel Effect?"
I think we're witnessing the Flywheel Effect in action at, not just China's but the world's largest battery producer.
Incremental advantages lead to overwhelming business success. I don't know if there are 16,000 researchers in the entire rest of the battery biz. If that's the case, how can they catch up to CATL? 

Amazing what being able to hire 16,000 researchers can lead to,

And just for grins and giggles, from Reuters, April 29:

CATL boss visits Elon Musk's Beijing hotel on Tesla CEO's surprise trip

"Elon Musk says any company that isn’t spending $10 billion on AI this year like Tesla won’t be able to compete" (TSLA)


This is such an important concept to grasp. It's the advantage flywheels, the rich get richer, winner-take-all reality of business in 2024.

From Fortune via Yahoo Finance April 29:

Elon Musk has a message for America’s business leaders—either prepare yourself for the AI revolution or start writing your corporate obituary.

At a juncture in time when Tesla’s CEO is cutting back on investments into new vehicle capacity, he is spending $10 billion this year alone to bulk up on AI training and inference, and position Tesla at the forefront of the industry for real-life applications outside of generative AI.

“Any company not spending at this level, and doing so efficiently, cannot compete,” he posted on X Sunday.

Spending on AI inference would primarily be targeted at his range of cars, a possible indication that he is preparing the ground for the next generation of his custom-designed Full Self-Driving (FSD) computer known as HW5.

The distinction between training and inference is important since close observers will know Musk is currently working on another major AI project, his humanoid robot dubbed Optimus after the 1980s cartoon vehicle that transformed into a sentient robot.

This bold and risky pivot toward AI—and by implication away from his previous focus on a tenfold increase in car sales to 20 million EVs annually—definitively answers the perennial question whether Tesla is an automaker or a tech company in favor of the latter.

Any typical auto executive would have long since invested in rejuvenating one of the oldest product ranges in the auto industry. For example, Tesla’s EV archrival, BYD, is pumping out one new model after another across its portfolio of brands with the help of its small army of 90,000 vehicle engineers.

Musk however seems to view his cars more as an iPhone on wheels, a premium device for delivering high-margin software, that can be sold at lower profit since revenue will be recouped by offering services around the vehicle.

For the moment, that approach has not worked. Tesla has found itself forced to repeatedly cut prices to stimulate enough demand to keep his factories humming. Musk even recently resorted to slashing the price of his FSD software by a third.

Only 18 months ago, the idea of Tesla struggling to find customers seemed ludicrous, to borrow a favorite adjective of Musk. Yet China’s new generation of EV rivals are in a class of their own when it comes to value for money, and his own personal brand has been tarnished.

Musk’s latest answer has been to....


This story was originally featured on Fortune.com

March 18
In Nvidia's World, If You (and your company) Don't Have Money You Will Not Be Able To Compete (NVDA)

The advantage flywheels keep spinning and reinforcing each other to the point that the Pareto distribution of profits - 20% of companies reap 80% of the profits - is becoming Super-Pareto where 5% of the companies reap 95% of the profits and is approaching Hyper-Pareto at maybe 2% of companies reaping 98% of profits.

It all comes down to having the resources to keep up. 

I watched Mr. Huang give the keynote and it's all a bit much to digest before firing out comments that would make any sense at all so here are some of today's headlines to give a taste of what the intro paragraph is based on.

These are Nvidia's press releases via GlobeNewswire....

February 28
The Hyper-Pareto Distribution Of Profits Is Happening Right Now (plus an anniversary)

It's not some cutesy management* fad or pop insight like "Business secrets of Genghis Khan."

To the rich go the profits and internalizing that fact makes the rest of this portfolio construction/fund management/investing stuff easier to conceptualize and execute.

And AI is accelerating the already extant dynamic. 

