‘A side of shares’: Deliveroo to offer 50 million pounds of stock to customers

LONDON (Reuters) – Deliveroo said shares worth 50 million pounds ($69 million) would be earmarked for customers in its upcoming flotation, with the offer branded “Great food with a side of shares”.

The Amazon-backed food delivery firm announced plans on Thursday to list in London, with a potential value of $7 billion making it the biggest market debut in Britain for three years.

Founder and chief executive Will Shu said Deliveroo’s customers had supported the firm’s growth and he wanted to give them the chance to share in the next stage of its journey.

“Far too often, normal people are locked out of IPOs, and the only participants are the institutional investors,” he said on Sunday.

“I wanted to give as many customers as possible the chance to become shareholders, which is why we’re making 50 million pounds of shares available to them, alongside our restaurant partners and riders.”

Deliveroo said any customer who had placed an order would be able to register their interest via the company’s app from Monday.

Each would be able to apply for up to 1,000 pounds of shares, it said, adding that loyal customers would be prioritised if the offer were oversubscribed.

Russ Mould, investment director at online platform AJ Bell, said a year of lockdowns had fuelled demand for companies like Deliveroo and there was an expectation that habits formed during the pandemic would remain long into the recovery.

“All this suggests there is likely to be a bun fight for the 50 million pounds worth of customer shares in Deliveroo at the IPO offer,” he said.

Deliveroo said it would also recognise the role played by its delivery riders in its success with a 16 million pound reward programme to be launched on the day of listing.

Cash rewards from 10,000 pounds to 200 pounds will be available to riders in Deliveroo’s 21 markets based on the number of orders delivered. It said the average per eligible rider would be 440 pounds.

($1 = 0.7225 pounds)

Jack Dorsey: Bids reach $2m for Twitter co-founder’s first post

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has listed his first ever tweet for sale, with bids reaching $2m (£1.4m).

“Just setting up my twttr,” the post, sent from Mr Dorsey’s account in March 2006, reads.

It will be sold as a non-fungible token (NFT) – a unique digital certificate that states who owns a photo, video or other form of online media.

But the post will remain publicly available on Twitter even after it has been auctioned off.

The buyer will receive a certificate, digitally signed and verified by Mr Dorsey, as well as the metadata of the original tweet. The data will include information such as the time the tweet was posted and its text contents.

View original tweet on Twitter

The tweet was listed for sale on ‘Valuables by Cent’ – a tweets marketplace that was launched three months ago. 

In a post on the site, the platform’s founders compare the buying of a tweet to that of a more traditional autograph or piece of memorabilia.

“Owning any digital content can be a financial investment,” it says. “[It can] hold sentimental value. Like an autograph on a baseball card, the NFT itself is the creator’s autograph on the content, making it scarce, unique, and valuable.”

Presentational grey line
Analysis box by Rory Cellan-Jones, technology correspondent

Tweets are the latest digital assets to be monetised through so-called non-fungible tokens.

NFTs use the blockchain, the same distributed database technology underlying Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, to create unique certificates of ownership of any kind of digital goods.

While the idea that digital artists can earn an income by offering buyers some sense of ownership has its attractions, the “sale” of tweets will leave many scratching their heads.

Valuables, the platform marketing Mr Dorsey’s tweet, seems to recognise that the concept will leave people bemused. In its FAQ it explains “owning any digital content can… hold sentimental value and create a relationship between collector and creator”.

Most of us might think that this is a high price to pay for a relationship with the Twitter boss. But given the feverish and often irrational state of any kind of cryptocurrency related market, maybe the buyer is betting there’ll be someone along soon to take the tweet off their hands at an even higher price.

Meanwhile, on the basis that if you can’t beat them, join them, I put one of my tweets up for sale. It was about this story – and I’ve just accepted a bid of $1. That might sound modest but seeing as I’ve got 72,466 other tweets available it could be the start of something big….

Presentational grey line

Old offers for Mr Dorsey’s tweet suggest that it was first put up for sale in December, but the listing gained more attention after he tweeted a link to it on Friday. That tweet has since been shared thousands of times.

Within minutes of the tweet being posted, bids reached more than $88,000.

But they skyrocketed on Saturday, with a bid of $1.5m being usurped by a $2m offer at around 15:30 GMT. 

According to Valuables by Cent’s terms, 95% of a tweet’s sale will go to the original creator with the remainder going to the website.

