Mark Zuckerberg celebrated Fourth of July in unique fashion: Holding an American flag as he glided on a body of water, elevated on a board about a foot above the surface.
The Facebook CEO was hydrofoiling, which is a new type of watersport that has grown in popularity among outdoor enthusiasts — and those with plenty of cash to spend on a piece of sporting equipment that costs thousands of dollars.
Though Zuckerberg is mostly known for being the awkward founder of the world’s largest social network and one of richest people on the planet, he’s also become one of the most visible hydrofoilers out there, bringing more attention to the up-and-coming sport.
While surfing requires the power of a wave to get going, and wakeboarding relies on a boat to tow the rider, hydrofoiling uses a winglike structure under the surface of the water to create lift. The rider uses a handheld bluetooth controller that connects to an electric motor and underwater propeller, or creates momentum manually by pumping their legs up and down, as Zuckerberg does in his Fourth of July post.
“It’s a hydrofoil. There’s a wing under the water that I’m riding that pushes the board into the air,” Zuckerberg wrote in a comment on his post. “It’s a lot of fun. There’s an electric-powered version that you can get, but in this video I’m riding a regular foil board and surfing a little wave.”
Electric boards cost upwards of $10,000
Surfers have been toying with the idea of using hydrofoil technology for decades, but the sport didn’t really take off until foil boards became commercially available in 2018, said Nick Leason, co-founder of Lift Foils, which was one of the first companies to sell them.
Prior to foil boards, Leason and his company had been selling boards for kite surfing, which uses a kite in the air to pull a rider on a board across the water. Kite surfing requires a lot of skill, however, which limits the size of the market, Leason said. Foiling is much easier to pick up, and it feels like you’re gliding.
“It’s just this really unique feeling of flying over the water,” said Leason, whose company is based in Puerto Rico. “You kind of feel like a pelican, or a wannabe pelican.”
There are different kinds of hydrofoil boards.
Surf foils include the board and the foil but no motor, requiring users to create momentum with their own bodies, and typically cost about $2,000. Efoils have electric motors that let them reach speeds of 25 miles per hour and typically sell for at least $10,000.
Although foiling requires less skill than kite surfing, the steep price limits its potential market to extreme watersport enthusiasts and people with deep wallets. Canadian company MSLR Electric E-Foil, for example, notes that many of its customers are NHL hockey players.
“The boards are made out of such high-quality materials, said MSLR Founder and Owner Carey Missler. MSLR sells two efoil boards, the Navigator and the Player, both for $10,000. “It takes a while to custom build these boards, plus you’ve got your expensive components of lithium ion batteries and carbon fiber.”
For Zuckerberg, who is the fifth-richest person in the world, with a net worth of approximately $125 billion, according to Forbes, money is no problem. That’s why he owns numerous boards, including custom-painted and custom-built versions made by Lift Foil, Leason said.
“That’s our product that he’s riding on in the video. He probably owns every model that we have,” Leason said. “He’s really into it. He loves it.”
Zuckerberg ‘was ripping’
Zuckerberg first began to post about hydrofoiling in August 2019, when he uploaded two photos of himself on a foilboard being towed by a boat.
“Trying a new sport in Kauai with one of the best, Kai Lenny,” said Zuckerberg, referring to the professional surfer.
Leason said Lenny has been essential to the growth of hydrofoiling as a sport, trailblazing how people use the unfamiliar gear and taking the time to teach new folks about foiling. That includes Zuckerberg, Leason said.
“I think Kai, he’s like magical on a foil, and seeing all the stuff that he does,” Zuckerberg said on Instagram in April. “It’s sort of helped me get into the sport just watching him foil down a huge wave then turn around, go back up wind, up the wave, do a flip off the wave. It’s like Oh my god. It’s unreal.”
In December 2019, Zuckerberg posted a video of himself efoiling while wearing a bright orange helmet. Although helmets aren’t the most stylish getup, they are an important piece of equipment that experts recommend, especially for new foilers. Experts also recommend wearing impact vests.
“The boards are made with carbon fiber. It’s a very, very durable material, which means that if your head was to strike it, it could be very harmful if you weren’t wearing a helmet,” said MSLR Co-owner Taylor Coulthard.
Zuckerberg was caught by paparazzi efoiling in Hawaii with his face completely covered in sunscreen in July 2020. The photo became an instant viral meme.
“I was foiling around, and then I noticed there was this paparazzi guy following us. I was like ‘Oh I don’t want him to recognize me so you know what I’m gonna do? I’m just gonna put a ton of sunscreen on my face so he won’t know who I am,'” Zuckerberg said with a laugh on Instagram in April. “But that backfired.”
Zuckerberg later poked fun at himself about the whole thing last month when he posted a cartoon version of the picture.