*Although people had been observing and discussing "rich get richer" and "winner-take-all" dynamics for over a century, one of our favorite pointers toward the current situation did come out of a business school. We've been hammering on this for so long that I start to bore myself. Here's a recapitulation from last year, linking to an article that was published seven years ago today:

HBR—From Pareto To Hyper-Pareto: "AI Is Going to Change the 80/20 Rule"

A prescient article from the Harvard Business Review, February 28, 2017:....


Why Do the Biggest Companies Keep Getting Bigger? It’s How They Spend on Tech" 

...Much more important than the direct monetization of big data is the strategic advantage it can bestow over time.
In a winner-take-all economy, as in a horse race, small differences in superiority are rewarded all out of proportion to the actual advantage. A top thoroughbred may only be a couple fifths of a second faster than the field but those two lengths over the course of a season can mean triple the earnings for #1 vs. #2.
In commerce the results can be even more dramatic because rather than the 60%/20%/10% purse structure of the racetrack the winning vendor will often get 100% of a customer's business.....

Just to reiterate, every incremental advantage that a company can afford does not affect income production in isolation. They accrete in sometimes unforeseeable combinations:

How to Think About Companies: "Advantage Flywheels"

A very handy conceptual framework first posted after the start of the U.S. lockdowns, April 2020. Schools were closed so it seemed natural to link to a superb mini-MBA module.  
Eat your heat out HBR....

February 7
AI: Tesla Installing Second Dojo Supercomputer In New York Gigafactory (TSLA; NVDA)

January 5
AI: "Inside Tesla’s Innovative And Homegrown 'Dojo' AI Supercomputer" (TSLA)

It really is a big deal that a company can afford to spend over a billion dollars to build their own supercomputer and it really is a big deal that the same company has all the training data from the billions of miles of real-world driving and it really is a great example of the concept of advantage flywheels and hyper-pareto distribution of rewards, i.e. the rich get richer.

Whether it is going to open-up the $10 trillion addressable market and add the $500 billion of market cap that Morgan Stanley foresees is still an open question....

And many more. If interested use the 'search blog' box, upper left.

"Thomson Reuters Could Be the Best AI Stock You’ve Never Considered"

It could have been the Financial Times. More after the jump.

From Barron's, April 27/29:

“Before Google was in the search business, we were in the search business,” CEO Steve Hasker told Barron’s.

You may think that Thomson Reuters is in the news business, and that’s true as far as it goes—but it doesn’t go nearly far enough.

News, i.e., the Reuters part of this Canadian company, accounts for only some 10% of the company’s revenue. The other 90% comes from data businesses like Westlaw, UltraTax, and ONESOURCE, which is fortuitous, because, as British mathematician Clive Humby famously opined in 2006, “data is the new oil.” In that case, perhaps it’s understandable that Thomson Reuters has been on a remarkable—though somewhat under-the-radar—run, with its stock far outpacing the market over the past decade.

Just please don’t call Thomson Reuters a media company. 

“We’re a tech stock, not a media stock,” Thomson Reuters CEO Steve Hasker says quickly when I suggest the latter. “The distinctions have been pretty clear in terms of performance. We take unique and proprietary content, add [artificial intelligence] and machine learning, and we deliver it through best-of-breed software.”

In fact, some of Thomson Reuters’ financials and market action of its stock seem to back Hasker up. Thomson Reuters did $6.8 billion in revenue last year and has a $69 billion market capitalization. Its stock has gained 26% in the past six months, versus 21% for the market. The share price hovers around $154, and BMO analyst Tim Casey rates the stock Outperform with a $165 price target. Shares trade for 43.6 times Casey’s 2024 earnings per share estimate of $3.53—very much a tech valuation, no?

“Thomson Reuters offers a compelling mix of organic growth and free cash flow conversion with a demonstrated track record of returning capital to shareholders,” Casey wrote to me in an email. “Its core businesses have high barriers to entry, and AI represents an attractive growth opportunity.”

