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Select Star closes $15M round to add context to disparate data • TechCrunch

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Select Star, a startup providing data discovery, lineage and governance tools to mostly enterprise organizations, today announced that it raised $15 million in a Series A round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners with participation from Bowery Capital, Sozo Ventures and Pebblebed. The fresh cash brings the company’s total raised to $20 million, and CEO Shinji Kim tells me that it’ll be put toward product engineering, go-to-market and customer success efforts.

“The explosion of data and apps makes it challenging to ensure good data governance while allowing data teams to leverage all the appropriate data in a self-service fashion,” Kim said in an email interview with TechCrunch. “Traditional tools exist for enterprise data catalog and data governance but they require a lot of manual configuration and training to be fully leveraged within the organization, which is where Select Star comes in.”

Kim was previously the CEO of data processing provider Concord Systems, which was acquired by Akamai in late 2016. He joined Akamai and led the company’s internet of things data platform for real-time messaging, and — while there — noticed an unfortunate pattern. According to Kim, many of Akamai’s enterprise clients were running into issues understanding and using all their data as they moved to cloud database infrastructures, usually because the context of data was missing.

By “context,” Kim means an aggregate view of how data’s flowing and being used within and between services, apps and tools — which is exactly what Select Star provides. The platform analyzes metadata and logs from Snowflake, Google BigQuery, Amazon Redshift, Databricks, Tableau, Looker and other popular platforms and then attempts to automatically tag and distill events down into bullet points.

Select Star also creates a continuously-updated inventory of key data assets, models and business metrics. Delivering a system of record for all the data across an organization and teams, the platform tries to expose the most significant database-level relationships.

Select Star

Image Credits: Select Star

“We automatically generate customers’ data model, data lineage, documentation, detect personally identifiable information and more, so there’s minimal work required on the setup and you can get insights right away,” Kim said. “Our column-level lineage models give a deep understanding of end-to-end data flows, which helps data teams to avoid data models and dashboards from breaking.”

This sort of context, Kim avers, can help enterprises become more data-driven — particularly those that work with multiple, large, disparate data sets on a regular basis. For example, a business might want to look at sales data, marketing data and product usage data together to get a complete profile of a customer. Gathering and normalizing all that info might present a challenge not only from a technical perspective, but because different departments and people might interpret the data in different ways.

To Kim’s point, for one reason or another, few companies consider themselves truly data-driven despite their best efforts. In a 2021 NewVantage survey, only 30% reported having a well-articulated data strategy. A separate recent report from Accenture found that only 33% of businesses trust “their data enough to use it effectively and derive value from it.” And in a 2019 poll conducted by Arm Treasure Data, 47% of respondents indicated that their company’s data was “siloed and difficult to access.”

“Having an automated data discovery platform like Select Star can act as the single source of truth that everyone can refer to,” Kim said. “This helps eliminate any confusion, fosters trust in data and encourages more analytics work to be done effectively.”

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the other startups tackling this same problem, in some cases from noticeably different angles. Castor comes to mind — it’s building data catalogs, or collections of metadata, data management and search tools designed to help users find the data they need within an organization. There’s also Alation, Data.World and Collibra, which similarly offer data search and data lineage-tracking tools, was well as data observability firms such as Manta and Unravel Data.

Kim expressed confidence that Select Star can compete — and is competing — exceptionally well, though, pointing to a customer base that includes Square parent company Block, Pitney Bowes, Fivetran, Opendoor and Handshake. He declined to comment on revenue metrics, but said that the plan is to double Select Star’s 20-person workforce by the end of the year, suggesting some optimism about the future.

HomePod Review – MacRumors

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Apple’s second-generation HomePod will start arriving to customers and launch in stores this Friday. Ahead of time, the first reviews of the smart speaker have been shared by select media publications and YouTube channels.

