Toshiba board members planned to oust CEO Nobuaki Kurumatani before CVC Capital Partners launched a $20 billion buyout bid last week, sources told Reuters.
Kurumatani on Wednesday resigned from Toshiba. Chairman Satoshi Tsunakawa, who led the company beforehand, will replace him.
The board told Kurumatani the day before the offer was announced that they would replace him, sources who didn’t want to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue told Reuters.
On the subject of Kurumatani stepping down, Toshiba told Insider: “It is a resignation in the middle of the CEO’s term of office, which is unusual, but the resignation is decided by Mr. Kurumatani himself and should be respected.”
Two members of Toshiba Corp’s nomination committee, including board chairman Osamu Nagayama, met Kurumatani, himself a former CVC executive, before the buyout bid and told him they were looking for a new CEO, sources told Reuters.
Although the board hadn’t formally started the process of replacing Kurumatani, the plan was already in motion, Reuters reported. Nagayama, who also heads the nomination committee, went to the meeting “to fire” him, one of the sources said.
Reuters reported that Kurumatani then informed them of the European private equity firm’s plan to take Toshiba private. A day later, the Japanese conglomerate announced it had received the offer, two sources added.
The events of the meeting show how Kurumatani’s tenure was undone by his flagging popularity even before the offer was announced. It marked the culmination of deepening discord between Kurumatani and activist shareholders, who had raised concern over what they said were governance issues.
The plan to remove him appears to have accelerated after the meeting on April 6 at Toshiba’s headquarters in Tokyo. Toshiba on Wednesday said Kurumatani was stepping down after some three years as CEO.
Support for him both within the company and among investors had eroded, a person briefed on the matter said.
“A survey of managers at Toshiba showed low support for Kurumatani,” the person who was briefed said. There was “deep distrust” of him among shareholders, they added.
Toshiba said Kurumatani was stepping down to “recharge” after achieving his plan to revive the conglomerate that had been weakened by an accounting scandal.
Reuters was not immediately able to reach Kurumatani for comment about plans to have him replaced. Toshiba said it couldn’t comment on speculation. Nagayama declined to comment. A representative for CVC Japan declined to comment.
Amazon already has 23,000 employees in Germany but is now looking to add more people to its workforce.
The delivery giant said in a press release on Friday that it would hire another 5,000 staff in areas from shipping to marketing.
Most Amazon employees work in logistics, where entry-level wages range from $13.25 to $14.90 gross per hour depending on the location. Germany’s current minimum wage is $11.14 per hour but will rise to $12.26 by July 2022.
At its logistics center in Sülzetal near Magdeburg, the minimum is $13.92 per hour; in Koblenz, it is $14.19; at the air freight handling facility in Leipzig it’s $15.83. Wages automatically rise after 12 and 24 months.
After two years, employees earned an average of around $3,500 gross per month including restricted employee shares, according to Amazon. There were bonus payments and other benefits.
It hasn’t been an easy year for the German branch of Amazon, with workers striking in June over rising COVID-19 infections at the company and again in October after their COVID-19 bonus payments were scrapped.
German trade union Verdi called for a four-day strike at Easter to demand a pay rise for workers in the retail and mail-order sectors. Amazon has also been subjected to an antitrust investigation over relationships with its third-party sellers in Germany.
In its press release, Amazon said it was calling for applications from those worried about the future of their jobs and was recruiting from a wide range of sectors.
“This is a great opportunity for career changers because we are open to a wide range of talents and qualifications,” said Amazon Germany country manager Ralf Kleber.
The company’s German headquarters are located in Munch while its research and development center is in Berlin. There are also a total of 15 logistics centers spread across the country.
Amazon itself does not provide any information about the salaries offered to employees in other sectors. According to employer rating portal Kununu, customer service employees earn about the same as their colleagues in warehouse and shipping.
Kununu’s data showed an account manager at Amazon earned almost $67,000 per year while a marketing officer earned around $62,000 and a human resources officer around $60,000.
According to Glassdoor, software engineers earn significantly more with a salary of over $82,000.
The company recently expanded its logistics empire to cope with rising demand over the holiday season and its delivery service could be worth up to $230 billion by 2025, according to Bank of America estimates.
However, Russia is also struggling with supply bottlenecks and according to information from an independent pollster reported by Reuters, over 60% of Russians are unwilling to be vaccinated with Sputnik V.