One key reason why data is becoming ever more valuable is that the corporate world is becoming ever more complex. Banking on that trend, —an underpinning of Thomson Reuters’ strategy—has turned out to be a damned good business. “This idea of the complexity associated with compliance, [gives us] a very significant tailwind,” says Hasker, an affable Aussie and recovered McKinsey consultant who also ran Hollywood talent agency CAA and was a top executive at measurement company Nielsen Holdings. 

“The number of laws, tax and accounting regulations, the complexity of audits, entirely new forms of regulation and governance around [environmental, social, and governance concerns], and climate, this is something that just gets ever more complex,” Hasker says. “It’s not a realistic or scalable option for companies to just add more headcount to navigate that environment. They have to rely on technology.”

A bit of intricacy comes with the territory at Thomson Reuters itself, which is the product of Thomson, a family-owned Canadian newspaper empire founded in Timmins, Ontario, in 1934, and the London-based wire service Reuters, which German-British entrepreneur Paul Reuter established in 1851. 

(Some Reuters trivia: Paul Reuter employed carrier pigeons and later was an early adopter of the telegraph, allowing his company to become the first news source in Europe to report Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. Paul Reuter’s granddaughter-in-law—Marguerite, Baroness de Reuter—died in 2009 at the age of 96 as the last member of the the Reuter family.)

Reuters, which remains a global bastion of trustworthy, non-partisan news, was bought by Thomson in 2008. The Thomson family, Canada’s richest, owns just under 70% of Thomson Reuters via its investment company Woodbridge. The remaining balance is traded on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges.

And then there’s this slightly complex transaction: In 2018, Thomson Reuters sold 55% of its financial and risk analysis business, which competes with Bloomberg and FactSet, to Blackstone for $20 billion in cash, renaming it Refinitiv along the way. Three years later, Blackstone and Thomson Reuters sold Refinitiv, whose name has since been retired, to the London Stock Exchange Group for $27 billion in LSEG stock. Since then, Thomson Reuters and Blackstone have been selling down their stakes in LSEG....


As recounted by FT Alphaville's founder and first editor, accompanied by Bryce Elder playing the straightest straight man since vaudeville.

December 3, 2015 

For our younger readers, here's Mr. Subliminal on Donald Trump cheating on his wife Ivana in 1990:


And here's FT Alphaville's editor, Paul Murphy,

Hard-bitten journalist

on former FT Alphaville owner Pearson and its stock, Dec. 1, the day the Financial Times was handed over to Nikkei, while appearing to be having a normal conversation with Alphavillein Bryce Elder:

(So here’s our advice on the stock at 832p….)
Run )
...Today, though, the message is dovish. So we’re all choosing to forget about 2016.
Scarper )
Get out )
Bin it )
( You don’t think another profit warning is coming? Oh course another profit warning is coming! )
( And I can tell you it’s a screaming sell. )
( I can tell you what happens next…)
( Having focused the business down and down and down so that it’s pure corporatised education…)
( And with corporatised education, er, falling slightly out of fashion…)
( The next effort will be to slash costs — slashing with a blunt knife. A panic. )
( My guess is 15 per cent of the workforce will go. )
( Across the board. )
(except not in the boardroom, of course )
(It’s a lucky escape for us, cos the 15 per cent cut would have hit us as well. 100 journo jobs would have gone. )
Is that enough on banks? Actually, Goldman too. Just because.
(If you look back to the late 90s, the FT had all the bits to construct Bloomgerg. )
( Had a world class consumer offering in the form of the paper )
(But it also had a newswire, and an online markets business — Market Watch.)
Should we move on to other matters?
(It had data, in the form of IDC)
(Had Extel. Had what became factiva.)
(Had a huge EM news business.)
Okay …………. I think I have to do a quick bit of de-RAW here.
Coincidentally, we were chasing the same story from a slightly different angle.
The rumour that reached us was that National Grid was working on a bid of around $45 a share for ITC …
(People here complained of a lack of investment from Pearson. Investment??? They were sucking the life-blood out of the thing. )

