Elon Musk took $1 billion loan from SpaceX while acquiring Twitter

Posted By: Ramesh Sharma Posted On: Sep 06, 2023
Elon Musk withdrew a $1 billion SpaceX loan while acquiring Twitter.

Billionaire Elon Musk withdrew a loan of $1 billion from his two-decade-old company ‘SpaceX’ around the same time he was acquiring Twitter (now called X) for $44 billion, according to a report published by the Wall Street Journal.

Last October, SpaceX approved the $1 billion loan which was backed by some of Elon Musk's SpaceX stock. He drew all of it down in the same month he took ownership of Twitter.

Musk has had arrangements with banks to borrow against his shares in his companies including Tesla, while SpaceX has served as his lender, Reuters reported, citing WSJ report.

It added that paying for Twitter complicated Elon Musk's financial situation. As of March, Elon Musk is SpaceX's largest shareholder with a 42% stake and almost 79% of its voting power.

SpaceX had $4.7 billion in cash and securities on hand at the end of last year, the paper said, citing documents, as per Reuters report.

Elon Musk sold a massive chunk of his Tesla shares in 2022, both before and after the Twitter deal, bringing his total sales to about $40 billion which frustrated investors in the EV maker.

In April 2023, Tesla disclosed that it had further tightened rules around Musk using his stake in the company to borrow money, according to the WSJ report. Additionally, Musk is also a co-founder of brain-chip startup Neuralink.

Meanwhile, in December 2022, Ross Gerber, a shareholder in Twitter and Tesla, said that he was approached to put more money into the social media platform. Elon Musk's team had reached out for potential new investment for Twitter Inc. at the same price as the original $44 billion deal.

At the same time, Musk sold more than $3.5 billion worth of Tesla Inc. stock in the second round of sales since buying Twitter Inc. He sold nearly 22 million Tesla shares over a three-day period ended Dec. 14, according to a regulatory disclosure.

(With inputs from agencies)

Source: Live Mint
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Is Elon Musk buying the new iPhone 15

Posted By: Anita Mamgai Posted On: Sep 24, 2023
World's Richest Man Elon Musk has said that he will buy the newly released iPhone 15 smartphone from Apple. (REUTERS)

Elon Musk, the world's richest man and owner of the social media platform X (formerly Twitter), has often had a love-hate relationship with Apple. Musk was found to be criticising Apple soon after taking over X, but later he also touted Apple's continued advertising on the platform as proof that it was safe for others as well.

More recently, however, Musk seems to have found a new fascination with Apple CEO Tim Cook and the company's latest iPhone 15 series.

Tim Cook had shared pictures of the iPhone 15 Pro Max taken by renowned photographers Stephen Wilkes and Reuben Wu. He wrote, “World-renowned photographers Stephen Wilkes and Reuben Wu show us creativity is limitless with iPhone 15 Pro Max. Their vivid photos display breathtaking views from the beauty of summer in Rhode Island to the other-worldly deserts of Utah. Thank you for showing me your work."

Musk replied to Cook's post saying, “The beauty of iPhone pictures & video is incredible"

Source: Live Mint
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Elon Musk Wants To Buy iPhone 15 For This Reason Updated 3 hours ago

Posted By: Ramesh Sharma Posted On: Sep 23, 2023

The iPhone 15 series finally went on sale yesterday, September 22, and now Elon Musk has expressed his desire to buy the iPhone 15 on X (formerly Twitter).

This series of events unfolded after Apple CEO Tim Cook posted Apple's commissioned imagery captured by photographers Stephen Wilkes and Reuben Wu.

“World-renowned photographers Stephen Wilkes and Reuben Wu show us creativity is limitless with iPhone 15 Pro Max. Their vivid photos display breathtaking views from the beauty of summer in Rhode Island to the other-worldly deserts of Utah,” Tim Cook said on X.