HomePod 2 White and Midnight Feature Purple Blue
Priced at $299, the new HomePod features a virtually identical design as the full-size HomePod that Apple discontinued in March 2021, but with two fewer tweeters and two fewer microphones. The speaker is also equipped with a four-inch high-excursion woofer, an S7 chip for computational audio, a U1 chip for handing off music from an iPhone, and support for Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos.

A new sensor in the HomePod can measure temperature and humidity in indoor environments, and this feature was also enabled on the existing HomePod mini with a recent software update. Sound Recognition will also be coming to the new HomePod with a software update this spring, allowing the speaker to listen for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and send a notification to the user’s iPhone if a sound is identified.

The new HomePod can be pre-ordered on Apple’s online store, with white and midnight color options available. In-store availability and deliveries to customers will begin Friday, February 3 in the United States, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the UK, and 11 other countries and regions.

Written Reviews

The Verge‘s Chris Welch said sound quality is similar to the original HomePod:

After several days of listening to the new HomePod (both solo and in a stereo pair), I still think its sound signature remains true to the original HomePod. If you were a fan of that speaker, you’ll be satisfied with the second-gen version. Sure, you can hear subtle differences in how music is rendered when comparing both generations side by side with the same track. The newer HomePod might bring out a guitar solo with slightly more emphasis than the original. But the central traits are the same.

Engadget‘s Billy Steele said Siri doesn’t have any setbacks in terms of recognizing your voice despite the new HomePod having two fewer microphones than the original model:

Even with fewer microphones to pick up your voice, the new HomePod doesn’t suffer any performance setbacks. It’s just as capable as ever at picking out your voice even in a noisy room.

More reviews to follow. Keep refreshing…

Video Reviews and Unboxings

VC firm Embedded Ventures launches fund for national security, space

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Cofounders of Embedded Ventures Jenna Bryant, CEO, and Jordan Noone, CTO.

Embedded Ventures

Los Angeles-based Embedded Ventures kicked off an inaugural $100 million fund, the firm announced Tuesday, as it looks to back companies building for both commercial and national security customers, especially in the space sector.

Embedded is led by general partners Jenna Bryant and Jordan Noone, the latter who came to the VC side after co-founding 3D rocket printer Relativity Space. The firm has previously made early investments in a half dozen aerospace startups, including satellite communications company Akash Systems and space data-focused Slingshot Aerospace, Embedded said.

But Bryant and Noone noted those deals were fundraised on a case-by-case basis – with the new fund marking the next stage of Embedded’s growth.

“We have patient capital and – even if that means we have to miss out on an opportunity – that’s OK. Every company has to go through our diligence process and it’s more thorough than most,” Bryant said in an interview with CNBC.

Sign up here to receive weekly editions of CNBC’s Investing in Space newsletter.

Embedded is focused on investing in dual-use technologies, meaning products that serve both commercial and defense customers. In 2021, Embedded signed a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Space Force – which Noone said has acted as “a very open door conversation” between the firm and the military branch.

“Often venture investors have the first eyes on new technologies,” Noone said. The firm’s relationship with the Space Force is aimed at “how we get that in the eyes and ears of people who are making the decisions on what to adopt, or where to drive things like congressional funding,” he said.

From left: Embedded Ventures’ portfolio company KittyCAD CTO Hannah Bollar and CEO Jessie Frazelle, with Jordan Noone and Jenna Bryant.

Embedded Ventures

Noone and Bryant also said they have brought on operating partner Mandy Vaughn, who most recently led the national security subsidiary of Virgin Orbit and oversees the government business development side of the VC firm.

While Embedded declined to specify how much of the $100 million fund it raised during the first close, Noone said it was a “substantial” amount, expecting to complete the raise by the end of the second quarter.

Embedded is kicking off its due diligence process with six new potential investments, Noone said, noting the strength of its young portfolio.

None of the companies it’s invested in have seen layoffs or “down rounds” of valuation, Noone said.

