AFRICAN AMERICAN (T) | FlySafair first to enable card payment for inflight refreshments

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Johannesburg – FlySafair has become the first local low-cost carrier to offer card payments on all of its flights.

The airline has officially launched AviaPay, a new mobile point of sale system which enables passengers to use their credit and debit cards to purchase refreshments inflight. 

The solution, which is the result of a partnership between BlueMarket Retail Solutions and payment service providers PayGate and PosMarket, was specifically designed to address the needs of the aviation industry.

Commenting on the innovation Kirby Gordon, head of sales and distribution at FlySafair, said: “Not only will this make transacting easier, but it also means passengers won’t have to risk carrying cash on them.”

Another major benefit of the technology is that FlySafair can now provide travellers with receipts, regardless of the payment method used. This will help business travellers manage their expense claims, and also assist travel management teams who process these claims.

Theron Uys, business development director at BlueMarket, said that that while working with FlySafair, the company was able to implement this system in a two-month period.

“There are already discussions around added functionality,” said Uys. “Look out for new innovations to be launched in the near future with FlySafair.”

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AFRICAN AMERICAN (T) | Facebook tests 'dislike' button for comments

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Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Johannesburg – For years Facebook users have campaigned for a “dislike” button on the social network. Now the closest button to it might be coming soon… But for comments only. 

Screenshots have been circulating on social media of Facebook allegedly testing a “downvote” button for comments. 

However, Facebook told technology news website, The Verge, that “it’s only intended to be a method for flagging questionable comments on public posts”.

The button reportedly works when a user taps it and will then ask them if they found the content of the comment misleading or offensive. 

Only a small group of users in the US are testing it and if successful, the feature may be rolled out to all Facebook users. 

In response to user feedback and requests for a “dislike” button, Facebook launched a set of emojis called Reactions to comments and posts in 2016.

Facebook also confirmed to The Verge that the button would not be a feature to dislike comments or posts. 

When Facebook announced Reactions in 2016, YouGov Omnibus, an international Internet-based market research and data analytics firm, conducted a survey about the new icons.   

Research showed that most Facebook users (64%) approved of the likely change with 25% strongly approving of the new icons. 

“Facebook users aged 30 to 44 are the happiest about the change with 73% of them approving of the new icons, while those under 30 or over the age of 65 are the least happy about the change (58%),” YouGov Omnibus said. 

“Given the choice between a simple dislike button and the new Reactions, most would prefer the dislike button.  38% of Facebook users favour a dislike button compared to 30% who are happy with the new emojis,” YouGov Omnibus added. 

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Form and function: key considerations for business analytics in 2018

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Form and function: key considerations for business analytics in 2018

Form and function: key considerations for business analytics in 2018

By Neil Herbert, Director: Business Analytics at SAP Africa

In a time when data has been labelled ‘the new oil’, businesses are scrambling to implement effective forward-thinking data management strategies that can deliver real-time insights and business value to decision-makers to drive business strategy, increase revenue, and grow profits.

Data modellers have become indispensable assets to enterprises wishing to leverage their data to drive competitive advantage. However, there is often a disconnect between the data modellers analysing and extracting value from data, and the business decision-makers who need to utilise data as a strategic asset to drive business outcomes.

Closing the misreporting gap

Historically, businesses owned vast amounts of structured and unstructured data in their ERP, transactional, and other business systems, which was brought together in a data warehouse. Here, a range of different data modelling tools, from the conceptual (showing relationships between different entities) to the logical (looking at certain attributes within the data) and physical (referring to how data is represented and stored using a database management system) were applied to create a framework within which analysts could extract business value.

However, different lines of business, each with their own ERP systems and internal processes, often created huge potential for misreporting as business analysts tried to combine disparate data sets. In industries such as banking and retail, daily reports on the performance of the business had to be compiled from these data sets. To further complicate matters, a report may have arrived at a line manager’s desk in Excel form, supplemented with additional information, and then delivered to the next more senior person in the reporting line. Any errors would have a direct impact on the overall business’ ability to navigate a challenging business environment or take advantage of an emerging opportunity.

