Volkswagen Aims to Use Its Size to Head Off Tesla

Volkswagen is going all in on electric cars, with plans to build battery factories in Europe, install a network of charging stations and slash the cost of emission-free travel.

That was the message Monday as the German carmaker staged a so-called Power Day to showcase its latest electric car technology. The event was Volkswagen’s answer to Tesla’s Battery Day presentations, which draw intense attention from investors and electric car buffs.

The session included a number of attention-getting announcements, including a promise that Volkswagen would cut the cost of batteries by up to 50 percent by the end of the decade, while slashing charging time to 12 minutes. That would make electric cars cheaper than gasoline vehicles and just as convenient.

Volkswagen also unveiled plans to build six battery factories in Europe in joint ventures with suppliers. And by 2025, the company said, it would have 18,000 charging stations on the continent operating in conjunction with energy companies including BP. The British oil producer said it would offer charging at its filling stations.

General Motors or Volvo Cars in setting a precise expiration date for internal combustion engines.

Volkswagen is the biggest carmaker in Europe and second biggest in the world after Toyota. The subtext of Monday’s presentations by a parade of Volkswagen executives was that the company is deploying its industry and government connections, its financial resources, and its eight decades of manufacturing expertise to keep Tesla from eating its lunch.

“Our transformation will be bigger than anything the industry has seen in the past century,” Herbert Diess, the chief executive of Volkswagen, said during the two-hour presentation.

The event coincided with the rollout in the United States of the ID.4, an electric S.U.V. that is part of the first generation of Volkswagens designed from the ground up to run on batteries and seen as serious challengers to Tesla’s dominance in electric cars. The first ID.4s, with a starting price of $40,000 before government rebates, began arriving at American dealers this week.

At least some analysts are starting to believe Volkswagen’s hype. The Swiss bank UBS issued a report this month that ranked Volkswagen just behind Tesla in electric vehicle technology.

Tesla shares have plunged in recent weeks as it dawns on some investors that the California company may not have a monopoly on electric cars. Volkswagen shares have recovered their prepandemic value and then some. But investors still value Tesla at six times as much as Volkswagen, and the German company faces enormous challenges.

hiring freeze and offer early retirement to employees as young as 56 to free up money for new technologies. The company said it would continue to hire people with expertise in batteries, electricity and software.

Volkswagen’s new electric models, while promising, have yet to prove themselves in the market. They were initially plagued by software problems, although the company says those have been solved. After a delayed launch, Volkswagen sold 56,000 of its ID.3 model, an electric hatchback not offered in the United States, in the last few months of 2020.

Volkswagen is coping with the devastating effect that the pandemic had on sales. Deliveries to customers fell 15 percent in 2020, to 9.3 million vehicles.

diesel emissions scandal continues to keep hundreds of lawyers busy and gnaw at Volkswagen’s reputation. Martin Winterkorn, who was chief executive during the years that Volkswagen rigged diesel vehicles to cheat emissions limits, is scheduled to go on trial next month on charges related to the scandal. The trial is certain to generate heavy media coverage and remind the public of Volkswagen’s misdeeds, which came to light in 2015. Mr. Winterkorn denies wrongdoing.

As costly as it has been, the scandal had one benefit for Volkswagen. It forced the company’s managers to think hard about how to restore the company’s good name. They resolved to focus on electric cars. That may put Volkswagen in a better position today than other big rivals that hesitated.

UBS analysts pointed out that Volkswagen is one of the few big carmakers to have developed a platform specifically for electric vehicles, and to retool entire factories to build electric cars. Volkswagen’s size — it sold 18 times as many cars as Tesla last year — will allow it to push down manufacturing costs in a way that smaller carmakers cannot.

Like Tesla, Volkswagen has recognized that people won’t buy electric cars unless there is someplace to charge them. In addition to underwriting a charging network in Europe, Volkswagen will install 3,500 fast-charging points in the United States and 17,000 in China.

Many other traditional carmakers approached the electrification of cars as something they were forced to do to meet emissions requirements, Mr. Hummel of UBS said.

“They spent too much time looking at electric vehicles from the perspective of compliance,” he said. “Now they are catching up but they are late.”

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Hand gel, dumbbells and sweatpants: Pandemic items are added to the U.K.’s inflation list.

As millions of people began working, exercising and doing just about everything from home during the pandemic, sales of sweatpants and dumbbells surged enough to worry the fashion industry about a shortage of leisure wear. Britain’s statisticians expect those consumer trends to stick around.