Scenes from a Celsius bankruptcy report

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A court-ordered examiner’s report on bankrupt crypto lender Celsius Network has just dropped and, of its several references to “Ponzi scheme”, this one is probably the pick:

On January 19, 2021, Mr [Dean] Tappen stated in an internal communication that his title at Celsius should be “Ponzi Consultant.”

Tappen was Coin Deployment Specialist at Celsius, reporting to its ebullient founder Alex Mashinsky. He told the examiner that the Ponzi consultant thing was a “poor joke” during a late-night conversation, “and that he had no concerns that Celsius was operating as a Ponzi scheme,” which is a perspective.

Another perspective, set out in detail by the report, is that Celsius was using investor and customer funds to prop up the price of its native token, known as CEL, while Mashinsky and other employees were quietly selling.

Celsius “abandoned its promise of transparency from its start”, writes former federal prosecutor Shoba Pillay, who was appointed as an independent examiner in September by the court overseeing Celsius’s bankruptcy case:

Initially, in 2018 and 2019, when the crypto markets were in decline, Celsius bought CEL, as it advertised it would, to pay rewards. During this time period, the price of CEL remained well below the ICO price of $0.20. But starting in 2020, Celsius decided to substantially expand its purchases of CEL for the purpose of increasing CEL’s price. Instead of buying CEL when it needed to pay rewards, Celsius began timing its purchases so that they would prop up CEL’s price by creating activity in the market. Celsius also began placing “resting” orders to buy CEL, which were triggered if the price of CEL dipped below a set amount. Celsius also began selling CEL in private over-the-counter (OTC) transactions, while making offsetting purchases of CEL in public markets where it believed its purchases would impact the trading price. Internally, Celsius referred to this new strategy as its “OTC Flywheel.”

In regular online appearances, Mashinsky often talked up CEL as a measure of Celsius’s corporate value rather than just its its native Disney dollar. The below illustration is how the lender’s “self-sustaining flywheel” was explained in the CEL white paper.

Celsius spent at least $558mn buying CEL on the market, the report finds. From when Celsius began its CEL buying binge in mid-March 2020 and June 2021, the token rose by 14,751 per cent.

Internally, Celsius’s Head of Trading Desk recognized that Celsius was in fact cranking up the flywheel. He wrote to other employees, including Celsius’s then-Chief Financial Officer: “Just to clarify between us three: The last 3-4 months we bought always more CEL than what we pay as interest per week but we did not buy it for the interest payments, that is just what we told the community.” After a round of CEL purchases in September 2020, the same Celsius employees congratulated themselves on “our good work” resulting in “people thinking [the price of CEL] is going to the moon haha.”

😐

Celsius filed for Chapter 11 protection in July having disappeared into a $1.2bn balance sheet hole. The report illustrates how insolvency could’ve been recognised much earlier:

And shows the extent to which CEL was the balance sheet:

Even though CEL tokens were almost entirely useless . . . 

Celsius employees routinely discussed that CEL was “worthless,” stating that its price “should be 0,” and that Celsius should “assume CEL is $0 since we cannot liquidate our current CEL position,” and questioning whether any party (other than Celsius itself) was purchasing CEL.

Note: almost entirely useless.

The increasing price of CEL benefited Celsius’s insiders who held most of the CEL following the ICO and then made millions of dollars selling a substantial portion of their CEL tokens. Between 2018 and the Petition Date, Mr. Mashinsky sold at least 25 million CEL tokens, realizing at least $68.7 million on these sales. S. Daniel Leon, also a founder of Celsius, sold at least 2.6 million CEL tokens for at least $9.74 million.

Celsius “often sought to protect CEL from price drops that it attributed to Mr. Mashinsky’s sales”. A plunge protect mechanism would buy back the entire overhang using resting orders. The ex CFO quoted here is Rod Bolger:

These trades caused Celsius’s former Chief Financial Officer to write “[w]e are talking about becoming a regulated entity and we are doing something possibly illegal and definitely not compliant.” As one employee noted in an internal Slack communication: “if anyone ever found out our position and how much our founders took in USD could be a very very bad look . . . We are using users USDC to pay for employees worthless CEL . . . All because the company is the one inflating the price to get the valuations to be able to sell back to the company.”