Elon Musk, the owner of X, then went on to praise iPhones for thier photo and video-taking qualities. “The beauty of iPhone pictures and videos is incredible,” Musk replied to Cook.

Later on Friday, when Cook made the post celebrating the new launches from Apple's Fifth Avenue store in New York, Elon Musk was quick to reply that he was buying one.

“I'm buying one!” Musk said.

With that said, Musk, after buying Twitter in 2022, has had a mixed relationship with Apple. Evidently, as per Musk, Apple had “mostly stopped advertising on Twitter” in November 2022, and said, “Do they hate free speech in America?”

A couple of days later, Musk met Tim Cook at the Apple Park and said that “we (Apple and X) resolved the misunderstanding about Twitter potentially being removed from the App Store.”

More recently, Tim Cook said that there are “some things about” Elon Musk's X that he doesn't like. Cook called the platform's apparent anti-semitism problem “abhorrent” in an interview with CBS, but at the same time added that “Twitter is an important property; I like the concept that it's there for discourse.”

Source: News18
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Payments Will Soon Be Available On X For Users

Posted By: Jaydatt Chaudhary Posted On: Sep 22, 2023

Elon Musk wasn't kidding when he said that X, formerly Twitter will be a whole new platform with new features. The company has already confirmed that audio calls and live videos are coming to X and now we can also tell you that payments will also be available on the micro-blogging platform in the coming months.

The teaser for payments on X was shared by Linda Yaccarino, CEO, of X through a video called Global Town Square which not only shows us a glimpse into the upcoming features on X but also hints at the changing dynamic of a platform which is not just about putting out posts any more and will cater to a lot more.

The video here in this post shows us features like video calls, debating with other people through Spaces, and even paying for the cake your friend got for the group. That's right, soon, payments will be possible on X, and it is likely that X will allow you to integrate bank cards or even UPI ID (in India) with other people on the platform.

She even hinted that X will bring job profiles for users and also give them the option to buy their favourite sneakers through the platform itself. Clearly, Musk and Co. have been planning something big for X and these changes will ensure that nobody even remembers Twitter for what it offered.

Having said that, it is likely that X will bring most of these features under a paid tier in the form of X Blue which comes for Rs 900 per month if you are paying through the mobile X app. Those using the Web X version can get X Blue for Rs 650 per month. However, X also gives you an annual billing option, which brings the total price to Rs 9,400 with some discount.

Recently, Musk has talked about bringing a paywall structure for all the X (formerly Twitter) users. What this basically means is that X could become a paid platform for anyone who wants to use it. Musk's reasons for bringing this drastic change are linked to the massive bot influx on X, which he believes when people are asked to pay for the service will reduce the influence of bots on the platform. He did mention that, unlike the X Premium subscription, the platform will have a lower tier pricing for all the users.

Source: News18
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Here’s What Apple CEO Tim Cook Said About X-Corp Chief Elon Musk Published 2 hours ago

Posted By: Ajay Rawat Posted On: Sep 19, 2023

Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that there are “some things about" Elon Musk's X (formerly Twitter) that he doesn't like.

Cook called the platform's apparent anti-semitism problem “abhorrent" in an interview with CBS, but added, “Twitter is an important property; I like the concept that it's there for discourse".

However, when asked whether Apple should be advertising on X, he said that this is something the company “constantly" asks itself.

Further, the Apple CEO was asked about the release date of the Vision Pro as according to reports, the headset is facing manufacturing delays, on which Cook confirmed that the Vision Pro is still on schedule, restating his statements from last week's iPhone 15 “Wonderlust" event.

When Cook was asked whether the challenges he faced in creating the iPhone were the same as the Vision Pro, he said it was “more complex".

“No, it's more complex, and so it requires innovation in not only the development but also in the manufacturing," Cook was quoted as saying.

Moreover, the interview also covered Apple's environmental initiatives, including the carbon footprint of the new Apple Watch Series 9.

Cook said he wants Apple to demonstrate that going carbon neutral can be profitable so that other companies can “rip it off." Apple's overall carbon footprint is decreasing, according to the company.

