Global Tech Roundup: Coronavirus Drug Fails, Facebook Invests in India’s Jio and Others
This week has been a very interesting one on the global scene. The total number of coronavirus passed 2.5 million, with countries like Nigeria reaching a record daily high in confirmed cases. However, despite the pandemic, several investments and product releases took place during the week.
Here are some of the major tech news updates that happened during the week.
Coronavirus Vaccine Fails as Global Cases Surpass 2.5 Million
The week began with the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus across the world exceeding the 2.5 million mark. Although there have been signs that the spread of the virus is slowing with many countries implementing lockdown measures, the current number of infections stands at about 2.72 million.
The growth rate of infection dropped from 8-9% per day at the beginning of April to about 3-4% per day in the past week. There have been 191,061 confirmed deaths and 745,905 recovery cases.
Unfortunately, experimental coronavirus drug, remdesivir, failed in its first clinical trial. With the current position of things, the end of the coronavirus pandemic can’t be predicted, so it’s better to stay home and stay safe.
Elon’s SpaceX successfully launches 60 internet satellites
On Tuesday, SpaceX, the largest private satellite operator in the world, launched 60 more of its Starlink satellites. The satellites will provide connectivity for its high-bandwidth broadband internet network. The successful launch of this batch of satellites brings the total number of Starlink satellites on orbit to 422.
Despite the pandemic, SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk have said that the company is on track to debut this year. He shared that the private beta test for Starlink would begin in around three months, with a public beta to kick off roughly three months after that.
With the company’s aggressive pace having flown four of such missions just four months into 2020, it seems poised to fulfill its planned launch in Canada and the Northern U.S. later this year.
Facebook Invests $5.7 billion in Indian telecom giant, Reliance Jio
Facebook has increased its commitment in India by buying a 9.99% stake in
Reliance Jio Platforms for $5.7 billion. This is the biggest deal by the social media giant since it bought WhatsApp in February 2014.
Valued at about $65.95 billion, Reliance Jio is the biggest telecom operator in India and a subsidiary of Reliance Industry owned by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani. The $5.7 billion deal makes Facebook the largest minority shareholder in the company.
Global tech companies sack and furlough employees due to coronavirus
This week at least 3 major tech company laid off or furloughed their staff due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. OYO, an Indian budget lodging startup backed by SoftBank announced that it was furloughing more employees globally and implementing a 25% pay cut across the board through July. According to the company, the pandemic slashed its revenue by 60%.
Also, Magic Leap, a consumer Augmented Reality startup, has announced that it will lay off employees from all levels of the organisation. According to The Information, about 1000 (half of its workforce) will be forced to leave.
Similarly, Lambda Schools, a popular online coding Bootcamp, has also announced that it has cut 19 staff from various roles across the company. 8 members of its executive team, including CEO and founder Austen Allred, are also taking a 15% pay cut.
According to most of the companies, the recent economic downturn caused by the global spread of the COVID-19 virus has significantly decreased the availability of capital and inflow of revenue.
Apple Launches New iPhone SE; a Low-Cost Device for a Season of Low Spending
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Apple launched its new lower-cost device – the iPhone SE. The new device looks very much like the iPhone 8 but has the internal components of iPhone 11.
The device goes for a reduced price starting at N154,000 ($399), which is even lower than the iPhone 8 (N173,000 – $449). With better interior at a reduced price, the iPhone SE is an affordable device for Apple lovers on a tight budget.
Netflix gains 15.77 million new subscribers in Q1
In its Q1 report for released this week, Netflix recorded about 15.77 million new users. This was double the initial growth prediction of 7 million net new subscribers.
With the addition of the new subscribers, Netflix now has a total of 182.86 million paid subscribers. The high growth was mainly due to the increasing adoption of internet entertainment by millions of people stuck at home because of the pandemic.
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