General Electric's GE9X jet engine wins certification from U.S. regulator

General Electric's GE9X jet engine wins certification from U.S. regulatorThe coronavirus crisis compounded that hold up this year as demand for air travel plunged, with Boeing saying in July it was delaying the 777X's entry to service by a year to 2022. GE said on Monday it has received orders and commitments for more than 600 GE9X engines, and has delivered eight GE9X test engines and two test spares for Boeing's four 777X test aircraft.


N26 hires Adrienne Gormley as its new chief operating officer

Fintech startup N26 is announcing some changes in the leadership team with two new C-Level hires. First, Adrienne Gormley, pictured above, is joining the company as chief operating officer, replacing Martin Schilling who left the company in March 2020. Second, Diana Styles, pictured below, will become N26’s chief people officer.

Gormley has spent the last six years working for Dropbox in Dublin. She was the VP of Global Customer Experience as well as the head of EMEA for Dropbox. Previously, she’s worked at Google and Transware.

At N26, she will be in charge of a large chunk of the company, from customer service, to business operations, service experience and workplace division.

Styles has many years of human resources experience. She was the senior vice president of Human Resources, Global Sales and Brands at Adidas. Similarly, as chief people officer, she will oversee important aspects of the company, such as employee retention, leadership development, talent acquisition and more.

Both will be based in Berlin and report to the company’s co-founder and chief financial officer Maximilian Tayenthal. N26 has grown quite a lot over the past few years as there are now 1,500 employees working for the company.

Image Credits: N26

A quarter of US adults now get news from YouTube, Pew Research study finds

Around a quarter of U.S. adults, or roughly 26%, say they get news by watching YouTube videos, according to a new study from Pew Research Center, which examined the Google-owned video platform’s growing influence over news distribution in the U.S., as well as its consumption. The study, not surprisingly, found that established news organizations no longer have full control over the news Americans watch, as only one-in-five YouTube consumers (23%) said they “often” get their news from channels affiliated with established news organizations. The exact same percentage said they “often” get their news from independent channels instead.

Independent channels in this study were defined as those that do not have a clear external affiliation. A news organization channel, meanwhile, would be a channel associated with an external news organization — like CNN or Fox News, for instance.

These two different types of news channels are common, Pew found, as 49% of popular news channels are affiliated with a news organization, while 42% are not.

A small percentage (9%) were those from “other” organizations publishing news, including government agencies, research organizations and advocacy organizations.

Image Credits: Pew Research

To determine its findings, Pew Research ran a representative panel survey of 12,638 U.S. adults from January 6-January 20, 2020.

This study found that a majority, or 72%, of Americans said YouTube was either an important (59%) or the most important (13%) way they get their news. Most also said they didn’t see any big issues with getting their news from the site, but they did express some moderate concern about misinformation, political bias, YouTube’s demonetization practices and censorship.

Image Credits: Pew Research

Republicans and independents who lean Republican were more likely to say censorship, demonetization and political bias were YouTube’s biggest problems, while Democrats and independents who lean Democrat were more likely to say the biggest problems were misinformation and harassment.

A second part of the research involved content analysis of the 377 most popular YouTube news channels in November 2019 and the content of YouTube videos published by the 100 channels with the highest median of views in December 2019. This was performed by a combination of humans and computational methods, says Pew.

The analysis discovered that more than four-in-ten (44%) popular YouTube channels can be characterized as “personality-driven,” meaning the channel is oriented around an individual. This could be a journalist employed by an established news organization or it could be an independent host.

However, it’s more often true of the latter, as 70% of independent channels are centered around an individual, often a “YouTuber” who has gained a following. Indeed, 57% of independent channels are YouTuber-driven versus the 13% centered around people who were public figures before gaining attention on YouTube.

Image Credits:

The study also looked into other aspects of the YouTube news environment and the topics being presented.

According to YouTube news consumers themselves, a clear majority (66%) said watching YouTube news videos helped them to better understand current events; 73% said they believe the videos to be largely accurate, and they tend to watch them closely (68% do) instead of playing them in the background.

