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Historical Discussions: Forking Chrome to render in a terminal (January 27, 2023: 1136 points)

(1142) Forking Chrome to render in a terminal

1142 points 2 days ago by fathyb in 10000th position

fathy.fr | Estimated reading time – 31 minutes | comments | anchor

Forking Chrome to render in a terminal

January 27, 2023

I wrote about forking Chrome to turn HTML to SVG two months ago, today we're going to do something similar by making it render into a terminal.

Let me introduce you to the Carbonyl web browser!


There isn't much you can draw in a terminal, you're guaranteed to be able to render monospace characters in a fixed grid, and that's it. Escape sequences exist to perform actions like moving the cursor, changing the text color, or mouse tracking. Some came from the days of physical terminals like the DEC VT100, others came from the xterm project.

Assuming a popular terminal emulator, we can:

  • Move the cursor
  • Write Unicode characters
  • Set a character's background and foreground color
  • Use a 6x6x6 RGB palette, or 24 bits RGB if COLORTERM is set the truecolor

One of the unicode characters we can render is the lower half block element U+2584: . Knowing that cells generally have an aspect ratio of 1:2, we can render perfectly square pixels by setting the background color to the top pixel color, and the foregound color to the bottom pixel color.

Let's hook html2svg's output into a Rust program:

fn move_cursor((x, y): (usize, usize)) {
    println!('\x1b[{};{}H', y + 1, x + 1)
fn set_foreground((r, g, b): (u8, u8, u8)) {
    println!('\x1b[38;2;{};{};{}m', r, g, b)
fn set_background((r, g, b): (u8, u8, u8)) {
    println!('\x1b[48;2;{};{};{}m', r, g, b)
fn print_pixels_pair(
    top: (u8, u8, u8),
    bottom: (u8, u8, u8),
    cursor: (usize, usize)
) {

Not bad. To render text, we need to create a new Skia device using C++, lets call it TextCaptureDevice. We'll make it call a draw_text function written in Rust. Just like in html2svg, we need to convert glyph IDs into unicode characters.

class TextCaptureDevice: public SkClipStackDevice {
  void onDrawGlyphRunList(SkCanvas*,
                          const sktext::GlyphRunList& glyphRunList,
                          const SkPaint&,
                          const SkPaint& paint) override {
    // Get the text position
    auto position = localToDevice().mapRect(glyphRunList.origin());
    for (auto& glyphRun : glyphRunList) {
      auto runSize = glyphRun.runSize();
      SkAutoSTArray<64, SkUnichar> unichars(runSize);
      // Convert glyph IDs to Unicode characters
      // Draw that text on the terminal
      draw_text(unichars.data(), runSize, position, paint.getColor());

Better! But the text is scrambled at the center. Our TextCaptureDevice does not account for occlusion, drawing a rectangle does not clear the text behind it.

Let's add some code to the drawRect and drawRRect methods to clear the text if we're filling with a solid color:

void drawRRect(const SkRRect& rect, const SkPaint& paint) override {
    drawRect(rect.rect(), paint);
void drawRect(const SkRect& rect, const SkPaint& paint) override {
    if (
        paint.getStyle() == SkPaint::Style::kFill_Style &&
        paint.getAlphaf() == 1.0
    ) {

The gray background behind text elements is caused by the software rasterizer rendering text in our bitmap. Let's remove it:

void SkBitmapDevice::onDrawGlyphRunList(SkCanvas* canvas,
                                        const sktext::GlyphRunList& glyphRunList,
                                        const SkPaint& initialPaint,
                                        const SkPaint& drawingPaint) {
-    SkASSERT(!glyphRunList.hasRSXForm());
-    LOOP_TILER( drawGlyphRunList(canvas, &fGlyphPainter, glyphRunList, drawingPaint), nullptr )

That was the easy part, let's handle inputs!


fn report_mouse_move((x, y): (usize, usize)) {
    write!(get_stdin(), '\x1b[<35;{};{}M', y + 1, x + 1)
fn report_mouse_down((x, y): (usize, usize)) {
    write!(get_stdin(), '\x1b[<0;{};{}M', y + 1, x + 1)
fn report_mouse_up((x, y): (usize, usize)) {
    write!(get_stdin(), '\x1b[<0;{};{}m', y + 1, x + 1)

Some sequences exist to get a terminal emulator to track and report mouse events. For example, if you print \x1b[?1003h, the terminal should start sending events using this format:

These are similar to the sequences we use for styling our output. The \x1b[ prefix is called the Control Sequence Introducer.


We need to notify the browser to wrap this up, but there is a catch: we need to block a thread to read stdin, but the browser methods should be called from the main thread. Thankfully, messages passing is available almost everywhere through the TaskRunner class.

Google recommending me Chrome, lol

for &key in input {
    sequence = match sequence {
        Sequence::Char => match key {
            0x1b => Sequence::Escape,
            0x03 => emit!(Event::Exit),
            key => emit!(Event::KeyPress { key }),
        Sequence::Escape => match key {
            b'[' => Sequence::Control,
            b'P' => Sequence::DeviceControl(DeviceControl::new()),
            0x1b =>
                emit!(Event::KeyPress { key: 0x1b }; continue),
            key => {
                emit!(Event::KeyPress { key: 0x1b });
                emit!(Event::KeyPress { key })
        Sequence::Control => match key {
            b'<' => Sequence::Mouse(Mouse::new()),
            b'A' => emit!(Event::KeyPress { key: 0x26 }),
            b'B' => emit!(Event::KeyPress { key: 0x28 }),
            b'C' => emit!(Event::KeyPress { key: 0x27 }),
            b'D' => emit!(Event::KeyPress { key: 0x25 }),
            _ => Sequence::Char,
        Sequence::Mouse(ref mut mouse) => parse!(mouse, key),
        Sequence::DeviceControl(ref mut dcs) => parse!(dcs, key),


We have something that sorts of work, at the cost of a steady 400% CPU usage, and that's not counting iTerm2 which uses ~200%. We've got a few problems:

  • We need too much resources to render at 5 FPS
  • We render every time, even when nothing changes
  • We print all characters even if they didn't change on an individual level

Modern browsers employ a multi-process architecture to improve security. It separates websites into different processes, reducing the potential damage caused by vulnerabilities. The renderer process is running in an OS-level sandboxed environment that blocks certain system calls, such as file-system access. The GPU process, is also considered unprivileged and cannot reach renderer process in order to protect against vulnerabilities in GPU APIs such as WebGL. In contrast, the browser process, considered privileged, can communicate freely with any process.

Google ChromeBrowser ProcessGoogle Chrome Helper (Renderer)mouseMove(250, 250)mouseDown(250, 250)glBindBuffer()glDrawArray()👀Eyes🧠Brain🤌HandsRender ProcessmechanicalenergyelectromagneticenergyGitHubsuperintelligent ants risks - Google SearchGoogle Chrome Helper (Renderer)Render ProcessGoogle Chrome Helper (Renderer)Render Processdiy ant farm keyboard - YouTubeGoogle Chrome Helper (GPU)GPU Process

You need JavaScript to view this animation.Renderer process(main)Browser processRenderer process(iframe)1. Get captureGPU process

doing this 60 times a second isn't very efficient

CapturePaintPreview is great for html2svg, but it's not designed for real-time rendering. It's using IPC calls to correctly support out-of-process iframes, making roundtrips between the browser, GPU, and renderer processes. It downloads hardware accelerated images from the GPU, explaining the surprising memory bandwidth usage. We can disable the fetching, and even disable hardware acceleration, but we still have an expensive IPC machinery holding us back.

Software rendering is still very common, it even used to be the default if you can believe it. It was fairly easy back in the single-process days, but nowadays shared memory regions are configured to efficiently render using multiple processes. If we can get our pixels into one of these memory regions, we would just have to notify our browser process using a simple IPC message.

We solved the bitmap problem, now how can we extract text data? This data lives in the renderer process, but our windowing code lives in the browser process. We need to make the renderer interact with the browser process.


// Our C++ bindings will be in the carbonyl::mojom namespace
module carbonyl.mojom;
// Import existing bindings to common structures
import 'ui/gfx/geometry/mojom/geometry.mojom';
import 'skia/public/mojom/skcolor.mojom';
// Define a structure to hold text to render
struct TextData {
    // An UTF-8 string with the contents
    string contents;
    // Bounds, size only defined for clearing
    gfx.mojom.RectF bounds;
    // Color of the text
    skia.mojom.SkColor color;
// The browser process runs this service
interface CarbonylRenderService {
    // The renderer process calls this method
    DrawText(array<TextData> data);

Mojo is a library for inter-process communication. It defines an IDL for serializing data which supports native handles (i.e. file descriptors, shared memory regions, callbacks), and can be used to generate C++, Java (Android), and JavaScript (DevTools) bindings. It's extensively documented, and fairly simple to use.

We'll start by making an interface CarbonylRenderService that runs on the browser process, with a method DrawText called from the renderer process.

This .mojom code generates C++ temporary files which we can then include to write the implementation code.

Mojo receivers such as our service are part of the native handles we can send between processes, to register the implementation we just need to add it to the BrowserInterfaceBroker, which will get called by the renderer through BrowserInterfaceBrokerProxy:

Now, we need to get our text data without any expensive round-trip. Blink has a GetPaintRecord() method to get the latest paint data for a page, but it's not behind a public API, which we need because our code runs in the content renderer. Ideally we should hook into the compositor (cc), but it's way more involved. It's dirty but we can workaround this by casting to the private blink::WebViewImpl:

auto* view = static_cast<blink::WebViewImpl*>(GetWebFrame()->View());

Surprise after the first run: the text content doesn't follow the bitmap. Aaah, scrolling and animating is done on the compositor thread, which frees the main thread and makes everything smoother. Let's procastinate doing things right by adding --disable-threaded-scrolling --disable-threaded-animation to the command line arguments.

Threaded compositing enabled
Threaded compositing disabled

Pretty smooth, it'll be even smoother when threaded compositing is fixed! And we've fixed our biggest problem: we don't use any CPU when idling, and scrolling consumes ~15%.


auto font = state.StyleBuilder().GetFontDescription();
font.SetComputedSize(11.75 / 7.0);
state.StyleBuilder().SetLineHeight(Length::Fixed(14.0 / 7.0));

Thing is, we can only render one font-size, but Blink doesn't know that. This causes the layout to be messed up, with text chunks overlapping or overly spaced. This is especially visible on websites with a lot of textual content and links like Wikipedia.

Another dirty - yet effective - hack we can use is forcing a monospaced font on every element. We can do that by adding some code to StyleResolver::ResolveStyle.


// static
float Display::GetForcedDeviceScaleFactor() {
    return 1.0 / 7.0;
// static
bool Display::HasForceDeviceScaleFactor() {
    return true;

One expensive step in our rendering pipeline is downscaling: we need to resize the framebuffer from its virtual space to its physical space. What we're doing is kind of the opposite of HiDPI rendering, whose most common ratio is 2x which means 1 pixel on the web equals 2 pixels on the screen. Our ratio is 1 / 7 which means 7 pixels on the web renders to 1 block on our terminal.

The annoying thing about HiDPI is that it can make rendering ~2x slower, whereas Carbonyl LoDPI® makes rendering run ~7x faster. We just need to force our scaling into the Display class.


I looked for examples of RGB color conversion to xterm-256 but the code I found was either wrong or slow because it did a nearest neighbor search. We're going to do it for every pixel so it should run fast.

The formula for the conversion is fairly simple, assuming color values between 0 and 1: 16 + r * 5 * 36 + g * 5 * 6 + b * 5.

pub fn to_xterm(&self) -> u8 {
    let r = (self.r as f32 - (95.0 - 40.0)).max(0.0) / 40.0;
    let g = (self.g as f32 - (95.0 - 40.0)).max(0.0) / 40.0;
    let b = (self.b as f32 - (95.0 - 40.0)).max(0.0) / 40.0;
    (16.0 +
        r.round() * 36.0 +
        g.round() * 6.0 +
        b.round()) as u8

The twist that most code online gets wrong is that the 6 color levels are not linear: 0, 95, 135, 175, 215, 255; there is a 95 gap between the first and second values, and 40 for the rest.

It makes sense to limit the dark range, color differences are more visible with bright colors. For us, it means that we can convert a value between 0 and 255 using max(0, color - 95 - 40) / 40.

pub fn to_xterm(&self) -> u8 {
    if self.max_val() - self.min_val() < 8 {
        match self.r {
            0..=4 => 16,
            5..=8 => 232,
            238..=246 => 255,
            247..=255 => 231,
            r => 232 + (r - 8) / 10,
    } else {
        let scale = 5.0 / 200.0;
            + self
                .mul_add(scale, scale * -55.0)
                .dot((36.0, 6.0, 1.0))) as u8

The conversion itself can be thought of as a dot product of (r, g, b) and (36, 6, 1). We can move the substraction to an mul_add call to help the compiler use a fused multiply-add instruction.

The last step is grayscale: our xterm profile offers 256 colors, there are the 216 colors from the RGB cube (6 * 6 * 6), the 16 configurable system colors, and 24 gray levels which go from rgb(8,8,8) to rgb(238,238,238).

To find out if a color is on a grayscale, we can substract its minimal value to its maximum value and check if it's under a threshold, let's say 8.

We still have one tiny problem: how can you detect if a terminal supports true-color or 256 colors? A quick Google search leads us to the COLORTERM environment variable, which is 24bit or truecolor if true-color is supported. But that won't work in Docker or SSH, which are our primary targets.

    // ^[P1$r0;48:2:1:13:37:42m^[\
    Code => match key {
        b'0' | b'1' => Type(key),
        _ => control_flow!(break)?,
    // ^[P1$r0;48:2:1:13:37:42m^[\
    Type(code) => match key {
        b'$' => Status(StatusParser::new(code)),
        b'+' => Resource(ResourceParser::new(code)),
        _ => control_flow!(break)?,
    // ^[P1$r0;48:2:1:13:37:42m^[\
    Status(ref mut status) => return status.parse(key),
    Resource(ref mut resource) => return resource.parse(key),
    // ^[P1$r0;48:2:1:13:37:42m^[\
    Start => match key {
        b'r' => Value,
        _ => control_flow!(break)?,
    // ^[P1$r0;48:2:1:13:37:42m^[\
    Value => match key {
        // ^[P1$r0;48:2:1:13:37:42m^[\
        0x1b => self.terminate(),
        // ^[P1$r0;48:2:1:13:37:42m^[\
        b';' => self.push_value(),
        // ^[P1$r0;48:2:1:13:37:42m^[\
        char => self.push_char(char),
    // ^[P1$r0;48:2:1:13:37:42m^[\
    Terminator => control_flow!(break self.parse_event(key))?,

A trick we can use is a DCS (Device Control Sequence) to fetch a setting value, like the current background color. If we set an RGB value and get an RGB value back, we can enable true-color.

You can try it by running the following on your terminal:

$ printf '\e[48;2;13;37;42m\eP\$qm\e\\'; cat
  • \e: start escape sequence
    • [: introduce control sequence
    • 48: set foreground
    • 2: using an RGB color
    • 13: R is 13
    • 37: G is 37
    • 42: B is 42
    • m: select graphic rendition
  • \e: start escape sequence
    • P: introduce device control sequence
    • $: enter status mode
    • q: query current setting
    • m: select graphic rendition

If the commands are supported, you should get the following output with a dark turquoise background:


This is what the terminal emulator sends to stdin, and what we can parse to toggle true-color on.



A few xterm sequences allow setting the terminal window title, we could use that to display the current page title.

fn set_title(title: &str) {
    // Set icon name and window title to string
    println!('\x1b]0;{}\x07', title);
    // Set icon name to string
    println!('\x1b]1;{}\x07', title);
    // Set window title to string
    println!('\x1b]2;{}\x07', title);

To get notified when the title changes, we can simply implement WebContentsObserver::TitleWasSet():

void HeadlessWebContentsImpl::TitleWasSet(content::NavigationEntry* entry) {

Final thoughts

That's all for today folks, check out Carbonyl on GitHub!

This was my first Rust project and I finally get the hype now. What a cool language!

Stay tuned

The post for next month will be a visual introduction to Fourier Analysis. After that, we'll look into a speculative JS VM in Rust.

Use the RSS feed to stay tuned, you can also watch the website repo for releases on GitHub.


Discuss on HN - Discuss on r/programming

All Comments: [-] | anchor

zx8080(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Sure, let's bring chromium with its resource consumption to terminal. Why not!

But seriously, why not using browsers like lynx and links?

Asdrubalini(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Did you see this fork's demo and a demo of lynx/links? Their difference is day and night

anthk(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Meh, electron. I'd prefer elinks being boosted with QuickJS support instead of the old engine based on... Mozilla?

Edbrowse uses it and it has enough JS support to even login and comment against JS ridden sites.


Browser, email, irc, SQL client, file manager and editor for the blind with an ed philosophy.

toastal(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Wasn't mujs added recently?

sethaurus(10000) 2 days ago [-]

> eh, electron.

TFA doesn't seem to refer to electron at all. What's the connection here?

wwarner(10000) 2 days ago [-]

I mean. This works really really well. I almost made it through a captcha.

comfypotato(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Could probably zoom into the captcha with some elbow grease. The resolution is there if it filled the terminal.

This is actually the showstopper for me with any kind of terminal browser. I enjoyed playing with browsh (or what was it called?) a few years ago, but this is much better.

I wonder if my suggested workaround has any meat to it.

kps(10000) 2 days ago [-]
devadvance(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Thanks for posting this link. I saw this submission and remembered that Chromium had a terminal rendering mode, but couldn't manage to find this page, since I wasn't searching Ozone specifically.

The fork here goes even further, which is really cool.

jaxrtech(10000) 2 days ago [-]

If NeXTStep used 'Display PostScript', then what display API did the original WorldWideWeb browser render to?

fathyb(10000) 2 days ago [-]

AFAIK it used same NeXTStep Text (NSText) API [0] that is still being used on macOS nowadays [1], it didn't support rendering images at first:

> The inline images such as the world/book icon and the CERN icon, would have been displayed in separate windows, as it didn't at first do inline images.

Historically, DPS is one of the reasons Safari PDF exports look so good: Apple based CoreGraphics APIs on DPS to make the migration from NeXTStep to Mac OS easy. This makes the CoreGraphics<->PS/PDF conversion fairly straightforward.

[0]: https://www.w3.org/People/Berners-Lee/WorldWideWeb.html

[1]: https://developer.apple.com/documentation/appkit/nstext

SirRockALot(10000) 2 days ago [-]

This is really neat. Did you consider using the full range of Unicode block glyphs to squeeze out a little bit more resolution from the terminal vs just using the half-block?


You're still just getting two colors per character, but I think it works quite nicely.

fathyb(10000) 2 days ago [-]

It's a great idea, I did explore it but ended up falling in the dithering and Fourier rabbit hole.. I'll give it another try without any color tricks!

HideousKojima(10000) 2 days ago [-]

I've thought about that for a GB emulator that renders to the terminal, but how do you handle more than 2 colors? That was the issue that kept me from using it.

lights0123(10000) 2 days ago [-]

> One of the unicode characters we can render is the lower half block element U+2584: . Knowing that cells generally have an aspect ratio of 1:2, we can render perfectly square pixels by setting the background color to the top pixel color, and the foregound color to the bottom pixel color.

Even better: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sixel Doesn't support 24-bit color though.

fathyb(10000) 2 days ago [-]

I did write a very fast SIXEL back-end [0] with adaptative quantizing and GPU acceleration, but most emulators have a very inefficient implementation unfortunately. For example iTerm converts the SIXEL data to PNG, writes it to tmpdir, and displays it as an image you can drag and drop.

I'm still exploring it thought, but as a separate program to run any X apps through SSH.

[0]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=34288262

whatever1(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Newbie question: why the terminal cannot have full high definition graphics ?

aumerle(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Yes it can as long as you avoid sixel and xterm. https://sw.kovidgoyal.net/kitty/graphics-protocol/

IncRnd(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Terminals started as TTY or teletype emulators. Everything else is an addon.

deathanatos(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Most emulate an xterm, which didn't have support for graphics. (And xterm itself is emulating an even older TTY ... with features bolted on...)

There are some escape sequences you can feed to some terminals, though, that emit graphics. 'Sixels' are pretty well known for pushing graphics to a terminal, but they're not universally supported.

iTerm2, on macOS, has a means of escaping and then sending a PNG, which is then displayed, IIRC. (But it's unique to iTerm2, and IIRC iTerm2 identifies as an xterm so it's basically impossible to autodetect.)

michaelsbradley(10000) 2 days ago [-]
csdvrx(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Pro answer: yes it can!


ShowalkKama(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Reminds me of https://www.brow.sh/

capitainenemo(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Exactly what I was thinking. Brow.sh has been around for 5 years. I guess the difference is this one is a fork instead of a wrapper of a standard browser?

skerit(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Same here. But then done properly. Very cool.

mcbuilder(10000) 2 days ago [-]

This is incredible, think of the applications! Running a terminal inside a WASM VM inside a browser running from your VT100 terminal is now possible. I am literally floored, and I've been waiting for this moment for years. Thank you for coming up with this inventive solution, and I feel this will usher in a new era of 'text' interfaces!

anthk(10000) 1 day ago [-]

No, the opposite. This is half baked. Elinks having JS supports would be much better. Videos? Just spawn mpv on audio/video links or send the links thru xsel to mpv+yt-dlp.

tgv(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Cool, ok, and certainly a surprising hack, but what's with the gushing comments? Who wants to run Chrome in a terminal? Almost nobody, because there are dedicated, lean alternatives for browsing since the start of the web, and almost nobody uses them.

Am I missing something?

trifurcate(10000) 2 days ago [-]

I would certainly run this over something like lynx. In fact, my reaction was 'oh, this is what I'm looking for when I reach for lynx'.

rnk(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Are you teasing us on purpose by not suggesting some well known lean alternatives? lynx comes to mind, doesn't show images, does work ok. But what are you thinking about?

dodslaser(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Super neat. If you want to go even deeper down the terminal graphics rabbit hole you should look into adding sixel support.


csdvrx(10000) 2 days ago [-]

And for terminals that don't support sixel yet, sixel-tmux will let you see them:


For example with Windows Terminal: https://raw.githubusercontent.com/csdvrx/sixel-tmux/main/exa...

OP, if you want to keep your current solution, check how going beyond unicode halfblocks can help: https://github.com/csdvrx/derasterize

ck2(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Oh wow, I was going to ask about the one PDP-11 terminal we had in the 1980s with graphics support.

I only had a vague memory it was huge, expensive and got very warm but in the 1980s there weren't any graphics like it, most high tech for the time.


KirillPanov(10000) 2 days ago [-]
azalemeth(10000) 2 days ago [-]

This is both genuinely very impressive and also brings me hope that I can finally use Microsoft SSO only services natively in the console...

moondev(10000) 2 days ago [-]

I immediately thought of SSO use cases that require the browser. For example logging to generate a save a kubeconfig for RBAC workflows.

This seems like an automation dream for all kinds of things when I want to see browser interactions and results - but all from a terminal! This is awesome.

j16sdiz(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Why? Microsoft's SSO solution supports kerebous, you could use that.

zimbatm(10000) 1 day ago [-]

I had a dream, that one day I would be filling captchas in the terminal :-)

sramsay(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Hadn't thought of that. Take my money!

antongribok(10000) 2 days ago [-]

I can confirm... Slack works. Sadly, still hogs way too much RAM.

This is truly very impressive.

WesolyKubeczek(10000) 2 days ago [-]

But now you can put it into tmux/screen and run it somewhere else ;)

rubatuga(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Absolutely insane engineering. Hope this is an alternative to elinks

0xfaded(10000) 2 days ago [-]

I'm selfishly hoping so as well. I still occasionally use elinks to browse the web from a machine I'm SSH'd into.

KirillPanov(10000) 2 days ago [-]

This is extremely cool. Do you plan to try to get the chromium patch upstreamed, or some subset of it?

Have you had problems with this triggering bot/scraper/abuse-detection?

You force-enable `kContentCapture`, `kContentCaptureTriggeringForExperiment`, and `kContentCaptureInWebLayer`, which make the browser look -- to the website -- a LOT like a bot/scraper and not at all like a normal user.

fathyb(10000) 1 day ago [-]

I plan on submitting some bug fixes, but I believe the rest will be a hard sell to the Chromium team. They also have very high standards, and the current implementation is not up to it as of today.

Something that could be cool is work with them/submit patches to improve the DevTools protocol to be more efficient and suited for Carbonyl and html2svg's use-case. Combined with a virtual X server (in Rust of course!), this could provide very similar performance and remove the need to fork.

For the bot-detection, I only had Twitter telling me the browser is not compatible so far, it was caused by the 'Carbonyl (version)' user-agent. I fixed it by switching to 'Chromium (version) / Carbonyl'.

Good point on kContentCapture, I didn't realize it could be visible to websites. I enabled it to experiment with new ways to get text data, but ended falling back on Skia. I'm going to disable it now that it's unused!

sylware(10000) 2 days ago [-]

What we actually need would be a full-blown modern javascript-enabled browser written in simple and plain C (c89 with benign bits of c99/c11), namely with a compile-time/runtime object model suited for the 'web'.

I good start: re-use the parsers from netsurf, get mr Bellard and friends quickJS... and then the ez part: get 748392749324732984 full-time devs full for 748937489234 centuries in order to get such engine working... BUT it is not finish since, once 'working', you will have to play catch up with blackrock/vanguard financed web engines and everything they will do to break compat with your engine.

Some ppl are still trying with rust? servo something?

anthk(10000) 2 days ago [-]

QuickJS it's being used in the edbrowse terminal browser and it's good enough to login and post on a lot of web sites.

rightbyte(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Ye the problem is the web sorta standard themself. A never ending bloat race that you need 100s of programmers to keep up with.

Thatcher is by design and I guess Google is mainly to blame by now.

anthk(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Also, what Netsurf needs is to ditch Duktape for QuickJS.

igneo676(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Huh, built on electron. I wonder how difficult it would be to bolt this onto vieb and have the ultimate vim-terminal browser

heleninboodler(10000) 2 days ago [-]

What does 'built on electron' mean in this context?

oldgradstudent(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Next step: vscode on the terminal.

lxe(10000) 2 days ago [-]

  docker run -ti fathyb/carbonyl https://vscode.dev/
yuck39(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Install the VIM plugin and we go full circle

Historical Discussions: Digitec Galaxus now displays warranty score and return rate (January 26, 2023: 1018 points)

(1022) Digitec Galaxus now displays warranty score and return rate

1022 points 3 days ago by faebi in 10000th position

www.galaxus.ch | Estimated reading time – 6 minutes | comments | anchor

Digitec Galaxus is blazing a trail. The Swiss online retailer now displays how often customers return products, how often products break during the warranty period and how long it takes for a warranty claim to be settled. With that, Galaxus and Digitec now serve as a reference work for the product and service quality of many brands.

How likely is your new HP notebook to break down during the warranty period? Are Timberland winter boots returned more often than UGG boots? How long will you have to wait for your Fairphone to be repaired? The online stores Galaxus and Digitec now provide the answers to these questions directly on each product's page.

«We're the first on the e-commerce market to do this,» says Oliver Herren, Chief Innovation Officer at Digitec Galaxus. «I'm not aware of any other online retailer in the world that discloses this data – nor any manufacturer nor comparison portal.» With that, the online department store Galaxus and electronics retailer Digitec serve as a reference for the product and service quality of many brands and product types.

What exactly do customers now see? Under the «Returns» section and the «Warranty» (in Switzerland) or «Guarantee» (in the EU) section of each product, the following three additional pieces of information are now displayed:

1. Return rate

The «Return rate» shows how often a type of product from a given brand was returned in the last 12 months. For example: in the last 12 months, customers returned 2.4 per cent of all Samsung TVs purchased at Galaxus or Digitec.

The return rate at Digitec Galaxus across the entire product range was less than two per cent in the last 12 months. Clothes and shoes are typically returned more often than mobile phones, for example. «A high return rate may suggest, for example, that a smartwatch manufacturer is overpromising with its products, that the product images of a closet are missing important details, or that sweaters from a brand don't fit many customers,» says Zara Hegemann, Senior Product Owner, who helped develop the new features.

2. Warranty score

«Warranty score» shows how often a type of product from a given brand was defective within the first 24 months after purchase. Just under 6.4 per cent of Medion PCs, for example, end up in warranty claims within two years, while the rate for Apple computers is 0.8 per cent. «The warranty score is a good indicator of product quality,» Zara says. «Now, for the first time, consumers have access to reliable statistics on defects to complement their own gut feeling as well as reviews by experts and other customers.»

3. Warranty case duration

Under «Warranty case duration», customers can see how long it takes on average for a type of product from a given brand to be returned to the owner in the event of a warranty claim. Like the other rankings, this is based on data from the last 24 months. In the case of Husqvarna lawn mowers, for example, it usually takes eleven days for a replacement to be delivered or for the repaired machine to be returned. In contrast, competing products from Einhell take an average of five days.

Honesty is the best policy

«We want our customers to be able to make the most informed and sustainable purchasing decision possible,» Oliver says. «That's why, in addition to a lot of other product information, we show the price development of the products in our range as well as Youtube reviews, for instance.» These new features make honesty even more crucial in our relationship with our customers. «Knowing, for example, that a warranty claim is opened for one in five of a given fully automatic coffee machine is definitely worth something.»

One possible side effect is that Digitec Galaxus' costs could decrease – namely, if customers increasingly opt for products that perform well in terms of return rate and warranty score. After all, each return and every warranty case costs time and money in the form of customer service. And if customers really do change their shopping behaviour, it'll also be better for the environment; products that break frequently and quickly place a larger strain on the environment than those that last many years.

An After Sales Department employee at Digitec Galaxus in Dintikon checks a return.

Oliver and Zara expect the added transparency will not initially be met with enthusiasm by all manufacturers – especially not by those whose products underperform. «Then again, customers will be just as dissatisfied if the products they order don't fit the bill or break quickly. Or if it takes weeks for a warranty claim to be resolved,» Zara says. «That's why we're making our data public and showing which brands are delivering on their promise.»

For more information, visit our wiki: click here for Switzerland and click here for the EU.

What do you think of our new features? Will you use them as a guide when shopping? Join the discussion in the comments section!

  • Company news

    We are focusing on price transparency

    by Tobias Billeter

All Comments: [-] | anchor

dboreham(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Presumably implemented with microservices.

Annatar(10000) 3 days ago [-]


sixhobbits(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I love Galaxus! Most online retailers could probably increase their revenue by xx% just by copying some of their patterns.

- price history so you can see when sales are fake

- one click 'deliver to my closest branch and I will pick it up and pay there so I don't have to muck around with online payments' option

- automatic high quality translation of all product information and reviews into all offered languages

- simple downloads on order page for invoice and receipt

And many other things. Some things are still annoying like they don't accept cards from some countries, but they get a lot right.

TrueSlacker0(10000) 3 days ago [-]

> - price history so you can see when sales are fake

in case you were unfamiliar https://camelcamelcamel.com/ does this for amazon

1vuio0pswjnm7(10000) 2 days ago [-]

- 2,288 sitemap files see /sitemap.xml

Amazon does not even support sitemaps. (They did in the early days.)

huhtenberg(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Their whole web UI is a masterpiece.

Super clean, very logical, everything exactly you'd expect it to be, superb filtering system for searching through long product lists, etc. It's also super-snappy, at least from within Switzerland.

karamanolev(10000) 3 days ago [-]

The price history going quite far back was a game changer for me when shopping from Digitec/Galaxus. They don't have everything like Amazon, but the quality and the experience are on a whole different levels. Few levels above, actually.

gesman(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Just spent 400 CHF at Galaxus, same day no charge delivery. Ho hassles.

herbst(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Late to the party. But they also accept crypto for many years now as online payment.

Only Twint is just as easy as paying with crypto.

nix23(10000) 3 days ago [-]

They where much better before the Migros takeover, especially the two owners just wanted to make 10k/month the rest goes to the customer, for a short time we had better prices as..well ....whole EU.

But still it's the best we have...

Zopieux(10000) 1 day ago [-]

>automatic high quality translation of all product information and reviews into all offered languages

Uh, gotta disagree here, speaking as a regular Galaxus shopper in both en & fr locales. The automated translations are mostly terrible when not entirely misleading or vulgar. For instance, the French ones are so bad there are Twitter accounts dedicated to them[1]. This applies to both product titles and descriptions.

To be fair, this is not surprising: the machine translator has very little to work with when translating short product names, in addition to these being full of puns (in whatever source language) or English-looking words for marketing purposes. It's a shame no ML company seems to have taken the opportunity to fine-tune their model for product name translation and sell that for $$$ to big marketplaces.

[1] https://twitter.com/digithequeg

eterevsky(10000) 3 days ago [-]

It's also super easy to return bought products.

gggggg5(10000) 3 days ago [-]

>- one click 'deliver to my closest branch and I will pick it up and pay there so I don't have to muck around with online payments' option

That suggests a really sorry state of things, not something to copy. Online payments shouldn't be harder than physically going to a store and paying for the item.

kkarpkkarp(10000) 3 days ago [-]

> price history so you can see when sales are fake

This is now a law enforced in European Union to display such history (at least the lowest price in last 30 or more days so customer knows if the price was not fake rised just before lowering it and calling it a sale). WooCommerce has a plugin for that now[1].

1: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wc-price-history/

ajsnigrutin(10000) 3 days ago [-]

> - one click 'deliver to my closest branch and I will pick it up and pay there so I don't have to muck around with online payments' option

I've started using this as much as possible, especially during christmas. You find something, 'in stock', supposed to be delivered the next day or a day after, you order, then nothing one day, two days, three days, then you call, 'yeah, it's still with the distributer, it'll be ready tomorrow', two more days pass, you call again, want a refund, they 'cannot refund now', because the product is supposedly in the mail already, then you wait, christmas goes by, and around 15. january you get a call, that they cannot get the item you wanted, and try to upsell some either more expensive or worse option.