Apple ended the use of leather across all of its product lines as part of its ambitious 2030 climate goal.

The company will replace leather with a new textile called FineWoven, an elegant and durable twill made from 68 per cent post-consumer recycled content.

Beyond its 2030 goal, Apple is also working toward a 90 per cent reduction in emissions by 2050 — which will necessitate advocating for collective action from governments, businesses, and individuals to accelerate global progress in the fight against climate change.

Source: News18
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Could OpenAI be the next tech giant

Posted By: Jogendra Kumar Posted On: Sep 19, 2023
OpenAI,, which is backed by Microsoft, established an early lead by launching ChatGPT last November (Photo: Reuters)

The creation of a new market is like the start of a long race. Competitors jockey for position as spectators excitedly clamour. Then, like races, markets enter a calmer second phase. The field orders itself into leaders and laggards. The crowds thin.

In the contest to dominate the future of artificial intelligence, OpenAI, a startup backed by Microsoft, established an early lead by launching ChatGPT last November. The app reached 100m users faster than any before it. Rivals scrambled. Google and its corporate parent, Alphabet, rushed the release of a rival chatbot, Bard. So did startups like Anthropic. Venture capitalists poured over $40bn into AI firms in the first half of 2023, nearly a quarter of all venture dollars this year. Then the frenzy died down. Public interest in AI peaked a couple of months ago, according to data from Google searches. Unique monthly visits to ChatGPT's website have declined from 210m in May to 180m now (see chart).

The emerging order still sees OpenAI ahead technologically. Its latest AI model, GPT-4, is beating others on a variety of benchmarks (such as an ability to answer reading and maths questions). In head-to-head comparisons, it ranks roughly as far ahead of the current runner-up, Anthropic's Claude 2, as the world's top chess player does against his closest rival—a decent lead, even if not insurmountable. More important, OpenAI is beginning to make real money. According to The Information, an online technology publication, it is earning revenues at an annualised rate of $1bn, compared with a trifling $28m in the year before ChatGPT's launch.

Can OpenAI translate its early edge into an enduring advantage, and join the ranks of big tech? To do so it must avoid the fate of erstwhile tech pioneers, from Netscape to Myspace, which were overtaken by rivals that learnt from their early successes and stumbles. And as it is a first mover, the decisions it takes will also say much about the broader direction of a nascent industry.

OpenAI is a curious firm. It was founded in 2015 by a clutch of entrepreneurs including Sam Altman, its current boss, and Elon Musk, Tesla's technophilic chief executive, as a non-profit venture. Its aim was to build artificial general intelligence (AGI), which would equal or surpass human capacity in all types of intellectual tasks. The pursuit of something so outlandish meant that it had its pick of the world's most ambitious AI technologists. While working on an AI that could master a video game called “Dota", they alighted on a simple approach that involved harnessing oodles of computing power, says an early employee who has since left. When in 2017 researchers at Google published a paper describing a revolutionary machine-learning technique they christened the “transformer", OpenAI's boffins realised that they could scale it up by combining untold quantities of data scraped from the internet with processing oomph. The result was the general-purpose transformer, or GPT for short.

Obtaining the necessary resources required OpenAI to employ some engineering of the financial variety. In 2019 it created a “capped-profit company" within its non-profit structure. Initially, investors in this business could make 100 times their initial investment—but no more. Rather than distribute equity, the firm distributes claims on a share of future profits that come without ownership rights (“profit-participation units"). What is more, OpenAI says it may reinvest all profits until the board decides that OpenAI's goal of achieving AGI has been reached. OpenAI stresses that it is a “high-risk investment" and should be viewed as more akin to a “donation". “We're not for everybody," says Brad Lightcap, OpenAI's chief operating officer and its financial guru.