“The sun never stood a chance,” Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook.
But despite his awkward episodes, those in the world of foiling say Zuckerberg has actually gotten quite good at the sport.
“It’s funny that most people think that Mark Zuckerberg is a little nerdy guy behind his computer in some lair somewhere, but he’s actually quite a good athlete as you see in that video,” Leason said. “He’s put in a lot of practice on the foil. He’s doing quite well.”
Perhaps more importantly for those that sell foil boards, Zuckerberg is also doing a lot to generate attention and buzz.
“It has brought some interest,” Missler said. “That was an incredible shot. He was ripping. He was doing amazing.”
China’s EV carmaker Nio jumps 4% after reporting narrower-than-expected losses
Nio’s ET5 stands on display at the Central China International Auto Show on May 25, 2023, in Wuhan, China.
Getty Images | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Nio on Tuesday reported narrowing losses in the third quarter, but gave a revenue forecast below market expectations.
Here’s how Nio did in the third quarter, according to LSEG consensus estimates:
- Revenue: 19.1 billion Chinese yuan ($2.7 billion) versus 19.4 billion yuan expected.
- Loss per share: 2.67 yuan per share loss versus 2.91 yuan loss expected. That was smaller than the 3.7 yuan per share loss recorded in the second quarter of the year.
Revenue rose 47% year-on-year.
Nio shares were around 4% higher in pre-market trade in the U.S., reversing earlier losses that followed the results.
Investors are focusing on the Chinese electric carmaker’s ability to be more disciplined in its spending, as it charts a path to profitability.
Nio CEO William Li reiterated the company’s focus on being more efficient.
“We have identified opportunities to optimize our organization, reduce costs and enhance efficiency,” Li said Tuesday.
Some of those efforts are already bearing fruit. Nio reported a net loss of 4.6 billion yuan in the third quarter, down 24.8% from the second quarter of 2023, but still higher than the same period of 2022.
The company also cut 10% of its workforce last month, citing “fierce competition.”
On top of that, Chinese consumers remain cautious on spending, which could weigh on Nio’s strategy to appeal to the premium segment of the local EV market.
The company said fourth-quarter revenue will be between 16.1 billion yuan and 16.7 billion yuan, representing a year-on-year increase of between 0.1% to 4.0%. Analysts expected a forecast of 22.4 billion yuan in the December quarter.
Nio also anticipates it will deliver between 47,000 and 49,000 vehicles in the fourth quarter — a hike of approximately 17.3% to 22.3% year-on-year.
Nio’s gross margin was 8% in the third quarter, down from 13.3% in the same period last year.
As Nio is yet to turn a profit since it was founded in 2014, the company is trying to show investors that it can balance the need for investments, while also being more disciplined with costs.
Li said on Tuesday that Nio would defer or terminate any projects that won’t bring a financial contribution in the coming three years. He added that the company will make sure that it doesn’t “dilute” investments in core areas like technology and its sales and service network, as it prepares “for the more intense competition in the coming two years.”
As part of this push, Nio on Tuesday announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire certain manufacturing equipment and assets from Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group Corp. (JAC) for 3.16 billion yuan. JAC currently manufactures Nio cars.
Li said that bringing manufacturing entirely in house could reduce the costs of such operations by 10%, but that the company would exclude battery manufacturing from being drafted in-house, as the measure would not improve gross margin.
Nio CFO Steven Wei Feng said that the company’s vehicle margin, which was 11% in the third quarter, can rise to 15% in the fourth quarter, helped by lower material and component costs, as well as better manufacturing capacity.
In 2024, the company is targeting a vehicle margin of between 15% and 18%, the CFO said.
Reproductive startup launches test to identify an embryo’s genetic defects before an IVF pregnancy begins
Noor Siddiqui, founder and CEO of Orchid, during the web summit for careers during Day 2 of the 2014 Web Summit in Dublin, Ireland, Nov. 5, 2014.
Stephen McCarthy | Getty Images
Reproductive technology startup Orchid on Tuesday announced a comprehensive new genetic test that may help many prospective parents across the U.S. breathe a little easier.
The company is launching the first commercially available whole genome sequencing report for embryos, designed for couples undergoing in vitro fertilization, which is a type of treatment for people experiencing infertility or who are at risk of passing on genetic problems.
With IVF, after a woman has had around two weeks of daily hormone injections, her mature eggs are extracted and fertilized in a lab, and the viable embryos are later transferred into the uterus.
Orchid said its new test will help couples identify whether their embryos present genetic risks such as birth defects, neurodevelopmental disorders, chromosomal abnormalities, or pediatric and adult-onset cancers that were previously only detectable after birth.