Around half (48%) said they’re looking for “straight reporting” on YouTube — meaning, information and facts only. Meanwhile, 51% said they are primarily looking for opinions and commentary.

In response to an open-ended question about why YouTube was a unique place to get the news, the most common responses involved those related to the content of the videos — for instance, that they included news outside the mainstream or that they featured many different opinions and views.

Image Credits: Pew Research

Pew also examined how often news channels mentioned conspiracy theories, like those related to QAnon, Jeffrey Epstein and the anti-vax movement.

An analysis of nearly 3,000 videos by the 100 most viewed YouTube channels in December 2019 found that 21% of videos by independent channels mentioned a conspiracy theory, compared with just 2% of those from established news organizations. QAnon was the most commonly referenced conspiracy theory, as 14% of videos from independent channels had discussed it, compared with 2% of established news organizations.

Independent channels were also about twice as likely as established news organizations to present the news with a negative tone.

Overall, the videos from the top 100 most viewed YouTube news channels assessed in December 2019, were neither too negative or positive (69%). But broken down by type, 37% of videos on the independent channels were negative, compared with 17% for established news organizations. Negative videos were more popular, too. Across all channels, negative videos averaged 184,000 views compared with 172,000 for neutral or mixed tone videos and 117,000 views for positive videos.

Image Credits: Pew Research

Meanwhile, videos about the Trump administration made up the largest share of views in December 2019, as roughly a third (36%) were about the impeachment and 31% were about other domestic issues, like gun control, abortion or immigration. Another 9% were about international affairs. Videos about the Trump administration saw around 250,000 average views compared with videos on other topics, which averaged 122,000 views. Trump was the most common video focus in about a quarter of the videos studied, or 24%.

Videos about the 2020 elections, which at the time were centered around the Democratic primary, were the topic of just 12% of news videos, by comparison.

Image Credits: Pew Research

The study also examined how YouTube news channels presented themselves. It found that the vast majority don’t clearly state a political ideology even when the content of their videos makes it clear they have an ideological slant.

Only around 12% of YouTube news channels presented their political ideology in their description. Of those, 8% were right-leaning and 4% were left-leaning. Independent news channels were more likely to present themselves using partisan terms and more likely to say they leaned right.

The demographics of the typical YouTube news consumer was a part of the study, too. Pew Research found the news video viewers were more likely to be young and male, and less likely to be White, compared with U.S. adults overall. About a third (34%) are under the age of 30, compared with 21% of all U.S. adults; 71% are under 50, compared with 55% of U.S. adults overall.

And 58% of YouTube news consumers are more likely to be male, compared with 48% of U.S. adults overall. Half (50%) are White, 14% are Black and 25% are Hispanic. In the U.S., 63% of adults are White, 12% are Black and 16% are Hispanic.

The full study is available via the Pew Research Center website.

One week until we discover the future of transportation at TC Sessions: Mobility

Were you Born to be Wild? Then get your electric motor running, head out on the virtual highway to look for adventure, because we’re just one week away from TC Sessions: Mobility 2020. Join thousands of global attendees October 6-7 for two programming-packed days devoted to the fast-moving world of mobility and transportation technology.

Price of admission: We offer a range of pass levels and prices to fit just about every budget. Prices start at $25 (for the Expo ticket) plus, we have discounts for groups (bring the whole team) and students (network your way to a cool internship or job). Buy an Early-Stage Startup Exhibitor Package to claim a spot in our expo and really strut your stuff. Get moving, though because we have only a few expo spots left.

Want to save money? Buy your pass now — all prices increase on October 5.

Check out the packed event agenda where you’ll find a phenomenal line up of 1:1 interviews and panel discussions with the top names, makers, movers and shakers. Here are just two examples of what we have waiting for you on the main stage.

Future of Cities: Delivery Takes Flight — Margaret Nagle, head of policy and public affairs at Wing, will talk about how drones used for delivery could reshape cities and improve accessibility.