But Celsius still wasn’t earning enough yield on pledged assets to fund its CEL buybacks, so began using customer-deposited bitcoin and ether. It wasn’t keeping track adequately of which coins it was short, the report alleges, so the crypto crash of early 2021 left it needing to buy $300mn in the market.

As for the P word in its purest definition, the report finds that “between June 9 and June 12, Celsius did directly use new customer deposits to fund customer withdrawal requests.”

Otherwise, it’s one step removed:

Celsius recognized that it should not use customer assets to purchase the coins necessary to cover liabilities to other customers. But it justified its use of customer deposits to fill this hole in its balance sheet on the basis that it was not selling customer deposits but instead posting them as collateral to borrow the necessary coins. Celsius also used the proceeds of these borrowings to continue to purchase CEL. In April 2022, Celsius’s Coin Deployment Specialist described Celsius’s practice of “using customer stable coins” and “growing short in customer coins” to buy CEL as “very ponzi like.” A few weeks later when Celsius made another push to prop up the price of CEL, Celsius’s former Vice President of Treasury asked where the cash was coming from to make the CEL purchases and Celsius’s Coin Deployment Specialist replied, “users like always.” This same employee explained that at the time he made this statement, Celsius had “negative equity” and therefore necessarily was using customer funds when it made these purchases.

“On a stand-alone basis [Celsius] has been insolvent since inception,” the report finds.

It also alleges that Celsius tried to cover its tracks. Chief risk officer Rodney Sunada-Wong “raised the prospect” of editing Mashinsky’s YouTube broadcasts to remove inaccuracies. Mashinsky rejected this idea, saying anything that interfered with his message “would create ‘FUD’”. Internal documents “suggest that Celsius employees hoped viewers would not notice the discrepancies that had been edited from the videos”.

A few other things of note among the report’s 476 pages include:

  • Celsius accounts were done on QuickBooks, “an accounting software package that is geared mainly toward small and medium-sized businesses”, and were split between 15 entities. “Celsius began manually preparing consolidated financial statements in the second quarter of 2021.”

  • “Although Celsius hired an individual for this audit role in August 2021, Celsius’s executive team delayed his proposals to implement a formal internal audit process,”

  • In 2021 Celsius management delivered two internal reports, a Waterfall report and a Freeze report. Both gave only a “directional” view of assets and liabilities, presenting “an inaccurate and overly optimistic view of Celsius’s financial performance”.

  • “One Celsius internal document memorialized the view that Celsius continued to rely on ‘Absolutely pathetic systems of record – We do not do a good job of knowing anything about how our assets are actually performing. Our systems of record are horrible, and cause the team to operate in a manner . . . [that] can cause us to take on excessive risk.’”

  • Mashinsky rejected calls from the Treasury for Celsius to lower reward rates so they didn’t exceed yields. He also rejected a call to stop customers collateralising loans with CEL. “When Celsius’s new Chief Financial Officer pressed these issues, Mr. Mashinsky told him to ‘tell your team to stay in their lane’ and that he did not need help with marketing, as he would ‘bring in a few billion just like I brought in the first 20B.’”

  • He then hiked reward rates.

The most succinct tl;dr can be found on page 331:

Celsius’s problems did not start in 2022. Rather, serious problems dated back to at least 2020, after Celsius started using customer assets to fund operational expenses and rewards. To fund operations, Celsius posted customer deposits as collateral to take out loans in stablecoin. And to fund CEL buybacks for rewards, Celsius exchanged BTC and ETH for CEL on the secondary market. But prior to the creation of the Freeze Report, Celsius did not adequately track or reconcile customer assets and liabilities on a coin-bycoin basis. Celsius was therefore caught off guard when, in early 2021, it recognized a shortfall in BTC and ETH (which it had been using to fund those CEL buybacks). Because the shortfall was in volatile, rapidly-appreciating crypto assets, it created directional risk. In other words, even if the number of BTC and ETH coins needed to bridge the gap did not change, the liability measured in dollars could grow exponentially, into the hundreds of millions of dollars..