Today, technologies such as IoT has led to escalating volumes of structured and unstructured data. Sensors on equipment and other business assets generate vast amount of data, putting strain on IT operations and analysts who are tasked with processing the data and extracting insights that can guide the business strategy.

According to the Harvard Business Review, on average less than half of an organisation’s structured data is actively used in decision-making, with less than 1% of unstructured data used at all. Inefficiency is also rife: as much as 70% of analysts’ time is spent on discovering and preparing data.

Offensive and defensive data strategies

Effective enterprise data management requires companies to assign data as either offensive (typically data that focuses on supporting business objectives such as increasing revenue and profitability, and ensuring customer satisfaction), and defensive (referring to data that helps minimise risk, such as ensuring compliance with regulations, maintaining the integrity of financial reports, and limiting fraud).

Offensive data activities require real-time analytics to deliver the requisite business insights and value to decision-makers. An offensive data strategy aims to generate customer and market insights, equipping decision-makers with critical insights through interactive dashboards.

Defensive data activities largely aim to produce a ‘single source of truth’ by ensuring the integrity of data flowing through the organisation.

Typically, defensive data management strategies aim for control by optimising data extraction, standardisation, storage and access; offensive data management strategies strive for flexibility by optimising data analytics, modelling, visualisation, transformation, and enrichment.

An effective offensive data management strategy requires the flexibility to produce multiple versions of the truth to suit the needs of different end-users by adding relevance and purpose to data sets: for example, weekly revenue figures that reflect the key insights required by multiple lines of business and can be adapted according to the needs of each.

This will prove critical in 2018: Forrester Research predicts that the majority of Chief Data Officers will move from defensive to offensive data strategies, with 50% reporting directly to the CEO (up from 34% in 2016 and 40% in 2017).

Machine learning, cloud enabling data management success

Two key technologies are driving the advancement of business analytics that support real-time decision-making in 2018: cloud, and machine learning. When organisations move their transactional environment or business systems into the cloud, it provides them with two critical benefits: lower running costs, and standardisation. In fact, Forrester Research predicts that half of all enterprises will adopt a cloud-first approach to big data analytics in 2018.

SAP’s HANA platform, for example, was brought to market as a database but quickly evolved into a platform that offers organisations predefined data models, predictive services, extractions into industry-standard services, business analytics tools, and integration tools. Today, SAP HANA can be deployed on-premise or in the cloud, helping to bridge the gap between organisations’ historical data analytics processes and the new world of real-time predictive analytics.

Due to the escalating volume of data, organisations are also increasingly turning to machine learning to automate data analytics. There is simply no way a business can afford to employ an army of analysts to sift through data to find value: a small team of expert data scientists supported by machine learning algorithms will enable organisations to leverage their data to achieve positive business outcomes.

Machine learning can also help rank the importance of data. SAP’s Digital Boardroom, for example, equips executive with real-time contextual information and ad hoc analysis by leveraging lines of business data from multiple sources to provide a single source of truth for the organisation. Since the analytics layer queries directly into the transactional or data warehouse, decision-makers get real-time information on actual business performance, with the flexibility of presenting the information in a variety of ways depending on individual needs.

The disconnect between business analysts and the business decision-makers they support has been reduced significantly thanks to the evolution of powerful cloud-based real-time analytics platforms such as HANA. Business leaders in 2018 need to start the journey toward a cloud-based world of actionable business insights leveraging one of their most powerful – and often underused – assets: data.

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AFRICAN AMERICAN (T) | Zim turns to plastic, cyber payment options amid cash constraints

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Harare – Zimbabwe, which has an internet penetration rate of about 50%, now has 277 674 internet banking subscriptions, data from the country’s central bank shows. Mobile, electronic and cyber payments for 2017 accounted for 96% of the country’s total value in payments of $97.5bn.

Banks in Zimbabwe have been boosting their online banking platforms, with Standard Chartered, Barclays Zimbabwe and others making progress, according to Zimbabwe banking sector insiders.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has now revealed that internet banking subscriptions in Zimbabwe rose to 277 674 in 2017, up from 168 339 a year earlier.

