Bezos’s $10 billion bet, coronavirus hits Apple, bomb-sniffing bugs

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

HSBC’s earnings, with a side of job cuts. Europe’s largest bank is expected to confirm 10,000 layoffs as part of a major restructuring. Protests and the coronavirus outbreak in Hong Kong, HSBC’s biggest market, have weighed on results.

Singapore unveils its 2020 budget. Analysts are expecting one of its largest fiscal deficits on record, with estimates topping 7 billion Singapore dollars ($5.04 billion). The country is dealing with fallout from the US-China trade war, reduced demand for semiconductors, and one of the highest numbers of coronavirus cases outside China.

Nissan holds a tense shareholders meeting. After cutting the company’s net profit outlook for the year twice, and posting its smallest annual dividend since 2011, Nissan execs may wish they could sneak out of the annual “extraordinary shareholders meeting” as stealthily as embattled former chairman Carlos Ghosn fled Japan.

While you were sleeping

Jeff Bezos will spend $10 billion to fight climate change. The Bezos Earth Fund, which the Amazon founder announced on Instagram, will award grants starting this summer to “scientists, activists, NGOs—any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world.” (Not mentioned: Amazon.)

Apple warned of coronavirus impact. The company said it would not meet its quarterly revenue forecast because the virus has constrained iPhone supply and weakened Chinese demand. Also Monday, the World Health Organization’s director-general said early data suggests a possible decline in new coronavirus cases.

Nancy Pelosi cautioned Europeans about Huawei… Speaking after a meeting with European Union officials, the US House speaker said ceding 5G development to Huawei would “be like putting the [Chinese] state police in the pocket of every person who uses that [information]-highway.”

…as Europeans chided Mark Zuckerberg about Facebook. Shortly after meeting with the Facebook CEO, EU officials said the company must take responsibility for hate speech and disinformation on its platform, and meet European rules for data and AI, expected to be announced Wednesday.

Google shut down a free wifi program. Google Station, which first launched in India in 2015, worked with local governments and companies to create wifi hotspots in heavily trafficked areas. Google attributed the shuttering to revenue woes and a decline in mobile data prices.

Quartz membership

B Corps are meant to exemplify one idea: that we need to transform the way capitalism works in order to save the world. A growing number of corporations are signing on, from Patagonia to Danone. Quartz’s Cassie Werber reports on why B Corps are gaining momentum—and on the limitations that make them imperfect vehicles for social change.

Quartz special projects

India’s jobs of the future. With half of its population under 25 and the unemployment rate at a four-decade high, India faces an uncertain future. The question on young people’s minds: What kinds of jobs will we have? Quartz asked leaders across India’s biggest industries about that one job in their company or field that will be the most crucial in the coming decades.

Matters of debate

African countries’ debts to China are getting too big. Even the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are worried.

Online shopping didn’t kill brick-and-mortar stores. Blame big-box retailers, rising income inequality, and the dawn of paying for services instead of stuff.

The nuclear family was a mistake. Shifting from big extended families to smaller, detached families has led to a system that hurts the working class and poor.

Surprising discoveries

North Korea spent $75,509 last year on purebred horses from Russia. Since 2010, the country has imported at least 138 horses from Russia, costing nearly $600,000.

Japanese cities are mothballing their mascots. Many communities are questioning whether the characters, meant to lure tourists and investment, are worth the expense.

Grasshoppers are being engineered to sniff out bombs. In a project funded by the US Office of Naval Research, researchers implanted electrodes into the insects’ antennal lobes to help them detect explosives.

Some Instagram users see absolutely zero ads. CEO Adam Mosseri said a small group of ‘grammers gets an ad-free experience “to make sure we understand the effect of that.”

A Hindu god has a reserved seat on an Indian train. Seat 65 in coach B5 is saved for Shiva in a new train connecting holy sites.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, “extraordinary” shareholder gripes, and decommissioned Japanese mascots to Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our app on iOS or Android, and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Kira Bindrim and Liz Webber.