Posted Apr. 4, 2017 at 6:49 a.m.

Tech wrap: Record Tesla quarter; new Verizon media group; FCC helps Charter; rye genome sequence

Published: 2017-04-04 06:49:29
Updated: 2017-04-04 06:49:29

Bulldog

In today's Bulldog wrapup of science and high tech news:

  • Tesla reports record deliveries of vehicles in 1st quarter
  • Verizon to take 'Oath' as new company to run Yahoo, AOL
  • Charter won't have to compete with other cable companies now
  • German researchers sequence rye genome for first time

The details:

  • Tesla reports record deliveries of vehicles in 1st quarter

Electric car maker Tesla Inc. says it delivered a record 25,000 vehicles in the first quarter, up 69 percent from the same period last year.

Tesla said Sunday that it delivered about 13,450 Model S cars and about 11,550 Model X SUVs.

Tesla says another 4,650 vehicles were being transported to customers at the end of the quarter and will be included in second-quarter deliveries.

Production in the first quarter totaled 25,418 vehicles, also a record, Tesla said.

Tesla posted its first profit in three years in the third quarter of 2016, but it followed that with a $121 million loss in the fourth quarter. Analysts expect another loss for the first quarter.

Sunday's report indicates Tesla is on track to hit its forecast of 47,000 to 50,000 deliveries in the first half of 2017.

CEO Elon Musk said recently that the Palo Alto-based company will produce 5,000 cars a week later this year after production begins in July on the new Model 3.

At $35,000, the Model 3 will cost about half as much as the lowest-price Model S. It will also be simpler and easier to make, with more automation during production. Analysts say the Model 3, possibly along with other new vehicles including a small SUV, could significantly increase Tesla's sales volumes.

  • Verizon to take 'Oath' as new company to run Yahoo, AOL

Verizon Communications will create a new company called Oath after it completes its $4.5 billion acquisition of Yahoo and melds the troubled internet company with its AOL operations.

Oath will oversee Yahoo and AOL after the deal is completed. The Yahoo and AOL brands are expected to survive, although Verizon says it won't provide any details about its plans for Oath until this summer.

"You can bet we will be launching one of the most disruptive brand companies in digital," AOL said in a Monday statement.

Tim Armstrong, AOL's top executive, posted a tweet Monday indicating Oath will manage more than 20 different brands.

Verizon is counting on the combination of Yahoo and AOL to help it sell more digital ads, even though the two internet pioneers had been struggling on their own.

Yahoo originally agreed to sell its online operations to Verizon for $4.8 billion after years of unsuccessful attempts to boosts its revenue. It had to slash the price after discovering that two separate hacking attacks had stolen personal information from more than 1 billion user accounts.

The security breakdown marked the two biggest breaches in internet history, raising concerns that people might start using Yahoo less frequently and reduce the opportunities to show ads.

Verizon plans to take over Yahoo's email and other online operations sometime between now and June 30. After the deal closes, Yahoo's cash and lucrative stakes in Asian internet companies Alibaba Group and Yahoo Japan will be controlled by another new company called Altaba.

  • Charter won't have to compete with other cable companies now

Federal regulators are letting Charter out of a requirement that would have forced it to compete with other broadband providers and possibly cut prices.

The decision relaxes one of the conditions imposed on Charter when it absorbed Time Warner Cable and represents another sign that the country's telecom cop is tilting in favor of the industry it monitors.

Charter Communications had agreed to extend its network to areas where there is already a broadband provider. This requirement was enacted because most U.S. households don't have a choice for high-speed home internet. Greater competition could lower prices.

But smaller cable companies worried about that competition and asked the Federal Communications Commission to revisit the requirement.

Under a new regime, the FCC said Monday that Charter can instead build in areas where there isn't high-speed internet already.

The agency's new chairman, Ajit Pai, says getting more Americans online — what's called "closing the digital divide" — is important to him. He wants to cut regulations to encourage broadband companies to expand their networks and doesn't see the point of mandating a network buildout where there is already service.

  • German researchers sequence rye genome for first time

Scientists in Germany have for the first time mapped the entire genome of rye, a cereal known for its hardy properties.

Eva Bauer, a plant researcher at the Technical University of Munich and lead author of the study, says rye has received less attention than wheat, barley and maize, which are more widely cultivated.

This meant there was less funding from industry to sequence the rye genome, which is about 2½ times the size of the human genome.

Bauer said Monday that rye's ability to cope with droughts, poor soil and resist frost — which makes it popular in the colder climates of Central and Eastern Europe — is of particular interest for future research.

The draft genome will be made freely available to scientists worldwide.

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