In line with this, internet payment transactions in the country surged to $7bn in 2017 from $2.5bn in 2016 and accounted for about 7.2% of total payments in the economy.

There were about 4.2 million internet transactions across the country during the year under review, significantly up from 1.1 million online transactions in 2016, RBZ governor John Mangudya said on Wednesday.

‘Phenomenal growth in plastic money

“The growth in the use of plastic money, away from cash transactions, was phenomenal in 2017 to the extent that more than 96% of the $97.5bn – from the 1 billion transactions – processed in the entire country in 2017 were through electronic and mobile banking systems. Mobile payments constituted the bulk of payment streams in volume terms in 2017,” Mangudya said in the 2018 monetary policy statement released on Wednesday.

He added that the growth in electronic payment platforms, including mobile money and internet payments as well as point of sales, was attributable to “the high usage, increased infrastructure and diversity of innovative payment systems products or services” approved during the period under review.

Mobile money payments rose from $5.8bn to $18bn in terms of value while in volume terms, mobile payments drummed up from 298.5 million in 2016 to 754.7 million.

Owing to challenges in accessing hard cash from the banks, the number of point of sale machines deployed across the country also increased by 84% to 59 939. The Zimbabwean government is looking to electronic and plastic money payments as a desperate measure to plug payment glitches.

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AFRICAN AMERICAN (T) | Net1 profit down after challenging quarter

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Payment machine

Digital e-commerce solutions are set to catch up to traditional payment methods. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Cape Town – Net1, the company behind Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) that used to run the country’s social grant payment system, is upbeat about its future performance after restructuring and addressing challenges in the past quarter.

The payments solutions company group reported lower revenue in its financial results for the three months ended December 31 2017. Revenue of $148m (R1.78bn) was slightly down from the $151m (R1.82bn) reported in 2016.

Operating profit for the period was $16.3m (R196.9m), compared to $25.5m (R308.17m) reported in 2016. Net profit recorded for the period was $9.97m (R120.49m), compared to $19.23m (R232.9m) reported for 2016. Basic earnings per share were down 48.57% to $0.17 (206c).

But in the report CEO Herman Kotzé highlighted some of the developments during the period, including the establishment of a blockchain department.

Of its operations in South Africa, Kotzé said that the financial inclusion initiatives in the country are bearing fruit. These include Net1’s acquisition of a 15% stake in Cell C last year. The group has also been developing  a mobile banking product.

“We achieved all this despite considerable time and effort spent on restructuring of the group, closure of certain business lines, and addressing some of the challenges in South Africa,” he said.

Last year the Constitutional Court ordered that the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) cancel its contract with CPS on the grounds that the contract signed in 2012 was illegal and invalid. Sassa has since reached a deal with the South African Post Office to take over the payments.

Net1’s operations in South Africa yielded revenue of $64.1m (R775.62m), up 7% in US dollar terms. Partly contributing to this growth was a “modest increase” in the number of social welfare grants distributed. Other contributors include increased use of ATMs and inter-segment transaction processing activities.

The decline in operating profit margin from 26% reported in 2017 to 21% in 2018 was mainly due to an increase in inter-segment charges, annual salary increases to South African employees in October 2017 and increased goods and services bought from third parties, according to the report.

For its international operations, revenue was higher at $44.2m (R534.83m). The operating profit margin was lower too.

For its financial inclusion and applied technologies segment, the group reported revenue of $54.1m (R654.62m), down 9% in US dollar terms.

The decrease in revenues was mainly due to fewer prepaid airtime and other value-added services sales and lower ad hoc terminal sales, according to the report. This was partially offset by increased volumes in Net1’s insurance businesses and an increase in inter-segment revenues.

The operating profit margin was 24% for the period, the same as that reported in 2017.