Scooting Through the World’s Regulatory Frameworks — Join Euwyn Poon, CEO of U.S.-centric Spin, Voi co-founder Fredrik Hjelm and Tony Adesina, CEO of Gura Ride as they discuss the state of dock-less scooters — and the different regulatory landscapes — across Europe and Africa.

We’ve also added a series of Q&A Sessions where you can interact with leading experts and get answers to those burning questions.

Block time in your schedule to explore the expo and more than 40 early-stage mobility startups showcasing their products, platforms and talent. Watch demos, discover potential partners, collaborators and customers. Find innovative additions to your investment portfolio. And be sure to check out the pitch sessions. All of the exhibiting startups will get five minutes to introduce their company to thousands of world-wide mobility attendees.

Can’t get enough pitching? Neither can we. That’s why we created a new event this year — Startup Pitch-Off. Ten hand-picked early-stage startups will pitch to a panel of discerning VCs on October 5 — the evening before we officially kick off. The judges will select five to pitch live from the main stage the following day. Who knows? You might just witness a unicorn in the making.

You were born to be wild. Get your TC Sessions: Mobility 2020 pass, get your EV motor running and drive your business forward.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at TC Sessions: Mobility 2020? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Healthcare giant UHS hit by ransomware attack, sources say

Universal Health Services, one of the largest healthcare providers in the U.S., has been hit by a ransomware attack.

The attack hit UHS systems early on Sunday morning, according to two people with direct knowledge of the incident, locking computers and phone systems at several UHS facilities across the country, including in California and Florida.

One of the people said the computer screens changed with text that referenced the “shadow universe,” consistent with the Ryuk ransomware. “Everyone was told to turn off all the computers and not to turn them on again,” the person said. “We were told it will be days before the computers are up again.”

It’s not immediately known what impact the ransomware attack is having on patient care.

An executive who oversees cybersecurity at another U.S. hospital system, who asked not to be named as they were not authorized to speak to the press, told TechCrunch that patient medical data is “likely safe” as UHS relies on Cerner, a healthcare technology company, to handle its patients’ electronic health records.

UHS has 400 hospitals and healthcare facilities in the U.S. and the U.K., and serves millions of patients each year.

A spokesperson for UHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Ryuk ransomware is linked to a Russian cybercrime group, known as Wizard Spider, according to security firm Crowdstrike. Ryuk’s operators are known to go “big game hunting” and have previously targeted large organizations, including shipping giant Pitney Bowes and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Some ransomware operators said earlier this year that they would not attack health organizations and hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Ryuk’s operators did not.

Last week, police in Germany launched a homicide investigation after a woman died after she was redirected to another hospital following a ransomware attack.

We’ll have more on the UHS incident as we get it.


Send tips securely over Signal and WhatsApp to +1 646-755-8849 or send an encrypted email to: [email protected]

Caesars shoots lower than expected with $3.7 billion William Hill bid

Caesars shoots lower than expected with $3.7 billion William Hill bidCaesars was considering offering 272 pence per share and William Hill's board was inclined to recommend such an offer to shareholders, the companies said on Monday. William Hill shares on Friday surged to more than 312 pence each after it said it had received separate offers from Caesars and buyout group Apollo . Caesars only holds 20% of its U.S. joint venture with William Hill but the business is built on a presence in Caesars casinos and its brand name, which the casino owner said it would have the right to terminate in the event of an Apollo buyout.


