Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Tuesday, 24 November 2020.

1. Elon Musk blows by Bill Gates to become the world’s second-richest person

Bill Gates has mostly been the richest person in the world for as long as I can remember, and even when he was unseated by the likes of Carlos Slim, it seemed like an aberration.

  • Now Gates is a long way behind Jeff Bezos who looks set (even after a costly divorce) to be the first person to reach $200 billion in net worth, not that the numbers feel like they mean anything at this point.
  • And, Gates has handily donated more than $27 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation since 2006, which, among other things, helped us all get a COVID-19 vaccine faster, with a fresh New York Times piece highlighting his Foundation’s ongoing efforts.
  • Now Musk has unseated Gates too, after going past Mark Zuckerberg in the past weeks.

What’s weird about Elon Musk rocketing up the ladder to reach a net worth at $128 billion, squeaking by Bill Gates according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, is that Musk increased his net worth by about $100 billion in 2020, one of the most volatile years in history.

Now, yes yes, it’s all paper money for now, not cash. But that’s how these indexes have always worked. And Musk has caught a Falcon 9 upwards mostly on the back of Tesla’s share price surge.

  • Tesla has a market cap of almost $500 billion.
  • That’s almost as much as all of Germany’s medium-sized companies grouped together (Twitter).
  • Toyota, valued at $199.5B, will make around 10 million cars in 2020.
  • Tesla made around 367,000 cars in 2019. It’s aiming to deliver 500,000 in 2020, a 36 percent increase.
  • Tesla’s stock has risen by more than 600 percent since Jan 1, 2020, and more than 1,000{0ab330907ab55d1d247a5e46cbfc213f668b37838ccb2fc637c3c0da5f4ad964} over the last 12 months.
  • Tesla is different, but is it different enough? The company is boosted by Musk, with absolute uber-fans who own the various Tesla Model cars. Tesla is a massive reason electric vehicles are becoming viable and popular, and it aggressively touts its autonomous vehicle technology and performance (which is a contested argument to put it mildly).
  • With a huge market cap, Tesla can easily raise cash by issuing stock with a minor impact on equity holders, as it did back in September when it raised $5B.
  • It’s no longer in danger of running out of money, and so people see incredible blue sky potential as the likes of Ford and VW only just start offering a true EV platform car.
  • Now, Musk doesn’t only bank on Tesla, the company founded in 2003, that he joined in 2004.
  • Musk’s SpaceX venture is arguably doing better than Tesla considering the four astronaut-Crew Dragon mission success to the ISS, and Starlink efforts.

Bloomberg also highlights recent disagreements between Gates and Musk, which might normally be fun other than the COVID-19 denial strategy from Musk:

  • Musk unseats an occasional verbal sparring partner in Gates, who the Tesla billionaire has ridiculed on Twitter for, among other things, having “no clue” about electric trucks. The two have also traded barbs over Covid-19. Gates, whose charitable foundation is one of the preeminent bodies backing vaccine research, has expressed concern over Musk’s stated suspicion of pandemic data and embrace of certain conspiracy theories.

The difference between Musk and myself is that I’d never want to suggest Bill Gates has no clue about anything. (But hey, let’s not compare net worths or anything…)

  • Not because Bill’s a rich guy, and a charity guy, or whatever, all those good things.
  • But I’ll never forget a 2010 interview with him, as part of a long-running series in the Financial Times, which among other topics, dug into Gates’ passion for science and technology being channeled into medical advances — which Gates would understandably perhaps not be the expert, in a room of experts.
  • Quote: “Gates talks at length and with great enthusiasm about all the various lines of research being pursued in the search for vaccines for HIV and malaria, but he has no medical training. I ask him whether he ever feels out of his depth, discussing the latest developments. He shoots me a slightly incredulous look and says, “No, because I read whatever it takes and I get to learn whatever I want to learn. And I get to spend time with people who work in the field and they’re very nice about educating me. So I’ve got to learn a lot about immunology, which is a super-interesting field,” he says, grinning with pleasure and taking a bite out of his cheeseburger.

That interview finished with this nugget, by the way:

  • “I drink up my coffee and ask for the bill. As I produce my credit card, Gates looks slightly amused. “You sure you want to pay for this?” he says. “I got money.”
  • “I don’t doubt it. But the rules are that the FT pays for lunch…”

2.  The new Redmi Note 9 Pro has an official image showing a circular quad camera with new sensor ahead of the launch (Android Authority).


3. Poll: How many times per day do you unlock your phone? I logged 117 yesterday. Hmm (Android Authority).


4. MKBHD’s 2020 blind smartphone camera test polls are now live — the annual smartphone competition tends to reveal interesting things people prefer in photos, although usually it comes down to colors. Anyway, you can join in on Twitter, best viewed on a smartphone rather than desktop (Twitter).


5. Apple Security Chief indicted for allegedly trading iPads for concealed gun permits (Gizmodo).


6. Snapchat has a TikTok clone called Spotlight… that actually seems fair and decent and original? Snapchat will give users a share of $1m a day for the most entertaining clips as part of a new scrolling snap feed (The Guardian).


7. Twitter now warns you before liking a tweet labeled for misinformation (The Next Web).


8. “Why is it so hard to turn off the PS5?” (The Verge).


9. ‘Super Mario Bros. 3’ sold for $156,000: The most expensive game ever sold at auction (Engadget).


10. Nintendo’s Game & Watch can run Doom, barely (The Verge).


11. GPS rules everything. And it’s getting a big upgrade via a GPS III satellite: three times stronger signal, new L1C civilian frequency and more. Long read but worth thinking about! (CNET).


12. China launches ambitious mission to bring back samples from the Moon, the first attempt since 1976 to get lunar grit (The Verge). By the way, SpaceX is targeting tonight for the next Starlink launch.


13. A solar-powered rocket might be our ticket to interstellar space (Wired).


14. How a Thanksgiving Day gag ruffled feathers in NASA Mission Control in 1991 (Ars Technica).


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