Posts tagged with "CNBC"

Chameleon cars: BMW’s first ‘color-changing’ concept vehicle has arrived

January 10, 2023

What if the color of your car could change based on your mood or the weather? That’s the idea —or, at least, one of the ideas—behind BMW’s new “i Vision Dee” concept car, a midsize electric sports sedan covered in futuristic panels that can change color on demand, reports CNBC.

BMW describes it as the world’s first “color-changing” car. The Dee, which stands for “Digital Emotional Experience,” can cycle between 32 different colorsthe company said in a press release on Thursday, January 5, while unveiling the car at the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The car can cycle between 32 different solid exterior colors, with mix-and-match capabilities due to its 240 different panel segments. That’s a significant leap past BMW’s earlier iteration—showcased last year—which could only alternate between black, white, and gray.

As with any concept vehicle, the technology behind the Dee’s color-changing capabilities is likely years away from consumer availability. Exposure to the elements in day-to-day driving—from car washes to flying insects—keeps the high-tech panels from performing in the real worldThe Verge noted Thursday.

For BMW, the car is meant as a glimpse of what could eventually be a much more colorful future. “This allows an almost infinite variety of patterns to be generated and varied within seconds,” the company said in its press release, which described the light show as a “magical display of color.”

The Dee’s outer skin is a film made of electronic paper built by a startup called E Ink, which also makes display tech for e-readers and mobile phones. The coating segments contain millions of tiny microcapsules with different color pigments that change shades when electricity is applied.

The electronic coating is “ultra-low power,” so changing the car’s colors won’t drain the electric vehicle’s battery, E Ink said in its own press release on Thursday.

E Ink also said it’s able to manufacture its panels in any shape imaginable—potentially leading to applications like e-reader screens that mimic the look of actual paper, or more energy-efficient digital signs and smartwatch displays.

BMW hasn’t released specs for the Dee’s engine or battery, but says the concept car is additionally loaded with futuristic hardware and software that’ll be available in cars on the road by 2025.

That includes BMW’s Head-Up display, a digital dashboard that spans the entire width of the windshield. It also features a Mixed Reality Slider, a touchscreen that allows you to control how much digital content is displayed on that dashboard, from driving speed and battery range to music controls and text messages.

The company’s “Neue Klasse” line of cars, set to debut in two years, will feature both pieces of technology. But don’t expect to see the color-changing tech in your garage anytime soon. Eventually, BMW hopes to develop a spray coating that would help the color-changing panels stand up to the elements, auto website SlashGear noted last Wednesday.

Research contact: @CNBC

How much Trump has paid—or hasn’t paid—in taxes since 2015

December 22, 2022

The amount of income, deductions, and taxes paid by or refunded to former President Donald Trump while serving in the White House has  been detailed in a new report released Tuesday night, December 20, by the Joint Committee on Taxation, reports CNBC.

The report reveals that Trump on his federal tax returns declared negative income in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2020—and that he paid a total of $1,500 in income taxes for the years 2016 and 2017.

On their 2020 income tax returns, Trump and his wife Melania paid no federal income taxes and claimed a refund of $5.47 million, according to the report by the staff of the Joint Committee.

The report was posted online shortly after the Ways and Means Committee voted to make public redacted versions of Trump’s full income tax returns, and those of eight related business entities for the tax years 2015 through 2020. Those full returns are expected to be released in the coming days.

A separate report released by the Ways and Means Committee has revealed that the IRS started—and then stopped—an audit of just one of Trump’s tax returns while he was serving as president. This, despite an internal policy mandating that sitting presidents have their returns audited annually.

The 39-page report by the Joint Committee on Taxation staff gives a breakdown of the highlights of Trump’s joint tax filings with Melania during his time in office, and the two years he first ran for president.

The report identifies different areas that the staff thought warranted further examination, such as documentation of nearly $506,000 in charitable donations claimed by the Trumps in 2019.