… However, that would all appear to be very, very premature..
What we can say with some confidence is that National Grid’s in the ITC auction process, which kicked off a week ago …
But NG only appointed a new CEO at the start of the month, and is in transition between the old guy and the new guy for the rest of the year.
And NG’s balance sheet doesn’t make ~$7bn-ish deals look very easy.
So. If National Grid’s involved …
… It’s much more likely to be in there to look at the numbers of a rival, rather than to launch an offer.
(Sure, there was one short period, during the dot comedy, that the FT was allowed to expand. It was a disaster, timing wise. But Pearson made up all the associated losses with one disposal — Market Watch. That covered everything.)
Also, note, there’s no shortage of potential bidders. It’s a crowded process.
(Anyway, ive said enough. We’re under new ownership now. )
Sell Pearson )
Also likely to be in there are Berkshire Energy, Iberdrola’s Avangrid, Hydro One, NextEra Energy, American Electric Power ….


Monday, April 29, 2024

India: "AdaniConneX to raise $1.44bn in sustainability linked financing for data center construction"

From Data Center Dynamics, April 29:

Financing has initial commitment of $875m 

AdaniConneX, the joint venture (JV) between Adani Enterprises and EdgeConneX, is set to raise up to $1.44 billion in sustainability-linked financing.

The JV, which was formed to develop data centers across India, will use the funding for future data center facilities. The deal will bring its financing pool to a total of $1.65bn, following a $213 million raise conducted in June 2023.

The funding has an initial commitment of $875m, which can be increased to $1.44bn, and is tied to sustainability goals. The JV says has committed to the facilities having "world-class" power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratings.

Thus far, definitive agreements have been signed with ING Bank N.V., Intesa Sanpaolo, KfW IPEX, MUFG Bank Ltd., Natixis, Standard Chartered Bank, Société Générale and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation to contribute to the fundraising....


"Are we about to witness a rerun of the Asian financial crisis?"

Amazingly, both Soros and Mahathir, who were both old in 1997, are still alive.

From the Australian Financial Review, April 30:

Investors are becoming increasingly alarmed as buoyant economic activity and high interest rates in the US risk triggering renewed instability across Asia.

It’s not only investors who are rattled by the prospect of US interest rates remaining higher for longer. Central bankers – particularly those in Asia – are also on edge as the rampaging US dollar weighs on their currencies and risks triggering damaging capital outflows.

The Bank of Japan reportedly intervened in foreign currency markets to bolster the yen on Monday, after the Japanese currency plunged to about 160 yen per US dollar, its weakest level since 1990. Following the intervention, the yen rebounded and was trading at about 156.3 to the US dollar.

Masato Kanda, Japan’s top currency official, hinted at the intervention, saying it was “difficult to ignore the bad effects that these violent and abnormal movements [in currencies] will cause for the nation’s economy”. He said the authorities would continue to respond to wild currency moves.

The BoJ’s intervention comes as investors turn increasingly bearish on the yen, particularly in comparison with the US dollar.

In the first place, they expect that even when the Federal Reserve finally loosens monetary policy, US interest rates will remain relatively high as a result of the soaring budget deficit and the heavy levels of investment driven by America’s green-energy transition and the artificial-intelligence-related appetite for electricity-intensive data centres.

The prospect of continued strong economic activity and high interest rates in the US has triggered huge capital inflows over the past few months, as investors expect US assets to generate stronger returns than elsewhere.

But that’s creating big problems for other central banks, particularly those in Asia.

Although the BoJ is finally moving back from its long adherence to ultra-loose monetary policy – it became the last central bank to abandon negative interest rates in March – it is doing so at a snail’s pace.

Last week, the BoJ kept its key rate steady in the range of zero to 0.1 per cent. Although a weaker yen could potentially boost Japanese economic activity by making exports cheaper in global markets, the Japanese central bank is clearly worried that too sharp a decline in the currency will result in financial instability, as investors and consumers lose confidence in the Japanese economy and shift more of their money abroad.