Maybe not, but with the exception of Mr Musk, who pulled out in 2018 and is now building his own AI model, just about everybody seems to want a piece of OpenAI regardless. Investors appear confident that they can achieve venture-scale returns if the firm keeps growing. In order to remain attractive to investors, the company itself has loosened the profit cap and switched to one based on the annual rate of return (though it will not confirm what the maximum rate is). Academic debates about the meaning of AGI aside, the profit units themselves can be sold on the market just like standard equities. The firm has already offered several opportunities for early employees to sell their units.

SoftBank, a risk-addled tech-investment house from Japan, is the latest to be seeking to place a big bet on OpenAI. The startup has so far raised a total of around $14bn. Most of it, perhaps $13bn, has come from Microsoft, whose Azure cloud division is also furnishing OpenAI with the computing power it needs. In exchange, the software titan will receive the lion's share of OpenAI's profits—if these are ever handed over. More important in the short term, it gets to license OpenAI's technology and offer this to its own corporate customers, which include most of the world's largest companies.

It is just as well that OpenAI is attracting deep-pocketed backers. For the firm needs an awful lot of capital to procure the data and computing power necessary to keep creating ever more intelligent models. Mr Altman has said that OpenAI could well end up being “the most capital-intensive startup in Silicon Valley history". OpenAI's most recent model, GPT-4, is estimated to have cost around $100m to train, several times more than GPT-3.

For the time being, investors appear happy to pour more money into the business. But they eventually expect a return. And for its part Openai has realised that, if it is to achieve its mission, it must become like any other fledgling business and think hard about its costs and its revenues.

GPT-4 already exhibits a degree of cost-consciousness. For example, notes Dylan Patel of SemiAnalysis, a research firm, it was not a single giant model but a mixture of 16 smaller models. That makes it more difficult—and so costlier—to build than a monolithic model. But it is then cheaper to actually use the model once it has been trained. because not all the smaller models need be used to answer questions. Cost is also a big reason why OpenAI is not training its next big model, GPT-5. Instead, say sources familiar with the firm, it is building GPT-4.5, which would have “similar quality" to GPT-4 but cost “a lot less to run".

But it is on the revenue-generating side of business that OpenAI is most transformed, and where it has been most energetic of late. AI can create a lot of value long before AGI brains are as versatile as human ones, says Mr Lightcap. OpenAI's models are generalist, trained on a vast amount of data and capable of doing a variety of tasks. The ChatGPT craze has made OpenAI the default option for consumers, developers and businesses keen to embrace the technology. Despite the recent dip, ChatGPT still receives 60% of traffic to the top 50 generative-AI websites, according to a study by Andreessen Horowitz, a venture-capital (VC) firm which has invested in OpenAI (see chart).

Yet OpenAI is no longer only—or even primarily—about ChatGPT. It is increasingly becoming a business-to-business platform. It is creating bespoke products of its own for big corporate customers, which include Morgan Stanley, an investment bank. It also offers tools for developers to build products using its models; on November 6th it is expected to unveil new ones at its first developer conference. And it has a $175m pot to invest in smaller AI startups building applications on top of its platform, which at once promotes its models and allows it to capture value if the application-builders strike gold. To further spread its technology, it is handing out perks to AI firms at Y Combinator, a Silicon Valley startup nursery that Mr Altman used to lead. John Luttig of Founders Fund (a VC firm which also has a stake in OpenAI), thinks that this vast and diverse distribution may be even more important than any technical advantage.

Being the first mover certainly plays in OpenAI's favour. GPT-like models' high fixed costs erect high barriers to entry for competitors. That in turn may make it easier for OpenAI to lock in corporate customers. If they are to share internal company data in order to fine-tune the model to their needs, many clients may prefer not to do so more than once—for cyber-security reasons, or simply because it is costly to move data from one AI provider to another, as it already is between computing clouds. Teaching big models to think also requires lots of tacit engineering know-how, from recognising high-quality data to knowing the tricks to quickly debug the source code. Mr Altman has speculated that fewer than 50 people in the world are at the true model-training frontier. A lot of them work for OpenAI.

