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Tesla stock hits all-time intraday high



Elon Musk, head of Tesla, at the Tesla Gigafactory construction site in Grünheide near Berlin, September 3, 2020.

Patrick Pleul | picture alliance | Getty Images

Tesla stock reached an all-time high Thursday, briefly trading at $507.76 per share.

The company’s stock has been on a tear since the S&P Dow Jones Indices announced this week that it will include the carmaker to the benchmark index prior to trading on Monday, Dec. 21. Money managers with funds that track the S&P 500 will need to buy the stock for their portfolios.

Morgan Stanley also upgraded Tesla to a buy-equivalent overweight rating Wednesday, the first time in years since the company put a buy rating on the stock, sending share prices up.

“Tesla is on the verge of a profound model shift from selling cars to generating high margin, recurring software and services revenue,” Morgan Stanley auto analyst Adam Jonas said in a note on Wednesday. The firm upped its price target to $540 from $360.

Tesla recently reported its fifth consecutive quarter of profit on third-quarter revenue of $8.77 billion. The company also reported that it delivered 139,300 vehicles during the third quarter, a new record for it. 

The company’s stock is up more than 490% year to date.

CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.

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‘To say, I saved the world – that’s the magic of games’: Bethesda’s Todd Howard | Games




When you’ve got a discography like Todd Howard’s, full of critically acclaimed games in the Elder Scrolls and Fallout series, it must be hard to pick a favourite. But there is one game he remembers more fondly than anyone else does: the first he ever worked on.

“Terminator: Future Shock,” he says. “When [Bethesda] came to Fallout, people were saying, oh, you’re doing a post-apocalyptic open world! In 3D! But we already did that in Terminator. It’s an underrated game that not a lot of people played. I think Quake came out right afterwards, that might have had something to do with it, and understandably so … Future Shock was made with eight or 10 people and it did a lot of things that no game had done. I remember it got critiqued at the time, which annoyed me to be honest. But now the things it did are commonplace.”

Howard is speaking to the Guardian ahead of the Develop:Brighton Digital conference, where he gave a keynote speech and accepted the Develop:Star award. Having spent the 90s and 00s leading the development of genre-defining open-world role-playing games in The Elder Scrolls, he now oversees all of Bethesda Game Studios’ many projects, and has a more hands-on role as director on forthcoming sci-fi epic Starfield. He has a considered, measured way of speaking; he’s never likely to get chatty and let slip any longed-for details about Bethesda’s forthcoming games, but he’s insightful about what makes them tick.

“Over the last generation, open-world games became very popular as [developers] got used to making them, and saw the impact they could have on players,” he says. “I think this is what games do best. They do geography well, they put you in another world. A lot of mediums can tell good stories, and some linear games do fantastic things. But for us, putting you in another world asking, what would you do here? What are the possibilities? That’s really what sets gaming apart from other forms of entertainment.”

View of the city of Solitude from the marshes in the game Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
View of the city of Solitude from the marshes in the game Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Photograph: Bethesda Softworks

Bethesda’s games have always been famous for the possibilities they offer the player. Set out on a quick jaunt to kill some giant spiders in The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion (2006) and you could end up running away from the vampires who lived at the top of a mountain. Their huge worlds offered 100-plus hours of exploration and bizarre self-directed adventures. Throughout the 00s Bethesda’s games pushed the boundaries of what was possible in video game worlds – but now, if anything, open-world is overdone. It’s now become almost the default for expensive action games and role-playing games alike.

Will the next generation of consoles – the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X – bring anything revolutionary to the genre? For Howard, it’s not about bigger is better; games are big enough already. Graphics will get better, AI will get better, but Todd believes the biggest change that’s coming is accessibility.

“Let’s just cast forward to the next five to 10 years of gaming – for me, it’s more about access than clock cycles,” he says. “Just the time it takes to even turn [a console] on and load up some of these games is a barrier – it’s time that you’re not enjoying being in that world … The kind of games we make are ones that people are going to sit down and play for hours at a time. If you can access a game more easily, and no matter what device you’re on or where you are, that’s what I think the next five to 10 years in gaming is about.

“I’d like to see more reactivity [in game worlds], more systems clashing together that players can express themselves with. I think chasing scale for scale’s sake is not always the best goal.”

If that sounds vaguely familiar, it might be because Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox, has been saying similar things for years. Given that Microsoft has just bought Bethesda’s parent company Zenimax for $7bn, this alignment of vision is to be expected; it’s an acknowledgment that the way people play games has changed dramatically in recent years. When the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were released back in 2013, livestreaming was still in its infancy and Fortnite didn’t exist, but games such as Minecraft and 2011’s Skyrim were pointing the way. “Previously, someone might play a game for a few months, [and] a long-term play would be say six months. Now, they’re playing them for years,” says Howard.

Bethesda games ... The Elder Scrolls, Fallout and Doom.
Bethesda games … The Elder Scrolls, Fallout and Doom. Photograph: Bethesda

Bethesda’s games have made attempts to lean into this change. The Elder Scrolls Online and Fallout 76 are both massively multiplayer, propped up by a drip-feed of new content from Bethesda’s designers and subscription fees from its players, as opposed to the sprawling single-player games that made the developer famous. Fallout 76 especially launched in a rough state – “We let a lot of people down,” says Howard – but thanks to its evolving nature, has had the opportunity to redeem itself over the years. Does Howard see a future for those single-player games, or should Bethesda games from now on be designed to be live for years, playable with other people?