Highlights of the report include:

  • On their 2015 federal return, Trump and his wife declared negative income of $31.7 million, with taxable income of $0. The couple paid federal income taxes of $641,931.
  • The 2016 return declared negative income of $31.2 million, with zero dollars of taxable income. The Trumps paid $750 in taxes.
  • The 2017 return declared negative income $12.8 million, with $0 in taxable income. The couple paid $750 in taxes.
  • The 2018 return declared total income of $24.4 million, with taxable income of $22.9 million. The Trumps paid $999,466 in federal income taxes.
  • In 2019, the Trumps declared $4.44 million in total income, and $2.97 million in taxable income. They paid $133,445 in taxes.
  • The 2020 return shows negative income of $4.69 million, with zero dollars in taxable income. The tax paid by the Trumps was $0 and they claimed a refund of $5.47 million.

Read the report on Trump’s annual tax returns here.

Research contact: @CNBC

New York City wants to hire a ‘rat czar’—and could pay him or her $170,000 annually

December 7, 2022

New York City is hiring a leader to fight against residents’ common enemy: rats.

This week, the New York City Mayor’s Office posted a job listing for a “citywide director of rodent mitigation,” or as a city hall spokesperson dubbed it, “a rat czar,” reports CNBC.

The director, who will receive an annual salary between $120,000 and $170,000, will be expected to develop strategies, manage projects and lead teams against the city’s rodents.

The role’s listed requirements include a “background in urban planning” and a “virulent vehemence for vermin.”

The job posting added, “The ideal candidate is highly motivated and somewhat bloodthirsty—determined to look at all solutions from various angles, including improving operational efficiency, data collection, technology innovation, trash management, and wholesale slaughter.”

It also said the chosen applicant will have a “swashbuckling attitude, crafty humor, and general aura of badassery.”

The role’s more serious qualifications include an ability to “self-manage and conduct rigorous research and outreach,” a “desire to be entrepreneurial with an interest in social impact” and either experience in local government or a background in a “relevant” field.

New York is the country’s “second-rattiest” city, according to pest control company Orkin’s most recent annual rankings. As of October, New York’s sanitation department has reported more than 21,600 rat complaints in 2022, a sharp increase over pre-pandemic times.

The city is topped by Chicago in Orkin’s rankings, which has held the “rattiest city” title for eight consecutive years now—but New York rodents have a special place in the cultural zeitgeist.

They frequently go viral on social media after dragging various item —most popularly, pizza—down streets and sidewalks.

That’s no reason to keep the rats around, according to the city’s new job posting.

“Despite their successful public engagement strategy and cheeky social media presence, rats are not our friends,” the listing reads. “They are enemies that must be vanquished by the combined forces of our city government. Rodents spread disease, damage homes and wiring, and even attempt to control the movements of kitchen staffers in an effort to take over human jobs.”

Mayor Eric Adams appears particularly motivated to find an effective rat czar. On Thursday, he tweeted an article about the position, writing: “If you have the drive, determination, and killer instinct needed to fight New York City’s relentless rat population—then your dream job awaits.”

This isn’t the city’s first rat extermination effort of 2022. In October, the New York Sanitation Department announced that New Yorkers will be fined for putting trash on the curb before 8 p.m. starting in April 2023. Currently, residents can be fined for putting their trash out before 4 p.m.

“I want to be clear: The rats are absolutely going to hate this announcement,” New York Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch said while announcing the new policy. “But the rats don’t run the city. We do.”

Applicants for the rat czar role must submit a resume, cover letter, and three references. They also must have a New York residency within 90 days of their appointment, and must be vaccinated against COVID-19—a policy for all city employees hired since August 2, 2021.

Research contact: @CNBC

Yahoo takes minority stake in digital ad network Taboola

November 29, 2022

Yahoo is deepening its push into digital advertising, even as its competitors warn that the market is faltering, reports The New York Times.

The Internet pioneer, which was taken private in a $5 billion deal last year, is taking a roughly 25% stake in Taboola, the company known for serving up attention-grabbing links on websites, the chief executives of the companies said in an interview.

The deal is part of a 30-year exclusive advertising partnership that allows Yahoo to use Taboola’s technology to manage its sizable business in native advertising—ads that have the characteristics of traditional news and entertainment content.

