From Yandex pulling out of Russia to Asian Jim's return – Here are today's Headlines

Yandex is a big deal in Russia, kind of like how Google dominates the internet game in many other places.

From Yandex pulling out of Russia to Asian Jim's return – Here are today's Headlines
The logo of Russian technology giant Yandex is on display at the company's headquarters in Moscow, Russia December 9, 2022. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/File Photo

To start off, we're looking into:

Yandex's US$5.2 billion exit from Russia

The backstory: Yandex is a big deal in Russia, kind of like how Google dominates the internet game in many other places. Since 2007, it's been registered in the Netherlands but still runs the show back home in Russia, offering everything from search to maps and email. It's been eyeing global expansion, with plans for its own browser and taxi service, much like Google Chrome and Uber. Yandex even went public on the Nasdaq in 2011, meaning its shares are up for grabs for investors worldwide. In 2021, it briefly reached a US$30 billion market cap, showing just how big a player it is in the Russian tech scene. But the Kremlin has always had its eye on Yandex. Back in 2022, it sold its news aggregator to a state-controlled rival, VK, to streamline operations and back away from politics.

More recently: After Russia invaded Ukraine, lots of foreign companies, like McDonald's and Exxon Mobil, started pulling out of the country because of geopolitical pressure and sanctions. Yandex felt the heat, too. Its shares on the Nasdaq were suspended, and the EU even slapped sanctions on Yandex's founder, Arkady Volozh.

The development: Yandex just inked a deal worth 475 billion rubles (US$5.21 billion) to hand over most of its ownership to a group of Russian investors. This is one of the biggest company shake-ups in Russia since the Ukraine war started. Click the link here for more.

Estée Lauder's jobs cut

Estée Lauder
The Estee Lauder section of the Nordstrom flagship store is seen during a media preview in New York, U.S., October 21, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo

The backstory: Estée Lauder has been a big name in the cosmetics world since 1946. You've probably heard of some of its brands like Clinique, MAC, Tom Ford, Le Labo and Jo Malone. But recently, the company hit a rough patch. Sales in duty-free shops in airports and other places in Asia took a nosedive, which hasn't done wonders for its profits. Plus, competition from rivals like L'Oréal, with brands like CeraVe and La Roche-Posay, has also taken a toll on its market share. 

In China, a key market for luxury goods, things aren't looking rosy either. The world's second-largest economy is facing rising youth unemployment and a slumping real estate market. Plus, with the country's population dwindling, its post-COVID economic recovery has been shaky. 

More recently: Estée Lauder's recent financial reports highlight its challenges, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. Sales there took a 7% dip last quarter, and profit margins took a hit, too, falling by 60 basis points. The company once again adjusted its yearly profit forecast downward.

The development: Estée Lauder has said it's slashing up to 3,000 jobs to streamline operations. This move sent its stocks soaring by as much as 19% in New York on Monday. Click the link here for more.

Adam Neumann wants to buy WeWork

A WeWork logo is seen at a WeWork office in San Francisco, California, U.S. September 30, 2019. REUTERS/Kate Munsch/File Photo

The backstory: WeWork was once one of the most valuable startups in the US, making its name as a coworking space provider. Essentially, its business plan was to buy office spaces that it could revamp and rent out to businesses and freelancers. At its peak in 2019, WeWork was valued at US$47 billion, but it all came crashing down after the company failed its initial public offering (IPO) later that year. After filing for its IPO in August, WeWork faced a lot of scrutiny from investors and the media about its poor leadership, heavy losses and whether it could really make a profit. The company’s value had plummeted from US$47 billion to as low as US$10 billion in less than two months. Not long after filing, WeWork scrapped its IPO plans. 

More recently: Japanese tech company SoftBank made a deal to buy 80% of WeWork in 2019. Part of this included ousting co-founder and then-CEO Adam Neumann, who stepped down with a massive US$1.7 billion payout. But, in November last year, WeWork finally filed for bankruptcy. The company had been too ambitious with its growth and found itself in masses of debt. The thing is, WeWork spent a ton of money buying up office spaces, but with COVID, the rise of remote work and skyrocketing real estate prices, the demand for those spaces never caught up enough to turn a profit. 

