Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Vodafone-Ono deal, Crimea’s referendum, Chinese IPOs, Steve Jobs: The Opera

March 17, 2014
March 17, 2014

What to watch for today

Vodafone’s Spanish cable deal. The company has reportedly agreed to buy Spain’s Ono for $7.2 billion euros ($10 billion), enabling Vodafone to compete with Telefonica over broadband internet access. Confirmation of the acquisition is expected imminently.

Mystery news on the origin of the universe. The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics will announce a major discovery at 15:55 GMT. Some suspect that “primordial gravitational waves”—theoretical ripples in space-time created in the moments after the Big Bang—have finally been detected.

St. Patrick’s Day without Guinness. The Irish brewer cancelled its sponsorship of the giant New York parade because of organizers refused to allow gay and lesbian groups to march openly. Heineken also cancelled its sponsorship, as Sam Adams for Boston’s parade.

Twitter visits China. CEO Dick Costolo will meet with government leaders and academics in Shanghai. Twitter has been blocked for China’s 600 million internet users since 2009.

Fewer cars in Paris. Drivers will only be allowed to drive on alternate days, after air pollution in Paris exceeded safe levels for five consecutive days. Public transport was free over the weekend to encourage Parisians to ditch their cars.

Over the weekend

Crimea’s pro-Russia referendum passed in a landslide. Some 93% of Crimean voters voted to leave the Ukraine and join Russia. Ethnic Russians comprise 58.5% of Crimea’s population; the referendum offered no option for voters who wanted the constitution to remain unchanged.

The search for Malaysia’s missing jet widened. Officials have expanded the search zone to 11 countries, spanning tens of thousands of miles on land and sea. Despite evidence that the plane took “tactical evasion maneuvers” after it disappeared from radar, US intelligence officials say there is no evidence of a terrorist plot thus far.

The liberated yuan fell. The People’s Bank of China doubled the currency’s allowable trading range against the dollar from 1% to 2%, meaning China’s currency can float more freely than before. In the first morning of trading the yuan slipped by 0.2%.

Banks got tough on forex traders. Barclays, Citigroup, and Royal Bank of Scotland have withheld bonuses for their foreign exchange trading teams (paywall) while investigations into market fixing are pending.

Chinese tech companies chose US floatations… Sina Weibo, the Chinese microblogging website, filed papers to list shares on the New York Stock Exchange. Soon after, Chinese internet giant said it would hold its highly-anticipated IPO in the United States rather than Hong Kong.

… while Jimmy Choo picked a London IPO. Labelux, the Swiss firm that bought Jimmy Choo for £525 million ($873 million) in 2011, is looking to float a small stake of the luxury shoe company on the London Stock Exchange. The deal could value Jimmy Choo at £1 billion (paywall); funds raised would fuel the firm’s expansion in Asia.

Quartz obsession interlude

Christopher Mims on the first “app store” for hardware. “The most successful technologies are those aimed at what Steve Jobs called “things people want to do.” That is, they answer a human need that has remained constant throughout history, rather than cater a particular “market.” I’m convinced that Mighty Cast’s NEX band—or something like it—is one of these technologies, the sort that has the potential to grow well beyond its original purpose.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Africa needs drones more than roads. They can carry goods to market and deliver medication to remote villages more efficiently.

American science is going private. What happened to public science for the public good?

Anonymous apps aren’t ethical. Investors should think twice before backing potentially harmful apps such as Whisper and Secret.

Children’s book are way too white. Last year, only 93 out of 3,200 US kids’ books published were about black people (paywall).

Surprising discoveries

Begging is booming in Saudi Arabia. A 100-year-old Saudi beggar in Jeddah was revealed to have a $1 million estate when she died.

Algorithmic matchmaking predates OKCupid by 3,500 years. It can be traced back to an early form of Hinduism in 1500 BCE.

There’s a vegetable even healthier than kale. Prepare yourself for BrusselKale.

You can’t buy Tesla’s electric cars in five US states. After visiting the showroom, you have to go home and purchase one online.

The definitive guide to selfies.From the tellfie to the wealfie, we’re all guilty of self-snapping.

Steve Jobs: The Opera. It’s based on Shakespeare’s “Henry V” but set in 20th century Silicon Valley.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, BrusselKale smoothies, and dating algorithms to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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