• This “flying selfie stick” could be the next big thing…
  • SpaceX missions are almost becoming run of the mill…
  • Facebook is even worse than we thought…

Dear Reader,

Elon Musk has been on one heck of a run.

Tesla has had record levels of production… Musk recently opened the Tesla gigafactories in both Berlin and Austin… Tesla is dominating the electric vehicle (EV) market… He is demonstrating near-perfect full self-driving technology in his EVs this year… And SpaceX has now become the most valuable, and important aerospace company in history.

I’ve never seen such a string of remarkable achievements and breakthroughs over such a short period of time. 

Musk has literally built an internet backbone in space that envelops Earth (Starlink), and he is gearing up for the first orbital launch of the SpaceX Starship in the coming months. That’s the spacecraft that is going to take us back to the moon, and even to Mars, in just a few years.

Then there’s The Boring Company, which just raised an incredible $675 million on a $5.7 billion valuation. Musk is revolutionizing an industry that hasn’t been looked at for decades – underground boring and tunneling. 

Yet the purpose is far more spectacular: He developed this technology so that he can build the next generation of high-speed transportation – hyperloop technology – an idea that he developed almost a decade ago but didn’t have the time to build.

With all this going on, it is almost incredible that he was able to sign an agreement to acquire Twitter in his own personal efforts to restore freedom of speech so that the world can hopefully return to an open and democratic society.

And just last week he had yet another victory. This time it was a ruling on an acquisition that Tesla made back in November of 2016 – SolarCity. A judge just ruled that Musk did not act unlawfully when it acquired SolarCity for $2.6 billion so many years ago.

I was vocal at the time… I never liked the deal. But that didn’t mean that Musk did anything wrong.

I was bullish on Tesla at the time and felt that the company shouldn’t get distracted. I felt that having solar panels didn’t add much at all to Tesla’s business. And I didn’t like the fact that SolarCity was founded by his cousins, and his brother sat on the board.

Making matters worse, it was well known that SolarCity was having financial troubles. It just didn’t feel right, it felt like a bailout of friends and family. 

But even with all that said, I was still bullish on Tesla and recommended the company not too long after – in early 2017.

But despite the nuances of the deal that I didn’t like, it didn’t mean that Musk did anything wrong. I understood the broad “clean energy” synergy that Musk sold to his board. And the board voted to move forward with the $2.6 billion all-stock deal, while more than 85% of shareholders trusted Musk and voted to move forward with the deal.

Yet, perhaps not surprisingly, some Tesla shareholders levied a massive $13 billion lawsuit against Tesla calling the acquisition a “bailout.” The logic for those suing Tesla was that the acquisition of SolarCity was bad and would reduce the value of Tesla shares. But what happened after the acquisition is what makes the story so interesting:

As we can see, within a year of the SolarCity acquisition, Tesla shares were already trading 117% higher. And even more dramatically since the acquisition, Tesla’s share price was up by 3,200% as of the end of last year.

Tesla’s rise in share price had pretty much nothing to do with its acquisition of SolarCity. Even now, Tesla’s energy business, which includes the SolarCity products, is only 3% of Tesla’s overall revenues.

What’s ironic is that if those Tesla shareholders that spent so much time and money going after Tesla with the $13 billion lawsuit would have simply held onto their shares, they would have made an absolute fortune. Instead, they spent years of frustration, and who knows how many millions on lawyers, to walk away with nothing.

Musk, as usual, walked away victorious… And his shareholders did as well. 

And while the acquisition itself didn’t do much at all for Tesla, Musk absolutely improved SolarCity’s products. The Tesla solar tiles are an amazing product, and I love the idea of being able to fuel an electric vehicle from solar tiles on my roof instead of from electricity from the power grid that was produced from coal and natural gas. 

While it didn’t require Tesla acquiring SolarCity to make that a reality, I can still appreciate the result.

Snap’s surprise announcement…

We talked last week about social media giant Snap’s latest pair of augmented reality (AR) “Spectacles.” Well, it turns out the company had more than one trick up its sleeve…

Snap followed up last week’s announcement with its second hardware product – the Pixy.

The Pixy is a pocket-size personal drone for taking photos and recording videos. We can think of it as a floating selfie stick. Here’s a visual:

Pixy Launching

Source: YouTube

Here we can see the Pixy taking off from the user’s outstretched hand. Then it floats in the air and takes pictures as the person poses. Once complete, the Pixy lands back in the palm of its owner’s hand.

And as we would expect, the Pixy wirelessly syncs to the user’s Snapchat app to upload the photos. Pretty cool.

What I really like about this product is its simplicity.

The Pixy features two cameras… One is forward-facing; the other faces downward.

The forward camera takes photos and video. It also recognizes the user’s face, so it knows who to follow, record, and take pictures of. This enables the Pixy to focus exclusively on its owner when others are around.

The downward-facing camera allows the Pixy to navigate the world. It’s always aware of how high above the ground it is. And as we see above, this camera also enabled the Pixy to land back in a user’s hand whenever it sees the user’s outstretched arm.

What’s more, the Pixy offers four simple settings: hover, reveal, orbit, and follow. Users simply turn a dial on the top of the device to their desired setting, and the Pixy will behave accordingly after it launches.

Hover is what we see in the video below. The Pixy floats in the air and takes pictures. Reveal prompts the Pixy to float back and capture a wider background in the picture. Orbit tells the Pixy to circle the user to produce a 360-degree picture. And Follow instructs the Pixy to follow the user.

