The week’s news included; Google wins £3bn UK Supreme Court case but loses €2.4bn EU antitrust case, Travis Scott facing 140 lawsuits over Astroworld tragedy, Tinder sues Match for undervaluing its company by $10bn.
Below are our top 10 stories that you need to know about. Be sure to check our twitter page, Facebook page and Instagram Page, for regular posts of important headlines. Get all the important stories and insights straight into your inbox by subscribing to our mailing list here.
Opinion articles of the week:
- AMB Crypto – Do crypto, CBDCs, stablecoins together spell ‘demise of cash’
- City A.M – The virtual metaverse requires very real-world regulation
- CNBC – Central bank digital currencies are a long way from becoming reality — unless you’re in China
- BBC News – The Bank of England says cutting carbon could push up prices
1. GOOGLE’S MIXED WEEK
It has been a mixed week for Google as it won a £3 billion lawsuit in the UK but lost a €2.4 billion appeal in the EU. In the UK, the Supreme blocked a group action lawsuit against the tech giant for data breaches. Claimants alleged that Google illegally misused the data of 4.4 million iPhone users by tracking their internet usage information on the Safari browser. If successful, each claimant would have received £750 each for financial damage and mental distress, costing Google up to £3 billion. The Supreme Court however, rejected the claim as claimants did not provide evidence showing the impact of privacy breaches on individual claimants. It was also not proven that Google’s conduct caused any financial damage or mental distress. The group action was led by consumer group Which? And lawyers for the group called the ruling “hugely frustrating”.
In the EU, Google took a loss in its appeal against a landmark €2.42bn European antitrust fine. The European Commission ruled in 2017 that Google abused its market position. It unlawfully favoured its own comparison shopping service over smaller competitors, giving it an illegal advantage. Google appealed but this appeal was rejected last week by the European General Court. This is the first time a European court has ruled against Google in an antitrust case. Google is, however, likely to appeal this decision.
2. J&J SPLITS BUSINESSES
Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has announced that it will split into two separate companies. It will now operate a consumer arm and medical arm. The medical arm brings in a huge $85 billion in revenue but has been plagued with scandals and is riskier. Its consumer arm generates a modest $15 billion marketing its beauty and consumer goods products. The final structure hasn’t been finalised but the plan will insulate the consumer business from the risks of the medicine and pharmaceutical business. This follows similar moves by other industry giants such as Pfizer, GSK and Merck who are also splitting the business. J&J has 135,000 employees worldwide and is worth $435 billion.
3. ROBINHOOD DATA BREACH
Trading app Robinhood has announced it has suffered a security breach which exposed the names or email addresses of over seven million users. It assured users that the most sensitive data such as social security numbers were not affected. Robinhood received a request for payments from the hackers in return for not selling the information but Robinhood rejected the request. Instead Robinhood informed law enforcement agencies and sought the help of external cyber-security firms to help resolve the matter. Robinhood is only available in the US and is popular amongst young investors.
4. TRAVIS SCOTT FACING OVER 100 ASTROWORLD LAWSUITS
Following the tragic death of 9 people and the injury of dozens more during a crowd surge at the Astroworld music festival, rapper Travis Scott and the organisers are facing a slew of lawsuits. Lawyers representing over 200 injured persons have filed over 90 lawsuits against the organisers. In total 140 lawsuits have been filed against Travis Scott and Live Nation Entertainment. Claimants argue that Mr Scott should have stopped his show substantially earlier. A “mass casualty incident” was declared at the festival around 9.38pm at which point organisers agreed to stop the show. The show however, did not stop until 10.15pm. Attendees note during the chaos there were ambulances in the crowd and people calling out for Travis Scott to stop, yet the rapper only stopped playing after he finished his set. It is not clear whether Travis Scott had been informed or was aware of the events in the crowd. Many will argue that more lives could have been saved if the show was stopped earlier. An attendee who filed a lawsuit claimed that the festival prioritised profit over safety by not stopping the show and the tragedy was “predictable and preventable”.
Travis Scott denies any wrongdoing and said he was “devastated” by the events that unfolded. An investigation into the events is ongoing and it is possible that more claimants from the 50,000 festival goers could be filed.
