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Airbnb suspends all operations in Russia and Belarus | Airbnb

Airbnb has suspended all operations in Russia and Belarus, and also stopped users of the home rental site from both countries from making any bookings, in the company’s latest response to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The home rental firm, which has almost 100,000 short-term rentals available across both countries according to the market research firm AirDNA, has been vocal in its support of Ukraine.

Brian Chesky, the co-founder and chief executive of Airbnb, who has added the Ukrainian flag to his Twitter profile, tweeted the suspension in a one-line post.

The company elaborated on Chesky’s tweet, adding that the ban would extend to Airbnb members of those countries trying to make any bookings on the site.

“This means that we will block calendars from accepting new bookings in both countries until further notice,” said a spokesperson for the company. “We will also restrict users in Belarus and Russia from making new reservations as guests. We certainly hope that as we look to the future, a path to peace is forged.”

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Brands that have quit Russia

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A number of companies have pulled their operations and services in Russia since its invasion of Ukraine. These include:

Retailers

  • Ikea has temporarily closed all stores and factories in Russia, affecting 15,000 workers. It has shuttered its 17 outlets across Russia but said it would keep its Mega shopping centres open.
  • H&M has temporarily suspended all sales in Russia. The firm said that shops in Ukraine had already been closed temporarily “due to the safety of customers and colleagues”.
  • JD Sports has ceased all trading in Russia across both its brand websites and wholesale channels, adding that it represented less than 0.05% of annual revenues.
  • Mango, the Spanish clothing retailer, said it was temporarily closing its shops and its online sale website in Russia, while it is monitoring “with sadness and concern” the situation in Ukraine.
  • Nike has said it is stopping Russian customers from buying online.
  • Adidas has suspended its partnership with the Russian Football Union.
  • Marks & Spencer has suspended shipments to its Turkish franchisee’s Russian business. Operation ceased last week at its 10 stores in Ukraine, which employs 250 people. It has 48 stores in Russia and 1,200 employees, also via the franchisee.
  • Boohoo has halted sales in Russia and closed its Russian trading websites.
  • Asos has suspended sales in Russia. It said it was “neither practical nor right to continue to trade in Russia”.

Travel

  • Airbnb has suspended all operations in Russia and Belarus. It has also taking bookings from people in both countries.
  • Expedia has stopped selling travel in and out of Russia.

Carmakers

  • Volkswagen has stopped production of vehicles in Russia “until further notice”. Vehicle exports to Russia have also been stopped “with immediate effect”, it said.
  • Toyota halted production at its St Petersburg plant and vehicle imports into the country have also stopped indefinitely.
  • General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover and Renault have halted sales and operations in Russia. Mercedes-Benz said it will stop selling cars and vans to Russia, as has Aston Martin. Harley-Davidson has halted motorcycle shipments to Russia.

Drinks industry

  • Diageo, the maker of Smirnoff vodka and Guinness has paused exports to Russia and Ukraine.
  • Coca-Cola HBC has halted production at its bottling factory in Kyiv and evacuated its employees.

Tech, media and entertainment

  • Apple has paused sales in Russia.
  • Meta, owner of Facebook, said it had stopped recommending content from Russian state media to all users of Facebook, with Instagram to follow.
  • Google has suspended all advertising in Russia after the country’s internet regulator demanded the company stop showing what it considered were adverts displaying false information about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • Walt Disney Company is pausing its release of films in Russia.
  • Netflix said it has no plans to distribute news, sports and entertainment channels from Russian state media.

Luxury goods companies

  • Burberry has halted all shipments of luxury goods to Russia “due to operational challenges”.

Manufacturing

  • JCB, the British construction equipment maker, said it had paused all operations, including the export of machine and spare parts in the country.

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Russia has more than 93,000 listings on Airbnb, and Belarus almost 4,000, according to AirDNA.

On Thursday, Airbnb waived fees for hosts and those booking rentals in Ukraine. It took the decision after members of the public began making bookings in Ukraine with no intention of travelling as a way of providing financial support to residents facing hardship during the invasion.