Here’s what that looks like:

Pixy Following Its User

Source: YouTube

Here we can see the Pixy following its user as she walks. That would certainly get a lot of attention at the park.

I really like this product. It’s not something I would use myself, but I’m not the target market. Snap is going for people between 13 and 34 years of age. That’s Snap’s key demographic of content creators.

And the Pixy is reasonably priced at $230. That makes it accessible to most consumers.

Plus, Snap provides strong video editing features within its app.

And get this – Snap already has AR special effects for the Pixy. Creators will be able to do some neat things with their videos.

I’m excited to see how consumers adopt this product. I think it will do quite well.

And I love that Snap is producing hardware products – Spectacles and now the Pixy – empowered with augmented reality technology that mesh perfectly with its social media platform.

Snap is setting itself up to be a prime contender in the AR space going forward. And as we have been discussing recently, AR is going to be the next mass-market consumer craze.

And readers looking for the best ways to gain exposure to this space can find more information on that topic right here.

SpaceX is hitting its stride…

We talked several weeks ago about the first all-private crewed mission to space.

For the sake of new readers, that was Axiom Space’s Ax-1 mission. It involved a four-person crew – all private citizens – making the trek up to the International Space Station (ISS) for what ended up being a 17-day trip.

While Axiom Space spearheaded the mission, SpaceX handled the launch and return to Earth.

A SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule carried the four crew members up to the ISS on April 8. And on April 25, SpaceX’s craft safely splashed down off the coast of Florida with the crew members aboard.

The first all-private mission to space was a tremendous success. But SpaceX isn’t one to rest on its laurels…

Less than 48 hours later, SpaceX launched another Crew Dragon mission to the ISS. This time, it carried three NASA astronauts and one astronaut from the European Space Agency.

And the SpaceX capsule safely docked to the ISS on April 27. Here it is:

SpaceX Capsule at the ISS

Source: NASA

This is a beautiful image. We can see the stark contrast between the ISS and the deep black of space. And if we look down at the bottom middle of the picture, we can get a small glimpse of the horizon of Earth from space.

The crew is finishing up its work at the space station as we speak, and SpaceX is gearing up for the return mission back to Earth in the next few days. I’ll certainly be tracking that closely.

What really jumps out at me though is the frequency with which SpaceX is now able to conduct these launch missions. The ability to complete a launch and then turn around and do another launch within two days is simply remarkable.

And I start to get really excited when I think ahead five years or so…

This type of space travel is about to become routine. We’ll have normal missions up to space running several times every month. It will become so normal that people won’t even think twice about it.

The new age of space exploration is upon us. This is an amazing time to be alive.

And, of course, innovative private companies like SpaceX are powering it all… not the legacy government contractors who dominated the aerospace industry for decades.

And should any of these companies reach the public markets, we’ll certainly evaluate them as investment opportunities… Depending on their valuations, they could be promising targets.

A leaked document shows us just how out-of-control Facebook is…

Tech media website Motherboard just obtained a leaked document from Facebook that’s unbelievably troubling.

It turns out that Facebook doesn’t know where all its user data goes or what the company actually does with it.

Here’s a telling quote from the document:

We’ve built systems with open borders. The result of these open systems and open culture is well described with an analogy:

Imagine you hold a bottle of ink in your hand. This bottle of ink is a mixture of all kinds of user data. You pour that ink into a lake of water (our open data systems; our open culture)… and it flows… everywhere.

How do you put that ink back in the bottle? How do you organize it again, such that it only flows to the allowed places in the lake?

This is just incredible. I’ll explain with a little context…

As we know, Facebook collects enormous amounts of data on its users. The platform takes in everything: personal data, pictures, posts, comments, likes, chat conversations… basically, everything we do on Facebook and its universe of applications.

It also tracks what we click on and how long we spend engaging with specific content.

Facebook associates all this data with each individual user. This builds a profile of each user. It lets Facebook know with remarkable accuracy what we think, feel, and believe.

That alone is bad enough. But what this document reveals is that Facebook doesn’t even have control over all this data. And it doesn’t know exactly how the data is being used at any given point in time.

Put simply, Facebook is an even worse steward of our data than we thought. This is a gross violation of consumer privacy.

What’s more, this reveals that Facebook does not comply with standard data privacy regulations.

In most countries, there are clear rules about how data can be collected and used. This is especially true in Europe, which has the most comprehensive data privacy regulations in the world.

Europe’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) state that companies must specify exactly why they are collecting consumer data. And companies cannot use data for anything other than this specified purpose.

Not only does Facebook not comply with these regulations, but it also can’t. Facebook has become such a behemoth that it has lost control of its data management.

And there’s no way to fix it. The “ink is already in the lake.”

Sadly, I don’t foresee Facebook suffering any serious consequences because of this. It’s now clear that elements within major governments want access to all the data Facebook collects, and they aren’t going to give up the honey pot.

Fortunately, there is a solution. It is coming in the form of blockchain-based “Web 3.0” technology.

That’s the technology that will create a whole new version of the internet aimed at changing the current power dynamics. We have a right to control our data – or at the very minimum, share in the profits of the companies using it.

Web 3.0 – enabled by blockchain technology – can make that happen. That’s why I’ve been directing my readers to the best projects being developed in this space.

For any readers who’d like more information, please go right here for the full story.


Jeff Brown
Editor, The Bleeding Edge

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