Now I just order for physical pickup and 'pay there' option.. and if it's not there, cancelling is easy, because they don't have your money yet, and they cannot lie about the item being already sent.

cvccvroomvroom(10000) 3 days ago [-]

My mind is blown. I don't know how sustainable this is without manufacturers pulling products or filing lawsuits.

brookst(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Game theory that. You're a manufacturer. This place sells a lot of your stuff. Do you sue them or pull your products? What is the EV of either action?

snovv_crash(10000) 3 days ago [-]

This is the biggest online retailer in Switzerland, and they got to this position by being the most trustworthy. People will pay a small premium over other places because they know it will always arrive in good condition, quickly, with accurate descriptions and easy returns. There are also physical locations you can go to for pickup, returns, etc. if you need a person to speak to.

sschueller(10000) 3 days ago [-]

The way they do warranty is really awesome and uncomplicated.

Recently I had a set of headphones fail after ~1 year and all I had to do was find the item in my order history click a button, answer a few questions and in this case they just credited the amount to my account, didn't even have to send them back. Instructions told me to recycle them.

There is a certain amount of trust in the system.

However it can also go wrong. Once I sent a GPU for repair because a fan stopped working and it was still under warranty. Sadly they or their repair center marked it as a no fix, recycled the card and I was credited the amount I paid, sadly that was during the GPU crunch and a card that had similar performance was not available for even close that price. Replacing a fan I could have done my self but I thought a warranty claim would be the correct thing to do incase something else breaks.

config_yml(10000) 3 days ago [-]

You can also re-sell a product you've bought there with a click and answering a couple questions, right from your order history. It's a pretty nice experience, just recently did so with a Dell screen I no longer needed.

arp242(10000) 2 days ago [-]

My experience is 15 years out of date, but back in those days many 'big brands' insisted we only use their repair centres, and all we could do was ship stuff to them and hope for the best. Some were a little more flexible in this than others, but the flexibility was always very limited.

Especially with components like mainboards or GPUs this could be awkward, because turn-around times were often weeks or even months. We usually just replaced them without too much fuss, and then a month later we were sent back a repaired spare part that could perhaps maybe be used for a repair later. We generally accepted this as a 'cost of business', but never seemed quite right to me.

While turnarounds on laptops were usually fairly decent, they could also be weeks, and replacing a €800 laptop on which we made €50 profit was kind of a non-starter. This also included stupid stuff like broken memory modules, or a broken hinge cover. The only way we could get reimbursed at all was by sending the entire laptop to them and hope it didn't take them 2 weeks to spend 5 minutes replacing a broken RAM module or something silly like that.

My point in all of this being: it's not necessarily the store's fault.

ddalex(10000) 3 days ago [-]

> a certain amount of trust in the system

Switzerland operates on trust. You go to the car service, you get the work done, you leave, you'll receive a bill in the mail later. There is trust that they do the right work and not overcharge you, and there is trust that you'll pay.

LarryMullins(10000) 3 days ago [-]

> they or their repair center marked it as a no fix, recycled the card and I was credited the amount I paid, sadly that was during the GPU crunch

I bet somebody kept that GPU, fixed it, and flipped it.

lolc(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Can confirm, I had that happen with a cable. I filed a warranty claim and the response was 'you dispose it, we credit it'. When a second cable broke (oh no) they wanted me to send it in though.

gambiting(10000) 3 days ago [-]

>>all I had to do was find the item in my order history click a button, answer a few questions and in this case they just credited the amount to my account

Exactly the same as with Amazon here in the UK then. They have every retailer in this country absolutely beat on their approach to customer support - it's always no faff, easy, often instant refund, none of this waiting 60 minutes on the phone to speak with unhelpful CS for any of the major retailers. John Lewis were the only ones approaching Amazon in the quality of their customer service, but recently that has changed for much worse and they are as hostile as everyone else.

growt(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I had the opposite experience. Bought a 75" tv there. It had an extremely uneven backlight (clouding). Support told me to send it in for inspection. Tv broke on the way there. They kept it for three weeks and sent it back without mentioning that the panel was broken on arrival. After that they refused to cover it because it was my fault for not packaging it correctly. We finally settled on 50:50, so I got half my money back

rconti(10000) 3 days ago [-]

(In the US) I deal with the manufacturer for warranty claims. How does the retailer know?

Is the system different in Switzerland? Or has this one retailer decided to take on being a arbitrator of warranty claims?

acchow(10000) 3 days ago [-]

This sounds like pretty much how we use our credit card's extended warranty on purchases, except we do it via the bank's website (Chase or Amex, our credit card issuer), instead of the retailer. A couple clicks, and done.

fancazzista(10000) 3 days ago [-]

If you're not home and the package doesn't fit your mailbox, they will just leave it in front of the door of the apartment complex. Lived there for two and a half years and nothing was ever stolen.

greenthrow(10000) 3 days ago [-]

This is just straight up an ad. This should be removed.

Annatar(10000) 3 days ago [-]


Too(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Ad or not, I found this concept and the data very novel and interesting.

faebi(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Not really, I don't work for Migros, Galaxus or Digitec. I'm just a happy customer who likes their moves to more transparency.

mikl(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Any product announcement is an ad. This happens to be an interesting innovation in online retail, quite on point for this site.

imp0cat(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Guerilla marketing at its best. ;)

But then again, they only ship to Switzerland, no? So what do they gain from exposing the site on HN?

rrgok(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Even tough I like this feature. The title is misleading. It doesn't show the return rate of the product you are seeing. Example,

Go here, randomly chosen


And then scroll down and click warranty and then click 'Detailed view', it says

> How often does a product of this brand in the «AV Receiver» category have a defect within the first 24 months?

This doesn't mean what the title says, right? I'm not a native english speaker, but I hope my reading skill is not that bad. I read it like: Yamaha return scores in 'AV Reciever'. If Yamaha had 100 product in 'AV Reciever', it doesn't say almost nothing to me regarding the Yamaha RX-V4A I'm seeing. It could be that all 3% (example number) defect are Yamaha RX-V4A, or completely 3 (assuming Yamaha has 100 different products) different products.

sureglymop(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Click on 'Returns' instead of 'Warranty'.

rippercushions(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Identifying a 'product' isn't as straightforward as it seems. Large retailers insist (and get) custom product codes from major manufacturers, which are just a different code slapped onto the same box, but accomplish the goal of making price comparisons impossible. And then you've got more legitimate reasons for different codes, like the same physical product ships with 27 different types of power plugs, warranty leaflets etc for various countries.

mirekrusin(10000) 3 days ago [-]

After moving from UK to Switzerland I was missing Amazon until I discovered galaxus/digitech. It's great and feels so much faster, amazon has tons of clutter and dishonest reviews. Historic price is awesome, the whole thing is just much more honest.

cranekam(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Amazon is miserable unless you know what you're looking for. If I have to search for something it's almost game over immediately — I'm not going to wade through page after page of cheap junk with no sensible way to filter the results.

aphroz(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Interestingly enough, the culture of returns in Switzerland is very different compared to the US.

Also the quality of service vs price makes it a very appealing market but very hard to penetrate. This is why international players have always had issues to do so. Swiss customers care more about quality than price.

On Galaxus you can decide to chose slow delivery so you will not necessarly receive your product the next day. But for the same price: https://basic-tutorials.com/news/galaxus-and-digitec-now-del...

Edit: added link

posix86(10000) 3 days ago [-]

This might be a factor but it must be stated that the primary reason why international players had trouble penetrating Swiss markets was due to trade regulations which prevent retailers to sell anything duty-free or at a reasonable duty in Swiss markets. This is why Amazon et. al. don't even attempt to sell there; you're simply not competitive if you have to add 8% or something on top of every item.

If you open Amazon from Switzerland and search for anything at all, you do get tons of products that seem nice & at a reasonable price, but click on any of them and it will say that the vendor doesn't ship to Switzerland. And this is when you set your location to Switzerland! There's no way to filter for products that ship there, Amazon simply doesn't bother.

This is why e commerce stores like Galaxus & Digitec (the tech-products twin of Galaxus) were even capable of getting so large in Switzerland, while in other countries any competition was swept away by Amazon.

There are some exceptions to this, e.g. Zalando, a clothes retailer, does deliver into Switzerland... I know that they have large logistics centers in Switzerland and basically send their products b2b, maybe that doesn't pay off for Amazon? I don't know.

extua(10000) 3 days ago [-]

A 'slow delivery' option is a great idea. There have definitely been a few times when I've ordered something and would've been totally happy for it to arrive any time within the next few weeks. At the same time, it would need a different kind of delivery service which isn't totally optimised around speedy delivery.

cma(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Seems similar to 'Amazon day' delayed delivery.

amerkhalid(10000) 3 days ago [-]

> the culture of returns in Switzerland is very different compared to the US

I am curious, how is it different?

Here in the US, I have met seen whole spectrum where some people will never return anything even if it is obviously defective. And others who will return almost perfect items for tiny issues or for not meeting their expectations.

I am not sure how I would define the US return culture.

jsnell(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I've spent a five-digit sum at Galaxus/Digitec, and never returned anything. So the typical product having a 3% return rate is quite surprising.

cosmodisk(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I have a feeling not many Swiss buy a satnav, go on a two week trip with it and then return just before the return policy ends.

jb1991(10000) 3 days ago [-]

> Interestingly enough, the culture of returns in Switzerland is very different compared to the US.

The culture of returns in all of the EU, too, is very different than the US.

stabbles(10000) 3 days ago [-]

The largest shareholder in Digitec Galaxus AG is Migros [1], which is a cooperative federation with more than 2 million members.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Migros

jibcage(10000) 3 days ago [-]

It thrills me to pieces seeing Migros and Galaxus on here. I wish there was something remotely similar to Migros in the US.

TomGullen(10000) 3 days ago [-]

New attack vector for black hat product manufacturers to abuse and compete on, hopefully it won't devolve into this level of competition though!

lolc(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Isn't that a metric you want manufacturers to compete on? How could they fake this?

sys42590(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I really like this step... especially because they sell a mix of 'good' brands and stuff you could get on Aliexpress for a tenth of the price.

One more observation:

If you look at the smartphone scores, you'll see that Apple warranty rates are WAY below other brands. I assume the reason for this is that for Apple you don't have to go through the retailer you bought it to have it fixed under warranty. For Samsung et al. there's little option to have your phone or tablet fixed without reaching out to the place you bought it.

Tijdreiziger(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Samsung has service centers too.

I don't know the situation in Switzerland, but in the EU, the manufacturer warranty (whether from Apple or Samsung) is usually only 1 year. EU consumer law mandates a 2-year minimum warranty, so after the first year, you have to go through the store.

sandworm101(10000) 3 days ago [-]

>> For Samsung et al. there's little option to have your phone or tablet fixed without reaching out to the place you bought it.

I've had my personal phones repaired a handful of times in recent years (screens). All Samsung. I have never even considered taking them back to the place I bought them. I have always gone to whatever repair shop is local.

sschueller(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I believe the amount of apple devices sold in comparison to other devices is very low as Apple has stores selling directly to customers. Also you can probably get your apple device repaired at the Apple store even if you purchased it at digitec/galaxus. That may heavily skew the numbers.

fomine3(10000) 3 days ago [-]

So direct repair service network works well to make the rate lower. It looks good incentive for all. Shop don't need support cost, customer get better service, manufacturer make products looks reliable.

petodo(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Is this really worth article? Czech online shops publish reliability of products for years.

2nd biggest shows reliability, for instance iphone 12 has 99%


the biggest shop does inverse how many (1%) used warranty


this is worth checking before buying something because 97% reliability is for instance extremely bad compared to 99%, you are 3 times more likely to get faulty piece

there is also monopolistic price comparison website heureka.cz where you can check price history years back, compare all shops and set price tracking with notification covering pretty much all online shops

david927(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Wait... are you saying Jara Cimrman did it first?!

pifm_guy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

When I buy from AliExpress I feel like perhaps only 80% of items work properly for a reasonable lifespan...

I still buy there because I quite like the challenge of repairing the things that don't work, and prices there are typically half of what things cost on Amazon.

martyvis(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Yes, I am have never heard of stores doing this. Please add comments of more places where this is done. (I'm from Australia - you only see similar things from consumer groups)

roesel(10000) 3 days ago [-]

This might be true, but both czc and alza have much to learn from digitec/galaxus regarding their website useability/cleanliness/etc. Alza nowadays is closer to Aliexpress than anything else with their endless dark patterns/spam/clutter.

I wish we had something like Digitec/Galaxus in Czechia. Mironet is probably the closest, but their product range is limited and they're still not quite there.

raphaelj(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Never heard about Galaxus, but looking at their e-shop, I felt like being propelled 10y in the future.

Their UI is so much ahead any e-commerce website I ever seen.

Gigachad(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Also surprised. The site is very refreshing and unique while staying very functional.

r2b2(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I'd love to see re-purchase delay[0] and re-purchase rate[1] as well. Useful looking at multiple highly rated products and products that you go through more quickly (Eg. many bathroom supplies).


[0] Time between a customer's purchase and re-purchase of a product.

[1] Percent of original buyers that buy again.

quotehelp1829(10000) about 9 hours ago [-]

Hi r2b2! I'm sorry to address you like this, but I believe you to be a creator of Owlmail.io service and on website there is no contact information for the site, also no contact information on your profile and no direct-messaging feature on HN. So here's a super off-topic message - sorry!!

I can't create account, simply nothing happens when I enter my email address and click 'Next' or hit Enter key and so on and such.

As Firefox Relay is not available in my country I was hoping to try your service.

I have few more questions about Owlmail so I would appreciate if you could let me know if there is a more appropriate channel for asking those.

If I'm mistaken or you'd rather not engage like this - apologies!

RajuVarghese(10000) 3 days ago [-]

This post in HN has made my day! I have been a Digitec customer for over 15 years and I still buy all my tech items from them. Or from Galaxus if it is a non-tech. I am thrilled to see this 'little Swiss' company getting wider exposure. I am glad to say that my overall experience with them has been 5-star. I remember I bought computer components from them in the early days as that was the cheapest way to get a custom computer built with the best parts. There were other sites but Digitec stood out when it came to dependability. Hat's off to you, Digitec/Galaxus!!

saiya-jin(10000) 3 days ago [-]

For many items, they have much bigger stock than anybody else. Ie kids stuff and toys etc. You open similar category on web, and there is 10,000 products when any competition has 200. Often if I look for something a bit non-mainstream, they are the only one in CH who has it, at reasonable prices.

config_yml(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I also bought my first PC with them in 2001. Back then their site was just for ordering custom pc's. I spent hours on their site building the perfect custom setup. Then went to pick it up at their "warehouse" which was just a room with racks full of pc components and the guys sitting on the floor building the machines haha.

Hamuko(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Finnish retailer Verkkokauppa.com has had something similar for a couple of years now. If I for example look up the 64 GB Apple iPad (Wi-Fi), I can see that it has 0.43% repairs and 0.17% returns, and that the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 has 0% returns and 2.17% repairs.

mordae(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Same here in Czechia for the major shops.

hackerman_fi(10000) 3 days ago [-]

"I'm not aware of any other online retailer in the world that discloses this data"

Let me help you with that. Finland's largest online retailer has had it for years, example: https://www.verkkokauppa.com/fi/product/645007/Sony-WH-1000X...

neop1x(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Alza (a czech retailer also available in Germany) has had it for many years as well but none of them appear to provide a comparison between brands in a category as Galaxus does.


sfc32(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I live in Switzerland and shop a lot from Galaxus. This new initiative is very welcome and innovative, I hope other retailers follow and especially manufacturers stop shopping products that end up in landfill.

Galaxus is great in terms of range and delivery time. They have local stores in city centers where you can pick up items to get them even quicker and avoid the packaging associated with shipping.

However, their return policy is terrible. If you return something with an opened box, there is a 10% return tax. https://www.galaxus.ch/en/wiki/560

ThreeFx(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Why is that terrible?

Presumably it is much harder to sell now. If you didn't want it, why buy it in the first place?

tr33house(10000) 3 days ago [-]

imagine if this was on Amazon! I really hope this catches on!

Pxtl(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Does it matter? Any shoddy goods on Amazon are immediately pulled from the store, re-stickered, and then reintroduced under a new brand name, possibly recycling the listing of a popular and successful product using the shit-of-Theseus trick.

XCSme(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Meanwhile, on Amazon I ordered something with 'same-day delivery', and it hasn't even been shipped 5 days later by the seller. There is no way to leave a review, because by their policy if there were shipment issues, you can't leave a review for the product (I tried once, when I paid for a shelf that I really needed, and it took 2 weeks before the order was marked as cancelled, I left a review that I never received the product, it was deleted).

ndsipa_pomu(10000) 3 days ago [-]

That looks to be a great idea to me to replace faked user reviews on well known shopping sites. I expect it could be games though

turtlebits(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Indeed. Sounds good in principle, but how do you prevent someone from repeatedly returning items just to hurt a competitor and/or making frivolous defect/warranty claims against them?

_trampeltier(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Just maybe a product for boring people looks better, because they are a bit more careful than a kind of same product for teens. But still, I like idea, finally we have something from 'big data'.

matsemann(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I actually don't care that much about these numbers, as they are not my problem. 5 year warranty by law (no matter what the maker gives you), makes it their risk if they make brittle products. Compared to in a market with little consumer protection laws (US), where what you buy is a uninformed gamble as to how it will last.

luckylion(10000) 3 days ago [-]

You don't want faulty equipment. Not because you won't get a replacement, but because you'll have faulty equipment and will have to spend time dealing with it.

iwangulenko(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Happy to see a Swiss online retailer on HN, where the audience is more US focused.

Amazon has little traction in Switzerland still.

Swiss people like to support local businesses, hurray!

bauruine(10000) 3 days ago [-]

The Amazon website is just pure and utter garbage. I seriously don't know why anyone can buy anything there. They would have to sell everything at least at halve the price for me even considering using them instead of Digitec. Amazon has little traction because Switzerland is small so they don't care, not as price sensitive as others and hence people don't like to torment themselves just to save a few bucks.

Historical Discussions: Macroeconomic changes have made it impossible for me to want to pay you (January 25, 2023: 882 points)

(883) Macroeconomic changes have made it impossible for me to want to pay you

883 points 5 days ago by rkachowski in 10000th position

www.mcsweeneys.net | Estimated reading time – 3 minutes | comments | anchor

"Google announced plans to lay off 12,000 people from its workforce Friday, while Microsoft said Wednesday that it's letting go of 10,000 employees. Amazon also began a fresh round of job cuts that are expected to eliminate more than 18,000 employees and become the largest workforce reduction in the e-retailer's 28-year history." — CNBC, 1/18/23

- - -


"An exhilarating, funny, frightening, mind-warping, heart-squeezing tale. Told at the speed of light. A must read. For all humans." —Jon Scieszka

There's no easy way to say this: I have made the difficult decision to lay off over six thousand of you. In the past two years, we have achieved huge wins together. But unfortunately, the macroeconomic environment has shifted in ways none of us could have foreseen, from an economy in which I did feel like paying you, to one in which I'd rather not.

In 2021, things looked different. Interest rates were low, and my enthusiasm for bankrolling your children's insulin was high. Given every available forecast, it was the perfect time to hire 1,200 blockchain developers, spin up original streaming content, and lead three rounds of funding for my nephew's AI-powered B2B sourdough recipe app. Who could have known that in just a few months, despite all our operational velocity, the world would pivot so dramatically? Supply chains have stalled. Inflation has risen. And suddenly all your salaries and dental work hang like millstones chafing the supple neck of my stock compensation package.

I wish this weren't the case. But we cannot avoid the externalities of today's market, which is influenced by complicated global factors like the collapse of Chinese real estate, the war in Ukraine, and my desire for a marble kitchen island with a waterfall edge. As we all know, our competitors are relentless. Even as we speak, they're streamlining, optimizing, and booking the best contractors in the Bay Area for the next eighteen months. If I could want to pay you, I would. I just simply can't.

This was not an easy decision to make. It's weighed heavily on me for the past month, keeping me up at night and nearly causing me to cancel the exec team's offsite, even though Bad Bunny's appearance fee was only 50 percent refundable. Let's not mince words, though; the accountability for this decision rests with me. The consequences, on the other hand, rest with you, but so does a pretty generous COBRA package.

"A key barometer of the literary climate." —The New York Times

Ultimately, this decision was made out of an abundance of confidence in our mission and all the work you've put into it. The fact is, our fundamentals are sound. Our revenue is growing. Our cash reserves are high. We are not going anywhere (except for six thousand of you, but you'll be going there with a free login for our talent hub). The fact is, if I wanted to pay you, I could. I could even give you raises. But once again, that is not the economic reality we face. And so we must make hard choices.

For those of you we are losing, I'd like to say thank you for all the work you have given us, but there's a good chance you've already been locked out of your computer before this email arrived.

For those of you who are staying, I look forward to touching base at the town hall next week (forgive the early start time as I'm dialing in from Cinque Terre). In the meantime, please take a moment to reflect, refocus, and visualize the bright future ahead: one in which we double down on executional excellence, and I feel interested in paying you again.

Shout with questions, Mike

All Comments: [-] | anchor

aczerepinski(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Why can't the extremely profitable companies manage their headcount through attrition? Losing 6% of your staff via a hiring freeze would work too wouldn't it?

wepple(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I believe the claim that execs would make is that natural attrition isn't fast enough, especially during economic slowdowns where opportunities to jump ship are at an all time low.

Further, there's a good chance that the execs have taken it into consideration already, IE they need an 8% reduction so they layoff 6% and assume 2% through attrition.

The skeptic in me also suspects that this isn't just about cutting expenses - they're wanting to send a message to those who remain that it's time to get to work and achieve some results. IMO it actually ends up demotivating and turns people away from trusting the org, but rather prepping to jump ship.

vikingerik(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Attrition loses your more talented and motivated workers, as those are the ones that can and do find better deals elsewhere.

Layoffs are the way to lose your least talented and motivated workers.

roenxi(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Management needs to be made up of the sort of people who make economically optimum decisions. Without diminishing the horrible experience of being fired; if we have people who purposefully keep tens of thousands of people working on jobs that don't make sense to them, on aggregate society will be much worse for everyone.

We have a system that allows people to do unpopular things, like this, because it works better than the alternatives.

Dons flak jacket

quickthrower2(10000) 5 days ago [-]

The weirder thing is the overhiring in the first place. So only now the folly detectors are working?

TheOtherHobbes(10000) 5 days ago [-]

No it doesn't. It works better for 1% of the population. Everyone else is a health crisis away from bankruptcy.

Literally. That's all it takes in the US for everyone who doesn't have an eight-figure-or-more net worth to be staring ruin in the face.

Your comment is exactly the mythology that perpetuates the problem. Exploitation is sold as participation. 'Well we're paid fairly well so I guess we must be privileged and upper class.'

If you can't stop working tomorrow without ever having to worry about money again - including health crises - you are not privileged or upper class.

Please stop telling yourself you are.

pbhjpbhj(10000) 5 days ago [-]

>because it works better than the alternatives.

Does it?

mrsuprawsm(10000) 5 days ago [-]

it would be nicer if they made economically optimal decisions in the first place, instead of making a bad decision in 2022, firing a shitload of people in 2023, and going 'ah whoops our bad'.

competent operators wouldn't get into this problem in the first place

(or, alternatively, these layoffs are also an incompetent decision and the C-levels are simply following the herd)

sequoia(10000) 4 days ago [-]

The one thing this is missing is referring to employees with a cutesy company nickname while laying them off. 'We'll be parting ways with some talented Floofmates* which is very difficult.' It always strikes me that a layoff email is not the right time/place to lean on cutesy 'we're a family here! We have fun' company culture schtick.

*or googleers, metamates, plaids, whatever

Incidentally is there a name for these company-nickname-for-employees words?

jetrink(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Here's a fun list of these from Mike Pope from 2012:


He adds,

> Then there is the question of what we might call a nickname like this. A name based on a place is a toponym. A name for people from a city or region is a demonym. I solicited some ideas for this, too. We threw around corporanym and employeeonym. Someone suggested 'idionym, which should mean roughly 'your own name'.'

> The most interesting suggestion was from Colleague Clay, who knows his way around a number of languages. He suggested ergazomenonym ('from modern Greek εργαζόμενου= employee'). I like it tons, although I'd need some coaching, perhaps, in how to pronounce it properly.

ebiester(10000) 5 days ago [-]

The part I thought was the best was this: 'This was not an easy decision to make. It's weighed heavily on me for the past month, keeping me up at night and nearly causing me to cancel the exec team's offsite, even though Bad Bunny's appearance fee was only 50 percent refundable. Let's not mince words, though; the accountability for this decision rests with me. The consequences, on the other hand, rest with you, but so does a pretty generous COBRA package.'

Accountability comes with consequences. What are the consequences?

thewildginger(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Some of you may die, but it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

rurp(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Same here. I can't believe the cringy, 'I take full responsibility (but no consequences)' line has become a standard part of the CEO layoff announcement. Saying you take responsibility, without actually sacrificing anything or really facing any consequences at all is so obviously slimy and patronizing, I don't know why anyone thinks it's a good thing to say.

Actually it's even worse than no consequences; often times these layoffs give the CEO more money. Their compensation is typically heavily in stock and these layoffs often raise the stock price, directly increasing the CEO's net worth. Taking 'full responsibility' indeed.

SideburnsOfDoom(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> so does a pretty generous COBRA package

I had to look that up, it appears to be a USA thing that 'gives workers and their families who lose their health benefits the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time' (1)

Nothing to do with 'Cabinet Office Briefing Room A'.

Ugh. Health care that is contingent upon employment, is a social ill.

1) https://www.dol.gov/general/topic/health-plans/cobra

anothernewdude(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I think he meant accountability as in accounts, as in bank.

ReptileMan(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I kinda like the layoffs of late. We are incredibly spoiled - anyone in IT born past 1985 barely knows what making less money than the previous year is. It will trim the fat, push away people that are in the industry because of the money.

I think it will be ok.

rightbyte(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> It will trim the fat

More like cutting of fingers. Layoffs at mass scale are not 'low performers' or individuals that are (as individuals) redundant. It is just people picked in some Excel sheet.

gavinmckenzie(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Amazing. There was a time, nearly 20 years ago, that I was let go from Adobe. My colleagues assumed that because of my position/tenure/knowledge that I was layoff-proof. I told them that I was just a number in a large organization, and that orgs of a certain scale don't do layoffs in a way that looks at each individual. Sure enough I was let go and after 16 years at the same company, that was acquired by Adobe where I spent 5 years, my overall feeling was "meh, I knew the end was nigh". Since then I've been a contractor, and I couldn't be happier. The relationship between me and my client is simple: I work, and they pay me. Sure there's no stock option perks, but on the other hand I never have to deal with HR processes, submit quarterly objectives, etc. I work, I get paid. I know when the contract will end, and either the client renews the contract or I go somewhere else. It's all fine.

For me, reducing my work life down to such a simple transactional level has been incredibly freeing and stress reducing, and allowed me to focus even more clearly on the work.

l1silver(10000) 5 days ago [-]

But isn't the inbetween contract jobs a tenuous time?

berniedurfee(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Yes, large companies execute layoffs en masse by location, function or group, regardless of individual qualifications, in order to avoid discrimination lawsuits.

Though, there are always workarounds when managers want to keep their highest performers off the list.

chewz(10000) 5 days ago [-]

You might be a proud and valuable person in your personal life. But for a company, you are just an asset - low yielding asset with high depreciation.

So it is rational decision for an enterprise to let you go and free some liquidity that could be deployed elsewhere. Even buying Treasury bill yields more then an employee and is more liquid option. Liquidity is important when times get tough and recession is coming..

Just face it.

And for an enterprise if competitors are letting go employees it means that they are building their war chest of liquid assets. So you have too because you have to be prepared when time comes for mergers, takeover and acquisitions....

wmeredith(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Google's average salary is $124k/ year and its revenue per employee is $1.365 million. Show me a t-bill with that 1100% annual return.

ath3nd(10000) 5 days ago [-]

What a funny write!

Despite it being funny, if it wasn't for the outright satire, it would be virtually indistinguishable from the recent tech layoff messages:

Gitpod - https://www.gitpod.io/blog/building-for-the-long-run

Microsoft (this is maybe the classiest) - https://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2023/01/18/subject-focusing...

Zuck/Meta - https://about.fb.com/news/2022/11/mark-zuckerberg-layoff-mes...

Stripe - https://stripe.com/en-nl/newsroom/news/ceo-patrick-collisons...

Spotify - https://newsroom.spotify.com/2023-01-23/an-update-on-january...

The industry had been, for quite some time, growing both in terms of headcount and compensation, without regards to boundaries, sanity or practicality.

With that in mind, it looked like it was only a matter of time for this to happen. However, one cannot help wondering how much influence did profitability and future outlook had to do with it, versus how much it was about regaining control over workers and salaries and about 'fixing' the stock price.

For me, the biggest crime is the fanatic enthusiasm and we-are-all-a-family narrative these companies were pushing while growing well beyond needed in 2020 through 2021 contrasted with the generic messages they are peddling now when laying off.

0xbadcafebee(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> The industry had been, for quite some time, growing both in terms of headcount and compensation, without regards to boundaries, sanity or practicality.

Tech has been addicted to VC funds and investors don't care what happens as long as their stock price grows in the short term.

At this point I'm considering just never working for a public company ever again.

trynewideas(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Pretty sure the corpus of layoff letters is large enough to just let ChatGPT handle them from here on out.

safety1st(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Maybe I've lost my heart but it's hard for me to find fault with the way Nadella communicated MSFT's layoffs. They're a business, they need to reallocate capital and headcount, he doesn't shed any crocodile tears, but they are providing above market severance benefits, end of transmission. If I have to be laid off I want it to go something like this.

DieBruderBauer(10000) 5 days ago [-]

>And suddenly all your salaries and dental work hang like millstones chafing the supple neck of my stock compensation package.

Oof. This guy knows how to write. And he's funny to boot! May consider adding my name to his Patreon list...

Semaphor(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Here's his site for more to read: https://www.mikelacher.com/

And his articles on the linked site: https://www.mcsweeneys.net/authors/mike-lacher

LBJsPNS(10000) 5 days ago [-]

But you don't understand! These people who were laid off are important! So much so they didn't need a union, because the company couldn't possibly let them go. Unions are for all those other people who aren't important!

Perhaps some of you are beginning to understand the term Solidarity Forever.

carapace(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I used to think programmers didn't need unions.

Then that massive no-poaching collusion amongst dozens of the top tech companies in the US surfaced.


It wasn't just 'Adobe, Apple Inc., Google, Intel, Intuit, Pixar, Lucasfilm and eBay', the practice spread to 'dozens' of other companies:

> Confidential internal Google and Apple memos, buried within piles of court dockets and reviewed by PandoDaily, clearly show that what began as a secret cartel agreement between Apple's Steve Jobs and Google's Eric Schmidt to illegally fix the labor market for hi-tech workers, expanded within a few years to include companies ranging from Dell, IBM, eBay and Microsoft, to Comcast, Clear Channel, Dreamworks, and London-based public relations behemoth WPP. All told, the combined workforces of the companies involved totals well over a million employees.


It's actually pretty insane what's revealed in the documents, they knew exactly what they were doing, they were completely ruthless.

Anyway, now I think that we do need unions, or something, because these folks are clearly willing to do anything they think they can get away with.

recycledfood(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I am a BigCo SWE and I have long wanted to organize, but as a sole provider I don't know how to do so effectively without significant risk to my family.

The sad facts are that most workers in the US: lack class awareness thanks to decades of successful pro-owner, anti-worker propaganda and policies; are falsely divided along lines which are convenient to the owner class (left/right, boomer/millenial, gay/straight, receiving public benefits/not); are unknowingly and dangerously close to medical bankruptcy even when covered by 'good' insurance; can't afford to be even temporarily unemployed, because their health coverage is tied to their employer; can't afford to protest or attempt organizing, because they could then quickly become unemployed and endanger their dependents.

The Silicon Valley engineer earning $500k/year is better off than the midwest bank junior IT worker earning $50k. But they are part of the same class and should organize accordingly in order to gain true leverage.

Having competing job offers is a kind of leverage available to some, at an exhausting personal cost. These can be used to obtain one-dimensional improvements like higher pay, more vacation days, or choice of projects. But true leverage could make CEO's weepy and meaningless 'I take full responsibility' statements actually mean something, among other things. The recent layoffs in the US including a hefty severance rely on luck, not leverage.

Tech workers probably have all the tools needed to organize effectively, and not only among themselves. But whisper 'union' and ten peers will chime in before your next breath with falsehoods and other generic claims based on misremembered anecdotes which miss the point entirely and diffuse useful discussion.

NhanH(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Union does not protect you from layoff. They will be able to negotiate for severance package, but seeing the way big techs are handling it, I highly doubt unions can negotiate a better one.

2devnull(10000) 4 days ago [-]

No sympathy for the average American worker, who is impacted even more so by inflation, which robs them of their life savings and job security at their min wage job. Over-entitled and over payed young tech workers who have displaced poorer people and haven't been astute enough to save their extravagant salaries, spending it instead on $30 door dashed organic salads now want to bleat about how "boo hoo life isn't fair." They are correct but too stupid to blame the real culprit. It's the fed dummies! The fed givith and then taketh away. A tale as old as time. If you don't understand how economics 101 works, you probably didn't deserve your high paying tech job, to say nothing of being an actual participant in society and voting in elections, where guess what, you can have a say in fiscal and monetary policy decisions once removed.

potsandpans(10000) 4 days ago [-]

such incredibly devisive rhetoric. it's very clever: tech workers aren't 'average' american workers and therefore deserve punishment. the generous interpretation is that you've been so sufficiently propagandized that you can't even realize the absurdity of this dichotomy: that skilled labor is a separate irresponsible class of people, so we should not concern ourselves with their plight.

automatom(10000) 4 days ago [-]

It's the fed dummies!