Biocad is a well-known and well-connected name in the pharmaceutical industry and has been producing drugs for HIV and cancer for years.
US-based Pfizer, which is producing its own vaccine together with BioNTech, was even interested in acquiring Biocad.
Morozov owns 30% of the company and, in September, the company established one of Russia’s most modern production facilities in Zelenograd, north of Moscow.
The company employs 2,500 employees and has 1,500 people working on Sputnik V alone.
The team is also developing a drug for COVID-19 lung disease.
A camera team from Spiegel TV got a rare glimpse into the production of the vaccine, which revealed high levels of security at the factory in St Petersburg.
Complexity inhibits production
According to Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, 10 million doses of Sputnik V have been produced so far.
However, many more doses are needed to vaccinate Russia and meet global demand.
Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, Sputnik V is a vector-based vaccine.
This means fragments of the genetic material of the coronavirus are placed in attenuated viruses like adenoviruses.
The adenoviruses deliver genetic information from the coronavirus into the human body.
The body’s cells then respond and produce the virus’s protein, which the immune system can recognize and for which it can produce the body’s required defense substances.
With Sputnik V, however, two different adenoviruses are found in each of the required two doses, administered three weeks apart.
While this makes the vaccine more effective, it also increases the complexity of production.
According to data published in The Lancet, Sputnik V is just under 92% effective and so is roughly as effective as the mRNA vaccines produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.
Morozov finds the EU countries’ hesitation baffling and has spoken about vaccine nationalism and bureaucracy in the EU, according to World Today News.
In addition to Sputnik V, Russia has approved two other homemade vaccines, CoviVac and EpiVacCorona.
Senior Google executive Caesar Sengupta, head of the tech giant’s payment initiatives, said on Monday he was leaving the company next month, after 15 years.
“I remain very positive about Google’s future but it’s time for me to see if I can ride without training wheels,” Sengupta, vice president and general manager of payments and the “Next Billion Users” initiative, said in a LinkedIn post.
He was also one of the key people behind the launch and success of Google Pay in India, and helped the payment app’s relaunch in the US and Singapore. The payment facility is now used by over 150 million users in 30 countries.
“My last day at Google will be April 30th. I haven’t decided what I will start next,” said Sengupta, who is based in Singapore.
In his LinkedIn post, he thanked Google CEO Sundar Pichai and his leadership team for their support.
“Through his time at Google, Caesar has played a key role in starting, building and leading initiatives such as ChromeOS, Next Billion Users and Google Pay,” a Google spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
“We are excited to see what he builds next and wish him the best in his new journey.”
Ford has become the first automobile company to shift towards remote working on a permanent basis, according to CNBC, with around 86,000 employees being allowed to work at least partially from home.
The policy is aimed at office workers rather than factory workers, who number around 100,000 and have largely returned to work.
Hybrid work plans and remote working will depend on individual and managerial responsibilities.
“The nature of the work we do really is going to be a guiding element,” chief people and employee experiences officer Kiersten Robinson told CNBC. “If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the last 12 months, it is that a lot of our assumptions around work and what employees need has shifted.”
Ford’s new policy will be introduced in July when most employees are expected to make at least a partial return to the office after more than a year.
“The nature of work drives whether or not you can adopt this model. There are certain jobs that are place-dependent – you need to be in the physical space to do the job,” chairman and chief executive of Ford Land, David Dubensky, told The Washington Post.
“Having the flexibility to choose how you work is pretty powerful,” Dubensky added. “It’s up to the employee to have dialogue and discussion with their people leader to determine what works best.”
According to a survey conducted at Ford in June 2020, 95% of employees wanted a hybrid form of working and a number of them felt more productive at home.
The move from Ford comes after major companies including Google, Spotify, and Salesforce all announced that they were offering their employees the option to work from home permanently.
“These companies are all looking at each other,” associate professor at Michigan State University’s School of Human Resources and Labor Relations, Angela Hall, told The Detroit News. “And especially someone like Ford, who is a large, respected employer – people are going to model that behavior.”
The Washington Post also reported that General Motors and Toyota were looking at flexible options for a return to the office, although they are both yet to announce new policies.
Daimler is planning to gradually shut down its engine and transmission production plant in Berlin-Marienfelde and convert it into a digital campus, Handelsblatt reported.