The development: Since December, Neumann, his real estate startup Flow and other investors, including Dan Loeb’s hedge fund company Third Point, have been trying to get info from WeWork to form a bid to buy it out of bankruptcy. Click the link here for more.

To end, we'll look into:

Zoom’s Apple Vision Pro app

Apple Vision Pro Zoom
A customer uses Apple's Vision Pro headset at the Apple Fifth Avenue store in Manhattan in New York City, U.S., February 2, 2024. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Apple's Vision Pro headset, released last Friday in the US, is a hot topic in the tech market. Videos of people dining out or on the subway with their headsets have already gone viral online – as well as videos of people using the headset in some inappropriate situations (like driving). But what can you do with the Vision Pro, and what are some of its highlights?

The headset comes with over 600 apps, including many popular ones consumers expect, like Disney +, Microsoft 365 and Adobe. But a few key apps are missing. Netflix, Spotify and YouTube passed on Apple's latest augmented reality (AR) technology by not offering apps at launch and not allowing their iPad app to be used on the Vision Pro. Since then, YouTube has vaguely said it's working on an app for the headset, but as far as we know, Netflix and Spotify users will have to use the web browser to access those platforms.

One app to look out for on the headset is Zoom, and virtual meetings are about to reach another level. Click the link here for more.

In other news ...


📉Market snapshot and key quotes:

  • In the US: US stocks rose on Tuesday as Wall Street reviewed a new batch of corporate earnings.
  • In Hong Kong: Hong Kong stocks jumped with increased efforts from Beijing to support the market.

📊Top gainers/losers and company news:

  • In the US: Palantir Technologies jumped over 30% on a revenue beat in Q4 boosted by AI demand.
  • Spotify Technology rose over 3% on better-than-expected results and increased Premium subscribers.
  • Japan's Toyota raised its full-year forecast by nearly 9% on Tuesday after its Q3 earnings beat estimates thanks to a weaker yen and strong sales. 
  • In Hong Kong: Alibaba,, Meituan, Xiaomi and Tencent all saw significant gains, with jumps ranging from 4% to over 7%.

👀The numbers everyone is watching:

  • In the US: The US will share wholesale inventories and jobless claims data. 
  • In Hong Kong: China will release PPI and CPI data this week.

📅To check out our economic calendar for this week, click here.

More headlines ...

📰Middle East update: China and Norway's top diplomats celebrated their 70 years of diplomacy in Beijing on Monday and "agreed on the need for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza" and a "substantial increase in humanitarian assistance," said a Chinese foreign ministry statement. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Anthony Bliken has arrived in Egypt to push for a ceasefire and is working on a deal with Egypt and Qatar. 

Over the weekend, the US and UK launched dozens of airstrikes on targets in Iraq and Syria after three US soldiers were killed in Jordan in a drone attack late last month. But, the US is now facing criticism from Russia and China for its actions. During a UN Security Council meeting on Monday, both countries accused the US of increasing the risk of war escalating across the region. China, Russia and Iran are also set to hold joint naval drills before the end of March amid the rising tensions. 

Some of the airstrikes targeted the Houthis in Yemen, who've been disrupting the global trading route in the Red Sea for months. The most recent target was a British ship that had minor damage after being hit by a missile. 

📄Thailand draft bill to ban marijuana: In mid-2022, the Thai government completely legalized marijuana, which led to hundreds of cannabis shops opening, particularly in tourist areas and business districts. But in December, officials proposed a bill to pull that back and limit its use to medicinal purposes once again (which it had legalized in 2018). Thailand's health minister, Chonlanan Srikaew, said, "The use for fun is considered wrong." The health ministry is seeking approval from the PM and his cabinet next week for a draft bill banning recreational use. 