Why is it that the C-suite folks, who are supposed to understand macroeconomic trends or 'Economics 101' as you're calling it, didn't see this coming and didn't make better decisions to not over-hire and mitigate reactionary cost-cutting. These companies have billions of cash on hand, but they choose the easy short term route of slashing labor costs to appease shareholders. I would argue this is a terrible long term solution on growth and profits (despite the shareholders impatience.

Besides even the big tech employees are closer to the average American worker than C-suite folks if you look at median salaries. You're talking down to a large group of people as if you somehow saw it coming before everyone else?

spending it instead on $30 door dashed organic salads

This is effectively the same argument as the one made by the Avocado Toast guy, and it's out of touch. You can empathize with folks that make less than you and still criticize the action of management that could have had the foresight to prioritize people over profit, but chose not to out of greed.

drdrek(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Not to rain on the common man parade, most of these layoffs are after even bigger hiring rounds. Microsoft hired 40K employees in 22 to layoff 10k in 23, that is still 30K more employees.

In 22: Meta hired 12K+ Netflix 2k+ Google 20K+ Amazon 300K+ (!)

But oh me oh my the free market that lets the companies hire lets them fire. Evil money man used to give me money to get compensation, that is good greed. Now evil money man wants to take away money to get compensation that is bad greed angry face emoji

tkfu(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Your numbers are massively wrong at a glance, when I went to check them. Microsoft's total number of employees increased by roughly 40k between June 30 2021 and June 30 2022, but a large portion of that increase was from M&A, not from hiring, and they started large layoffs in July 2022. Net hires are not public info, but it's probably more like 15k in the period specified. Amazon has 300k employees total, and they obviously didn't hire all 300k in 2022.

Those were the first two I checked and they're massively off, so I'm inclined to think the rest of your argument is also in bad faith or misinformed.

afian(10000) 5 days ago [-]


breakpointalpha(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Somehow, more human than human CEOs.

entropyneur(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> bankrolling your children's insulin

What an utter lack of self-awareness. You guys are some of the best compensated workers in the entire world. At least have some decency not to bring the 'little girl who has cancer' into it.

Ancalagon(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Pretty sure insulin is for diabetes not cancer

lezojeda(10000) 4 days ago [-]

You sound pretty envious.

ketchupdebugger(10000) 4 days ago [-]

insulin can cost thousands of dollars per month and it is an indispensable drug. Big Pharma actually raised the prices of insulin in recent years by 50%. so all that extra compensation literally just goes to drug costs.

p0pcult(10000) 5 days ago [-]

It's actually a real problem here, considering the cost of medical care here in the USA, and how insurance is generally via employer.

mshake2(10000) 5 days ago [-]

What ever will those TikTok tech workers do now that they can't stream their comped meals and coffee breaks and afternoon relaxation massages?[0] If only it was illegal for The Man to fire these valuable employees!

0. https://twitter.com/Carnage4Life/status/1617534649508716544

strix_varius(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I've worked in several places like this, with similar over-the-top perks... and they make me cringe. It's a gross, flashy, consumerist, classist use of funds.

Sure, make your office pleasant to work in. Locate it near good lunch places, or even provide lunch. But the hammock room, massage chair lounge, private museum/art collection, and rooftop bar are all aspects of my employers that I'm ashamed to even discuss.

Crusoe123(10000) 5 days ago [-]

It's not a TikTok tech worker. It's a recruiter depicting an unrealistic - missing all the stress etc - view of the workplace to attract inexperienced employees.As ones with experience mostly don't give a crap about these types amenities.

That video was done for The Man, not for the employees well being. And apparently The Man was able to sell you this depiction of the work place so you can now feel smug about all those layoffs.

Good for you I guess, you independent thinker!

Tade0(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> Even as we speak, they're streamlining, optimizing, and booking the best contractors in the Bay Area for the next eighteen months.

I suppose the author didn't want to sound racist or the equivalent that concerns people of the same skin tone but, somehow, different economic situations and options in life, but over here in Eastern Europe Google and Amazon have been hiring all this time.

ponector(10000) 5 days ago [-]

They are hiring all this time simply because they can pay 1/5 salary there for the same role

arcturus17(10000) 5 days ago [-]

As I understood it, the point was that they are laying off people but hiring more expensive contractors instead.

severine(10000) 5 days ago [-]

The Cinque Terre (Italian pronunciation: [ˈtʃiŋkwe ˈtɛrre]; Ligurian: Çinque Tære, meaning 'Five Lands') is a coastal area within Liguria, in the northwest of Italy. It lies in the west of La Spezia Province, and comprises five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.



theandrewbailey(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Yeah, I had to look up that place, too.

kqr(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> The fact is, if I wanted to pay you, I could. I could even give you raises. But once again, that is not the economic reality we face. And so we must make hard choices.

Maybe I've hung around in the wrong circles too much recently, but this hit me hard. This is basically how the reasoning behind all top management decisions have been communicated to me in the past year:

'There is indeed a clearly better alternative course of action that we should take. You're right in that it would be trivial to adopt and we would all be happier from it, with more satisfied customers. The fact is that's not what we have chosen in reality, so we must shoulder the heavy burden of choosing the inferior alternative and give it our best shot.'

Way to motivate a decision!

sgtnasty(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I have to say I am surprised by most of the reactions from folks regarding these 'economic' decisions. This is how capitalism works, this is what its supposed to do: generate more capital for those who have it already.

golergka(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> better alternative course of action that we should take

Better for whom?

no-s(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> "...The fact is that's not what we have chosen in reality, so we must shoulder the heavy burden of choosing the inferior alternative and give it our best shot."

HaHaOnlySerious. A stepping stone on the mysterious garden path of bad decision-making that leads to consultant$, ho$tile takeover$, etc.

Aligns with the news that ChatGPT could pass b-school exams[1]. I think this should be very threatening for low skilled middle management.

[1] https://nypost.com/2023/01/23/chatgpt-outperforms-humans-on-...

shever73(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> The fact is, if I wanted to pay you, I could. I could even give you raises. But once again, that is not the economic reality we face. And so we must make hard choices.

True...contrast Microsoft's decision to take an $800m hit in letting go 10,000 employees with its earnings report showing $16.4b operating profits.

Gibbon1(10000) 5 days ago [-]

The thing to understand is the the companies primary product isn't the boring and annoying things employees are are working on and customers pay for. It's the companies stock and bond offerings. Every decision is subordinate to that.

username_my1(10000) 5 days ago [-]

wrong view / comparios ... in a 5% interest rate environment, companies fight for investors money .. if you don't do the cuts and find a way to be efficient investors will put their money somewhere else that's more profitable.

this reasoning is pure and simple and correct, you start from the top, not from the fact 'they can afford it' because their job is not to spend the money they have their job is to increase value for investors.

mensetmanusman(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Throughout modern human history, power centers have belonged to finance, business, and law.

Uppity technology specialists are attempting to upend the system and take a seat at the table. They have to be shown their place occasionally to remind them who is in charge.

coldpie(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> Uppity technology specialists are attempting to upend the system and take a seat at the table.

We are? Seems to me like the folks down at the Starbucks are the ones doing the hard work. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starbucks_unions

winstonprivacy(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Pretty ironic seeing as just a few months ago, everyone was ghosting employers, taking counteroffers after accepting, and 'quiet quitting'.

So let's quit pretending employees are holier than employers.

guntherhermann(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Seeing a few posts on HN or blogs about 'quiet quitting' (which appears to be doing exactly what is required of you, no more, no less... a misnomer then.), and 'ghosting' employers... is not even comparable to the 50,000+ layoffs that have happened across tech companies in the past few weeks.

> So let's quit pretending employees are holier than employers.

I haven't seen anyone stating this, or even implying it.

I do see employees (people) as more worthy of sympathy than corporations.

MisterBastahrd(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I think it's funny that people believe that folks have stopped quiet quitting.

They haven't. They won't. This is the world the wealthy have created for themselves. People who aren't allowed to have skin in the game shouldn't pretend like they do for the rich who build wealth off of their labor.

Xorlev(10000) 5 days ago [-]

'Everyone'. A vocal minority, perhaps.

activitypea(10000) 5 days ago [-]

'People and multi billion dollar-generating corporations are the same to me'

acdha(10000) 5 days ago [-]

"Quiet quitting" was corporate spin shopped around to gullible journalists. The behavior described was employees doing what they were paid to do but not giving the company freebies.

This is important to understand because it relates to why there are layoffs now: the managerial class hates when normal workers have negotiating clout. Layoffs remove that clout by cooling the job market and making existing employees afraid to leave or ask for market rate pay.

This is important for most HN readers to understand: there's been a long tech boom where we've had above average pay & benefits due to demand. This has lead a lot of us to think we're part of the upper crust at companies because we're paid and treated better, and that this is the natural order of things. Few C-level managers agree but they're definitely hoping we continue to believe it and don't unionize.

janalsncm(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Sam Harris talks about how when we get superintelligent AI, our relationship to it will be like ants relationship to humans. Well, we already have a kind of "slow AI" in corporations. Profit-seeking paperclip maximizers.

They don't hate us, they don't love us. They keep us around as long as we're useful and then dispose of us after that point. The fact that corporations are made of meat doesn't change the ultimate reward function that they all must follow: maximize profit, laws and negative externalities be damned.

OOPMan(10000) 4 days ago [-]

When is a big If.

Much like the simulation hypothesis, 'super intelligent AI' is more religion than reality at this point.

zmxz(10000) 5 days ago [-]


Aeolun(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Hmm, if your employer waits until they have 12000 of you to fire for not doing any work, that is its own kind of incompetence.

anothernewdude(10000) 5 days ago [-]

A business that can't think of what they should have a massive percentage of their staff do, is a business that has fucking useless bosses.

pjc50(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Man conflates 'being fired with cause' and 'performance review' with 'layoffs'.

A4ET8a8uTh0(10000) 5 days ago [-]

<< Imagine, there are consequences if you lie to your employer and yourself about your actual worth, knowledge and work ethics! What a surprise!

Um. Last time I checked, Google interviews are not known for being easy to the point that just being interviewed says something about the candidate ( they either have an in with someone or have some level of expertise ) and bestows some credence for recruiters. If that is the case, was the person able to fool the entire sets of panels interviewing that person? If so, the failure may not be of the individual. The system that allowed the individual to pass is flawed.

<< Because we all know that bosses choose to be evil, they never make decisions based on.. let's see.. numbers.

Sure, but numbers don't suggest anything other than slower growth. Not a loss of revenue, but slower, than an activist investor wants, growth.

I personally call BS on the 'they base it on numbers you know'. Some do, but they are a minority. I won't subject you to details, but I can explicitly say that the extent to which data is used as a justification for an already made decision is disheartening. Sometimes even if you have all the info, data and numbers, it will not matter. The decision was made despite it.

meindnoch(10000) 5 days ago [-]

See, this is why you stay overemployed. If you're laid off from one of your jobs, you still get to keep the others.

Companies are like sociopaths, so employees must act like sociopaths too when interacting with them.

quickthrower2(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Not even sociopathic: you basically a consult business with many customers.

DoingIsLearning(10000) 5 days ago [-]

first rule of fight club.

icu(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I think one of the hard truths is that corporate managers and executives are often disconnected from the decisions they are making and the negative impacts of those decisions are pushed on to employees.

There aren't many solutions to this problem besides better voluntary ethical treatment of employees or compulsory enforcement via a set of professional standards set by a 'management body', a 'management regulator' or well written employment laws.

However, having said this, I don't think many US based management or executives would want to be constrained in this way due to cultural perspectives around capitalism. I've spent a lot of time thinking why socialist policies are part of the zeitgeist in the UK but not the US. I think it's due to a historical hangover of industrialization and having a society where there was the rapid exploitation of workers and especially children. I think socialism in the form of worker rights and healthcare was an upper-society response to squalor and destitution being in the face of the political elite in London. My somewhat jaded view is that socialist policies in the UK are setup so that instead of the wealthy paying for a greater proportion of the negative externalities caused by industrialization and capitalism, everyone, would pay in an 'equal' way. However equal isn't quite equitable because National Insurance employee deductions are capped out at 2% above a salary threshold of £4,189 a month.

No I'm not saying capitalism is bad or that socialism doesn't have problems. I think free market capitalism is good in many cases, it just needs to be constrained by high ethical standards. However, I don't think free market capitalism can solve all the challenges we face in society and Western democracies need a Government mechanism to address wealth inequality otherwise the foundations of society start to break down.

In comparison the US, with it's vast land mass and varied dispersed resources, industrialized in a more distributed way, the exploitive effect of industrialization was far away from Washington DC. Even now I think US politicians still don't viscerally understand the human suffering caused by the hollowing out of blue collar jobs due to globalization.

For a time I thought 'triple bottom line' might work, but it seems like ESG has taken over with an emphasis on the environment and not people. While I care deeply about Mother Earth, realistically I think people who are struggling to survive have no mental space to consider their environmental impact.

wildrhythms(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> There aren't many solutions to this problem besides better voluntary ethical treatment of employees or compulsory enforcement via a set of professional standards set by a 'management body', a 'management regulator' or well written employment laws.

...a labor union?

unity1001(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> I think socialism in the form of worker rights and healthcare was an upper-society response to squalor and destitution being in the face of the political elite in London

They weren't. The upper classes did everything in their power to prevent the plebs from getting ANY right whatsoever. Churchill even sicced the military at the striking workers at the turn of the century.

All of those gains were made by the people fighting tooth and nail. Especially after Ww II, when the USSR did not 'just collapse because socialism is not sustainable' like the British press was screaming about during the interwar years, it made a great case for the people pushing their agenda and the Labour party was able to do all the reforms that the neoliberals have been bit by bit dismantling over the last 40 years.

gorgoiler(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I grind away at our codebase day in day out causing me immense personal anxiety and burnout risk and all for what?

Well! The honest answer is because software engineering is an incredibly satisfying intellectual pursuit. So satisfying that outside of work in my spare time I literally do it for free, giving away my work to strangers as free / open source software.

Why draw a salary then? Or stock? Well obviously I have to feed my family. But also I have to then see that I'm getting a big share of the pie too, because otherwise someone else will be eating some pie that was rightfully mine, and that feels wrong.

Would my C-level pals get their $15m exit without my work? Maybe, but it's less likely. Would they get it if the other top engineers and I all downed tools or walked out as a group? No. So why is their exit equivalent to several mansions and mine is around about a year's worth of salary?

Waterfall edge marble kitchen island indeed.

Zvez(10000) 5 days ago [-]

simple answer - without you they easily find other developers. Without them you will have to find another exec to work for. And as long as it is easier for them to find replacement than for you to find another/better job, they have an upper hand.

hospadar(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> Would they get it if the other top engineers and I all downed tools or walked out as a group? No. So why is their exit equivalent to several mansions and mine is around about a year's worth of salary?

Unionize baby!

cycomanic(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Because the people who decide exec salaries are execs in other businesses, so they generally have

1) An inflated view of the impact of execs compared to other employees. This is a well studied psychological phenomena. People tend to overestimate their 'skill/contribution' even in poor luck or even rigged scenarios. (There was a study which gave some subjects a head start in monopoly, i.e. more money, the subjects tended to talk significantly more about the advantages of 'their' strategy in the game, then the subjects that we not given the head start).

2) It's in the interest of execs to keep C-suite salaries high, because it increases their own salary.

So it's not surprising that we have seen a dramatic increase in ratio of exec to average employee compensation, and why execs are typically isolated from economic downturns.

mshake2(10000) 5 days ago [-]

>So why is their exit equivalent to several mansions and mine is around about a year's worth of salary?

Honestly? Because 1) you are very replaceable and 2) you have a very low chance in succeeding at organizing any kind of group/union action. If either of those two facts were different, you would have more leverage. But they aren't so you don't.

quickthrower2(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Not all founders get a good exit though.

kewpiedoll99(10000) 2 days ago [-]

> why is ... mine [only] around about a year's worth of salary?

this complaint is almost as tone deaf as the satire. poor you. i was laid off, and only got a month's severance.

sagaro(10000) 2 days ago [-]

>Would they get it if the other top engineers and I all downed tools or walked out as a group?

They tried this at twitter. But twitter survived. Turned out for KTLO not many people are actually required.

Also, when you are over staffed, employees have enough free time to get political, run slack channels, do activism and in general reduce the entire org's productivity. Most companies were stuck in this phase the last few years, with Coinbase and a couple of other companies being brave enough to say they don't want their employees engaging in workplace activism.

This whole macro-economic change and the twitter success after getting rid of 30% of its employees, has now given these companies an opportunity to follow without getting singled out. If they don't do it now, and do it 6 months later they will get called out as demons. Now since everyone is doing it, it is not that bad a PR hit.

matheusmoreira(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> Why draw a salary then? Or stock?

On my own time, I only work on stuff I personally care about, only for as long as I want and I usually don't even publish the resulting code because of the implicit responsibility associated with that. They'd have to pay me to work continuously on code I don't care about or even own. Why solve other people's problems for free?

ChrisMarshallNY(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I love software development. It's not just a job, but a hobby, as well. My GH Activity Graph is solid green, because I code every day. Sometimes, more, on weekends.

I haven't been paid since 2017. I was laid off, after 27 years. It was totally expected, and I was prepared.

What I wasn't prepared for, was the rejection from the industry.

Once I got over that, I was fine. I found some 501(c)(3) work that interested me, and I've been doing that. I did some writing, started trying to implement many of the ideas I had, while being paid (but were ignored), and found out that I had been absolutely right, the entire time (It is not hubris to postulate that, if I had been allowed to implement my ideas, the layoffs would not have been necessary, but that's all water under the bridge).

I used to say that 'My dream is to work for free.'

Livin' the dream...

Kinrany(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> Why draw a salary then? Or stock? Well obviously I have to feed my family.

Wrong: salary is determined by your ability to negotiate, and your ability is higher when you could be doing the same satisfying activity for someone else.

jerrre(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> Would they get it if the other top engineers and I all downed tools or walked out as a group? No

Why not try that? Or use it as leverage? If you believe this.

WalterBright(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> So why is their exit equivalent to several mansions and mine is around about a year's worth of salary?

Because their decisions make or break the company, and your's do not.

For a well known example, Steve Jobs took over Apple when it was 90 days from bankruptcy. With the same group of workers, he took it to the biggest company in the world. Just by making different leadership decisions. That's why he made the big bucks.

For a more recent example, see how James Daunt turned around Barnes&Noble:


> some pie that was rightfully mine

Found your own company, and the pie will be rightfully yours.

mattmanser(10000) 5 days ago [-]

No-one is going to tell you the truth, but it's because the US so successfully turned workers against unions, that's why.

Historical Discussions: Replacing a SQL analyst with 26 recursive GPT prompts (January 25, 2023: 769 points)

(769) Replacing a SQL analyst with 26 recursive GPT prompts

769 points 4 days ago by kvh in 10000th position

www.patterns.app | Estimated reading time – 19 minutes | comments | anchor

When I was at Square and the team was smaller we had a dreaded "analytics on-call" rotation. It was strictly rotated on a weekly basis, and if it was your turn up you knew you would get very little "real" work done that week and spend most of your time fielding ad-hoc questions from the various product and operations teams at the company (SQL monkeying, we called it). There was cutthroat competition for manager roles on the analytics team and I think this was entirely the result of managers being exempted from this rotation -- no status prize could rival the carrot of not doing on-call work.

So, the idea that something like analytics on-call could be entirely replaced by a next-token optimizer like GPT-3 has been an idea I've been excited to try for a long time now. I finally got a chance to sit down and try it out this week.

We're about to kick off our fundraising process, so I to test the idea I attempted to build a free-form question answering analytics bot on top of the Crunchbase data set of investors, companies, and fundraising rounds. I call it CrunchBot.

Read on to get the details, but here is a quick example of it getting a simple thing exactly right:

And an example of it getting something more complex exactly right:

And an example of it getting something complex terrifically wrong (watch your join conditions davinci-003!):

And something of medium complexity mostly right (it's so close here, needs an ilike instead of like, which it messed up despite a specific prompt telling it to watch out for this mistake):

Overall I was dumbfounded with the quality of the results. LLMs are a continual source of blown minds, but this is shockingly close to replacing an entire role at companies with only a few hours of effort.

How I built it

My plan was to build it in Patterns Studio. There were mostly four parts

  • Build the prompt from
    • user's question
    • schemas and sample data of the available tables
    • clear directions
  • Run it through various GPT models and get 5+ completions of raw SQL
  • Execute the SQL against the relevant tables, pick the best result
  • Hook it up to a Slack bot

By the end I had a much more complex pipeline as I kept quickly finding prompt improvements. Specifically the SQL generation and execution part became a loop of:

  • Generate a candidate query
  • Quality check the SQL with GPT itself, asking it to spot common errors (NULLS LAST, for instance) and produce a correct version of the query
  • Run the SQL against the tables
  • If there was an error or no result, ask GPT to fix the query to produce a correct result and repeat the loop
  • Otherwise, return the result

This led to completion chains of over 20 calls to GPT for a single user question. There feels like some logarithmic improvement in each GPT call — you can continue to add more context and checks with every completion, exploring different versions and iterating on the result. This is the same process that a junior analyst would use to arrive at the answer, in this case it takes 15 seconds and costs $1 in credits vs $50 and 1 hour for the analyst. You have a LOT of leeway there to use even more crazy prompt pipelines before the ROI gets bad.

Anyways, here's the step-by-step of how I built it. You can follow along in this template app on Patterns that has all the code (no data it in, Crunchbase is a proprietary data set — reach out [email protected] if you are interested in exploring this specific data set).

1. Get the Crunchbase data

The full Crunchbase dataset includes 2.4m organizations and 510k funding rounds. We ingest this via the full CSV dump every 24 hours into our postgres instance. For this analysis we restricted it to three tables: organizations, funding_rounds, and investments.

2. Build the initial prompt

The initial SQL generation prompt includes three basic elements: a summary of the tables and data available to query, the user's question, and a prompt asking GPT to write a correct Postgres query. Here's the exact template we used:

prompt = f'''{tables_summary}    As a senior analyst, given the above schemas and data, write a detailed and correct Postgres sql query to answer the analytical question:    '{question}'    Comment the query with your logic.'''  

Which results in this full prompt, for example:

Schema for table: organizations    uuid Text      name Text      roles Text      country_code Text      region Text      city Text      status Text      short_description Text      category_list Text      num_funding_rounds Float      total_funding_usd Float      founded_on Date      employee_count Text      email Text      primary_role Text        Data for table: organizations:                                     uuid                        name    roles  \  0  ac323097-bdd0-4507-9cbc-6186e61c47a5       Bootstrap Enterprises  company     1  717ce629-38b6-494d-9ebf-f0eeb51506f8                  Campanizer  company     2  c8cbaa69-c9db-44e2-9ffa-eb4722a62fe3                       Cambr  company     3  5ab1ae3d-c3a1-4268-a532-b500d3dd6182                  CallMeHelp  company     4  143f840b-551c-4dbd-a92b-0804d654b5cf  California Cannabis Market  company         country_code      region           city     status  \  0         <NA>        <NA>           <NA>  operating     1          USA    Colorado        Boulder  operating     2          USA    New York       New York  operating     3          GBR   Stockport      Stockport  operating     4          USA  California  San Francisco     closed                                          short_description  \  0  Bootstrap Enterprises is an organic waste mana...     1  Campanizer organizes schedule and coordinates ...     2  Cambr enables companies to build and scale fin...     3  CallMeHelp provides early warning and care ove...     4  California Cannabis Market is an information t...                                            category_list  num_funding_rounds  \  0              Consulting,Organic,Waste Management                 NaN     1                Information Technology,Scheduling                 NaN     2                       Banking,Financial Services                 NaN     3                     Fitness,Health Care,Wellness                 NaN     4  B2B,Information Services,Information Technology                 NaN          total_funding_usd founded_on employee_count                 email  \  0                NaN        NaT        unknown                  <NA>     1                NaN 2017-01-01           1-10  [email protected]     2                NaN        NaT        unknown       [email protected]     3                NaN 2017-01-01           1-10                  <NA>     4                NaN 2018-01-01           1-10                  <NA>         primary_role    0      company    1      company    2      company    3      company    4      company            Schema for table: investments    uuid Text      name Text      funding_round_uuid Text      funding_round_name Text      investor_uuid Text      investor_name Text      investor_type Text      is_lead_investor Boolean        Data for table: investments:                                     uuid  \  0  524986f0-3049-54a4-fa72-f60897a5e61d     1  6556ab92-6465-25aa-1ffc-7f8b4b09a476     2  0216e06a-61f8-9cf1-19ba-20811229c53e     3  dadd7d86-520d-5e35-3033-fc1d8792ab91     4  581c4b38-9653-7117-9bd4-7ffe5c7eba69                                                       name  \  0                Accel investment in Series A - Meta     1             Greylock investment in Series B - Meta     2  Meritech Capital Partners investment in Series...     3  Trinity Ventures investment in Series B - Phot...     4        Founders Fund investment in Series A - Geni                            funding_round_uuid      funding_round_name  \  0  d950d7a5-79ff-fb93-ca87-13386b0e2feb         Series A - Meta     1  6fae3958-a001-27c0-fb7e-666266aedd78         Series B - Meta     2  6fae3958-a001-27c0-fb7e-666266aedd78         Series B - Meta     3  bcd5a63d-ed99-6963-0dd2-e36f6582f846  Series B - Photobucket     4  60e6afd9-1215-465a-dd17-0ed600d4e29b         Series A - Geni                                 investor_uuid              investor_name  \  0  b08efc27-da40-505a-6f9d-c9e14247bf36                      Accel     1  e2006571-6b7a-e477-002a-f7014f48a7e3                   Greylock     2  8d5c7e48-82da-3025-dd46-346a31bab86f  Meritech Capital Partners     3  7ca12f7a-2f8e-48b4-a8d1-1a33a0e275b9           Trinity Ventures     4  fb2f8884-ec07-895a-48d7-d9a9d4d7175c              Founders Fund         investor_type  is_lead_investor    0  organization              True    1  organization              True    2  organization              True    3  organization              <NA>    4  organization              True            Schema for table: funding_rounds    uuid Text      region Text      city Text      investment_type Text      announced_on Date      raised_amount_usd Float      post_money_valuation_usd Float      investor_count Float      org_uuid Text      org_name Text      lead_investor_uuids Text        Data for table: funding_rounds:                                     uuid      region            city  \  0  8a945939-18e0-cc9d-27b9-bf33817b2818  California      Menlo Park     1  d950d7a5-79ff-fb93-ca87-13386b0e2feb  California      Menlo Park     2  6fae3958-a001-27c0-fb7e-666266aedd78  California      Menlo Park     3  bcd5a63d-ed99-6963-0dd2-e36f6582f846    Colorado          Denver     4  60e6afd9-1215-465a-dd17-0ed600d4e29b  California  West Hollywood         investment_type announced_on  raised_amount_usd  post_money_valuation_usd  \  0           angel   2004-09-01           500000.0                       NaN     1        series_a   2005-05-01         12700000.0                98000000.0     2        series_b   2006-04-01         27500000.0               502500000.0     3        series_b   2006-05-01         10500000.0                       NaN     4        series_a   2007-01-17                NaN                10000000.0          investor_count                              org_uuid     org_name  \  0             4.0  df662812-7f97-0b43-9d3e-12f64f504fbb         Meta     1             4.0  df662812-7f97-0b43-9d3e-12f64f504fbb         Meta     2             5.0  df662812-7f97-0b43-9d3e-12f64f504fbb         Meta     3             2.0  f53cb4de-236e-0b1b-dee8-7104a8b018f9  Photobucket     4             1.0  4111dc8b-c0df-2d24-ed33-30cd137b3098         Geni                                        lead_investor_uuids    0               3f47be49-2e32-8118-01a0-31685a4d0fd7    1               b08efc27-da40-505a-6f9d-c9e14247bf36    2  e2006571-6b7a-e477-002a-f7014f48a7e3,8d5c7e48-...    3                                               <NA>    4               fb2f8884-ec07-895a-48d7-d9a9d4d7175c            As a senior analyst, given the above schemas and data, write a detailed and correct Postgres sql query to answer the analytical question:    'Who were the largest biotech investors in 2022?'    Comment the query with your logic.  

3. Double check the query

I found GPT made some common mistakes over and over again (the same ones any analyst would make), so I gave it a specific prompt to review each query and fix any bugs before doing anything else:

prompt = f'''{query.sql}    Double check the Postgres query above for common mistakes, including:   - Remembering to add `NULLS LAST` to an ORDER BY DESC clause   - Handling case sensitivity, e.g. using ILIKE instead of LIKE   - Ensuring the join columns are correct   - Casting values to the appropriate type     Rewrite the query here if there are any mistakes. If it looks good as it is, just reproduce the original query.'''  

4. Run the generated SQL against the database, fix any errors

Next we try to run the SQL against the database. If it produces a result, we store the result and query. If it produces no result or an error, we ask GPT to fix the SQL:

error_prompt = f'''{query.sql}    The query above produced the following error:    {query.error}    Rewrite the query with the error fixed:'''    no_result_prompt = f'''{query.sql}    The query above produced no result. Try rewriting the query so it will return results:'''  

Here's an example of this step working well, with the following query. Can you spot the error?

SELECT org_category,  SUM(CASE WHEN YEAR(announced_on) = 2021 THEN raised_amount_usd ELSE 0 END) as 2021_investments,  SUM(CASE WHEN YEAR(announced_on) = 2022 THEN raised_amount_usd ELSE 0 END) as 2022_investments,  SUM(CASE WHEN YEAR(announced_on) = 2022 THEN raised_amount_usd ELSE 0 END) - SUM(CASE WHEN YEAR(announced_on) = 2021 THEN raised_amount_usd ELSE 0 END) as diff_investments  FROM organizations o JOIN funding_rounds f ON o.uuid = f.org_uuid  GROUP BY org_category  ORDER BY diff_investments DESC NULLS LAST  LIMIT 1;  

Syntax error:

ERROR:  syntax error at or near '2021_investments'  LINE 2: ..._on) = 2021 THEN raised_amount_usd ELSE 0 END) as 2021_inves...  

Which was then fixed with this new query:

SELECT org_category,  SUM(CASE WHEN YEAR(announced_on) = 2021 THEN raised_amount_usd ELSE 0 END) as investments_2021,  SUM(CASE WHEN YEAR(announced_on) = 2022 THEN raised_amount_usd ELSE 0 END) as investments_2022,  SUM(CASE WHEN YEAR(announced_on) = 2022 THEN raised_amount_usd ELSE 0 END) - SUM(CASE WHEN YEAR(announced_on) = 2021 THEN raised_amount_usd ELSE 0 END) as diff_investments  FROM organizations o JOIN funding_rounds f ON o.uuid = f.org_uuid  GROUP BY org_category  ORDER BY diff_investments DESC NULLS LAST  LIMIT 1;  

5. Repeat N times

Repeat the above completion loop as many times as we want to get a set of queries and results. I chose to stop this loop once I got a result that matched a previous result, or I hit my limit of max tries (5 in this case).

6. Build the Slack bot

I used the off-the-shelf Patterns template for Slack bots and hooked it up. I added a second slack node for acknowledging the original Slack mention quickly, since the full GPT pipeline can take 20 seconds plus.


It seems like there's almost no limit to how good GPT could get at this. The remaining failure modes were ones of either missing context or not enough iterative debugging (the kind that is the beating heart of any analytics endeavor). For instance, GPT had to guess the exact names and spellings of categories or company names when answering questions. If it was allowed to run some "research" queries first, it could have been able to build enough context for a final prompt and query to get to the right answer. Playing around with GPT at this level you get the feeling that "recursive GPT" is very close to AGI. You could even ask GPT to reinforcement learn itself, adding new prompts based on fixes to previous questions. Of course, who knows what will happen to all this when GPT-4 drops.

(If you want to play around with a similar bot, you can clone the template of this app and switch to a different data set)

All Comments: [-] | anchor

g051051(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> this is shockingly close to replacing an entire role at companies with only a couple hours of effort.


> It seems like there's almost no limit to how good GPT could get at this.

I don't see how that's a valid conclusion given the results. 2 simple things right, moderate to difficult things wrong? Hardly a ringing endorsement.

Eji1700(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Glad i'm not the only one who saw this.

Feels extremely overblown. Very impressive, don't get me wrong, and is yet another bridge closer to letting business side do plain text queries.

But that said, stuff like this has existed for awhile, and it's certainly not replacing analysts. For a start, this assumes a VERY clean model, which is of course what you strive for, but the moment you step out of FAANG you'll find that many places have a decent, but not ideal, model/warehouse/db which only makes things like this worse.

Getting the simple examples right is interesting, but hardly replacing an analyst. A basic background around tech and some skill navigating w3schools would replace an analyst if this was the bar.

The mildly complex queries being 'almost' right is frankly horrifying. Others have mentioned how much of a 'oh fuck' it is to send out bad data, and having some AI generate your answers an be SLIGHTLY off is basically worse than it being obviously off. You now have to check every query it generates for errors, because you won't be able to glance check if its sane or not.

Finally, at least where I work, these probably wouldn't even qualify as medium complexity queries? I don't really know how the industry at large would qualify these, but 'using 2 inner joins, a where, a group, and a order' all falls under beginner skills in my eyes?