Shares of Taboola have fallen nearly 80% over the past year, amid broader doldrums in the public and advertising markets—giving it a market capitalization of $455 million. Last January, when Taboola struck a deal to merge with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, it was valued at $2.6 billion.

Executives at companies like Meta and TikTok have warned that advertisers skittish about the economy have pulled back on their spending. But Jim Lanzone, the chief executive of Yahoo, said in an interview that the deal with Taboola puts both companies in a good position for when the ad market revives.

“I’m thinking, you know, five, ten, 30 years,” Lanzone said. “Digital advertising has huge wind at its back over the long term.” He added that while the company will continue to try to bring in money in other ways, such as expanding its subscription business or investing in e-commerce, “we have hundreds of millions of people consuming news and sports and finance on market-leading properties that are heavily monetized through advertising — and will continue to be.”

Yahoo, a giant of the early internet, was eclipsed over the years by tech rivals like Alphabet’s Google and Meta’s Facebook. The company endured a messy power struggle and shaky leadership as it matured, leading to layoffs and shifts in strategy.

The company was taken private by the investment firm Apollo Global Management in the hopes that new leadership and a respite from the public markets would give it a chance to grow. Yahoo says it has about 900 million monthly users of its properties, which include AOL, TechCrunch, and Yahoo Sports, making it one of the largest destinations on the web.

oola, founded in 2007, specializes in native advertising, operating a sprawling advertising network over thousands of well-known websites, including CNBC, NBC News, and Insider.

The deal with Yahoo gives Taboola the exclusive license to sell native ads across Yahoo’s sites, and the companies will share revenue from those ad sales. The companies did not disclose the terms of the revenue split.

Yahoo, which will become Taboola’s largest shareholder, also will get a seat on the company’s board.

Research contact: @nytimes

Apple rolls out iPhone emergency SOS satellite alert service for when you’re off the grid

November 16, 2022

Apple is trying to give iPhone users a measure of safety—even when they find themselves in place without cell service, reports CNBC.

On Tuesday, November 15, the company launched emergency SOS via satellite, which enables users to text emergency services when they’re off the grid, whether camping in the mountains or driving in a remote area at night. The service is available for iPhone 14 customers and is free for the first two years.

Apple announced the emergency feature in September, when it debuted the iPhone 14 lineup. To enable the service, Apple said last week it would spend $450 million with U.S. companies, with the majority of the money going to Globalstar, a Louisiana-based satellite operator.

It will work for all iPhone 14 users. All a user has to do is point his or her phone at the sky in order to connect to one of 24 Globalstar satellites in low Earth orbit.

Apple doesn’t want users testing the service out for non-emergencies. The company offered me a demonstration last week so I could explain how to use it.

Here’s how it works:

  1. In the event of an emergency, try calling 911. If you don’t have cell service, your phone will try to connect to another carrier’s tower. If that doesn’t work, an option to “Emergency Text via Satellite” will pop up.
  2. You can also go to iMessage to text 911 or SOS; then tap Emergency Services.
  3. An option will populate, allowing you to tap to report an emergency.
  4. Emergency questions will populate to help you best describe your situation. The first prompt will say “What’s the emergency?” You’ll then be able to select from options like “Car or vehicle issue,” or “sickness or injury.” Next, you’ll be led through a series of more in-depth questions.
  5. You’ll be given the option to notify your emergency contacts to let them know you reached out to emergency services, along with your location and the nature of your emergency. You also can use the Find My app to share your location with friends and family via satellite.
  6. To connect to a satellite, your phone will ask you to point it towards the sky. As long as you have a clear view, you should be able to connect to a satellite, but it could take up to 15 seconds for your messages to go through. If you don’t have a clear view of the sky, because of trees or another obstruction, the texts may take a minute to go through. And because satellites orbit the earth quickly, you’ll have to move your phone slightly to stay connected throughout the conversation.
  7. Once you’ve connected to emergency services via satellite, they’ll immediately know your location and the nature of your emergency, but you’ll be asked a few more questions to help emergency personnel to locate you and to come prepared.
  8. If you have your medical ID set up through your iPhone’s health settings, emergency services will be able to see important personal information, like what medications you’re taking and the names of your emergency contacts.