Mashinsky agreed to the examiner’s review after reaching a deal that scaled back proposed investigations by the DOJ’s bankruptcy monitor and and state securities regulators. He has repeatedly denied all allegations of fraud.

Further reading:
FT.com/Celsius Network

Coal India Q3 Results: Profit Jumps 70%, Beats Estimates

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Coal India’s Q3 profit increased to Rs 7,755.6 crore from Rs 4,558.4 crore a year ago.

IHCL reports Q3 net of ₹378.92 cr

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The Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) has reported a net profit of ₹378.92 crore for the third quarter of the financial year 2022-2023, compared to ₹86 crore in the same period last year. The company’s revenue from operations rose to ₹1685.80 crore from ₹1111.22 crore in the previous fiscal year. 

The expenses for the quarter amounted to ₹1,248.62 crore, compared to ₹1,014.23 crore in the same quarter the previous year. IHCL achieved a free cash flow of ₹766 crore for the nine months ended December 31, 2022.

The company attributes the strong financial performance to robust demand for both leisure and business hotels in key domestic markets, with occupancy rates surpassing 70per cent and rate growth of 27per cent compared to pre-Covid levels. 

250 hotels

Puneet Chhatwal, Managing Director and CEO of IHCL, noted that the company has reached a milestone of having over 250 hotels in its portfolio by signing a total of 30 hotels in the financial year 2022-2023. The company has strengthened its portfolio with the opening of 14 new hotels under the Taj, SeleQtions, Vivanta, and Ginger brands, and introduced over 15 new destinations in 2022, including Manali, Dharamshala, Raipur, Vrindavan, and Jammu.

Giridhar Sanjeevi, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of IHCL, reported that robust demand across markets, including airline catering, has led to all group companies reporting a positive PAT in Q3 across domestic and international operations. The revenue performance, supported by scale benefits, has enabled strong flow-through and record margins. IHCL remains net cash positive and continues to report a healthy consolidated free cash flow of ₹766 crore till date in FY 2022-2023.

The company’s new businesses, such as Ginger, The Chambers, Qmin, and amã Stays & Trails, are also reporting steady growth. Ginger’s revenue was ₹225 crore, marking a 41 per cent growth over pre-Covid levels. The Chambers, India’s first business club, saw a 49 per cent growth in revenue over the period 2019-2020 with a rising membership base. Qmin and amã Stays & Trails are both on a steady growth path, with over 25 outlets and a portfolio of 108 bungalows, respectively. 

Chhatwal stated that the demand outlook for the sector in 2023 remains robust, driven by sporting events such as the hockey and cricket world cups and the recovery of inbound and corporate travel. IHCL, with its extensive network of hotels, is well-positioned to cater to this rising demand.

Pandemic is still a global health emergency, but higher immunity levels could mean fewer deaths

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The coronavirus pandemic is still a global health emergency, according to the World Health Organization, but an advisory panel has determined that it may be nearing an inflection point where higher levels of immunity will lead to fewer deaths.

That was the message Monday from WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the agency’s annual executive board meeting. He said that the world is in a far better state today than it was a year ago, when the omicron wave was at its peak.

But Tedros cautioned that weekly reported deaths have been climbing since the beginning of December, at a cost of more than 170,000 lives.

“And that’s just the reported deaths; we know the actual number is much higher,” Tedros said at the meeting. “We can’t control the virus, but we can do more to address the vulnerabilities in populations and health systems.”