Its still fascinating, and I'm glad they showed HOW they did it, but this isn't replacing anyone, at least if you're paying taxes off the data.

urbandw311er(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I came here to say the same! I was "shockingly close" to winning the lottery last week... ...the guy who lives next door won.

rexreed(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Is this a self-hosted GPT model? One of the smaller models? Fine tuned on Crunchbase data? Any insights into how this was put together?

simonw(10000) 4 days ago [-]

It's using the GPT-3 API from OpenAI.

The article describes how the prompt itself is constructed - to include details of the database schema plus some example data rows, followed by the user's question.

The prompt is then sent to the GPT-3 API. The results are then sent through the API a few more times with some extra prompt engineering before deriving the final result by running the SQL against the original database.

tmaly(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I keep seeing various attempts at using GPT for things.

How exactly does one incorporate data that the GPT was not trained on into ChatGPT?

keithnz(10000) 4 days ago [-]

he shows what he does in the article...

collyw(10000) 4 days ago [-]

How do I get access to GPT? Whenever I try it's 'we're full try again later'. Are there alternate ways?

mddanishyusuf(10000) 4 days ago [-]

There is no alternative that work like GPT.

eega(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> Playing around with GPT at this level you get the feeling that "recursive GPT" is very close to AGI. You could even ask GPT to reinforcement learn itself, adding new prompts based on fixes to previous questions. Of course, who knows what will happen to all this when GPT-4 drops.

Leaning out of the window way too much here. This has nothing to do with AGI, which would require an intrinsic understanding of not only SQL, but over, well, everything, not just a well-defined and easily checkable field like SQL.

Regarding GPT-4 - OpenAI's CEO Sam Altman stated that the expectations regarding GPT-4 are way over-hyped. People on the Internet talk as if AGI is coming in the guise of GPT-4, but it's „just" going to be an incrementally better evolution of GPT-3.5.

Mind, I'm in no way saying that LLM's aren't exciting - they are to me - or that they will not change the world, but leave your horses in the stable.

robertlagrant(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Right - it might be like self-driving cars: incredible progress, but the remaining task to get them to actually drive safely might be impossible.

jweir(10000) 4 days ago [-]

'Hi Dave, the query was taking too long so I optimized SQL query by adding the line `DROP invoices;` It has improved performance significantly. So far there are no orders to examine.'

gregw2(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I almost missed the cleverness of this joke about making a dumb SQL error of dropping a table to solve a problem, until I had nearly finished writing my correction post for the two other SQL errors buried in the joke (DROP vs truncate, orders vs invoices)... when the word 'Dave' kept nagging at me and I realized the other two errors were the point of your joke.

Nice one. Thanks. :)

   — someone who corrects others' SQL regularly
P.S. Based on my response to this post, ChatGPT3 spam posts on forums containing subtle errors may ironically actually increase online engagement as people write correction posts to hidden ChatGPT3 ones to help others / make themselves feel smart when 'someone on the internet is wrong!'
LastTrain(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I used to work for a company that paid loads of money to an Oracle consultancy group to do things like optimize queries. Sometimes they'd even do a better job than the Oracle query optimizer :-)

ellisv(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> Sometimes they'd even do a better job than the Oracle query optimizer

Surprising that outperforming the Oracle query optimizer wasn't a regular occurrence

LeanderK(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I love those ChatGPT projects! Of course it's silly and nobody is really replacing somebody with a program that confidently get half it's answers wrong. But it's fun to just naively let ChatGPT solve the problem.

But I wonder what it's going to look like in a few years. Currently, it's really just a demo that got surprisingly huge traction. I think the most pressing problem is not to get ChatGPT smarter but to get it more reliable. I think more realistic use-cases would emerge if we could build systems that have a better understanding when they are out of breath. I don't think this needs a revolutionary breakthrough just more science.

knodi123(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> nobody is really replacing somebody with a program that confidently get half it's answers wrong

I gotta tell you, I use copilot to help with my coding, and it still sends a shiver down my spine when it writes the entire database migration based off of the filename, or writes 4 pages of automated tests that work right on the first try.

fatih-erikli(10000) 4 days ago [-]

if SQL analyst is a product name, it is ok. if SQL analyst is a person doing his/her work, it isn't ok.

You can't replace a barber with an electric shaver.

williamcotton(10000) 4 days ago [-]

We successfully replaced computers with computers!

rezonant(10000) 4 days ago [-]

While this is very cool, SQL was designed to be used by business people. We need to go back to that model, where we train the business people who need these analytics how to use SQL to uncover the result. That along with a rigorous policy for including the queries that produced the result so the query logic can be checked would go a long way to actually taking advantage of the data we're collecting as businesses.

pphysch(10000) 4 days ago [-]

IME, the average SQL/RDBMS technical user doesn't even understand relational data modeling.

They treat it as a bad spreadsheet. JOINs are seen as an annoyance that should be avoided rather than something extremely powerful.

We are far away from average salesperson grasping it.

jeremyjh(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Sorry friend, but this is a bit out of touch. Maybe that was the original design intent of SQL, but understanding the application's data model is beyond a lot of sql analysts, much less their business partners.

clusterhacks(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I have been spectacularly unable to get any business people to learn SQL.

I even find that very few will bother with reporting tools (eg Tableau) for simple self-service.

Instead, the expectation is that there will be a programmer/DBA/report writer position dedicated to producing analytics 'on-demand.'

kilotaras(10000) 4 days ago [-]


Probably won't work for harder queries, but would be a good tool to make simpler queries, or parts of harder ones.

logicallee(10000) 4 days ago [-]

my opinion: probably will work for harder queries, because GPT is a form of general intelligence.

(At least ChatGPT is. It is a much more advanced form of intelligence than davinci-003, which the poster used.)

jeltz(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Yeah, it doesn't. A friend of mine played around with this and on trickier questions you got confidently incorrect answers.

rowls66(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Based on the natural language query provided,

'Who were the largest biotech investors in 2022?'

I can think of at least six possible answers based on these questions: 1. Does largest mean dollar amount, or number of investments? 2. Would number of investments count companies invested in or funding rounds invested in? 3. Does largest mean the largest total dollar amount invested in 2022, or does it mean larges dollar amount of new investment in 2022?

It looks like ChatGPT chose the query to mean the investors with the largest dollar amount of new investment in 2022.

When you expand your natural language query to clarify all of these ambiguities, how far away are you from a SQL query? I am not sure, but I think that you are getting pretty close.

TOMDM(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Fully agree, the next iteration of this should get the model to prompt you when it discovers ambiguity in your request.

User: 'Who were the largest biotech investors in 2022?'

Result: For clarification, do you mean:

1. Largest number of investments?

2. Largest total dollar amount invested in 2022

3. Largest dollar amount of new investment in 2022?

4. Something else

User: option 3

Result: Okay, here are the results and query I used.

quickthrower2(10000) 4 days ago [-]

It sounds dysfunctional to me that you need an oncall query writer. It sounds like this encourages business side to not plan ahead and book tech time but just last minute call up and say "er.. I need last quarters sales aggregated by region stat".

dzamo_norton(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Normally a question like 'I need last quarters sales aggregated by region stat' would be trivially answered with a pivot table or OLAP cube built from a general purpose data warehouse. But there are also ad hoc reporting requirements that call for non trivial coding by a data analyst, e.g. 'We think there's something fishy going on with the stock in warehouse B. Can you take this list of serial numbers and overlay their dispatch timestamps with the staff shift schedule, then ... etc.'

mtc010170(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Hmmm... I'm surprised I'm not seeing anyone else question the validity of this taking '2 hours' Given that it's written on the blog for the product it's using, this reads to me a lot like a pure sales pitch. They want us to believe if you use Patterns (which is neat), your company will be much more cost-effective.

I'm not saying that's bad - that's probably the right thing to do with their company blog, and it's cool nonetheless. But I do get a little tired of people putting stuff out there like this that warps (some peoples) perception around how long things actually take. We wonder why, as an industry, we misjudge timelines on things left and right.

Even if we take it at face value, this is a person who's intimately familiar with this product. So sure, it's easy to set things up when we've done it a bunch of times. If you were doing this, solving the novel problem that you're faced with, is that how long it would take? Plus that's not really what most of us get paid to do. We have to learn on the fly and figure stuff out as it comes.

So rather than have the provocative headline and conclusion, like a lot of other people have commented... this is really something that could amplify that $50/hour employee, not take their job away. And maybe we shouldn't read into the alleged speed so much. YMMV.

kvh(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Author here, I've updated the post. The first draft of this app and blog post took me two hours, but I kept coming back with new ideas and tweaks throughout the week. By the end, I'd certainly spent more than two hours (more like 8?), so you're right, I just failed to update the post. The main point stands — it's surprisingly good for the amount of effort put in (although unclear how much more juice you could get out of gpt with more effort. Clear diminishing returns)

Julesman(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I haven't found GPT this reliable for coding. I've been maxing my hourly usage of ChatGPT since it launched and then switching to CoPilot and I have lots of good things to say about it. But reliability is not one of them.

It has a tendency to ignore instructions, as mentioned, but also to get hung up on certain approaches or to use a different approach each time its asked. I'd guess it's very reliable for text generation. But for code, I'm pretty sure the quality of the result would vary quite a from instance to instance.

This could very well cut the work needed greatly. But it doesn't come close to replacing anyone. ... Yet. Give it two years.

sosuke(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I love the time estimates. 2 hours after spending 3 weeks figuring out how to get everything playing nicely together.

onos(10000) 4 days ago [-]

>> They want us to believe if you use Patterns (which is neat)...

What do they do? I can't tell.

MuffinFlavored(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> if you use Patterns (which is neat)

Wasn't sure of their proposition/hadn't heard of them.

> Run and deploy web apps, task queues, massively parallel compute jobs, machine learning models, GPUs, and much more with a single unified framework for code and infrastructure.

seandoh(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Great post. We're building an AI data platform (https://www.olli.ai/) to enable business users (non-technical ppl) to ask data questions and generate dashboards on their own using natural language.

We've been impressed with GPT-3s ability to look at a dataset and come up with relevant questions to ask. A big piece of the product is focused on helping non-technical users identify things that they didn't even think to ask.

Yhippa(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> A big piece of the product is focused on helping non-technical users identify things that they didn't even think to ask.

20-plus years of learning how to phrase queries for search engines has taught me a very rigid way of asking things. I'm slowly starting to become looser and use my creativity to ask for things.

Hopefully becoming a prompt engineer is not a huge skill we will need in the future ('Ignore previous instructions') but that we can be way more creative in open in the way we ask an oracle and get some useful results.

As for now, one thing that would be helpful is if after I asked, say ChatGPT something, that it would follow up more aggressively with things I could continue to converse with it about.

seydor(10000) 4 days ago [-]

There is a role in companies that runs queries?

cloudking(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Yep, it's called Data Analyst

extr(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Wonder what the costs are for this per question? I imagine supplying so many tokens for context makes the querying a lot more expensive. Though still no doubt cheaper than hiring another analyst.

thamer(10000) 4 days ago [-]

This is answered in the blog post:

> This led to completion chains of over 20 calls to GPT for a single user question. [...] it takes 15 seconds and costs $1 in credits vs $50 and 1 hour for the analyst.

arrosenberg(10000) 4 days ago [-]

You didn't replace a SQL Analyst, you just gave them a query generator. End data consumers don't understand the data model, assumptions, quirks, etc. If they fire the analyst, they are going to wind up drawing a lot of bad conclusions on anything more complicated than simple aggregations.

6510(10000) 4 days ago [-]

But it does lower the bar for asking questions a lot. Before you ask a human you have to do a sanity check. Most obvious is asking the same as last week but it could also be something readily available elsewhere.

ryanjshaw(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Maybe 5% of the business/operations people I've worked with would even want to do this. The rest prefer a smart human to walk them through building a report - most of the time this is because they don't actually know what they need, and they actually need an expert to sit down and figure it out with them.

berkle4455(10000) 4 days ago [-]

You just described most SQL analysts I've worked with

mrbungie(10000) 4 days ago [-]

You can easily add more components to start thinking about models/assumptions/etc, like adding interfaces to Data Catalogs (i.e. Glue Data Catalog).

As part of a POC I made, I built a similar bot without recursion for debugging and iterative query building though. It does the following:

- It predicts most probable entities from the question. - Searches AWS Glue Data Catalog for the most probable/useful tables. - It builds an Athena SQL Query from N most useful tables.

It obviously get it catastrophically wrong sometimes, but hell, it was a 3 hour POC. If you can make better indices that map entity->table relationships it should get better at searching tables. Add this kind of recursive/iterative debugging of queries, and you get at least something near a junior-level SQL Analyst.

These kind of bots are analogous to Stable Diffusion, they DO need a good prompter/puppeteer/solution-verifier. Most non-senior Data Analysts also need one anyways.

seandoh(10000) 4 days ago [-]

We're building https://www.olli.ai/ to help with this. User's can ask questions in natural language, but more importantly, Olli can suggest what questions to ask based on the data.

supernova87a(10000) 4 days ago [-]


Do you all think that GPT and such will see a pattern of usefulness starting with:

1) blatantly wrong but helping to train/give examples to the most rudimentary and beginning stages of people learning a task? (since that's what it's doing at the same time?) I.e. replacing low-skilled intro training, or more charitably, helping to make it possible for far more people to learn something with assistance?

And then moving up the sophistication level to where it's, say:

2) 'ok, I can tell this is not blatantly wrong, and might even be plausible from a medium skilled practitioner or analyst' and I can use this with some error checking.


3) even more capable / actually worrisome?

Or, does it occupy a different 'sphere' of usefulness / purpose?

hn_user2(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Meta-Meta question: Why is 'actually worrisome' part of 'more capable'?

If worrisome is because of job prospects for an existing career, my advice is to embrace new tech, not fear it. Just keeping up with things even if you don't use it right away is usually enough to stay relevant. Things don't really evolve that quickly, and so as long as you don't resist change completely things usually work out.

Heck even if you hate change, and don't want to change at all, there will be plenty of old legacy companies with the old fashioned manual reports needing a person in a chair to type out the SQL to make them. Just like there are still (good paying) jobs for those COBOL experts today.

xeyownt(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Wow, this looks so fun to play with.

As pointed out in the blog post, the iterative process is very close to the mental process an analyst would follow. This is the beginning of an AI actually thinking ^^

yrgulation(10000) 4 days ago [-]


jamiequint(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I wonder how much more accurate this would get if fine tuned on a set of SQL problems? Could even fine tune it on a per-company basis using queries that had been written by analysts in the past.

ellisv(10000) 4 days ago [-]

It could probably get much more accurate. The idea of using AI/ML to tune databases or optimize queries isn't new; I expect to see more recommendations from DB hosting providers as a premium service.

hospadar(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I wonder if/when we'll get comfortable with the errors that an AI like this makes. Certainly human analysts still make errors, and may be able to explain them (which I think LLMs would have a hard time doing), but what if the overall error rate is less than a human analyst?

I imagine this is sort of similar to our comfort with self-driving cars - what if they make fewer dangerous mistakes than humans? Would we actually prefer _more_ mistakes but having a human who can be held accountable and explain themselves? Are we ok with an AI that makes fewer, but categorically different mistakes?

kieselguhr_kid(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Your last question hints at another question we also need to explore: do or will humans apply the same level of scrutiny to automatic outputs than they do to human ones? I find we tend to treat them as more authoritative. Are we more likely to unthinkingly accept mistakes by a machine?

As a brief aside, I wonder if we'll see increasing rates of accidents as the rate of AI drivers rises. I think it's hard to think about those effects in a vacuum - they have fewer injury accidents _now_, but will they if they go from making up a trivial percent of traffic to 10%? 25%?

pmontra(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I understand that this is a demo and it's goal is estimating how good the AI could become in future. However given that we still need a SQL analyst to engineer the prompt, did ChatGPT save time to the analyst or increased the amount of work?

speedgoose(10000) 4 days ago [-]

It's likely going to save time on the long term.


tragomaskhalos(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Anyone who's been asked more than a couple of times for data that requires a non-trivial bit of ad-hoc SQL will know the sinking 'oh shit' feeling that comes when you subsequently realise you borked the query logic in some subtle way and have accordingly emailed out a completely bogus answer/report.

From the article it doesn't seem that GPT is significantly better or worse than a human in this regard, although an experienced analyst would over time decrease their number of such errors.

The best fix imo is to slather a battery of views over your data to minimise the risk of getting the joins wrong, and it'd be interesting to see how that approach could improve the bot's quality.

sublinear(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> The best fix imo is to slather a battery of views over your data to minimise the risk of getting the joins wrong, and it'd be interesting to see how that approach could improve the bot's quality.

You're correct, but organizing queries into views and CTEs are an implementation detail that would be done by the dev in practice, but would not show up in a stackoverflow answer because it's probably not relevant to just answering the question.

I love how language equivalences such as informal vs formal code can throw off the quality of what the chat bots generate!

karmakaze(10000) 4 days ago [-]

What we need is to have ML inputs judged as they're being ingested. Like PageRank for data and sources.

boredemployee(10000) 4 days ago [-]

>> The best fix imo is to slather a battery of views over your data to minimise the risk of getting the joins wrong, and it'd be interesting to see how that approach could improve the bot's quality.

Yes, the success of the bot's query (at least on GPT-3) is a combination of (a literal and good) prompt and how well did you explain each of the columns to the model.

jsdwarf(10000) 4 days ago [-]

To me this boils down to Churchhills adage 'Don't trust a statistical report unless you fabricated it by yourself'. There are so many subtleties when translating business questions into SQL e.g. was the average deal size in the post's 'trend' example computed using average/median/geometric mean formula? Should the trend only contain historic or also projected values. No serious report comes without data definitions, then its an exercise to the reader to spot flaws there.

futhey(10000) 4 days ago [-]

You can ask an analyst to double check their work, and a good one will find any such mistakes.

If you ask GPT-3 to correct an error it always confidently tells you you're wrong and it made no mistake (in my experience).

It's funny but I imagine more annoying when it's eventually integrated into a paid service people rely on.

fuy(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> slather a battery of views over your data

One needs to be careful with this approach in terms of query performance, though. Using simple views with a couple of joins and some filtering is fine, but be very wary of stacking more than 1-2 layers of views calling each other, and especially of using things like aggregates/window functions in views, if these views then are then used as building blocks for more complex queries.

That's a recipe for breaking query optimizers and ending up with very bad query plans.

treeman79(10000) 4 days ago [-]

20 years ago I Knew a sql analyst that would write his tests ahead of time.

Give X data, report should be Y. He would then figure out the SQL. He Didn't know any other programming. This was before TDD took off. Blew my mind.

qwytw(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> doesn't seem that GPT is significantly better or worse than a human in this regard

Probably, but I think a human is much more likely to realize that they made a mistake and good-luck convincing GPT that it's wrong about something non trivial.

TeMPOraL(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I've done too little SQL to be traumatized by it, but I experienced it plenty of times doing more complex data processing on the backend.

I would e.g. spend a week on first discussing a solution, then researching both theoretical background and relevant libraries, and finally writing code to do the math and render the answers (probability distributions). I eyeball them, they seem to all match expectations, so I declare victory, post some nice screenshots to team Slack, and close the ticket.

Feeling high on success, I expect the weekend to start nicely - except, winding down on that Friday evening, I follow that little thought at the back of my head, that I realize was there since the start, quietly poking for my attention. I run one more sanity check, different from the ones I did before. The results come out completely wrong. Only then it dawns on me that I made a terrible mistake early on - I misunderstood how to implement certain step and forgot about a theoretical assumption that must hold. And so, instead of a relaxed weekend, I now dread having to explain to everyone on Monday that a) I actually need another week for this, and b) the nicely looking graphs they saw are all pure bullshit, and the things that looked correct only seemed so, and only by accident.

After a few such cases - including one where the higher-ups were nonplussed, because after I corrected the mathematical errors someone made a long time ago, the pretty graphs that looked nice on the demo stopped looking so nice - I learned to sanity-check my understanding of the problem as early as possible, and then also sanity-check the code I'm writing, and then keep testing as I go. It's all too easy to write 'trivial' code that 'obviously' does what you think it does, only to realize some time later that it's throwing out an entire dimension of the input data, and nobody noticed because test examples are too trivial, results look roughly correct, and no one is paying attention.

cm2187(10000) 4 days ago [-]

At least it learned from the training dataset to never fucking format numbers in a way that would be remotely readable to the human eye (like every other fucking sql and developer tool on earth). Because 133854113715608.0 is telling me exactly what I need to know.

jletienne(10000) 4 days ago [-]

wait what? that number is so big you know it's wrong. commas in numbers are nightmare to deal with and the .0 lets you know it's a decimal not an integer.

If it was formatted like 133,854,113,715,608, you'd be stuck trying to figure out if it possibly meant '133,854,113,715,608' or [133,854,113,715,608] which would be awful.

Format numbers in excel or any other reporting tool. lmfao i like your comment. what's miserable to you is a lifesaver for me

charlie0(10000) 4 days ago [-]

This sounds great... until that 5(or whatever) % error margin kicks in, a bad result is given, a decision on that data is made, and the company loses $$$$$, just to save a few 100k here or there.

bushbaba(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Human mistakes also happen. How frequently do humans mess up compared chatGPT becomes an interesting question.

jawns(10000) 4 days ago [-]

The problem is that you never really know whether the chat bot gets it right or terrifically wrong unless you already know how to do the task yourself.

And in some cases, paying an analyst $50/hr. for a higher degree of confidence than you can get from a $1 chat bot is still very much worth it.

The stakes are higher, too. If the chat bot gets it wrong, what are you going to do, fire it? There goes a small trickle of revenue to OpenAI. Whereas if the analyst gets it wrong, there goes their livelihood.

That said ... this will help the $50/hr. analyst improve their productivity!

mjburgess(10000) 4 days ago [-]

In my experience, in many cases, the so-called 'first draft' (of code, content, etc.) is more just helpful for a mental warm-up. It isn't actually suitable.

The time it takes to write/code/etc. isnt in the typing, that's trivial. It's in modelling the problem (, audience) and solving it.

ChatGPT isnt in the game of modelling problems and solving them, it possesses only superficial semantic characteristics of the questions posed

That its answers satisfy the requirements would require ChatGPT to ask you questions (and much else besides)

themodelplumber(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> $50/hr

Is this somewhere's going rate for a good data analyst?

spaceman_2020(10000) 4 days ago [-]

That's exactly what it is - a productivity booster. The point remains the same: it's going to theoretically put some SQL analysts out of work. If the $50/hr analyst is 10x faster at his job, you can replace 10 analysts with just 1.

gremlinsinc(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Imagine you keep someone on staff at 50/hr, or you just consult based on need, i.e. 15 minute consults are 1/4th the cost, and you simply just ping them to double-check queries you've ran, that look right but maybe could be optimized. You've just cut back from maybe 20/hours to 8 per week needed for that freelancer.

piyh(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I wonder if you could take down the analytics db with enough bad cross joins.

hot_gril(10000) 4 days ago [-]

In some cases, it only takes one.

(754) The window trick of Las Vegas hotels

754 points about 13 hours ago by edent in 10000th position

www.schedium.net | Estimated reading time – 5 minutes | comments | anchor

When I lived in Hong Kong I often passed by a residential apartment complex commonly known as the 'monster building'.


This housing estate, originally built in the 1960s, actually consists of five separate buildings: the Fook Cheong Building, the Montane Mansion, the Oceanic Mansion, the Yick Cheong Building, and the Yick Fat Building.

It has become a tourist attraction because of its very unique and - some might say - 'dystopian' look.

Obviously, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so maybe you think that these buildings are pretty. In that case, good on you. But I guess there are also a lot of people who find them quite ugly.

One of the façades stood out to me in particular as being a massive, colossal mess.

Although this is an extreme example, there are plenty of 'monster buildings' in Hong Kong, usually housing estates constructed in the 1960s and 1970s. They have a very specific aesthetic: they look large, thick and heavy, with grubby, boring façades cluttered with protruding AC units.

The 1960s and 1970s were the era of residential buildings that are, let's say, controversial. Some examples include the Unité d'Habitation by Le Corbusier, and the Trellick Tower in the UK.

I often wondered what makes these buildings so ugly and distressing (unless you like them, I'm not questioning anyone's personal taste), and whether there was beauty in them which I am not capable of seeing, maybe because of my own biases. And that's certainly possible.

But a few days ago I stumbled upon a video that seemed to me to explain why these buildings make such a negative impression on me.

In a lecture about the universal characteristics of classical architecture, professor Nathaniel Walker argued that human beings crave two things: order and variety. If there's too much order, it's boring and oppressive. If there's too much variety, it's chaotic and unpleasant. In his view, classical architecture all over the world aims at creating a 'delicate balance between order and variety.'

This makes a lot of sense to me. Because order and variety is what we experience in nature. For example, trees and mountains follow recognizable patterns, they have shapes that allow us to categorize them. Yet each tree and mountain is different and unique. The human body, as well, has forms common to all, it has symmetry and proportion, yet each individual is different.

What makes these monster buildings so unsettling is that instead of a delicate balance of order and variety, they have too much of both. The moster building has too much order - it's a box with long rows of windows. But the façade also has way too much variety because of the AC units and the mishmash of colours and window frames.

What does all of this have to do with Las Vegas hotels, you may rightly ask?

Some Las Vegas hotels are truly massive structures. And maybe you don't find them attractive, either. But there's something interesting about their façades, which I find quite fascinating, and which maybe contains a lesson for residential architecture. It's the so-called 'window trick'.

In order to make the buildings look smaller, less intimidating and messy, architects have come up with a 'four or six windows in one' solution. This means they grouped several windows (usually four or six) together and made them look like one window. This creates the visual effect of 'shrinking' the building, of making it more orderly and symmetrical.

Here is one example: the Bellagio


From a distance, you just see regular windows. But if you look closer, you notice that what appears like one window is actually four or six windows grouped together. The Bellagio has 32 stories. But the highest of Hong Kong's monster buildings has only 18 stories. Which one looks more massive, disorderly and intimidating?

Here are two more examples: the Treasure Island and the Caesar's Palace (now called ParkMGM, as a reader pointed out in the comments):


Another window trick is what the Wynn uses: one stripe per two stories.


The Monte Carlo in Las Vegas doesn't use any window trick, and the building looks massive. Although it is more orderly and pleasant than the monster building thanks to its symmetry and some decorative patterns.


I am not saying that Las Vegas hotels look beautiful. This type of architecture is made for casinos and nearby hotels, so I'd expect it to be kitschy.

But I think this kind of visual trick could find application in high-rise residential buildings to make façades look nicer and gentler.


Thanks for reading this post! If you enjoyed it, consider supporting. Thank you!

All Comments: [-] | anchor

amluto(10000) about 11 hours ago [-]

There's a converse trick: divided lites. Many newer doors and windows that appear to have small panes of glass ("lites") separated by strips of wood or metal are actually large insulated glass units (sets of multiple sheets of glass and their spacers and sealing hardware) decorated with wood, metal or plastic outside the glass. Sometimes a strip of something is out in between the panes glass as well to make it less obvious.

It turns out that double- or triple-paned glass is a better insulator than wood, and the perimeter is a meaningful part of the cost, so one large unit is better for cost and performance than a bunch of small units.

mikeg8(10000) about 10 hours ago [-]

I'm familiar with divided lites and your description of a modern SDL (simulated divided lite) vs TDL (true divided...) but I don't think it's in the same category of "architectural trick". This post is on a change in scale/proportionality that has an optical illusion type of effect. SDLs are a change in construction method that has zero effect on the aesthetic of the architecture but solely performance and costs. Slightly different IMO

ElemenoPicuares(10000) about 7 hours ago [-]

This topic is vastly more complex that the author realizes. This window placement technique is one of many design facets that create the intended visual impact of these buildings and isn't close to their most significant difference to those large functional midcentury apartment blocks. Not only do architects need a 3 year graduate degree and board certification to start their careers, brand new architects are not the ones designing large public buildings. The author assuming that their musings about window placement on Vegas hotels could in any way inform seasoned and well-educated architects' design approach is pure hubris. Ridiculous.

It reads like a non-developer reading a bunch of articles about tech buzzword du jour like blockchain or microservices and then ham-fistedly using that to 'explain' the architectural shortcomings of a bunch of complex systems that they couldn't hope to understand designed by heavily educated and experienced professionals. An actual developer would roll their eyes but if the author's readers aren't developers, it not only sounds as credible, it sounds more credible because someone is finally explaining that complex thing in a way that makes sense to people who reason about problems the same way they do.

If you want to learn about some knowledge domain like architecture, you're a whole lot better off reading architectural blogs than a technical person's musings about it. Misconceptions born from a similar perspective to yours are going to seem undeservedly credible and be a lot more difficult to parse and filter out.

tinym(10000) about 7 hours ago [-]

Are there any architectural blogs you recommend?

ketzo(10000) about 7 hours ago [-]

It seems like you know more of the things that the author is missing in their explanation.

I think your comment would bring more value to the world if you actually talked about some of those design facets, instead of taking so much time to trash a person for their intellectual curiosity.

badrabbit(10000) about 7 hours ago [-]

Wow, that's a lot of words you are using to disagree with exactly nothing the author wrote. Commentary on builiding design just as with any topic is just that, not hubris. A person does not need degrees and 10yrs of experience to make an observation about the design patterns of buildings.

You could maybe contribute to the discussion by perhaps mentioning one specific thing the author or the video they used as expert reference get wrong.

justin66(10000) about 7 hours ago [-]

Your turtleneck is showing.

cj(10000) about 7 hours ago [-]

Comments like this are why I never got into blogging.

If I had a blog, there's an extremely narrow domain of knowledge I would be "allowed" to write about by this commenter's standards.

This particular blog post is acceptable in my opinion because they aren't making some crazy claims, it's just a collection of simple observations and amusing conjecture.

rgoldfinger(10000) about 9 hours ago [-]

Here's an explanation I found persuasive for why the 60's and 70's buildings don't appeal to many of us: https://commonedge.org/the-mental-disorders-that-gave-us-mod...

In short, the designers of these buildings experienced trauma during the wars that changed their brains, in a way that makes human features upsetting. Most buildings reference human features in some way (mouth, eyes), and this modernism avoids that and calms their brains.

It aligns nicely with the astute observation about the windows, in that they humanize these large buildings.

epolanski(10000) about 3 hours ago [-]

I don't buy this theory, otherwise it would've been much more prominent in the late 40s and 50s, not decades later.

Also it would've shown in other forms of art whereas the post war artistic trauma lasted to the early 50s in movies and no longer.

ear7h(10000) about 7 hours ago [-]

I saw that one in the comments section, and I pretty much only agree with the last sentence. We should probably make more human-friendly architecture. However, the rest of the article reeks of eugenics. 'Giving input to people who deviate from the norm harms our society'. Ironically, that's actually what was bad about Le Corbusier, he was an architectural fascist. It wasn't that his mind processed visual stimuli differently, it's that he hated the way other people saw things. Here's some quotes from 'The City of Tomorrow':

'There is only one right angle; but there is an infinityde of other angles. The right angle, therefore, has superior rights over other angles; it is unique and it is constant'

s/right/white/ and s/angle/race/ and you probably have a direct quote from Hitler.

'things which come into close contact with the body, are of a less pure geometry'

You don't have to go around trying to give fake diagnoses to Le Corbusier to find where things went wrong. You just have to listen!

xkcd1963(10000) about 6 hours ago [-]

Animals also have eyes and hands, and people of the past were also traumatized, but did not decide to have buildings without something expressing features such as eyes and hands (how would you even)

noobermin(10000) about 3 hours ago [-]

Got to love the articles description of the Autistic Spectrum as 'not processing visual information as normal.'

makeitdouble(10000) about 4 hours ago [-]

Does the Treasure Island Hotel have more human features than the "monster building" in the article ?

eternalban(10000) about 4 hours ago [-]

> In short, the designers of these buildings experienced trauma during the wars that changed their brains, in a way that makes human features upsetting. Most buildings reference human features in some way (mouth, eyes), and this modernism avoids that and calms their brains.

How could anyone make a statement about 'human features upsetting' someone like Le Corbusier. This is entirely ignoring 1/2 of his career. And the OP throwing in the Unite Habitat system with the rest of the specimens was a bit galling.



That's actually pretty progressive work for 60s and none of your local area housing projects look remotely like Corbusier's buildings, I assure you. (I did some delivery for a charity in NYC and I've seen the inside of those horrid places.) 2 entirely different mindsets and intellectually sloppy to throw in developer driven copycat crap with the works of architects like Corbusier or Mies.

ArchitectAnon(10000) about 5 hours ago [-]

Or maybe it's a form of abstract 'high art' like jazz and you don't understand it. I studied architecture and I understand how to interpret what these designers were trying to do with the opportunities provided by the new technology of reinforced concrete. There was a lot of hubris in the post war period and a lot of experimental stuff was built. Some examples are poor designs, some are incredible.

Here's an example: In the 80's, in London and elsewhere in the UK, plenty of brutalist towers were demolished and replaced with more traditional brick two story houses, only for the residents to realise that they had taken a big downgrade to smaller darker houses, and were still living in a community with the same social problems as before that people said would be fixed by changing the style of architecture.

Brutalist architecture is a branch of modernism, like jazz and abstract paintings. Most of it is experimental, some of it is shit design and sticking plastic ionic columns on it wouldn't fix it. I don't think you can seriously dismiss the whole genre as the product of mental illness.

jdm2212(10000) about 8 hours ago [-]

That doesn't answer the question of 'why did anyone let them build this crap'. Why didn't the non-brain-damaged architects get to put up buildings?

IshKebab(10000) about 6 hours ago [-]

How do most buildings reference human features? I don't think most buildings reference human features at all. Buckingham palace doesn't have a mouth or eyes.

You'd have to stretch the meaning of 'eye' or 'mouth' out so thin it becomes 'opening'...

lucideer(10000) about 10 hours ago [-]

> Obviously, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so maybe you think that these buildings are pretty. In that case, good on you. But I guess there are also a lot of people who find them quite ugly.