5. ASTRAZENECA TO BEGIN SELLING VACCINES
AstraZeneca has signed deals to begin selling vaccines from next year. The pharmaceutical giant has been providing vaccines on a non-profit basis. It had said whenever COVID-19 ceases to be a pandemic it will seek to generate modest income from vaccine sales. AstraZeneca’s chief has said the virus was becoming endemic in some areas so it can now gradually introduce for-profit provision of vaccines. Vaccines will still be provided to developing nations on a not-for-profit basis. AstraZeneca aims to support 250 million doses to developing nations by the end of 2021. It has already supplied 1.5 billion doses worldwide and turned over £19 billion in the year to September. Moderna and Pfizer are already generating profits from their vaccines
6. UK SATELLITE COMPANY BOUGHT IN $7.3 BILLION DEAL
US satellite communications firm Viasat has agreed a $7.3bn (£5.4bn) takeover of its UK based rival Inmarsat. Inmarsat provides mobile satellite services that provide GPS systems, Internet and email. It currently has 14 satellites in orbit but is facing increasing competition from players such as SpaceX. The company employs 860 people in London and provides services to the UK Ministry of Defence. The deal will see the company retain its presence and investment in London. The US buyer, Viasat, has a UK base and also provides services and products to the Ministry of Defence. The Californian company turned over $2.3 billion.
There is concern about the takeover of UK tech firms by foreign companies. Analysts have warned about potential security risks as well as potentially undermining the UK’s technological strength. The deal will however, be reviewed under the new National Security and Investment Act 2021. The law gives the government greater powers to scrutinise foreign takeovers of UK companies on the grounds of national security.
7. TINDER SUES MATCH
Tinder has launched legal action against its owner’s Match and investment firm IAC for allegedly undervaluing the company. The dating platform claims its company should have been valued at nearly $13 billion rather than $3 billion and this deliberate decision to undervalue the company meant Tinder staff missed out on billions in stock options. Tinder also claims that Match colluded with others to falsify data which was provided to banks during their 2017 valuation. The $3 billion valuation was the same as 2015’s valuation despite the platform quadrupling paid subscriber numbers in that period. Furthermore, damning internal emails show that Tinder CEO and IAC executive show that he believed the app was worth $12 billion in 2016 before pitching a $3 billion valuation just a year later. The lawsuit will be heard in New York. Alongside Tinder, Match owns other dating platforms including Match.com, PlentyOfFish and OkCupid.
8. BITCOIN BREAKS RECORD
Cryptocurrency markets have reached new heights as Bitcoin reached $69,000 while Ethereum edged towards $5,000. Prices dropped slightly after this peak, but markets remained steady. All of the top 10 currencies have made gains over the past week and traders are optimistic about growth. The approval of Bitcoin future exchange-traded funds future products has buoyed optimism about widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies. This is a fund available to investors on mainstream exchanges that invests in Bitcoin futures. Furthermore, New York’s mayor has said he will accept his first three pay cheques in Bitcoin, marking a huge vote of confidence in cryptocurrencies.
9. AMAZON OFFERS BUS SERVICE
Amazon has entered the London bus market, providing a new transport service for its employees and contractors. The service will not accept Oyster cards, nor will it form part of the TfL system. Amazon will run 4 lines to shuttle workers from London to its warehouses on the outskirts. Return tickets are £4. Unless you work for Amazon, you won’t be getting on these buses anytime soon. This does show however, Amazon’s willingness to open new services to boost efficiency.
A far cry from its humble origins as a bookstore, Amazon has some presence or operations in an impressive number of fields. Alongside its marketplace and bread winning data services, Amazon is now involved with groceries, pharmacy, hairdressing and healthcare.
10. UBER RAISES PRICES
Uber has raised prices by 10% in Greater London to lure in more drivers. Minimum fares are rising from £5 to £5.50. The company is facing a shortage of drivers as the pandemic sparked an exodus. A lack of demand during the height of the pandemic saw many drivers ditch Uber for other streams of income. Now that society is returning to normal, Uber does not have enough drivers to meet demand causing cancelled trips and frequent surge pricing. Trips to London airports during peak times will also rise by 25%. These increases mark the first price hike by Uber since 2017.