Spotify reaches 205 million Premium subscribers as losses mount

Spotify just released its Q4 earnings and announced that it now has 205 million premium subscribers, up 10 million from last quarter. It also made €3.17 billion ($3.43 billion) in revenue, so it exceeded expectations in both subscriber count and sales. It now counts nearly 500 million monthly active users including ad-supported and paid subscriber tiers. 

However, its losses continued with €270 million ($292 million) in red ink compared to €39 million in the same period last year, due to moves that chief executive Daniel Ek called "too ambitious." For all of 2022, the company reported a net €430 million loss ($466 million) on revenue of €11.7 billion ($12.7 billion). 

Spotify said that the losses were due to "higher personnel costs primarily due to headcount growth and higher advertising costs," along with currency fluctuations. That helps explain the company's actions last week, when it announced that it was laying off 6 percent of its workforce as part of a company-wide restructuring. 

As part of that, chief content officer Dawn Ostroff stepped down and Ek said that the company would "fundamentally change how we operate at the top," including his own role. At the time, Ek said that "in hindsight, I was too ambitious in investing ahead of our revenue growth." Looking ahead to the next quarter, Spotify forecasts that it'll hit a half-billion monthly active users and see a modest boost to 207 million premium subscribers. 

Samsung’s profits plunged in 2022 due to weak chip and smartphone demand

Samsung has revealed a sharp decline in profit for 2022, mainly due to the weak demand for its chips and smartphones, which are the company's main moneymakers. The Korean tech giant has posted KRW 302.23 trillion (US$245.4 billion) in annual revenue, which is a new record high for the company, in its latest earnings report. But it has also reported an operating profit of KRW 43.38 trillion (US$35 billion) for all of 2022, down KRW 8.5 trillion (US$6.9 billion) from the year before

"The business environment deteriorated significantly in the fourth quarter due to weak demand amid a global economic slowdown," the company explained. While the tech giant's Foundry business posted an increase in profit due to customer and application diversification, its semiconductor business performed poorly as a whole. There was weak demand for its chips overall, as customers adjust and reduce their inventory in the face of economic uncertainties. Its chips' prices also dropped, mostly likely due to a surplus in unsold inventory, contributing to the business' decline in earnings for the year. 

In the fourth quarter of 2022, Samsung's semiconductor business earned KRW 20.07 trillion (US$16.3 billion) in consolidated revenue but only KRW 0.27 trillion (US$219 million) in operating profit. For comparison, it posted a consolidated revenue of KRW 26.01 trillion (US$21.6 billion in early 2022's conversion rates) and an operating profit of KRW 8.84 trillion (US$7.35 billion) for Q4 2021. Samsung is bracing for this downward trend to persist throughout the next few months, though it expects demand for its semiconductors to pick up in the second half of the year. 

Similarly, the demand for smartphones remained weak in the fourth quarter of 2022. Sales for Samsung's more affordable phones went down, and while flagship sales held up to market expectations, they're still lower than previous quarters'. The company expects demand for mass market smartphones to weaken even further in 2023 "due to persistent macroeconomic conditions." But since it also expects demand for premium devices to stay solid, it vows to strengthen "the competitiveness of its premium flagship products." To note, Samsung will hold its first Unpacked event of 2023 on February 1st where it will most likely unveil its next flagship phone, the Galaxy S23. 

Cash-strapped EV startup Arrival is laying off half its staff

For the second time in less than a year, electric transport startup Arrival is cutting staff. The company announced Monday plans to lay off approximately 50 percent of its workforce. The move will reduce Arrival’s headcount to about 800 employees. In the middle of last year, Arrival warned it was strapped for cash, and the company’s financial position appears to have become more dire since.

As of the end of 2022, Arrival had $205 million cash on hand. Following its latest round of layoffs and a handful of other cost-cutting measures, Arrival says it expects to reduce the cost of day-to-day operations to about $30 million per quarter. Critically, Arrival’s plan to focus on the US market – and take advantage of Inflation Reduction Act incentives – is contingent on it raising more money from investors. Provided it can secure additional funding, Arrival expects to start Van production in Charlotte in 2024.