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Software AG names Sanjay Brahmawar as new Chief Executive Officer

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Software AG names Sanjay Brahmawar as new Chief Executive Officer

Software AG names Sanjay Brahmawar as new Chief Executive Officer

The Supervisory Board of Software AG has today appointed Sanjay Brahmawar (47) as the new Chief Executive Officer of Software AG for five years as of August 1, 2018. Brahmawar succeeds Karl-Heinz Streibich (65), who will step down after more than 14 years at the top at Software AG as he has reached the recommended age limit.

“In the last 14 years, Software AG, under the leadership of Karl-Heinz Streibich, has made the biggest transformation in its nearly 50-year history. By establishing the company’s global digitalization business, Karl-Heinz Streibich has successfully built a second robust business division – to the benefit of the company’s extensive customer base and to the benefit of our 4,600 employees worldwide. This achievement deserves our utmost gratitude and respect”, said Andreas Bereczky, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Software AG.

“Looking forward, we are very happy to have found Sanjay Brahmawar, a proven expert in the international IT business, who will ensure that Software AG continues to play a leading role in shaping the dynamic and competitive digitalization market with short innovation cycles. With Sanjay Brahmawar, Software AG has won a top manager who has been very successful in the technology sector for more than 18 years. During this time, he has impressively demonstrated how to combine technological know-how with entrepreneurial vision in various management positions. His tasks at Software AG will be to extend the company’s global technology leadership, together with the successful management team, and gain further market share in the promising fields of the Digitalization, Industry 4.0 and Artificial Intelligence”, continued Bereczky.

“With Sanjay Brahmawar, Software AG is excellently positioned to further expand our strong position as a pioneer of digital transformation and to implement innovative digitalization projects together with our customers, partners and employees,” says Karl-Heinz Streibich, Chairman of the Board of Software AG.

Sanjay Brahmawar is currently General Manager Global Revenue of IBM Watson Internet of Things at Munich, Germany. There, he is responsible for global software sales with a focus on data analysis and artificial intelligence. Previously, he served as General Manager at IBM Consulting Services in London, where he was responsible for the business in the European industrial sector (oil and gas, automotive, aerospace, electronics and engineering). Sanjay Brahmawar has repeatedly and impressively demonstrated that he can increase business both in terms of sales and margin. He has an international and multicultural background with experience in Germany, England, Holland, Belgium, Finland and India. Sanjay Brahmawar was born in India and has Belgian nationality. He lives with his family nearby Munich and is a passionate runner and cyclist in his leisure time.

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Swipe right for revenue

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Swipe right for revenue

Swipe right for revenue

The consumerisation trend has massively raised the bar for what we expect of our business applications. Together with emerging technologies such as AR, VR, voice activation and new ways to personalise enormous flows of data, this redefines enterprise software user experience (UX).

User engagement and profitability

The clear link between user engagement and profitability is beyond doubt. This has been apparent on the consumer side for years. Moreover, just look at Walmart’s massive 2016 redesign of its UX and ecommerce platform, which resulted in 214% growth in digital visitors, and Bank of America, which increased its online banking registration by 45% after a UX redesign of the process.

Surprisingly little research is available on the topic of how enterprise software usability affects profitability. In my discussions with customers, I see that businesses are increasingly realising that UX correlates closely to user engagement. The implications of successful UX make it way more than just a satisfaction ranking. Increased workforce engagement is tied closely to improved performance, motivation and persistence, before we even get to effectiveness, time and cost savings, or the improved employer branding advanced UX applications give. All of this results in increased profitability.

An IFS usability study of over 200 enterprise software users in industrial companies found a strong correlation between digital transformation and software usability. Respondents who said their enterprise software prepared them for digital transformation, for instance, were 400 percent more likely to say their enterprise software was very easy to use. Software usability can also affect employee retention among experienced staff. In the same survey, almost 46 percent of the middle-age demographic would consider changing jobs due to poor enterprise software usability.

One concrete example is Deloitte, which states that incorporating usability into the redesign of a client’s ERP systems led to a 300% increase in worker productivity, a 55% reduction in training time and a 21% improvement in upsell and cross-sell. It is apparent that there is a close correlation between business success and software usability in the enterprise market as well.

