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Breakfast Briefing: VC Problems, Uber-Toyota Partnership & BAE’s Woes

VCs Pressed on Sexual Harassment

The US National Venture Capital Association encouraged VCs to improve workplace behaviour.

Editor’s Remarks: The VC lobbying group published a wealth of information yesterday that outlined policies firms should adopt in order to improve workplace conduct. Among the documents were clear explanations of what constituted harassment and discrimination as well as procedures for handling complaints. The policies are not binding but, following a series of high profile scandals that have rocked the industry in the last eight months, it is expected that a number of entities will comply. Also on the industry’s agenda is the continued effort to maintain the carried interest tax benefits it enjoys and protections for immigrant entrepreneurs.

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Uber’s Closer Ties with Toyota

Uber’s CEO confirmed that his company will forge deeper ties with Toyota.

Editor’s Remarks: Yesterday, Dara Khrosrowshahi met with Toyota’s president, Akio Toyoda, at the carmaker’s headquarters to discuss their joint development of autonomous vehicles. Khosrowshahi said that he expects to deploy self-driving vehicles on roads within a year, and is hoping that the partnership model with Toyota will serve as a prototype to other automakers. Uber, however, faces stiff competition in Japan, where Sony recently announced it is developing ride-hailing software that will be used by the nation’s taxis. Meanwhile, Uber recently settled an intellectual property battle with Waymo for a huge $245m.

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BAE Warns of Flat Revenues

The company warned that falling production of Eurofighter jets will drag down profits.

Editor’s Remarks: BAE, the defence giant, said that its earnings would likely be flat this year as decreased spending in Europe offsets increased defence budgets in the US. The London-based firm had a strong 2017, which saw substantially higher profits, but is increasingly bearish about the short-term outlook. The company is working closely with the UK government to ensure that business remains strong post-Brexit amid pressure on the nation’s armed forces to further cut costs. BAE has so far cut 1,400 jobs in its military aircraft division due to falling sales.

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Apple to Upgrade AirPods

Apple intends to upgrade its AirPods with new hardware.

Editor’s Remarks: The hugely popular wireless AirPods will get the usual Apple makeover later this year that will include a new Bluetooth chip and Siri voice activation. The AirPods have helped spur the trend towards wireless earphones, with similar offerings from Google, Sony and Samsung also hitting the shelves in recent months. However, Apple’s brand power sets it apart from competitors; the AirPods have accounted for 85% of all US spending on wireless earphones since they were released. There are already plans for yet another AirPods release next year that will include water resistance features.

Read more on Consumer Technology:

Harley Davidson New Motorcycle

The iconic company is launching an electric motorcycle in 2019.

Editor’s Remarks: Harley Davidson’s CEO Matt Levatich has announced that his company will invest more “aggressively” in electric vehicle technology, marking a powerful shift in the strategy of a company famed for being a symbol of American internal combustion engines. The investment in electric technology is expected to total $25m to $50m per year, though further details have not been announced. Harley Davidson has, however, said that it expects its first e-motorcycle, dubbed Project LiveWire, to hit the market within 18 months. The move is expected to also attract younger motorbike buyers, among whom sales are falling.

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