Ukraine has more than 17,000 active short-term rental listings.

On Monday, Airbnb pledged to offer free housing to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees. The company has said it has received “overwhelming support” for the initiative, with more than 260,000 visitors so far to a dedicated web page where it is possible to sign up to be a host or to donate.

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Earlier this week, Chesky said the company was assessing its options regarding its Russian operation. “We don’t have a large business in Russia,” he told CNN. “It is not one of our major markets. [But] we are absolutely revisiting our relationship [about whether] to do business in Russia.”

Last year, Airbnb took bookings for 300m nights across 4 million hosts globally, worth a total of $46.8bn (£35.3bn). The company, which was founded in 2008, was floated in 2020, soaring to a market value of about $100bn.

Airbnb joins a rapidly increasing and extensive list of companies that are severing ties or pausing operations in Russia, including Ikea, the global recruitment company Hays, Apple, Netflix and all the major Hollywood studios, the retailers H&M, Marks & Spencer, Burberry and Boohoo, and car manufacturers including Ford, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.



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Culture

Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.


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Culture

European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.


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China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending ‘Taikonauts’ To The Moon From 2030 Onwards

China Reveals Lunar Mission

The Voice Of EU | In a bold stride towards lunar exploration, the Chinese Space Agency has unveiled its ambitious plans for a moon landing set to unfold in the 2030s. While exact timelines remain uncertain, this endeavor signals a potential resurgence of the historic space race reminiscent of the 1960s rivalry between the United States and the USSR.

China’s recent strides in lunar exploration include the deployment of three devices on the moon’s surface, coupled with the successful launch of the Queqiao-2 satellite. This satellite serves as a crucial communication link, bolstering connectivity between Earth and forthcoming missions to the moon’s far side and south pole.

Unlike the secretive approach of the Soviet Union in the past, China’s strategy leans towards transparency, albeit with a hint of mystery surrounding the finer details. Recent revelations showcase the naming and models of lunar spacecraft, steeped in cultural significance. The Mengzhou, translating to “dream ship,” will ferry three astronauts to and from the moon, while the Lanyue, meaning “embrace the moon,” will descend to the lunar surface.

Drawing inspiration from both Russian and American precedents, China’s lunar endeavor presents a novel approach. Unlike its predecessors, China will employ separate launches for the manned module and lunar lander due to the absence of colossal space shuttles. This modular approach bears semblance to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, reflecting a contemporary adaptation of past achievements.

Upon reaching lunar orbit, astronauts, known as “taikonauts” in Chinese, will rendezvous with the lunar lander, reminiscent of the Apollo program’s maneuvers. However, distinct engineering choices mark China’s departure from traditional lunar landing methods.

The Chinese lunar lander, while reminiscent of the Apollo Lunar Module, introduces novel features such as a single set of engines and potential reusability and advance technology. Unlike past missions where lunar modules were discarded, China’s design hints at the possibility of refueling and reuse, opening avenues for sustained lunar exploration.

China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending 'Taikonauts' To The Moon From 2030 Onwards
A re-creation of the two Chinese spacecraft that will put ‘taikonauts’ on the moon.CSM

Despite these advancements, experts have flagged potential weaknesses, particularly regarding engine protection during landing. Nevertheless, China’s lunar aspirations remain steadfast, with plans for extensive testing and site selection underway.

Beyond planting flags and collecting rocks, China envisions establishing a permanent lunar base, the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), ushering in a new era of international collaboration in space exploration.

While the Artemis agreements spearheaded by NASA have garnered global support, China’s lunar ambitions stand as a formidable contender in shaping the future of space exploration. In conclusion, China’s unveiling of its lunar ambitions not only marks a significant milestone in space exploration but also sets the stage for a new chapter in the ongoing saga of humanity’s quest for the cosmos. As nations vie for supremacy in space, collaboration and innovation emerge as the cornerstones of future lunar endeavors.


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