👩‍🌾EU farmer protests: Over the last few weeks, agricultural workers in Germany, France, Belgium, Poland and Romania have been protesting over EU regulations that they say are destroying rural life. In a letter to the EU Commission, some protestors explained: "The root of the problem is clear: the majority of farmers simply cannot make a living from their work," adding that "they are trapped in a system that is killing them." The EU Commission has now retreated and agreed to scale back some of its green initiatives in response to the outrage. 

👨‍⚖️Trump denied immunity: Former US President Donald Trump is currently facing four different criminal cases. He recently challenged charges against him for plotting to overturn the 2020 presidential election results, saying he should be immune since he was president at the time. But a US court denied his immunity on Tuesday. Trump plans to appeal the ruling. One of Trump's reported goals is to delay the start of the trial because winning the November presidential election would put him in a position to get the case dropped or even pardon himself.

🤑Toyota EV spending: Japanese carmaker Toyota has boosted its spending on electric vehicles (EVs) by pumping US$1.3 million into a plant in Kentucky to begin US production of an all-electric SUV. Following a rise in full-year earnings and profit from the most recent quarter, this "reinforces Toyota's commitment to high-quality vehicles and long-term job stability," according to a company statement. 

❄️Severe weather in China: Snow and icy rain have hit China, causing severe problems and delays at one of its busiest times of the year, as millions of people travel home for the Lunar New Year. Drivers have been trapped on highways for up to three days due to icy conditions, and trains were delayed for up to 24 hours, according to China Business News. Local media has also reported at least two deaths. 

😢Killer whales trapped: Just off of Japan's Hokkaido, at least 10 killer whales are trapped by sea ice, and rescuers can't get to them. An official from the coastal town of Rausu told broadcaster NHK on Tuesday, "We have no choice but to wait for the ice to break up and for them to escape that way." With not much wind in the area, the ice has stayed put and kept the whales from escaping.

⚽Messi speaks out: Messi has broken his silence after angering thousands of fans at a Sunday football match in Hong Kong against a local team. Fans showed up in droves to see the football star play, but Messi and another star player never made it out onto the pitch. The Argentinian legend said it was "a shame" and "bad luck" that a sore thigh muscle had made it difficult for him to play, and he hopes to return "whenever he can." 

💻Indian actress fakes death: On Friday, Indian actress Poonam Pandey's official Instagram posted that she had died of cervical cancer, saying she "bravely fought the disease." Many news outlets reported her death, and social media tributes spread around. But, a day later, she posted a video saying she had faked her death to raise awareness about cervical cancer, which is often called a "silent killer," and that she was very much alive and well. This has sparked ethical debates, with many saying she was insensitive to those battling cancer or people who've lost someone to the disease. It also brought heat to India's journalism scene, with people criticizing the media for reporting on unverified news.

📜AI reads ancient scroll: On Monday, three researchers won a US$700,000 prize for using artificial intelligence (AI) to read a 2,000-year-old scroll that was badly damaged in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which buried the ancient Roman town of Pompeii. It was all part of something called the "Vesuvius Challenge," and the AI helped distinguish ink from papyrus on some high-resolution CT scans of the scrolls. The author is believed to be the philosopher Philodemus writing about life's pleasures like food and music. 

😆"Asian Jim" returns: If you're a fan of the hit series "The Office," you may remember a prank Jim plays on co-worker Dwight, where he replaces himself (and even the pictures on his desk) with his Asian actor friend to make Dwight think he's losing it. Now, John Krasinski, who played Jim on the show, has come up with some genius marketing for his film "If" by reviving Asian Jim. In a trailer for the film, Randall Park, the actor who played Asian Jim, replaces Krasinski alongside a confused Ryan Reynolds, as if he's been John all along. Check out the clip below. 

Check out the internet's reactions!

Quiz Time!

What cosmetics giant just announced it’s cutting up to 3,000 jobs?

  1. Maybelline
  2. L'Oréal
  3. Estée Lauder
  4. Sephora

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Written and put together by Joey Fung, Alisha Khan and Christine Dulion

**The answer to the quiz is [3]