The German factory opened in 1902 and is the oldest Daimler plant producing conventional combustion engines. Its closure will now put 2,500 jobs at risk at the Mercedes Benz parent company.
Costing around $2.4 million, the conversion project could, however, offer employees long-term prospects, as the future factory will focus on electromobility and will also assemble smaller parts for electric cars.
Daimler management and the works council in Berlin agreed to convert the factory into a “digital start-up factory with a series of state-of-the-art pilot lines and test cells,” the company announced Wednesday.
Assembly in the digital plant will be carried out using sensors and software applications, including the latest enhanced reality tools.
There will also be training sessions for representatives from over 30 international Mercedes factories.
Some of the technologies that will be used are already being used at Mercedes. For example, Daimler used the new MO360 ecosystem to produce the S-class.
“We will significantly reduce the workforce,” a manager told Handelsblatt.
According to Daimler, however, its top priority is designing and implementing the project in a socially responsible way.
Jan Otto, chairman of IG Metall in Berlin, told Handelsblatt that the number of jobs to be cut had not yet been decided although the union is demanding that the Daimler plant in Marienfelde remains a production site.
According to Otto, Marienfelde could also be expanded again in the future, perhaps to produce battery systems or at least recycling batteries.
Daimler’s planned transformation from a hardware provider to a software-based company with electric cars at the fore is putting particular pressure on the group’s engine sites which still manufacture classic internal combustion engines.
Daimler CEO Ola Källenius is also pursuing a number of cuts across the board, particularly affecting engine locations.
The main plant in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim is being hit particularly hard by these cost-cutting measures, and thousands of jobs are to be cut at the plant by 2024.
Overall, Daimler plans to cut more than 20,000 of its 300,000 jobs worldwide by 2025.
Although most of the world’s food waste currently gives rise to methane gas and contributes to climate change, researchers in the US have found a way to use food waste to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
By turning “wet waste” into a kind of paraffin that powers jet engines, researchers claim their method reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 165% compared to fossil fuels, according to the BBC.
Their figure combines both the reductions in greenhouse gases emitted by airplanes and the emissions avoided by not sending food waste to landfills where it gives rise to methane gas.
From a market in India that turns 10 tons of food waste into energy to a factory in Indiana turning plastic waste into eco-friendly fuel, innovative solutions are on the rise as both the food and tech industries change rapidly.
A breakthrough moment
The scientists are from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the University of Dayton, Yale University, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and airlines including Southwest have already started collaborating with them.
With global passenger numbers expected to double by 2040, airlines are having to think seriously about how to cut their emissions. Delta Air Lines committed $1 billion last year to become carbon neutral by 2030.
According to NREL, airlines currently contribute 9% of greenhouse gas emissions in the US.
“If our refining pathway is scaled up, it could take as little as a year or two for airlines like Southwest to get the fuel regulatory approvals they need to start using wet waste SAF in commercial flights,” NREL scientist Derek Vardon and corresponding author of the paper said in a press release. “That means net-zero-carbon flights are on the horizon earlier than some might have thought.”
The scientists use catalytic conversion to produce paraffin
The researchers’ method interrupts the conversion of food waste into methane and produces volatile fatty acids.
Using catalytic conversion, they produced two types of sustainable paraffin.
Combining these two types and then mixing 70% of the result with jet fuel produced a suitable mixture that still meets airline fuel criteria.
“Since the SAF blend would have a carbon footprint 165% lower than fossil jet, that blend is high enough to decarbonize flight,” Vardon said.
Aside from a huge reduction in fossil fuel usage and putting food waste to good use, flights using SAF would produce 34% less soot than the flights of today.
“That’s where we see the most potential for this technology is that you’re preventing methane emissions, and dramatically lowering the carbon footprint of jet fuel,” Vardon told the BBC. “And you just can’t do that with fossil fuels without getting into things like offsets.”
While SAF wouldn’t completely solve the problem of greenhouse gas emissions, it would provide a lifeline for an industry that is undergoing a reevaluation amidst the coronavirus health crisis.
“It is undeniable that SAF’s role in reducing emissions across the industry and at Southwest will be significant,” said Michael AuBuchon, Southwest’s senior director of fuel supply chain management. “NREL’s research could provide a game-changing opportunity to make SAF cost-effective, leading to its larger-scale deployment.”
The research team plans to begin test flights with Southwest Airlines in 2023.
