WRALtechwire.com logo

Tech wrap: Tesla stock jumps (+ video); thousands at Amazon job fairs; HBO plays down hack; Uber-Lyft union setback

Bulldog Bulletin

Aug, 3 2017, 5:44 AM

In today's Bulldog wrapup of technology news from around the world:

The details:

Electric car maker Tesla Inc. calmed jittery investors Wednesday, assuring them it can meet aggressive production targets for its new lower-cost Model 3 sedan.

CEO Elon Musk said investors should have "zero concern" about whether Tesla will be able to make 10,000 Model 3s per week by next year. Tesla just delivered the first 30 Model 3s to employees last week.

"This is maybe the best I've ever felt about Tesla, to be frank," Musk said on a conference call with analysts and media.

That — along with a lower-than-expected net loss in the second quarter — sent Tesla's shares soaring. They were up almost 8 percent to $351.12 in after-hours trading.

[VIDEO: Watch CNBC's summary of Tesla's financials at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTFLqevTt4c ]

Musk worried investors last week when he warned that Tesla was about to embark on "at least six months of manufacturing hell" as it tried to get Model 3 production to 5,000 cars per week by December. On Wednesday, Musk said there's always a risk of machines breaking down or suppliers not coming through, but he doesn't expect significant changes to that plan.

"We know this. We signed up for it. I'm not blaming hell because we bought the ticket," he said.

Tesla burned through $1 billion in the second quarter preparing for the Model 3's arrival. It opened 29 new stores and service centers, and it's also planning to double the number of fast-charging Supercharger outlets this year to 10,000 worldwide. Tesla ended the quarter with $3 billion in cash.

Palo Alto, California-based Tesla said its net loss grew 15 percent to $336 million in the April-June period. But its adjusted loss of $1.33 per share handily beat Wall Street's forecast of a $1.88 loss per share, according to analysts polled by FactSet.

Thousands of people showed up Wednesday for a chance to pack and ship products to Amazon customers, as the e-commerce company held a giant job fair at nearly a dozen U.S. warehouses. {None are in North Carolina.]

Although the wages offered will make it hard for some to make ends meet, many of the candidates were excited by the prospect of health insurance and other benefits, as well as advancement opportunities.

Amazon said it received "a record-breaking 20,000 applications" and hired thousands of people on the spot, and will hire more in the coming days. That number represented fewer than half of the 50,000 people it had said it planned to hire.

Most of the jobs are full-time positions in packing, sorting and shipping and will count toward Amazon's previously announced goal of adding 100,000 full-time workers by the middle of next year.

The bad news is that more people are likely to lose jobs in stores than get jobs in warehouses, said Anthony Carnevale, director of Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce.

On the flip side, Amazon's warehouse jobs provide "decent and competitive" wages and could help build skills.

The company is advertising starting wages that range from $11.50 an hour in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to $13.75 an hour in Kent, Washington, near Amazon's Seattle headquarters. The $11.50 rate amounts to about $23,920 a year. In Washington state, the current minimum wage is $11.50 but by 2020 will increase to $13.50. By comparison, the warehouse store operator Costco raised its minimum wage for entry-level workers last year from $13 to $13.50 an hour.

HBO, which acknowledged Monday that hackers had broken into its systems and stolen "proprietary information," now says the attackers likely haven't breached the network's entire email system.

In a Wednesday email to employees, CEO Richard Plepler wrote that "we do not believe that our email system as a whole has been compromised."

He added that a review continues, and said HBO is hiring an outside firm to help employees monitor their financial accounts.

Purported hackers said in email that they'd accessed HBO's internal network and email system and then posted stolen information online. An archived version of the named website appeared to have links to downloadable episodes for several HBO shows, including "Insecure" and "Ballers," and what it said was a link to "script & film" to two "Game of Thrones" episodes, including an upcoming one.

AP did not test the links. The site was not loading Wednesday afternoon.

But HBO appeared to indirectly confirm that this website linked to potentially sensitive internal material including "documents, images, videos and sound."

On Tuesday, a company called IP-Echelon filed a report with Google on behalf of HBO, noting that the named website "shares thousands of Home Box Office (HBO) internal company documents." IP-Echelon Pty Ltd. regularly files such copyright-infringement notices on behalf of large media entertainment companies, including HBO.

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed one challenge to Seattle's first-in-the-nation law allowing drivers of ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft to unionize over pay and working conditions.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents Uber and Lyft, sued in March to block the law. U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik threw out the challenge Tuesday, finding that the city's law is an appropriate exercise of its authority.

Nevertheless, the law remains on hold. In April, Lasnik issued a temporary order blocking it, and he applied that ruling to the chamber's case as well as a separate challenge brought by 11 Seattle Uber and Lyft drivers. The order will remain in effect until he rules on the challenge by the drivers, he said.

The Seattle City Council approved the legislation in late 2015. It requires companies that hire or contract with drivers of taxis, for-hire transportation companies and app-based ride-hailing services to bargain with the drivers if a majority shows they want to be represented.

The law was seen as a test case for the changing 21st-century workforce. The city has been a national leader on workers' rights, gradually raising the minimum wage to $15 and requiring most employers to provide paid sick leave.

Uber's general manager for the Pacific Northwest, Brooke Steger, promised an appeal.