Business briefing

The daily business briefing: March 28, 2018

SoftBank announces plans for a massive Saudi solar power project, Zuckerberg reportedly decides to testify to Congress, and more

1

SoftBank announces plans for massive Saudi solar power project

SoftBank Group Corp. announced Wednesday that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Arabia to build a $200 billion solar power project in the oil-rich country. If completed, the project will generate 200 gigawatts of electricity by 2030, making it by far "the world's biggest solar power generation" facility, said Masayoshi Son, the founder and chief executive of the Japanese company. The project is being planned in cooperation with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is a partner in the SoftBank Vision Fund. Son said the project would help reduce Saudi Arabia's dependence on oil to produce electricity, allowing it to sell more crude on the international market.

2

Zuckerberg reportedly agrees to testify before Congress

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has decided to testify before Congress to appease lawmakers and Facebook users who are clamoring for an explanation regarding the company's privacy practices, CNN Money reported Tuesday, citing unnamed "Facebook sources." Zuckerberg has been under intense scrutiny after a whistleblower stepped forward to reveal the platform had exploited personal data; Cambridge Analytica, a data firm with ties to President Trump's 2016 campaign team, allegedly accessed private information from 50 million Facebook users without permission. Zuckerberg has said he is "really sorry" about the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which he called a "breach of trust," but declined to testify before British lawmakers. He resisted going to Capitol Hill, reportedly discussing sending other Facebook executives instead, before being persuaded that he should go.

3

Uber won't renew permit to test self-driving cars in California

A day after Arizona suspended Uber's testing of self-driving cars on its roads, Uber executives said they would not apply to renew their testing permit in California when it expires Saturday. The changes came after an Uber vehicle in self-driving mode, but with a human safety driver, hit and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, last week. "We decided to not reapply for a California DMV permit with the understanding that our self-driving vehicles would not operate on public roads in the immediate future," a spokesperson told The Verge. Uber has voluntarily suspended its self-driving programs nationwide pending an investigation.

4

Falling tech stocks drag down U.S. indexes

U.S. stocks gave back early gains to close sharply lower on Tuesday, with the Nasdaq composite index dropping by 2.9 percent as Apple, Amazon, and other tech stocks fell. The S&P 500 dropped by 1.7 percent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 1.4 percent to slip back into correction territory more than 10 percent below its early 2018 high. Microsoft was the Dow's worst performer. Twitter fell by 12 percent after a short-seller said he was betting against it, and Tesla fell by 8.2 percent after the National Transportation Safety Board said it would investigate a fatal crash that happened last week. European stocks fell early Wednesday, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index losing 1 percent as tech stocks continued to fall.

5

Court revives Oracle copyright case against Google

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that Google unfairly used Oracle's Java programming technology in its Android smartphone operating system, sending the 2010 copyright infringement case back to court for a third trial to determine damages. In the last trial, Oracle asked for nearly $9 billion. The case stems from Google's decision to write its own version of the software instead of licensing it as it tried to make the Android platform compatible with apps written in the Java language. The coding still bore similarities with the Java platform, so Oracle sued for copyright infringement.

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