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Vested Shorts: Exxon’s $60 billion move, Adobe’s AI era, the future of Threads, China’s youth dilemma

by Parth Parikh
October 14, 2023
3 min read
Vested Shorts: Exxon’s $60 billion move, Adobe’s AI era, the future of Threads, China’s youth dilemma

In today’s edition

  • ExxonMobil’s acquisition
  • Adobe MAX: Next-Gen AI tools unveiled
  • Threads: Meta’s reluctant news platform?
  • China’s youths: From ‘996’ to ‘Full-Time Children’

Market Snapshot

Despite strong quarterly earnings from major U.S. banks like JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo, stocks fell on Friday due to concerns about rising oil prices and geopolitical tensions. 

The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones saw a slight weekly gain, while the Nasdaq declined. Meanwhile, technology shares, including the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index, struggled, and energy shares benefited from a surge in WTI crude oil prices following tightened U.S. sanctions on Russian crude exports.

Market close data: Week of Oct 9-13, 2023

News Summaries

Exxon Mobil is set to acquire Pioneer Natural Resources in a deal valued at around $60 billion, aiming to become the largest entity in the U.S. Permian Basin. This move comes in response to the changing global energy landscape due to Russia’s conflict with Ukraine, highlighting the need for increased domestic production in the U.S. The joint companies plan to enhance production by 700,000 barrels daily within four years. Exxon’s CEO, Darren Woods, emphasized the merger’s focus on expanding production, calling it beneficial for the U.S. Meanwhile, President Biden has previously criticized the oil industry for profiteering from energy price surges without raising output.

Adobe showcased significant AI advancements at its MAX event in LA, drawing attention from industry professionals. A notable highlight was an AI tool that identifies and removes filler words in video editing. Adobe introduced Firefly Image 2, which since its March debut has been used to create over 3 billion images. New tools like the Firefly Vector Model and Retype were also unveiled. While Adobe emphasized that these AI tools are designed to save time for content creators and enable novices, concerns remain about AI’s potential to replace or reduce human roles. However, a Deloitte survey found that many companies have retained or retrained employees whose tasks shifted due to AI.

Meta’s platform, Threads, launched as a textual version of Instagram, has been gaining traction as a potential Twitter alternative, especially during significant global events. Despite having a strong user base of over 100 million, in contrast to competitors like Mastodon and Bluesky, Threads seems hesitant to become a breaking news platform. Instagram’s head, Adam Mosseri, has expressed a desire for Threads to be a more positive space, resulting in the blocking of search terms related to controversial topics. Internally, there’s a debate about the role of news on Meta’s platforms, weighing the costs and challenges against the benefits of staying relevant. With the recent decline in daily active users on Threads, Meta faces a decision: either embrace the platform’s potential as a news source or risk its obsolescence.

A trend called the “full-time children” phenomenon is gaining traction among young adults in China, particularly recent college graduates. Due to a mismatch between available jobs and the qualifications of applicants, many Chinese youths are finding themselves without employment, leading to an unemployment rate of 21.3% for 16- to 24-year-olds in urban areas. Instead of settling for unsatisfying jobs, some are opting to return to their parental homes, receiving financial support in exchange for household chores and caretaking. This trend is a stark contrast to China’s intense “996 culture” of working long hours. Other related trends include “Tangping” or “lying flat,” which involves taking a break from constant achievements, and “bailan” or “let it rot,” symbolizing giving up in despair.

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