Elon Musk personally hires 2 Newfoundland interns who solved problems at Tesla factory - Canadanewsmedia
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Elon Musk personally hires 2 Newfoundland interns who solved problems at Tesla factory

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Two young students from Newfoundland made such a good impression on Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk during a recent internship that the tech magnate personally hired them to come work for his company.

Mark Comeau and Matthew Lane both studied engineering at CNA and MUN, and landed work placements at Tesla, which makes electric vehicles, battery packs and solar panels.

N.L. interns hired by Elon Musk 8:20 

After about a month moving back and forth between the Tesla Factory in California and the company's Gigafactory 1 in Nevada, the two finally saw an opportunity to do something they weren't necessarily assigned to be involved with, but which started them down the path to working with the company.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors Inc., left, discusses the company's Gigafactory on Tuesday, July 26, 2016. (Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press)

During the internship, Lane and Comeau saw a problem with the gating system on one of the production ramps at Gigafactory 1 and thought they might be able to do something about it.

"Essentially what happened is we saw an opportunity to solve the problem, we came up with our own idea and actually sort of crashed the meeting with Elon ourselves and presented the idea," Lane told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.

Tesla Inc. designs and manufactures electric vehicles, charging stations, battery packs and more. (Sam Mircovich/Reuters)

Six weeks later, the two Newfoundland students' solution was brought online, and it must have impressed Musk and others at Tesla because both were asked to come back and start work on something else.

"Literally at like 10 a.m. Monday the week we finished, we got a message saying, 'Hey, head to Nevada to Gigafactory," Comeau said. "[A] five hour car drive later, we arrived in Nevada with a whole new situation and problems to address."

The Tesla Gigafactory is shown under construction outside Reno, Nevada May 9, 2015. (James Glover II/Reuters)

Tesla's Gigafactory in the Nevada desert is where the company manufactures batteries that go in Tesla vehicles. Lane and Comeau were put to work on solving a reliability issue with one of the systems they'd previously worked on.

Meeting Musk, getting hired

After they successfully solved their new problem, Musk personally approached the two students and offered them a job as professional problem solvers, helping to overcome issues at the factory.

Tesla Motors Inc. CEO Elon Musk speaks at the unveiling of the Model 3 at the Tesla Motors design studio in Hawthorne, Calif. (Justin Pritchard/Associated Press)

Comeau will start work immediately with Tesla, while Lane will finish up the summer semester at MUN before heading to the U.S. to get to work.

"Within two days we had solved this issue and got to speak to Elon himself, and this is kind of where he said, 'You guys did a good job, and you should stay,'" said Lane.

"It was probably one of the most unnerving experiences ever. Here's the CEO of a company and we're just two young interns, and he was like basically, 'Yup, you guys have to stay,'" added Comeau.

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OPEC threatens to turn on the spigots as oil price briefly hits highest point since 2014

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The price of the North American oil benchmark briefly touched $72 US a barrel late Tuesday despite the OPEC oil cartel publicly mulling boosting supply as soon as next month.

The price of West Texas Intermediate, the North American oil benchmark commonly known as WTI, was changing hands as high as $72.83 at one point on Tuesday. Although it slumped slightly lower on Wednesday, that was the highest level since November 2014.

Supply concerns in Venezuela and Iran have been overhanging the market for months, driving prices higher. 

Then late Tuesday the oil-producing cartel known as OPEC suggested it may soon turn on the spigots a little, after curbing its supply for the better part of the past year to boost prices.

The notoriously fractious cartel has been uncharacteristically collaborative of late, as OPEC and Russia had agreed to curb their collective output by about 1.8 million barrels per day until the end of 2018.

Last month, the cartel reported 166 per cent compliance to its own cut targets — meaning it has been pumping even less oil than it had planned to.

But speaking to a Reuters reporter on Tuesday, one unnamed OPEC source said the group is considering lifting those limits sooner than anticipated, in part because of the rising price of oil. 

While WTI was briefly at $72 US, Canadian oil companies have also seen their prices rise. The blend of oil from Alberta's oilsands is known as Western Canada Select and it, too, has risen to a more than three-year high, almost touching $58 U.S. on Tuesday.