Key trends reshaping enterprise software UX

A couple of strong trends from the consumer market are redefining the meaning of enterprise software UX today. Let’s take a closer look at those.

Consumerisation: The consumerisation trend has been ramping up for a couple of years now and consists of two interconnected developments:

–  Mobile is the new normal: As we use mobile phones for everything in our personal lives, this also raises the bar for how we expect to use enterprise software on our phones. A growing number of organisations are implementing responsive designs that adapt across platforms and screen sizes to allow various mobile devices to interact with business software. “Mobile first” has become a common UX strategy for consumer software. Although in enterprises the majority of work is still done on laptops and desktops, mobile has to be an equal possibility for users. So, whereas mobile first might apply for a number of specific business processes within enterprise software, mobile as a choice applies to all processes.

–  Consumerised usage behaviours: As people are getting used to swiping on their smartphones and using chat apps, such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, this quick interaction has also become what they expect from enterprise software. Delivering an intuitive, clean and visually appealing UX that allows quick actions without going through too many steps before performing a task is a must. This has been the motivator behind IFS enabling companies in China to interact with IFS Applications through the popular WeChat social networking service.

Personalisation: Rapidly increasing data volumes within organisations have made it even more urgent to personalise information and make it available at a glance. The CEO needs top-level financial data whereas the service engineer may need the latest asset status from the energy plant or manufacturing line. Role-based user interfaces have been developed to meet these individual needs. When paired with new technologies such as AI and machine learning, the role-based interface can also become intelligent, predicting how you want your personalised interface displayed and automatically adapting what information is shown, for example depending on the device you use and how much is practical to display. The future user interfaces will be smart and evolve to learn from your past actions and preferences.

Voice and chat UX:  UX does not just have to be visual, forms and lists. Consumer-focused interfaces, such as Siri, Cortana and Alexa, have accelerated the adoption of voice and chat as an interface in the enterprise arena as well. The benefits are clear; you can search for data and perform tasks within your system using voice or chat through Skype, Messenger, or any other channel instead of having to use a dedicated enterprise application and click through endless menus and structures. This provides vital benefits for casual users, who can interact in a more convenient way, and for professionals such as service engineers, who can use their hands when repairing an asset while searching for instructions using their voice. 

Virtual, augmented or mixed—reality becomes a UX: Moving us even further beyond screen display or voice notions of UX, is the growing take-up of AR and VR. Since its start 10 years ago, augmented reality has matured fast. Companies like XMReality offer AR remote guidance, where field service experts can help maintenance engineers in the field solve complex problems as if they were physically present. Such technologies have gone from being exploratory R&D projects to mature solutions extraordinarily quickly, and it will not take long before we see broader adoption.

Another opportunity to leverage these technologies is through mixed reality, which combines augmented reality and virtual reality using devices such as the Microsoft HoloLens. Imagine service engineers who can visualise data from the business software directly on an asset that is to be serviced via their safety glasses. This will make it possible to work on repairing the asset with both hands, while having the service instructions right in front of their eyes! The intuitive, easy-to-use UX of mixed reality, combined with enterprise software data, could reshape how we think about enterprise UX in the future. This scenario is actually an ongoing research project within IFS Labs.

How do you measure user engagement?

The technologies discussed above are in varying states of maturity. But no matter what technology is used, measuring the success of your software UX will always be key. User engagement is so important today that it must be monitored just like customer satisfaction or other important KPIs. You can do it in a number of ways, from having the users rank features in a usability index, track when and how features are used, or arrange feedback sessions with user groups. UX also has an impact on important business metrics such as employee productivity and employee satisfaction (and retention). It is important not only to assess all of these parameters before, during and at the end of a specific implementation, but they should also be continual gauges of operational success.

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Jumia Travel opens an offline outlet in Accra

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Jumia Travel opens an offline outlet in Accra

Jumia Travel opens an offline outlet in Accra

Jumia Travel has cut the sod to open its first offline outlet in Osu, Accra. The outlet, located in front of the Oxford Street Mall at Osu is aimed at bringing the company’s offline customers closer by making it easy for them to get information and book hotels and flights to various destinations of their choice. This is directed at encouraging travel as well as growing tourism in Ghana and Africa.   

