Friday, February 24, 2017
Trump promises wall ahead of schedule; Pearson reports biggest ever loss; Alphabet accuses Uber of stealing tech
1 Trump promises wall ahead of schedule (BBC) US President Donald Trump has vowed to start building a wall on the Mexican border "soon, way ahead of schedule". Addressing the Conservative Political Action Congress (CPAC), he vowed to always put American citizens first and build a "great, great border wall".
He also promised to focus on "getting bad people out of this country". Mr Trump was greeted by chants of "USA, USA, USA!" as he addressed the annual forum in Maryland. "We're building the wall," he said. "In fact it's going to start very soon. Way ahead of schedule. It's way, way, way ahead of schedule."
His comments come a day after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly met their Mexican counterparts in Mexico City. The wall could cost up to $21.5bn, according to Reuters, citing a Department of Homeland Security internal report - much higher than Mr Trump's estimated price tag of $12bn.
2 Pearson reports biggest ever loss (Mark Sweney in The Guardian) Pearson has reported a pre-tax loss of £2.6bn for 2016, the biggest in its history, after a slump at its US education operation.
The world’s largest education publisher, which in January saw almost £2bn wiped from its stock market value after issuing its fifth profit warning in two years, reported the record loss after taking a £2.55bn non-cash charge for “impairment of goodwill reflecting trading pressures” in its North American businesses.
A spokesman said the charge related mainly to historic acquisitions of Simon & Schuster Education and National Computer Systems, purchased in 1998 and 2000 respectively, as a “necessary consequence” of the lower profit expectations announced last month.
In January, the company slashed its profit forecast for this year by £180m and scrapped its target of £800m for next year. It also announced that it planned to sell its stake in the world’s largest book publisher, Penguin Random House, to strengthen its balance sheet.
The profit warning was prompted by the collapse of its US higher education business, which is struggling with a decline in textbook sales and the transition to digital learning. The US business accounts for two-thirds of Pearson’s revenues and profits.
The company made more than £350m in cost savings last year, cutting 4,000 jobs, 10% of its global workforce. Staff will be braced for further losses this year with Pearson saying that it intends to “take further action to improve the overall efficiency of the company”.
3 Alphabet accuses Uber of stealing tech (Khaleej Times) The race to develop self-driving vehicles took a new turn when Google's parent company Alphabet filed a lawsuit against Uber, accusing it of stealing technology.
Alphabet contends that a manager at its autonomous car subsidiary Waymo took technical data with him when he left to launch a competing venture that went on to become Otto, Uber's self-driving vehicle unit, in a reported $680 million deal.
Waymo is calling for a trial to stop Otto and Uber from using what it says is patented technology. Waymo also wants unspecified damages in what it described in court documents as "an action for trade secret misappropriation, patent infringement, and unfair competition".
An Uber spokeswoman said that "we take the allegations made against Otto and Uber employees seriously and we will review this matter carefully". The California-based ride-sharing service acquired the commercial transport-focused tech startup Otto last year as it pressed ahead with its pursuit of self-driving technology.
Anthony Levandowski, a co-founder of Otto, a 90-person startup, was put in charge of Uber's efforts to develop self-driving technology for personal driving, delivery and trucking. Waymo's lawsuit contends that Levandowski downloaded more than 14,000 proprietary files from a highly confidential design server to a laptop in December 2015.