On Monday, Arrival also announced a leadership change. Less than three months after taking over as CEO, former Marvel Entertainment chief Peter Cuneo is handing over day-to-day operations to Igor Torgov, Arrival’s former executive vice president of Digital. Before joining the startup in 2020, Torgov held leadership positions at Atol, Bitfury, Yota, Columbus IT and Microsoft. It’s now on him to turn the once-promising startup around. Arrival said it would share more information about its financial position on March 9th.

Tesla’s volatile Q4 couldn’t dampen its record setting year

Between its ongoing supply chain constraints, brutal rounds of layoffs and a plummeting stock price, the past year has been a glass case of emotion for Tesla and its embattled CEO, Elon Musk. Still, the company managed to produce nearly 440,000 vehicles and delivered over 405,000 of them — year over year increases of 47 and 40 percent, respectively — Tesla announced on Wednesday during the Q4 2022 earnings call. Those are both records for Tesla, as was the full-year deliveries of 1.31 million. Profits for the year totaled $12.6 billion.

"Despite the fact that 2022 was an incredibly challenging year due to forced shutdowns, very high interest rates, and many delivery challenges," Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, said during the call. "It's worth noting that all these records were in the face of massive difficulties. a credit to the team for achieving that."

The final quarter of 2022 was especially volatile for the electric automaker following the finalization of Musk's Twitter acquisition in late October. While the billionaire sought to split his attention between his EV company, his spaceship company and his new social media platform, Tesla shareholders revolted, furious that the automaker had lost some $620 billion in market capitalization that year. Musks antics at Twitter combined with his sale of Tesla stock to fund the acquisition sent the EV company's ticker tumbling, resulting in drastic price cuts — by as much as $20,500 in some cases. This, in turn, saw customers in China, angry that they had just purchased their vehicles at a higher price, raid Tesla showrooms to demand answers and restitution.  

"The most common question we've been getting on investors is about demand," Musk said. "I want to put that concern to rest. Thus far in January, we've seen the strongest orders here today then ever in our history, we currently are seeing orders at Almost twice the rate of production."

"It's hard to say whether that will continue at twice the rate of production," he continued. "Orders are high and we've actually raised the Model Y price up a little bit in response to that. We think demand will be good despite, probably, a contraction in the automotive market as a whole."

Those price cuts will continue into the new year. "In the near term we are accelerating our cost reduction roadmap and driving towards higher production rates," the company announced Wednesday. "In any scenario, we are prepared for short-term uncertainty, while being focused on the long-term potential of autonomy, electrification and energy solutions."

Musk also discussed recent developments regarding the company's "Full Self-Driving" beta ADAS during the call. "As of now we've deployed FSD beta to... roughly 400,000 customers in North America," he said. "Our published data shows that improvement in safety statistics is very clear. So, we would not have released FSD beta if these safety statistics were not excellent."

Despite the turbulence, Tesla continues to expand its regional production capacities. In January, the company announced its $3.6 billion investment in two new factories, one of which will produce the long-awaited, repeatedly-delayed Semi electric 18-wheeler. The company aims to produce 1.8 million vehicles in total this coming year.

Tesla’s volatile Q4 couldn’t dampen its record setting year

Between its ongoing supply chain constraints, brutal rounds of layoffs and a plummeting stock price, the past year has been a glass case of emotion for Tesla and its embattled CEO, Elon Musk. Still, the company managed to produce nearly 440,000 vehicles and delivered over 405,000 of them — year over year increases of 47 and 40 percent, respectively — Tesla announced on Wednesday during the Q4 2022 earnings call. Those are both records for Tesla, as was the full-year deliveries of 1.31 million. Profits for the year totaled $12.6 billion.

"Despite the fact that 2022 was an incredibly challenging year due to forced shutdowns, very high interest rates, and many delivery challenges," Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, said during the call. "It's worth noting that all these records were in the face of massive difficulties. a credit to the team for achieving that."