Vaccination remains the key tool, he said, and countries must vaccinate 100% of their most at-risk groups and increase access to testing and early antiviral use.  When there is a surge in cases, countries need context-specific measures, including maintaining and expanding laboratory networks.

“And it means fighting misinformation,” he said. “We remain hopeful that in the coming year, the world will transition to a new phase in which we reduce hospitalizations and deaths to the lowest possible level, and health systems are able to manage COVID-19 in an integrated and sustainable way. “

His comments comes as U.S. cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to fall, with the seven-day average of new cases standing at 46,021 on Sunday, according to a New York Times tracker. That’s down 25% from two weeks ago.

The daily average for hospitalizations was down 22% to 33,451. The average for deaths was 521, down 8% from two weeks ago. 

Cases are currently rising in just nine states, as well as in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Tennessee is leading with total case counts, which are up 104% in two weeks, and also on a per capita basis, with 51 cases per 100,000 residents.

Coronavirus update: MarketWatch’s daily roundup has been curating and reporting all the latest developments every weekday since the coronavirus pandemic began

Other COVID-19 news you should know about:

• Chinese health officials are saying that the wave of cases that emerged after the government dropped strict COVID restrictions in December is “coming to an end,” BBC News reported. China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention said there had been “no obvious rebound” in cases during Lunar New Year holiday gatherings last week. “In this time, no new variant has been discovered, and the country’s current wave is coming to an end,” said China’s CDC. China has understated its COVID numbers throughout the pandemic, but experts say the decline reported now corresponds with the expected timing of an end to this major wave.

What’s seen as the world’s largest annual human migration is under way again in China for the Lunar New Year, after the country lifted pandemic restrictions. The Wall Street Journal’s Yoko Kubota reports on how it’s expected to boost the economy — and the risk of new COVID-19 outbreaks. Photo: Cfoto/Zuma Press

• China announced it would resume issuing visas for Japanese travelers beginning Sunday, ending its nearly three-week suspension that was an apparent protest of Tokyo’s tougher entry requirements for tourists from China, the Associated Press reported. The statement was posted on the Chinese Embassy’s website. Japan reopened its borders for individual tourists in October, allowing travelers to show proof of vaccination instead of testing at airports unless they show symptoms, but on Dec. 30, Japan began requiring all travelers from China to show a predeparture negative test and take an additional test upon arrival.

• A former Russian Orthodox monk who denied that the coronavirus existed and defied the Kremlin was handed a seven-year prison sentence Friday, the AP reported separately. Nikolai Romanov, 67, who was known as Father Sergiy until his excommunication by the Russian Orthodox Church, urged his followers to disobey the Russian government’s lockdown measures and spread conspiracy theories about a global plot to control the masses. A court in Moscow convicted him of inciting hatred. His lawyer immediately announced plans to appeal.

Here’s what the numbers say:

The global tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases topped 670.4 million on Monday, while the death toll rose above 6.82 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.

The U.S. leads the world with 102.3 million cases and 1,107,646 fatalities.

The CDC’s tracker shows that 229.6 million people living in the U.S., equal to 69.2% of the total population, are fully vaccinated, meaning they have had their primary shots.

So far, just 51.4 million Americans, equal to 15.5% of the overall population, have had the updated COVID booster that targets both the original virus and the omicron variants.

Wordle today: Answer and hints for January 31 (#591)

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Trying to solve Wordle #591 on January 31, 2023, but can’t quite figure it out? We have the answer to today’s Wordle puzzle right here. However, before you start guessing blindly, you might want to check out our Wordle tips for some techniques and starting words that could help you solve it yourself. If you’re still having trouble, check back here for the answer to today’s Wordle.

How Wordle works

Wordle is a vocabulary game in which players get six tries to guess a five-letter word. Once you enter a guess, individual letters within the word you entered will appear in different colors. Each color has a different meaning.