Hand weights and men’s loungewear pants, along with hand sanitizer, have been added to the list of items the Office for National Statistics uses to track prices and calculate Britain’s inflation rate, the statistics agency said Monday. Women’s sweatshirts were also added to expand the women’s casual wear section.

Every year, the basket of goods and services, which has more than 720 items in it, is updated. This year, 17 products were added and 10 were removed from the official shopping cart. The updated list is part trend report, part academic statistical analysis.

Among the changes:

  • Hybrid and electric cars were added. Purchases have increased in anticipation of conventional cars being phased out. The government plans to ban the sale of cars that run solely on gas and diesel by 2030.

  • A smartwatch and smart light bulb were added, reflecting the growing popularity of connected devices. (Smart speakers were already included.)

  • The “staff restaurant sandwich” — that is, a sandwich from a company cafeteria — was removed because the number of staff canteens has fallen as more people (when they work in the office) are bringing lunches from outside their workplace.

  • Ground coffee was replaced with instant coffee in a packet because there has been a move toward “the convenience of having a complete drink in a sachet.”

Face masks, perhaps the most ubiquitous consumer item of 2020, was considered but were left off the list. In explaining why, the statisticians revealed some cautious optimism.

“Consumer spending and usage” of face masks, the agency said, “could decrease rapidly once the population have been vaccinated, so there could be problems in collecting prices toward the end of 2021.”

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Brazil Needs Vaccines. China Is Benefiting.

RIO DE JANEIRO — China was on the defensive in Brazil.

The Trump administration had been warning allies across the globe to shun Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant, denouncing the company as a dangerous extension of China’s surveillance system.

Brazil, ready to build an ambitious 5G wireless network worth billions of dollars, openly took President Trump’s side, with the Brazilian president’s son — an influential member of Congress, himself — vowing in November to create a secure system “without Chinese espionage.”

Then pandemic politics upended everything.

With Covid-19 deaths rising to their highest levels yet, and a dangerous new virus variant stalking Brazil, the nation’s communications minister went to Beijing in February, met with Huawei executives at their headquarters and made a very unusual request of a telecommunication company.

“I took advantage of the trip to ask for vaccines, which is what everyone is clamoring for,” said the minister, Fábio Faria, recounting his meeting with Huawei.

hoarding many millions of doses for themselves — has offered a diplomatic and public relations opening that China has readily seized.

closely aligned with Mr. Trump, disparaged the Chinese vaccine while it was undergoing clinical trials in Brazil, and shut down an effort by the health ministry to order 45 million doses.

“The Brazilian people WON’T BE ANYONE’S GUINEA PIG,” he wrote on Twitter.

But with Mr. Trump gone and Brazilian hospitals overwhelmed by a surge of infections, Mr. Bolsonaro’s government scrambled to mend fences with the Chinese and asked them to expedite tens of millions of vaccine shipments, as well as the ingredients to mass-produce the shots in Brazil.

The precise impact of the vaccine request to Huawei and its inclusion in the 5G auction is unclear, but the timing is striking, part of a stark change in Brazil’s stance toward China. The president, his son and the foreign minister abruptly stopped criticizing China, while cabinet officials with inroads to the Chinese, like Mr. Faria, worked furiously to get new vaccine shipments approved. Millions of doses have arrived in recent weeks.

“With the desperation in Latin America for vaccines, this creates a perfect position for the Chinese,” said Evan Ellis, a professor of Latin American studies at the United States Army War College, who specializes on the region’s relationship with China.

Britain and Germany — Huawei has mounted a well-timed charm offensive in Brazil.

said in a message on Twitter announcing the gift.

Before the first vaccines rolled off assembly lines, Huawei seemed to be losing the 5G contest in Brazil, knocked to the sidelines by the Trump administration’s campaign against it. Latin America’s largest nation was only months away from holding an auction to create its 5G network, a sweeping upgrade that will make wireless connections faster and more accessible.

Huawei, along with two European competitors, Nokia and Ericsson, aspired to play a leading role in partnering with local telecommunications companies to build the infrastructure. But the Chinese company needed the green light from Brazilian regulators to take part.

The Trump administration moved aggressively to thwart it. During a visit to Brazil last November, Keith Krach, then the State Department’s top official for economic policy, called Huawei an industry pariah that needed to be locked out of 5G networks.

