A Rough Time for Tesla
Last Monday, Tesla’s chief executive, Elon Musk, ran a demonstration of the company’s driverless cars and boldly claimed that he would have a fleet of autonomous taxis on the road next year. (Other experts say the vehicles are a few years from road readiness, at least.) Two days later, Tesla reported steep first-quarter losses, even worse than predicted. The company attributed the poor numbers to sluggish sales of its much-ballyhooed Model 3 sedan, which has suffered from production issues and lagging demand. But analysts saw it as yet another example of Mr. Musk’s tendency to overpromise and underdeliver.
Boeing Takes a Beating
Boeing’s troubled fleet of 737 Max jets has come home to roost, in the form of dismal quarterly numbers. The company’s stock slid last week after it posted its worst results in years, including a $1 billion hit to its commercial plane division. Boeing also didn’t provide its usual forecast for future sales and profits, as investigators are still trying to figure out what caused the two similar crashes of the 737 Max in the past year (and, more important, how to prevent them from happening again). Until then, a big chunk of Boeing’s business is out of commission.
Settle for Less
Facebook has long been under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission for playing fast and loose with its users’ privacy (Exhibit A: The Cambridge Analytica scandal, when Facebook shared its users’ personal information with a political consulting firm without their consent). Now, the company is prepared to do penance for those violations — and get the F.T.C. off its back — by paying up to $5 billion in fines, a record-high penalty for a tech company in the United States. Which sounds bad. But is it really? Critics called it a slap on the wrist, certainly not painful enough to force real change. And Facebook itself seems unbowed. It announced plans to pay the settlement at the same time that it posted higher-than-expected quarterly earnings, and its stock soared afterward.
No Easy Ride
The most fussed-about initial public offering of the year is almost here. Uber is aiming for a price range of $44 to $50 a share, which would put its total value at around $91 billion when it starts trading in early May. That’s higher than the ride-hailing company’s most recent appraisal of $76 billion last August, but lower than the $100 billion valuation that was floating around a few weeks ago. So are Uber’s shares a good deal or not? During a 10-day roadshow this coming week, its leaders will attempt to convince investors that, despite its $1.8 billion loss last year, Uber’s future is bright — and it won’t repeat the lackluster post-I.P.O. performance of its smaller rival, Lyft.
Amazon Forges Ahead
Yes, Amazon is still making boatloads of money. (You didn’t think a divorce and a scandalous photo drama would hinder its chief executive, Jeff Bezos, did you?) Last Thursday, the e-commerce behemoth posted its biggest quarterly profit to date ($3.6 billion), blowing past analysts’ expectations. Up next, the company will focus on speeding up its free delivery for Prime members, shortening the time to one day from two. It’ll cost Amazon a lot in the short run (about $800 million), but may give it the edge it needs to boost its slowing retail sales and stay ahead of competitors.
Autonomous drones produced by Google’s Wing Aviation have gotten the go-ahead from the Federal Aviation Administration to make small commercial deliveries (like, say, a burger) from businesses to people’s homes. Speaking of which, Beyond Meat, which makes juicy veggie patties that really look and taste like beef, is planning to go public later this year. In other news, two Google employees who led a protest against the company’s treatment of sexual harassment say they have since faced retaliation at work.