Nikola Founder Milton’s Fall Reveals What His Backers Feared

Nikola Founder Milton’s Fall Reveals What His Backers Feared(Bloomberg) -- Back in March, long before a short seller would raise questions about electric-truck company Nikola Corp. and hasten its founder’s exit, early investors in the company were expressing concerns of their own.Those investors, led by mutual-fund giant Fidelity Investments, were worried that Trevor Milton, for all his brash visionary talk and Twitter braggadocio, lacked the ability that Elon Musk possesses to deliver these sorts of newfangled products to market. They lobbied successfully to remove him as CEO before the company’s June IPO and for Milton’s father to leave the board, according to people familiar with the matter. When the deal was done, Milton only held the title of chairman, the post he resigned this month.The back-room negotiations show that Milton’s past was a concern to investors months before General Motors Co. executives placed a bet on the company in a $2 billion deal carved out after the IPO. They liked Milton’s vision and his ability to raise cash and felt the venture was safeguarded from his shortcomings in operations by his push upstairs, say people familiar with the matter. Nonetheless, the events that have unfolded since the short-seller report, with Nikola’s stock plunging amid a steady stream of negative headlines, have exposed just how high the risks still were.Now, it’s up to former GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky, whose blank-check company VectoIQ took Nikola public via reverse merger in June, and Nikola CEO Mark Russell to stabilize the business and regain investor confidence. The plan with GM was to use Nikola’s hot stock and Milton’s ability to raise money to build a hydrogen-fueled trucking business with GM’s technology.“There is obviously someone on the diligence side who isn’t going to get a nice bonus this year,” said Reilly Brennan, founder of the venture capital fund Trucks Inc. “The best possible thing if you’re a shareholder is that Milton is no longer running the company and you have Girsky as chairman and GM providing technology.”The GM deal was originally scheduled to close Sept. 30, and the automaker has said it plans to carry through, but that timing may slip, say people familiar with the matter. BP Plc is still engaged with Nikola in talks to partner on a network of hydrogen fueling stations for fuel-cell trucks the company hopes to sell, but also is slowing the pace for a deal, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. BP and GM declined to comment.Shares of Nikola fell 4.78% to $18.55 as of 9:45 a.m. Monday in New York and down 45% since it went public. GM rose 2.5% to $29.72.Milton’s tale reads like a Greek tragedy. The report by short seller Hindenburg Research accused Milton of overhyping Nikola’s technology and has prompted investigations by the Justice Department and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. A cousin has accused him of a decades-ago sexual assault, which he denies. The company’s value peaked at $30 billion and is now worth about $7 billion.Girsky and GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra have both said publicly that they did plenty of due diligence. People familiar with the matter say that GM found out when scouting the deal that it had better batteries and fuel-cell technology but joined forces because Nikola had a working semi truck and access to capital markets. In addition, GM will get paid to build Nikola’s Badger pickup on existing assembly lines. Milton was so excited to get the Badger pickup program moving that he signed a deal that heavily favored GM, one of the people said.Nikola’s stock and GM’s $2 billion stake are worth less than half what they were on Sept. 8, when the deal was announced. Milton’s own stake is worth $1.7 billion, down from almost $5 billion at one point.Humble BeginningsMilton said in a June interview with Bloomberg News that he grew up in modest surroundings in Layton, Utah. His family moved to Las Vegas when he was very young and he lost his mother to cancer shortly after moving back to Utah in the sixth grade. He wrote on Twitter he didn’t finish high school, earning an equivalency certification instead, and later dropped out of college. His Twitter account has since been deleted.He grew up in a tight-knit Mormon family, according to Aubrey Smith, his first cousin. She went on social media recently and accused him of sexually assaulting her in 1999 when she was 15 and he was 17.In a public account on Facebook and Twitter, and repeated in a phone interview, Smith said that Milton came onto her at the funeral of their grandfather. He took her shirt off without permission, Smith wrote, and then