And the yen’s weakness is clearly weighing on Japanese stocks. The Nikkei 225 index has fallen 7 per cent from the record high it reached last month.

The BoJ isn’t the only Asian central bank grappling with the stronger greenback. Others are worried that a mightier US dollar will push up the price of globally traded commodities such as oil, which are typically priced in the American currency and will lift the interest costs on their US-dollar debt.

Indonesia, China on alert
The Indonesian central bank caught investors by surprise last week when it raised its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to a record high of 6.25 per cent to support the currency.

Bank Indonesia governor Perry Warjiyo said global uncertainty had flared up following the US dollar’s resurgence and conflict in the Middle East, and this had warranted an “anticipatory, forward-looking and pre-emptive policy response”.

Although inflation has been within the Indonesian central bank’s target range of 1.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent this year, there is a risk that a weakening rupiah could fan inflation by pushing up the prices of imported food and fuel.

Indonesia is also feeling the chill effects of capital outflows – foreign investors have sold close to $US600 million ($914 million) in Indonesian government bonds this month.

Meanwhile, the Philippines and Thailand are delaying interest rate cuts to avoid destabilising their currencies, and the head of Korea’s central bank, Rhee Chang-yong, has described the won’s weakness as “excessive”. The Korean currency is the lowest it has been since 2022....


Autonomous Fighter Jet Company Anduril And Anti-Drone Technology For Your Home

I may be jumping the gun calling them a "fighter jet company" but as far as autonomous machines go the headline is right on.

Here's the news that was garnering attention last week followed by a very interesting (for a certain group of homeowners) video. First up, from BreakingDefense, the much smaller Anduril beats out serious competitors for some Air Force loot, April 24:

Air Force picks Anduril, General Atomics for next round of CCA work
The two vendors emerged successful from an original pool of five and are expected to carry their drone designs through a prototyping phase that will build and test aircraft. 

Defense startup Anduril and drone maker General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) have been picked by the Air Force to build and test drone prototypes for the next phase of the service’s Collaborative Combat Aircraft program, the Air Force announced tonight.

The Air Force’s decision winnows down a pool of five competitors to two. As a result, three other vendors — Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman — have been eliminated from the running.

“The companies not selected to build these production representative CCA vehicles, and execute the flight test program, will continue to be part of the broader industry partner vendor pool consisting of more than 20 companies to compete for future efforts, including future production contracts,” the Air Force said. 

As Breaking Defense first reported, the five contractors were previously picked by the Air Force for the program’s first phase, which largely focused on design work. Today’s selection narrows down the vendors who will take their designs from the drawing board to the real world. As Air Force acquisition chief Andrew Hunter recently told lawmakers in a congressional hearing, the upcoming CCA stage will see those vendors “complete detailed designs, build prototypes and test production-representative test articles.”

Unveiled by the service as a major multibillion dollar program in the fiscal year 2024 budget, the CCA effort aims to initially field as many as 1,000 drones. According to the service’s press release today, officials plan to make a “competitive production decision” by FY26 for the first round of CCA work and “field a fully operational capability before the end of the decade.”....


Also at Breaking Defense, autonomy in another domain, April 16:

Anduril’s Aussie drone sub ‘one year early and on budget,’ heads to production
Defense Industry Minister Pat Conroy said Anduril's Ghost Shark is part of the Australian military's $5.2 billion to $7.2 billion investment in undersea uncrewed maritime systems. 

And a primer on drone countermeasures from Mark (50 million subscribers) Rober's YouTube channel (the home adaptations are in the second half of the vid):  

A couple recent posts that highlight the problem of drones:

The second article, from IEEE Spectrum focuses like a laser on drone-counter-drone.

"Tesla Stock Jumps As Elon Musk Scores FSD Wins In China Visit" (TSLA)

The stock is up $21.03 (+12.50%) at $189.32 in pre-market action.

