Airbnb shares are set to double to as much as $150 in what is the most-anticipated IPO of the year.
The short-term lettings firm was hammered throughout the pandemic as international travel was heavily curtailed by restrictions and lockdowns. Revenue slid by $1.2bn in the opening nine months of the year while losses more than doubled to $697m.
Despite the tumultuous year, Brian Chesky’s travel business was set to list at $68 a share, higher than the top of its previosly guided range that was set at between $56 and $60. The company was expected to raise $3.7bn from the listing, which will value the company at $47bn.
However, early reports suggest Airbnb’s share price at open could be as high as $150, which would reflect investor appetite in what could be a record year for IPOs.
Elsewhere, Facebook could be forced to sell off Instagram and WhatsApp after US officials sued the company for illegally crushing competition. The move received support from Europe’s competition czar Margrethe Vestager who said today that the dialogue around bid tech was shifting.
UK quantum start-up Phasecraft raises $5m
A UK start-up that is hoping to build the foundational software to work with powerful quantum computers has raised $5m (£3.7m).
Phasecraft is working with Google and Rigetti, a US company working on building a quantum computer in the UK, on the software layer to use quantum computers to solve real-world problems.
Unlike classic computers, which work through a system of ones and zeros, quantum computers use “qubits” that can exist in both states at once, giving them the potential to perform previously impossible mathematical tasks.
While tech giants such as Google have been working on building the physical quantum computers, Phasecraft is developing the code that could run on them.
Toby Cubitt, Phasecraft’s co-founder, said he believed the company’s technology could accelerate the development of quantum computers by years. Until now, quantum computers have been built for purely scientific purposes, but could soon be used for commercial operations.
He said: “The timescale is about three years when you will be able to run the first useful applications – algorithms that can beat Moore’s law by multiple orders of magnitude.”
The funding comes days after China claimed it had reached “quantum supremacy” on one of its own research projects, meaning its quantum computer could outperform traditional computers.
Mr Cubitt, a quantum expert from UCL, said the UK could potentially build a lead in the cutting edge computing technology.
He said the start-up aimed to “address the big, high value challenge of getting these computers to a commercially useful stage… the UK is a great place to do this”.
Airbnb shares to double on IPO open
Airbnb is set to double its share price when in its IPO debut today. Shares in the firm were originally priced at around $68 on Wednesday but early estimates suggest it could reach as high as $150 ahead of its first trade.
The company will trade under the ticker «ABNB» on the Nasdaq.
Southern Co-Operative trialling facial recognition
A total of 18 Co-op grocery stores have been trialling facial recognition in a move that has drawn the ire of privacy advocates.
The trial, which is based on technology from a start-up called Facewatch, flags to workers if someone with a previous record of theft or anti-social behaviour had entered the shop. News of the trial was first reported by Wired.
In a statement to the BBC, the Southern Co-Operative said that no data had been shared with the police. The company said assaults and violence against store workers had increased 80pc this year. It also said the trial was to identify when a repeat offender enters a premises, giving workers time to decided on what action was needed.
Advocacy group Big Brother Watch said live facial recognition was more commonly seen «in dictatorships rather than democracies».
Facebook hit with more antitrust proceedings
Germany’s anti competitive regulator has opened a case against Facebook over the linking of Oculus virtual reality headsets with the social network and its platform.
“In the future, the use of the new Oculus glasses requires the user to also have a Facebook account,” Andreas Mundt, the president of the federal cartel office, said in a statement reported by Reuters.
“Linking virtual reality products and the group’s social network in this way could constitute a prohibited abuse of dominance by Facebook.”
The German case is the latest in a line of anti-competitive cases filed against the tech giant. Yesterday, US lawmakers said they could force the company to sell WhatsApp and Instagram.
Google hit with £91m fine in France after breaking ad rules on cookies
Google has been fined €100m (£91m) in France, a record for the country’s data privacy watchdog.
The regulator, CNIL, said Google and Amazon – which was fined €35m – had not sought visitors’ consent before ad cookies were saved on their computers. It said that neither company had given clear information around how the trackers would be used.
Both of the tech giants have been given three months to change the banners around cookies on their sites.
In a statement to Reuters, Google said CNIL did not account for the fact that Frances «rules and regulatory guidance are uncertain and constantly evolving».
Amazon similarly disputed the fine, insisting it fully complied with regulations.
Airbnb hosts ring Nasdaq bell virtually as $47bn mega-listing goes live
In a year where Airbnb and the travel sector has been hit heavily, the short-term lettings company has begun trading on the stock exchange.
The company is starting out at $68 per share with bull investors expecting that to rise considerably as trading continues.
Watch the live stream below
Facebook, Instagram, Messenger go down leaving thousands unable to send messages
Thousands of users across the UK have been left frustrated today after Facebook, Instagram and Messenger stopped working.
Facebook says it is working to fix an issue on its network which has left some users unable to send messages .