he touched her inappropriately before someone knocked at the door and she ran out.Milton denied the allegations through a spokesman.Smith said Milton raised money from family members to get his start. He founded and ran several businesses, including a home-security company that Milton claims he sold for $1.5 million. Next, in 2009, he founded an e-commerce platform called Upillar.com, which Milton claims “pioneered the shopping cart online.”Clean PowerThen he got into clean propulsion but ended up embroiled in litigation with dHybrid Inc., which he founded in 2009. The company retrofitted diesel vehicles with natural-gas-burning turbines, claiming the dual system had greater efficiency.But a deal with Swift Transportation Co. in 2010 ended in court when Swift alleged dHybrid defaulted on a $322,000 loan and that it retrofitted only half of the agreed vehicles. The case was dismissed in 2015.Milton later tried to sell dHybrid to a company called sPower in May 2012 but that, too, got mired in lawsuits after sPower backed out and accused Milton of exaggerating its technological capabilities.Amid the litigation, Milton started another company with a very similar name, dHybrid Systems, selling it in 2014 to Worthington Industries.During an interview with Bloomberg in June, Milton said that dHybrid Inc. was a success but conceded that, “we ended up closing that one down because of some litigation.”His next startup was Nikola, founding it in 2014 in Salt Lake City before moving to Phoenix. Emulating Musk, he took the name from the electricity pioneer Nikola Tesla, and the company was soon billed as the Tesla of Trucks. His plan was seen as potentially disrupting the entire transportation industry by making trucks that ran on batteries or hydrogen-fuel cells. He also planned to build a network of hydrogen filling stations.Friends and FamilyMilton had friends and family members working for Nikola despite resumes that didn’t match the job. His brother, Travis Milton, is director of hydrogen and infrastructure. His LinkedIn profile shows that most of his experience was being “self-employed” in Maui. The short seller, Hindenburg Research, said that Travis Milton poured concrete as a contractor. Milton’s father Bill was originally on the board but stepped down when VectoIQ took the company public.The company’s stock prospectus said that Nikola had awarded more than 3 million stock options “to recognize the superior performance and contribution of specific employees.” The list included Travis Milton and an uncle, Lance Milton, the document said, acknowledging that they are relatives.As Milton went public with Nikola’s technology, questions soon arose involving his claims about the company’s fuel-cell system. He bragged in an investor video in 2019 that the company had created “what other manufacturers said was impossible to design.” But while Nikola holds patents in fuel-cell and battery technology, most of its planned hardware was coming from German supplier Robert Bosch Gmbh.Nikola DemonstrationsIt became clear that Milton had gotten ahead of himself. A 2016 demonstration showed a truck that didn’t have a working hydrogen-fuel-cell system and was missing key parts, people familiar with the matter said in June. Milton said at the time that the parts were removed as a safety precaution.In July of this year, he recorded a video of the semi truck in which he ran alongside the vehicle as it coasted at low speeds in a parking lot. Aping Musk’s combative social-media persona, Milton took a shot at his detractors saying, “these damned trolls, I wonder if they are going to apologize to everyone for the lies they spread the tens of thousands of comments about how fake we are.”Girsky said in the webcast “Autoline This Week,” in which Bloomberg participated, that he has been in Nikola’s fuel-cell trucks and that they work.Still, when the GM deal was done, GM will be supplying all of the technology for every global market except Europe. Nikola’s pickup truck, called Badger, will use GM’s Ultium battery, and the semis will run on a fuel cell developed by GM and Honda Motor Co.Since Milton’s departure, Nikola has billed itself more as an integrator of other technologies into its Badger pickup and semi trucks.For GM’s part, the automaker is protected from any financial downside. GM got 11% of the stock for no cash investment and gets paid for its technology. If Nikola fails, GM won’t lose a dime.Milton has remained silent and is out of the company. He unknowingly presaged his own downfall in the June interview with Bloomberg: “Part of becoming a better person in life is losing everything you have got and having nothing left.”(Updates with Monday trading in seventh paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


