FTC Charges Broadcom With Monopolization of Chip Industry


Illustration for article titled FTC Charges Broadcom With Illegal Monopolization of the Chip Industry

Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

The Federal Trade Commission has filed charges against Broadcom over allegations that the chip maker monopolized the market for semiconductor components, the agency announced Friday.

According to the commission’s complaint, Broadcom entered into long-term exclusivity and loyalty agreements with both original equipment manufacturers and service providers to prevent them from buying chips from Broadcom’s rivals. The FTC’s investigation, which dates back years, found that Broadcom had been making “exclusive or near-exclusive” deals since 2016 with at least 10 manufacturers of TV set-top boxes and broadband devices. The company also threatened customers who used a rival’s product with retaliation, with nonexclusive customers facing higher prices for slower delivery times and less responsive customer support, the FTC claims.

“By entering exclusivity and loyalty agreements with key customers at two levels of the supply chain, Broadcom created insurmountable barriers for companies trying to compete with Broadcom,” the agency said in a press release Friday.

The FTC said that under a proposed consent order, Broadcom must stop engaging in these kinds of contracts and conditioning access to its chips based on exclusivity or loyalty deals. Broadcom would also be prohibited from retaliating against customers that do business with its competitors.

“America has a monopoly problem,” said Holly Vedova, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, in a press statement. “Today’s action is a step toward addressing that problem by pushing back against strong-arm tactics by a monopolist in important markets for key broadband components. There is much more work to be done and we need the tools and resources to do it. But I have full confidence in FTC staff’s commitment to this effort.”

The proposed consent order is still subject to a public comment period and a final commission review. For its part, Broadcom has pushed back against the FTC’s allegations while also indicating that it’s willing to cooperate on a settlement. The company resolved a similar antitrust dispute with the European Union last October in which it agreed to stop pushing exclusivity arrangements for chips used in TV set-top boxes and modems for the next seven years.

“We are pleased to move toward resolving this Broadband matter with the FTC on terms that are substantially similar to our previous settlement with the [European Commission] involving the same products,” Broadcom said in a statement to CNBC. “While we disagree that our actions violated the law and disagree with the FTC’s characterizations of our business, we look forward to putting this matter behind us and continuing to focus on supporting our customers through an environment of accelerated digital transformation.”


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Volkswagen to Exit Combustion Car Business in Europe by 2035


Illustration for article titled Volkswagen Will Say Goodbye to the Combustion Vehicle Business in Europe by 2035

Photo: Ronny Hartmann / AFP (Getty Images)

Volkswagen will say goodbye to combustion engine vehicles in Europe between 2033 and 2035, one of the company’s board members said. It plans to do the same in the U.S. and China a little later and in South America and Africa further down the line.

In an interview with the German outlet Merkur.de published this weekend, Volkswagen sales board director Klaus Zellmer laid out the company’s roadmap for retiring the combustion engine across several regions. Zellmer said that, as a volume manufacturer, the company’s timeline for phasing out combustion technology was based on the different speeds of transformation in individual regions, according to a Google translation of the interview.

Zellmer explained that competitors who sell cars in Europe, for example, will have to deal with less complexity when it comes to transformation because of the clear political guidelines.

“We have set very clear goals and milestones. We will make our entire fleet CO2 neutral by 2050 at the latest,” Zellmer said. “In Europe we will exit the combustion engine vehicle business between 2033 and 2035, in the USA and China a little later. In South America and Africa, due to the lack of political and infrastructural framework conditions, it will take a good bit longer.”

In April, the European Union announced that it was increasing its carbon emissions reduction objective to 55% from 40% by 2030 compared and aiming for zero net emissions by 2050.

Despite the company’s plans to exit the combustion engine business, Zellmer told Merkur.de that combustion technology would be needed for a few more years. He added that the company would continue to invest in optimizing its drives, which include diesel. Zellmer said that diesel is a particular challenge, but that there were driving profiles for which diesel was still in high demand, such as customers with high mileage.

In terms of battery-electric vehicles, Zellmer said Volkswagen aimed to increase the share of total sales to 70% by 2030 in Europe.

The announcement is the latest from carmakers who are making changes to their products in light of the dire situation facing our planet. Ford, for instance, has said it will only sell electric vehicles in Europe by 2030, and that it will spend $1 billion to transform its factory in Cologne, Germany into its first European electric vehicle manufacturing center. General Motors maintains that it will eliminate gas-powered, light-duty vehicle production by 2035 and plans to be carbon neutral by 2040. And Honda says it will stop selling gas-powered vehicles in 2040.

Gizmodo reached out to Volkswagen for comment on Zellmer’s interview but did not receive a response by the time of publication. We’ll make sure to update this blog if we hear back.


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Federal Judge Puts New York’s Affordable Internet Law on Hold


Broadband network cables

Photo: Karen Bleier/AFP (Getty Images)

In a huge win for internet service providers, a federal judge on Friday granted a preliminary injunction to stall a New York law mandating affordable internet for low-income households.

