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News & numbers “Part of our DNA has always been controlled chaos.”


From the Spotify statement explaining the Swedish music company’s move towards permanent remote work. Source: HR Dive


Cryptocurrency investors beg Musk to keep quiet


Cryptocurrency has seldom had a reputation for stability, especially if a pot- smoking billionaire has anything to do with it. After Elon Musk voiced a number of concerns about bitcoin, the price of the currency dropped by over 40% – with the South African apparently not done yet. Musk began his rampage in an unlikely venue: the American comedy show Saturday Night Live, where he joked that dogecoin (another cryptocurrency) was a “hustle”. From there, he declared that Tesla, his electric car company, would no longer accept bitcoin as payment. The reason? His epiphany that mining for it can be terrible for the environment.


Whatever his motivations, Musk’s interventions, alongside strict new Chinese regulations on cryptocurrencies, have left investors seething. “People who followed Musk blindly have lost a lot of money. They may have gotten burned and never come back,” said Alex Mashinsky, CEO of Celsius, a crypto lending platform. Not that Musk seems to be totally against cryptocurrencies. In one recent tweet, he shared a parody poster for the movie Jaws, replacing the eponymous shark with dogecoin’s canine mascot. ‘DOGE’ appears in big red letters at the top, alongside the caption: “You’ll never use the dollar again.”


Companies vow to stay remote as lockdowns ease


The planet may finally be opening up after 18 months huddled away at home – but that doesn’t mean the world’s biggest companies are following suit. On the contrary, many major corporations are inviting workers back into the office more gradually, over a prolonged period of time. A typical example is American Express, which has told employees they can keep working in dressing gowns and slippers until September. Facebook has adopted a similar policy, promising its army of coders and content checkers that they’ll be able to stay remote until July, with 50% never needing to return to the office for short-term or long-term work again.


Nor is the Silicon Valley giant alone. Across business, companies are enthusiastically embracing the WFH revolution. Spotify, for example, has told staff they can work from their bedrooms as often as they want, with the added option of coming into a ‘casual’ office if they crave more personal interaction. Siemens is in a similar boat, with staff allowed to work at home two or three days a week.


IBM, for its part, said that 80% of its workforce would be working in the office at least three days a week. As the firm’s chief executive put it: “When people are remote, I worry about what their career trajectory is going to be.”


Digitalisation helps SMBs


Even in countries with generous furlough schemes, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have had a rocky 18 months. It’s unsurprising, then, that so many are pushing ahead with digitalisation – with all the benefits the word implies in efficiency and savings.


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According to work by Salesforce, after all, nearly 45% of SMBs plan to exploit new technology to digitise customer interactions going forward, with another 65% expecting that the pace of change will increase in light of the pandemic and the demand for remote solutions.


Musk asks regulators to keep quiet


If upsetting the world’s crypto fans wasn’t enough for Musk, he’s also got another potential enemy at the gates: Norwegian regulators. After discovering that a 2019 software update affected the battery life of certain Tesla Model S cars, the country’s conciliation council ordered the company to pay 136,000 kroner ($16,000) to every affected customer. Given the Model S in question has been sold around 10,000 times in the Nordic state, that could mean a costly bill for Musk and his company – and that’s before you factor in similar cases elsewhere. In California, for instance, a lawsuit claims that the range of some Tesla vehicles were curtailed by as much as 40 miles. Not that Tesla is the only company to face problems around its batteries. Hyundai is already being sued over a string of battery fires in its electric vehicles, while General Motors has recalled 7,000 electric vehicle batteries for similar reasons.


$1trn


The amount wiped from cryptocurrency’s market value during a single week in May 2021. Source: CNN


G7 announce sweeping tax reforms


Many of the world’s richest countries have agreed to a raft of new measures to tax big multinationals. Unveiled at the recent G7 meeting in the UK, nations will now be able to tax some of the profits made locally by big companies. The group also committed to a global minimum tax of at least 15%, though this was lower than the 21% put forward by the United States. Even so, experts calculate that the new rules could bring in $81bn in revenue each year – especially as they will be significantly harder to avoid. Even if a company moved its headquarters abroad, after all, it could still be taxed on profits made elsewhere. Not that the world’s business titans have to worry just yet. With implementation of the new rules still years away, and a perilous journey through the gridlocked US Congress to come, ad hoc national taxes are likely to remain popular in the near future.


Finance Director Europe / www.ns-businesshub.com


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