FACEBOOK COO SHERYL SANDBERG FACES HEAT ON SOROS
After allegations of Russia using Facebook to influence US Presidential elections, Cambridge Analytica data usage to benefit Donald Trump, breach of millions of user accounts and the embarrassing investigation into Facebook’s possible consideration of data sale to clients, another controversy is rearing its head. This time, the heat is on Sheryl Sandberg, the firm’s COO and effectively the number 2 — often referred to as the ‘adult in the room’ in the social media company. The whole fracas started when billionaire investor George Soros had given a stinging criticism of Facebook at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland on January 25.
He had warned of “an alliance between authoritarian states and these large, data-rich I.T. monopolies that would bring together nascent systems of corporate surveillance with an already developed system of state-sponsored surveillance”. Subsequently, it was reported in the New York Times that Facebook hired Republican opposition firm Definers Public Affairs to target Soros. Definers also got negative stories spread on Soros on behalf of Facebook, which also talked about his relations with groups that were critical of the firm. On Thursday, a Facebook spokesperson admitted that Sandberg had asked staff to explore whether Soros had a vested financial interest in targeting the company. Both Sandberg and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had denied earlier that the company had used Definers. Elliot Schrage, the previous head of Facebook’s communication team, in fact took responsibility for the controversial hiring of Definers, which is being seen as ‘convenient’ since he no longer works at the company.
FIRST TRILATERAL MEET FOR ‘J’APAN, ‘A’MERICA & ‘I’NDIA
Indian PM Narendra Modi, US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires . This was the first trilateral meet between the three countries.
Modi gave the acronym ‘JAI’ (or victory for Japan, America and India) to the three countries and commented, “In a way, JAI (the trilateral meet) is a message of success and we are making a new beginning. Our arrangement I believe, will play a big role in promoting world peace and prosperity.” He further expressed happiness that the US and Japan are India’s strategic partners, and also said that both Trump and Abe are his “good friends”. Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale told the media that the meeting was warm and both leaders complimented Modi for his development work. The leaders discussed the situation in the Asia Pacific and the importance of a free, open, inclusive and rules-based order for regional peace and prosperity. Other points of consensus included the central role of ASEAN and synergising of efforts on marine and connectivity issues.
GDP GROWS BY 7.1% IN SEPTEMBER QUARTER
The Indian economy grew at a rate of 7.1% during the quarter ending September 2018, a major deceleration from the 8.2% growth during April-June, 2018, but higher than 6.3% during Q2, 2017–18. GDP in the quarter stood at Rs 33.98 lakh crore as opposed to Rs 31.72 lakh crore during the same quarter in 2017. GDP growth for the September quarter is the lowest over the past three quarters. India retained the tag of the fastest growing major economy, with China growing at 6.5%. Gross Value Added for the quarter at constant 2011–12 prices stood at Rs 31.4 lakh crore, growing by 6.9% year-on-year. Mining and quarrying dropped by 2.4% during the quarter compared to 6.9% in Q2, 2017–18. On the other hand, manufacturing, construction and farming showed improved growth rates year-on-year at 7.4%, 7.8% and 3.8% respectively.
October data shows a slight improvement in growth of eight core sectors — coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilisers, steel, cement and electricity — to 4.8% from 4.3% in September. The lower than expected GDP growth is a negative for the Modi government, which has been criticised for failing to provide adequate jobs for the over 12 million Indians that enter the workforce every year. Unemployment rate was at a two-year high of 6.9% in October, with around 30 million unemployed people. To create jobs for these people, India needs to have a GDP growth of over 8%.
RCOM GETS APPROVAL TO SELL SPECTRUM TO RELIANCE JIO
Reliance Communications’ efforts to bring down its huge debt have received a huge shot in the arm after the Supreme Court approved its planned sale of spectrum to Reliance Jio.
The SC rejected the concerns flagged by the Department of Telecom, and asked RCom to submit a corporate guarantee of Rs 1,400 crore to the Department within 2 days. The Department has to then give approval within a week after getting the guarantee. The company had shut down its wireless division in 2017, burdened by debt of around Rs 46,000 crore coupled with weak financials. Moreover, a legal battle with Department of Telecom on payment of pending dues of Rs 2,947,68 crore has been ongoing. The Department had stalled the sale of spectrum until its dues were covered by bank guarantees. RCom has to pay off Ericsson and Reliance Infratel shareholders along with 39 lenders including 14 state-run banks. The sale of spectrum, telecom towers, switching nodes and fibre assets to Jio along with sale of real estate to Canadian asset management company Brookfield are expected to provide a boost of Rs 18,000 crore to RCom.
