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SpaceX to launch world’s first all-civilian mission this year – live updates

The chief executive of Robinhood is expected to give evidence before American politicians later this month following widespread scrutiny over the company’s actions as its users bought GameStop shares.

Vlad Tenev will appear virtually before a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Feb 18, Politico reports. 

He’s likely to face questions over allegations that financial institutions pressured Robinhood into placing restrictions on customer purchases of GameStop shares.

Mr Tenev has repeatedly denied these allegations, telling Elon Musk in a livestreamed interview that they are “conspiracy theories.”

Elsewhere, Elon Musk’s SpaceX will send four civilians into space this year in a landmark trip that will be the world’s first all-civilian mission. The trip will be led by American billionaire Jared Isaacman who plans to raffle off one of the spots aboard the craft.

This evening, Amazon and Alphabet are due to report their latest earnings. Amazon is expected to surpass $100bn in revenue for the first time in a single quarter. Alphabet’s results are expected to be strong, and will include profit for Google Cloud for the first time.

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8:22AM

Robinhood boss to be grilled by US politicians

The chief executive of Robinhood is expected to testify before American politicians on Feb 18 as they attempt to figure out the stock trading app’s involvement in frenzied buying of GameStop shares.

A House Financial Services Committee hearing with Vlad Tenev has not been formally announced but is due to take place later this month, Politico reports.

The company’s decision last week to place restrictions on purchases of so-called “meme stocks” such as GameStop frustrated politicians from both major US parties. Both Ted Cruz and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez condemned Robinhood’s decision.

Mr Tenev is likely to face scrutiny on the reasons for the restrictions placed on his users. Robinhood has said the company faced radically higher clearing firm requirements that have required it to raise billions of dollars in capital in the past week.

Online speculation has linked Robinhood’s restrictions on purchases of GameStop shares to major financial institutions, suggesting that the app came under pressure to stop the wild upswing in GameStop’s share price.

Mr Tenev has denied these claims, calling them “conspiracy theories” in a livestreamed interview with Elon Musk on Monday morning.

You can listen to the full interviewed Mr Musk streamed with Robinhood’s boss yesterday below:

7:34AM

Elon Musk to launch landmark all-civilian space trip 

SpaceX’s all-civilian trip into space, due to take place later this year, is being made possible after American billionaire Jared Isaacman agreed to donate three seats in the company’s capsule.

Mr Isaacman, who founded credit card processing company Shift4 Payments, has already given one seat to a hospital worker. Another seat will be auctioned for charity and the final spot in the capsule will be decided in a Dragon’s Den-style contest run by Shift4 Payments.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime adventure: a journey into outer space on the first all-civilian space flight,” according to a website dedicated to the mission.

SpaceX says that during the multi-day mission, the astronauts will orbit Earth every 90 minutes.After the mission, the spacecraft will reenter the atmosphere for a water landing off the Florida coast

Mr Musk spoke about the planned all-civilian SpaceX trip on NBC Nightly News overnight, telling the show that “when you’ve got a brand new mode of transportation, you have to have pioneers. Things are expensive at first, and as you’re able to increase the launch rate, increase the production rate, refine the technology, it becomes less expensive and accessible to more people.”

“Any mission where there’s a crew onboard makes me nervous,” he added. “The risk is not zero.”

7:18AM

Five things to start your day

Five things to start your day

1) Sir Nick Clegg says Facebook has too much power over content moderation decisions

Facebook is testing its own iPhone privacy pop-up which frames its data collection policies in a more positive way than Apple’s version.

2) Silver hits eight-year high as Reddit frenzy turns to commodities  

Small investors warned of huge losses after thousands pile in, with some hoping that increasing its price could hurt large investors

3) SpaceX announces first all-civilian mission to launch this year

American billionaire is auctioning off seats on private SpaceX mission that will orbit the Earth. 

4) Robinhood raises additional $2.4bn from shareholders 

Funds came just days after trading app received $1 billion in funding from existing shareholders.

5) Elon Musk says he wired a monkey’s brain to play video games

The technology works by connecting small chips to an individual’s brain though thousands of microscopic threads

Coming up today

Alphabet results today – it is expected to break out its cloud profits separately for the first time.  Amazon and Match, which owns dating apps Hinge and Tinder are also revealing figures from the last quarter. 

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