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Google Winds Down Team Members at Area 120, Shutters Projects

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Google

Following the recent layoffs at Google’s parent company Alphabet, reports disclose that the Area 120 team has been winded down, and also projects have been shuttered.

Area 120 is Google’s in-house incubator in which employees work on 20% of project product ideas. It is responsible for products such as Stack, Checks, Tables, and threadbite. It has also helped developed Google news, Adsense, Gmail, and Google cardboard.

Due to the mass layoffs rocking the tech giant, a spokesperson at the company disclosed that only three projects in the incubator (Area 120) will graduate later this year, as virtually all other workers who weren’t involved in the three projects have been laid off.

The spokesperson further disclosed that employees in the U.S. who were affected by layoffs at Area 120 have been notified while noting that in other countries, the process will take longer to notify employees as it is subject to local laws and practices.

Investors King understands that last year September, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai while speaking at a code conference, informed employees of a reduction in force, that will see the incubator (Area 120) halved in size.

Previously, there were 14 projects housed in Area 120, which has been cut down to seven. Employees whose projects will not continue were told they’ll need to find a new job within Google by the end of January 2023, or they will have their employment terminated.

The Area 120 division was created by Google’s CEO In March 2016 and has since spawned over 50 projects. The objective of the Area 120 program is to incubate products that graduate back to Google.

Over the years, the division has launched several successful products which include HtML5 gaming platform Gamesnacks, now integrated with Google Chrome, AI-Powered conversational ads platform Adlingo, which also exited to Cloud, video platforms Shoploop and Tangi, which exited to shopping and Google search, etc.

At the beginning of the year 2022, Area 120 had over 170 employees which were reduced to 100, and with the recent layoffs at the company, employees at the incubator will be further reduced.

Google has significantly slashed a major part of its workforce as it seeks to navigate the global economic downturn. The company isn’t the only Tech firm that has laid off workers, other tech companies such as Amazon, Meta, and Microsoft have also laid off a significant amount of their workforce.

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MicroStrategy Rally Crushes Short Sellers, Wiping Out $1.92 Billion

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MicroStrategy- Investors King

Short sellers betting against MicroStrategy found themselves facing significant losses as the company’s rally wiped out $1.92 billion since March.

This development comes amidst a rally that has seen MicroStrategy’s stock outperform bitcoin, causing a considerable hit to those who had taken a bearish stance on the tech firm.

According to data from S3 Partners, short sellers have been on the losing end since March, as MicroStrategy’s stock surged, highlighting the impact of the rally on those betting against the company’s success.

This loss underscores the challenges faced by short sellers in a market where certain stocks experience rapid and unexpected price increases.

The rally in MicroStrategy’s stock is attributed to several factors, including the approval of several spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) earlier in the year.

This move by the SEC brought bitcoin, a once-nascent asset class, closer to the mainstream and fueled investor interest in companies like MicroStrategy, known for their significant holdings of the cryptocurrency.

MicroStrategy, which held nearly 190,000 bitcoin on its balance sheet as of the end of 2023, has indicated its intention to continue increasing its exposure to the digital currency.

The company’s decision to sell convertible debt to raise money for additional bitcoin purchases further bolstered investor confidence and contributed to the stock’s rally.

Analysts at BTIG noted that the premium for MicroStrategy’s stock reflects investors’ desire to gain exposure to bitcoin indirectly, especially those who may not have the means to invest directly in the cryptocurrency or ETFs.

The company’s ability to raise capital for bitcoin purchases is seen as a positive sign for shareholders, adding to the optimism surrounding its stock.

However, despite the recent rally and optimism surrounding MicroStrategy, the crypto industry as a whole continues to be heavily shorted.

Short interest in nine of the most-watched companies in the crypto space remains high, standing at 16.73% of the total number of outstanding shares, more than three times the average in the United States.

Moreover, concerns persist regarding the SEC’s stance on cryptocurrencies, with some experts suggesting that the approval of spot bitcoin ETFs may not necessarily indicate a broader acceptance of other similar products, such as spot ethereum ETFs.