“The Chinese Communist Party cannot be trusted with our most sensitive data and intellectual property,” he said in a Nov. 11 speech in Brazil, during which he referred to Huawei as “the backbone of the CCP surveillance state.”

Brazil’s foreign ministry said Brazil “supports the principles contained in the Clean Network proposal made by the United States.”

Eduardo Bolsonaro, a son of the president, who headed the foreign affairs committee in the lower house of Congress, said in a tweet that Brazil would back Washington’s push.

China had already faced scorn in some corners of Latin America early in the pandemic, as concerns that it had been careless in allowing the virus to slip beyond its borders took root. Beijing’s reputation took an additional hit in Peru, after exporting cheap, unreliable Covid tests that became an early misstep in the country’s efforts to rein in contagion.

But China found an opportunity to shift the narrative early this year, as its CoronaVac became the cheapest and most accessible inoculation for countries in the developing world.

With the pandemic under control in China, Sinovac, the maker of CoronaVac, began shipping millions of doses abroad, offering free samples to 53 countries and exporting it to 22 nations that placed orders.

As the first doses of CoronaVac were administered in Latin America, China took a swipe at wealthy nations that were doing little to guarantee prompt access to vaccines in poorer countries.

said in a speech late last month. “We hope that all countries that have the capability will join hands and make due contributions.”

In late February, as the first doses of China’s vaccines were being administered in Brazil, the country’s telecom regulatory agency announced rules for the 5G auction, which is scheduled to take place in July, that do not exclude Huawei.

The change in Brazil reflects how the campaign against Huawei driven by Mr. Trump has lost momentum since his defeat in the November election. Britain said it would not ban equipment made by Huawei from its new high-speed 5G wireless network. Germany has signaled a similar approach to Britain’s.

Thiago de Aragão, a Brasília-based political risk consultant who focuses on China’s relationships in Latin America, said two factors saved Huawei from a humiliating defeat in Brazil. The election of President Biden, who has harshly criticized Brazil’s environmental record, made the Brazilian government unenthusiastic about being in lock step with Washington, he said, and China’s ability to make or break the early phase of Brazil’s vaccination effort made the prospect of angering the Chinese by banning Huawei untenable.

“They were facing certain death by October and November and now they’re back in the game,” Mr. de Aragão said of Huawei.

The request for vaccines by the Brazilian communications minister, Mr. Faria, occurred as it became clear Beijing held the keys to accelerate or throttle the vaccination campaign in Brazil, where more than 270,000 people have died of Covid-19.

Feb. 11, Mr. Faria posted a letter from China’s ambassador to Brazil in which the ambassador noted the request and wrote that “I give this matter great importance.”

In a statement, Huawei did not say it would provide vaccines directly but said the company could help with “communication in an open and transparent manner in a topic involving the two governments.”

China is also the dominant supplier of vaccines in Chile, which has mounted the most aggressive inoculation campaign in Latin America, and it is shipping millions of doses to Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia.

In a sign of China’s growing leverage, Paraguay, where Covid-19 cases are surging, has struggled to gain access to Chinese vaccines because it is among the few countries in the world that have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which China considers part of its territory.

In an interview, Paraguay’s foreign minister, Euclides Acevedo, said his country is seeking to negotiate access to CoronaVac through intermediary countries. Then he made an extraordinary overture to China, which has spent years trying to get the last few countries that recognize Taiwan to switch their alliances.

“We would hope the relationship does not end at vaccines, but takes on another dimension in the economic and cultural spheres,” he said. “We must be open to every nation as we seek cooperation and to do so we must have a pragmatic vision.”

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The S.E.C. Is Increasingly Making E.S.G. a Priority

Allison Herren Lee was named acting chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission in January, and since then she has been active, especially when it comes to environmental, social and governance, or E.S.G., issues. The agency has issued a flurry of notices that such disclosures will be priorities this year. Today, Ms. Lee, who was appointed as a commissioner by President Donald Trump in 2019, is speaking at the Center for American Progress, where she will call for input on additional E.S.G. transparency, according to prepared remarks seen by DealBook.

The supposed distinction between what’s good and what’s profitable is diminishing, Ms. Lee will argue in the speech, saying that “acting in pursuit of the public interest and acting to maximize the bottom line” are complementary. The S.E.C.’s job is to meet investor demand for data on a range of corporate activities, and Ms. Lee’s planned remarks suggest that greater transparency on E.S.G. issues won’t be optional for much longer. “That demand is not being met by the current voluntary framework,” she will say. “Human capital, human rights, climate change — these issues are fundamental to our markets, and investors want to and can help drive sustainable solutions on these issues.”

