Borderless

By Wing Assistant
May, 2024

IN THIS ISSUE

5 Min Read

FTC To Free Workers from Noncompete Agreements.
Meta Struggles Amidst AI Ambitions. Stocks Take a $200 Billion Dive. 
The CHIPS Act Sparks a Semiconductor Showdown in the USA! 
 Trump’s ‘Hush-Hush Heist’: A Tale of Secret Payments and Elections. 
Samsung Execs Hit The Work Week Six-Pack in Crisis Juggle!
Office Chatter Boosts Mental Health Program Enrolment.
Google’s Grand Shuffle: AI at the Helm and New Powerhouses Emerge. 
Tick-Tock, TikTok: Time’s Running Out for ByteDance Under New US Bill. 
  Campus Quarrels: Divestment Dilemma Intensifies Over Israel Protests

In this edition of Borderless, discover Google’s next move in the AI space, Samsung introduces a six-day work week and Congress’ efforts to ramp up Chips production in the US.

FTC To Free Workers from Noncompete Agreements.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has scrubbed out most noncompete agreements, liberating roughly 30 million American workers from non-complete clauses that barred them from seeking greener pastures.

This sweeping ban, set to kick in later this year, covers everyone from baristas to bigwig CEOs, promising an economy jazzed up by freer job switching and a potential $300 billion wage hike annually. Despite facing fierce opposition and looming lawsuits from the U.S.

However, executive-level noncompetes still get a green light, perhaps proof that some chains are harder to break.

Meta Struggles Amidst AI Ambitions. Stocks Take a $200 Billion Dive. 

In an earnings call that spooked more than it inspired, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s focus on bleeding cash through long-term investments in AI and the metaverse resulted in a jaw-dropping $200 billion market value plunge.

Shares nosedived by 19% post-call, despite better-than-anticipated Q1 profits. Zuckerberg’s spiel harped on the costly realities of nurturing nascent technologies like Meta Llama 3 and AR glasses, which he amusingly noted make the perfect AI sidekicks by sharing your visual and auditory experiences. Meanwhile, the Reality Labs segment, Meta’s tech nursery, reported a staggering $3.85 billion loss for the quarter.

Despite the fiscal free fall, Zuckerberg, the perpetual tech optimist, hinted at a silver lining for long-term investors ready for a rollercoaster ride in AI development. Perhaps it’s time investors strap in, put on their AR glasses, and hope they don’t see their investments disappear like a bad VR simulation.

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The CHIPS Act Sparks a Semiconductor Showdown in the USA! 

Get ready for a microchip melee! The CHIPS and Science Act, passed by Congress in 2022 with a bipartisan thumbs-up, is turbocharging the U.S. semiconductor scene faster than you can say Silicon Conductors.

Two years on, Uncle Sam has unleashed over $19.5 billion in incentives, igniting an investment frenzy. The CHIPS and Science Act positions the US to produce nearly 20% of the globe’s slick silicon slices by 2030. From zero to hero, courtesy of some Congressional cash! The chip champ Micron is plunking down an eye-watering $100 billion near Syracuse, marking the heftiest hunk of private cash New York has ever seen. All this silicon surge did spur from a pandemic panic, as 2021’s chip shortage put the brakes on global auto production by 26%.

Despite naysayer economists worrying about subsidy side effects, new chip factories are popping up like spring daisies, slated to bolster everything from Fords to fighter jets. As for the delays? TSMC’s Arizona project promises chips off the new block by mid-2025. Buckle up, it’s gonna be a bumpy, chip-stuffed ride!

 Trump’s ‘Hush-Hush Heist’: A Tale of Secret Payments and Elections. 

Donald Trump’s hush money trial has begun and if Ol’ Donnie is to be trusted, this is bound to be an entertaining ride. Prosecutor Matthew Colangelo charged the former president with attempting to clandestinely manipulate the 2016 election. Describing it as a ‘planned, coordinated, long-running conspiracy,’ Colangelo accused Trump of using illegal funds to muffle potentially damaging personal revelations.