“Although ecommerce and online hotel bookings are fast becoming the new order of world business, it is also quite agreeable that there are many people who are yet to embrace this unique but beneficial trend,” said Omolara Adagunodo, Managing Director of Jumia Travel.

She added that in Africa and specifically Ghana, there are unfortunately more offline travelers than those online, which makes it very important to get closer to offline customers both existing and new by the establishment of this outlet. “Osu is a central location in Accra and is easily accessible to all. Travelers both domestic and international have been brought one step closer to travel information as well as hotel and flight bookings. Over the past years, our main mission has been to democratize travel by providing the best available rates to travelers across Africa and this move will give offline travelers the opportunity to access the best rates that the online travelers enjoy as well,” said Omolara.

The offline outlet comes at a time when there is a growing need to convert more offline customers into online ones. The shop is open Monday to Friday between 9:00 am and 5:30 pm. Customers are free to visit and make enquiries as well as book hotels and flights to their favorite destinations.

“Sometimes, people are more comfortable with a human feel when doing business. They trust a brand and the business that comes with it when they can communicate face to face and pay physically to someone. After that, it is quite easy to convince such a person that online business is safe as well because they have experienced business with the same company. This offline outlet is here to eradicate any perception of online fraud and create that human feel about our business,’’ added Bennet Otoo, Public Relations and Marketing Manager of Jumia Travel Ghana.

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AFRICAN AMERICAN (T) | Twitter hits milestone with first-ever profit

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Washington – Twitter on Thursday reported its first-ever quarterly profit, in a key milestone for the social network which has been lagging for years against fast-growing rivals.

San Francisco-based Twitter said it earned $91m in the fourth quarter, the first positive net income since going public in 2013.

Revenue was up 2% from a year ago to a better-than-expected $73m.

The number of monthly active users was 330 million, unchanged from the prior quarter but up 4% from a year earlier.

While Twitter has built a solid core base of celebrities, politicians and journalists, it has failed to achieve the broader appeal of Facebook and other social platforms, hurting its ability to bring in ad revenues.

Twitter shares leapt 26% to $33.86 in pre-market trade on the upbeat news. The shares this month jumped above the 2013 offering price of $26 for the first time since late 2015.

The profitability is an important achievement for Twitter, which has lost money consistently since its public offering, sparking speculation on whether it needed to sell itself to keep operating.

Chief executive Jack Dorsey welcomed “a strong finish to the year”, and added “I’m proud of the steady progress we made in 2017, and confident in our path ahead.”

READ: Internet freedom of speech pioneer dies

The network has stepped up efforts to boost its user base and engagement, adding streaming video partnerships, doubling the character limit on tweets to 280 and making it easier to create “tweetstorms” by stringing messaging together.

Dorsey told a conference call that by relaxing the limits, “it minimises some of the complexities” of using the platform and added, “more importantly it is enabling people to be more expressive about what’s on their minds.”

‘Staying power’ 

Jennifer Grygiel, a Syracuse University communications professor who follows social media, said the results are an important milestone for Twitter.

“It shows that Twitter has staying power,” Grygiel said. “A lot of people have had doubts for several years.”

Despite Twitter’s problems these past few years, “it is unlike any other social media platform”, Grygiel said.

READ: Twitter begins enforcing rules on ‘hateful, abusive’ content

“It really is the fastest newswire service we’ve ever seen,” she said. “Influencers and news junkies come to Twitter because of that microblogging function that we don’t see in other places.”

Earlier this month, BTIG Research analyst Richard Greenfield raised his outlook for Twitter, saying that “management has refocused the company on its core product [and] pushed their product team to iterate far faster than ever before in the company’s history.”

Greenfield said Twitter’s use of artificial intelligence had “made the Twitter user experience more compelling by showing consumers the tweets they care most”.