The final quarter of 2022 was especially volatile for the electric automaker following the finalization of Musk's Twitter acquisition in late October. While the billionaire sought to split his attention between his EV company, his spaceship company and his new social media platform, Tesla shareholders revolted, furious that the automaker had lost some $620 billion in market capitalization that year. Musks antics at Twitter combined with his sale of Tesla stock to fund the acquisition sent the EV company's ticker tumbling, resulting in drastic price cuts — by as much as $20,500 in some cases. This, in turn, saw customers in China, angry that they had just purchased their vehicles at a higher price, raid Tesla showrooms to demand answers and restitution.  

"The most common question we've been getting on investors is about demand," Musk said. "I want to put that concern to rest. Thus far in January, we've seen the strongest orders here today then ever in our history, we currently are seeing orders at Almost twice the rate of production."

"It's hard to say whether that will continue at twice the rate of production," he continued. "Orders are high and we've actually raised the Model Y price up a little bit in response to that. We think demand will be good despite, probably, a contraction in the automotive market as a whole."

Those price cuts will continue into the new year. "In the near term we are accelerating our cost reduction roadmap and driving towards higher production rates," the company announced Wednesday. "In any scenario, we are prepared for short-term uncertainty, while being focused on the long-term potential of autonomy, electrification and energy solutions."

Musk also discussed recent developments regarding the company's "Full Self-Driving" beta ADAS during the call. "As of now we've deployed FSD beta to... roughly 400,000 customers in North America," he said. "Our published data shows that improvement in safety statistics is very clear. So, we would not have released FSD beta if these safety statistics were not excellent."

Despite the turbulence, Tesla continues to expand its regional production capacities. In January, the company announced its $3.6 billion investment in two new factories, one of which will produce the long-awaited, repeatedly-delayed Semi electric 18-wheeler. The company aims to produce 1.8 million vehicles in total this coming year.

Tesla’s volatile Q4 couldn’t dampen its record setting year

Between its ongoing supply chain constraints, brutal rounds of layoffs and a plummeting stock price, the past year has been a glass case of emotion for Tesla and its embattled CEO, Elon Musk. Still, the company managed to produce nearly 440,000 vehicles and delivered over 405,000 of them — year over year increases of 47 and 40 percent, respectively — Tesla announced on Wednesday during the Q4 2022 earnings call. Those are both records for Tesla, as was the full-year deliveries of 1.31 million. Profits for the year totaled $12.6 billion.

"Despite the fact that 2022 was an incredibly challenging year due to forced shutdowns, very high interest rates, and many delivery challenges," Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, said during the call. "It's worth noting that all these records were in the face of massive difficulties. a credit to the team for achieving that."

The final quarter of 2022 was especially volatile for the electric automaker following the finalization of Musk's Twitter acquisition in late October. While the billionaire sought to split his attention between his EV company, his spaceship company and his new social media platform, Tesla shareholders revolted, furious that the automaker had lost some $620 billion in market capitalization that year. Musks antics at Twitter combined with his sale of Tesla stock to fund the acquisition sent the EV company's ticker tumbling, resulting in drastic price cuts — by as much as $20,500 in some cases. This, in turn, saw customers in China, angry that they had just purchased their vehicles at a higher price, raid Tesla showrooms to demand answers and restitution.  

"The most common question we've been getting on investors is about demand," Musk said. "I want to put that concern to rest. Thus far in January, we've seen the strongest orders here today then ever in our history, we currently are seeing orders at Almost twice the rate of production."

"It's hard to say whether that will continue at twice the rate of production," he continued. "Orders are high and we've actually raised the Model Y price up a little bit in response to that. We think demand will be good despite, probably, a contraction in the automotive market as a whole."

Those price cuts will continue into the new year. "In the near term we are accelerating our cost reduction roadmap and driving towards higher production rates," the company announced Wednesday. "In any scenario, we are prepared for short-term uncertainty, while being focused on the long-term potential of autonomy, electrification and energy solutions."

Musk also discussed recent developments regarding the company's "Full Self-Driving" beta ADAS during the call. "As of now we've deployed FSD beta to... roughly 400,000 customers in North America," he said. "Our published data shows that improvement in safety statistics is very clear. So, we would not have released FSD beta if these safety statistics were not excellent."