Lobbying groups representing AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and other telecom companies have fiercely pushed back against the legislation, known as the Affordable Broadband Act, and sued New York shortly after it was signed and passed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in April. Initially scheduled to go into effect next week, the bill would require ISPs serving more than 20,000 households to offer two low-cost plans to qualifying customers: one with download speeds of a least 25 Mbps for no more than $15 per month, and another offering download speeds of at least 200 Mbps at no more than $20 monthly. The state’s attorney general would be able to issue penalties to providers of up to $1,000 per violation.

The bill isn’t dead yet, but this eleventh-hour injunction is not a good sign. In his ruling, New York’s Eastern District Judge Dennis R. Hurley described internet access as a “modern necessity.” However, he also agreed with the argument from ISPs that the law is likely to result in “imminent irreparable injury” to their bottom line either from lost revenue or penalty payments.

Three of the companies told the court the law would cut annual net income by at least $1 million each. The bill also mandates that companies promote these new affordable plans to low-income customers, an ad campaign that Verizon estimated would cost between $250,000 and $1 million.

“While a telecommunications giant like Verizon may be able to absorb such a loss, others may not,” Hurley wrote. “The Champlain Telephone Company, for example, ‘estimates that nearly half of its existing broadband customers will qualify for discounted rates,’ with each customer ‘causing a monetary loss.’”

However, state attorneys pushed back that these stats aren’t supported by any financial records. Cuomo spokesperson Rich Azzopardi said Friday that New York plans to continue defending the bill.

“We always knew big telecom would pull out all the stops to protect their profits at the expense of the New Yorkers who need access to this vital utility the most,” Azzopardi said in a press statement via Axios. “We are going to continue to fight for them.”


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Money Jinyun Unsplash

Is Borrowing Money a Biblical Principle? — Charisma Magazine


Money Jinyun Unsplash

The subject of borrowing money is somewhat controversial in the Christian community. I have heard certain preachers warn us about the evils of borrowing. In addition to that, I’ve spoken to individuals who say they pay cash for everything and would never borrow money. If they don’t have the money to pay cash for it, they believe they don’t need it. Now some of this is a little extreme, and some of it is good advice. Allow me to bring some clarity to these thoughts.

The Bible is clear about being cautious in borrowing money. It tells us when we borrow from another individual, we can actually become a servant to them. However, borrowing may be necessary in some instances. The most obvious examples would be in borrowing money to purchase a car or buy a new home. Yet we must use caution when it comes to borrowing for even these necessary items.

Most of us would not own a home if it wasn’t for a mortgage company or bank advancing us the funds to make the purchase. Buying a home has always been the American dream and one that most individuals and couples look forward to accomplishing. When my wife and I purchased our first home, we were cautious and concerned about the monthly payments. Then we realized that we had to make payments to rent a place to live. So, why not purchase a home, and at least it could be an excellent investment. In addition, the interest payments on our mortgage would be deductible on our income taxes. In that instance, borrowing money was a good decision.

Today we own our home, and it has become the largest asset we have. Someday we will sell it and purchase a smaller home for less money. The funds we have remaining from the sale of our home will be a blessing to our retirement. That mortgage loan was a blessing.

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Now we need to look at borrowing to buy a car. Automobile loans are necessary for almost everyone. We must be careful in this area of borrowing. The first step is to determine how much of a monthly payment we can afford. We can only determine that if we have a budget. Cars are not an investment for most of us. A car or truck is an ongoing expense. They are necessary and the second largest purchase most of us make. My suggestion is to buy a three year old car every three years. This will save you the huge depreciation in the first three years of a new car yet provide reliable transportation that may not have significant repair costs.

The financing of your automobile is a major decision. Never let the car dealer talk you into buying more than you can afford. Be aggressive in negotiating your loan interest rate. Many times banks will offer special auto loan rates. Tell the dealer to match or beat the bank’s rate. Another area to watch is the number of years in your loan. A car dealer will get your monthly payment down by lengthening the number of years of the loan.

Most of us need a car, and borrowing to buy one is not making us a servant to the lender. If we financed less than the price of the car by making a down payment, we can always sell the car and pay the loan off.

We borrow money to build churches, hospitals, medical clinics, private schools, shopping centers, places for entertainment and the list goes on and on. Borrowing can be used for good and bad purposes.

In my next article on borrowing, I will cover co-signing a loan, consolidation loans and steps to get out of debt. My book entitled Experience the Joy of Debt-Free Living can be found at davidcfriendauthor.com.

May you prosper and be in good health as your soul prospers. For more tips on how you can manage your money in alignment with the Holy Spirit, listen to Quality Christian Living on the Charisma Podcast Network. Torch1

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Squarespace Accidentally Borked Its Own Website


Illustration for article titled Squarespace Accidentally Borked Its Own Website

Screenshot: Lucas Ropek/Wayback Machine

Whaaat just happened to Squarespace? In today’s daily dose of irony, the website hosting provider (known for supporting site operations for companies the world over) seemed to temporarily lose access to its own homepage Tuesday.

A little before 1 p.m. ET, online users began noticing problems, finding only a banner that read either “Website Expired” or “Site Deleted” when they visited the site. One web user archived an image of this on the Wayback Machine, for posterity.