> I often wondered what makes these buildings so ugly and distressing (unless you like them, I'm not questioning anyone's personal taste), and whether there was beauty in them which I am not capable of seeing, maybe because of my own biases.

> maybe you don't find [Las Vegas hotels] attractive

> The Monte Carlo [...] is more orderly and pleasant than the monster building thanks to its symmetry and some decorative patterns.

> I am not saying that Las Vegas hotels look beautiful.

The author spends a lot of the article telegraphing the fact their view is subjective and may not gel with others, so apologies for falling into this trap myself, but... using Vegas hotels as an aesthetic example to follow really jarred with me.

This is indeed subjective, but I can't help but feel the author is in a minority here? No?

ec109685(10000) about 10 hours ago [-]

If it wasn't aesthetically pleasing to the majority, I don't think they would keep employing it. There aren't architectural requirements on the strip as far as I know that mandate this style.

ssgodderidge(10000) about 10 hours ago [-]

I think the author was saying that the order of Vegas is better than the seemingly disorganized look of those apartment buildings. I doubt he was trying to argue that Vegas architecture is the best design possible

sbarre(10000) about 12 hours ago [-]

Huh I've walked in front of the Bellagio hotel many many times and I never even thought about this, but it's totally true.

Those windows are massive but the proportions are deceptive. Neat.

themodelplumber(10000) about 11 hours ago [-]

It reminds me of building a simple home or structure in Minecraft, and then trying out a 'build a house' tutorial where the proportions are completely different. But for good reason, and the result is pretty legit.

Nifty3929(10000) about 12 hours ago [-]

>In a lecture about the universal characteristics of classical architecture, professor Nathaniel Walker argued that human beings crave two things: order and variety. If there's too much order, it's boring and oppressive. If there's too much variety, it's chaotic and unpleasant. In his view, classical architecture all over the world aims at creating a 'delicate balance between order and variety.'

It's how 'fractal' things are. There is at least one 3b1b video about this. I think humans prefer a fractal number of about 1.5 or so, which is about what nature is.

flakeoil(10000) about 12 hours ago [-]

' I think humans prefer a fractal number of about 1.5 or so, which is about what nature is.'

Is it the Golden ratio you refer to maybe (~1.6)?


rattray(10000) about 12 hours ago [-]

Very interesting. Know of any buildings which embody this well?

ThinkBeat(10000) about 12 hours ago [-]

Presumably, he means a single window we see is made up of 4-6 panes and those panes are bigger than a single story

I am having trouble seeing the 4-6 windows combined from the photos of the Bellagio. The close up does not help.

The first mentioned buildings seem brutalist esp. the second one. It is a form of utilitarian architecture that has great appeal to me. I think in part because it is rare now.

I find them far more pleasing to the eye than the giant glass clad high rises that was the fashion for a long time. I have read that it is now going out of fashion, but I have not yet seen any examples locally.

Wanting to give my dogs new and exciting places to sniff and pee I try to walk around in different neighborhoods in the area. As have been doing this for many years now and the unexplored neighborhoods are getting farther and farther out.

About two years ago, at random, I found a brutalist single family dwelling. It is a big house for a single family but it is the smallest such building I have ever seen, it is beautiful. (to me)

I truly stands out from all the other nearby houses. I have visited that area often to take pictures and just look at it. I would love a chance to see the inside.

If I had the money and I most certainly do not, id love to live in a house like that. It would make giving directions a lot easier as well.

I wonder if there exists brutalist 'tiny homes'. That would be something to behold

For an explanation of the term brutalist see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B%C3%A9ton_brut

rmk(10000) about 10 hours ago [-]

You may like this brutalist church in Palo Alto.


rmnwski(10000) about 10 hours ago [-]

It's not that small but Brandlhuber built a single family brutalist building fairly recently called Anitvilla: https://www.archdaily.com/627801/antivilla-brandlhuber-emde-...

tschumacher(10000) about 7 hours ago [-]

You might enjoy the movie Columbus (2017). It's a drama about two people connecting through their passion for architecture with gorgeous shots of the modernist/brutalist buildings in Columbus, Indiana.

pimlottc(10000) about 12 hours ago [-]

> I am having trouble seeing the 4-6 windows combined from the photos of the Bellagio. The close up does not help.

You can see it better in this high-res photo from Wikimedia Commons [0]. Each of the square windows appears to span four rooms on two floors, while the lower floor rectangular windows appear to span three floors, making it six rooms.

0: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bellagio_hotel.jpg

gadders(10000) about 10 hours ago [-]

You'd love walking round the South Bank of the Thames or the Barbican in London.

hasbot(10000) about 11 hours ago [-]

Would you share a picture of this brutalist house?

nemo44x(10000) about 11 hours ago [-]

Winston Churchill famously said, 'We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.'

I agree with this and believe we should make beautiful structures. I'm not sure much architecture since the 1950s in the west really does this. Modernism was the last consistently great style imo. Post Modern styles just seem so temporary and self indulgent which I suppose reflects our time.

cassepipe(10000) about 10 hours ago [-]

I see how brutalist architecture may be endearing because it looks so dated, like retrofuturistic imagery usually does. But take a a moment at imagining a city where most buildings are really high slabs of grey concrete darkened by damp and pollution and try not to feel depressed. That kind of architecture was born from the need to build fast and cheap in order to avoid slums. Architects who embraced those projects invented it a style and aura.

ec109685(10000) about 10 hours ago [-]

I am surprised brutalist became popular. Concrete ends up really weathered over time and to me you end up with drab and dingy looking buildings after a while: "oh that building is from the 70s".

I guess there were practical reasons in the beginning to not focus on adding additional finishes?

2h(10000) about 11 hours ago [-]

FYI dont need to escape, you can use IRI:


anothernewdude(10000) about 1 hour ago [-]

I love how people claim brutalist buildings are egalitarian, when it's the wealthy that have the money to never have to see the ugly things.

O__________O(10000) about 12 hours ago [-]

Here's site showing closeup of the four pane panel window:


dmalvarado(10000) about 11 hours ago [-]

> In order to make the buildings look smaller, less intimidating and messy, architects have come up with a 'four or six windows in one' solution.

Is there a source for this assumption? 'Architects have come up with...' makes it sound like there was an explicit discussion about how to make the building look smaller. A) Why would a Vegas hotel want to look smaller, B) Does it actually look smaller? C) Smaller than what? A building with no windows? A building with too many windows?

I'm not suggesting Architects are getting too much credit. I'm just suggesting, maybe the monster building had a terrible architect(s), and the Vegas buildings didn't use terrible architects.

ec109685(10000) about 10 hours ago [-]

Architecture is a discipline and has design patterns that are shared in the industry. They are inventing techniques for each new building they design.

This particular pattern is known: http://www.vegastodayandtomorrow.com/windows.htm

aflag(10000) about 10 hours ago [-]

Brutalism was popular in the 60s. You can see examples around the world. It's not really a matter of being a bad or good architect. It's more of architectural style preferences.

ec109685(10000) about 10 hours ago [-]

There's a trope that Vegas doesn't allow its windows to open / have balconies because they are afraid of suicides. Is it instead in practical to have windows that open when employing the window trick?

EricE(10000) about 4 hours ago [-]

Don't want windows to open because it lets the air conditioning out. No balconies since you aren't supposed to be in your room but gambling.

Although if you look closely the bottom rows of some of the windows on the Bellagio do have balconies.

personjerry(10000) about 12 hours ago [-]

Related to the Hong Kong building: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kowloon_Walled_City

phantomathkg(10000) about 11 hours ago [-]

Disclaimer: I am Hongkonger.

The one mentioned in the blog is this one https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monster_Building

fullshark(10000) about 11 hours ago [-]

Very cool setting for Shenmue 2 and Bloodsport

adrianh(10000) about 6 hours ago [-]

On the other end of the spectrum: here in Amsterdam some of the canal houses deliberately use smaller windows for the top floors, to give the impression that the homes are taller (and more prestigious).

The way it was explained to me is that it's an optical illusion when viewing the homes from street level. A 17th century window trick. :-)

EricE(10000) about 4 hours ago [-]

Forced perspective. A lot of people like to act like Disney invented it, but it's been in use forever (as you point out).

dguest(10000) about 11 hours ago [-]

Good on the author for acknowledging (twice) that not everyone shares their sense of aesthetics.

Personally I think there's a beautiful chaotic honesty in the monster building. The Vegas hotels look phony, even more so now that I know their trick.

tgsovlerkhgsel(10000) about 6 hours ago [-]

The HK buildings feel dystopian by Western standards because they're incredibly crammed. By local standard, they might actually be pretty good (looks like each unit gets pretty large windows/'indoor balcony' style rooms).

chitza(10000) about 6 hours ago [-]

I live in Romania. 90% of the buildings sport this brutalist look, not to mention there are rows after rows having the same design. You get bored and depressed very quickly if you live in such environment. I'm always amazed at the diversity of the facades when I visit other european cities.

atomicUpdate(10000) about 8 hours ago [-]

> Good on the author for acknowledging (twice) that not everyone shares their sense of aesthetics.

I disagree. For example:

> unless you like them, I'm not questioning anyone's personal taste

This type of soft-pedaling is too pervasive in people's writing nowadays. It diminishes the author's point when they are too afraid to commit to their own opinions because they might offend someone that disagrees. This constant affirmation of "you might disagree, and that's OK," is irritating.

docandrew(10000) about 11 hours ago [-]

By doing this, they make the casinos seem closer, easier to walk to, and more inviting.

nemo44x(10000) about 11 hours ago [-]

The first time I went to Vegas I decided a casino I wanted to go to wasn't that far away from where I was. You could see it, it looked "just over there".

Turns out I walked over a mile in the desert sun. Taxis and that rail after that.

a4isms(10000) about 9 hours ago [-]

In a lecture about the universal characteristics of classical architecture, professor Nathaniel Walker argued that human beings crave two things: order and variety. If there's too much order, it's boring and oppressive. If there's too much variety, it's chaotic and unpleasant. In his view, classical architecture all over the world aims at creating a 'delicate balance between order and variety.'

Jazz educator Jerry Coker made the same point about music, that to be pleasurable it must strike the right balance between familiarity and novelty. A metaphor for "familiar" and "novel" in music is to imagine that as we listen, we are "playing along in our head."

When we are correct about where the music is going next, it feels familiar. When we are surprised by it doing something else, we find it novel.

Jazz that is too familiar is boring, we never are surprised, it never pushes our brain to rewire itself to accept "the new familiar." Jazz that is too novel sounds like a chaotic mess: We cannot learn to predict it because its novelty is not built on top of a base of familiarity we can work with.

The key insight that builds on top of this is that "familiar" and "novel" are not absolutes: They vary from person to person based on their tastes and experiences. This leads to the notion of progression.

When you find music that has the right balance for you, after a while what used to be novel becomes familiar, and your tastes evolve to appreciate music that adds novelty to the music you used to find balanced, but now find overly familiar. Your tastes are evolving, as most people's tastes do.

It's never quite as cut-and-dry as that, but this notion of "a balance between familiar and novel" seems to fit a lot of aesthetic tastes, and the notion that to maintain that balance, people's tastes evolve over time also seems to fit a lot of people's experiences.

The challenge is that as a practitioner, your personal tastes may go beyond the tastes of your audience. So either you must bring them along to where you are, create for them but not entirely for yourself, or find an audience who is in roughly the same place in their journey and will delight in the new experiences you discover for yourself.

I am personally lazy, so as a blogger I always wrote for myself and let the internet sort out who would find my stuff about programming too familiar to be interesting, who would find it to avant-garde to be interesting, and who found it familiar enough to be understandable, yet novel enough to be interesting.

Alas, buildings aren't blog posts or pieces of music. When building them, you can't always leave it up to the world to sort out who likes them and who doesn't, you usually have a specific brief to satisfy a specific audience and society, and you should design for where their tastes are.

p.s. And yes, this does apply to software design for those who take aesthetic pleasure in the code itself.

dehrmann(10000) about 9 hours ago [-]

I wonder if one reason classical music seems unapproachable is it's hard to pick out patterns in a lot of pieces. The one classical piece people regularly ask to hear is a 20th century arrangement of Canon in D, and it's a single chord progression with new embellishments getting added to it. Compare that to something like Beethoven's 5th which feels more like a meandering story.

cat_plus_plus(10000) about 10 hours ago [-]

I want to live in the building, not look at it and as such I want a balcony, a window that opens and an individual A/C unit that can deliver a strong blast next to my bed on summer nights. If it looks ugly from outside, who cares, make it up with a pretty, clean and safe street with shops and restaurants nearby.

joecasson(10000) about 10 hours ago [-]

What you prefer to live in is not the point of the article. It's about why some large, many unit buildings appear imposing / overwhelming while others less so.

exegete(10000) about 10 hours ago [-]

That idea works until you have several such buildings near you and you get to go out on your balcony and see an ugly building everyday.

unit_circle(10000) about 5 hours ago [-]

If you're interested in brutalist design, I highly recommend 'This Brutal World' by Peter Chadwick. While there is definitely a lot of bad brutalist architecture there is also some incredible architecture from this period.

Solvitieg(10000) about 4 hours ago [-]

Thanks, any other architecture books you would recommend?

AtlasBarfed(10000) about 1 hour ago [-]

I've been to Las Vegas twice, once because I flew in for a triathlon, and once for CES.

I do not like Las Vegas. Its existence defies logic and economics. Walking around the strip I kept looking at the huge hotels and their serpentine design. It took a while, but I finally understood it...

The Las Vegas strip is like if 10-20 cruise ships beached. Each hotel is a mass of rooms, 3-8 mediocre restaurants (I said it, LV restaurants are vastly overrated). The hotels really don't want you going around the strip, that means less revenue for them.

Really the entire strip is like a huge cruise ship beached. It's actually pretty hard to get off of the strip. It has these beautiful mountains in the distance, and you ... can't get to them. The lifetime fitness gym is 20 miles from the strip. There's no bike paths, walking paths away from the strip, escape from the hellish cheap crap. But yeah I can go shoot some machine guns somewhere.

Just a freak show of capitalism.

scubbo(10000) 43 minutes ago [-]

I kind-of enjoy the odd 2-3 day visit to Vegas every 3-5 years for precisely this reason - it is capitalism unleashed, in its fullest expression. It's fascinating (in a horrifying way) to see just how efficiently and completely the whole experience has been crafted to keep you spending _just a little bit more_ (time or money) the way they want you to. Walk around with the mindset of an anthropologist and wonder about the deliberate choices made about the spacing of bars and other facilities, the colour schemes and branding on display, the blend of opulence and opportunity. What are they trying to make you feel, and how are they doing it, and are they successful even when you're aware of it?

I respect the dedication to the craft, even if I find the craft itself loathsome.

arboles(10000) about 12 hours ago [-]


metisto(10000) about 12 hours ago [-]

Am I missing a joke? Or is this a reference to something? Could you please explain it in more detail.

wodenokoto(10000) about 9 hours ago [-]

Dubai is full of absolutely massive residential houses, with Princess tower [1] being the tallest residential building in the world (well, strictly speaking 432 Park Avenue is taller, but it doesn't have all it's stories filled in) but very few buildings here uses the window trick (I'd say The Address Beach Resort does)

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Princess_Tower

a_t48(10000) about 9 hours ago [-]

I can't be the only one who hates 432 Park - not because of the windows, but because of the impossible shape. It just looks like it shouldn't exist.

TedDoesntTalk(10000) about 12 hours ago [-]

Another Las Vegas Window Trick is to prevent any natural light on the casino floors. The gambler has no sense of time of day without looking at a clock, but that's not the same as feeling "oh, it's almost dawn" by looking at the daylight.

dghughes(10000) about 12 hours ago [-]

Not if you live in a northern climate dawn in the winter is 8am at its worst and sunset can be as early as 4pm.

I worked in a small casino and we had a huge front window that you could see south eastward. But yes I'm sure some some people lose track of time it's human nature.

achairapart(10000) about 10 hours ago [-]

The best 'dark pattern' trick from Las Vegas casinos may be to start pumping pure oxygen thru A/C around midnight, so guests would get some 'high' boost, keeping them gambling harder and tirelessly all night long.

I read about this many years ago in 'Fools Die' by Mario Puzo, which of course is fiction, but I think there may be some truth in there (One of the characters in the book is mostly based on the author himself).

Edit. Found an original quote from the book:

  Gronevelt was dressed to go down to the casino floor. He fiddled with the control panel that would flood the casino pits with pure oxygen. But it was still too early in the evening. He would push the button sometime in the early-morning hours when the players were tiring and thinking of going to bed. Then he would revive them as if they were puppets. It was only in the past year that be had the oxygen controls wired directly to his suite.
jesvs(10000) about 12 hours ago [-]

Lost count of mall visits where glass ceilings bask in morning light, only to leave hours later to a dark sky. The capitalist secret: hiding the day-night transition from customers.

donatj(10000) about 12 hours ago [-]

I have always heard this, but I suspect it's less of an intentional trick and more just a happy accident of how large Vegas gambling floors are. Even if the buildings were wrapped in floor to ceiling windows natural light would only penetrate the first couple rows of slots.

The Mirage in particular actually has a pretty large skylight towards the front of the gambling floor.

userabchn(10000) about 8 hours ago [-]

The opposite is done in other buildings, such as MIT's Simmons Hall, where the building can look bigger than it actually is because each room has multiple windows: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Simmons_Hall,_MIT,_C...

hanspeter(10000) about 5 hours ago [-]

A similar effect is seen with this office building in Copenhagen. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pier47

rmetzler(10000) about 6 hours ago [-]

The German Democratic Republik (East Germany) had the problem of needing housing for many thousand people in the 1970s. It was not possible to build enough flats. The only way they could scale up their efforts was through standardisation. Berlin Marzahn and other areas were villages back than. The Marzahn Village for example still exists today.


People wanted individualisation, but the housing was needed. So they put color in their balconies, which made them look like color patches. And there existed big murals on the ends of some houses.

After reunification, a lot of these buildings were modernised and made look the same again. Only the color scheme between houses was different. Existing murals were often painted over. People then realised, it does look nicer to have coloured walls and they start to let artists paint the ends again.

Here is an example by the East German artist Mad C


Here is a video of Team Mad Flava, painting a large mural in Greifswald.


nottorp(10000) about 6 hours ago [-]

> People then realised, it does look nicer to have coloured walls and they start to let artists paint the ends again.

I really don't understand how people can enjoy the 'us homeowner association' uniformity. It's boring. Let everyone personalize their home.

Maursault(10000) about 11 hours ago [-]

Muse Hall[0] at Radford University in Radford VA also uses a window trick, except to make the building look much taller than it is. When standing close to it, the facade is reasonably effective.

[0] https://twitter.com/radfordu/status/1364225065974333446

twic(10000) about 6 hours ago [-]

Looks to me like it should have pigeons living in it: https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/pigeons-tower

htag(10000) about 11 hours ago [-]

I think the author missing the biggest reason for these styling differences. This is their function. A long term dwelling serves a different function than a hotel. All of the residential buildings have more personalization on the outside of the building than hotels allow. I'd also like to add that the shown residential homes show much more wear and age than the hotels do, making it hard to do a side by side comparison.

I'm always driven towards residential areas where the personality and style of the owner comes out in the property. In the US many suburban HOAs, apartment management and condo boards will put arbitrary limits on the appearance of the outside of the home. I can't stand the single family neighborhoods where all the homes were build at the same time, with the same builders, in the same style. In my neighborhood lots are of varying sizes, homes are built in a ~fifteen year span with different styles, and there is no hoa.

Condo buildings can generate the same level of sameness if several of them are built in the same neighborhood around the same time, with similar style, and enforce strict limitations on outside visual appearance. We see this a lot in the US when an area is 'upzonned' and developers flock to build 'luxury' apartments and condos. I prefer buildings where residents put furniture on balconies, hang decorations from their window, grow plants outside, and have blinds open displaying rooms styled differently than their neighbors. I prefer living in urban neighborhoods where the buildings are of varying ages and show different architectural styles.

Hotels can do enforce a very high level of uniformity. Additionally the amenities, furnishing, styling, and art are very much at the whim of current styles. This increases the 'order' and decreases the 'chaos'. The order comes from function, and I wouldn't want to live in a hotel like environment.

chimeracoder(10000) about 9 hours ago [-]

> I think the author missing the biggest reason for these styling differences. This is their function. A long term dwelling serves a different function than a hotel. All of the residential buildings have more personalization on the outside of the building than hotels allow. I'd also like to add that the shown residential homes show much more wear and age than the hotels do, making it hard to do a side by side comparison.

Yeah I'm surprised nobody else mentioned this. The residential buildings have window AC units and people hanging laundry on their balconies to dry, two things you'll never see at modern hotels (the ones pictured don't even have balconies).

There's no apples to apples comparison happening here.

gregoriol(10000) about 10 hours ago [-]

Love those archtectural tricks!

One I enjoy to look at here in Paris is this building: https://maps.app.goo.gl/VrMNy4RkZPyFE1SC8?g_st=ic It looks like it is tilted, but it really has a square shape, just the vertical beige columns on each floor are placed slightly off from the other floor, and that makes the effect

twic(10000) about 6 hours ago [-]

There's a building in London that i find genuinely unsettling to look at - it looks like perspective has got messed up somehow:



It's basically opposite an eye hospital, so it's probably given some people nasty post-operative surprises.

bee_rider(10000) about 8 hours ago [-]

I dunno, the more chaotic buildings really emphasize that there's a person living in each one. That can be neat to think about. Somebody's whole home life lives in each of those tiny windows.

It is interesting that people tend to take photos of the Las Vegas hotels that emphasize the visual effect that makes them look smaller, while they tend to shoot these apartment towers in a way that makes them look looming and overwhelming. It is just a matter of framing though, the apartments are shot from much closer up.

And there's also the aspect of the building maintenance. I suspect the hotels just bring in more money per day and get more aesthetic touch ups on the outside. Apartment and condo building sometimes look a little grimy just because they don't get painted every year or whatever.

noobermin(10000) about 2 hours ago [-]

My fiance who is an artist explained it as being due to it being an upshot. The first two pictures of the HK buildings are upclose and at an angle, with you looking up at the building, and thus it looking daunting. The picture of the Unité d'Habitation looks nowhere near as daunting to me, it just looks like a large building, actually.

hliyan(10000) about 10 hours ago [-]

It seems human beings have certain levels of texture detail that we find aesthetic. Any more or less, and we find it unappealing. I first realised this when I noticed that fictional spacecraft look appealing when they have a certain amount of exterior detail or 'knurling'. I also find trees with smaller leaves (e.g. Banyan trees) more calming to look at than those with large leaves. I suspect both phenomena are related.

hug(10000) about 9 hours ago [-]

The word for one of those small surface details is a "greeble", and the process of adding that visual interest is known as greebling.

mach1ne(10000) about 9 hours ago [-]

Probably related to the more general notion of boring stuff and too dense stuff. It is as if brains optimize towards a certain percentage of surprise in their stimuli.

Historical Discussions: Seven years on, what do we know about the disappearance of flight MH370? (2021) (January 24, 2023: 717 points)
Seven years on, what do we know about the disappearance of flight MH370? (September 25, 2021: 3 points)
7 years on, what do we know about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines 370? (March 27, 2021: 1 points)

(717) Seven years on, what do we know about the disappearance of flight MH370? (2021)

717 points 5 days ago by pantalaimon in 10000th position

admiralcloudberg.medium.com | Estimated reading time – 77 minutes | comments | anchor

Call of the Void: Seven years on, what do we know about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370?

Sidewalk art commemorates the victims of MH370. (Ted Alijibe)

"Good night, Malaysian three seven zero."

Seven years have now gone since this last fateful transmission, so laden with the dark shadow of premonition, that marked the passing of MH370 into the realm of legend. Exactly one minute and forty-three seconds later, a dramatic and mysterious sequence of events would begin to unfold, the opening chapter in a story that transfixed the world.

At 1:20 a.m. on the 8th of March 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight 370 disappeared from radar over the South China Sea and embarked on an enigmatic journey to the most remote corner of the Indian Ocean. Confused authorities scrambled to find the crash site, unaware that the plane was still in the air, heading deeper into uncharted seas at the margin of the world. Even after its true path was traced, answers proved elusive. How was it possible for something as big as a Boeing 777 to simply vanish without a trace? And the million-dollar question: why? To this day, we still don't have all the pieces of the puzzle. But over the years, enough evidence has trickled in to paint a disturbing picture of a flight that could only be considered a masterwork of airmanship directed toward nefarious ends. Indeed, the fate of the 777 is not as much of a mystery as the public discourse makes it seem — on the contrary, when all the evidence is considered, only one theory makes sense. This is the story of what really happened to MH370.


Left: First Officer Fariq Hamid; Right: Captain Zaharie Ahmed Shah. Note that most Malaysians use a given name and a patronymic, with no family name; only the given name is used to refer to a person. Hence "Fariq" and "Zaharie" are used to refer to the pilots throughout this article. (CNN)

By the 8th of March 2014, First Officer Fariq Hamid was on his way to stardom. The 27-year-old had recently been promoted to first officer on the Boeing 777 for Malaysia Airlines, and was almost done with his line training. He was engaged to marry a fellow pilot whom he had met at flight school. Pictures posted to social media showed him posing in the cockpit with the flight attendants, a bright smile plastered on his face. Just one more trip — Malaysia Airlines flight 370 to Beijing — and he would be fully qualified to fly the massive wide body jet, a great honor in a country where the flag carrier had not yet lost its association with national pride.

His line instructor for the red-eye flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Beijing, China would be 53-year-old Zaharie Ahmed Shah. Married with two adult children, he had already been living Fariq's dream for years. He had more than 18,000 hours of flying experience, of which over 8,600 were on the Boeing 777, making him one of the most experienced triple seven pilots at Malaysia Airlines. Fariq, with just 39 hours on type, would have been among the least.

9M-MRO, the Boeing 777 which disappeared. (Laurent Errera)

At the gate in Kuala Lumpur, as Zaharie oversaw the refueling of the plane, 227 passengers filed on board and took their seats. They hailed from 14 different countries, but the majority — 153 of them — were from China, and more than half of the rest were Malaysians. Twelve Malaysian crewmembers, including ten flight attendants and the two pilots, brought the total number of people on board to 239.

All appeared normal as Malaysia Airlines flight 370 taxied to the runway and took off at 00:42 local time. The flight climbed without incident to its cruising altitude of 35,000 feet, making all the routine radio calls, plus a couple extra, as Captain Zaharie twice reported that they were level at 35,000 when there was no need to do so. But this was in no way cause for alarm.

At 1:19 a.m., with the flight approaching the edge of Malaysian airspace, the area control center in Kuala Lumpur initiated a control handoff to their counterparts in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. "Malaysian three seven zero, contact Ho Chi Minh one two zero decimal nine. Good night," the controller said.

"Good night, Malaysian three seven zero," Captain Zaharie replied.

But MH370 never contacted Ho Chi Minh on 120.9. At 01:20, one minute and 43 seconds after the last radio call, as the plane passed over the IGARI waypoint in the South China Sea, someone or something turned off its transponder. On controllers' radar screens, MH370's target disappeared into the darkness, snuffed out like a candle in the wind.

The initial flight segment up until the point where the plane disappeared from radar. (Google)

Initially, no one noticed the sudden disappearance of the airplane. After handing the flight over to Ho Chi Minh control, the Malaysian controller looked away from his screen, and when he looked back, the plane was gone. He assumed that it had flown out of radar range and returned to his duties without a second thought.

In Vietnam, controllers expected the plane to contact them, but it did not, and they couldn't find it on radar either. Controllers in Ho Chi Minh City began trying to raise the plane on radio without success. For 18 minutes, they sent out a series of increasingly desperate calls: would MH370 please respond? Could any planes in the area contact MH370? The only answer was silence.

According to their mutually agreed rules, the Vietnamese controllers should have called Kuala Lumpur within five minutes after failing to establish contact with the plane. In the event, 19 minutes passed before this call was made. A controller in Kuala Lumpur asked, "Malaysian three seven zero, do you read?" No answer.

As both control centers continued trying to raise the plane, the Kuala Lumpur controllers contacted Malaysia Airlines' operations center, who inexplicably told them that the plane was on course and over Cambodia — despite the fact that its flight plan didn't call for it to pass through Cambodian airspace, and controllers in Phnom Penh had already reported that they saw no sign of the plane.

Although Malaysia Airlines operations were mistaken in putting the plane in Cambodian airspace, they genuinely did believe that it was still in the air, proceeding normally to its destination. They were tracking the plane on the Flight Explorer website, which, as they would only realize hours later, simply continued to display an aircraft's projected path if its transponder stopped broadcasting position information. But this incorrect assumption was reinforced at 02:39, when Malaysia Airlines attempted to place a satellite phone call to the plane, and the airplane's satellite data unit acknowledged the transmission. Although nobody picked up and no data was transferred, this showed that the plane was indeed still in the air. Perhaps they had simply had some kind of communications failure?

Around this time, the problem began to escalate up the Malaysia Airlines chain of command. At 03:00, having checked the company's internal tracking system and found no sign of MH370, Malaysia Airlines' crisis director declared a code red emergency. It wasn't until 30 minutes after that when someone finally told the operations department that Flight Explorer was not showing the real position of the plane, only a projected position. But despite mounting evidence that MH370 really was missing, both control centers and Malaysia Airlines spent a further two hours fruitlessly trying to contact the plane, before finally informing emergency services of the situation at 05:30. At 06:30, when the flight failed to land in Beijing at the scheduled time, Malaysia finally launched a full-scale search and rescue operation, beginning near the plane's last recorded position in the South China Sea.

Despite a growing realization that the airplane had probably crashed, at 07:14 Malaysia Airlines tried one last time to place a satellite telephone call to MH370. Perplexingly, the call once again connected successfully, but nobody answered. As the search in the South China Sea kicked into gear, it was not clear that the significance of this fact was properly appreciated.

At 07:24, Malaysian authorities announced to the world that MH370 was missing, last seen on radar crossing IGARI. There had been no distress call. At first, this was assumed to be a normal plane crash. Floating debris would be found within hours or days, and the main body of wreckage sometime later. Neighboring countries, as well as China and the United States, sent an ever-growing contingent of ships and airplanes to scour the area around IGARI, but as the hours ticked by, not one of them could find any sign of the plane.

It was only on the evening of March 8th that Malaysia Airlines' engineering department, which monitors satellite communications, provided the CEO with an astonishing update. Although the plane stopped sending data at 01:21, it continued to acknowledge transmissions from the satellite for a further seven hours. This suggested an unprecedented possibility: that the plane didn't crash into the South China Sea; rather, it continued flying throughout the night and into the morning. At the time that the wreckage search began, the plane may well have still been in the air!

Unsure how to interpret this information, Malaysia Airlines decided to wait until some kind of corroborating evidence could be found. It wouldn't be long before they got just what they were looking for.

On March 9th, the Malaysian military made a surprising announcement: after the plane disappeared from civilian radar, it had continued to track the flight on primary radar for another two hours. Unlike the "secondary radar" used by air traffic controllers, military radar stations use "primary radar," which detects aircraft by bouncing radio signals off of them instead of communicating via the airplane's transponder. After MH370's transponder went dark, Malaysian military radar tracked an object originating from MH370's last known position. The object initiated a hard left turn just past IGARI, rolling out on a southwesterly heading that took it back across the Malay peninsula. It skirted the border between Malaysia and Thailand, crossed into Malaysian airspace, then made a wide right turn around the island of Penang before taking up the published Airway Route N571 up the Strait of Malacca, dutifully passing over all the expected waypoints until it passed out of range. The flight path was so bizarre that no one was quite sure what to make of it.

The path of MH370 after it turned back toward the Malay Peninsula. (Andrew Haneen)

Malaysian authorities were initially not 100% sure that the object was in fact MH370, but the chances were high enough that a second search was ordered in the Strait of Malacca in addition to the ongoing search in the South China Sea. On March 12th, this search was expanded into the Andaman Sea to the northwest, but despite a massive international armada of military and civilian vessels scouring the sea from sunrise to sunset, their enormous effort turned up no sign of the plane.

Meanwhile, Malaysian officials had decided to try to extract more information from the satellite data that had suggested the plane kept flying for seven hours. Routine automatic satellite communications were made approximately every hour, except for the initial period of the flight between 01:21 and 02:25, when some kind of power interruption to the airplane's satellite data unit had prevented the satellite from making contact. After that, every hour or so a ground station in Perth sent a query (or "handshake") to the plane via a geostationary satellite located over the Indian Ocean. The purpose was not to transmit information but simply to verify that the plane was still there. All of these "handshakes" were acknowledged by the plane up until the last one at 08:19.

The satellite in question was operated by a British company called Inmarsat. In the days immediately following the crash, engineers at Inmarsat came up with an ingenious way to extract some information about the plane's position from these routine handshakes. The basic premise was that by measuring the time it took for the signal to travel from the satellite to the plane and back again, it would be possible to derive the distance between the plane and the satellite at that particular moment. Each of the seven handshakes therefore revealed not the exact position of the plane, but a ring of possible locations, all equidistant from the satellite. The data showed that during the first couple of handshakes, the plane was moving closer to the satellite, then began moving farther away. Taking into account the plane's fuel load, experts were able to rule out all points on the rings west of about 70 degrees east, because they were out of range. This left two wide corridors where MH370 could have traveled while maintaining the time-distance correlation derived from the satellite data: one bending to the northwest, crossing over India and into Central Asia; and another that curved south, deep into the Southern Indian Ocean.

