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Business Live Updates: Foxconn, Goldman Sachs and Stock Market News

ImageFoxconn presented its Model E electric vehicle, a luxury sedan, in Taipei, Taiwan, on Monday. The company is working with start-ups including Fisker and Lordstown Motors to help develop and mass-produce their vehicles.
Foxconn presented its Model E electric vehicle, a luxury sedan, in Taipei, Taiwan, on Monday. The company is working with start-ups including Fisker and Lordstown Motors to help develop and mass-produce their vehicles.Credit…Ritchie B Tongo/EPA, via Shutterstock

Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics giant that assembles Apple’s iPhones, on Monday showed off the first physical fruits of its effort to become a major player in electric vehicles: a luxury sedan, a sport-utility vehicle and a bus.

The unveiling of the prototypes in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital, came just a year after Foxconn executives declared their grand ambitions in battery-powered vehicles, an area with which the company had limited experience.

Foxconn has since begun working on hardware elements and software that automakers can use in developing electric cars. It has also signed agreements with start-ups like Fisker and Lordstown Motors to help develop and mass-produce their vehicles.

The prototypes Foxconn presented on Monday, which the company has christened Models C, E and T, are templates that clients can refer to when designing their vehicles. Foxconn worked with the Taiwanese carmaker Yulon Motor to develop the prototypes, and Yulon will be the first customer to bring the two companies’ efforts to market.

Foxconn’s chairman, Young Liu, expressed confidence that a company best known for assembling smartphones and laptops had a role to play in the car industry.

“Our biggest challenge is we don’t know how to make cars,” Mr. Liu told reporters on Monday.

But he said legacy automakers faced an even mightier challenge: They lack expertise in software and computer chips, both of which are important as cars acquire more digital smarts. That makes Foxconn’s background in consumer electronics an advantage, Mr. Liu said.

He added that the fact that Foxconn had given its electric bus the same name as what is possibly the most famous car ever made, the Ford Model T, should not be taken to imply that it was working with the American automaker.

The Goldman Sachs headquarters in Manhattan.Credit…Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Goldman Sachs has won approval to take full ownership of a joint venture in China, enabling the Wall Street firm to expand its operations in the country at a time when Beijing has made moves to open up its financial sector.

The go-ahead from the China Securities Regulatory Commission for Goldman Sachs to buy out Beijing Gao Hua Securities, its local partner, comes as Beijing tries to make good on a pledge it made in 2017 to allow foreign investment banks to fully own their China operations.

“This marks the start of a new chapter for our China business following a successful 17-year joint venture,” Goldman Sachs said in a memo on Sunday, adding that the approval would allow the investment bank to “position our firm for long-term growth and success in this market.”

Goldman Sachs reached a deal to buy a remaining 49 percent stake in Goldman Sachs Gao Hua from its Chinese partner in December. The price was not disclosed. The company will be renamed Goldman Sachs China Securities Company.

Chinese authorities have courted global investment banks and pledged financial reforms even as they have cracked down on the operations and fund-raising activities of some of China’s best known companies.

This summer, not long after regulators barred private tutoring companies from making a profit and erased billions of dollars from the stock market overnight, Beijing approved a request by BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, to sell mutual funds in China. The move was seen as an attempt to help calm investor nerves and show that China was still open for business.

Goldman has a long history in China as one of the first foreign investment banks to open offices in the country in 1994. It teamed up with Beijing Gao Hua Securities in 2004 and began to offer investment banking services, like helping domestic companies raise money in financial markets.

Dave Baszucki, the chief executive of the gaming company Roblox, at a company conference on Thursday. For the first time, more than half of Roblox’s users are over than 13.Credit…Jason Henry for The New York Times

Roblox was started in 2004 with the premise that most of its users were underage, so it put safeguards in place to protect children from online harassment and predators. It has long been wildly popular with children, particularly those between 9 and 12 years old.

This month, Roblox said that, for the first time, more than half of its users were older than 13. As its users age, it is trying maintain a safe environment, writes Kellen Browning for The New York Times. Its efforts offer both a road map and a cautionary note for other internet companies trying the opposite: engaging with a younger audience.

It recently announced new tools intended to attract older players to the platform, like more-lifelike avatars; the ability for developers to restrict some games to 13-and-older players, or possibly those 17 and older; and a voice chatting feature available to those who are at least 13. To verify their age, users can upload government-issued identification along with a selfie.

But mixing older users with Roblox’s traditional crowd poses safety risks, such as the possibility that young children are exposed to predators or recruited by extremist groups. The company has tried to crack down on such misconduct, and Dave Baszucki, Roblox’s chief executive, said he recognized that integrating various ages on his platform was “a challenge.” But he said building an online world that was safe and open to all was part of his vision for the so-called metaverse, an idea that people can share an enormous online universe together.

Earlier this month, Roblox updated its community standards to ban any depictions of romance or discussion of political parties. It also explicitly barred terrorist or extremist groups from recruiting or fund-raising on the site — an issue that has plagued social media companies like Twitter for years.

Mr. Baszucki said integrating older users while maintaining the platform’s standards of civility and good behavior was a “huge responsibility.” But he was optimistic that the company would be successful, he said, because Roblox had a history of children behaving better than the adults on other social platforms.

Titania Jordan, the chief parent officer at Bark, a tech company that uses artificial intelligence to monitor children’s devices, said that although bad behavior could sometimes slip through the cracks at Roblox, the company was still “commendable” in its approach to child safety, especially compared with sites like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.

Despite Roblox’s efforts, explicit material slips through the cracks. And the fact that it still faces criticism could be another lesson to companies like Facebook. READ THE ARTICLE →

In a 2018 marketing presentation, Instagram said the loss of teenage users to other social media platforms was an “existential threat.”Credit…Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times

When Instagram reached one billion users in 2018, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, called it “an amazing success.” The photo-sharing app, which Facebook owns, was widely hailed as a hit with young people and celebrated as a growth engine for the social network.

But Instagram was privately lamenting the loss of teenage users to other social media platforms as an “existential threat,” according to a 2018 marketing presentation.

By last year, the issue had become more urgent, according to internal Instagram documents obtained by The New York Times. “If we lose the teen foothold in the U.S. we lose the pipeline,” read a strategy memo, from last October, that laid out a marketing plan for this year.

In the face of that threat, Instagram left little to chance, Sheera Frenkel, Ryan Mac and Mike Isaac report for The New York Times.

  • Starting in 2018, it earmarked almost its entire global annual marketing budget — slated at $390 million this year — to targeting teenagers, largely through digital ads, according to planning documents and people directly involved in the process.

  • Focusing so singularly on a narrow age group is highly unusual, marketers said, though the final spending went beyond teenagers and encompassed their parents and young adults.

The documents, which have not previously been reported, reveal the company’s angst and dread as it has wrestled behind the scenes with retaining, engaging and attracting young users. Even as Instagram was heralded as one of Facebook’s crown jewels, it turned to extraordinary spending measures to get the attention of teenagers.

“In any media industry, the newest, coolest thing sees the highest uptake among younger generations,” said Brooke Duffy, an associate professor at Cornell University who studies media, culture and tech. That puts incumbents on the defensive, she said, adding, “We’re in a cultural moment where people just seem to be getting tired of the aspirational, performative culture of Instagram.”

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