  • Ms. Lee will also argue that “political spending disclosure is inextricably linked to E.S.G. issues,” based on research showing that many companies have made climate pledges while donating to candidates with contradictory voting records. The same goes for racial justice initiatives, she will say.

This is not an interim priority. Ms. Lee is acting chief, but based on recent statements by Gary Gensler, President Biden’s choice to lead the S.E.C., she’s laying the groundwork for more action rather than throwing down the gauntlet. In his confirmation hearing this month, Mr. Gensler said that investors increasingly wanted companies to disclose risks associated with climate change, diversity, political spending and other E.S.G. issues.

Not everyone at the S.E.C. is on board. Hester Peirce and Elad Roisman, fellow commissioners also appointed by Mr. Trump, recently protested the “steady flow” of climate and E.S.G. notices. They issued a public statement, asking, “Do these announcements represent a change from current commission practices or a continuation of the status quo with a new public relations twist?”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggested, to varying degrees, that the governor of New York consider resigning over allegations of sexual harassment. He has rejected those calls and is considering running for a fourth term.

The U.S. is considering new ways to protect itself against cyberattacks. Efforts by China and Russia to breach government and corporate computer networks — and the failure of American intelligence to detect them — have spurred discussions about ways to organize U.S. cyberdefenses, including more partnerships with private companies.

Credit Suisse is accused of continuing to help Americans evade taxes. The Swiss bank aided clients in hiding assets, seven years after it promised U.S. federal prosecutors that it would stop doing so, according to a whistle-blower report. That puts the firm at risk of a fresh investigation and more financial penalties. The bank said it was cooperating with the authorities.

A veteran Democratic official is poised to join the Biden administration. Gene Sperling, an economic wonk who served in the Clinton and Obama administrations, is likely to oversee the implementation of the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, Politico reports.

Stripe is now Silicon Valley’s most valuable start-up. The payments processor has raised funding from investors like Sequoia and Fidelity at a $95 billion valuation. Stripe plans to use the money to expand in Europe, including in its founders’ home country, Ireland.

chief counsel of the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase before joining the O.C.C. But his enthusiasm isn’t based on Bitcoin’s success as much as on his personal struggles, he told DealBook.

Mr. Brooks borrowed his way out of an ailing town. He grew up in Pueblo, Colo., a steel center that lost its purpose in the 1980s. His father took his own life when Mr. Brooks was 14, and he and his mother had little. In high school, he waited tables and took out loans for school, for a car and eventually for a home. Now, he’s betting that blockchain can help the underbanked do the same more easily.

“Unlocking credit availability allows people to move up the ladder,” Mr. Brooks said. Nearly 50 million Americans don’t have credit scores, but many are creditworthy. Traditional rating systems aren’t equipped for nuanced assessments that might include things like rent, Netflix bills or income from gig work. For many, the inability to borrow limits opportunities to achieve financial security.

Finding solutions to financial inclusion that are immune to politics is key, noted Mr. Brooks, a Trump administration appointee. Credit, he argues, lets people bet on themselves regardless of which party is making policy, and the current system excludes many worthy borrowers. “Let’s let more people climb ladders,” Mr. Brooks said.


— Howard Lindzon, an investor, entrepreneur and market commentator, speaking to The Times’s Erin Griffith on the booms (or bubbles) in everything from trading cards to Bitcoin, SPACs and so-called meme stocks.


new data from the Harris Poll, revealed exclusively in DealBook.

A year of living in fear created unlikely heroes. For the past year or so, the Harris Poll has monitored public sentiment in weekly surveys of more than 114,000 people. At the height of the emergency, more than half of respondents were afraid of dying from the virus and a similar share were afraid of losing their jobs. “Only in the past month, with vaccines rising and hospitalizations and deaths declining, is fear abating,” the report noted.

The Times’s Opinion podcast “Sway,” the economist Mariana Mazzucato told Kara Swisher that the traditional narrative has holes in it.

“Do you have any idea where the innovation in places like Silicon Valley came from?” asked Ms. Mazzucato, the founder of University College London’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose. She ticked off technologies like the internet and GPS: “We wouldn’t have any smart product without all the smart technology, which was government-financed.”