Despite the pandemic, video game revenue reportedly exceeded sport and film combined in 2020.
According to data from the International Data Corporation reported by MarketWatch, the industry surged 20% to $179.7 billion.
The European Union has now approved Microsoft’s $7.5 billion purchase of ZeniMax Media, the parent company of game publisher Bethesda Softworks.
Microsoft’s acquisition is the company’s largest-ever purchase in the video game sector, Expansion reported.
When the tech giant first announced its plans in September, analysts said Microsoft was looking to diversify its business with more revenue from consumer products.
“As a proven game developer and publisher, Bethesda has seen success across every category of games,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a press release announcing the acquisition in September last year. “And together, we will further our ambition to empower the more than three billion gamers worldwide.”
Bethesda is well-known for games including “Fallout,” “The Elder Scrolls,” and “Doom.”
All of Bethesda’s games will now come under Microsoft’s Xbox Studios umbrella.
The company said in September that the release of all PS5 games already announced by Bethesda would continue, but that the remainder of the games would be looked at on a “case-by-case basis,” with some new releases moving exclusively to Xbox.
The tech giant will also be able to incorporate Zenimax’s Bethesda games into its Xbox Game Pass cloud-based video game catalog.
Microsoft first requested EU approval on January 29 and the European Commission has now ruled that it will not pose competition problems to other providers.
Although most of us are now overloaded with information about COVID-19, there’s always more to learn.
New variants have led to more research and there is still no clear picture of when exactly the pandemic will end.
A John Hopkins professor, Dr. Martin Makary, said the US would reach herd immunity by April, but other experts disagree.
Until that happens, contact tracing and self-isolation will have to continue.
I decided to take the COVID-19 contact tracing course offered by John Hopkins so that I could learn more about the work of the trackers and how they’re helping to reduce the impact of the pandemic.
I took the Spanish version but the US course listed on Coursera is a free seven-hour class taught by Emily Gurley, Ph.D., MPH, an infectious disease epidemiologist with a background in outbreak response.
What you’ll learn and how
The course covers the science of COVID-19, including its infectious period and why contact tracing is a particularly effective method of stopping the virus in its tracks.
Course students will learn how to become contact tracers, identify contacts, and support both patients and healthcare workers in the process.
They will be given simulations to explain some of the challenges posed by contact tracing.
In my course, which was 21 hours long, we had a Virtual Campus Forum where people could ask classmates or tutors any questions they had about the course.
There’s also a final exam that’s easy enough to pass if you’ve studied and are clear on the key concepts.
There are several questions and it’ll take longer than you think as you have to really understand what they’re saying.
Unlike most exams, you won’t have to wait to find out your grade – they’ll tell you straight away.
After completing the course, you’ll get a certificate too.
You should take it even if you don’t work in healthcare
A lot of people asked me why I was taking the course if I wasn’t a healthcare professional.
My answer was always the same.
The course is a great way to learn more about what’s happening in our world right now and the important work contact tracers do.
People who aren’t healthcare workers will have had a different experience of the pandemic and there are worries that complacency is on the rise – testing has already declined in the US.
It could be a wake-up call, or it could prepare you if you ever have to deal with a COVID-19 case in your home or local community, as a lot of people don’t immediately know what to do and there’s a lot to take in.
I found the course very useful, although I think certain things could be improved – like having notes available in writing, for example. I’d give the course a B+.
Ultimately, I learned that being a contact tracer isn’t just about looking for positive cases, but also about saving lives.
A number of women are at the forefront of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, both at a Spanish and global level – from the first female president of the Spanish National Research Council to a researcher whose work in AI could reduce COVID-19 mortality by 50%.
While that percentage is slowly changing, there remain prominent gender gaps in STEM fields and women face more challenges than men in these sectors.
A study of 194 countries released last year suggested women-led countries handled the pandemic better than those led by men – and they’ve also played key roles in revolutionizing the pandemic response.
In celebration of International Women’s Day, here are 11 Spanish women who could hold the key to tackling COVID-19.
Sánchez-Felipe is researching a single-dose vaccine for long-term protection
Spanish researcher Lorena Sánchez-Felipe is working at the Rega Institute in Leuven, Belgium, to develop a vaccine that could change the course of the pandemic.
Her research group is creating a vaccine based on the yellow fever vaccine which carries a coronavirus antigen to train the immune system to recognize it. Sánchez-Felipe’s vaccine would protect people against both yellow fever and COVID-19.
