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Finally, Bitcoin ETFs Arrive!

GM Money Masters, 👋

How’s your year starting off? For the crypto enthusiasts out there, it’s likely been pretty fantastic as the wait is finally over: there is a spot Bitcoin ETF in the US!

Forget that it took ten years of wild BTC price swings and the entrance of major financial behemoths like BlackRock, not to mention a flood of fake approval rumors, for the SEC to finally succumb.

The exhilaration among believers is palpable as they dare to hope that this might just be the year BTC hits that elusive $100k mark, especially after yesterday’s ETF greenlight. 🎉

But if you’re not keen on blockchain, we sincerely hope you’re not among the 2,000-plus folks that tech companies have sadly handed pink slips to since the year kicked off. Looks like 2024 might be the year of tough layoffs.

Techies might not be the only ones facing a bumpy road ahead; Apple could be in for a rough ride this year too.

Meanwhile, the lunar race seems to be hitting obstacles left and right. Can we call it quits already?

And Meta’s taking a cautious stance with new content moderation rules, aiming to safeguard kids (and maybe dodge some liability and bad press along the way).

Let’s dive right in.

MONEY MASTERY BRIEF

  • Tech Layoffs Have Started the Year Strong, is That a Sign?
  • Astrorobotics Moon Mission Set to Fail, NASA Postpones Artemis 2 Launch
  • Apple Could Be Set for a Tough 2024
  • Meta Will Now Hide Disturbing Content From Kids

👨‍💻 Tech Companies Still Handing Out Pink Slips

2023 sure made waves in tech, though not quite the same for folks in the field. With over 200,000 layoffs, it wasn’t the rosiest time.

Now, guess what? 2024 seems to be riding on that same wave. In just the first ten days, more than a few tech companies have already said goodbye to over 2000 employees. Here are a couple of the standouts:

  • Our beloved language learning app, Duolingo, laid off 10% of its contractor workforce at the end of 2023, saying AI can do their job for less. Remember when we were told AI would create jobs? It’s not looking like it right now.
  • Interactive live streaming platform Twitch also reduced its headcount by 35% as it let go of 500 people. The company is struggling to achieve profitability, but there is one problem: this isn’t its first layoff.
  • Game engine maker Unity has been the most ruthless employer this year. It laid off 25% of its workforce, about 1,800 people. This is coming on the back of three rounds of layoffs in 2023.
  • Frontdesk also let all of their 200 employees go after the startup ran out of capital and could not raise new funds. The irony is that it bought out rival Zencity only seven months ago.

Other companies that have made changes to their workforce this year include Rent the Runway, BenchSci, Flexe, Invision, Pitch, Orca Security, Trigo, and Treasure Financial. The sad news, we’re only ten days into 2024!

But hold tight, more shifts might be coming. Amazon Prime is eyeing workforce reductions, while Google Ad unit is gearing up for a restructuring phase, leaning heavier on AI. Yep, restructuring often means layoffs.

Take care out there, folks, and stay safe amidst this “restructuring.”

🌘 Aiming for the Moon? Try Again

It’s been over half a century since the US touched down on the moon, but guess what? Our fascination with that shiny orb up there hasn’t dimmed one bit. 

Sadly, there’s no imminent moonwalking in our future. Astrorobotics Technology recently had a bummer of an attempt to get back there, thanks to some pesky propellant leakage. Yep, their lunar lander Peregrine won’t be making it to the moon. Talk about a bummer.

Peregrine had big dreams of moon-touching by February 23, hoping to be the first US private company to pull off such a feat. But space, well, it’s a wild ride. Even with solar energy in its bag, that propellant leak means it can’t face the sun for power. Tough luck.

Hold on, though! That’s not the only moon mission facing a hiccup this week. NASA’s Artemis 2 mission, aiming to take four astronauts on a lunar adventure, got bumped to 2025. Safety and tech glitches with the spacecraft pushed back the launch, originally set for November 2024. Even Artemis 3’s crewed mission got pushed to 2026.

At least this delay gives these companies a chance to sort out their safety and tech woes. The last thing we need is a space version of the Titanic Submersible.

🍏 Bad Omens for Apple In 2024

New year, new optimism—unless you’re Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL). Trouble’s knocking at their door, and it’s not holding back.

Rumor has it, the Department of Justice might sling an antitrust lawsuit Apple’s way soon. The buzz from The New York Times says they’re gearing up, aiming to target Apple’s walled garden tactic across its products. Sounds like a legal showdown in the making—one that could seriously shake up Apple’s lucrative business style.