Listen to the conversation here.

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Who Is Making Sure the A.I. Machines Aren’t Racist?

Hundreds of people gathered for the first lecture at what had become the world’s most important conference on artificial intelligence — row after row of faces. Some were East Asian, a few were Indian, and a few were women. But the vast majority were white men. More than 5,500 people attended the meeting, five years ago in Barcelona, Spain.

Timnit Gebru, then a graduate student at Stanford University, remembers counting only six Black people other than herself, all of whom she knew, all of whom were men.

The homogeneous crowd crystallized for her a glaring issue. The big thinkers of tech say A.I. is the future. It will underpin everything from search engines and email to the software that drives our cars, directs the policing of our streets and helps create our vaccines.

But it is being built in a way that replicates the biases of the almost entirely male, predominantly white work force making it.

especially with the current hype and demand for people in the field,” she wrote. “The people creating the technology are a big part of the system. If many are actively excluded from its creation, this technology will benefit a few while harming a great many.”

The A.I. community buzzed about the mini-manifesto. Soon after, Dr. Gebru helped create a new organization, Black in A.I. After finishing her Ph.D., she was hired by Google.

She teamed with Margaret Mitchell, who was building a group inside Google dedicated to “ethical A.I.” Dr. Mitchell had previously worked in the research lab at Microsoft. She had grabbed attention when she told Bloomberg News in 2016 that A.I. suffered from a “sea of dudes” problem. She estimated that she had worked with hundreds of men over the previous five years and about 10 women.

said she had been fired after criticizing Google’s approach to minority hiring and, with a research paper, highlighting the harmful biases in the A.I. systems that underpin Google’s search engine and other services.

“Your life starts getting worse when you start advocating for underrepresented people,” Dr. Gebru said in an email before her firing. “You start making the other leaders upset.”

As Dr. Mitchell defended Dr. Gebru, the company removed her, too. She had searched through her own Google email account for material that would support their position and forwarded emails to another account, which somehow got her into trouble. Google declined to comment for this article.

Their departure became a point of contention for A.I. researchers and other tech workers. Some saw a giant company no longer willing to listen, too eager to get technology out the door without considering its implications. I saw an old problem — part technological and part sociological — finally breaking into the open.

talking digital assistants and conversational “chatbots,” Google Photos relied on an A.I. system that learned its skills by analyzing enormous amounts of digital data.

Called a “neural network,” this mathematical system could learn tasks that engineers could never code into a machine on their own. By analyzing thousands of photos of gorillas, it could learn to recognize a gorilla. It was also capable of egregious mistakes. The onus was on engineers to choose the right data when training these mathematical systems. (In this case, the easiest fix was to eliminate “gorilla” as a photo category.)

As a software engineer, Mr. Alciné understood the problem. He compared it to making lasagna. “If you mess up the lasagna ingredients early, the whole thing is ruined,” he said. “It is the same thing with A.I. You have to be very intentional about what you put into it. Otherwise, it is very difficult to undo.”

the study drove a backlash against facial recognition technology and, particularly, its use in law enforcement. Microsoft’s chief legal officer said the company had turned down sales to law enforcement when there was concern the technology could unreasonably infringe on people’s rights, and he made a public call for government regulation.

Twelve months later, Microsoft backed a bill in Washington State that would require notices to be posted in public places using facial recognition and ensure that government agencies obtained a court order when looking for specific people. The bill passed, and it takes effect later this year. The company, which did not respond to a request for comment for this article, did not back other legislation that would have provided stronger protections.

Ms. Buolamwini began to collaborate with Ms. Raji, who moved to M.I.T. They started testing facial recognition technology from a third American tech giant: Amazon. The company had started to market its technology to police departments and government agencies under the name Amazon Rekognition.

Ms. Buolamwini and Ms. Raji published a study showing that an Amazon face service also had trouble identifying the sex of female and darker-​skinned faces. According to the study, the service mistook women for men 19 percent of the time and misidentified darker-​skinned women for men 31 percent of the time. For lighter-​skinned males, the error rate was zero.

New York Times article that described it.

In an open letter, Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Gebru rejected Amazon’s argument and called on it to stop selling to law enforcement. The letter was signed by 25 artificial intelligence researchers from Google, Microsoft and academia.

Last June, Amazon backed down. It announced that it would not let the police use its technology for at least a year, saying it wanted to give Congress time to create rules for the ethical use of the technology. Congress has yet to take up the issue. Amazon declined to comment for this article.