From Investor's Business Daily, April 29:

Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk reportedly has won tentative approval for introducing Full Self-Driving in China, clearing key hurdles after meeting with top government official in a surprise visit Sunday. That could provide a key boost for Tesla, which is struggling with weaker demand as well as growing FSD concerns at home. Tesla stock jumped early Monday.

Beijing has given its preliminary blessing for Tesla to launch FSD in China, The Wall Street Journal reported early Monday.

On Sunday, Musk met with China Premier Li Qiang. Li said Tesla's growth in China is "a successful example of Sino-U.S. economic and trade cooperation", the Chinese state broadcaster reported Sunday.

Tesla has cleared Beijing's data security tests. thee China Association of Automobile Manufacturers announced shortly after the Musk-Li meeting. As a result, Chinese local authorities lifted restrictions on Tesla vehicles from certain areas.

Tesla will team up with Baidu (BIDU), which licensing mapping data and its lane-level navigation service for FSD, which isn't capable of self-driving. Baidu stock jumped early Monday.

It's unclear if the Baidu deal means that Tesla won't be allowed to export China FSD data back to the U.S.

On Tesla's April 23 earnings call, Musk said the EV giant aims to release FSD "as a supervised autonomy system in any market that — where we can get regulatory approval for that, which we think includes China."

Tesla has not said when FSD might be launched. But its official China website has changed FSD from "to be launched later" to "coming soon."....


Sunday, April 28, 2024

Equities: We 'May' Have A Breakout In The Chinese CSI300 Index

It's "May" because, although we waited patiently for over a year before calling it, we were still early on the big change of direction. As recounted March 12:

On December 27, 2023 we posted "A Bottom In Chinese Equities".

We were early. The Shanghai-Shenzhen CSI300 Index continued lower for another month.

Chart Image


Finally on February 1, the rat-bastard turned up with some conviction.

Here's the latest, a poke above triple-top resistance:


Investing.com (also on blogroll at right)

What you want to see is today's action holding and tomorrow some follow-through. 

If that happens you can start to get comfortable with the idea that the sellers are out of shares they want to let go at that particular level.

"Mary Meeker Turns Her Attention to AI. Here’s What the Tech Investor Is Buying Today."

From Barron's, March 29:

It was 25 years ago that Barron’s dubbed Mary Meeker “Queen of the Net.” Today, she’s a venture capitalist with stakes in AI firms and other start-ups. 

Over a four-decade stretch, there’s arguably no tech investor with greater influence—and staying power—than Mary Meeker. As a Morgan Stanley analyst in the 1990s, she moved markets with calls on stocks like Amazon.com , Microsoft , Apple , and Dell Technologies . In a cover story more than 25 years ago, Barron’s dubbed Meeker “Queen of the ’Net.” In 2010, she moved to venture capital, leading Kleiner Perkins’ investments in Airbnb , Uber Technologies , Waze, DocuSign , Snap , and others.

Meeker went on to launch her own venture firm, Bond Capital, where she’s continued to invest in a new generation of tech leaders, including Australian graphics software firm Canva, where Bond is one of the largest investors and poised to get a windfall from a widely anticipated initial public offering.

Meeker has been on Barron’s annual list of 100 Most Influential Women in U.S. Finance since it debuted in 2020.

When I last caught up with Meeker two years ago, she was spending a lot of time thinking about cryptocurrency, blockchain technology, and NFTs. She still sees promise there but has turned her attention to artificial intelligence, among other things.

In a recent interview conducted via email, Meeker offered her insights on venture capital, tech investing, and the world at large. It’s a unique look at the future, informed by Meeker’s sweeping view of the past:

Barron’s: Mary, let’s start where we did last time. Where has Bond been placing bets?

Mary Meeker: Our recent investments include KoBold Metals, a mining exploration company powered by machine learning; Yassir, a North African consumer and financial services super app; AlphaSense, a market intelligence and search platform; VAST Data, an AI-driven enterprise storage and data computing platform; Passes, a creator platform; and Applied Intuition, which makes AI software for vehicles.

