Tesla’s Chinese loan, Airbnb buys HotelTonight, Xi’s radical hair

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today and over the weekend

The SpaceX crew module splashes down. The spacecraft, which docked with the International Space Station last weekend, is due to land in Atlantic Ocean near Florida at approximately 8:45 am ET on Saturday.

The UK faces a deadline to rewrite its Brexit plan for Ireland. Just over three weeks before its scheduled exit from the European Union, the UK must find a way to avoid a hard border within the island without enmeshing the UK in the bloc’s trade rules.

Suspense is low ahead of North Korea’s parliamentary elections. The rubber stamp legislature has extremely good odds for its approved candidates: Last time they secured exactly 100% of the vote on 99.97% turnout, according to authorities.

While you were sleeping

Tesla secured $521 million in loan agreements from Chinese banks. The funding will help the company build its Gigafactory 3 assembly plant in Shanghai, which is expected to be completed in May. The syndicate of lenders includes China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and Shanghai Pudong Development Bank.

Airbnb got into the hotel business by acquiring HotelTonight. Terms of the deal, which comes ahead of a widely expected IPO, were not announced. HotelTonight, a curated booking site for boutique and independent hotels, was most recently valued above $460 million.

SoftBank bet big on Latin America. The Japanese firm is starting a $5 billion Innovation Fund (paywall) for mid-to-late-stage startups, and will work with the $99 billion Vision Fund for larger investments. It’s also opening offices in São Paulo, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, and Bogotá.

Michael Cohen sued the Trump Organization for nearly $4 million. The president’s former lawyer claims the Trump-controlled business owes him millions for unreimbursed legal fees, along with the $1.9 million that Cohen has been ordered to forfeit for criminal conduct on behalf of the Trump Organization.

Elon Musk’s security clearance is under review over his public cannabis use. Bloomberg reports that the Pentagon is reviewing the SpaceX founder’s refiled request for secret-level clearance (paywall), which does not permit marijuana use. He raised alarm after getting high on a live web video last year.


Today we have a Q&A with the head of The City of London about Brexit and its impact on London’s financial community. We also have an infographic about Brexit and immigration, an Insider View of PR, and a Private Key feature on Coinbase and its latest/troubling acquisition.

Quartz Obsession

Toilet paper: For some bathroom reading, consider that Americans’ taste for luxury TP consumes a lot of trees. Virgin wood pulp has longer fibers than recycled-paper pulp, so it makes fluffier paper, but at a heavy environmental cost. Bidet manufacturers hope to eventually cross the streams of wellness and environmentalism, but meanwhile the American fondness for TP is rolling across China and India. Sit for a spell with the Quartz Obsession, and don’t forget to wash your hands!

Matters of debate

Join the conversation with the new Quartz app!

The world is stuck with English. It would take an enormous global effort to switch to another lingua franca.

Don’t be yourself. The person you to which you think you’re being true may not be who you want to be—or even who you really are.

Psychedelics are the new gluten-free. Gwyneth Paltrow thinks tripping for wellness is the next big thing.

Surprising discoveries

The British royals are not amused by hate speech. Racist abuse aimed at Meghan Markle led to revamped social media protocols on all royal social media channels.

The rain in Greenland falls mainly on the ice sheet. Unseasonal precipitation has caused ice melt to accelerate alarmingly.

The gray wolf is no longer endangered, except by hunters. The Trump administration says populations have risen to safe levels in the lower 48 states, which could enable the species to be legally hunted once again.

Xi Jinping’s graying locks are a radical act. China’s Communist leaders have traditionally appeared in public with perfectly black hair, symbolizing youthfulness and unity.

Hey space, U up? For a nominal fee, Blockstream will send your message into space via satellite, for other civilizations to receive…and be utterly confused by.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, gray hairs, and space chats to hi@qz.com. Join the next chapter of Quartz by downloading our app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written and edited by Susan Howson and Adam Pasick.