These are all real advantages. But they do not guarantee OpenAI's continued dominance. For one thing, the sort of network effects where scale begets more scale, which have helped turn Alphabet, Amazon and Meta into quasi-monopolists in search, e-commerce and social networking, respectively, have yet to materialise. Despite its vast number of users, GPT-4 is hardly better today than it was six months ago. Although further tuning with user data has made it less likely to go off the rails, its overall performance has changed in unpredictable ways, in some cases for the worse.

Being a first mover in model-building may also bring some disadvantages. The biggest cost for modellers is not training but experimentation. Plenty of ideas went nowhere before the one that worked got to the training stage. That is why OpenAI is estimated to have lost $500m last year, even though GPT-4 cost one-fifth as much to train. News of ideas that do not pay off tends to spread quickly throughout AI world. This helps OpenAI's competitors avoid going down costly blind alleys.

As for customers, many are trying to reduce their dependence on OpenAI, fearful of being locked into its products and thus at its mercy. Anthropic, which was founded by defectors from OpenAI, has already become a popular second choice for many AI startups. Soon businesses may have more cutting-edge alternatives. Google is building Gemini, a model believed to be more powerful than GPT-4. Even Microsoft is, despite its partnership with OpenAI, something of a competitor. It has access to GPT-4's black box, as well as a vast sales force with long-standing ties to the world's biggest corporate IT departments. This array of choices diminishes OpenAI's pricing power. It is also forcing Mr Altman's firm to keep training better models if it wants to stay ahead.

The fact that OpenAI's models are a black box also reduces its appeal to some potential users, including large businesses concerned about data privacy. They may prefer more transparent “open-source" models like Meta's LLaMA 2. Sophisticated software firms, meanwhile, may want to build their own model from scratch, in order to exercise full control over its behavour.

Others are moving away from generality—the ability to do many things rather than just one thing—by building cheaper models that are trained on narrower sets of data, or to do a specific task. A startup called Replit has trained one narrowly to write computer programs. It sits atop Databricks, an AI cloud platform which counts Nvidia, a $1trn maker of specialist AI semiconductors, among its investors. Another called Character AI has designed a model that lets people create virtual personalities based on real or imagined characters that can then converse with other users. It is the second-most popular AI app behind ChatGPT.

The core question, notes Kevin Kwok, a venture capitalist (who is not a backer of OpenAI), is how much value is derived from a model's generality. If not much, then the industry may be dominated by many specialist firms, like Replit or Character AI. If a lot, then big models such as those of OpenAI or Google may come out on top.

Mike Speiser of Sutter Hill Ventures (another non-OpenAI backer) suspects that the market will end up containing a handful of large generalist models, with a long tail of task-specific models. If AI turns out to be all it is cracked up to be, being an oligopolist could still earn OpenAI a pretty penny. And if its backers really do see any of that penny only after the company has created a human-like thinking machine, then all bets are off.

© 2023, The Economist Newspaper Limited. All rights reserved. From The Economist, published under licence. The original content can be found on www.economist.com

Source: Live Mint
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Elon Musk's warning on ‘free speech’ for X emp

Posted By: Jogendra Kumar Posted On: Sep 17, 2023
Elon Musk (AFP)

Elon Musk, the owner of micro blogging site ‘X’ (former Twitter) has issued a whip for ‘X Corp’ employees with regards to ‘free speech’ on the social media platform. Elon Musk requoted a tweet by X News Daily, which quoted German prosecutors saying, “X is complying with more German requests compared to pre-acquisition when it comes to identifying users in Hate speech cases".

The news daily channel of microblogging platform ‘X' reported, “X is complying with more German requests compared to pre-acquisition when it comes to identifying users in Hate speech cases, German prosecutors say. This has raised concerns among civil liberties advocates, due to the strict and broad nature of Germany's hate speech laws."

Source: Live Mint
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