Why investors are feeling the love for Meta again

Everyone you know under the age of 40 may have logged off Facebook years ago, but that’s not doing anything to slow down parent company Meta’s surging stock.

What happened: Share prices in Meta — which owns Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp — jumped more than 20% last week after an earnings announcement that had investors smashing the “Like” button. 

Spotify shakes up podcasting world with new deal

Done with the days of throwing millions at anyone with a microphone and a few Instagram followers, Spotify is taking a new approach to its podcast business. 

Driving the news: Joe Rogan has reached a new multi-year deal with Spotify that will distribute The Joe Rogan Experience — the world’s most popular podcast — across all major audio platforms, the latest move in the company’s shift away from keeping its shows off of rival platforms. 

Russell Hixson on the cost of building houses

 On this week’s episode of Free Lunch by The Peak, we sat down with Russell Hixson, who writes about the construction sector, to talk about what’s driving growth in housing costs.  

America’s economy keeps booming

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: Even if it defies all logic, never underestimate the strength of the U.S. economy. 

What happened: The American economy created 353,000 jobs in January, which was *checks notes* roughly double the number expected by economists. Tom Simons, U.S. economist at Jefferies, told the Financial Times the data left him “near speechless.”

Why are European farmers so dang angry?

You might think of farmers as folksy straw-hat wearers who largely keep to themselves and till the land. But, when they have a reason to, those agrarians can cause anarchy.

Driving the news: Earlier this week, European farmers flooded the streets of Brussels with tractors and burning hay bales, interrupting EU talks around a Ukraine funding package to express their dismay about policies and initiatives they feel are hurting their profession. 

Explain It Like I'm Five: Quantum computers

Computers that use principles of quantum physics to run computations, which could make them really fast. Typical computers use bits, units of data that can either exist as a 0 or a 1. Quantum computers use quantum bits, or “qubits,” which can be a 0 and a 1 simultaneously. In quantum physics, this is called superposition.

Ottawa is spending millions less on startups than it promised

The federal government’s plan to be a first buyer for Canadian startups is falling short of its goals.

Software bugs are the latest bump in the road for EVs

Automakers navigating their electric transitions need a bit of tech support.

Software issues forced Volvo to delay deliveries of the EX30 electric SUV. Though the unspecified glitch has been resolved, new vehicles were held back by roughly two weeks. This was after production on Volvo’s high-end EX90 was pushed from late last year to mid-2024 to give it more time to ensure its complex software worked properly.

Western Canada grapples with drought

Just like the sober-curious crowd, western provinces are partaking in Dry February… though not by their own choice. 

Driving the news: Alberta is talking with major water licence holders to sign water-sharing deals as dried-up rivers and reservoirs are primed to devastate the agricultural sector

Hungary bows to EU pressure for Ukraine aid

As the war in Ukraine nears the two-year mark, fighting on the battlefield has evolved into a fight for funding. 

What happened: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán OKed the EU’s proposed four-year €50 billion aid package for Ukraine after initially blocking it in December.

Canada’s rental market breaks a not-so-great record

A new housing report has confirmed a tough truth: Canada’s rental market has become more crowded than a gym’s weight room in early January.  

Driving the news: According to new data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, both rent prices and the number of empty rental units reached new records last year, creating the tightest rental market the CMHC has ever documented in Canada.

Court rules against Musk’s pay package

A recent court ruling had Elon Musk advising his 170 million X/Twitter followers to never incorporate a company in Delaware (relatable).

Driving the news: Tesla CEO Elon Musk will not cash in on a US$55.8 billion pay package that had been agreed to by the company’s board back in 2018, after a Delaware judge ruled that Musk “dominated” the pay negotiation process to secure “unfathomable” compensation. 

TikTok must face the (lack of) music

Finding the perfect banger to soundtrack your next TikTok vid just got a lot harder.

What happened: Universal Music Group (UMG) — the world’s biggest music company — is pulling its entire catalogue from TikTok after the app failed to extend its licensing agreement.

Canada is running low on babies

The latest supply shortage to hit Canada: newborns. The country’s fertility rate fell to its lowest level on record in 2022, with a paltry 1.33 children born per woman that year.

Driving the news: Fertility rates have been dropping since 2009, but briefly spiked in 2020 and 2021 when everyone was stuck inside with nothing better to do than hunker down and… you know 😏. When the world re-opened in 2022, it led to the steepest year-over-over drop since 1972 (which was spurred by the decriminalization of contraception and abortion).

NASA builds a new tool to pop open a jar of space dirt

Lids get stuck. Sometimes it’s a pickle jar, and sometimes it’s a container full of dust from a 4.5 billion-year-old asteroid. That latter is what NASA faced last fall when it recovered the canister from a space rock named Bennu. NASA uses sterile environments so samples don’t get contaminated by Earth air, but none of the tools approved for the locked-down boxes could remove the final two of 35 fasteners.

So...why are they putting chips in people's brains?

If you don’t trust Elon Musk to stick stuff into your brain, the good news is he’s not your only option.

What happened: Musk’s Neuralink implanted its first chip into a human brain. The company has not made a formal announcement, but Musk posted on X that the recipient is “recovering well” with “promising neuron spike detection,” presumably referring to activity between the cells that send messages throughout the body.

We are still in deep trouble with deepfakes

Despite being identified as a problem more than six years ago, methods to fight deepfakes have not kept up with the AI used to create them.

A non-addictive painkiller might be on its way

As the old saying goes, “No pain, no gain.” However, if you ask Big Pharma, the saying should really go, “No pain, lots of gain.” 

What happened: VX-548, an experimental painkiller from Vertex Pharmaceuticals, has been proven in test trials to safely and effectively reduce pain, according to the company.

Walmart wants its employees to feel like owners

While it seems like layoffs are happening left, right, and centre these days — because, well, they are — some companies are going to great lengths to retain workers.

Driving the news: Walmart managers in the U.S. can now make upwards of US$400,000 a year after the world’s biggest retail store granted them the opportunity to earn up to $20,000 in annual stock grants and bonuses of up to 200%, in addition to increasing base salaries.