Industrial Policy & International Security
Polish authorities believe the fatal missile strike this week was likely caused by Ukrainian air defense systems responding to a Russian missile attack and not a Russian attack intentionally targeting Poland. While Poland continues to investigate the incident, they will not include Ukraine as a co-host in this effort. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pushed back on Poland’s preliminary findings, requesting a joint investigation. A subsequent statement indicates that Ukrainian representatives may be allowed to access the strike site.
Ukraine’s Appetite for Weapons Is Straining Western Stockpiles | Foreign Policy
Western allies are worried about balancing longer-term demands to supply Ukraine with arms and ammunition while maintaining their own stockpiles at levels required by NATO. The US and others have called on defense companies to ramp up production but contractors have been hesitant to augment manufacturing capacity until they can be assured of consistent demand. Mobilizing the defense industry will also require access to skilled labor from other industries and increasingly expensive raw materials. In late October and early November, the US Army paid Lockheed Martin over $520 million for guided missile launchers needed in Ukraine. Yet, as the US begins to increase production, European nations criticize the Pentagon for moving too slowly. As the war continues, Ukraine’s allies will have to adapt to the new demands of supporting an artillery-intensive fight.
Petro-Logistics reported a significant decline in OPEC crude oil exports in November. OPEC+ agreed to cut oil production by two million barrels a day, roughly 2 percent of the world’s output, beginning this month. Daniel Gerber, Petro-Logistics Chief Executive, predicts oil outputs to slightly increase over the rest of the month, but decline overall to 1 million barrels per day. After increasing output for most of the year, this reduction is the first significant indicator of promised OPEC+ cuts. OPEC will release its November production figures in its Monthly Oil Market Report to be published on December 13th.
Epic Games is appealing a US District Court ruling that Apple’s App Store policy requiring developers to use its in-app payments system (and pay a 30 percent fee to Apple on consumer purchases) does not violate antitrust law. While Apple’s counsel argued its policies provide superior user safety, Epic perceives this argument as a means to remove competition and disallow alternatives for iPhone users. The District Court originally ordered Apple to allow developers to link to alternative stores within the App Store so users have greater awareness of their choices. However, Apple is not required to comply until the appeal process concludes. The three-judge appeals panel is expected to make a ruling in 2023.
Cryptocurrency exchange FTX collapsed last week and regulators are calling for a tougher approach to the industry to prevent similar negative outcomes in the future. While most agree that more regulation is needed, what form it will take is up for debate. Some legislators have called for increased consumer protections while others have argued in favor of focusing on the crypto bills already under consideration. Others believe the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) must take a stronger position on enforcing existing regulations. The SEC, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, House Financial Services Committee, and Senate Banking Committee are all diving deeper into the FTX collapse to determine what happened, who is at fault, and next steps.
For the first time, the FDA has approved lab-grown meat. This marks a major victory for the cultivated meat industry, which has raised billions in venture capital funding without bringing a product to market. The approved company, Upside Foods, will be permitted to publicly sell chicken grown from real animal cells in bioreactors pending two more approvals in smaller regulatory steps. Although the FDA’s decision only applies to Upside Foods and its chicken, additional cultivated meat approvals for alternative startups are expected in the near future.
On Friday, India’s space agency launched its first rocket built by the private sector, the Vikram-S. The rocket made of an all-carbon fiber core structure was developed by four year-old startup Skyroot AeroSpace and took two years to complete. The startup is valued at $165 million and has raised $65 million—a significant portion of the total $245 million raised across all Indian space startups. In 2020, the Indian government established the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center and continues to pass space sector reforms in hopes to incentivize investments and bolster aerospace innovation in the private sector.
Given Russia’s strong cyber reputation, the West expected crippling attacks from the start of the invasion into Ukraine. At this week’s Aspen Institute cyber summit, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Cyber Policy Mieke Eoyang remarked that “Russian cyber forces as well as their traditional military forces underperformed expectations.” Eoyang believes Russia’s failure to leverage destructive cyber attacks at scale could stem from lack of preparation and an expectation that the war would not drag on as long as it has. Some experts think Ukraine’s strong cyber defenses have played a role. After Russia targeted the country’s power grid and institutions in 2015 and 2017, the country strengthened its defensive posture and received funding in support of these efforts from the US and Western allies. In April, Microsoft reported upwards of 200 Russian-backed cyber attacks against Ukraine, including 40 targeting government and critical institutions.
State & Local Tech Ecosystems
Jack Selby, longtime managing director of Thiel Capital and former PayPal executive, is launching his own venture capital firm called AZ-VC. The firm will focus on investing its $110 million fund into Arizona-based startups. Selby sees an opportunity to use AZ-VC to diversify Arizona’s economy and sought out local businesses, like utility companies, that shared his interests to invest in his fund. While defense contractors, like Lockheed Martin, and chip manufacturers have a presence in the state, there is room for tech to grow. Selby also points to Phoenix’s size (the fifth most-populous city in the US) and Arizona’s relative proximity to California compared to Austin or Miami as clear advantages.
Hundreds said to have opted to leave Twitter over Musk ultimatum | The Washington Post
Hundreds of Twitter employees decided to leave the company after new owner Elon Musk issued an ultimatum offering two options: stay and pledge to work longer hours or leave immediately with three months’ severance pay. Now, the company’s ability to remain operational is precarious with multiple, critical systems understaffed and remaining employees overworked.
One former employee shared, “I know of six critical systems (like ‘serving tweets’ levels of critical) which no longer have any engineers.” Another reported that approximately half of the Trust and Safety team opted to quit, fueling fears that malicious content like hate speech will spike. Overall, employees estimate that Twitter’s total staff has shrunk from roughly 7,000 to 2,500 or even 2,000 after initial layoffs began last week. Some reports indicated users were experiencing issues on Thursday night and it’s unclear whether Twitter will recover under its new leadership.