Twitter’s monthly user base of 330 million is far behind the two billion of Facebook, but Twitter said its daily active user base – for which it has not offered a specific number – grew in double digits.

Both Twitter and Facebook have stepped up efforts to crack down on “bots” and other efforts to manipulate their platforms to deflect criticism from lawmakers and others concerned about the spread of disinformation.

“We are committed to making Twitter safer, and we are clarifying our policies, improving our enforcement, and communicating more clearly,” the company said in a tweet.

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AFRICAN AMERICAN (T) | Tesla averts cash crunch as Musk mystique makes up for late cars

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San Francisco – Tesla put to rest a chorus of concern that it was going to need to raise more money soon, thanks in part to the salesmanship of its CEO.

The company’s cash balance barely budged last quarter even as it struggled mightily to make Model 3 sedans. Paying customers are supporting Tesla through its production struggle – they’ve put down more than $850m in deposits for vehicles including the Semi truck and Roadster sports car Musk showed off in November.

Manufacturing setbacks had been limiting the amount of money coming in from customers taking delivery of Model 3s, the linchpin in Musk’s master plan to bring electric cars to the masses.

While it’s going to take longer to potentially realise that vision, the chief executive officer of both Tesla and Space Exploration Technologies has succeeded in captivating consumers in the meantime. His latest promotional stunt involved firing off a sports car into the sky atop the world’s most powerful rocket.

“If we can send a Roadster to the asteroid belt, we can probably solve Model 3 production,” Musk said on a conference call with analysts on Wednesday, shortly after tweeting another photo of his Roadster hurtling through space.

Tesla shares traded down 0.4% to $343.50 as of 20:00 in New York, after the close of regular trading.

Tesla said it remains on track to meet its goal to build 5 000 Model 3 sedans a week by the end of June, a target Musk has delayed several times. The company is putting off spending to double its production rate until reaching that milestone.

That approach paid dividends for a closely watched figure indicating how much money Tesla is using up: negative free cash flow. This was just $277m in the fourth quarter – the lowest in more than a year – after two straight quarters of more than $1bn.

“All the cash concerns will be alleviated once they get these cars on the road,” said Tasha Keeney, an analyst at ARK Investment Management, which holds Tesla shares. The company finished the fourth quarter with about $3.4bn in cash.

Musk didn’t say when the company will reach the 10 000-a-week clip with Model 3 production. He’s wavered on a previous projection that Tesla would reach that rate sometime in 2018.

Model Y

While the Model 3 has been slow off the line, that hasn’t stopped the CEO from touting what’s coming next. In addition to the Semi going into production in 2019 and the Roadster coming in 2020, Tesla plans to add a crossover called the Model Y to the lineup. The company will announce the location for where it’ll build that in three to six months, with capital spending toward the vehicle starting later this year.

“I don’t want to jump the gun on those but I think we’ve got a good plan,’ Musk said. “It’s really taking a lot of lessons learned from Model 3 and saying how do we design something to be easy to manufacture instead of hell to manufacture.”

Musk – whose additional gigs span interests including artificial intelligence and tunnel digging for “hyperloop” travel – is seen by investors as key to Tesla’s future success. To keep him around for the long haul, the company last month proposed an unprecedented pay package for the 46-year-old CEO that strictly ties his compensation to stock performance and profit.

The 10-year plan, which needs shareholder approval in March, would make Musk perhaps the richest man on the planet if he follows through on making Tesla one of the world’s most valuable companies. It requires that Musk remain Tesla’s CEO or serve as executive chair and chief product officer, potentially paving the way for the company to eventually hire a successor.

Sales shakeup

Tesla expects to deliver about 100 000 Model S sedans and Model X sport utility vehicles, in line with last year’s 101 312.

The department tasked with pulling that off will now be reporting directly to the CEO after Lyft hired away Jon McNeill, who had been president of global sales and service at Tesla and an influential figure at the company.

“2018 will be a transformative year for Tesla,” Musk wrote in a letter to shareholders.

“This is the year when we believe we can achieve true cost parity” with internal combustion engine vehicle production, “something that many believe is not yet possible”.

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