To try out emergency SOS via satellite, Apple has a demo option:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Tap Emergency SOS.
  3. Tap Try Demo. You’ll then be led through the same prompts you would get in a real emergency. You’ll also be able to turn off your cell service and connect to a satellite so you can get a feel for it. You’ll get haptic feedback when you’re not pointing in the right direction.

For now, emergency SOS via satellite is only available in the United States and Canada.

Research contact: @CNBC

Elon Musk takes over at Twitter—and fires top execs

October 31, 2022

Elon Musk paid a visit to Twitter’s headquarters on Wednesday, October 26, ahead of an end-of-week deadline to close his deal to buy the company—posting a video of himself in the company’s San Francisco lobby carrying a sink, reports The Guardian.

“Entering Twitter HQ—let that sink in!” he tweeted. Musk also changed his Twitter profile to refer to himself as “Chief Twit” and his location as Twitter headquarters.

The new CEO didn’t waste any time taking charge—firing several Twitter executives after completing his takeover of the company, according to people familiar with the matter.  Vijaya Gadde, the woman behind former President Donald Trump’s Twitter suspension, was among the first to go.

Indeed, according to The Wall Street Journal, in a message to advertisers on Twitter on Thursday, October 27, Musk said he was buying the company to “have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner.” He said Twitter “cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences!”

A self-described free-speech absolutist, Musk has pledged to limit content moderation in favor of emphasizing free speech. However, that approach risks causing conflicts with some advertisers, politicians, and users who would prefer a more-moderated platform.

Musk said the platform must be “warm and welcoming to all” and suggested Twitter could let people “choose your desired experience according to your preferences, just as you can choose, for example, to see movies or play videogames ranging from all ages to mature.”

Musk also fired Chief Executive Parag Agrawal, Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal, and Sean Edgett, general counsel. Spokespersons for Twitter didn’t comment.

Hours after those actions, Musk tweeted “the bird is freed” in a seeming reference to Twitter, which has a blue bird as its logo. A Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Friday, October 28, confirmed the deal closed Thursday, and that Twitter is now part of Musk’s X Holdings, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Musk first agreed to buy Twitter in April for $44 billion, then threatened to walk away from the deal, before reversing course this month and committing to see through the acquisition.

He previously indicated unhappiness with some of the top ranks at Twitter, at one point responding to a tweet from Agrawal with a poop emoji. He also used the site to mock Gadde, the top legal boss—tweeting an image overlaid with text that repeated allegations Twitter had a left-wing political bias.

It wasn’t immediately clear who would step into the top positions left vacant by Thursday’s exits. CNBC earlier reported the departures of Agrawal and Segal.

The deal, in which Twitter will again become a private company, adds to Musk’s expansive business reach, which includes running Tesla, the world’s most-valuable car company; and rocket company SpaceX, among other endeavors.

Musk, who has become Twitter’s largest individual shareholder, previously said he would pay for the acquisition mostly with cash, some contributed by co-investors, and $13 billion in debt.

Research contact: @guardian

Walmart overhauls its intimates and sleepwear line to keep pace in competitive holiday market

October 25, 2022

Walmart is relaunching and renaming its best-selling intimates and sleepwear line under the brand name Joyspun, as the discounter gears up for the holidays, reports CNBC.

The discounter has begun to roll out bras, underwear, socks, pajamas, and other intimate items under the new brand, both online and in stores. The brand replaces Secret Treasures, a major national line that has been in Walmart’s big-box stores for more than two decades.

Secret Treasures, Walmart’s largest intimates and sleepwear line, drove $1 billion in sales last fiscal year—one of the retailer’s 13 private brands of general merchandise to do so. It also captured the largest customer base across the women’s intimates and sleepwear market in the United States, with one in five buying from the brand in the 12 months ended January 2022, according to The NPD Group, a market researcher that tracks sales across mass retailers, mall retailers, and direct-to-consumer players.