“Obviously, we’re big fans of single player and we’ve had some success with some multiplayer-focused games,” says Howard. “We have found that even if it’s multiplayer, whether it’s Elder Scrolls Online or Fallout 76, a large number of our players want to play it like a single-player game and not have the other players distract from it. Games handle multiplayer in different ways, and I think it all has merit.”

Todd still plays all sorts of games himself, and watches more on Twitch when he doesn’t have time to play. “There are only a few games that I will deep dive into; I do my best to try as many things as possible. The game I’ve played most lately is Among Us – I looked at it for creative reasons and then for social and personal reasons, I just loved it.” What he looks for in a game, he says, is a world he wants to be in – and opportunities to tell his own story.

“In our games whenever we go really linear, when we say, ‘Here’s the thing you must get, here’s where you must go’, it’s not as successful. When we give the player a short-term, medium- and long-term goal and then make sure they have a lot of options, and make sure that the game is reacting to them, that’s where I think the real magic happens. That’s when the player feels like, ‘Look what I did!’ Rather than a creator giving something to you and you consuming it, you gave something to the game. You come away with a sense of pride. You’ve accomplished something for the week.

“That’s one of the things people who don’t play a lot of games never quite understand. When you play a game and you accomplish something, that’s real. It’s a real accomplishment in your life, or it has been to me, and to other people I meet who love gaming. You can finish the week and say, ‘I saved the world’, and you legit feel that way. That’s the magic.”

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Eric Schmidt backing Firstminute’s new European venture capital fund




Eric Schmidt, chairman of Alphabet Inc.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

LONDON — Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, is one of several tech executives backing a new early-stage European venture capital fund.

The tech billionaire — who has a net worth of $20 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index — has invested an undisclosed amount into a $111 million fund that was announced Monday by London-headquartered VC firm Firstminute Capital.

Firstminute was founded in 2017 by co-founder Brent Hoberman and former Goldman Sachs analyst Spencer Crawley. It launched with a $60 million fund I (that grew to become $100 million) and this second fund brings total assets under management up to $211 million.

RTI Capital Partners is the second fund’s main investor, but Chinese tech giant Tencent, venture firm Atomico, and private equity firm Vitruvian have also invested.

The founders of big data firm Palantir, gaming firm Supercell and e-commerce platform Zalando have also backed Firstminute. It remains much smaller than well-established VC firms in London like Index Ventures and Accel Partners, however.

“European technology is reaching escape velocity, and it’s fantastic to enable so many global serial entrepreneurs to give their experience to the next generation,” said Hoberman in a statement. “Seed venture investing is attracting ever higher quality backers which will help more founders succeed.”

While the continent never used to be known for its start-up scene, today it boasts a growing number of successful tech firms with music streaming giant Spotify, payment platform Klarna and food delivery company Deliveroo among the biggest names. In another sign of growing interest in the region, U.S. venture heavyweight Sequoia is also getting itself set up in Europe with a new London office.

Despite this, Europe still lags behind the U.S. and China, which have both produced a number of companies that are today worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

Hoberman at the helm

Hoberman is widely regarded as being one of the best-connected tech investors in Europe. Educated at Eton and then Oxford, Hoberman has close links to the Prime Minister and other government departments.

In addition to founding and Firstminute, he also co-founded furniture retailer, tech networking business Founders Forum, and start-up accelerator Founders Factory.

So far, Firstminute’s team of 18 staff has invested the money from its first fund into 56 early-stage start-ups, including robotics start-up Karakuri and gaming start-up Klang. The firm says it initially invests around $1 to $2 million in start-ups, but follow-on investments can be higher.

Crawley, another Oxford graduate, said in a statement that Firstminute wants to back founders who are trying to create platforms “that will re-shape our world.”

“Globally, outstanding technical minds are plotting how to solve the toughest societal and economic

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UK bans installation of Huawei 5G equipment from September




The logo of Chinese company Huawei at their main U.K. offices in Reading, west of London, on January 28, 2020.

Daniel Leal-Olivas | AFP via Getty Images

LONDON — Britain on Monday detailed plans to phase out Huawei from its 5G networks, setting a September 2021 deadline for carriers to stop installing the Chinese firm’s gear.

The U.K. government decided to ban 5G equipment from Huawei over the summer, reversing course after heightened pressure from the United States. Westminster had initially allowed Huawei a limited role in the U.K’s 5G deployment.

Washington has imposed devastating sanctions on Huawei, claiming the Shenzhen-based company could enable the government in Beijing to spy on sensitive communications. For its part, Huawei denies the U.S. allegations.

In July, U.K. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said mobile network operators would be forced to stop buying Huawei equipment from the end of 2020 and to strip out the firm’s gear from their infrastructure entirely by 2027.

Supply chain diversification

Now, Dowden has laid out a roadmap to reduce Huawei’s 5G market share in the country to zero.

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