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Kevin Mayer Resigns Just Over 100 Days After Joining TikTok

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Kevin Mayer

TikTok CEO Resigns Amid US-China Political Tensions

The Chief Executive Officer of TikTok, Kevin Mayer, has resigned his position just over 100 days after joining the world’s largest short video app.

The former Disney executive resigned on the heels of TikTok’s move to sue the U.S. government over its forthcoming ban. ByteDance, the Chinese internet company that owned TikTok, is caught in tensions between Beijing and Washington, which accuses the app of posing a national security threat to the U.S.

On August 6, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to shut down TikTok if ByteDance doesn’t sell the app’s U.S. operations. The app has until mid-November to divest itself.

“We appreciate that the political dynamics of the last few months have significantly changed what the scope of Kevin’s role would be going forward, and fully respect his decision. We thank him for his time at the company and wish him well,” said a TikTok spokesperson in a statement to TechCrunch.

The New York Times reported earlier that Mayer announced his decision to step down in a note to employees as TikTok came under pressure from the Trump administration over its links to China. Mayer “did not anticipate the extent to which TikTok would become involved in tensions between China and the U.S.,” sources told the Financial Times, and the executive “didn’t sign up for this.”

Vanessa Pappas, currently general manager of TikTok, will reportedly become the interim head.

The looming TikTok sale has attracted investor interest across the board, from Microsoft which publicly announced its intention through to the less expected bidder Oracle.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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JPMorgan Predicts That Amazon Will Overtake Walmart As The Largest U.S. Retailer In 2022

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Walmart and Amazon- Investors King

Amazon is on track to overtake Walmart as the largest U.S. retailer in 2022, according to JPMorgan research released Friday.

Amazon’s U.S. retail business is the “fastest-growing at scale,” according to the company’s analysts. Between 2014 and 2020, Amazon’s U.S. gross merchandise volume, or GMV — a closely watched industry metric used to measure the total value of goods sold over a certain time period — has grown “significantly faster” than both U.S. adjusted retail sales and U.S. e-commerce, the analysts said.

Neither Amazon nor Walmart break out GMV in their quarterly earnings results, but JPMorgan estimates Amazon’s GMV is growing faster than its largest retail competitor. JPMorgan analysts said Amazon’s GMV in 2020 climbed 41 percent year over year to $316 billion, while Walmart’s GMV is estimated to have grown 10 percent year over year to $439 billion in 2020.

“Based on current estimates, we believe Amazon could surpass Walmart to become the largest U.S. retailer in 2022,” J.P. Morgan analysts Christopher Horvers and Doug Anmuth wrote Friday.

Horvers and Anmuth highlighted a few factors they believe are driving Amazon’s top-line growth, including an expansion into “large and under-penetrated categories” such as grocery and apparel, strong growth of third-party seller sales and the “Prime flywheel.” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in April the company now has more than 200 million Prime subscribers, up from 150 million at the beginning of 2020.

The coronavirus pandemic rapidly accelerated the adoption of e-commerce and cemented Amazon’s dominance in the retail space. Stuck-at-home consumers turned to Amazon for a plethora of goods ranging from toilet paper to workout gear. They also relied on Amazon for services they might not have otherwise considered, such as online grocery delivery.

Amazon’s pandemic-fueled sales surge has helped it grow its slice of the e-commerce market. JPMorgan estimates Amazon expanded its share of the U.S. e-commerce market to 39 percent in 2020, up from 24 percent in 2014.

The accelerated adoption of e-commerce has also provided a lift to other areas of Amazon’s business.

Amazon is on track to “become one of the largest delivery companies” in the U.S., analysts at Bank of America wrote in research published Tuesday.

Amazon is estimated to deliver 7 billion packages in 2021, surpassing the roughly 6 billion packages UPS is expected to deliver in the U.S. this year, the analysts wrote, citing figures from MWPVL International, a supply chain and logistics consulting firm.

In recent years, Amazon has quietly built a shipping operation that rivals the likes of UPS, FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service. It maintains an ever-increasing network of warehouses and last-mile delivery stations, and a sprawling logistics operation with airplanes, trucks and vans.

This has allowed Amazon to deliver most of its own orders. Amazon currently delivers packages for other businesses in the U.K. and could one day expand that service to the U.S.

MWPVL estimates Amazon handled about 5 billion of the 7.35 billion packages it shipped in 2020. UPS and USPS handled the other 1.25 billion and 1.1 billion, respectively, according to Bank of America analysts.

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Elon Musk Reveals the Tesla Model S Plaid

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Tesla Model S Plaid - Investors King

Tesla finally held the long-awaited, and once rescheduled, “delivery event” for its ultra-fast Model S Plaid at its factory in Fremont, California. The electric vehicle company will begin with 25 deliveries on Friday evening, expanding to several hundred cars per week and a thousand cars per week in the next quarter, CEO Elon Musk said at the event.

