TikTok Considers Splitting from ByteDance; Spotify Still May Do Extra Cost HiFi; The Feds Release Billions for EV Charging Stations; How SVB’s Crash Could Affect Housing Markets; Tesla Powerwalls for Home Backup

As Congress dithers, with both parties worried about the influence of the Chinese government on TikTok, and various restrictions are discussed…including up to a total ban of the platform in the US, TikTok is now considering a divestiture, by way of a sale or initial public offering. According to Reuters, that would be a last resort, as the platform continues to negotiate with US national security officials. TikTok has over 100 million US users, and many in government, both Republican and Democrat, continue to be concerned that user data could end up in the hands of the Chinese government. Note to elderly lawmakers…if it could, it is already there! For its part, TikTok claims it has spent over $1.5 billion on rigorous data security efforts and rejects spying allegations.

Spotify had planned to roll out its premium priced HiFi tier in 2021, but delayed it after Apple Music and Amazon offered lossless music at no extra charge. Now, theverge.com reports that the streamer will still release a higher price tier, but will include spatial audio/Dolby Atmos in addition to lossless to sweeten the pot enough to hopefully get subscribers. No date has been set for the HiFi tier release yet. 

The Biden administration has released $2.5 billion in funds to cities, counties, states, and tribes to build electric vehicle charging stations. According to Engadget.com, half of the funds will go to chargers and stations ‘publicly accessible’ like parking facilities, parks, and schools. The rest are to be built in ‘alternative fuel corridors’ along highways to help with long-distance travel. States and municipalities have until May 30th to apply for the cash. 

An economist at Zillow says the crash of Silicon Valley Bank could take upward pressure off interest rates for a bit. Chief Economist Skylar Olsen is not alone in thinking the Federal Reserve will skip an interest rate increase next month. Rates have eased from a peak of 7.05% to 6.75% as of this report. Home buyers are very sensitive to interest rates…well, actually to mortgage payment amounts that the rates command, That’s the good news. On the other hand, Olsen sees the SVB bank collapse as softening home prices in some markets like San Francisco and Seattle. That said, the suburban markets around tech hubs still seem as strong as ever, as workers who can elect to work from home and move out further from those tech centers for less pricy homes. Olsen also sees the easing of rates as pushing some owners to list their properties, freeing up more homes for sale for a younger generation of buyers.

With 300,000 people losing power (and some still out) in the San Francisco Bay Area yesterday, a lot of people are looking at backups. There are those generators that run on propane from Generac advertised on TV all the time…those run about $2 grand. What about a Tesla Powerwall? The company has started offering them without a roof full of solar panels, as supply has loosened up. Well, hit up your bank for a loan…and are you sitting down? The things that used to run $6500 to $8500 are now $12,850 according to thisoldhouse.com, the home remodelers seen on public TV’s ‘This Old House.’ That’s for a single Powerwall battery, too. You can get multiples…with the biggest running up to $73,000! BTW, they are still only available in ‘select markets.’

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