Technology Roundup – Twitter permanently bans President Trump’s account; Intel reportedly talking with TSMC and Samsung

科技精选——推特永久禁止特朗普总统的账号;英特尔与台积电和三星洽谈
Published on: January 8, 2021
Author: Amy Liu

Twitter permanently bans President Trump’s account; Parler faces App Store ban (updated)

Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) says it’s permanently suspended President Trump’s account.

“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them – specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” the company says.

The new move came in particular response to two tweets the president sent today.

“In the context of horrific events this week, we made it clear on Wednesday that additional violations of the Twitter Rules would potentially result in this very course of action,” Twitter says.

Trump’s tweets today – saying his voters would “not be disrespected or treated unfairly” and that he would not be attending the inauguration – “must be read in the context of broader events in the country and the ways in which the President’s statements can be mobilized by different audiences, including to incite violence, as well as in the context of the pattern of behavior from this account in recent weeks,” the company says.

The move follows Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) decision yesterday to suspend Trump’s activity indefinitely (and at least for the remaining days through the inauguration of Joe Biden).

Twitter’s 12-hour suspension looked light in the face of Facebook’s decision, and Trump’s return to the Twitter’s platform today drew heavy attention.

Meanwhile, Parler – the alternative social media network favored by conservatives and Trump supporters, who praise it for a lack of moderation – is facing a ban from Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) App Store. Apple has given Parler 24 hours to produce a moderation policy or have its app removed.

Updated 6:43 p.m.: Twitter stock is down 1.9% after hours; the company is faced with losing one of its most heavily engaged accounts in history.

Updated 8:44 p.m.: Trump tried tweeting from the presidency’s official handle – the government-owned @POTUS account – but Twitter pulled the tweets almost immediately. He accused Twitter of coordinating with enemies to silence him, and said “we also look at the possibilities of building out our own platform in the near future.”

Intel reportedly talking with TSMC, Samsung as outsourcing decision nears

After a day mostly in the red, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) briefly turned positive late in the afternoon after a report that the company had talked with Taiwan Semiconductor (NYSE:TSM) and Samsung (OTC:SSNLF) about outsourcing production – though that bump got sold quickly, and the chipmaker ultimately closed down 1%.

Intel is reportedly still deciding on the amount of production to outsource, while hoping it can manage last-minute improvements to its internal production, Bloomberg says.

And that is cutting close to decision time, as CEO Bob Swan has said Intel would sort out early in 2021 whether it would be spending more on internal equipment, and the company is scheduled to announce plans in less than two weeks – when the company reports earnings on Jan. 21.

The talks with TSMC are at a more advanced stage, and TSMC’s foundry capabilities lead those at Samsung.

The moves come as Intel has suffered delays putting it behind rivals (including AMD and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)) that design their own silicon and contract TSMC to do manufacturing.

TSMC is preparing to offer Intel chips manufactured using a 4-nanometer process, with initial testing using an older 5-nm process, Bloomberg says. It’s expecting to have a new facility in Baoshan in operation by the end of 2021 that could be converted to production for Intel if required.

The decision is imminent: Any components Intel sourced from Taiwan wouldn’t come to market until 2023 at the earliest, and be based on established processes already in use by other TSMC customers.

Uber -4.9% on reports of 38M-share block offered by Goldman

Uber (NYSE:UBER) is 4.9% lower after reports that Goldman Sachs has 38M shares on the block for sale.

Those are said to be offered at $53.90-$56.13 each – a potential 4% discount to yesterday’s close on the low end.

The sellers are unknown, but Bloomberg points to nine large holders who own at least 38M shares, led by SoftBank Group (222.2M), Benchmark Capital (150.1M), Morgan Stanley (101.5M), FMR (97.7M), Public Investment Fund (72.8M) and Alphabet (71.1M).

U.S. suspends French tariffs over digital service tax

The U.S. has backed off a threat to slap tariffs of 25% on French luxury goods, valued at around $1.3B annually, in response to France’s digital service tax (DST) on companies like Google (GOOG, GOOGL), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). The suspension was welcomed by U.S. importers and retailers that had criticized such punitive tariffs as a tool that aims to protect one industry at the expense of another, while hurting American consumers.

Backdrop: In August 2019, President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron reached a deal by promising that the French government would scrap the French tax as soon as the OECD found a way to properly tax tech companies. In December 2019, the U.S. promised 100% tariffs on French wine, cheese and handbags because the previous deal wasn’t good enough, while in January 2020, the two sides agreed to wait a little bit to see if the OECD framework would materialize.

What they’re saying: France and other countries feel American companies are profiting enormously from local markets while making only limited contributions to public coffers. Paris has offered to withdraw the tax as soon as an OECD deal is reached, while other countries are looking at implementing their own DST. The USTR has indicated it wants to coordinate its response in similar disputes with other nations, but gave no time frame for further action.

The decision puts the responsibility of the tax disputes on the incoming Biden administration. “America is going to have to respond,” declared Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.), the likely next chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “Many of these unilateral taxes have been designed to target American companies that are generating high-skill, high-wage jobs.”

Amazon recently received a reminder from the French authorities to pay the tax and will comply, while Facebook said it had also received a bill and would “ensure compliance with all tax laws in the jurisdictions where we operate.”

Baidu jumps to best since July 2018 as Mizuho lauds autonomous driving unit

Baidu (BIDU +15.6%) skyrockets to its highest level in two-and-a-half years after Mizuho reiterates its Buy rating and raises its price target to $250 from $185, citing the value of the search engine company’s autonomous driving business.

“China’s policy support of autonomous driving could unlock the value of Baidu’s [autonomous driving] business given the company’s category leadership,” Mizuho’s James Lee writes, expecting strategic investments will come in from leading original equipment manufacturers that could value the unit at $20B.

Baidu also remains “positive structurally” into FY 2021 on internet due to increased penetration in e-commerce and advertising in both the U.S. and China, according to Lee.

Shares are up 16.5% over the past two days, which began with a Reuters report that Baidu plans to form a company with Chinese automaker Geely to produce smart electric vehicles.

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