Despite the turbulence, Tesla continues to expand its regional production capacities. In January, the company announced its $3.6 billion investment in two new factories, one of which will produce the long-awaited, repeatedly-delayed Semi electric 18-wheeler. The company aims to produce 1.8 million vehicles in total this coming year.

Microsoft announces $52.7 billion in Q2 revenue amid plans to layoff 10,000 workers

Like many big tech companies, Microsoft is preparing for the worst after announcing plans to lay off 10,000 employees in the upcoming third quarter. It turns out that the company's second quarter was a mixed bag: It earned $52.7 billion in revenue, which was up 2 percent from last year, but a slight miss from the $52.9 billion analysts expected. Profits also fell by 12 percent to $16.4 billion, a trend that may continue throughout the year.

Despite the faltering PC market, Microsoft has been riding high on cloud revenues for years, and that seems to be continuing. its intelligent cloud business was up 18 percent from last year, reaching $21.5 billion. Microsoft's belt tightening didn't stop the company from potentially investing $10 billion more in ChatGPT creator OpenAI, yet another sign that AI is going to play a major role in its future projects. The company plans to add ChatGPT to its Azure OpenAI service soon, and it's reportedly planning to integrated that technology in Bing.

Microsoft's More Personal Computing division, which includes Windows, Xbox and PC hardware, fell by 19 percent year-over-year, hitting $14.2 billion. That's the direct result of the PC market downturn. The company says Windows revenue to manufacturers fell by 39 percent, while Xbox content and services was also down by 12 percent. Devices revenue also dropped by 39 percent — it turns out Surface devices weren't in huge demand over the holidays.

"The surprisingly strong performance in Microsoft’s key Azure cloud business was enough to ease worries surrounding a steeper deceleration path on cloud optimizations, sending the stock higher," said Jesse Cohen, senior analyst at Investing.com. "Tech investors are relieved to see that the slowdown across Microsoft’s key cloud business was not as bad as feared."

Microsoft announces $52.7 billion in Q2 revenue amid plans to layoff 10,000 workers

Like many big tech companies, Microsoft is preparing for the worst after announcing plans to lay off 10,000 employees in the upcoming third quarter. It turns out that the company's second quarter was a mixed bag: It earned $52.7 billion in revenue, which was up 2 percent from last year, but a slight miss from the $52.9 billion analysts expected. Profits also fell by 12 percent to $16.4 billion, a trend that may continue throughout the year.

Despite the faltering PC market, Microsoft has been riding high on cloud revenues for years, and that seems to be continuing. its intelligent cloud business was up 18 percent from last year, reaching $21.5 billion. Microsoft's belt tightening didn't stop the company from potentially investing $10 billion more in ChatGPT creator OpenAI, yet another sign that AI is going to play a major role in its future projects. The company plans to add ChatGPT to its Azure OpenAI service soon, and it's reportedly planning to integrated that technology in Bing.

Microsoft's More Personal Computing division, which includes Windows, Xbox and PC hardware, fell by 19 percent year-over-year, hitting $14.2 billion. That's the direct result of the PC market downturn. The company says Windows revenue to manufacturers fell by 39 percent, while Xbox content and services was also down by 12 percent. Devices revenue also dropped by 39 percent — it turns out Surface devices weren't in huge demand over the holidays.

"The surprisingly strong performance in Microsoft’s key Azure cloud business was enough to ease worries surrounding a steeper deceleration path on cloud optimizations, sending the stock higher," said Jesse Cohen, senior analyst at Investing.com. "Tech investors are relieved to see that the slowdown across Microsoft’s key cloud business was not as bad as feared."

Elon Musk says his SpaceX shares would’ve funded his plan to take Tesla private

Elon Musk said he could've sold his SpaceX shares to take Tesla private when he took the witness stand again to defend his 2018 "funding secured" tweets in a lawsuit filed by the automaker's shareholders. According to CNBC, Musk proclaimed: "SpaceX stock alone meant 'funding secured' by itself. It's not that I want to sell SpaceX stock but I could have, and if you look at the Twitter transaction — that is what I did. I sold Tesla stock to complete the Twitter transaction. And I would have done the same here." He didn't say how many of his shares he'd have to sell, however, to be able to fund the transaction. 