BT denies any CEO rift behind chairman’s retirement

LONDON (Reuters) – BT denied any “misalignment” between board and management on Saturday after Sky News said that CEO Philip Jansen had indicated he might resign unless the company replaced its chairman.

The British broadband and mobile telecoms operator said on Monday that Jan du Plessis, who was appointed chairman in November 2017, had informed the board of his intention to retire once a successor has been appointed.

“The chairman throughout his tenure has demonstrated strong leadership … been extremely supportive of management and any suggestion that he has impeded the transformation of BT is without foundation,” BT said in a statement on Saturday.

“There has been no misalignment between the board and executive management over the company’s strategy,” BT added.

On Friday Sky News reported that Jansen, who joined BT as CEO in 2019, had told fellow directors he was frustrated with the speed at which it was taking key strategic decisions.

Jansen indicated that he was prepared to resign unless a new chairman who could accelerate the pace of change was appointed, Sky News said, citing several people close to the company.

Jansen is seeking to make the former monopoly more agile.

He wants BT to accelerate Britain’s shift to fibre and 5G networks, and he is pushing the government and regulator Ofcom to create the conditions that would allow him to turn on the taps to billion of pounds of investment.

That aim was boosted by changes to corporation tax announced on Wednesday to incentivise investment.

Jansen said in November he was open-minded about selling a stake in the company’s networks unit Openreach.

However, he said any decision would come after Ofcom publishes its new framework.

Du Plessis sought to build bridges with Ofcom during his tenure. “Above all, our relationship with Ofcom has improved significantly over the last three years,” he said on Monday.

Ford CEO calls on U.S. government to support EV batteries – Charging

(Reuters) – Ford Motor Co’s Chief Executive on Wednesday called on the U.S. government to support battery production and charging infrastructure development, as he outlined the automaker’s plan to develop electric platforms for its top-selling trucks, vans and SUVs.

“We need to bring large-scale battery production to the U.S.,” Ford CEO Jim Farley said at a financial conference, adding that he planned to highlight the issue in talks with government leaders.

President Joe Biden is meeting with lawmakers Wednesday to discuss how to secure supplies of electric vehicle batteries, semiconductors used in vehicles, rare earths and pharmaceuticals.

Policy support for increased U.S. production of EV batteries and better charging infrastructure for electric commercial vehicles will help drive demand for those vehicles, Farley said.

“We can’t go through what we’re doing now with chips,” he said, referring to the shortage of imported semiconductors that has caused the temporary shutdown of several U.S. auto plants.

General Motors Co Chief Executive Mary Barra is scheduled to speak to investors at the same conference later Wednesday.

Most of Ford’s profit comes from the sale of big pickups in the United States. The company plans to launch an all-electric version of its best-selling F-series pickup later this year, followed by an electric version of its large Transit van. Ford has not detailed electrification plans for its SUV lineup.

Ford will work with partners to develop electric vehicle architectures for less profitable vehicles in Europe and China, Farley said.

He said Ford expects to launch a commercial automated vehicle business by 2025 and is working now on a strategy that could include automated delivery of goods.

He also said Ford wants to build recurring revenues from both digital services and physical services, such as vehicle charging and repairs, especially for its growing base of commercial customers.

Airbus CEO calls for transatlantic trade war ceasefirep

(Reuters) – The head of European planemaker Airbus called on Saturday for a “ceasefire” in a trade war with the United States over aircraft subsidies, which has led to billions of dollars in tit-for-tat tariffs on airplanes and other goods.

In an interview on France Inter radio, Chief Executive Guillaume Faury also urged European nations to ease border restrictions that have crippled air travel across the continent during the coronavirus crisis.

Washington progressively imposed import duties of 15% on Airbus jets from 2019 after a prolonged dispute at the World Trade Organization, and the EU responded with matching tariffs on Boeing jets a year later. Wine, whisky and other goods are also affected.

“This dispute, which is now an old dispute, has put us in a lose-lose situation,” Airbus Chief Executive Guillaume Faury said in a radio interview.

“We have ended up in a situation where wisdom would normally dictate that we have a ceasefire and resolve this conflict,” he told France Inter.

Boeing was not immediately available for comment.

Brazil, which has waged separate battles with Canada over subsidies for smaller regional jets, on Thursday dropped its own complaint against Ottawa and called for a global peace deal between producing nations on support for aerospace.

Faury said the dispute with Boeing was particularly damaging during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has badly hit air travel and led to travel restrictions or border closures. He expressed particular concern about widening bans within Europe.