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Geregu Power Plc Announces N14.46bn Profit in Q1 2024

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Geregu Power Plc

Geregu Power Plc has announced a profit of N14.46 billion for the first quarter (Q1) of 2024.

This represents a 307% increase when compared to the same period last year.

The power-generating company, known for its pivotal role in Nigeria’s energy sector, disclosed its outstanding financial results in its interim financial statement filed with the Nigerian Exchange Limited on Tuesday.

This disclosure comes shortly after the firm’s Deputy Chief Executive, Julius Omodayo-Owotuga, hinted at the promising financial outlook during the company’s recent annual general meeting held in Lagos.

According to the interim report, Geregu Power Plc’s revenue surged to N50.42 billion in the first quarter of 2024, representing an increase of 254.37% year-on-year appreciation.

The company’s net finance income transitioned from a negative position to N133.61 million. This positive momentum was supported by a moderation in finance costs, which decreased from N3.141 billion to N2.29 billion as of March 2024.

Speaking to stakeholders at the recent annual general meeting, Femi Otedola, Chairman of Geregu Power, expressed satisfaction with the company’s exceptional financial performance in 2023.

Otedola highlighted the board’s decision to propose a dividend distribution of N8 per share for the 2023 financial year as a testament to their commitment to rewarding shareholders and confidence in the company’s future prospects.

The robust financial results for the first quarter of 2024 further solidify Geregu Power’s position as a leading player in Nigeria’s energy landscape.

The company’s commitment to operational excellence, strategic investments, and adherence to international standards, such as obtaining ISO 9001 and 14001 certifications from the Standard Organisation of Nigeria, underscores its dedication to driving sustainable growth and value creation.

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Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc Records N609.3bn Profit Before Tax in 2023

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GTCO Commemorates Listing on Nigerian Exchange - Investors King

Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc (GTCO) has announced a strong profit before tax (PBT) of N609.3 billion for the 2023 financial year.

This represents an increase of 184.5 percent when compared to the previous year.

The audited consolidated and separate financial statements filed with the Nigerian Exchange Group and London Stock Exchange on Monday revealed market capitalization exceeded N1 trillion on the NGX to further solidify GTCO’s position as one of the top financial holding companies in Nigeria.

During the period under review, the group’s post-tax profit rose by 218.99 percent to N539.65 billion from N169.17 billion in 2022.

Key indicators such as loans and advances increased by 31.5 percent to N2.48 trillion, while deposits grew by 63.7 percent to N7.55 trillion.

The group’s total assets and shareholders’ funds closed at N9.7 trillion and N1.5 trillion, respectively.

Despite the challenging economic environment, GTCO maintained a strong capital adequacy ratio of 21.9 percent.

Also, the group sustained asset quality, with IFRS 9 Stage 3 loans improving to 4.2 percent in December 2023 from 5.2 percent in the same period of the prior year.

However, the cost of risk experienced an uptick, rising to 4.5 percent from 0.6 percent in December 2022, largely due to worsening macroeconomic factors.

Despite these challenges, GTCO’s pre-tax return on equity stood at 50.6 percent, while pre-tax return on assets was 7.6 percent. The cost-to-income ratio remained favorable at 29.1 percent.

Commenting on the financial results, Mr. Segun Agbaje, the Group Chief Executive Officer of GTCO, expressed satisfaction with the company’s performance amidst a challenging operating environment.

He attributed the strong performance to the successful implementation of the group’s business model across banking and non-banking business verticals.

“Also important to our success is our relentless obsession with innovation and offering great customer experiences as demonstrated by the successful redesign and upgrade of our mobile banking application, GTWorld,” he stated.

“In a landscape characterised by evolving regulatory reforms, global uncertainties, and heightened competition, we have continued to leverage our inherent strengths and capabilities to unlock significant value, creating more opportunities for the businesses and individuals we serve.

In line with its commitment to shareholders, GTCO announced a final dividend of N2.70k, bringing the total dividend for 2023 to N3.20k.

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