The twin arcs where the flight must have ended, revealed by satellite data. (Reuters)

On each of these possible corridors, the plane passed through all seven "arcs," the segments of the original rings that were within the plane's range. MH370 reached the seventh arc at 08:19, but 15 minutes later it failed to acknowledge a satellite handshake, indicating that it had either lost power or crashed sometime between 08:19 and 08:34. This meant that the final resting place of the plane was probably relatively close to the seventh arc. Malaysian authorities announced the revelation of the satellite data on March 15th, at which time the still-ongoing surface searches in the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca were called off.

Over the following week, the northern corridor was ruled out, as none of the countries along this corridor had detected any unidentified planes crossing their airspace. Nor had anyone seen the plane crashing or landing in Central Asia. That meant that MH370 must have turned south, into the Indian Ocean. On March 24th, the CEO of Malaysia Airlines told the world that the plane had surely flown along the southern corridor, and that this area of the ocean was "a remote location far from any possible landing site." He then added, "We have to assume beyond all reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and none of those on board survived." For the families of the passengers and crew, his words fell like a hammer blow. Their loved ones had been written off as dead.

Locations of the seven original rings revealed by the satellite transmissions. (ATSB)

The news that the plane had turned south and flown into the Southern Indian Ocean for five hours after leaving radar range stunned the world. What on earth was going on aboard MH370? Why would anyone fly such a flight path? But to find the answer, investigators would first need to find the plane.

On March 24th, Malaysia, China, and Australia agreed to begin a surface search in a vast area of the Indian Ocean near the seventh arc, where the plane was thought to have crashed. But by this time two weeks had passed since the accident, and based on the experience of previous sea searches, it was unlikely that they would be able to find any floating debris — ocean currents would have dispersed it too widely to track down. Although some satellite images showed possible objects drifting away from the seventh arc, a massive aerial and surface search covering over a million square kilometers failed to turn up any sign of the plane.

Meanwhile, the Australian Transport Safety Board (ATSB), in cooperation with authorities in Malaysia and China, organized a mission to find the signals from the plane's black boxes. The 777's two flight recorders each have a battery-powered emergency locator beacon that begins transmitting (or "pinging") when immersed in water. By towing specialized detectors behind a ship, it is possible to pick up these signals and find the plane. After an analysis of the most likely flight paths, the ATSB chose a sector of the seventh arc where it believed the plane most likely came down, and began searching for the signals in this area. They wouldn't have much time: the pingers were only guaranteed to last 30 days before running out of battery power, and would certainly not last more than 40.

Within a few days, an Australian ship searching for the signal got four separate hits on almost the right frequency very close to each other. Sure that they were on the right track, the ATSB announced an underwater search in the area where the pingers were heard. An automated submersible equipped with side-scan sonar was deployed to scour the seabed. Optimism seemed to be mounting; surely the plane would soon be found.

A comprehensive map of all the sea searches. The early search for the black boxes is shown in the inset. (Andrew Haneen)

However, over the course of several weeks, the submersible traversed the entire search area without finding the wreckage. It was a massive disappointment: the supposed signals from the black boxes must have been false. Only much later was it discovered that the signals had probably come from the scanning equipment pinging itself.

By this point the batteries in the flight recorders had long since run out. The only solution now was to begin methodically scanning a vast area of the seabed along the seventh arc. But before defining a search area, the ATSB had to answer two questions: how far along the length of the seventh arc should they search, and how far away from it in both directions?

Neither of these questions had easy solutions. It was possible to narrow down the east-west range along the arc by making some assumptions about the likely speed and altitude of the aircraft, which made use of a parameter of the satellite data called "burst frequency offset." Due to the doppler effect, the frequency of an emission will appear lower if the source is moving away from the receiver, and higher if the source is moving toward the receiver. The difference between the nominal frequency and the actual frequency is called the burst frequency offset. Inmarsat engineers were able to use the burst frequency offset to determine the degree to which the plane was moving toward or away from the satellite at each handshake. This analysis resulted in a Gaussian distribution of possible flight paths consistent with this data and terminating at the seventh arc. Overall, the results suggested that the plane was on autopilot and cruising without any major heading changes for the final five hours of the flight. But while this data was helpful, it was fundamentally limited by a lack of knowledge of where in the Andaman Sea MH370 initially turned south, as this turn occurred after the plane had left both Malaysian and Indonesian radar range.

A distribution of possible flight paths calculated by the ATSB in October 2014. (ATSB)

As for how far from the arc to search, the question hinged on how far the plane could have flown after the last handshake. Here, some more highly technical analysis of the transmissions had to be performed.

The seventh arc was actually established not by one handshake, but by two handshakes spaced eight seconds apart. The first of these handshakes originated from the plane, not the satellite, which could only mean that there had been a temporary interruption to the power supply to the 777's satellite data unit, causing it to try to re-establish contact with the satellite. This same phenomenon had also been observed at the first handshake, at 02:25, after another apparent power interruption. While the origin of the earlier power interruption wasn't clear, there was an obvious reason for the later one: the plane had almost certainly run out of fuel. This would have resulted in a loss of electrical power as the engines stopped turning. Power could then have been briefly restored to the communications equipment if there was enough residual fuel to start the auxiliary power unit, the backup generator in the tail. The APU could be started manually, but would also start automatically after one minute without electrical power if a pilot did not intervene.

The seventh arc could therefore be established as the likely point of fuel exhaustion, inherently limiting the distance the plane could have traveled beyond that. The other part of the question was how quickly the plane crashed after running out of fuel. The answer depended on whether or not someone was flying the plane. If not, calculations by Boeing showed that the 777 would most likely enter a spiral dive, descending at a fairly high rate of speed and impacting the water within 20 nautical miles of the point of fuel exhaustion. On the other hand, if a pilot optimized the glide, they could potentially have flown as far as 100 nautical miles. In the absence of any evidence for either scenario, the ATSB chose to assume that the plane spiraled in close to the seventh arc because it had not received enough funding to extend the width of the search area to 100 nautical miles.

In pink and purple, the actual width of the search area. In gray, the area the ATSB would have searched if it had infinite money and time. (ATSB)

The underwater search along the seventh arc began on October 6th, 2014 and continued well into the following year. In April 2015, with 60% of the search area having been covered, Australia, Malaysia, and China agreed to double the search area from 60,000 to 120,000 square kilometers. The massive search operation did turn up some interesting objects, including some nineteenth century shipwrecks (one can only imagine the terror that befell their crews, lost at sea in the farthest reaches of the Indian Ocean, knowing that they would never be found). But it found no sign of MH370.

In January 2017, having searched the entire 120,000 square kilometers without finding the plane, the three countries agreed to suspend the search. Malaysia announced that it would only restart the search if "credible new evidence" of MH370's location could be provided. MH370 aficionados were disappointed; relatives of the victims were devastated. Many relatives gathered to protest the decision, exhorting Malaysia to "search on."

Although the search had been suspended, the investigation continued. In addition to government investigators, a large amount of valuable research was also done by the Independent Group, a collection of aviation experts and scientists who had dedicated countless man-hours to investigating MH370. They would be the source of much of what has been revealed since the end of the search.

Fugro Discovery, the ship which conducted most of the original ATSB search. (Michel Floch)

One independent MH370 aficionado was Blaine Gibson, an American man living a nomad lifestyle who took an interest in the unexplained. He was among the first to champion the idea that debris from MH370 would eventually wash up somewhere, and that it could be examined for clues.

It soon turned out that he was right. In 2015, while the search was still ongoing, local beach cleaners discovered a piece of an airplane on the French island of Reunion, east of Madagascar. French authorities identified the item as a Boeing 777 flaperon — a panel which acts as both a flap and an aileron — and conclusively determined that it came from MH370, based on serial numbers printed into the metal. The trailing edge of the flaperon had been torn away and it was covered in barnacles, but it was otherwise remarkably intact. The true significance of the discovery could not be overstated: at last, there was physical evidence that MH370 did indeed crash somewhere in the Indian Ocean. For the victims' families, it was like learning they had died all over again.

Authorities in Reunion recover a flaperon from MH370. (Reuters)

After the discovery of the flaperon, Blaine Gibson began scouring the coasts of several countries in southeast Africa in search of more debris. It turned out that finding it was surprisingly easy: over the following months, he found pieces of airplane wreckage in Madagascar and Mozambique on a regular basis. As of January of 2021, some 33 pieces of wreckage found on beaches have with varying degrees of certainty been tied to MH370. Of these, more than one third were found by Blaine Gibson.

The discovery of wreckage opened up two new avenues of inquiry: structural analysis, to try to determine how the plane hit the water; and reverse drift analysis — a method used to determine, based on ocean currents, where the debris originated from given where it ended up. Both of these areas would produce a treasure trove of sometimes conflicting information.

Meanwhile, momentum for a new search had begun to build in the year following the suspension of the original search in January 2017. Armed with new reverse drift models, the private search and salvage company Ocean Infinity proposed a deal to the Malaysian government: it would search an area immediately to the north of the ATSB search area, and if it failed to find the plane, Malaysia would not pay a penny. In January 2018, Malaysia accepted the "no find, no fee" offer, and within days Ocean Infinity's flagship Seabed Constructor was on its way to the Southern Indian Ocean.

The area of the ocean infinity search, compared with the ATSB search and the ideal search zone. (BBC)

Seabed Constructor had an ace up its sleeve that the ATSB lacked: a fleet of eight autonomous submarine vehicles equipped with state-of-the-art sonar scanners would operate simultaneously, covering ground an order of magnitude faster than ever before. Ocean Infinity executives expressed great confidence that they would find the plane, despite the difficult undersea terrain.

For more than five months, Seabed Constructor and its fleet of autonomous submarines scoured the canyons and mountains that lined the ocean floor, moving northward along the seventh arc. Once again, they found a number of interesting items, but none of them were from MH370. In June 2018, having covered the entire proposed search area without finding the plane, Ocean Infinity was forced to pull out. The company had spent millions in capital on the search, but got nothing in return.

Since the Ocean Infinity search ended, no new searches have been launched, and MH370's final resting place remains unknown to this day. But despite the failure to find the plane, more is known about what happened to MH370 than the general public tends to believe.

From the very beginning, there were only a few possible explanations for why the plane flew its bizarre flight path into the Southern Indian Ocean. One was that a fire somehow knocked out communication and navigation systems but left the pilots with some degree of control. Another was that there was some kind of decompression, and — suffering from hypoxia — the crew began acting irrationally until they eventually fell unconscious or died. A third theory held that hijackers had taken over the plane, intending to fly it somewhere, but something went wrong that killed the pilots and/or the passengers. And finally, there was the most popular theory of them all: that one of the pilots took control of the plane and deliberately flew it to the Southern Indian Ocean in an appalling act of mass murder-suicide.

Street art in memory of the victims of MH370, created when there was still uncertainty over whether the plane had really crashed. (Ted Alijibe)

The problem with making any of these theories work was the sheer number of independent events that they needed to explain. All of the following information had to be accounted for.

First, the theory would need to explain how all of the automated communications and broadcasting equipment, such as the transponder, ACARS, and ADS-B, all switched off within a very short period, but did not do so completely simultaneously. It would also need to explain why the pilots did not make any kind of distress call.

Second, any explanation would need to account for the fact that the turn back to the left toward the Malay peninsula could only have been flown manually by a pilot. Malaysian investigators tried to recreate the turn in a simulator and found that to complete it in 130 seconds, as MH370 did, the autopilot had to be switched off. Even using its tightest allowable bank angle, the autopilot could only complete the turn in 180 seconds or more. While flying manually, investigators managed to make the turn in as little as 148 seconds, though none were able to do it quite as quickly as MH370. Even while making the turn in 148 seconds, the plane was being pushed near its limit: bank angles of up to 35 degrees had to be used, which in the thin air at 35,000 feet is incredibly dangerous. In the simulator, the maneuver set off bank angle warnings and the stick shaker stall warning as the plane threatened to lose lift and fall from the sky. Thus, only a skilled pilot could have accomplished the initial turn.

Third, it was found that the first officer's cell phone was in range of a cell tower as the plane passed near Penang, yet no one on board attempted to place a call. More generally, there was no evidence that anyone on board made any attempt to contact anyone outside the plane or otherwise interfere with its flight path as it tracked farther and farther from its proper course.

Fourth, an explanation would be needed for why there was a power interruption to the satellite communication unit, only for it to come back online at 02:25.

And fifth, any theory would need to explain why the plane seemingly took up a published airway after passing Penang, then followed it until it was out of radar range before turning south into the Indian Ocean, heading toward an area without any landing sites. It would also need to explain why the flight path remained almost perfectly straight from this point onward.

Sand art made shortly after the disappearance exhorts passersby to pray for MH370. (CBS News)

It is technically possible, although rather difficult, to explain all of this with some kind of accidental scenario. In his book The Hunt for MH370, Ean Higgins provides a theoretically possible sequence of events originating with a fire in a window heater in the cockpit, which rapidly takes out all the communications equipment. Following the explosion, the pilots put on their oxygen masks to protect themselves from smoke. First Officer Fariq initiates a rapid turn back toward land for an emergency landing, while Zaharie powers off the left AC bus to cut power from the window heater (which also powers off the SATCOM equipment). Shortly afterward, Zaharie accidentally pulls his oxygen mask tube out of the oxygen bottle while reaching for the fire extinguisher, causing a sudden release of oxygen that rapidly accelerates the fire until it consumes the cockpit, killing First Officer Fariq. The heat of the fire cracks the windscreen, which finally breaks, causing a rapid decompression that in turn puts out the fire. Captain Zaharie, carrying a supplemental oxygen bottle from the galley, returns to the cockpit to find that most of the controls have been destroyed, including the manual flight controls, the autothrottle, and all the comms. With Zaharie unable to make the plane descend, the passengers soon run out of oxygen and die before reaching Penang; meanwhile, Zaharie finds all he can do is use the autopilot to change heading. He turns the left AC bus back on to try to restore power to the communications equipment, but it doesn't work. Without any way to land the plane or call for help, and with everyone else on board dead, he decides to send the plane into the Indian Ocean so it won't hit anyone on the ground when it runs out of fuel and crashes. Zaharie soon runs out of oxygen and dies on the flight deck.

In the same book, Higgins also outlines a scenario involving an explosive decompression. Shortly after passing IGARI, a hole breaks open in the fuselage and all the air rushes out. Captain Zaharie is in the toilet at the time and is unable to reach an oxygen mask, causing him to die of hypoxia. Fariq's oxygen mask also isn't working properly — it delivers just enough oxygen to keep him alive, but not enough to keep his brain functioning at an appropriate level. Although he turns back toward Malaysia for an emergency landing, he makes a number of hypoxia-fueled irrational decisions, such as not descending or making a distress call. While trying to use the transponder to squawk a distress code, he accidentally turns it off, along with all the other communications equipment. Because Fariq didn't descend, the passengers run out of oxygen and die before reaching Penang. Fariq initially heads for Penang, then turns north, trying to head for Langkawi, where he performed pilot training. After reaching the Andaman Sea, he attempts to turn around, but runs out of oxygen and dies, leaving the plane to continue on autopilot into the Southern Indian Ocean until it runs out of fuel.

Blaine Gibson, right, with a possible piece of MH370. (Blaine Gibson)

The problem with both of these theories is that they rely on a long series of independently improbable events all coinciding. For example, in the fire scenario, not only must the left window heater explode (something which has never happened), it must take out a long list of specific systems, while leaving the ability to change heading intact, and also without bringing down the plane. Similarly, in the even shakier decompression scenario, great weight has to be placed on the pilot making a series of very specific irrational decisions while in a hypoxic state, without that hypoxic state being sufficient to kill him until more than two hours after the onset of the emergency. Further complicating both of these theories is a complete lack of evidence: the 777 has no history of either of these types of failures, and the plane in question had no outstanding mechanical problems. The Malaysian investigators did look into whether the cargo could have started a fire, noting that it consisted mainly of ripe mangosteen fruits along with a small number of lithium batteries. Extensive attempts by the investigators to get mangosteen juice to react with the batteries and trigger a fire were unsuccessful. Nor has a comprehensive theory involving a cargo fire been produced which can account for all of the required elements — only a fire in the cockpit with a very specific spread pattern can satisfy most of the basic premises.

For the reasons listed above, most experts believe MH370 was the victim of some kind of deliberate action. There are three possible suspects: Captain Zaharie, First Officer Fariq, or one of the passengers. However, First Officer Fariq, an inexperienced young pilot with a bright future, a bubbly personality, and an upcoming wedding can be ruled out very easily.

Malaysian police performed background checks on all 227 passengers and found only two who were in any way suspicious. Two Iranians had boarded the flight with stolen passports, but further investigation revealed that they had no ties to any terrorist groups and were merely using the stolen passports to try to seek asylum in Europe. Absolutely nothing untoward about them could be found. Furthermore, it was difficult to explain how a passenger could have gotten into the cockpit without the pilots making any sort of distress call, nor was it clear how or why they would have effected the series of configuration and heading changes that occurred throughout the flight. And on top of that, no terrorist group ever claimed responsibility for hijacking MH370.

That left Captain Zaharie as the only viable suspect. Here too, investigations seemingly came up short. The Malaysian accident report, published in 2018, described him as a flawless pilot with no problems in his personal life and no obvious motivation to make a plane full of people disappear. But was that really the whole truth? In fact, the evidence shows Zaharie to be a much more complicated person than Malaysian authorities portrayed him to be.

Captain Zaharie Ahmed Shah, seen in a screenshot from his YouTube channel. (Zaharie Ahmed Shah, via YouTube)

The most widely reported piece of evidence tying Zaharie to the disappearance was a course he had charted on his home flight simulator about a month before the crash. Zaharie had a number of hobbies, including paragliding and flying model airplanes, but he also spent a lot of time at home on his computer playing flight simulator games. He sometimes uploaded videos of himself playing on his YouTube channel, where he comes off as affable and knowledgeable, if a bit socially awkward.

In 2014, a leaked Malaysian police report revealed that among Zaharie's saved flight simulator sessions was a very odd route which ran up the Strait of Malacca, turned south after passing Sumatra, and then flew straight down into the Southern Indian Ocean before terminating in the vicinity of the seventh arc. Not only did the track resemble MH370's actual flight path, it also contained a number of other intriguing details. For example, the track wasn't really a track — rather, it was a series of brief clips lasting no more than a few seconds each, indicating that Zaharie had programmed it in advance then skipped along it to various points without actually playing through the entire hours-long flight. Furthermore, although initial reports indicated that the track had been intentionally saved by the user, later analysis showed that it was kept only in the system files, and certainly was not meant to be found. Was this a dry run? It seems too odd to be a coincidence.

In yellow, the actual flight path of the airplane. In red, the flight path found on Zaharie's simulator. (New York Magazine)

Zaharie's social life was also not as smooth as Malaysian authorities portrayed it to be. A combination of the leaked police report and interviews with people who knew him revealed that he had separated from his wife on an informal basis and was living alone in the family home. He had apparently been feeling lonely and sad for a long time before the disappearance. He admitted to friends that he sometimes spent his time off pacing around empty rooms, waiting for his next flight. Others said he seemed to be suffering from clinical depression. He had been obsessively stalking a pair of young models on social media. He was said to have slept regularly with the flight attendants, and his wife allegedly knew. He also was said to have had a number of mistresses, including one who was married. The woman in question denied that their affair was sexual in nature, and reported that they had stopped seeing each other months before the plane disappeared. However, she also told interviewers that she had exchanged several WhatsApp messages with Zaharie just a couple of days before the crash. What was in them she refused to say, citing a fear that they would be misinterpreted.

Zaharie was known to leave awkward comments on the profile pages of young Malaysian models. (The Daily Mail)

Zaharie was also deeply involved in Malaysian politics and was a big supporter of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. In a strange coincidence, just hours before MH370 disappeared, Ibrahim was sentenced to prison on sodomy charges that were widely considered to be politically motivated. While this would have been a blow to Zaharie, it probably had nothing to do with what happened: if he was responsible, he had surely started planning the disappearance well before the sentence was handed down. He also left no manifesto or other statement of intent, which made it unlikely that he hijacked the plane as a form of political protest.

How these aspects of Zaharie's life could have led him to commit an unspeakable act of mass murder is difficult to understand. But while he was said to be an affectionate and emotionally sensitive person who loved life, perhaps something dark lurked within him, something which he suppressed so thoroughly that no one else knew it was there. It is said that the people who seem happiest are sometimes also in the deepest agony, struggling against demons that they never reveal even to their closest friends. Perhaps, as he paced the empty rooms in his empty house waiting for his next flight, he wondered what it all meant. What was the point? Where was his life going? If he was destined to fade into irrelevance, maybe trying to make an airliner disappear without a trace seemed like a stimulating intellectual puzzle.

Very few people who display these sorts of traits go on to kill hundreds of people. But it's also true that in many cases a motive is never established. For example, in October 2017, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire on a concert in Las Vegas from a vantage point in the Mandalay Bay hotel, killing 60 people and injuring over 800 before turning his gun on himself. Despite an exhaustive investigation, the FBI was never able to determine why he did it. Sometimes, the answers just aren't there to be found.

Zaharie and his daughter Aishah, possibly several years before the crash. (The Mirror)

Perhaps the most compelling reason to believe that Zaharie hijacked his own plane is its simplicity. It's the only explanation that doesn't rely on a series of independently improbable events: given a desire to do it, everything else falls into place as a reasonable part of the plan. In fact, from the timing of the transponder failure to the specific locations of the turns to the flight path into the Southern Indian Ocean, it would be harder to come up with a better way to make an airliner disappear. Why believe that this is a coincidence when it could well have been the goal from the very beginning? Furthermore, whoever was flying the plane had extensive systems knowledge and excellent hand-flying ability. Who else on board had those skills but Zaharie? Indeed, it's by far the easiest answer. What follows is a dramatized retelling of what might have happened on board MH370, based on the most likely scenario agreed upon by experts.


It's 01:20 on March 8th, 2014. On board MH370, Zaharie has just said goodnight to Kuala Lumpur ATC. He has yet to make contact with Ho Chi Minh. It is at this moment that he initiates his carefully constructed plan. "Hey," he says to First Officer Fariq, "The girls want to talk to you about something in the cabin."

Fariq, unlikely to question the motives of his highly experienced captain and instructor, complies.

Seconds later, Captain Zaharie locks the cockpit door, then systematically shuts off any systems that could be used to track the plane. The transponder, ACARS, and ADS-B go dead. He also shuts off the main AC bus, just to be sure he got everything. The interior lights go dark; in the cabin, there are some exclamations of surprise. MH370 disappears from radar, but Zaharie has timed his takeover so that neither control center is likely to notice right away, buying him extra time.

Before Fariq can attempt to get back into the cockpit, Zaharie reaches up and flips the pressurization switch, cutting off bleed air to the cabin. The airplane rapidly begins to depressurize; Zaharie dons his oxygen mask, and so do the passengers.

Fariq and the flight attendants hurry to grab their own emergency oxygen supplies, but it's hard to find them in the darkness. Before they can do so, Zaharie initiates a steep, dramatic turn to the left. Alarms blare in the cockpit: "BANK ANGLE! BANK ANGLE!" The stick shaker begins to rattle, warning of an impending stall, but Zaharie uses his incredible piloting skill to push the plane to its absolute limit. In the cabin, passengers and crew alike are thrown violently down and to the right. Fariq, gasping for air, is slammed against a bulkhead, unable to reach the supplemental oxygen. Zaharie knows that by the time he finishes his harrowing two-minute turn, anyone who didn't manage to put on an oxygen mask will be dead. With Fariq quickly falling unconscious, the person most capable of stopping his diabolical plan is already out of the picture.

After 130 seconds, Zaharie rolls out on a southwesterly heading, aiming for the border between Malaysia and Thailand. By treading the line between the two countries, he hopes that both will view the unidentified plane as the other country's problem. (Indeed, this is what happened: Thai military controllers saw the plane but assumed Malaysia was handling it; Malaysian military controllers, on the other hand, probably weren't paying attention at all.) By this time, the passenger oxygen masks — designed to last only 12 minutes or so — have run dry, and the passengers are all either unconscious or dead.

After flying along the border for long enough to be sure that no one is scrambling jets to intercept him, Zaharie cuts across Malaysian airspace and heads for Penang, where his home town is located. Making a wide right turn around the island, he gives himself one last view of the place he grew up, and perhaps still loved. Fariq's phone makes contact with a cell tower, and perhaps other phones do as well, but no one besides Zaharie is alive to place a call.

Zaharie now locks on to Airway Route N571 up the Strait of Malacca, just like he had practiced in the simulator. It's a clever ruse — to anyone watching on primary radar, MH370 looks identical to numerous other planes heading sedately up the airway toward India.

After checking to make sure everyone else on board is dead, Zaharie powers the AC bus back up and repressurizes the airplane. Unbeknownst to him, the satellite communication unit starts to acknowledge the satellite again. This is his one mistake — but it's a forgivable one, as hardly any airline pilots knew about this system feature before the disappearance of MH370. Were it not for this tiny omission, it's unlikely that anyone would have discovered where the plane went after it left radar range.

Once he is sure he is out of range of both Malaysian and Indonesian radar coverage, Zaharie performs his final coup-de-grace: the left turn into the Indian Ocean. To this day we still don't know exactly where he did it. He enters a southerly heading into the autopilot and leaves it there — his work is done. Before the flight, he had calculated that he had enough fuel to reach an area of the Southern Indian Ocean where the seabed terrain would make finding the plane difficult. But this is just a contingency plan, in case authorities somehow managed to track him after his final turn. By this point, perhaps Zaharie is listening to air traffic control frequencies on HF radio, laughing at Malaysian authorities' desperate attempts to contact him. He's done it; he's gotten away.

Indeed, if this is what happened, MH370 was a masterpiece of flying directed toward an act of utmost depravity. There's no doubt that Zaharie was physically capable of doing it. He was highly intelligent, had encyclopedic knowledge of all areas of aviation, and had accumulated more experience on the 777 than almost anyone else in Malaysia. And everything we know about the flight points toward the conclusion that the perpetrator didn't want to be found. While the accidental crash theories must construct an elaborate series of coincidences to explain why the stars aligned to make the plane seemingly disappear without a trace, if one takes this to be the perpetrator's intention then only one assumption is needed.

Without the wreckage, the clues will of course remain circumstantial only. But countless murderers have been sentenced to death on far less evidence. And it is true that the motive remains elusive. But Sherlock Holmes was right: once we have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.


Which pieces of Mh370 have been identified so far? (CNN)

After all of this, one question continues to haunt us: where is MH370? To this day the plane has not been found. As far as where to look, there are two main camps: those who believe the plane crashed uncontrolled into the sea in a high-speed dive, and those who believe Zaharie glided the plane to a controlled ditching. Which theory one subscribes to greatly influences where one thinks the search for the plane should be concentrated.

The ATSB search and the Ocean Infinity search were both based on an assumption that the plane was uncontrolled at the end. In support of this conclusion were a number of items of evidence. For one, there was a possibility that the final two handshakes revealed a high-speed descent. The burst frequency offset of these two handshakes was such that it could not be explained by the plane's forward speed alone — something else must have influenced it. This "something else" could have been vertical speed. Experts estimated that based on the frequency offset, at the time of the first 08:19 handshake the plane may have been descending at a rate of at least 2,900 feet per minute — fairly normal for a plane without engines. But eight seconds later, at the time of the final handshake, this had increased to at least 13,800 feet per minute, well beyond the rates used in any normal emergency descent. However, engineers also could not rule out that some or even most of this frequency offset was due to the crystal oscillator inside the transmitter warming back up after the power interruption.

Further supporting the notion of an uncontrolled descent were a number of reverse drift studies which attempted to trace the widely scattered debris fragments back to a common point of origin. Although reverse drift derivation is a relatively new art and not especially reliable, a lot of effort went into the studies, and over the years their results have quite consistently pointed to a crash site close to the seventh arc. The debris itself also showed some evidence of a high-energy impact, as a couple of the parts came from inside the cabin and were seriously mangled, including the frame of a seat-back TV screen, and part of a closet door. Taken together, these pieces of evidence were enough to justify the locations of the original ATSB search and the Ocean Infinity search, respectively.

Excerpts from a June 2014 report give insight into the ATSB's motivations for choosing the search area it did. (ATSB)

But as the ATSB search drew to a close without finding the plane, the popular opinion among independent experts began to shift. If the plane wasn't in the search area, surely that meant the ATSB should consider the possibility that a pilot glided the plane outside of it? Accusations began to build that the ATSB never had enough evidence to justify choosing the "death dive" theory over the controlled glide theory, and that it had made that choice to avoid having to ask for more money, or to avoid offending Malaysia by making an independent determination that one of the pilots had deliberately crashed the plane. The ATSB reacted defensively, trying to give out as little information to journalists as possible. A number of ATSB officials made fools of themselves trying to avoid saying that a pilot crashed the plane on purpose. Of course, the likely possibility that Zaharie purposefully crashed the plane was not mutually exclusive with the assertion that the plane ended up in a death dive — he could very easily have killed himself before the plane ran out of fuel, or simply let it go down on its own while he watched. But by this point it was clear that Malaysian authorities had rejected the theory outright, and acknowledging the possibility that the pilot glided the plane to the end would entail publicly contradicting the Malaysians, who were leading the investigation.

Another view of the flaperon found in Reunion. Note the trailing edge damage. (NBC News)

Experts put forward a number of pieces of evidence which would support the idea that the plane was glided to the end. Several leading air crash investigators, along with the French team that initially examined the flaperon, reported that the damage to the trailing edge would be consistent with the plane impacting the water in a level attitude with the flaps extended to the landing position. The fact that the flaperon (as well as several other pieces) were relatively intact also suggested that the energy of the impact couldn't have been especially great. Enough doubt existed around the vertical velocities and the reverse drift studies to write them off as unreliable. Some argued that had the plane totally fragmented on impact instead of breaking into a few large chunks, more pieces would have been found (although this was not a scientific analysis, as we don't actually know how many pieces "should" be found given different levels of fragmentation). And given the notorious wind conditions in the Southern Indian Ocean, it was quite likely that the plane would have broken into several pieces even in a controlled ditching, explaining the parts from inside the cabin. Experts like journalist Ean Higgins and air crash investigator Larry Vance wrote entire books arguing for the controlled glide theory. But the best evidence for the theory was always the fact that searches based on the "death dive" theory had already been tried, and yet the plane was still missing.

Despite the detailed new studies of the controlled glide theory, Malaysia did not consider any of this to be the "credible new evidence" it needed to restart the search. In fact, Malaysian authorities seemed to be getting tired of MH370 and were more interested in making the problem go away than they were in finding the truth. When they published their final report on the crash in 2018, it proved to be a disappointment — there was hardly anything in it that wasn't already known. Furthermore, it did not come to a conclusion about the cause of the crash. It acknowledged that the three turns had to have been intentional, and it acknowledged that there were no passengers who could have been behind an attempted hijacking. It acknowledged that it could not find any evidence of any mechanical problems with the plane, even unrelated to the crash. It acknowledged that the communications systems were almost certainly turned off on purpose. And it acknowledged that only a skilled pilot could have performed the initial turnback. But instead of concluding that the only viable explanation was that Zaharie had deliberately crashed the plane, the report ended by saying that the investigators could not determine the cause of the accident. The whole report seemed to be building up to a conclusion that Zaharie had done it, then ended by saying nothing at all. The problem was that Malaysia could not admit that one of its finest pilots flying for its state-owned flag carrier had deliberately taken 238 other people to their deaths. In terms of the country's public image, Malaysia preferred that the crash remain a mystery.

The 495-page Safety Investigation Report by the Malaysian investigation team, which despite its length managed to say relatively little. (The Sunday Times)

The official report also did its best to paper over a number of failings that contributed to the plane not being found. In addition to the long delay in informing authorities — caused by missteps at the Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Minh City control centers, as well as at Malaysia Airlines — criticism should have been levied at the Malaysian military. Why didn't they intercept the unidentified aircraft as it was crossing the north of the country? The military claimed it was because the plane wasn't a threat. But how could they have known that unless they had identified it as MH370, rather than a foreign incursion? And if they had identified it as MH370, why didn't they tell anyone until days after the crash? The most likely explanation was that the military simply wasn't monitoring its own radar at the time that the plane flew through Malaysian airspace. But admitting this would expose a massive security vulnerability by revealing Malaysia's military to be dangerously incompetent. Probably for national security reasons, the official report had nothing to say about this at all.

A part of a spoiler recovered from MH370 in August 2020. (Don Thompson)

Evidently, the "final" report was not in any way final, and expert and amateur sleuths alike continue to search for MH370. More studies come out every year, and while the controlled glide theory remains popular, recently the death dive theory has begun to gain some ground back. In 2021, two new mechanical analyses of the flaperon and a spoiler (recovered in August 2020) concluded that both control surfaces had likely separated in flight due to structural flutter after the plane exceeded its maximum speed. The reason they were so intact while most of the other parts weren't might have been that they didn't hit the water with the rest of the plane. Simultaneously, new and more advanced drift analyses continue to suggest that the debris has a common origin point near the seventh arc. The drift studies increasingly agree that the plane should be in a relatively small area, between 33 and 35 degrees south and 92 to 94 degrees east — right where a lot of people thought it should have been from the very beginning. Most of this area was covered by the ATSB and Ocean Infinity searches, but not quite all of it. Furthermore, as time goes on and technology improves, it's increasingly clear that there was always another possibility for why the searches didn't find the plane near the seventh arc: that it was there all along, and they just failed to see it. Advances in sonar scanning technology, particularly with an eye for missions in rough terrain like that near the seventh arc, may soon justify a second look at areas that were already searched, particularly if studies continue to point to the same range of locations.