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Samsung Execs Hit The Work Week Six-Pack in Crisis Juggle!

From ‘Thank God It’s Friday’ to ‘Sigh, It’s Saturday Again,’ Samsung is rolling out six-day workweeks for its executives. Facing its worst financial spell in a decade, highlighted by plummeting financial results in 2023, the tech titan is acting swiftly by deepening work commitments to dodge economic bullets.

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Amid rising global economic pressures like soaring borrowing costs and an unstable Korean won, Samsung’s leaders will now forfeit their Saturdays to the corporate cause. This decision, sparked by sluggish performances across Samsung divisions, incorporates a strategy described as ‘injecting a sense of crisis’. Hoping to chip away at challenges, including stiff competition from other high-bandwidth memory manufacturers like SK Hynix, Samsung braces for a turnaround with a recent uptick signalling a possible chip sector recovery.

Office Chatter Boosts Mental Health Program Enrolment.

A recent study targeting 2,400 employees across Novartis global offices has shed light on a fundamental shift in workplace well-being practices. Researchers have pinpointed a simple yet effective method to boost mental health support among employees: let them hear about it from their peers. Despite equipping over 1,000 staffers with Mental Health First Aider training, initial engagement was tepid.

The study tested various narratives to understand what motivates employees to utilize offered mental health resources, discovering that privacy concerns were less significant than previously thought. Instead, hearing a colleague’s positive experience was the key influencer. So, next time you’re debating whether to book that mental health session, just talk about it by the watercooler – it might just encourage your co-worker to do the same.

Google’s Grand Shuffle: AI at the Helm and New Powerhouses Emerge. 

Once heralded as pioneers of AI the search giant hasn’t really been itself since OpenAI came and stole the spotlight. Maybe that’s why Google is reorganising its troop formations, promoting key generals while blending divisions. Sundar Pichai, the mastermind CEO, announced Thursday that Google is merging its AI factions, placing the all-powerful DeepMind chief Demis Hassabis at the forefront of the battleground.
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‘ Amidst these power consolidations, Google continues its relentless advance toward AI supremacy, tightening its ranks around its AI and computing resources, with more strategic restructures promised on the horizon. In the quiet corners of finance, echoes of reorganization induced job cuts loom, signaling a company-wide realignment towards AI.

Tick-Tock, TikTok: Time’s Running Out for ByteDance Under New US Bill. 

The countdown has begun for TikTok unless its parent company, ByteDance, sells its stakes, thanks to a new U.S. bill. The Senate has passed a bill that threatens a ban on the popular app within nine months over national security concerns, unless a divestiture occurs. The bill, passed with a 79-18 vote, was coupled with a $95 billion aid package supporting Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. ByteDance, which relaunched as TikTok in 2017, may have to battle it out in court as the company tags the bill unconstitutional and vows defiance.
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While TikTok’s future in the U.S. hangs by a thread, President Biden is set to sign the bill into law this Wednesday, pushing ByteDance against the clock to either sell or see TikTok vanish from U.S. app stores. 

The app’s alleged ties with the Chinese government and its possible misuse of user data for misinformation are central to lawmakers’ concerns despite TikTok’s efforts to refute the claims with heavy investments in data security.

  Campus Quarrels: Divestment Dilemma Intensifies Over Israel Protests

U.S. college campuses are buzzing with protests as students demand their universities divest from Israeli military suppliers and tech giants like Alphabet, Amazon, and Microsoft, citing these companies’ ties to Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Inspired by historical divestment movements against South African apartheid and fossil fuels, these activists hope to push universities to take a moral stand. However, university endowments, primarily invested in hedge funds and private equity, complicate the feasibility of such divestments due to their intricate financial structures. Bruce D. Ellis, former chair of Yale’s investment committee, argues for inside influence over withdrawal. Despite the strong voices and encampments, no U.S. university has committed to divestment amidst backlash and accusations of antisemitism, with many administrations condemning the protests. The divestment motion wrestles with both ethical implications and logistical hurdles, highlighting the complex intersection of finance, ethics, and academia.