Yet the intimates and sleepwear space has gotten more competitive—especially during the pandemic, as people worked remotely and spent more time at home. Now, a larger number of retailers are vying for market share, including shopping mall staples like Victoria’s Secret and American Eagle-owned Aerie, mass retailers like Target and newcomers like ThirdLoveYitty, and Skims.

Many of the newer entrants emphasize comfort, better fit and body positivity.

Above, Walmart has a new look and new name for its top intimates and sleepwear line. Prices for Joyspun range from $7.98 for a sleep shirt to $34.98 for a quilted robe. (Photo source: Walmart)

“It’s a white-hot moment for the intimates category,” said Denise Incandela, EVP of Apparel and Private Brands at Walmart U.S. “We wanted to take our leading brand, which was Secret Treasures, and reimagine it to offer the quality and elevated prints and premium design details, as well as a new brand name and colors and packaging and modernize in a way that brings us into the future.”

For the past year and a half, Incandela said, the retailer did consumer outreach that helped develop a line with a wide range of silhouettes, softer fabrics and trendier styles.

Joyspun shoppers will see a more modern spin on basic items from bras to underwear. All of the items sell at a low price pointwith bras starting at $11.98. Prices range from $7.98 for a sleep shirt to $34.98 for a quilted robe.

The relaunch could come at a good time. Walmart, the largest grocer in the country by sales, has drawn more high-income customers to its stores as inflation drives up the prices of food. Those shoppers could become a fresh audience for its apparel, particularly if they make more frequent trips to its big-box stores or consider new ways to stretch their dollars.

Joyspun also is hitting Walmart’s stores and websites ahead of the holiday season. Incandela declined to say what percentage of intimates and sleepwear sell during the fourth quarter, but said it’s the biggest sales season for the categories.

Incandela said shoppers will notice new details and innovations, such as bra cups that mold better to a person’s figure, underwear with lace and youthful prints. and robes made of plush fabrics. The discounter also will sell gift sets for the holidays, like eye mask and robe combinations.

Research contact: @CNBC

Biden pardons thousands convicted of marijuana possession, orders review of federal laws

October 10, 2022

On Thursday, October 6, President Joe Biden pardoned thousands of people convicted of possessing marijuana—saying the current system “makes no sense” and sending weed stocks soaring, reports CNBC.

The pardons apply only to federal offenders convicted of “simple marijuana possession” as well as those charged in the District of Columbia—but Biden called on governors across the country to follow suit.

“Just as no one should be in a federal prison solely due to the possession of marijuana, no one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason, either,” Biden said in a statement.

More than 6,500 people with prior convictions for simple marijuana possession were impacted by the pardons, a White House official said, and thousands more through pardons under D.C. law. The pardons will not be extended to those who weren’t U.S. citizens and were illegally in the country at the time of their arrest.

Cannabis companies Tilray Brands and Canopy Growth both spiked on the news—gaining 30% and 22%, respectively, in afternoon trading. As of Thursday’s close, however, each stock still traded for less than $4 per share.

In addition to the pardons, Biden announced that he has instructed Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland to begin reviewing how marijuana is classified under federal drug laws.

Biden noted that marijuana is currently a Schedule 1 substance under federal drug sentencing guidelines, “the same as heroin and LSD—and more serious than fentanyl,” he said. “It makes no sense.”

The Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney will take the lead on administering Biden’s proclamation, an agency spokesperson—noting that, in the coming days, the office will implement a formal process to provide pardoned individuals with a certificate of pardon.

The proclamation also formally restored to these individuals all the political, civil, and other rights that were denied to them as felons.

“There are thousands of people who were convicted for marijuana possession who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result,” Biden said. “My pardon will remove this burden on them.”

The relatively small number of people who were actually pardoned Thursday obscures the massive role that marijuana plays in the American criminal justice system.

“Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana,” Biden said. “It’s time that we right these wrongs.”

Research contact: @CNBC

Christie’s launches ‘Department X’ as collectible sneakers and street-wear boom

September 29, 2022

Famed auction house Christie’s is launching a new department to capitalize on the booming market for collectible sneakers, streetwear, and sports history, reports CNBC.

