Nvidia Arm Buy is Off; Peter Thiel Leaves Facebook Board; Under Pressure, IRS Drops Facial Recognition; Critical Year for EVs

The huge $66 billion dollar deal for Nvidia to buy Arm has blown up. According to arstechnica.com, this was primarily due to regulators in the US, UK, and EU raising serious concerns about the effect of the deal on competition in the world wide semiconductor industry. The deal would have given California based Nvidia virtual control over the tech at the heart of the majority of mobile devices. Arm is based in the UK. Among others, Qualcomm and Microsoft had objected to the purchase. The sale’s failure is a big hit for SoftBank, which would have raked in a huge windfall had the deal gone through. SoftBank will now likely do an IPO sometime this year for Arm.

Peter Thiel isn’t seeking reelection to be a member of the Facebook (Meta) board, so will leave the company. Techcrunch.com reports that Thiel has become increasingly political, and has strongly supported Donald Trump and those running for office closely associated with him. This makes him a bit of a hot potato on the Meta board at this point…with the investigations both in the US and the EU into the company, and their platforms Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. 

The backlash was quick, strong, and surprisingly bipartisan. After public outcry and a strong negative reaction for members of Congress, the IRS will drop their plan to make people use facial recognition via a third party company to verify their identity. Engadget.com notes that the shift away form the ID.me system will happen over weeks to try to minimize disruptions during tax filing season. The IRS is now working on a less intrusive, and less flakey system…as even the folks in Congress know that the face ID system has issues, and is prone to error…particularly in the case of minority faces. The susceptibility to cyber attacks, and lack of audits or accountability also raised the ire of Congress members from both sides of the aisle. 

This is shaping up to be a pivotal year for electric cars. The EVs are still only 9% of the market, but that’s up from 2.5% in 2019, so a big jump. The New York Times reports that the industry over all will drop a trillion dollars the next 5 years to transition EVs. Tesla is still leading at a million sold a year, but looking at orders over at Ford (which we’ve covered here), FoMoCo had thought they might sell 75,000 of the new F-150 Lightening pickups, but have stopped orders for now at 200,000. They will sell a like number of Mustang EVs this year, too. Mercedes delivered almost 100,000 EVs in 2021…up 90% from the previous year. VW delivered 17,000 ID.4 SUVs in the US, but say they could have sold 4 times that number if it hadn’t been for production bottlenecks like the chip shortage. The biggest impediment to EV sales (besides the chip shortage) is the lack of enough charging stations. Right now, there are only 50,000 public charging stations in the US. The infrastructure bill passed last fall has funds for an additional 500,000, but even that won’t be enough to keep up with EV sales at the rate people are ordering them. 



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