The social network has not confirmed the cause of the issue but said it hopes to resolve it quickly.
Facebook has more than 2.7 billion users globally, while Instagram has more than one billion active users.
The incident comes at a difficult time for the social media giant, which has been hit by legal action in the United States which seeks to break up the company from Instagram and another of its services, WhatsApp.
Airbnb prepares to make long-awaited stock market debut
Airbnb will begin trading publicly on the Nasdaq later today at $68 (£50.35) per share in the most-anticipated IPO of the year.
The short-term letting company endured a troubled 2020 as worldwide travel was dramatically reduced by the pandemic.
But the company’s pricing vastly exceeds its target range of between $56 and $60 a share in the midst of an historic boom year for public listings.
Airbnb is expected to raise around $3.7bn from the listing, which will value the company at around $47bn. In the opening nine months of the year, Airbnb brought in $2.5bn in revenue, down from $3.7bn in the same period in 2019.
The company’s losses more than doubled too to $697m. Airbnb’s listing comes amid newfound optimism for a return to normality in 2021 as a raft of vaccines were approved.
Brian Chesky’s firm will undoubtedly be buoyed by the performance of DoorDash, which debuted on Wednesday. Shares in the company closed up 86pc yesterday.
Debate on tech dominance is shifting, says EU’s Vestager
Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s competition czar, has praised the US antitrust action taken against Facebook, insisting the way big tech is viewed is beginning to change.
“It’s a sign that the debate on tech dominance has been shifting over the last couple of years,” she said on a call with EU lawmakers that was reported by Bloomberg. «You see that in almost every jurisdiction. You see it in Canada and Australia.»
The competition chief also said that the European Commission was working on tougher rules that will enable regulators to «be so much quicker» in taking action against the biggest names in tech.
Zuckerberg and his ‘super paranoid’ inner circle multi-billion dollar spend to keep Facebook on top
“This is the biggest threat to our product that I’ve ever seen in my five years here at Facebook,» the email read. «We’re all terrified.»It was October 4, 2012, and Facebook was already the world’s largest social network.
Having agreed to buy Instagram for an unprecedented $1bn (£750m) only seven months earlier, it was still recovering from a disastrous public float and racing to catch up with a worldwide shift towards smartphones.
Read Laurence Dodds‘ piece on how the social media behemoth splashed billions to neutralise threats posed by other companies.
Microsoft pledges more Xbox stock
Gamers across the country have been repeatedly disappointed by failed efforts to secure a new console ahead of Christmas, but more stock is on the way.
Xbox-maker Microsoft has insisted that it will replenish stock for its Series X and cheaper Series S machines.
«We can’t wait for everyone who wants to experience gaming on Xbox Series X and Series S to do so and are working with our retail partners to replenish stock as quickly as we can,» the company said in a blog post.
Stock of both Microsoft’s consoles and Sony’s PlayStation 5 have been very difficult to come by with online shops crashing due to demand.
Google’s Pichai apologises over departure of AI researcher
Google chief Sunday Pichai has pledged to investigate the handling of the departure of Timnit Gebru, a prominent AI researcher at the tech giant.
Pichai told staff that he had heard the reaction to Gebru’s departure «loud and clear» in a company-wide email.
“It seeded doubts and led some in our community to question their place at Google,» he said in the email that has been widely reported. «I want to say how sorry I am for that, and I accept the responsibility of working to restore your trust.”
The now-departed AI researcher claimed that she was fired last week for sending an email that hit out at the lack of progress in hiring women and minorities at Google, the New York Times reported. Bloomberg reported her sacking came after she co-authored a report that called out ethical issues relating to the tech that underpins services like Google Search.
Gebru is best-known for her work on facial recognition biases, having demonstrated how algorithms are better at detecting white faces than they are at black and brown ones.
SpaceX test flight ends in fireball on landing
SpaceX launched its shiny, bullet-shaped, straight-out-of-science fiction Starship several miles into the air from a remote corner of Texas on Wednesday, but the six and half minute test flight ended in an explosive fireball on landing.
It was the highest and most elaborate flight yet for the rocketship that Elon Musk says could carry people to Mars in as little as six years.
This latest prototype – the first one equipped with a nose cone, body flaps and three engines – was shooting for an altitude of up to eight miles. That’s almost 100 times higher than previous hops and skimming the stratosphere.
Five things to start your day
1) US government sues Facebook The Federal Trade Commission wants the tech giant to have to sell off its prized assets of Instagram and WhatsApp
2) Airbnb and Uber targeted by Treasury Tougher VAT rules could hit landlords and drivers
3) Pfizer vaccine data breached A cyber attack on the European medicine regulator meant data about the coronavirus vaccine was stolen
4) Google’s chief executive pledged to investigate an AI ethics row Sundar Pichai said he would examine how a top researcher at the company had left amid a damaging internal row
5) Airbnb priced its IPO at $68 It gives the company a valuation of $47bn, the biggest tech company to go public this year