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News & Analysis

5 things you should know about tech today

- February 19, 2020 3 MIN READ
Chief, perhaps we should try that bracelet. Image: Get Smart

 

Happy humpday.

We hope you’re being paid the right wage.

 

1. WiseTech shares smashed (again) as it blames coronavirus for revenue downgrade

Shares in Sydney-based logistics company WiseTech (ASX: WTC) are being smashed today after the company downgraded its revenue and earnings forecasts for the second half of FY2020, blaming coronavirus.

The company painted a rosy picture with its H1 FY2020 results with revenue up 31% to AU$205.9 million, Net Profit After Tax and Amortisation up 22% to $33.5m and EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation) of $62.5m, up 29%, but cut its revenue guidance for the financial year from $440-460 million to $420-450 million , with an even bigger hit on EBITDA, down from $145-153m to $114-132m.

WiseTech’s 1st half FY2020 financial results. Source: WiseTech

Wisetech founder Richard White said “the effective shutdown of China” because of the virus was “creating negative flow-on effects to manufacturing, slowing supply chains and economic trade across the world”.

Heading into lunch, Wistech shares are down more than 21% to $23.25, having peaked at $38.39 in September last year.  Today’s wiped around $2 billion in market cap from the business.

2.  Redbubble boss departs

Redbubble, another ASX-listed company with a lagging share price amid lacklustre performance, has consciously uncoupled with its CEO, Barry Newstead, with co-founder Martin Hosking, the company’s largest shareholder, returning as interim boss to the role he’d previously occupied until June 2018.

Back in December, the online marketplace (ASX: RBL), which sells t-shirts, mugs and art by independent artists, plummeted nearly 44% to $1.02 following a Q2 trading update below company expectations. The share price recovered to sit above $1.20 over the next two months, but yesterday chair Richard Cawsey told the market that following a review of the company’s strategy and operations, the board’s Non-Executive Directors “decided that a change in leadership is necessary,” and Newstead’s leadership was terminated.

“Barry has been an important part of the business since 2013, having previously served as COO, and then as CEO for the past 18 months,” Cawsey said.

Redbubble will reveal its half-yearly results on February 26, with Cawsey saying they are in line with expectations, with operating revenues growing 25% in H1 and positive cash flow for FY20.

“We have all been disappointed by the Company’s growth,” the chair said in a conference call with analysts yesterday.

“The company’s fundamentals are and remain strong. This is a unique business that is difficult to replicate and we are increasingly confident that growth is, can and will emerge in our core Redbubble business.”

A global search for a new CEO will get underway. Redbubble shares have fallen from $1.23 on Monday to $1.155 in lunchtime trade today.

3. Warren Buffet offloads Apple stock

The Oracle of Omah sold more than US$800 million (AU$1.2bn) worth of Apple stock last quarter, according to documents filed with the US Security Exchange Commission, having done quite nicely of late, with the tech company’s shares up around 90% in the last 12 months, delivering up to US$1 billion windfall to the legendary investor (depending on when he offloaded them).

His company, Berkshire Hathaway, is Apple’s biggest stakeholder with more than 5% of the company, so the sale of 3.7 million Apple shares represented just over 1% of his firm’s holding. Apple shares now sit at around $319. Buffet thought they were expensive at $175.

4. Unions enter US tech

Staff at the US crowdfunding site Kickstarter voted to unionise this week, the first major tech company where organised labor has made inroards

The New York Times reports  a narrow 46-37 vote in favour, with 88 of Kickstarter’s 145 employees eligible to vote (the rest are managment level).

The idea has been simmering along since 2018, and came to head late last year when two employees who were union organisers were dismissed, although the company said that was over performance-related issues. The matter is still in dispute.

 

5. Australian Space Agency launches

And yes, politicians still turn up to cut ribbons.

“The Australian Space Agency is central to my Government’s vision to secure more jobs and a larger share of the growing space economy – forecast to be over $1 trillion in size around the globe by 2040,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, after giving the snip to the offices, run by Dr Megan Clark, at Lot Fourteen.

You can read more on all the excitement in Radelaide here.

 

BONUS ITEM: “Hey Alexa!… Sorry, I didn’t hear that”.

Two University of Chicago computer science professors have built a jammer bracelet emitting a high-frequency sounds  to stop microphone-enabled devices listen in. The chunky wrist appendage looks a bit like something Dr Smith from Lost in Space would wear, but what price to stop Siri listening to you have sex? It’s all explained below: