The Week's Top Stories: Boeing Grounded and Tesla's Next Big Thing

March 15, 2019

From Wall Street to Silicon Valley, these are the top stories that moved markets and had investors, business leaders, and entrepreneurs talking this week on Cheddar.

  • Boeing Grounded: Boeing shares had their worst week in two years following the second catastrophic crash of its 737 Max 8 jet in less than six months. Last weekend's Ethiopian Airlines crash, which left 157 dead and appeared to follow similar circumstances as the October Lion Air crash that killed 189, led to airlines and governments around the world grounding the popular medium-haul jetliner. The U.S. FAA, however, initially declined to ground the planes until President Trump reversed course on Wednesday, also grounding the 737 Max while an investigation is conducted into what wrong in Ethiopia. Boeing ($BA) is halting deliveries of its most popular planes, though it is continuing production while the investigation continues. Bank of America predicted the jets could be grounded for up to six months. Even before last weekend's crash, Boeing engineers were rushing to put out a software update that it said would fix a flight control issue that regulators believe may have contributed to the Lion Air accident. That patch is expected to be done by April. See more.

  • Big Week for Brexit: It was another chaotic week in the never-ending drama over how, when ー even if ー the UK leaves the European Union. One thing became apparent after three days of votes and negotiations: it is increasingly unlikely that Brexit will happen by the March 29 deadline. Instead, Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to ask the EU for an extension of that deadline next week. Lawmakers voted to avoid a no-deal Brexit "crash out," and Brussels appears likely to grant an extension despite the continent-wide exasperation over the negotiations. The question is how long that extension will be, what will happen in the interim, and whether May can continue to survive in power after being repeatedly defeated in Parliament.

  • Tesla's Next Big Thing: Tesla has unveiled its answer to the crossover SUV craze. The electric-vehicle maker debuted the new Model Y at its design center in Los Angeles. The Y is smaller and less expensive than its current SUV offering, the Model X. It will hit showrooms next year with a base price of $39,000. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, dealing with mounting pressures on several fronts, said the Model Y "has the functionality of an SUV, but it will ride like a sports car." Tesla ($TSLA) corners the market on high-end electric vehicles but is facing a gathering storm of competition from other established luxury car companies that are in production on their own EVs. Those models, from respected luxury brands like BMW, Audi, and Porsche, are due to hit the market within the next two years. See more.

  • Facebook's Bad Week: Facebook's woes continued on a variety of fronts this week. On the same day the social networking site suffered the longest outage in its 15-year history, it was reported that federal prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation into Facebook's deals with other tech companies that gave those companies access to its user data, sometimes without users' consent. Meanwhile, a week after CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined his vision for the future of the embattled social network, one of his top deputies announced his departure from the company that he helped build. Zuckerberg said that Chris Cox, Facebook's chief product officer, was departing, along with Chris Daniels, the head of WhatsApp. Cox had spent a decade at Facebook ($FB) as one of its most well-liked executives and oversaw what may now be considered the company's "News Feed era." In a farewell message, he indicated that the pivot to privacy and encrypted messaging needed new leadership. Daniels ran the WhatsApp service for 10 months and expanded it around the world while also contending with a regular stream of controversies. Then, on Friday, Facebook's moderation capabilities were again called into question when, halfway around the world from Facebook's Menlo Park HQ, a gunman walked into two mosques in New Zealand and killed 49 people. He live-streamed the massacre on Facebook, where the video remained for hours. See more.

  • Apple v. Spotify: Apple ($AAPL) and Spotify ($SPOT) escalated their war of words as each company accused the other of underhanded tactics as they compete to own the streaming-music ecosystem. Spotify filed a complaint with EU regulators arguing that Apple had unfairly restricted Spotify functionality on its App Store, while Apple Music is able to operate unfettered. Apple shot back in a lengthy blog post that accused Spotify of using "misleading rhetoric" and essentially trying to live rent-free on the App Store. Apple also took a dig at its rival, saying that the streaming giant had a history of using its scale to demand special treatment and squeeze others, whether it's companies like Apple or the musicians and artists who depend on Spotify for revenue. Spotify has nearly double the paid subscribers of Apple Music worldwide, according to Statista.

ーby Carlo Versano