Elon’s X era, cosmetic crisis, changes for BT and soil health – The July News Digest
As we transition into August, we find ourselves at the very “peak” of British summer – when one minute it’s hot and the next…it’s pouring. The weather clearly likes to keep us on our toes, much like our beloved tech world. As I mentioned in June’s blog, summer is theoretically a quieter period, also characterised as silly season – yet July was a busy month for the industry.
Amidst the Barbieheimer frenzy and Elon’s rebranding of Twitter (or should we say ‘X’?), the tech world saw plenty of big moves across cybersecurity, telecommunications, fintech, big tech and more. This month, the cosmetics industry was rocked by a cyberattack, there were several advancements in Fintech as well as big changes for some of the UK’s top telecom companies.
Let’s unpack all of this below.
Cybersecurity: Estee Lauder cyberattack
Starting off with cybersecurity, things took a turn for the worse for cosmetics conglomerate Estée Lauder. The company owns cosmetics brands like Bobbi Brown, Aveda, Clinique, MAC and Tom Ford Beauty.
On the 18th of July, the company suffered a cyber attack that appears to have been the work of two cybergangs, the ALPHV/BlackCat and Clop ransomware group. The company announced that a hacker had accessed some data from its systems and that the cyber event had caused (and would continue to cause) major interruption to the company’s commercial activities.
After the incident, Estée Lauder proceeded by taking down some of its systems and beginning an investigation with the support of leading third-party cyber security experts. With a number of companies, including the likes of Reddit, having suffered cyberattacks in the past few months, experts urge enterprises to continue taking cybersecurity seriously and to take efforts to strengthen their security posture.
Telecoms: UK telecoms providers making big moves
On another note, let us turn our attention to telecoms. The sector saw a major leadership change, with BT appointing its first-ever female CEO, Allison Kirkby, to take over from Philip Jansen after he set a course for significant job cuts. She has a background in management accounting and has led various telecom and consumer goods companies.
Kirby will begin her new role at the end of January 2024 and leave her job as chief executive of Swedish telecoms company Telia. She has experience at Virgin Media and Denmark’s TDC, and has been a member of the BT Group board for the past four years.
Back in May, the telecoms company announced job cuts across the company by 2030, citing the need for a leaner business as well as the potential of automation through artificial intelligence – an initiative that Kirby has declared she will take the lead on.
FinTech – The EC published its plans for the revised PSD2 and Financial Data Access Act
As we move on to the world of Fintech… I can hear my colleague Imogen’s excited voice, as she makes sure that our team here at Babel is well-updated with the top stories from the industry!
This month, the top story within the UK, widely picked up by fintech and national media such as the Guardian, was the Financial Conduct Authority’s new Consumer Duty regulation, which kicked in on the 31st of July. The FCA is the financial regulatory body in the United Kingdom, separate from the Government.
This entails, as Ruper Jones at the Guardian puts it, “the biggest regulatory shake-up of UK retail financial services for two decades”, in an effort to crack down on poor customer service and rip-offs. The new regulation is implementing stronger rules on value-for-money and aims to give fair pricing to all customers, with experts saying that older financial products that do not meet regulatory standards will be removed from sale.
Therefore, regulated financial institutions will be required to overhaul their consumer understanding, as a foundation for providing – and proving – good consumer outcomes. This advancement is fantastic to see and should be an interesting one to track going forward!
Big Tech: Twitter rebrands to ‘X’
In the world of big tech, the headlines never stop. We have all seen Twitter, in particular, appearing more frequently in the news ever since Elon took over! Towards the end of the month, the billionaire announced the rebranding of Twitter, as part of his vision to create an ‘everything app’.
Musk kickstarted the rebrand this month, by abruptly changing the Twitter name and logo into a black, bold ‘X’. In a Twitter (or should I say X?) post, he announced he wants to evolve the social media site from a public messaging service into something broader, including a one-stop shop for financial services. According to Musk, the old logo is reminiscent of birds tweeting, due to the service being just 140 characters long. With the rebrand, Musk wants to signal a new era of innovation for the platform… let us see what will become of it!
The branding was also projected on the Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, prompting neighbours to complain about the blazing logo – but, all PR is good PR, right? Elon certainly seems committed to putting that theory to the test!
Greentech: EU Soil Health law
Lastly, the green tech sector saw some very important regulatory changes this month! On the 5th of July, the EU proposed a new Soil Monitoring Law to protect and restore soils and ensure that they are being used sustainably.
Soils are critical for food, nature, and our economy, and they need the same level of protection as water, air, and the ocean. The goal of the Soil Health Law proposal is to describe the prerequisites for healthy soil, determine possibilities for soil monitoring, and lay down laws that promote sustainable soil use and restoration.
The news was spiked up by national media, including the Guardian and Reuters, emphasising its importance and the change it will bring about. This could be an important step in offsetting carbon from the atmosphere, with the ultimate aim being for the continent to have healthy soils by 2050, as more than 60% of the EU’s soils are considered to be in an unhealthy state.
We are currently facing big challenges when it comes to monitoring soil health – this creates big opportunities for the Greentech sector to step in and support!
July was another pivotal month for the tech industry, filled with big stories and new initiatives that could prove significant going forward. We saw a plethora of headlines in cybersecurity, Greentech, Fintech, telecommunications and Big Tech. Join us next month for our next wrap-up of the top news in tech!