Tech giants are ignoring questions over the legality of their EU-US data transfers

A survey of responses from more than 30 companies to questions about how they’re approaching EU-US data transfers in the wake of a landmark ruling (aka Schrems II) by Europe’s top court in July, which struck down the flagship Privacy Shield over US surveillance overreach, suggests most are doing the equivalent of burying their head in the sand and hoping the legal nightmare goes away.

European privacy rights group, noyb, has done most of the groundwork here — rounding up in this 45-page report responses (some in English, others in German) from EU entities of 33 companies to a set of questions about personal data transfers.

It sums up the answers to the questions about companies’ legal basis for transferring EU citizens’ data over the pond post-Schrems II as “astonishing” or AWOL — given some failed to send a response at all.

Tech companies polled on the issue run the alphabetic gamut from Apple to Zoom. While Airbnb, Netflix and WhatsApp are among the companies that noyb says failed to respond about their EU-US data transfers.

Responses provided by companies that did respond appear to raise many more questions than they answer — with lots of question-dodging ‘boilerplate responses’ in evidence and/or pointing to existing privacy policies in the hope that will make the questioner go away (hi Facebook!) .

Facebook also made repeat claims that sought for info falls outside the scope of the EU’s data protection framework…

noyb also highlights a response by Slack which said it does not “voluntarily” provide governments with access to data — which, as the privacy rights group points out, “does not answer the question of whether they are compelled to do so under surveillance laws such as FISA702”.

A similar issue affects Microsoft. So while the tech giant did at least respond specifically to each question it was asked, saying it’s relying on Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) for EU-US data transfers, again it’s one of the companies subject to US surveillance law — or as noyb notes: “explicitly named by the documents disclosed by Edward Snowden and publicly numbering the FISA702 requests by the US government it received and answered”.

That, in turn, raises questions about how Microsoft can claim to (legally) use SCCs if users’ data cannot be adequately protected from US mass surveillance… 

The Court of Justice of the EU made it clear that use of SCCs to take data outside the EU is contingent on a case by case assessment of whether the data will in fact be safe. If it is not the data controller is legally required to suspend the transfer. EU regulators also have a clear duty to act to suspend transfers where data is at risk.

“Overall, we were astonished by how many companies were unable to provide little more than a boilerplate answer. It seems that most of the industry still does not have a plan as to how to move forward,” noyb adds.

In August the group filed 101 complaints against websites it had identified as still sending data to the US via Google Analytics and/or Facebook Connect integrations — with, again, both tech giants clearly subject to US surveillance laws, such as FISA 702.

noyb founder Max Schrems — whose surname has become synonymous with questions over EU-US data transfers — also continues to push the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) to take enforcement action over Facebook’s use of SCCs in a case that dates back some seven years.

Earlier this month it emerged the DPC had written to Facebook — issuing a preliminary order to suspend transfers. However Facebook filed an appeal for a judicial review in the Irish courts and was granted a stay.

In an affidavit filed to the court the tech giant appeared to claim it could shut down its service in Europe if the suspension order is enforced. But last week Facebook’s global VP and former UK deputy PM, Nick Clegg, denied it could shut down in Europe over the issue. Though he warned of “profound effects” on scores of digital businesses if a way is not found by lawmakers on both sides of the pond to resolve the legal uncertainty around U.S. data transfers. (A Privacy Shield 2 has been mooted but the European Commission has warned there’s no quick fix, suggesting reform of US surveillance law will be required.)

For his part Schrems has suggested the solution for Facebook at least is to federate its service — splitting its infrastructure in two. But Thierry Breton, EU commissioner for the internal market, has also called for “European data…[to] be stored and processed in Europe” — arguing earlier this month this data “belong in Europe” and “there is nothing protectionist about this”, in a discussion that flowed from US president Trump’s concerns about TikTok.

Back in Ireland, Facebook has complained to the courts that regulatory action over its EU-EU data transfers is being rushed (despite the complaint dating back to 2013); and also that it’s being unfairly singled out.

But now with data transfer complaints filed by noyb against scores of companies on the desk of every EU data supervisor, and regulators under explicit ECJ instruction they have a duty to step in a lot of pressure is being exerted to actually enforce the law and uphold Europeans’ data rights.

The European Data Protection Board’s guidance on Schrems II — which Facebook had also claimed to be waiting for — also specifies that the ability to (legally) use SCCs to transfer data to the U.S. hinges on a data controller being able to offer a legal guarantee that “U.S. law does not impinge on the adequate level of protection” for the transferred data. So Facebook et al would do well to lobby the US government on reform of FISA.