The plaintiffs' lawsuit is based on Musk's infamous 2018 tweets in which he said he was "considering taking Tesla private at $420." He even said that he already had "[f]unding secured." Musk first took the stand for this particular case last week to defend himself against the plaintiffs' accusations that the tweets he made cost them significant financial losses. Tesla's shares temporarily stopped trading after those tweets and remained volatile in the weeks that followed. He said at the time that just because he tweets something "does not mean people believe it or will act accordingly."

This time, Musk reiterated his previous claim that he had an agreement with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund to take Tesla private. He told the court that the country was "unequivocal" in its support of the transaction, which ultimately didn't go through. According to Bloomberg, the court discussed his communication and eventual falling out with Saudi fund governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan regarding the deal. A text exchange was reportedly presented to the jury, wherein Musk accused Al-Rumayyan of backing out of their handshake agreement. The Saudi official responded that he didn't have sufficient information to be able to commit to the buyout and called Musk's public announcement of their discussions "ill advised."

The plaintiffs' lawyer also asked Musk what many of us were probably wondering: If the $420 share price in his tweets was made as a joke in reference to marijuana. Apparently, it wasn't a joke, and he chose it "because it reflected about a 20 percent premium on Tesla's stock price." Musk is expected to testify again on Tuesday, so we'll likely hear more details about his failed bid to convert Tesla into a private entity. 

As Bloomberg notes, the judge in this case had already determined that his tweets were "objectively false and reckless." However, the plaintiffs still have to prove that Musk knew his tweets were misleading and that his tweets caused their losses to win the case. Musk and Tesla previously had to pay the Securities and Exchange Commission $20 million each to settle a separate lawsuit over the same tweets, accusing him of making "false and misleading statements" that could be constituted as fraud. The CEO said on the stand that he told the SEC about SpaceX and that the plaintiffs' lawyer "deliberately exclud[ed] that from jurors."

Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings steps down as co-CEO

One of streaming's most influential figures is stepping away from the spotlight. Netflix co-creator Reed Hastings is stepping down as the company's co-CEO. Ted Sarandos, who has been co-CEO since July 2020, will share the reins with newly promoted operations chief Greg Peters. The change takes effect today. Hastings says he'll remain involved as Executive Chairman, serving as a "bridge" between the board of directors and the new CEOs.

The departing leader characterized the move as a long-expected transition. Sarandos and Peters have "increasingly" managed the company for the past two and a half years, Hastings says. This was merely the "right time" to implement a succession that has been in development for years, he adds. Sarandos is credited with leading Netflix's move into original content, while Peters has been key to forming partnerships and helming the company's push into gaming.

Hastings' departure comes as Netflix seems to be slowly recovering from a grim 2022. It lost subscribers for the first time in over a decade, and blamed a combination of fiercer competition, limited opportunities to grow and widespread account sharing. In its just-issued fourth quarter earnings report, however, it reported adding 7.66 million new customers, reaching a total of 230.75 million subscribers. That appears to have come at the expense of profit (Netflix made just $55 million in net income), but it's a marked turnaround from the first half of 2022.

Netflix says the end-of-year performance beat its forecast, and that it's "pleased" with the early performance of its $7 ad-supported plan. The company isn't saying how many customers are subscribed to this lower-priced tier. Instead, it credits the better-than-expected results to a strong content lineup that includes the Knives Out sequel Glass Onion, Harry & Meghan and the Addams Family spinoff Wednesday.

The company is cautiously optimistic about the first quarter of 2023. It believes it will see a "modest" boost to its subscriber base, and plans to roll out paid account sharing "more broadly" later in the period. In that sense, Hastings is leaving at a good moment for the business he helped create. While Netflix isn't back to its peak form, it's in a more stable position that could provide its new leadership with a better start.