Higher oil prices are doubly helpful for Canadian producers, because they are priced in U.S. dollars, while Canadian companies book most of their expenses in Canadian dollars.

In Canadian terms, WTI is currently trading as high as $91 a barrel, Bank of Montreal economist Doug Porter noted on Tuesday.

"That's up 50 per cent  from just eight months ago."

In Canadian dollar terms, the price of WTI is now where it was, on average, during what Porter called the "go-go years for oil prices," between 2007 and 2014.

"The lack of a currency response means that Canadian consumers are feeling the full impact of higher oil prices," he said.

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Comcast prepares to top Disney's $50-billion offer for Fox

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Comcast Corp confirmed for the first time on Wednesday it was preparing a higher, all-cash offer for the businesses that Twenty-First Century Fox has agreed to sell to Walt Disney Co.

While the U.S. cable operator said it was still considering its position, it said it was in advanced stages of readying an offer that would be “superior” and “at a premium” to Disney’s all stock offer.

“While no final decision has been made, at this point the work to finance the all-cash offer and make the key regulatory filings is well advanced,” Comcast said.

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Sources familiar with the deal told Reuters at the start of May that Comcast was preparing bridge financing for a cash offer for the Fox assets, but Wednesday’s statement is the first formal confirmation by the company it is ready to move.

The same sources said Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts will only proceed with a bid if a federal judge next month allows AT&T Inc’s planned $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc to proceed.

Disney in December offered stock then worth $52.4 billion to buy Fox’s film, television and international businesses as it bids to beef up its offering against streaming rivals Netflix Inc and Amazon.com Inc.

Disney shares have fallen nearly 3.3 percent since, reducing the value of the offer to just over $50 billion.

“It all depends on the AT&T and Time Warner deal,” said Brian Weiser, analyst at Pivotal Research. “If that goes through it is highly possible there will more than one bid for Fox.”

Fox and Disney were not immediately available for comment.

Comcast, owner of NBC and Universal Pictures, has also made a 22 billion pound ($30 billion) offer to acquire the 61 percent stake in European pay-TV group Sky Plc that Fox does not already own. In doing so, it topped an earlier offer for the entirety of Sky by Fox.

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A regulatory filing in April showed Comcast offered to acquire most of Fox’s assets in an all-stock deal valued at $34.41 per share, or $64 billion last November – just before Disney’s offer was agreed.

After a sale, Fox’s remaining assets will include Fox News, Fox Business Network and sports cable networks.

Comcast shares were down 2 percent at $31.83 while Disney was down 0.7 percent at $103.26 in premarket trading.

“I think Fox, or its controlling shareholder and Board of Directors, has already expressed their preference – Disney, even though Comcast allegedly offered a higher consideration already,” said Jeffrey Logsdon, an analyst with JBL Advisors in California.

“Comcast does seem intent on winning this one (and) rivalry can frequently drive prices to un-economic levels.”

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Comcast v. Disney: a fight for Twenty-First Century Fox

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PHILADELPHIA — Comcast may make an offer for Twenty-First Century Fox, potentially putting it in a head-to-head bidding war with Disney.

Comcast Corp. on Wednesday did not provide specific details on a bid, other than to say that it would be all cash and at a premium to the value of Disney’s current all-stock offer.

The Wall Street Journal and others reported earlier this month that Comcast had $60 billion to challenge Disney.

Disney’s $52.4 billion bid would go a long way in allowing it to better compete with technology companies in the entertainment business. Any tie-up would put in its stable more Marvel superheros, as well as the studios that produced the Avatar movies, “The Simpsons” and “Modern Family.” Disney would control Fox’s cable and international TV businesses as well.

Comcast said Wednesday that it’s in the “advanced stages” of preparing its bid. The Philadelphia company said the structure and terms of its offer would be at least as favourable as Disney’s.

A potential transaction with either Disney or Comcast would not include the Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, Fox Broadcasting Company and certain other assets.

Comcast’s stock fell 2 per cent in premarket trading, while shares of the Walt Disney Co., based in Burbank, California, dipped slightly.

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