“This is a major advance in the amount of information parents can have,” Noor Siddiqui, Orchid’s founder and CEO, told CNBC in an interview. “The way that you can use that information is really up to you, but it gives a lot more control and confidence into a process that, for all of history, has just been totally left to chance.”
Orchid’s technology sequences more than 99% of an embryo’s genome, while existing tests typically read around .25%, the company said in a release.
IVF is a taxing process that can cost an average of more than $12,000 in the U.S., according to the Institute for Reproductive Health. Success is not guaranteed, and some people go through multiple rounds of IVF before a pregnancy develops.
Orchid’s genetic test will cost couples an additional $2,500 per embryo sequenced, but it does not add any new steps or risks to the IVF process, Siddiqui said. She added that the cost of the report should come down as the company is able to scale up its operations and introduce more automation.
“We want to make this something that’s accessible to everyone,” Siddiqui said.
Beginning Tuesday, Orchid’s technology will be available at IVF clinics in major cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and Austin, and Siddiqui said Orchid can be made available at additional clinics at the request of patients.
Couples will receive their report back from Orchid after about three weeks, the company said, and a board-certified genetic counselor will help them understand the results.
Orchid’s whole genome embryo report
Orchid has secured $12 million in funding from investors such as Prometheus Fund and Refactor Capital. Anne Wojcicki, the co-founder and CEO of 23andMe; Dylan Field, the co-founder and CEO of Figma; Fidji Simo, the CEO of Instacart; Brian Armstrong, the co-founder CEO of Coinbase, and others are also backers.
For many hopeful parents, the peace of mind is worth Orchid’s steep price.
Roshan George, a 35-year-old engineer in San Francisco, began the IVF process with his wife, Julie, in the fall.
George said they were feeling some anxiety about having a baby at an older age, and their nerves were amplified after their IVF clinic discovered they are both carriers for nonsyndromic hearing loss, which can result in a partial or total loss of hearing.
George had heard of Orchid through some friends, he said, and the couple decided to sequence all three of their viable embryos with the company. He said getting the embryos tested was very straightforward, and when the results came back, they discovered that two out of the three embryos were healthy.
“We were super relieved right off the bat,” George told CNBC in an interview. “That was very gratifying to hear.”
“Just having some degree of certainty — you’re going to make sure they’re not sick when they’re born and all that sort of stuff — it’s a huge amount of anxiety that’s been lifted off,” George said.
George Church, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, is an investor and an adviser at Orchid. Church developed the first direct genome sequencing method, he said, and Orchid’s technology will give parents the ability to access a hundred times more information about their baby than they could attain previously.
Church said it is “perfectly logical” for parents to care about helping their children, whether it pertains to their genetic health, the quality of their food or whether they get enough sleep and exercise.
He added that people often think that genetic risks don’t apply to them, or that there’s nothing they can do if something is wrong. But with Orchid, Church said parents have the detailed information they need to make informed decisions.
“If you went to Las Vegas with a 97% chance of winning, you would definitely go to Las Vegas,” Church told CNBC in an interview. “But it’s different when you’re talking about quarters as opposed to children.”
Orchid’s primary focus after the launch Tuesday will be on scaling up its technology and making it more accessible, Siddiqui said.
She said Orchid has spent an “enormous amount of effort” identifying the mutations that will cause severe disease during pregnancy or early childhood or result in serious chronic conditions. She wanted to ensure the company is able to provide parents with information that is “super meaningful.”
“I think this has the potential to totally redefine reproduction,” Siddiqui said. “I just think that’s really exciting to be able to make people more confident about one of the most important decisions of their life, and to give them a little bit more control.”
Take-Two shares tumble as Rockstar Games publishes Grand Theft Auto trailer early after leak
Strauss Zelnick, CEO of Take Two Interactive.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Shares of video game publisher Take-Two Interactive Software fell 4% in extended trading on Monday after the company released its trailer for the next version of the Grand Theft Auto game, which will come out in 2025. The company had originally planned to put out the trailer hours later, at 6 a.m. ET. on Tuesday, Dec. 5, but a leak caused Take Two to move up its timeline.
The video was originally leaked on X, formerly known as Twitter. After that, Rockstar Games, a subsidiary of Take-Two, published the trailer on YouTube.
Grand Theft Auto VI is likely to impact Take Two shares upon its release. Grand Theft Auto V debuted in 2013, and it’s now the second best-selling video game in history, having sold more than 190 million copies. It’s only behind Microsoft-owned Minecraft, of which over 300 million copies have been sold.
Gamers have been eager for details about the new game for years. Sam Houser, Rockstar’s founder, announced in early November that the trailer would come out in December.
“As the label approaches its 25th anniversary next month, we congratulate Rockstar Games on their constant innovation in the pursuit of the highest quality interactive entertainment,” Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick told analysts on a November conference call.
You can watch the new trailer below:
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