On Monday, September 26, Christie’s announced the launch of its Department X—which will give Air Jordans and Supreme Skateboard Decks their own category, alongside Impressionist & Modern Art and Old Masters. The move is the latest sign that a wave of younger collectors is redefining the collectibles world.

“When looking at the auction world and the way collectors are evolving and the new collectors coming into the marketplace, we felt this is a strong a robust marketplace,” said Caitlin Donovan, Christie’s head of Handbags, Streetwear and Sneakers, who will head Department X. “It’s only going to get stronger and that’s why we felt it was time to dive headfirst into this new market.”

Department X will sell rare collectibles across music, fashion, art, and sports history—but sneakers and streetwear will be among its biggest categories. It will hold online auctions, with live previews in New York, and private selling exhibitions throughout the year.

Sneakers and sports collectibles have exploded in popularity and value in recent years. In June, Christie’s held a “Six Rings − Legacy of the GOAT” sale dedicated to basketball legend Michael Jordan’s career, with sales nearing $1.5 million.

And top competitor Sotheby’s Auction House this month sold Jordan’s “Last Dance” jersey—from his 1998 NBA Finals Game 1—for $10.1 million, setting a new record for sports memorabilia.

A collection of 200 pairs of Louis Vuitton and Nike Air Force 1 sneakers designed by the late designer Virgil Abloh sold at Sotheby’s earlier this year for $25 million. That was more than eight times the estimate—with one pair selling for $350,000.

According to CNBC, Sotheby’s launched its streetwear category in December, with most of the buyers between 20 and 40 years old and 80% of bidders new to the auction house.

As part of its Department X launch, Christie’s will hold a private-sale exhibit titled “Ye Walks,” celebrating two pairs of Kanye West’s sneaker designs. The Nike Air Yeezy 1 prototype was the first West designed with Nike. The Nike Donda West Air Jordan VI was created in memory of West’s mother.

Hats, shirts, skate decks and even pinball machines from Supreme also have continued to soar in price. In 2020, Christie’s offered a collection of 253 Supreme t-shirts for $2 million.

Donovan says that younger collectors gravitate to the images and culture they grew up with. Street wear, rare sneakers, and memorabilia tied to sports icons are likely to grow in value as younger collectors gain wealth.

“We go for what tugs at our own past experiences and heart strings,” she said. “So for these collectors in their 30s and 40s, it’s a celebration of their culture.”

Some collectors say six-figure sneakers and t-shirts are a product of a speculative bubble, but Donovan said the rise of so-called “hype-wear” is likely to endure despite falling stocks and recession fears.

Research contact: @CNBC

Amazon schedules a second Prime Day sale for October 11-12

September 27, 2022

Amazon is hosting another Prime Day-like deal bonanza next month—marking the first time it will hold two such events in the same year, reports NBC News.

The company announced on Monday, September 26, that the event, which it’s calling the Prime Early Access Sale, will take place October 11-12. The event is only open to members of Amazon’s Prime subscription program and will feature “hundreds of thousands” of holiday deals, said Jamil Ghani, vice president of Prime, in an interview.

CNBC previously reported that Amazon began contacting sellers about the event in June.

Prime Day, which started in 2015, is typically held once a year during the summer. But Amazon tweaked the timing of the event in 2020 and 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic strained its operations. The company also has experimented with other discount events, such as an apparel sale, a pet-focused event and a fall beauty event.

Ghani declined to say whether Amazon plans to host more than one sales event for Prime members moving forward. By setting a deal event for October, Amazon is playing into a trend that’s gained momentum in recent years. Major retailers have started announcing promotions well ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, in large part because more sales are moving online.

The new sales event could help jumpstart holiday shopping for Amazon as the company stares down slowing e-commerce sales and a host of economic challenges—including a potential recession, soaring inflation, rising interest rates and the excess expansion it undertook during the pandemic.

Holiday sales are expected to grow from last year, but much of the increase will likely be driven by higher prices, according to a Bain & Co. forecast. Shoppers will likely be on the hunt for discounts more than usual as their wallets feel the strain.

“These days, it’s not lost on you or me that folks are trying to make their dollar stretch,” Ghani said.

Research contact: @NBCNews