Items filtered by date: Monday, 03 June 2019

Calls for Mark Zuckerberg's power to be reined in continue to grow louder – not that it matters. 

That much was clear during Facebook's annual shareholders meeting on Thursday, where Zuckerberg faced numerous calls for his power to be checked. On the agenda were four shareholder proposals that called for new checks on Zuckerberg's power: 

  • A proposal calling for more shareholder a power

  • A proposal calling for an independent board chair (not Zuck)

  • A proposal which compared Zuckerberg's control of the company to a "dictatorship," for shareholder input in elections to the board of directors

  • A proposal to explore "strategic alternatives," including breaking up Facebook into separate companies

But going over these initiatives were mostly a symbolic gesture as Facebook's board, once again, easily voted down all shareholder proposals. As Bloomberg pointed out earlier this week, such proposals are all essentially dead on arrival, since Zuckerberg controls the vast majority of the company's most powerful shares.

Zuckerberg seemed mostly unfazed by all this. He said addressing the "social issues" facing the company is one of his top priorities.

"This is an important period for the company...we're fighting to do the right thing every day," he said.

Still, shareholders in attendance made it clear they want to see Facebook change.

During the meeting's Q&A period, one questioner asked Facebook's lead independent director, Susan Desmond-Hellmann, if she was willing to exercise her authority to call a board meeting without Zuckerberg in order to oust the CEO.

She said no. "That's not the direction we want to take the company or the board," she said. 

Another attendee posed a similar question to Zuckerberg, asking if he would respond to people who want him to give up some of his power. Facebook's founder sidestepped the question by repeating his calls for increased regulation. 

"I do acknowledge there are limits to what an individual company should deciding," he said.

That wasn't really an answer to the question that was asked, but it was a deft move that allowed the CEO to avoid addressing calls for him to step down or relinquish his control directly. 

Most of all, it was a powerful reminder to Zuckerberg's critics that he's not going away any time soon.

 

Source: Mashable.Com

Published in Telecoms

Huawei Technologies, the Chinese telecommunications equipment supplier fighting a U.S. sales ban, kicks off a trade secrets lawsuit in the United States on Monday against a former employee who has sought to turn the case into a referendum on Huawei's corporate behaviour.

The trial, involving salacious allegations of corporate espionage, racketeering and a secret database of rivals' technology, promises to keep Huawei in the spotlight amid a U.S. blacklisting and pressure on allies not to buy its networking gear over security concerns.

Jury selection begins on Monday in a federal court in Sherman, Texas, with the trial expected to last about three weeks. The judge in the case, Amos Mazzant, is also separately hearing Huawei's bid to overturn the Trump administration's ban on its sales to government agencies and contractors.

Huawei's lawsuit against former employee Ronnie Huang and his startup, CNEX Labs Inc, claims an "an illegal pattern of racketeering" by the ex-manager to steal its technology and poach its staff, according to court documents. CNEX develops chips that speed up data storage on cloud computing networks.

Huang denies wrongdoing and has filed a countersuit, alleging Huawei is using U.S. courts to acquire his and others' technology and quash rivals.

Huawei seeks "many tens of millions of dollars" in damages and rights to about 30 trade secrets and CNEX patents, according to a spokesman for the Chinese tech firm. Among Huawei's claims, it says another Huawei employee downloaded some of its secrets before he joined CNEX.

"Huawei proved a springboard for (Huang) to succeed where he otherwise could not have," the spokesman said. The case had nothing to do with tensions over the U.S. blacklist, he said. "This is not a U.S. versus China case," said the spokesman.

Huang started CNEX in 2013 and has raised more than $100 million from backers including arms of Dell Technologies and Microsoft.

A Huawei official posed as a potential buyer and the company used ties to a Chinese university to gain access to CNEX designs, Huang's countersuit claims. Among its accusations: Huawei rewarded staff for stealing rivals' trade secrets and stores the pilfered technology in a secret database for its use.

"(Huawei) is a vast competitive-intelligence gathering operation, gathering the intellectual property and trade secrets of the world's top technology companies," Matthew Goss, CNEX general counsel, said in an interview.

Goss said Huawei's lawsuit, which includes one of the first claims to be heard under the U.S. Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016, was "weaponizing our courts against U.S. companies."

 

Published in Telecoms

Mexican and U.S. officials were preparing on Sunday for upcoming talks aimed at averting a major trade clash after U.S. President Donald Trump vowed to impose punitive tariffs on all Mexican goods in an intensifying dispute over migration.

Mexican Economy Minister Graciela Marquez said on Sunday she would meet with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in Washington on Monday, as the two governments begin holding talks to resolve the issue in the U.S. capital in the coming week.

Trump says he will apply tariffs of 5% on Mexican goods on June 10 if Mexico does not halt the flow of illegal immigration, largely from Central America, across the U.S.-Mexican border.

The U.S. president lashed out on Twitter on Sunday morning, calling Mexico an "abuser of the United States, taking but never giving," and repeating his tariff threats. He doubled down a few hours later.

"Mexico is sending a big delegation to talk about the Border. Problem is, they've been 'talking' for 25 years," Trump wrote. "We want action, not talk. They could solve the Border Crisis in one day if they so desired. Otherwise, our companies and jobs are coming back to the USA!"

The tariffs will gradually rise to 25% if Mexico does not comply with Trump's demands. That threatens major economic damage to Mexico, which sends about 80% of its exports to the United States.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador hinted on Saturday that his government could agree to tighten migration controls to defuse Trump's threat, and said he expected "good results" from the talks in Washington.

Speaking on Sunday afternoon at an event to mark the start of construction on an oil refinery in southern Mexico, Lopez Obrador did not refer directly to the trade dispute, but said he wanted to send a "memorandum" to the American people.

"The Mexican government is a friend of the United States government. The president of Mexico wants to stay friends with President Donald Trump. But above all, we are friends of the American people," Lopez Obrador said.

In words directed at the U.S. public, he added: "We want nothing and no one to break our beautiful and sacred friendship."

DELEGATION

Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard is heading the Mexican delegation, which includes Marquez. Marquez said she spoke to Ross during the inauguration of El Salvador's new president on Saturday, without giving details.

Ebrard is expected to meet U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for talks on the crisis on Wednesday, although Mexican officials say they will be holding other meetings beforehand.

Trump's ultimatum has hurt Mexican financial assets and global stocks, but it met resistance from U.S. business leaders and lawmakers worried about the impact of targeting Mexico, one of the United States' top trade partners.

In his Sunday Twitter broadside, Trump also hit out at U.S. companies operating in Mexico.

"Our many companies and jobs that have been foolishly allowed to move South of the Border, will be brought back into the United States through taxation (Tariffs)," Trump wrote. "America has had enough!"

Lopez Obrador said on Saturday that Mexico would not engage in a trade war, but noted that his government had a "plan" in case Trump did apply the tariffs, without providing details.

He also noted that Mexico reserved the right to seek international legal arbitration to resolve the dispute.

Some Mexican business groups have urged the government to strike back against any Trump tariffs.

On Friday, Mexico's top farm lobby said Lopez Obrador should target agricultural goods from states that support Trump's Republican Party if the U.S. president carries out his threat.

Apprehensions at the U.S. border with Mexico have surged in recent months, although Mexican data also show more deportations and detentions at Mexico's southern border with Guatemala, mostly of Central Americans trying to reach the United States.

The bulk of migrants are fleeing widespread violence and poverty in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Many seek asylum in the United States when they cross the border.

Trump is pushing Congress to change U.S. law to make it more difficult for the migrants to claim asylum.

 

Published in World
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