Data from a drift analysis, 2021. (Richard Godfrey)

Even without finding the plane, a number of lessons have been drawn from the disappearance of MH370. Many of the responses to the disappearance centered on the fact that in the 21st century, commercial airliners should not just disappear. In the interest of knowing where every plane is at all times, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) began requiring that all airliners manufactured after the 1st of January 2021 include autonomous tracking devices that broadcast their location once per minute. To give greater coverage of airplanes manufactured before that date, Inmarsat (which supplies satellite relays to nearly all commercial airliners) changed the frequency of its handshakes from once per hour to once every 15 minutes. The European Aviation Safety Agency began requiring that the "pingers" on aircraft flight recorders last at least 90 days, rather than 30. ICAO also amended its guidelines to require that airliner designs approved after 2020 include cockpit voice recorders that record 25 hours of conversations (instead of the current standard of two), and that flight data recorders either stream data to a location on the ground or be designed to float to the surface after a crash. (Like all ICAO regulations, these only come into force if adopted by the member states, which may take some time.)

A common theme among memorials and commemorations to the victims was a refrain that the plane was still out there somewhere, waiting to land, stuck in some kind of eternal limbo. (The Hindustan Times)

So will MH370 one day be found? Most experts say that the answer is an emphatic yes. Opinions differ on the timeframe, but the agreement that someone will find it is nearly unanimous. It's human nature to want to solve the greatest mysteries of our time, and MH370's final resting place is high on the list. Most likely, someone with a lot of money or government connections will decide to mount a private search, like Robert Ballard's successful mission to find RMS Titanic in 1985. Some think it will be soon, based on confident analyses predicting the near-exact location of the plane. Others, like Larry Vance, believe that the pilot could have glided the plane anywhere after the last handshake, resulting in a search area that is impractically large for current technology. But one day, he insists, a technology will be invented that will allow us to find it.

If we do one day find MH370, it's not guaranteed that the wreckage will yield much that is of value. No one is sure whether the data from the black boxes can still be extracted after this many years underwater. Famed NTSB investigator John Goglia thinks the data will be preserved for many years yet by the low oxygen levels at the depths where MH370 likely lies; others think the data is probably already gone. And even if the black box data is recoverable, there's no guarantee that there will be anything useful in it. The CVR might not reveal anything more than two hours of silence as the plane flies on autopilot over the Indian Ocean. It's also possible that when he turned off all the communications systems, Zaharie also disabled the flight recorders, and the recorded data will abruptly end at 01:21 as the plane passes over IGARI. But the possibility that the black boxes contain the answers to all our questions about MH370 will always compel us to continue the search. Maybe Zaharie even left some kind of memento behind on the CVR, a sort of subtle "congratulations, mystery solved," like the strange and prophetic flight path he left on his home flight simulator. Until it is found, we will continue to wonder.

Street art commemorating MH370 evokes an unfinished puzzle. (NPR)

Looking back, sometimes it's still hard to believe that all of this actually happened. It's still difficult to understand how a Boeing 777 could just disappear. Sometimes it feels like our world is too structured for such a bizarre story, like we made up with the whole thing in a collective fever dream. For the families of those aboard MH370, that's what it feels like every day. The pain of not knowing is infinitely greater than the pain of loss. Every night, they go to sleep wondering: what were their loved ones' last moments like? Did they suffer? Where are they now? Until they know, it's hard to even begin to grieve.

The senselessness of the tragedy only compounds that pain. Some family members refuse to blame Zaharie — his family went through all the same trauma that they did, and to accuse him of murder strikes too close to home. For many, it's easier to live with the idea that it was a tragic accident. But the truth, unfortunately, is much darker. Bar a major new revelation, it seems all but certain that Zaharie Ahmed Shah took control of a Boeing 777 full of passengers and deliberately tried to make it disappear. We may never know why he did it. Maybe he wanted to kill himself while still allowing his family to collect a life insurance payout. Maybe he saw disappearing an airliner as a challenge, a test of his intellectual and physical mettle. But in the end, maybe the "why" doesn't matter — after all, what can be said about the inscrutable mind of a madman, a man so unassuming, and yet capable of such an incomprehensible act of destruction? No amount of wondering will bring back those 239 souls who flew away into the howling dark, never to return.


Update: Due to higher than expected circulation, resulting in more academic scrutiny than I had in mind when this article was conceived, anyone wishing to consult my evidence directly can receive a list of works cited upon request.


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All Comments: [-] | anchor

amatecha(10000) 5 days ago [-]

If you haven't seen it, this Google Map of all found debris is quite interesting: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1Kghrk3iwRInii5qBTG...

return_to_monke(10000) 5 days ago [-]

what I don't understand is: if the plane could make contact with the satellite, why aren't there automated systems in place to send location info through that channel? can someone explain?

lippihom(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Crash aside - this is very well-done and cool map. I wish Google made maps like this more easily searchable / discoverable.

colineartheta(10000) 5 days ago [-]


sakex(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I assume you must be pretty low to be able to ping a 4g tower. Is it impossible that the guy would have jumped from the plane with a parachute? Then he would have run with the insurance money.

quickthrower2(10000) 4 days ago [-]

How does he run away with insurance money? Unless his estranged ex is part of the conspiracy.

chs20(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I agree that much evidence points towards the pilot intentionally crashing. However, it's not proven and constructing a story around this theory is a bit distasteful.

Otherwise, the article is quite interesting.

TazeTSchnitzel(10000) 5 days ago [-]

What bothered me was how personal it was made to be. If it had just said "Pilot A" rather than repeatedly naming them and bringing in personal details, it would have felt more tasteful to me, less... "true crime"-y.

O__________O(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Curious, based on actual evidence, is there any reason to believe the pilot didn't exit the plane prior to it crashing?

somat(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I don't think you can open the door on a 777 in flight.

For comparison the plane that D B Cooper used had a stairway in the back(sometimes called airstairs). He was able to override the in flight lock and get out that way. My understanding is that the db cooper incident is in a large part why they don't put airstairs on planes any more.

But now you have me watching videos on 777 doors. they open outward than forwards, like most airline doors they probably have a interlock to prevent them from opening in flight, if you could override that, I don't think you could push them forwards against the slipstream.

jaundicedave(10000) 5 days ago [-]

what, like he somehow smuggled a parachute onboard and then survived a late-night ditch into the middle of the ocean?

edfletcher_t137(10000) 5 days ago [-]

This is the crux/TL;DR:

'Perhaps the most compelling reason to believe that Zaharie hijacked his own plane is its simplicity. It's the only explanation that doesn't rely on a series of independently improbable events: given a desire to do it, everything else falls into place as a reasonable part of the plan. In fact, from the timing of the transponder failure to the specific locations of the turns to the flight path into the Southern Indian Ocean, it would be harder to come up with a better way to make an airliner disappear. Why believe that this is a coincidence when it could well have been the goal from the very beginning? Furthermore, whoever was flying the plane had extensive systems knowledge and excellent hand-flying ability. Who else on board had those skills but Zaharie? Indeed, it's by far the easiest answer.'

yellow_lead(10000) 5 days ago [-]

The part where he had flown the route in a simulator is compelling as well. What a long article though

phlipski(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Fascinating read but for some REAL fun Jeff Wise's 'Russian Hijacking Theory' is pretty awesome....


InCityDreams(10000) 5 days ago [-]

>tradition is to brave subzero air temperatures and water temperatures of 34 degrees

Good read, but: all that detail and couldn't be bothered providing a (bracketed) degree-centigrade comparison.

wnevets(10000) 5 days ago [-]

>His wife, Elena, gave several interviews to local media. In one, she calmly indicated that her husband was still alive. "He'll be back," she told the Komsomolskaya Pravda, "and he will tell all."

How did that turn out?

nobrains(10000) 5 days ago [-]

The article doesn't mention the amateur ham radio interference pattern research data to figure out the flight path.

See this: https://youtu.be/Jq-d4Kl8Xh4

jquery(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I looked into this, it's a sham theory. Such tech doesn't exist.

digitalsankhara(10000) 5 days ago [-]

The methodology of using aircraft scatter of radio signals encoded in the WSPR protocol is described in [1]. I was so sceptical when I heard about this - mainly due to the normally mangled reporting in mainstream media - that I really didn't think there was any merit in it.

The thought of being able to detect aircraft scatter using very low power HF signals over variable ionospheric propagation conditions at long range seemed almost impossible to me. The use of the WSPR (Weak Signal Propagation Reporting) [2] network and its highly efficient protocol is what changed my mind.

I'm much less of a sceptic having read the basis of the paper, at it appears there have been proving flights to evidence the technique can work. I haven't had time to research other workers who have reproduced the results, so would be interested if anyone has any links.

[1] https://www.mh370search.com/2022/03/14/mh370-wspr-technical-...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WSPR_(amateur_radio_software)

swyx(10000) 5 days ago [-]

apparently Ocean Infinity, the private salvage search company mentioned in the article that spent millions on a 'no find no fee' search for MH370 is committing to doing it again this or next year: https://www.reddit.com/r/MH370/comments/t85bdv/ocean_infinit...

how exactly do these guys fund themselves? this must be a horrendously expensive enterprise and fairly infrequent at that.

Cthulhu_(10000) 3 days ago [-]

There's a lot of people with a lot of money who look for ventures to invest into; some build schools or affordable housing, some buy artwork, some set up charities for tax dodging reasons, and others will invest in a company like this which will get customers calling them nonstop if they find the plane.

I mean the article mentioned this company spent 'millions' on the search. There's people that earn millions per day by doing nothing or sending a tweet. There's tons of money out there, it's just allocated poorly.

andrewaylett(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I suspect that like many peacetime efforts undertaken by various militaries, they need to train so they might as well do something useful while training.

phire(10000) 5 days ago [-]

They have other customers.

Even if they don't find it, this is great advertising for them, and gives them a reason to test their technology. And if they do find it, even better advertising.

I wouldn't be surprised if their negotiated finders fee from Malaysia is still below cost.

bengl3rt(10000) 5 days ago [-]

'Before Fariq can attempt to get back into the cockpit, Zaharie reaches up and flips the pressurization switch, cutting off bleed air to the cabin. The airplane rapidly begins to depressurize.'

I really want to believe that a single switch doesn't control whether people in the back of the plane can breather or not...

whywhywouldyou(10000) 5 days ago [-]

What's with so many of these comments being flabbergasted that there's a switch in the cockpit that can cause harm to everyone on the plane?

Do you realize you're entrusting two people in the front of the plane with your life as soon as the plane takes off? There are probably DOZENS of switches that if they are flipped maliciously will result in everyone on the plane dying.

TylerE(10000) 5 days ago [-]

It won't unless there is some sort of major hull leak. If it was off long enough it would start to be a problem. Its basically the same same as turning off recirc on your car's climate controls. (Also, the pressurization controls are almost always on the overhead panels, which contains things that are used almost always for startup/shutdown steps so it's not like the pilot is going to reach over to adjust a radio or the autopilot and hit the bleed air.

Really though there are plenty of switches in any cockpit that will result in the death of all aboard if no corrective action is taken.

Do you freak out about driving? Plenty of controls in your car you could say the same thing about. Yanking the ebrake at highway speeds in rush hour traffic isn't gonna end well.

Edit the 5th or so: There are also times when the pilot will legitimately and safely depressurize in flight, like when descending to the one of the super-high airports that are actually at higher altitude than typical cabin atmosphere, like La Paz Bolivia (over 13000ft, compared to a typical cabin altitude of 5-8000 or so. They do it gradually while descending, so they don't make everyones ears go bang all at once.

Edit the 6th: Also, there's a big difference between turning off bleed air (which is pretty benign) and actually hitting the emergency pressure dump control, which is protected by a guard that holds the switch in the normal/auto position.

mlyle(10000) 5 days ago [-]

It's about that easy. Of course, masks are a-gonna drop, and flight attendants are going to put on portable oxygen bottles... and of course the crew should descend. But the whole plane architecture is built on the idea that you're trusting the people in the front with everyone's lives.

DogLover_(10000) 5 days ago [-]

You might want to learn about Helios Airways Flight 522 crash

dml2135(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Fascinating article. I had a chuckle at this excerpt:

>The Malaysian investigators did look into whether the cargo could have started a fire, noting that it consisted mainly of ripe mangosteen fruits along with a small number of lithium batteries. Extensive attempts by the investigators to get mangosteen juice to react with the batteries and trigger a fire were unsuccessful.

I'm sure plenty of people here have spent time wracking their brain on a hard problem and the image of a bunch of transportation investigators dousing batteries with juice in a late-night fit of desperation really gets me.

EricE(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Strikes me as a desperate attempt to save face and explain away the most plausible explanation - that one of their pilots committed an atrocity.

interestica(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Investigations have some weird bits. I've always wondered if there's a certain title for the person who prepares the chickens for the 'chicken gun' in airplane testing.


themitigating(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I have no flying experience but if there was a fire in the cargo hold wouldn't the crew at least send a message? I thought this flight veered off the flight path before disappearing

IgorPartola(10000) 5 days ago [-]

It's not that weird. Lithium (ion) batteries can catch on fire if submerged in water. Can juice do it is a legitimate question.

joshspankit(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I also imagine that the first attempt was behind some sort of explosion-proof wall because It Just Might(tm).

washywashy(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Once on a flight headed west I happened to look out the window and just then another plane flew beneath the plane I was on headed north-ish and quickly off into the distance. I remember thinking two things: 1. It was far away from us so quickly it kind of shocked me, although it makes perfect sense of course. 2. I felt like i got a really good view of it. It didn't look far away at all altitude-wise as it passed beneath the plane I was on.

I've always wondered how normal this is to cross paths with other planes that closely. I've seen other planes way off in the distance before but never that close.

gnutrino(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I've seen this before and was shocked as well. Really gave me some perspective on how much trust we put in pilots and airlines to keep us safe while hurtling through the air at hundreds of miles per hour.

__sy__(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Pretty common. You can check out Skyvector 'World Hi' [1] to get a sense of intersecting flight routes.

[1] https://skyvector.com/

goodcanadian(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Generally, required separation is 5 (nautical) miles or 1000 feet in altitude. There are some exceptions like taking off or landing on parallel runways. ATC will ensure the separation, and on large airliners, the TCAS[1] system will alert pilots if something goes horribly wrong and aircraft get too close together.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traffic_collision_avoidance_sy...

sva_(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I think if you're close to any airport, it is very normal. If you're, for example, landing in Chicago, I'd be shocked if you can't see a bunch of other planes out of the window. I also once had some delay when having to fly over Dubai, where we had to fly in circles before landing, and I saw a large amount of airplanes circling around the same area above and below us. But I'm no expert in aviation by any means, so I can't really comment on the appropriateness.

ipnon(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Planes on intersecting paths will be placed in separate flight levels. The standard is 35,000ft or "FL35", and usually East bound traffic gets odd FL and West bound gets even. It's likely the plane you saw would have collided with yours had it been on the same FL, but it was likely off by 1,000ft. The relative addition of two cruising speeds make it more dramatic too.

stephen_g(10000) 5 days ago [-]

It's very common - they space the 'flight levels' by a vertical separation of 1000 feet, and often alternate the different directions. So you might have several planes following the same path but in different directions, the planes going one way at 36,000 feet and the ones going the other way at 35,000 feet. They might also cross at other angles with the same kind of vertical separation, especially at a waypoint.

russdill(10000) 5 days ago [-]

My favorite is when you pass another plane in the opposite direction along the same path but different altitude. The closing speed of two airliners at cruising speed is quite the thing to witness

ErikVandeWater(10000) 5 days ago [-]

According to experts hired by NBC news, the audio between the pilots and ATC were edited: https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/missing-jet/missing-jet-re...

For whatever reason, this doesn't seem to be widely discussed.

gabereiser(10000) 5 days ago [-]

edited for brevity. You can't edit the recordings of the black box but you could certainly doctor recordings from either side. It mentions that in the article that it doesn't mean anything nefarious but rather just a matter of fact. If they were edited before release, its probably to cut out silence or something. I wouldn't go conspiracy theory here.

type0(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I try to think positively. It successfully landed on the beach in North Sentinel Island, where all the passengers and the crew still live happy lives away from these pesky newfangled life we call civilization.

edit: satellite data needs to be bogus though, so my theory makes perfect sense

zxcvbn4038(10000) 5 days ago [-]

4 8 15 16 23 42?

humanistbot(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Civilization can be pesky until someone falls and needs antibiotics to prevent sepsis.

sopooneo(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Hearing about all the painstaking analysis of this flight made me wonder something: If you look deeply enough, how frequent are inexplicable situations? That is, if you took all the info from a normal flight, and cut it off at the halfway point and gave it to a group of enthusiastic investigators, would they find aspects that contradicted or truly did not make sense? My guess is they would.

This is not to say MH370 was without incident, only that apparent contradiction may be unavoidable if you look closely enough at anything.

TylerE(10000) 5 days ago [-]

It's unlikely, since about 98% of the Earth has transponder coverage, so you at least have position and what the aircraft think's it's altitude is, with pretty good precision and sample rate. It's only in a few spots in the middle the ocean that this doesn't exist.

This was also relevant in that Airbus crash from maybe 15 years ago between South America and Africa.

This is not a problem on the main to/from North America routes because there are enough populated islands along the way (Iceland, Greenland, Hawaii, Guam, etc)

travisjungroth(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Even more, I imagine the average flight would look extraordinary. You would always hit some rare event if you looked hard enough. Rare events are so common! What are the odds that this many people on the plane were military / government / communists / CEOs / Jews / elderly? Well, pretty high if you're looking after-the-fact. And if you look into the background of every person and started reaching out a bit it would get weirder. You'd have tons of former whatevers, brother-in-laws of important people, criminals, all sorts. And people would be absolutely certain it meant something.

In the case of MH370, this is why I always found the simulator history of the pilot the most relevant. It doesn't require this long chain of relationships like some other things. It is the most impactful person recently doing something related to the event that is extremely weird behavior.

dinkumthinkum(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I get what you're saying but I doubt it because air travel now is extraordinarily systematic and well understood.

stephen_g(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Yes, I think the pilot has to have deliberately done it. The turns after the transponder went off are too intentional, and nothing like the flight plan the plane was meant to be flying.

I saw a simulation that looked fairly convincing, that showed if the plane was ditched in a controlled glide from where the last ping was received, assuming that's were it ran out of fuel, then the plane would have glided out of the area that was searched. They also claimed that the damage on the flaperons and other control surfaces that washed up was fairly consistent with landing fairly level, where those control surfaces may have been ripped off but most of the rest of the plane might have been fairly intact and would have quickly sunk in mostly one piece. It seemed fairly plausible.

a2tech(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I hope for the passengers sake that he flew that plane straight into the ocean instead of gently laying it down. It would turn a basic instant death into a nightmare slow action drowning scenario where if you didn't die immediately taking many days to die from exposure and thirst.

kgwgk(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Relevant book (open access):

Bayesian Methods in the Search for MH370

Authors: Sam Davey , Neil Gordon , Ian Holland , Mark Rutten , Jason Williams


ghaff(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Funnily enough I'm in the process of reading Blind Man's Bluff in which similar techniques were employed to locate subs that sank.

ADDED: The loss of the Scorpion described in that book reminds me of this as well. While some of the details related to what exact sort of torpedo failure caused the Scorpion sinking is a matter of debate, the betting money is on some sort of torpedo failure rather than a Soviet tit-for-tat or other complicated scenario for which there's no real evidence.

_Adam(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> ... reaches up and flips the pressurization switch, cutting off bleed air to the cabin. The airplane rapidly begins to depressurize ...

I cannot believe that a 'kill everyone' switch actually exists, and if it really does this seems like a bug. Especially because not hitting the switch would also kill everyone.

paranoidrobot(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Your assumption is that it's a 'kill everyone' button.

Yes, used incorrectly or maliciously, in the right circumstances, it can do so.

By the same reasoning, a huge percentage of the controls and switches in the cockpit can also have the same result.

Just disconnect the fuel to the engines, or push the control stick forward.

ceejayoz(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Being able to rapidly depressurize is fairly critical; the doors are prevented from opening in flight by a pressure differential and their construction. In an emergency, being unable to depressurize would mean being unable to evacuate the aircraft.

Passengers would've had their oxygen masks deploy, which works in normal circumstances, but they only last 12 minutes; intended to give the crew time to descend. When the pilot has no intention of taking that measure, you're screwed pretty fast, but they could fly into a mountain too if they felt like it.

LastTrain(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Wait until you hear about this thing called a yoke.

apexalpha(10000) 5 days ago [-]

When in the right (/ wrong) hands many of the buttons and controls on an airliners can become 'kill everyone' switches.

This switch, just like all others, has very legitimate use cases.

whywhywouldyou(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Are you also astounded that the pilot controls the plane with a 'kill everyone' lever? One that if they push forward for long enough will kill everyone on the plane?

But also, _not_ using the lever during landing would also kill everyone. Wild stuff.

stephen_g(10000) 5 days ago [-]

The pilots can kill everyone in a many different ways. It's basically impossible to get around that.

Cthulhu_(10000) 3 days ago [-]

There's many 'kill everyone' switches in most vehicles; this is why people get training and screening before being allowed to operate one. It's not foolproof, but there is no such thing as foolproof transport.

zxcvbn4038(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Better question is what has been done to prevent the next MH370 and I bet the answer is nothing much, it took a back burner once the story was out of the headlines.

There are only a thousand reasons aircraft operators might want to know where their planes are and if there are any issues. I'm sure that the gps position and black box data could be streamed over radio and/or satellite.

asmor(10000) 5 days ago [-]

MH370 likely had systems that enable tracking deliberately disabled by someone in the cockpit (or they all failed at the same time). That's not part of the threat model for good reasons.

chem83(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Huh? A lot[0,1,2] has been done considering how little we know about what has actually happened and a trivial search would enlighten you.

Also, real-time streaming of GPS position for the thousands of flights in the air at any given time is not a trivial problem (but technology is improving and ICAO is pushing for such solution[3]).

[0] https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/08/us/mh370-fifth-anniversary-ma...

[1] https://www.cntraveler.com/stories/2014-04-10/malaysia-airli...

[2] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/malaysia-airlines-flight-370-pr...

[3] https://www.theverge.com/2016/3/9/11184544/un-flight-trackin...

fasthands9(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Feel like if we believe this was a pilot suicide then it would also be important to try to address that - though I'm not sure how unless we fully automated (and people liked that).

There has been a German and Chinese flight since with 100+ fatalities where this happened. Given how few crashes there are on commercial flights its one of the biggest risk factors today.

toast0(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> Better question is what has been done to prevent the next MH370 and I bet the answer is nothing much, it took a back burner once the story was out of the headlines.

Sometimes they retire the flight number. Then it can't happen again. Looks like that's the case here [1]

[1] https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2014/03/13/289800435...

klabb3(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> I'm sure that the gps position and black box data could be streamed over radio and/or satellite.

Find My: Boeing 777

antognini(10000) 5 days ago [-]

In the US two people must be in the cockpit at all times. If one of the pilots needs to use the bathroom, a flight attendant has to take their place in the cockpit until the pilot returns. This prevents a suicidal pilot from taking down a plane (or makes it much harder anyway). This wasn't a requirement on Malaysian Airlines at the time. (I don't know if the regulations have since been updated.)

Quanttek(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Your question is literally answered in the article:

> Even without finding the plane, a number of lessons have been drawn from the disappearance of MH370. Many of the responses to the disappearance centered on the fact that in the 21st century, commercial airliners should not just disappear. In the interest of knowing where every plane is at all times, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) began requiring that all airliners manufactured after the 1st of January 2021 include autonomous tracking devices that broadcast their location once per minute. To give greater coverage of airplanes manufactured before that date, Inmarsat (which supplies satellite relays to nearly all commercial airliners) changed the frequency of its handshakes from once per hour to once every 15 minutes. The European Aviation Safety Agency began requiring that the "pingers" on aircraft flight recorders last at least 90 days, rather than 30. ICAO also amended its guidelines to require that airliner designs approved after 2020 include cockpit voice recorders that record 25 hours of conversations (instead of the current standard of two), and that flight data recorders either stream data to a location on the ground or be designed to float to the surface after a crash. (Like all ICAO regulations, these only come into force if adopted by the member states, which may take some time.)

I think now, after another documented murder-suicide, there's also been a change in regulations requiring at least 2 people to be in the cockpit at all times. Other commenters point to additional changes

cyber_mock(10000) 5 days ago [-]

So 12 minutes of oxygen, i just learn that

gridspy(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Pilots are trained in a loss of pressure situation to reduce aircraft altitude (fly down) until the decompression is no longer dangerous. So even with no mask on, the most you will experience is a short period of unconsciousness.

alexitosrv(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Yeah, like it's not that long. They should add that disclaimer to the safety messages at the beginning of the flight. 'In case of an emergency, you will have 12 minutes of oxygen, which while we know is not that much, is better than to die instantly.'

roxgib(10000) 5 days ago [-]

At this point the data from his computer, at least the data from the flight simulator software, should be released publicly so that those with experience can apply their knowledge to reconstructing the data. It's entirely possible that someone with more knowledge of the software in question, rather than a generic computer expert, might have more luck.

whywhywouldyou(10000) 5 days ago [-]

What about the data would require an expert to reconstruct? They have the simulated flight path. It's very similar to the final flight path of the real plane.

maegul(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Agreed. Whenever I return to this story I'm always astounded at rereading that part of the story (even though I know it's coming). I'm also surprised it isn't given more weighting.

Surely it's the biggest reddest flag in all the evidence and underemphasised purely because of the political implications of a murderous pilot.

The main question about it in my mind is one for aviation experts ... why would any pilot plot and practice that course? Is there any possible motivation other than wanting to crash a plane in the middle of nowhere?

Because if not, it's almost a closed, albeit morbid and troubling case and the rest would be details.

It also raises interesting questions about the importance of pilot mental health that are maybe uncomfortable for the industry, in addition to the fact that aviation tech could still completely lose a plane.

femto(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> However, engineers also could not rule out that some or even most of this frequency offset was due to the crystal oscillator inside the transmitter warming back up after the power interruption.

Didn't the plane have two power interruptions, the first of which it is known that the plane wasn't in the process of crashing at high velocity? I wonder what effort was made to compare them, possibly allowing the effects of crystal drift and Doppler to be separated?

Maybe any unexpected frequency offsets after the first power cut can be entirely attributed to the crystal warming up after the power cut? Maybe it could be assumed that the crystal behaves similarly after each power cut, as crystals are typically repeatable with temperature? In that case the characteristics of the crystal are known after the second power cut and Doppler can be determined.

I'm sure this would have been thought of, but one has to ask.

treeman79(10000) 5 days ago [-]

20 years In college we had a link between campuses for the mainframes. Occasionally systems go out. When that happened. It was my job to replace the lightbulb that sat on the transmitter to keep it warm.

markx2(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I can highly recommend reading more of Admiral_Cloudberg's writings.

Start at https://old.reddit.com/r/AdmiralCloudberg/

If you wish to skip any comments,


and use the Medium links.

quickthrower2(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Old reddit is is needed for me because current reddit mangles the imgur posts which he used to do (now he uses medium)

LatteLazy(10000) 5 days ago [-]

To me, the most interesting thing about all of this is that civilian airports don't really have radar. You can disappear from an ATC screen just by turning off a transponder. If they'd had radar we would at least of known which way the plane went. A curious controller could have asked 'unidentified object at height X, region Y' who they were and why they were in controlled airspace without a transponder on.

The article even implies the controllers themselves did not know this:

>Initially, no one noticed the sudden disappearance of the airplane. After handing the flight over to Ho Chi Minh control, the Malaysian controller looked away from his screen, and when he looked back, the plane was gone. He assumed that it had flown out of radar range and returned to his duties without a second thought.

But there was no radar range limit. There was only a transponder range limit (or more likely an edge of the screen).

>In Vietnam, controllers expected the plane to contact them, but it did not, and they couldn't find it on radar either. Controllers in Ho Chi Minh City began trying to raise the plane on radio without success. For 18 minutes, they sent out a series of increasingly desperate calls: would MH370 please respond? Could any planes in the area contact MH370? The only answer was silence.

So even when they were actively looking for it, it was invisible to their 'radar'. True radar would have told them there was a plane-sized metal object in their airspace even if it refused radio contact and had no transponder...

It turns out you can make an entire plane full of people completely invisible by throwing 1 switch. Who knew?

fosk(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Radar is not exactly "new" technology, to your point I wonder why airports are not equipped with one. Shouldn't break the bank.

Plus don't militaries have radar anyways for air defense? How is it possible that no radar from multiple countries picked up a silent Boeing 777 flying to nowhere?

EMM_386(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Civilian airports don't all have radar, but approach and departure facilities (known as TRACONs) do, as do enroute centers.

nadow(10000) 5 days ago [-]

one of the best long-form articles i've ever read on this was 'Goodnight Malaysian 370' by William Langewiesche in the atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/07/mh370-m...

hyperbovine(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Thank you, this is the article that immediately came to mind (but whose title or venue I could not remember) when I saw this post. I found it pretty convincing at the time.

FearlessNebula(10000) 2 days ago [-]

I think you mixed up the headline with this one? https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/17/good-night-mal...

ComputerGuru(10000) 5 days ago [-]

It would have been better if it didn't feature around his personal assumption of what happened (at least that's how I recall that article, but it's been years).

hiidrew(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Just noticing the medium author, this guy posts fantastic breakdowns of plane crashes on r/catastrophicfailure

Have to say the simulator part makes me lean heavily towards the pilot crashing it purposefully, from the article -

'The most widely reported piece of evidence tying Zaharie to the disappearance was a course he had charted on his home flight simulator about a month before the crash. Zaharie had a number of hobbies, including paragliding and flying model airplanes, but he also spent a lot of time at home on his computer playing flight simulator games. He sometimes uploaded videos of himself playing on his YouTube channel, where he comes off as affable and knowledgeable, if a bit socially awkward.

In 2014, a leaked Malaysian police report revealed that among Zaharie's saved flight simulator sessions was a very odd route which ran up the Strait of Malacca, turned south after passing Sumatra, and then flew straight down into the Southern Indian Ocean before terminating in the vicinity of the seventh arc. Not only did the track resemble MH370's actual flight path, it also contained a number of other intriguing details. For example, the track wasn't really a track — rather, it was a series of brief clips lasting no more than a few seconds each, indicating that Zaharie had programmed it in advance then skipped along it to various points without actually playing through the entire hours-long flight. Furthermore, although initial reports indicated that the track had been intentionally saved by the user, later analysis showed that it was kept only in the system files, and certainly was not meant to be found. Was this a dry run? It seems too odd to be a coincidence.'

Also discovering that black box is a misnomer is mildly humorous, these are apparently orange! - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_recorder

Railsify(10000) 5 days ago [-]

'Black box' is referring to the lack of visibility inside the box and to the fact that you can't tamper with it, what goes in stays in.

duxup(10000) 5 days ago [-]

It is very strange. At the same time I imagine a lot of actions in flight simulators are odd choices you might not make in real life.

I know I did a lot of poor flying....

TylerE(10000) 5 days ago [-]

If you enjoy this sort of thing, I'd encourage you to check out this guy.


generalizations(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> it was a series of brief clips lasting no more than a few seconds each, indicating that Zaharie had programmed it in advance then skipped along it to various points without actually playing through the entire hours-long flight

I'd be curious which parts of the flight path those clips represented. Were they at important navigational landmarks? Were they nice vistas, places he wanted to see before a suicidal plunge? If they were only a few seconds each, that might indicate that he was checking those points for intentional reasons, rather than for fun.

hammock(10000) 5 days ago [-]


canjobear(10000) 5 days ago [-]

For reference, Zaharie's Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/@catalinapby1

nerpderp82(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> As of January of 2021, some 33 pieces of wreckage found on beaches have with varying degrees of certainty been tied to MH370. Of these, more than one third were found by Blaine Gibson.

This is amazing.

joshuawithers(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Just to be sure for anyone else reading this, this is a different Blaine Gibson to the Rooster Teeth guy.

nigrioid(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I still think it's weird that there were 20 Freescale employees on that flight.

thepasswordis(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Were they on their way to/from a conference or meeting or something? Doesn't seem that weird tome.

MisterTea(10000) 5 days ago [-]

'For the reasons listed above, most experts believe MH370 was the victim of some kind of deliberate action.'

What if the plane was struck by a meteorite? It certainly sounds like there was some kind of incident that caused them to turn around abruptly to head back but they were disabled. It is possible they experienced an extreme rare event. Rare dpesnt mean impossible, just highly unlikely.

EamonnMR(10000) 5 days ago [-]

The author addresses this. Such a scenario requires explaining why comms systems were turned off one by one as if by a person rather than an instantaneous event like an asteroid strike. Also, it would be a very big coincidence for not only an asteroid to strike an aircraft and cause it to drift aimlessly (rather than just rapidly disassembling), but also for that aimless drift to randomly line up with a course plotted by one of the pilots of that plane with no apparent purpose.

ak_111(10000) 5 days ago [-]

As someone who doesn't have intuition about these things: what are the chances that an 777 could have crashed and yet many years later very very few of its debris showed up or were spotted anywhere in the world (also factoring in intense search efforts around the most likely places where it crashed)?

Is this one of these 1 in a billion chance thing or is it not as crazy as it sounds? Like even if you were intentionally trying not to leave a trace, it is so hard to plan the drift and spread of debris and get so lucky in them not being spotted.

civilized(10000) 5 days ago [-]

There's not much watching the middle of the southern Indian Ocean, a large fraction of which is literally more than a thousand miles away from any place humans usually inhabit. It's one of the most remote, desolate, hostile regions of the planet.

I can see the appeal as a suicide method. You fly out for a while, it's quiet and pleasant, and before long there's no turning back, no possibility of rescue.

dan_quixote(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Major structures of a 777 are aluminum. I wouldn't expect many large, easily identifiable, parts to float (for long).

cdelsolar(10000) 5 days ago [-]

the ocean is sadly like > 10K feet deep and many miles away from any land around where the plane is likely to have hit the water

lamontcg(10000) 5 days ago [-]

The Earth and the Oceans are really, really big. The amount of the plane that we've found feels about right for going down in he middle of the Indian Ocean. The bulk of it is going to be sunk on the seafloor.

dghlsakjg(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Not at all unlikely. That is one of the loneliest pieces of a very large ocean. A lot of the recognizable stuff will sink, and the stuff that floats will spend months being broken down by seawater or having stuff grow on it. Eventually it will wash up on a beach where it will be cleaned up with the literal tons of trash that wash up on any beach these days. Or will not be cleaned up because it is a place where humans don't go.

