Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, announced this weekend that it is piloting a news service in the US whereby Facebook will be paying news publishers for use of their content.
This is reportedly set to generate annual fees for media outlets worth tens of millions of dollars.
A team of Facebook’s editors will highlight news stories it believes are right for its users for its curated news feed. This could attract criticism as it is unclear how Facebook will decide what news to highlight and what news to hide. In 2016, claims emerged that Facebook has suppressed certain articles through human editors which ultimately led to it removing its ‘Trending News’ section.
The difference this time is that Facebook is making an effort to highlight news from trusted, high-quality publishers for its audience. Currently, the social media giant has agreements with The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times amongst others to provide content for its new page.
This could be a positive step for publishing houses, increasing revenue which is likely to be welcome as many have been struggling financially due to the shift from traditional newspapers to a digital audience.
This appears to be part of a wider strategy that Facebook has to diversify its business into new areas such as financial services, with the Libra Association currently developing a digital currency, and now digital journalism.
Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook aims to create a “sustainable business model” for digital journalism.
The trial is currently only running in the United States.
You can read more here and here and there is an audio report here.
BlackRock steps up pressure on businesses to reduce carbon footprint
Article by Mared Davies
BlackRock, the largest asset manager in the world, recently announced a $20 million fund in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to bankroll dozens of companies that have solid sustainability missions.
Such companies include Adidas, who have been making trainers out of recycled ocean plastic; Tomra, which is building reverse vending machines (you put the bottles in and get deposits or refunds out), and Ball Corp, which creates recyclable cups so that you can have convenience without compromising on the clear conscience.
A key element of BlackRock’s strategy is one of a “circular economy”, which essentially works as follows: you use equipment and infrastructure for longer; reduce harmful outputs like emissions and waste; reuse materials instead of funneling in new resources. To give an example, Lego has just announced a send-in program for unwanted Legos to be distributed through Teach for America.“Consumers are changing the way they think about how to spend, and circular economy factors will become very important in their decision-making process,” said Sumana Manohar, a London-based co-manager of the fund at BlackRock. “That means opportunities for companies who are frontrunners.”
However, even with this increase in top-down pressure across their investing portfolios, it doesn’t seem likely that BlackRock will be receiving an invite to dinner parties hosted by the Extinction Rebellion movement anytime soon, as despite being the largest renewables investor – it also holds the title of being the largest fossil fuel investor, and has regularly voted against and criticised climate-related shareholder resolutions. In fact, it only supported 12% of the resolutions put forward, and has been criticised for not doing enough to require companies to fully disclose their lobbying activities.
Branson Goes Public with New Virgin Galactic Space-Tourism Venture
Article by Mared Davies
Richard Branson has announced news that Virgin Galactic is set to be the first human spaceflight company to go public via a merger with a New York investment firm. Social Capital Hedosophia will take a 49 percent stake in the company, which will be valued at roughly $1.5 billion. It has also been said that the firm’s chief executive, Chamath Palihapitiya, will invest an additional $100 million in the combined enterprise at $10 per share and become its chairman.
Such promising news will undoubtedly be welcomed by Branson, as it is no secret that the British Billionaire has faced challenges – having funded the bulk of the project with his own money and struggled to generate real revenue. In 2004, when the company was founded, Branson pledged that flights would be going ahead within a few years, however the reality is that the enterprise has been far more expensive and has taken much longer than was originally expected.
It is said that with the capital it raises (expected to be approximately $800 million) through the share sale will allow the company to sustain its operations until it begins commercial flights and starts generating its own revenue. Shares will trade under the ticker symbol SPCE. Perhaps unsurprisingly, travelling to the edge of space is a luxury only the very wealthy among us will be able to afford for the foreseeable future at least – as tickets are roughly $250,000 for a 90 minute ride. The 600 people that have signed up will spend three days preparing for the trip, then blast off into the darkness on the morning of the fourth day.
The news also constitutes a marked step ahead in the race to be the first to send customers to space; a race that Amazon Inc.’s founder, Jeff Bezos and Tesla Inc.’s Elon Musk appear to be losing. “We are confident that VG is light-years ahead of the competition,” Palihapitiya said in a statement. “It is backed by an exciting business model and an uncompromising commitment to safety and customer satisfaction.” Needless to say, however, the venture is not without its risks – which was exemplified in 2014 when a Virgin test flight crashed, killing a co-pilot and seriously injuring the other.