That’s a lot of AI companies.

We are compelled by the opportunity for users to become more efficient as new products and services provide the ability to focus on higher priority tasks versus manual and repetitive ones—we have a long way to go here but the trends are good. On the infrastructure layer, we are focused on foundational business solutions which capture the hearts, minds, and efforts of engineers around the world.

What do you see outside AI?
AI enthusiasm has created some investor disinterest in other areas. We’ve invested in software as a service, marketplaces, and fintech in the past two years and continue to find long-term thinkers with compelling business models and capital discipline. We are believers in AI, but there are other opportunities....


"On Ukraine’s ‘Transparent Battlefield,’ There Are Few Places Left to Hide"

From 19FortyFive, April 18:

One of the most important concepts to emerge from Ukraine is that of the “transparent battlefield”. It refers to an environment in which tactical and operational information is made available in real-time to personnel on the ground, their commanding officers, and strategic decision makers.

The exponential development and proliferation of advanced technologies in recent years have pierced the fog of war to an unprecedented degree. This is most apparent on the battlefields of Ukraine, which have become the proving grounds for new military concepts and technologies.  

One of the most important concepts to emerge from Ukraine is that of the “transparent battlefield”. It refers to an environment in which tactical and operational information is made available in real-time to personnel on the ground, their commanding officers, and strategic decision makers.

Achieving ‘Transparency’ on the Battlefield
Greater battlefield transparency is primarily driven by improvements to command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (C4ISTAR). The proliferation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and sensors have had a particularly noticeable impact in Ukraine, as well as in other conflicts like the Second Nagorno Karabakh War.

As noted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, “sensor saturation creates a “transparent battlefield” in which forces can be found and targeted more easily than in past decades.” Similar conclusions were reached in the British Army’s Land Operating Concept (LOpC), unveiled in September 2023. The LOpC observes that “An exponential increase in both the quality, and number of, advanced sensors and precision weapons is resulting in an expanded and more transparent battlefield.”

UAVs bolster ISTAR with cost-effective deployment and low-risk missions. Offensive UAVs like UCAVs and loitering munitions reduce target response times and improve kill chain speed.

Various sensors like radar and LiDAR provide clearer battlefield images, penetrating vegetation and aiding in target detection, especially in adverse conditions. Satellites, both military and commercial, democratize access to intelligence gathering, previously restricted to governments.

Open-source intelligence (OSINT) from tools like social media and commercial satellites empowers civilians to support military efforts, providing real-time battlefield updates that were once exclusive to trained agencies. In Ukraine, civilians have acted as a “force multiplier” by providing OSINT for the Ukrainian military. A civilian with a smartphone and access to the internet can expose military forces on the move in a matter of seconds in a way that was not possible before the age of information technology.

Implications Posed by the Transparent Battlefield
On the transparent battlefield, it is far more challenging for soldiers and vehicles to remain concealed or for larger formations to achieve surprise.

As noted again by the LOpC, “It is becoming much more difficult for soldiers to hide and survive… With military actions being more closely scrutinized in real time, maintaining surprise, deception, and legitimacy will be more of a challenge.”....


Very related at the AP a couple days ago:

Ukraine pulls US-provided Abrams tanks from the front lines over Russian drone threats

The tacticians are realizing that tanks, though still very useful hunks of steel, are safest when attacking in blitzkrieg style: forward, forward, always forward .

Which is of course a bastardization of a mis-attributed mis-translation.
Last used in 2011's #OccupyWallStreet Proclaims Victory, Announces Plan to Re-launch #OccupyMom'sBasement:

"L'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace!"
("Audacity, audacity — always audacity!")

—incorrect quote incorrectly cited to Frederick the Great
in the movie Patton:
"De l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace..."
(audacity, more audacity, and ever more audacity...)
—Georges Danton