Onlookers alternately mused over whether the page had been hacked, deleted, or if the company had forgotten to pay their own Squarespace “bill.” Others figured: early April Fool’s Day joke? All interesting theories, though the company hasn’t really given enough details about what happened to vindicate any of them:

People were amused:

Early on, the company did its best to respond to the confused masses—offering that their engineers were “looking into” the matter.

Later on, the company characterized the problem as the result of a “minor outage,” but didn’t elaborate on what that meant.

About an hour after the problem initially popped up, around 1:23 p.m. ET, the company’s homepage came back online and the issue was declared “resolved.”

When reached by email Tuesday, a Squarespace spokesperson shed little light on the subject, telling Gizmodo the following: “An internal process error caused a temporary issue with our front site. The issue and process have been fully resolved. There was no malicious activity involved and the issue did not impact any customer websites.”

Weird! Were it Thursday, I might have gone with the April’s Fool’s Day interpretation. A “minor outage” that causes a company’s homepage to first display that it had been “deleted,” then that it had “expired”? I guess stranger things have happened. Did someone accidentally click the CMS “delete” button? We’ll update this post when we know more.


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WeWork Is Going Public Thanks to Merger With BowX Acquisition


Illustration for article titled WeWork Is Finally Going Public Thanks to Merger With BowX Acquisition

Photo: Drew Angerer (Getty Images)

Nearly two years after WeWork imploded ahead of its planned initial public offering, the office-sharing startup is finally going public.

On Friday, WeWork announced a merger with special-purpose acquisition company BowX Acquisition Corp. The deal values WeWork at $9 billion, a far cry from the ridiculously inflated $47 billion it was valued at in the lead-up to its botched IPO. WeWork, a real estate firm with a wild history that leases co-working space to tech startups, opted to delay going public in 2019 amid revelations of wild mismanagement and mounting debts. Between 2016 and 2019, the company recorded some $4 billion in losses (Hey, having Kombucha on tap ain’t cheap, you know).

In the aftermath, then WeWork co-founder and CEO Adam Neumann, who drew scrutiny from investors after cashing out over $700 million in stock options shortly before the planned IPO, agreed to step down, thousands of employees lost their jobs, and the Securities and Exchange Commission launched an investigation into the disaster.

But now the beleaguered startup says those days are behind it.

“WeWork has spent the past year transforming the business and refocusing its core, while simultaneously managing and innovating through a historic downturn,” CEO Sandeep Mathrani wrote in a blog post Friday. “As a result, WeWork has emerged as the global leader in flexible space with a value proposition that is stronger than ever.”

WeWork and BowX have been negotiating a potential merger since January, the Wall Street Journal reports. Per the deal, WeWork will receive roughly $1.3 billion, including $800 million in a private placement investment from Insight Partners as well as funds managed by Starwood Capital Group and Fidelity Management, among others. The merger is expected to close within the coming months, WeWork said.

Like many businesses, WeWork has struggled to stay afloat amid the covid-19 pandemic since, you know, it’s kind of hard to sell people on a physical coworking space when there’s a deadly communicable virus going around. The company failed to pay rent for some of its locations back in April following widespread lockdowns, Bloomberg reported at the time.

However, with the world slowly opening back up again and companies on the hunt for flexible office space models now more than ever, Bloomberg predicts that this could be WeWork’s chance to shine. And the company’s higher-ups agree.

“The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we work, and WeWork is incredibly well positioned to springboard into a future propelled by digital technology and a new appreciation of the value of flexible workspace,” said executive chairman Marcelo Claure in Friday’s blog post.


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Particle EtherSIM Boasts Global Cellular Connectivity


Illustration for article titled These Tiny Chips Give Your DIY Projects Worldwide Cellular Connectivity
Photo: Particle

Particle is a component company for hobbyists and IT specialists that makes network-connected parts for DIY projects. For years they made mostly wifi devices, allowing users to connect things like robots and 3D printers to the internet. Now, they’ve announced a new system that offers global cellular connectivity for the price of the hardware.

The new EtherSIM hardware includes a $69 start kit for experimenters that includes an antenna, a system-on-chip card, and a breadboard. The SIM card and cellular connectivity are built-in and activate when you plug the board into a power source.

The EtherSIM solution is especially interesting because it offers cellular connectivity without overage charges.

“With the launch of EtherSIM, Particle’s cellular data plans are now baked into the subscription fees you pay for use of our platform,” they write. “But while those fees might work for customers delivering an IoT product at scale who have worked out their business model, they can be cumbersome in the early stages of development when you don’t yet have your own customers and revenue.”

To combat this problem, the company made connectivity to up to 100 devices free with no time limit, a boon for hobbyists.

Other companies like Adafruit make cellular break-out boards for devices like the Raspberry Pi and Arduino. Instead, Particle’s entry-level system is based on the Nordic nRF52840 chip, which is essentially a tiny computer on a single chip.

The most important part? The EtherSIM boards range from $70 to about $102 and can be embedded into almost any electronics project. Add in a rechargeable battery and a few sensors, for instance, you’ve got an instant weather station, GPS tracker, or robotic brain.


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