  • Green: The letter entered is 100% correct — the right letter in the right space.
  • Yellow: The entered letter is in the correct word, but you’ve placed it in the wrong space.
  • Gray: The entered letter is not used in today’s Wordle answer, so it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

The goal is to guess the correct word in as few attempts as possible. If you don’t get the answer in six guesses, you lose.

Hints for today’s Wordle

  • Today’s Wordle includes the letter C.
  • Today’s Wordle uses the same consonant twice in a row.
  • Today’s Wordle can mean “go or extend across or to the other side of (a path, road, stretch of water, or area).”
Someone playing Wordle on a smartphone.
wachiwit – stock.adobe.com

What’s today’s Wordle Answer?

Are you still having trouble? No worries — you can’t get them all! If you just want to see today’s Wordle answer to continue your streak, you can find it below.

The answer to today’s Wordle is …

CROSS

Editors’ Recommendations






Titan Q3 Results Preview: Net profit likely to grow 2% amid margin pressure

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GM shoves aside recession fears with robust 2023 forecast By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The GM logo in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., March 16, 2021. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

By Paul Lienert and Joseph White

DETROIT (Reuters) -General Motors Co shares jumped early on Tuesday after it reported higher net income for the fourth quarter, forecast stronger-than-expected earnings for 2023 and said it would cut $2 billion in costs.

The automaker, the top in the U.S. by sales, forecast that it could hold its pre-tax margins steady between 8% and 10% through 2025, despite a price war that Tesla (NASDAQ:) Inc has triggered in the electric vehicle segment.

GM plans to build only about 400,000 electric vehicles in North America between now and the first half of 2024. Its financial results will hinge mainly on sales of combustion-engine trucks and SUVs. 

Demand for those trucks and SUVs remains strong, Chief Financial Officer Paul Jacobson told reporters on a call on Tuesday.

The company plans to cut costs in automotive operations by $2 billion this year, including reducing employment through attrition. GM does not plan layoffs, Jacobson said. Big technology firms including Amazon (NASDAQ:), Google (NASDAQ:) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:) have rattled markets by announcing thousands of job cuts.

GM has 167,000 employees worldwide, including its financial subsidiary and the Cruise robotaxi unit.

Jacobson said the U.S. vehicle market remained robust, and the automaker forecast U.S. car and light truck sales will rise in 2023 to 15 million vehicles from 13.9 million last year. 

Jacobson expressed little concern about the potential impact of recent price cuts by Tesla and Ford Motor (NYSE:) Co on popular electric vehicle models.

“We see incredibly strong demand with the pricing strategy we’ve gone to market with,” Jacobson said.

EV price cuts shouldn’t affect pricing for GM’s combustion vehicles, he said. The upbeat forecast from GM cheered investors, who sent the automaker’s shares up 5% in premarket trading.

GM expects consistent strength in its core auto operations in 2023, with full-year operating earnings in the range of $10.5 billion to $12.5 billion, or $6.00-$7.00 a share. Analysts had expected $5.73 a share, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

For 2022, GM’s operating profit dropped to a record $14.5 billion.

In the fourth quarter, GM earned $2 billion, up from $1.7 billion the previous year, as higher prices and increased sales volume in North America more than offset higher costs.

Operating earnings per share of $2.12 in the quarter compared with $1.99 a year earlier. Analysts had predicted $1.69.

GM’s average vehicle selling price in North America hit a record $51,000 in 2022, as the company focused production on more expensive, higher-margin vehicles.

GM said capital spending will range between $11 billion and $13 billion in 2023, up from $9 billion in 2022.

Ahead of the earnings release, the automaker said it would invest $650 million in Lithium Americas (NYSE:) and jointly develop a lithium mine in Nevada that it says is the largest known source of the key battery material in the United States.

The company expects revenue from electric vehicles to reach $50 billion in 2025 — about 22% of total revenue — with pre-tax margins in the low to mid-single digits.

GM reaffirmed plans to build a fourth battery plant in the U.S., but did not say when.