There were no huge surprises with the newest iteration of the Model S, which features a new battery pack design, an improved heat pump, carbon over-wrapped rotors on the motors and a new record for drag coefficient of 0.208, a figure that Musk emphasized as perhaps a poke at up-and-comer Lucid Motors. The Lucid Air, which is slated to go into production later this year, has a drag coefficient of 0.21.

While wielding a sledgehammer as prep for “breaking a few records,” Tesla Model S designer Franz von Holzhausen kicked off the event, introducing Musk himself, who drove a shiny black Model S around the test track, gliding right onto stage to the dulcet sounds of dubstep.

“This is nine years since we delivered the first model S, the first car produced here in Fremont, so almost a decade, and I think we’ve really taken it to a whole new level with Plaid,” said Musk to an audience of adoring fans. “Some of you may know that our product plan is stolen from Spaceballs, we’ve gone Plaid speed. So…why make this really fast car, that’s crazy fast and everything, and I think there is something that’s quite important to the future of sustainable energy, which is that we’ve got to show that an electric car is the best car, hands down. It’s gotta be clear, like, man, sustainable energy cars can be the fastest cars, can be the safest cars, can be the most kick ass cars in every way.”

The four-door electric sedan goes from 0 to 60 in 1.99 seconds, which Musk says breaks the two-second barrier that no production car has ever been able to break. It produces 1,020 horsepower, has a top speed of 200 miles per hour (with the proper tires) and can complete a quarter mile in 9.23 seconds, according to Musk and the company’s website. The battery can travel 390 miles on a single charge, but Musk added the car can go to 412 miles with the dual motor configuration (The Model S Plaid has a tri-motor set up). The improved charging speed gives drivers 187 miles of range in just 15 minutes.

The new Model S also has a new battery pack, but Musk didn’t elaborate past that detail. He spent considerable time describing the carbon-sleeved rotors for the motor, which Musk claims is a first for a production electric motor due to the difficulty of pulling it off. The end result is a motor that goes up to 20,000 RPM.

The new heat pump that powers the Plaid’s HVAC system has 30% better cold weather range and requires 50% less energy for cabin heating and freezing conditions, meaning little degradation in cold weather, said Musk.

elon musk tesla model s plaid

Image Credits: Screenshot/Tesla

The interior of the Model S also has a number of updates, some that have already been revealed, including a yoke steering wheel — which has raised eyebrows and has the attention of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — a panoramic main screen and ventilated front seats. The GPU is apparently at the level of a PlayStation 5. (TechCrunch noticed that someone was playing CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 in the vehicle at one point during the event).

The software of the car is designed to learn from the driver’s behavior, adapting to the driver’s needs so that if, say, you tend to back out of your driveway in a certain way, the car geocodes to that location and eventually does that action for you via the autopilot system.

“It’ll just keep minimizing the amount of input that you need to do until the car just read your mind,” said Musk.

The first deliveries of the vehicle, which starts at $129,990, come the same week Musk officially announced plans to cancel production of the Model S Plaid+, what was meant to be a faster version of the Plaid version of the Model S. Tesla stoped taking pre-orders for the vehicle on its website back in May, prompting speculation that the Plaid+ was off the table.

“Model S goes to Plaid speed this week,” Musk tweeted on Sunday. “Plaid+ is canceled. No need, as Plaid speed is just so good.”

Musk described driving it as akin to powering a spaceship in a tweet due to the car’s indescribable “limbic resonance,” whatever that means.

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SpaceX’s Starlink To Provide Internet To Airplanes In Future

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SpaceX- Investors King

SpaceX is “in talks with several” airlines to use its Starlink satellite internet network to provide travelers with inflight Wi-Fi, the leader of the company’s project said on Wednesday.

“We have our own aviation product in development … we’ve already done some demonstrations to date and [are] looking to get that product finalized to be put on aircraft in the very near future,” SpaceX vice president Jonathan Hofeller said during a panel at the Connected Aviation Intelligence Summit.

Hofeller did not give a timeline for when Starlink will begin inflight services, saying that an announcement is coming “hopefully sooner rather than later.” The Verge first reported Hofeller’s comments on Wednesday.

Airlines work with satellite broadband providers for inflight Wi-Fi, with Viasat and Intelsat – the latter of which purchased Gogo’s commercial aviation business – two such companies that add connectivity on flights by airlines including Delta, JetBlue, American Airlines and United. But, while existing services use satellites in distant orbits, Starlink satellites orbit closer to the Earth and could potentially boost the speeds that passengers see inflight. Hofeller added that Starlink “provides a global mesh,” so that “airlines are flying underneath that global mesh have connectivity anywhere they go.”

“Passengers and customers want a great experience that [geosynchronous satellite] systems simply cannot provide,” Hofeller said.

After Gogo’s sale of its commercial aviation unit, the company focuses on the business aviation marketplace. Gogo’s stock fell 9% in trading on Thursday, below $13 a share, amid the SpaceX news on fears of a potential new competitor in the aviation broadband space.

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