She believes her vaccine could be especially vital in countries where yellow fever is still a problem and will also protect against COVID-19 in the long-term.
“We expect long-term immunity, given previous results we’ve seen with this type of vaccine,” Sánchez-Felipe told Business Insider España.
Sola is working on developing a COVID-19 vaccine in Spain
Senior scientist and co-director of the coronavirus laboratory at the National Center for Biotechnology at the Spanish National Research Council, Isabel Sola, has spent years researching the coronavirus family of infections.
Sola is now working to develop a vaccine based on a smallpox virus and is created using a virus that has been genetically modified to retain its reproduction properties. It thus goes from cell to cell with a controlled dose acting as a vector.
“From our experience with similar coronaviruses, this vaccine is 100% effective,” Sola told Business Insider España.
Del Val is a virologist and coordinates the Global Health platform
Spanish National Research Council virologist Margarita del Val has been one of the most visible faces of the pandemic response in Spain.
The expert coordinates the 150 teams brought together by the council on a large multidisciplinary research platform called “Global Health.”
Among the tasks carried out by the platform are the improvement of COVID-19 diagnostic systems, and they have pioneered a system for testing wastewater to identify whether the virus is spreading in a community.
Del Val has also been carrying out educational work during the pandemic and has warned of the need to be cautious about future possible waves and other pandemics.
Fernández-Sesma researches immune responses to COVID-19
Ana Fernández-Sesma directs a laboratory at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York which studies how certain types of viruses modulate our immune system, with a special focus on dengue.
The research she conducts on dengue places her among the five best-funded researchers by the National Institute of Health (NIH) in the United States.
Fernández-Sesma told Business Insider España she aims to understand “what the virus does to evade barriers in a host and how the host protects itself.” Uncovering this could change the pandemic response, as our immune response to the virus has still not been fully understood.
She has also joined a group of researchers evaluating the immune system’s response to the virus in an effort to understand how it differs among patients.
Oliver is an AI expert working on predicting the evolution of the pandemic
Nuria Oliver has established herself as one of the world’s leading artificial intelligence experts. In her capacity as authority-appointed high commissioner for AI in Valencia.
Oliver works with a research group that tries to communicate the real data of the pandemic to those in charge of making decisions.
The group tries to predict the behavior of the virus using different potential scenarios, answering key questions like how many people will be infected and modeling human mobility.
During the 2009 influenza pandemic in Mexico, Oliver analyzed aggregate data from cell phone networks to investigate the effectiveness of government measures.
She also spearheaded a macro-survey to assess the impact of the measures adopted during lockdown that has warned of the increased socialization in risky environments.
Marco leads a project that focuses on preparing for subsequent waves
Spanish National Research Council professor Pilar Marco is the head of Nanobiotechnology for Diagnostics (Nb4D). The tool could revolutionize the pandemic response.
Marco leads a team researching devices that can simultaneously and rapidly detect several biomarkers of COVID-19 infection.
These quick detection diagnostic systems could prepare the world better for any future outbreaks of COVID-19.
Rodríguez is improving diagnoses and treatments through AI at IBM
Astrophysics and cosmology specialist María Rodriguez uses her knowledge of quantitative technical tools to help doctors provide better diagnoses and suggest individual treatments.
The computational biologist works with IBM applying artificial intelligence to the healthcare sector, focusing on integrating high-throughput molecular datasets to build comprehensive models of disease.
This sector could transform the treatment of cancer and immune and degenerative diseases, Rodriguez told Business Insider España.
García Vidal is working on an AI solution that could cut mortality in COVID-19 patients by 50%
Head of the Covid Digital Control Center at the Hospital Clínic in Barcelona, Dr. Carolina García Vidal, is leading one of the 207 projects named by the European Institute of Innovation as providing a better response to the healthcare crisis.
García Vidal’s initiative uses artificial intelligence to monitor the evolution of patient systems, anticipating the worsening of the disease.
Rosa Menéndez is the first female president of the Spanish National Research Council
In 2017, Rosa Menéndez became the first female president in the 80-year history of the Spanish National Research Council.
An organic chemistry graduate from the University of Oviedo, Menéndez is confident that the council will produce the first Spanish vaccine to fight COVID-19, with reports suggesting it could be ready by the end of 2022.