Dr. Gebru and Dr. Mitchell had less success fighting for change inside their own company. Corporate gatekeepers at Google were heading them off with a new review system that had lawyers and even communications staff vetting research papers.

Dr. Gebru’s dismissal in December stemmed, she said, from the company’s treatment of a research paper she wrote alongside six other researchers, including Dr. Mitchell and three others at Google. The paper discussed ways that a new type of language technology, including a system built by Google that underpins its search engine, can show bias against women and people of color.

After she submitted the paper to an academic conference, Dr. Gebru said, a Google manager demanded that she either retract the paper or remove the names of Google employees. She said she would resign if the company could not tell her why it wanted her to retract the paper and answer other concerns.

Cade Metz is a technology correspondent at The Times and the author of “Genius Makers: The Mavericks Who Brought A.I. to Google, Facebook, and the World,” from which this article is adapted.

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New Suitor May Enter Fray for Tribune Publishing

A deal that would reshape the American newspaper industry has run into complications just one month after an agreement was reached, according to three people with knowledge of the matter. As a result, the New York hedge fund Alden Global Capital may have to fend off a new suitor for Tribune Publishing, the chain that owns major metropolitan dailies across the country, including The Chicago Tribune, The Daily News and The Baltimore Sun, the people said.

On Feb. 16, Alden, the largest shareholder in Tribune Publishing, with a 32 percent stake, reached an agreement to buy the rest of the chain in a deal that valued the company at $630 million. In the deal, Alden would take ownership of all the Tribune Publishing papers — and then spin off The Sun and two smaller Maryland papers at a price of $65 million to a nonprofit organization controlled by the Maryland hotel magnate Stewart W. Bainum Jr.

In recent days, Mr. Bainum and Alden have found themselves at loggerheads over details of the operating agreements that would be in effect as the Maryland papers transitioned from one owner to another, the people said. In response, Mr. Bainum has taken a preliminary step toward making a bid for all of Tribune Publishing, the people said.

Mr. Bainum has asked the Tribune Publishing special committee, a group made up of three independent board members, for permission to be released from a nondisclosure agreement prohibiting him from discussing the deal, so that he would be able to pursue partners for a new bid, the people said.

sale of a majority-owned subsidiary for $160 million.

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Payments Start-Up Stripe Surges to $95 Billion Valuation

The payments company Stripe is worth $95 billion after a new round of funding, making it the most valuable start-up in the United States.

The San Francisco and Dublin-based company said on Sunday that it had raised $600 million in new funding from investors including Sequoia Capital, Fidelity Management and Ireland’s National Treasury Management Agency. The investment nearly triples Stripe’s last valuation of $35 billion.

The funding comes amid a surge in the adoption of digital tools and services in the pandemic as more people live, work and make purchases online. That has fueled a wave of investment into, and eye-popping valuations at, tech start-ups, as well as a frenzy of highly valued initial public offerings. Investors have valued Airbnb, the home rental start-up that recently went public, at $123 billion. Roblox, a kids gaming start-up, saw its valuation soar to $45 billion when it went public last week.

Founded in 2010, Stripe builds software that enables businesses to process payments online. As more people have turned to online shopping in the pandemic, Stripe’s offerings have been in demand. It is the largest among a class of fast-growing, highly valued financial technology companies.

Stripe is now processing hundreds of billions of dollars in payments each year across 42 countries, Dhivya Suryadevara, Stripe’s chief financial officer, said in an interview. “We are in a hyper-growth industry and within that, the company itself is experiencing hyper-growth,” she said. Ms. Suryadevara declined to share specifics on Stripe’s revenue or growth.

Stripe has been considered a candidate to go public. Coinbase, another financial technology start-up, filed to go public later this month in a transaction that some expect could hit $100 billion. Robinhood, a stock trading app, has also seen its valuation surge in the pandemic.

Stripe said in an announcement that it planned to use the money to expand in Europe, including its office in Dublin. The company’s sibling founders, John Collison, 30, and Patrick, 32, were born in Ireland.

In a statement, John Collison, Stripe’s president, said the company would focus heavily on Europe this year. “The growth opportunity for the European digital economy is immense,” he said.

The company, which got its start working with start-ups and small businesses, will also invest in building more tools to help larger businesses handle payments. It counts 50 businesses that process more than $1 billion a year as customers.