“We are extremely frustrated by the barriers that restrict personal movement and it is almost impossible today to travel in Europe by plane, even domestically,” he said.

“The priority no. 1 for countries in general is to reopen frontiers and allow people to travel on the basis of tests and then eventually vaccinations.”

The comments come as businesses increase pressure on governments to reopen economies as coronavirus vaccine roll-outs gather pace across Europe.

France has defended recently introduced border restrictions, saying they will help the government avoid a new lockdown and stay in force until at least the end of February.

Germany installed border controls with the Czech Republic and Austria last Sunday, drawing protest from Austria and concerns about supply-chain disruptions.

Berlin calls the move a temporary measure of last resort.

Poland said on Saturday it had not ruled out imposing restrictions at the country’s borders with Slovakia and the Czech Republic due to rising COVID-19 cases.

Google to evaluate executive performance on diversity, inclusion

(Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google will evaluate the performance of its vice presidents and above on team diversity and inclusion starting this year, the company said on Friday in one of several responses to concerns about its treatment of a Black scientist.

Timnit Gebru, co-leader of Google’s ethical artificial intelligence research team, said in December that Google abruptly fired her after she criticized its diversity efforts and threatened to resign.

Alphabet and Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai ordered a review of the situation. While Google declined to share specific findings, the company announced on Friday it will engage human resources specialists during sensitive employee departures.

Pichai in June said that by 2025, Google aims to have 30% more of its leaders come from underrepresented groups, with a focus on Black, Latinx and Native American leaders in the United States and female technical leaders globally. About 96% of Google’s U.S. leaders at the time were white or Asian, and 73% globally were men.

As a result of the investigation, the company also expanded a commitment announced in June to devote more resources to retaining and promoting existing employees, including by expanding a team addressing disputes among workers and their managers.

The diversity component of executive performance reviews was not previously announced, and the company did not immediately share details about what would be measured and how pay would be affected.

Alphabet for years had rejected proposals from shareholders and employees to set diversity goals and tie executive pay to them.

Irene Knapp, a former Google employee who advocated for one such proposal at a 2018 shareholder meeting, said on Friday, “I am pleased that they met our demand from 2018, which was a bare minimum that should have been easy to do immediately.”

Evaluating managers on diversity goals is becoming more commonplace. McDonald’s Corp on Thursday tied executive bonuses to diversity.

Petrobras CEO resisting pressure from Bolsonaro to resign: Sources

(Reuters) – The chief executive of Brazil’s state-led oil company Petrobras is resisting pressure from President Jair Bolsonaro to resign following tensions over rising fuel prices, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

Roberto Castello Branco was appointed CEO of Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the state-controlled firm is known, when Bolsonaro took office at the start of 2019.

While the president has expressed sympathy for truckers threatening to strike over higher diesel prices, Castello Branco has said their complaints are not the company’s problem and insisted that Petrobras will set prices independently of political pressure.

Facebook, Google, Twitter CEOs will appear before U.S. House panel on March 25

(Reuters) – The chief executives of Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc and Twitter will testify before a U.S. House panel on March 25 on “misinformation and disinformation plaguing online platforms.”

A pair of House Energy and Commerce subcommittees will hold a fully remote joint hearing including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

“Whether it be falsehoods about the COVID-19 vaccine or debunked claims of election fraud, these online platforms have allowed misinformation to spread, intensifying national crises with real-life, grim consequences for public health and safety,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone and the chairs of the two subcommittees in a joint statement.

Coinbase appoints former Stripe executive as compliance chief

(Reuters) – Coinbase has appointed former Stripe executive Melissa Strait as chief compliance officer, as the U.S. cryptocurrency exchange prepares for a direct listing, the company said on Wednesday.

Strait will oversee the company’s global compliance programs, including know-your-customer and anti-money laundering initiatives, and manage the exchange’s work with law enforcement, Coinbase said.

Founded over eight years ago, Coinbase has grown into one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges globally, catering to both retail and professional investors.

Last month it revealed plans to go public through a direct listing.

At digital payments company Stripe, Strait most recently served as global head of financial crimes and was previously U.S. compliance officer.

Prior to Stripe she oversaw daily compliance operations at Square Inc, the payments firm led by Twitter Inc Chief Executive Jack Dorsey.

“Implementing industry-leading compliance programs will be critical to earning and maintaining the trust of our retail and institutional customers,” Paul Grewal, Coinbase’s chief legal officer, said in a statement.