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News & Analysis

Your 90-second guide to the day in tech

- February 24, 2021 3 MIN READ
A teaser from MSCHF's 'Spots Rampage'

Happy hump day! There’s some big and whacky global tech news today.

Don’t forget to tune in for the Startup Daily show on Ausbiz.com.au  every weekday, 2-2.45pm. Watch online, download the ausbiz app or via 7Plus.

WeWork IPO

There’s talk of another WeWork IPO attempt, led by the company’s main backer (and rescuer after it imploded during 2019’s IPO attempt), Japan’s Softbank, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that its looking to clean up the share register by spending a further US$1.5 billion on employee and early investor shares.

That includes US$500m to finally get founder Adam Neumann, who departed in the wake of the scandal-plagued, failed 2019 listing, off the books. That’s a far cry from the $3bn Neumann was initially promised by SoftBank before it reneged on the deal as the coronavirus pandemic hit last year. The two sides have been in a legal fight since.

SoftBank is reportedly in talks with a SPAC (special-purpose acquisition company), BowX Acquisition, for a sale that potentially values the business at US$10 billion, which is roughly the amount Softbank’s chairman Masayoshi Son ploughed into the venture, previously valued at US$47bn.

Read more here.

 

Robots aint art

Robot makers Boston Dynamics are a little miffed at being punked by a renegade arts group, MSCHF, who spent A$100,000 to buy one of the company’s dog robots, known as Spot, strapped a paintball gun to its back and plan to send it through an art gallery tomorrow (1pm US EST) with people having the chance to control it via the internet in an installation they’ve called “Spot’s Rampage.”

 

Boston Dynamics says the installation “fundamentally misrepresents Spot and the company condemns “the portrayal of our technology in any way that promotes violence, harm or intimidation”, which suggests that, if they think paintball is a violence and intimidation, they should probably avoid watching the Iron Man movie series.

Meanwhile, the MSCHF team told The Hustle that while the company’s robots are always how in “nonthreatening and cute videos… the reality is that all of this technology can be used for other purposes.”

We also can’t help wondering what Warhol or Pollack would have done with a robot with a paint gun.

 

Seek sells down

Having flagged plans to offload a sizeable chunk of its Chinese online jobs portal, Zhaopin, during its half-yearly results yesterday morning, Seek (ASX: SEK) announced it had done just that after the market closed yesterday, with a consortium led by China-based investor Primavera Capital Group spending A$697 million for around 38% of the business on a valuation of A$2.2bn.

Seek’s ownership reduce from 61.1% to 23.5% and having invested A$239m in Zhaopin, Seek says the deal represents a return of over 5x. In lieu of an interim H1 21 dividend, Seek now intends to declare and pay a dividend of c20 cents following receipt of the sale proceeds.

Seek’s outgoing CEO, co-founder Andrew Bassat, who’s shifting across the company to become Seek Invest CEO, said when they first invested 15 years ago, Zhaopin was a loss-making and distant number three player.

“Our long-term approach combined with the strong management team led by Evan Guo has transformed Zhaopin into a market leader across many key metrics and it now generates strong cash flows,” he said.

“This transaction also creates significant balance sheet flexibility to re-deploy capital into high returning initiatives across Seek.”

 

Bitcoin borks

Crypto category leader Bitcoin dropped 12% overnight so big ups to MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor, who’s going very very long on BTC, telling CNBC that its value will increase 100X for a market value of US$100 trillion

“As it marches toward $100 trillion, you’re going to see the growth rates fall, the volatility fall,” he said.

Good luck with that, mate.

Bitcoin is still up 60% since the start of 2021 and has risen more than 360% in a year, but yesterday slipped back under US$50k.

 

Musk loses crown

Spare a dime for Elon Musk today. He’s no longer the world’s richest man and Bitcoin is partly to blame.

Just days after the crypto sage observed that bitcoin and ethereum “do seem high” (he subsequently sniggered on Twitter about how he “heard a rumor some crypto coin was pegging the dollar”) earlier this week and BTC’s been on a slide since, which Tesla shares – the company has US$1.5 billion worth of exposure to bitcoin – dropping nearly 9%, effectively wiping around US$15 billion (A$19(bn) from his fortune.

But hey, it’s only data.

Jeff Bezos is now the bloke with the biggest bucks.

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