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White House Weighs New Cybersecurity Approach After Failure to Detect Hacks

The question is how to set up such a system.

After revelations in 2013 by the former intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden that set off a debate about government surveillance, American technology companies are wary of the appearance of sharing data with American intelligence agencies, even if that data is just warnings about malware. Google was stung by the revelation in the Snowden documents that the National Security Agency was intercepting data transmitted between its servers overseas. Several years later, under pressure from its employees, it ended its participation in Project Maven, a Pentagon effort to use artificial intelligence to make its drones more accurate.

Amazon, in contrast, has no such compunctions about sensitive government work: It runs the cloud server operations for the C.I.A. But when the Senate Intelligence Committee asked company officials to testify last month — alongside executives of FireEye, Microsoft and SolarWinds — about how the Russians exploited systems on American soil to launch their attacks, they declined to attend.

Companies say that before they share reporting on vulnerabilities, they would need strong legal liability protections.

The most politically palatable headquarters for such a clearinghouse — avoiding the legal and civil liberties concerns of using the National Security Agency — would be the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Mr. Gerstell described the idea as “automated computer sensors and artificial intelligence acting on information as it comes in and instantaneously spitting it back out.”

The department’s existing “Einstein” system, which is supposed to monitor intrusions and potential attacks on federal agencies, never saw the Russian attack underway — even though it hit nine federal departments and agencies. The F.B.I., lawmakers say, does not have broad monitoring capabilities, and its focus is divided across other forms of crime, counterterrorism and now domestic extremism threats.

“I don’t want the intelligence agencies spying on Americans, but that leaves the F.B.I. as the de facto domestic intelligence agency to deal with these kinds of attacks,” said Senator Angus King, a Maine independent, member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and co-chairman of the cyberspace commission. “I’m just not sure they’re set up for this.”

There are other hurdles. The process of getting a search warrant is too cumbersome for tracking nation-state cyberattacks, Mr. Gerstell said. “Someone’s got to be able to take that information from the N.S.A. and instantly go take a look at that computer,” he said. “But the F.B.I. needs a warrant to do that, and that takes time by which point the adversary has escaped.”

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Netflix Tests a Clampdown on Password Sharing

Want to watch “The Queen’s Gambit” or “Lupin”? If you’ve been borrowing a Netflix password from a family member or friend, you may now have to pay up.

Netflix has started testing a feature that could prod users who are borrowing a password from someone outside their household to buy a subscription.

The company said the feature was being tested with a limited number of users. It may signal a broader clampdown on the common practice of sharing passwords among relatives and friends to avoid paying for the popular streaming service.

“The test is designed to help ensure that people using Netflix accounts are authorized to do so,” the company said in a statement.

began to notice the feature recently when they logged onto a shared Netflix account and saw a message on their screen that read, “If you don’t live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching.”

To continue watching, these users were asked to either verify that it was their account by entering a code that was sent to them by text or email, or join with their own account to Netflix. They also had the option to complete the verification process later.

A basic Netflix subscription, which allows customers to watch on one screen at a time, costs $8.99 a month. Customers who pay more can watch on additional screens simultaneously.

Netflix declined to discuss its new feature, previously reported by The Streamable, an industry news site, in detail. But industry analysts said it might be part of an effort to enforce Netflix’s frequently overlooked terms of use, which state that its service and content “are for your personal and noncommercial use only and may not be shared with individuals beyond your household.”

The test also appears to be more of a nudge to buy a subscription than an iron-fisted crackdown. For example, someone who was borrowing a password from a friend or family member could ask for the verification code that had been sent by Netflix.

said in January that it had added 8.5 million customers in the fourth quarter, for a total of 203.6 million paying subscribers by the end of 2020. The company has about 66 million customers in the United States and anticipated adding six million total subscribers in the first three months of this year.

Netflix had earlier hinted that it was looking at ways to stop password sharing. Gregory K. Peters, the company’s chief product officer, said during a call to review the company’s earnings in October 2019 that Netflix was “looking at the situation.”

“We’ll see, again, those consumer-friendly ways to push on the edges of that,” Mr. Peters said, adding that the company had “no big plans to announce at this point.”

Professor Smith said the company clearly loses a significant amount of revenue through people using the service but not paying for it.

two-factor authentication that is used by many social media and banking apps — makes it harder for attackers to break in.

“I’m not sure it’s a huge benefit,” Professor Cranor said, “but there is some benefit.”

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