FARMERS KNOCK ON THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Almost a lakh farmers entered Delhi on Thursday for a march to Parliament on November 30.
The Kisan Mukti March is being organised by the All India Kissan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, which is an alliance of various farmer bodies and is supported by nearly all opposition parties including the Congress. Farmers are asking for the right remuneration for their produce as well as freedom from debt. For instance, their pamphlet points out to how the farmer gets Rs 5 per kg for tomatoes while the consumer pays Rs 30. India suffers the dubious distinction of over three lakh farmer suicides over the past 20 years. They are asking for a special session of Parliament on the agrarian crisis, waiver of current loans, measures to avoid future debt-like situations and implementation of the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission on minimum support price. While the Union Cabinet has approved provision of 50% return on input prices, farmers are not satisfied with the methodology of calculation.
IITIANS FLUSH WITH RS 25 LAKH PLUS OFFERS
Tech talent from premier institutions is in huge demand, as indicated by the packages being offered to graduates from the IITs. The number of packages over Rs 25 lakh this year is higher than ever before. Sources from IIT campuses say that while more firms are offering packages, the number of packages per company is also expected to increase. Eighteen companies are breaching the threshold at IIT Kanpur this year as compared to 12 companies in the previous year. IIT Roorkee has witnessed an increase by 35% yoy to reach 30–35 and IIT BHU has seen the number increase by 40% yoy. Companies offering these packages include Salesforce, Sprinklr, Samsung, Cisco, Amazon and Flipkart. Those willing to go even higher include Goldman Sachs (over Rs 30 lakh), Microsoft and Uber (Rs 35–40 lakh) and DE Shaw
(Rs 45 lakh).
Considering global placements, Microsoft is expected to be the top paymaster, offering a package equivalent to Rs 1.5 crore for a job posting to its headquarters at Redmond.
UrbanClap raises funding of US$ 50 million
Home services start-up UrbanClap Technologies has secured US$ 50 million of funding in its Series D round, which was led by Steadview Capital Management and current investor Vy Capital.
SO FAR, THE COMPANY HAS RAISED US$ 60.7 MILLION.
The company plans to use the funds to improve customer and service partner onboarding, build the product and technology team and enhance the supply chain of consumables. UrbanClap facilitates users who wish to hire professionals for various home services like repair and maintenance, home cleaning, homecare and design, pest control, home tutoring, packers and movers, beauty and yoga & fitness across 8 cities. The top three services on UrbanClap at present are beauty services, appliance repairs and house cleaning, and its platform has more than 100,000 trained services professionals or micro-entrepreneurs. It has also entered the UAE with five services, where it has seen 100% growth in the last six months. Revenue for UrbanClap grew by over 4 times to Rs 45 crore in FY 2017–18 from ₹11 crore in FY 2016–17. According to co-founder Raghav Chandra, the company plans to create jobs for at least 1 million service professionals in the SME segment.
PRIYANKA-NICK’S ROYAL WEDDING TODAY
This weekend is witnessing a galaxy of celebrities from across the globe descend to Jodhpur for the grand and royal wedding of actress Priyanka Chopra and American singer Nick Jonas at the Umaid Bhawan Palace. Nita and Mukesh Ambani reached the venue on Friday with daughter Isha and son Anant. The lovebirds will be married as per Christian rituals on December 1 and according to Hindu traditions on December 2. By all accounts, the wedding is expected to be a lavish affair; some of the highlights include a venue lit up by laser beam lights, Indian treats, shoes, an information guide on the three-day affair, a wishing well tree and special silver coins of Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesh for the guests.
Nick had earlier revealed during an interview to Vogue that “he will be following Indian custom and arriving on horseback ‘dressed like a king’, wearing a turban and holding a sword”. Some of the international celebrities expected to make it to the wedding are GoT star Sophie Turner (also fiancée of Nick’s brother Joe), Dwayne Johnson, Armie Hammer, Lupita Nyong’o, and Kelly Ripa. However Priyanka Chopra’s close friend and Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle will not be attending the celebrations with her husband Prince Harry.
IF YOU ARE OFFERED A SEAT IN THE ROCKET SHIP , DON;T ASK WHICH SEAT — SHERYL SANDBERG