Unlike their pals Google and Microsoft, Apple’s been dancing around antitrust lawsuits for ages. But their lucky streak might be hitting a rough patch this year.

And that’s not the only storm cloud above Apple’s head in 2024. 

China’s got its own beef with Apple, hacking into their Airdrop system. Names, phone numbers, emails—everything out in the open. For folks in China who depend on Airdrop to dodge the Big Brother’s gaze, that’s a tough blow. iPhones sales are already taking a nosedive there, even with Apple slashing prices left and right.

Europe’s not letting Apple off easy either. The EU’s giving the App Store and iMessage a hard stare under its Digital Markets Act. Apple’s pushing back, but who knows what the future holds?

But here’s a glimmer of hope amidst the chaos—iPhones are built tough! One fell from the sky during an Alaska Airlines flight and survived without a scratch. Can Apple weather the storm as well as their gadgets do? Time will tell.

🙈 Meta To Hide Disturbing Content… from Teens

If your kids are active on any of Meta‘s platforms (NASDAQ: META) – and let’s face it, most are – here’s a piece of news to ease your worries. 

Meta’s rolling out a new safeguard. They’re taking steps to shield teens from sensitive topics like suicide, eating disorders, and self-harm. It’s all about making sure the content aligns with what’s appropriate for their age.

In a major overhaul, Meta’s tightening up content control for users under 18. Now, even if a teen follows someone who posts such content, it’ll stay hidden from their feed. Plus, if they search for it, they’ll get directed to expert resources for support.

This move comes amidst growing scrutiny on how social media content affects young minds.

Meta’s been in the hot seat as an example of what not to do when it comes to kids and social platforms. But they’re on a mission to rebuild their reputation and dodge more penalties. 

But will this strategy of filtering content based on age hit the mark? 

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“The @SECGov X account was compromised, and an unauthorized post was posted. The SEC has not approved the listing and trading of spot bitcoin exchange-traded products.”

– That was what the SEC said after its account was briefly compromised to post fake news about the ETF approval on Tuesday.

$100 billion. Standard Chartered is predicting this amount of inflow for these newly approved Bitcoin exchange-traded funds in the U.S. Can you imagine? The bank says that if these ETFs hit that mark, BTC price might be soaring to $200k by the end of 2025.

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The European Union is scrutinizing Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) investment into OpenAI to determine if it falls under its merger rules. This is in reaction to the board drama at OpenAI last year and Microsoft’s reaction to the whole drama. The UK regulatory authority has already investigated the partnership between the two. Some things don’t change, even with Brexit. Full story

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Samsung are merging their Nearby Share and Quick Share apps into one solution for all Android devices. It’ll keep the name Quick Share and function the same way, allowing people to share files across Android devices. There are plans to extend Quick Share to Windows PCs as a pre-installed app. Suck on that Apple airdrop. Full story

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE: HPE) is about to buy Juniper Network (NYSE: JNPR) in a $13 billion deal. The deal could boost HPE, especially its artificial intelligence offerings. The company said last year it’s launching cloud computing services that will power AI systems like ChatGPT. Full story

India’s Zee Entertainment (NSE: ZEE) remains committed to its merger with Sony India in a deal worth $10 billion. Recent reports suggest Sony might be considering backing out of the deal because of concerns about who will lead the merged company. However, Zee discredited the report, saying the merger is still on. Full story

ByteDance wants to sell its gaming assets to the video game company Tencent. Tencent is the largest video game company in the world, so it makes sense that Byte Dance would sell to it. The TikTok parent company said it wants to focus on other core businesses. Full story

Waymo is heading to the highways with its driverless cars, a sign that autonomous vehicles might be reaching maturity. The Alphabet-owned company, which has managed to avoid controversies, unlike its rival Cruise, said its driverless vehicles will start working on Phoenix freeways. For now, the passengers will be Waymo staff and their friends, but others could join soon. Full story

If you’re wondering how big Big Tech is, we now have an answer. The combined market cap of the Magnificent Seven is higher than the entire stock market of any country in the world except the US.

The quest to replace fossil fuels has led us to embrace electric vehicles. But some companies are considering another option – Hydrogen.

Carmakers such as Toyota, Hyundai, GM, and Honda all have plans to produce hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on a mass scale. But there are plenty of challenges with using hydrogen fuel, including storage.

If these issues are solved, it could become a viable option.

If hydrogen is an option, will you get a fuel cell vehicle over electric vehicles?

Let us know by replying to this email.

Thanks for reading, and may your investments thrive. 🙂

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