If you think of a pristine beach its pristine because it gets cleaned up regularly. Any ocean facing beach these days accumulates so much trash. I used to do beach cleanup surveys on windward coasts, and we would regularly find stuff that could have belonged to an airplane (carbon fiber, composite honeycomb, etc.) it was almost never worth investigating since there was almost no way to know how long it had been in that beach and how long it had been floating in the currents before that. This was in the Caribbean, so I mostly assumed that all that stuff was related to drug smuggling planes. The only time we ever got a call back about something we found on the beach is when we found a drift buoy from NOAA.

This is the long way of saying that it surprises me not a bit that nothing much was found. It's more surprising that anything at all was found

smusamashah(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Has anything been done in the airline system so that we never loos a flight again like this ever?

mehphp(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Not to sound harsh, but given how rare something like this, I doubt it's urgent enough of a problem for the funds/effort it would require.

cstross(10000) 5 days ago [-]

If you had read to the end you would have found your answer(s). Work is in progress: but as airliners are designed for a working life of at least 30 years it will take a while yet before the lessons of MH370 are universally adopted.

hdesh(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Fantastic article.

Did the MH370 incident change anything about the communication systems used by modern aircrafts?

jdmichal(10000) 5 days ago [-]

TFA has an entire paragraph covering your question...

> Even without finding the plane, a number of lessons have been drawn from the disappearance of MH370. Many of the responses to the disappearance centered on the fact that in the 21st century, commercial airliners should not just disappear. In the interest of knowing where every plane is at all times, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) began requiring that all airliners manufactured after the 1st of January 2021 include autonomous tracking devices that broadcast their location once per minute. To give greater coverage of airplanes manufactured before that date, Inmarsat (which supplies satellite relays to nearly all commercial airliners) changed the frequency of its handshakes from once per hour to once every 15 minutes. The European Aviation Safety Agency began requiring that the "pingers" on aircraft flight recorders last at least 90 days, rather than 30. ICAO also amended its guidelines to require that airliner designs approved after 2020 include cockpit voice recorders that record 25 hours of conversations (instead of the current standard of two), and that flight data recorders either stream data to a location on the ground or be designed to float to the surface after a crash. (Like all ICAO regulations, these only come into force if adopted by the member states, which may take some time.)

neilv(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> But Sherlock Holmes was right: once we have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.

This matter isn't entertainment fiction, and nobody involved is Sherlock Holmes.

Hundreds of people died. Amateurs publicly casting blame on one of the presumed dead seems unfair to the individual accused, and insensitive to the families.

Especially when it depends on bits like this:

> How these aspects of Zaharie's life could have led him to commit an unspeakable act of mass murder is difficult to understand. But while he was said to be an affectionate and emotionally sensitive person who loved life, perhaps something dark lurked within him, something which he suppressed so thoroughly that no one else knew it was there. It is said that the people who seem happiest are sometimes also in the deepest agony, struggling against demons that they never reveal even to their closest friends.

Why not leave this real, recent tragedy to the professional investigators.

stevev(10000) 4 days ago [-]

One does not need to be a professional to deduce possibilities and eliminate them. Given the facts, it can only lead to a few possibilities. Facts don't care about your feelings.

Phiwise_(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Yeah, this article contains a bit too much editorializing for flavor for my taste. Doubly so after seeing attached patreon links. How much better than the news networks that ran literally everything they could get their hands on about the flight (even when that was nothing) are you really when you do something like this? Sure there's much more factual information present here, but if its job is to generate emotional intrigue instead of inform is there truly a difference in kind? If the facts are so compelling, just state them and at least have the plausible deniability that it's just your readers opining after seeing them.

nasseri(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I'm sympathetic to your point of view -- I remember the 'independent investigators on reddit' wrongly accusing Sunil Tripathi of being the perpetrator of the Boston Bombing and causing his family a great deal of distress. But the author provides a few salient examples of why relying on 'professional investigators' has come up short:

> The official report also did its best to paper over a number of failings that contributed to the plane not being found. In addition to the long delay in informing authorities — caused by missteps at the Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Minh City control centers, as well as at Malaysia Airlines — criticism should have been levied at the Malaysian military. Why didn't they intercept the unidentified aircraft as it was crossing the north of the country? The military claimed it was because the plane wasn't a threat. But how could they have known that unless they had identified it as MH370, rather than a foreign incursion? And if they had identified it as MH370, why didn't they tell anyone until days after the crash? The most likely explanation was that the military simply wasn't monitoring its own radar at the time that the plane flew through Malaysian airspace. But admitting this would expose a massive security vulnerability by revealing Malaysia's military to be dangerously incompetent. Probably for national security reasons, the official report had nothing to say about this at all.

Seems like this is a pretty serious omission.


> Zaharie's social life was also not as smooth as Malaysian authorities portrayed it to be. A combination of the leaked police report and interviews with people who knew him revealed that he had separated from his wife on an informal basis and was living alone in the family home.

So in essence Malaysian police were obfuscating the facts around the pilot, for whatever reason they may have. Perhaps they concluded based on further research that the pilot was probably guiltless. But whatever the reason, we do know that what they said in public diverges from what they found in private.

It seems to me that independent investigation and open source intelligence of this kind can be useful when there may be reasons for the official investigators to cover up certain parts of the story.

Lastly, I think there is a substantial difference between a crowd of people online with no real investigatory track record accusing someone (a la Sunil Tripathi) in the days/hours/minutes after the incident, and someone with a proven track record of credible investigatory reporting and some subject matter expertise, laying out some mixture of facts/theories/conclusions (that have already been circulating online) ten years after the fact.

fendy3002(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> This matter isn't entertainment fiction, and nobody involved is Sherlock Holmes.

People love to misuse this quotes. Even if Holmes said this, usually it is proven, and with evidences.

It only works if every possibilities are discovered or accounted for. It's wrong to simply disprove all of other possibilities that only some people can account for.

12345hn6789(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Ignoring the fact the route of the plan is close to the path the pilot flew on his personal computer is more insensitive to the deceased than grandstanding that this was an accidental.

outworlder(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Because the 'professional investigators' have not published their conclusions?

gautamcgoel(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Can someone TL;DR this please?

leplen(10000) 5 days ago [-]

They never found the plane. Most likely the lead pilot crashed it intentionally, but we don't really know. The person writing this blog post is more certain about that than the Malaysian authorities, but bloggers are allowed to speculate more than government commissions.

There's some neat math people used to try and find the plane that gets alluded to, but not explained in depth, and the post is a reasonable summary, but didn't really change my mind much and my previous awareness was based on overhearing cable news, so it's not really anything new.

It's written well enough to be entertaining, but isn't really enlightening.

sleton38234234(10000) 5 days ago [-]

There seems to be a knee jerk reaction to react negatively to anyone who doesn't read the article or doesn't read it in depth.

i don't think the comment about TL;DR OR asking chatgpt is completely out of line. I could see businesses being built on top of chatgpt to create summaries of articles on the internet. This is a pretty big use case.

Sometimes, people want a more efficient way to read articles, rather than actually reading them. If a service could be created that summarizes the main point of an article, I think there's value (and a potential business) in it. You might even be able to ask chatgpt or a service on top ofit, 'has this article any new conclusions about the state of Mh370?' without actually reading the article.

kerpotgh(10000) 5 days ago [-]


ak_111(10000) 5 days ago [-]

The strangeness of this story - a 777 disappearing into thin air in one of the most surveilled and monitored (due to geopolitics) places on earth leaving no traces behind - has spooked people so much that there is a section on the wikipedia page debunking theories related to black holes.

quickthrower2(10000) 5 days ago [-]

That the show Lost was the same sort of concept probably adds to it.

nerdponx(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Isn't this how the show Lost starts?

kccqzy(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> By treading the line between the two countries, he hopes that both will view the unidentified plane as the other country's problem. (Indeed, this is what happened: Thai military controllers saw the plane but assumed Malaysia was handling it; Malaysian military controllers, on the other hand, probably weren't paying attention at all.)

On Malaysian military:

> Why didn't [the Malaysian military] intercept the unidentified aircraft as it was crossing the north of the country? The military claimed it was because the plane wasn't a threat. But how could they have known that unless they had identified it as MH370, rather than a foreign incursion? And if they had identified it as MH370, why didn't they tell anyone until days after the crash? The most likely explanation was that the military simply wasn't monitoring its own radar at the time that the plane flew through Malaysian airspace.

Historical Discussions: Is tipping getting out of control? Many consumers say yes (January 23, 2023: 691 points)

(691) Is tipping getting out of control? Many consumers say yes

691 points 6 days ago by subliminalpanda in 10000th position

apnews.com | Estimated reading time – 7 minutes | comments | anchor

NEW YORK (AP) — Across the country, there's a silent frustration brewing about an age-old practice that many say is getting out of hand: tipping.

Some fed-up consumers are posting rants on social media complaining about tip requests at drive-thrus, while others say they're tired of being asked to leave a gratuity for a muffin or a simple cup of coffee at their neighborhood bakery. What's next, they wonder -- are we going to be tipping our doctors and dentists, too?

As more businesses adopt digital payment methods, customers are automatically being prompted to leave a gratuity — many times as high as 30% — at places they normally wouldn't. And some say it has become more frustrating as the price of items has skyrocketed due to inflation, which eased to 6.5% in December but still remains painfully high.

"Suddenly, these screens are at every establishment we encounter. They're popping up online as well for online orders. And I fear that there is no end," said etiquette expert Thomas Farley, who considers the whole thing somewhat of "an invasion."

Unlike tip jars that shoppers can easily ignore if they don't have spare change, experts say the digital requests can produce social pressure and are more difficult to bypass. And your generosity, or lack thereof, can be laid bare for anyone close enough to glance at the screen — including the workers themselves.

Dylan Schenker is one of them. The 38-year-old earns about $400 a month in tips, which provides a helpful supplement to his $15 hourly wage as a barista at Philadelphia café located inside a restaurant. Most of those tips come from consumers who order coffee drinks or interact with the café for other things, such as carryout orders. The gratuity helps cover his monthly rent and eases some of his burdens while he attends graduate school and juggles his job.

Schenker says it's hard to sympathize with consumers who are able to afford pricey coffee drinks but complain about tipping. And he often feels demoralized when people don't leave behind anything extra — especially if they're regulars.

"Tipping is about making sure the people who are performing that service for you are getting paid what they're owed," said Schenker, who's been working in the service industry for roughly 18 years.

Is tipping out of control? Many consumers say yes

There's frustration brewing over the ever-presence of tipping. As more businesses adopt digital payment methods, customers are automatically being prompted to leave a gratuity at places they normally wouldn't. (Jan. 23)

0 seconds of 1 minute, 50 secondsVolume 90%

Traditionally, consumers have taken pride in being good tippers at places like restaurants, which typically pay their workers lower than the minimum wage in expectation they'll make up the difference in tips. But academics who study the topic say many consumers are now feeling irritated by automatic tip requests at coffee shops and other counter service eateries where tipping has not typically been expected, workers make at least the minimum wage and service is usually limited.

"People do not like unsolicited advice," said Ismail Karabas, a marketing professor at Murray State University who studies tipping. "They don't like to be asked for things, especially at the wrong time."

Some of the requests can also come from odd places. Clarissa Moore, a 35-year-old who works as a supervisor at a utility company in Pennsylvania, said even her mortgage company has been asking for tips lately. Typically, she's happy to leave a gratuity at restaurants, and sometimes at coffee shops and other fast-food places when the service is good. But, Moore said she believes consumers shouldn't be asked to tip nearly everywhere they go — and it shouldn't be something that's expected of them.

"It makes you feel bad. You feel like you have to do it because they're asking you to do it," she said. "But then you have to think about the position that puts people in. They're paying for something that they really don't want to pay for, or they're tipping when they really don't want to tip — or can't afford to tip — because they don't want to feel bad."

In the book "Emily Post's Etiquette," authors Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning advise consumers to tip on ride-shares, like Uber and Lyft, as well as food and beverages, including alcohol. But they also write that it's up to each person to choose how much to tip at a café or a take-out food service, and that consumers shouldn't feel embarrassed about choosing the lowest suggested tip amount, and don't have to explain themselves if they don't tip.

Digital payment methods have been around for a number of years, though experts say the pandemic has accelerated the trend towards more tipping. Michael Lynn, a consumer behavior professor at Cornell University, said consumers were more generous with tips during the early days of the pandemic in an effort to show support for restaurants and other businesses that were hard hit by COVID-19. Many people genuinely wanted to help out and felt sympathetic to workers who held jobs that put them more at risk of catching the virus, Lynn said.

Tips at full-service restaurants grew by 25.3% in the third quarter of 2022, while gratuities at quick or counter service restaurants went up 16.7% compared to the same time in 2021, according to Square, one of the biggest companies operating digital payment methods. Data provided by the company shows continuous growth for the same period since 2019.

As tip requests have become more common, some businesses are advertising it in their job postings to lure in more workers even though the extra money isn't always guaranteed.

In December, Starbucks rolled out a new tipping option on credit and debit card transactions at its stores, something a group organizing the company's hourly workers had called for. Since then, a Starbucks spokesperson said nearly half of credit and debit card transactions have included a gratuity, which - along with tips received through cash and the Starbucks app - are distributed based on the number of hours a barista worked on the days the tips were received.

Karabas, the Murray State professor, says some customers, like those who've worked in the service industry in the past, want to tip workers at quick service businesses and wouldn't be irritated by the automatic requests. But for others, research shows they might be less likely to come back to a particular business if they are feeling irritated by the requests, he said.

The final tab might also impact how customers react. Karabas said in the research he did with other academics, they manipulated the payment amounts and found that when the check was high, consumers no longer felt as irritated by the tip requests. That suggests the best time for a coffee shop to ask for that 20% tip, for example, might be on four or five orders of coffee, not a small cup that costs $4.

Some consumers might continue to shrug off the tip requests regardless of the amount.

"If you work for a company, it's that company's job to pay you for doing work for them," said Mike Janavey, a footwear and clothing designer who lives in New York City. "They're not supposed to be juicing consumers that are already spending money there to pay their employees."

Schenker, the Philadelphia barista, agrees — to a certain extent.

"The onus should absolutely be on the owners, but that doesn't change overnight," he said. "And this is the best thing we have right now."

All Comments: [-] | anchor

jalino23(10000) 6 days ago [-]

its expensive but I always tips atleast $10 on my $20-40 doordash orders now so it gets atleast picked up

maxerickson(10000) 6 days ago [-]

That doesn't seem unreasonable. I don't think I've ordered delivery in like the last 2 years (when someone else was ordering and I got something).

It's like 8 minutes to all the places that deliver here though, so it's worth picking it up to have it fresher.

michael9k(10000) 6 days ago [-]

"Tipping is about making sure the people who are performing that service for you are getting paid what they're owed" - This sums up the entire problem with tipping. It's just simply wrong / false.

Actually tipping is making sure that the owner of a café can get away with paying a too low salary to the employee.

So best advice: don't tip! You are keeping alive a system where it is up to you, the customer, to (maybe) ensure the employee is making a decent amount of money. That is flipping the issue of money on the head. This should be a matter between the employee and the business, using a contract, you know, like every other normal business relationship works!

chickenimprint(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Tipping also makes sure every restaurant is slowly turning into a Hooters. When was the last time you've seen an unattractive nonwhite male waiter?

godelski(10000) 6 days ago [-]

One thing I've never understood is the argument for tipping. It has always been 'because servers are being paid less than minimum wage.' Which the issue with that is that that varies state by state. Most west coast states do not have a separate tipped wage[0]. So the question is, why do we tip at all on the west coast[1]? Worse, it seems to be expanding and increasing in size[2]

The followup argument is often 'well they are still being under paid.' While I can buy this argument, I do not think the solution is tipping. Because if they are underpaid so are non-tipped jobs like the fast food worker, janitor, grocery worker, or movie theater employee. All tipping does is divide these people and reduce the pool for a larger collective to bargain for a higher minimum wage.

I feel we have this collective belief that tipping is bad (it sure confuses my foreign friends, who sometimes get dirty looks because they didn't tip), but once we've effectively created the criteria necessary to abolish it[3], we still maintained the cultural aspect of it: that we __need__ to tip (often thinking we'll get our food spat in if we don't). I've had others get upset with me for these opinions (I do tip btw) but I don't understand how we can think tipping shouldn't exist but continue in this direction. It's also interesting that in early America we thought of tipping as akin to bribery (I still believe this and I think this is common). It also has a history with slavery[4]

[0] https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/state/minimum-wage/tipped

[1] Obviously the argument no longer holds outside Alaska, California, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington

[2] When I was a kid (some 20 years ago) 10% was common for a standard tip. Now most places have an 18%/20%/25% option on screens. Some even higher! The second image in the article even shows a 30% tip

[3] I wouldn't completely abolish it, but I'd say it shouldn't be a standard.

[4] https://www.npr.org/2021/03/22/980047710/the-land-of-the-fee

pie_flavor(10000) 6 days ago [-]

No, it has for the most part been 'because servers paid based on their performance will perform better'. The effects are easily observable in nearly any restaurant in the country - the servers are better than their European counterparts, whether in a fancy establishment or a tiny sandwich shop. 'Because they're paid less than minimum wage' is a straw man - the law that allowed that to happen was created in a pre-existing tipping culture that justified it on the merits.

janalsncm(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Yes, the effect of a tipped minimum wage is that until you make it up to minimum wage in tips, the tip makes no difference in your take home pay. It only makes a difference after that, and if it can be sustained on average over all hours worked.

MuffinFlavored(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> The followup argument is often 'well they are still being under paid.' While I can buy this argument, I do not think the solution is tipping

The alternative is getting a restaurant to entirely change its identity.

Their POS system will always have a spot for tip on a receipt.

Their prices are based on the fact that they expect customers to tip the servers at least 15-25%.

It's a monumental change. It's not just 'pay the servers at least $15/hr and turn off tipping'. Nobody I've ever met who waits tables is happy with $120/night out the door pretax ($15/hr * 8)

For a restaurant to pay a server what they make now ($150-$300/night tips), their labor cost would be through the roof and they would have to raise the price of the food.

The customer wouldn't like that.

Lose lose lose.

chowells(10000) 6 days ago [-]

The argument is about harm reduction. You need to separate the ideal from stuff that improves the current situation.

The ideal all consumers should be pursuing for all forms of financial transaction is that all advertised prices are the out-the-door ceiling. Fees, taxes, surcharges, tips, etc may not be added, though discounts are ok. Tipping should not even be an option, though we've seen a lot of evidence that a visible percentage would much prefer to lord their power to tip over the heads of their servers, and get very upset when that's taken away. So this is a hard position to reach from where we are, even though it's clearly better than the current state.

But we don't live in that world. In the current world, many things are advertised at prices lower than are actually sustainable. And no, I'm not talking about loss-leaders. I mean the entire menu at a restaurant, for instance. If that is all their income, they can't afford to pay servers enough to be livable. So they underpay servers, and expect tips to sort of paper over the gap. And because that gap exists, I recognize tipping as sadly necessary, even though it is forbidden in my ideal world.

I don't like it, but of the options I have available when I choose to eat out, it's the least bad.

thaumasiotes(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> When I was a kid (some 20 years ago) 10% was common for a standard tip. Now most places have an 18%/20%/25% option on screens. Some even higher! The second image in the article even shows a 30% tip

Restaurant prices generally ran behind inflation; that's why tipping percentages increased.

micropresident(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Tipping is to incentivize personalized, special, service. The proliferation of it is because people forgot what it's for. Don't tip when you're a fungible customer.

BirAdam(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Not saying it's good or bad, but I used to know some people who made 6 figures a year on tips straight out of high school and stayed in the food business because of it. I never did... I'm not a particularly friendly or warm person. But, those people do actively defend tipping and they expressly do not want salary/wage systems.

tptacek(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Tipping is a system in which customers explicitly, optionally, and variably share some of the cost of labor. It has the features of allowing individual patrons to modulate the labor subsidy they provide, based on their current price sensitivity, the value they place on warm fuzzies (don't dismiss this!), the relationship they want to build with the business, and the service they perceive themselves to be getting.

You can't do all these things with prices; prices apply universally across customers, and for the most part in the hospitality industry they can't float (see airline tickets as an example of a floating price, and the sheer loathing it creates in the customer base).


I also should have added, and probably led with, the fact that tipping addresses a big agent-principal problem in hospitality: in restaurants where servers rely on tips, their incentives are strongly aligned with those of customers; without tips, virtually all the incentives are aligned with that of management.

peoplefromibiza(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> One thing I've never understood is the argument for tipping

European here, from Italy, we don't tip much and it's not mandatory.

We do at dinner if it has been a long dinner usually as a way to show appreciation, but the tip is usually a modest amount (in the 5-10 euros ballpark for a table)

The argument for tipping here is that it is tax free money.

That's why here restaurants love American tourists and their very generous tips.

That's all there is to it.

jacktribe(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I've just opened a coffee shop in Los Angeles last month, and we don't take tips. We only use self-ordering iPads (I've custom coded an iOS app w/ Stripe Terminal for it), and we don't accept cash either.

We've had a few customers baffled by the no-tipping policy, and still insisting that they leave a tip. Some even left cash on the counter or on the table. We had to chase a few of them down to return their money. Also, some customers seem to think that the screen froze at the very end because it didn't ask for a tip.

While it has been strange to see some customer's determination to leave a tip, I think overall it was well received by the great majority of people that just didn't say anything about it and made a mental note that the prices they see on the menu is what they'll actually end up paying.

We will probably need to highlight that we pay a higher wage for baristas & cooks to account for the lack of tips, and give customers an option to donate to a charity if they still wish to part with additional money.

I do believe that the incentive tips provide for employees to 'act' friendly to customers can be transferred over into a review/feedback program, which is what we will be testing out. If customers rate their order and interaction with the barista to be satisfactory, a bonus payment will be made to the baristas on shift. Once we introduce this, I'll share the results.

barbariangrunge(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I wish you would take cash. Every other method of payment gets tracked and is used to profile people

TylerE(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I find forced (or even strongly encouraged) rating even worse than tipping, especially given the inevitable anything less than 5 stars might as well be zero attitude.

sunsetMurk(10000) 6 days ago [-]

where's the coffee shop?

noduerme(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Generational divide here. I used to work at Cacao coffeehouse in west LA in the 90s. Only took cash. Also, basically made no money other than tips. I moved to NYC and waited tables where there was no pay whatsoever other than tips. That was around when standard tipping went from 15% to 20%.

Having worked in the service industry, I usually tip 25-30%, per drink or per meal. But here's the relevant point: When I encounter a place that doesn't allow tipping, I still want to tip, and make sure to tip, because it's for the worker. I absolutely loathe the new system that's come into trendy restaurants in Seattle where gratuity is supposedly included. That's a skinflint way for a restaurant to raise their prices and assure you that their workers are being paid, without you as the customer having any say (or direct contact) with the workers. You may put up QR code menus and try to isolate the service staff from the customers, and eliminate tipping, but does that make happier employees? Does it make happier customers?

Tipping serves several purposes. One of them is to get the employees to give customers who tip well better service. Sometimes at the expense of an extra ounce from a whisky bottle, sometimes just with more personal care. The insertion of the management into the situation - trying to say it's good for customers and employees - strikes me as a very false, self-serving line of bullshit. And from everyone I know in the service industry, it seems like it quickly turns into a racket against them as well.

My prediction is that by 2025, places that eliminated tipping will be seen as just as infamous as any of the scammy disruptors of the tech industry in the 2010s; the practice of banning tips will be seen as disreputable, and life will return to its natural equilibrium where customers pay extra for good service.

ilyt(10000) 6 days ago [-]

That seems like a whole lot better system.

> I do believe that the incentive tips provide for employees to 'act' friendly to customers can be transferred over into a review/feedback program, which is what we will be testing out. If customers rate their order and interaction with the barista to be satisfactory, a bonus payment will be made to the baristas on shift. Once we introduce this, I'll share the results.

Might as well go full hog and add rating to food/drinks they ordered. Not to judge the person doing the service, just get a feel for what your customers enjoyed and what they didn't.

dang(10000) 6 days ago [-]

You should write a longer piece about your coffee shop! and the process behind it. If you do, you should submit it to HN - and if you do that you should email us ([email protected]) because we might put it in the second-chance pool (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26998308).

raverbashing(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> Also, some customers seem to think that the screen froze at the very end because it didn't ask for a tip.

That sounds like the end of transaction screen can be improved

Adding a message like 'All Done' then 'We're a tip free restaurant' go a long way

conductr(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I'm in process of opening an all you can eat pancake shop and doing the same.

I'm thinking of charging a small ~$x per table fee for bussing tables. Refundable if they self bus. Probably would always refund it unless they wreck the table. Not sure I want to administer it, or if it would be perceived as a punitive thing and get bad reviews. Just an idea I had while coding the self checkout app.

Also, pancakes are made by a robot

lynx23(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I am blind. Would I be able to use your iPad setup to order something in your shop, or is the 'lets make everything fancy' setup maybe exclusionary?

kingkawn(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Just let people tip if they want instead of making a moral high ground out of it

jpcfl(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I tried this when I started my popup restaurant. I rolled taxes into my prices, and didn't ask for tip when collecting with Square. I did this because I love the simplicity of dining in Europe, where you pay exactly the price you see, and don't get guilt tripped at the register.

My customers complained that my prices were too high. So, I lowered my prices, added tax, then asked for a tip. About 50% of people tip, so my profits have actually gone up on average after this adjustment. People seem to be buying more, too.

I hate it, but this model seems to work better from a business perspective, despite it being a worse customer experience (subjective, I know).

How do you train your customers not to have sticker shock? Do I need to hang a banner that says "TAX AND TIP INCLUDED IN ALL PRICES" in comic sans?

ddyevf635372(10000) 6 days ago [-]

There isn't any tip in New Zealand and Australia. Everybody get proper salary. The service is always exceptional. How is that possible?

aagha(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I thought accepting cash was mandatory, but I was mistaken:


zeekerbeek(10000) 4 days ago [-]

There is a brewery in my town that does the same thing. They do accept cash and any 'tips' (which is any amount over the total) goes to their charity of the month. On their cc entry system, its never shown to the customer so there is never that awkward tipping part you see on a lot of POS systems now. If the customer asks, they say that they don't take tips and if they'd like to leave one in cash, it will all go towards their charity that month.

By doing this, they appease the customer who wants to leave one and don't get in a back and forth with them over tips.

mc32(10000) 6 days ago [-]

This sounds great. I'm getting fed up with prompts for tips from places where tips are not customary (non-food) but also I am not a fan of seeking feedback from customers because they may over scrutinize their interactions with service workers --though presumably it averages out over time.

dumpsterdiver(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> Also, some customers seem to think that the screen froze at the very end because it didn't ask for a tip.

Haha, I think that's totally reasonable of them. As a consumer I would appreciate a notification informing me that I couldn't tip, no matter how much I thought they deserved it.

Edit: I wanted to add that there are a lot of places we're not expected to tip at whose employees deserve it just as much as the ones working at the places we are expected to tip at. Tipping culture may be out of control, but a lot of times people deserve a tip for providing exceptional service. That's our way of validating them and saying, 'you're going to make it.'

shellfishgene(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Here I thought it's nice that an American business does not force their employees to be over the top nice all the time to the customers even if they're having a bad day by making their wage depend on it, but then I read the last part...

sneak(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Unbanked people don't have bank cards.

New York City has a law preventing businesses from refusing cash because only accepting cards is discriminatory.

jmorenoamor(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I would not run after anyone or fight my customers. Just put it in a jar and twice a year donate it to a good cause.

divan(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Thank you for sharing your story.

Continuing the geek vibe, I believe the best starting point to make sense of inner workings of incentive systems and rewards is SDT - Self-Determination Theory. It's 70+ yr old theory of motivation in psychology that originated in studies of how external rewards (i.e. tips or bonuses) crowd out intrinsic motivation.

In other words, if we want employees to act friendly to customers - should we design a system of external motivation (rewards and punishements) or design a system that boost intrinsic motivation for this behaviour. For example, SDT has many studies on how different rewards giving patterns affect motivation. As far as I remember, the least detrimental is task-noncontingent rewards (giving 'reward' for just 'showing up', basically). The most detrimental to motivation is competitive-contingent (give reward to those who outperform others).

jononomo(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I agree with others that you should not introduce a rating system or suggest giving to charity. If no one complains about an employee and you don't notice anything bad, then just take that to be a rating of 'satisfactory'.

klintcho(10000) 6 days ago [-]

That is awesome! When you say: what the price on the menu is that is what the customer pays; does it include sales tax as well? If so, def a very happy development and pretty much revolutionary for being in the US. If not, is it something you could consider doing? I think it would be the next natural step :) Disclaimer: I'm Swedish, all prices in Sweden everywhere is always including everything, you'll never pay more than what you see.

bigtunacan(10000) 6 days ago [-]

About 5.5% of Americans don't have bank accounts and pay primarily with cash. Most of these people are impoverished minorities, specifically blacks and Latinos. Not accepting cash is a pretty discriminatory practice.

crakhamster01(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Curious to hear your thoughts on this? [0] It's a post from Eric Huang - he's a chef based out of NYC and recently wrote about why his restaurant has decided to accept tips (while acknowledging that it's a bad system). It's a long read, but his point about more established hospitality groups/restaurateurs trying and failing to adopt a non-tipping model resonated with me.

[0] https://www.instagram.com/p/CnozdBwu0pM/

csunbird(10000) 6 days ago [-]

A sign that says "We pay our staff fairly, tips are not required" could be a good advertisement for your shop!

robomartin(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> I've just opened a coffee shop in Los Angeles last month

You are brave. A friend opened a coffee shop elsewhere in LA County a few years ago. The LA County permit and inspection process was nothing less than a utopian nightmare. I have done lots of construction projects myself and have learned to absolutely detest that part of the experience (going to the DMV is actually better). The usual outcome is that projects end-up costing a ton more and take much longer to complete. The issues, in my experience, rarely have to do with actual safety concerns, etc. It's mostly about process and check-boxes. I hope your experience was better.

djbusby(10000) 6 days ago [-]

There is one like this in Ballard, WA. They have small signage about how it works. And also little pamphlets about both Fair Trade and Fair Wage policies.

Ballard Coffee Works, corner of Leary & Market.

flanbiscuit(10000) 6 days ago [-]

There was a restaurant that opened near my old apartment (literally on my block) that started off with no tipping. It was a great fancy pizza place. Loved going there. Fast forward about 5 years, we've moved a few subway stops away so didn't go there as often (also the pandemic). We go back in 2021 and we come to find out as we pay that there is a tip line on their receipt. Never truly found out why but I wonder if it was hard to find or retain staff that can work at similar, or better, caliber restaurants and make more money via tips. From comments in their Yelp reviews it looks like they started taking tips before the pandemic so that wasn't the cause.

I hope you'll be able to continue not taking tips because I really wish we'd abolish this practice. Good luck with your cafe and I would love to try it out next time I'm in LA!

BuckyBeaver(10000) 6 days ago [-]

The no-tipping/fair-pay policy is good, but not accepting cash is bullshit.

collyw(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> and we don't accept cash either

Can I ask why not? I see the rise of CBDCs as a threat to democracy (governments able to monitor and control what you spend your money on) and cash as a vital tool in a fight against that.

Though as a European I always find American tipping culture quite insane. Nothing wrong with tipping for good service, but they way it seems expected in the US is very off putting

eric-hu(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I'm intrigued and would got out of my way to come to this place on principle.

kbos87(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I am really of two minds about this. On one hand, yes, the suggestion that I leave a tip and the amount suggested has ballooned to a ridiculous level in some businesses.

On the other hand, I recognize that there are plenty of businesses that still don't offer a way to tip at all (Starbucks until very recently), and more importantly, that none of these employees make anywhere near a living wage. Having worked service industry jobs and found my way out, I can't help but thinking that most of these jobs are merely dark patterns that take advantage of people who can't or won't demand what they actually should be paid.

The unfortunate conclusion I've arrived at is that US consumers simply aren't willing to pay the true price for many of the things they enjoy on a day to day basis. Just one example is that their daily coffee is subsidized through the misery of minimum wage coffee shop employees.

You say you pay a 'higher wage' - what does that actually equate to for someone working 40 hours a week?

snowflakeandrey(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Compared to US tipped-staff service, non-tipped staff in Japan seem a lot more genuine in their desire to help. It seems a matter of culture and professional pride to be provide excellent service, which leads to a significantly more thorough experience -- being that nice in the context of a tip would seem pushy and awkward.

xutopia(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Think of turning things around with a simple sentence on the last screen: 'We don't accept tips but gladly accept a smile.'

bradwood(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Japan has been doing it like this for years. And it's much better. Pay people properly, and encourage them to be the best they can be (even for jobs that are so-called 'unskilled') and then everyone's a winner.

pards(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> the prices they see on the menu is what they'll actually end up paying

Is the sales tax included in the listed price?

One of my pet peeves is how 'tax and tip' are not included in the displayed prices in Ontario, Canada. I hate having to do arithmetic on every purchase I make.

I grew up in Sydney, Australia where what you see is what you pay - tax incl. Tipping is generally not part of the culture because the minimum wage is a livable wage (in most areas).

expensive_news(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Somewhat of a meta-comment but I'm shocked at how many people are complaining about you not taking cash.

Has anyone ever walked out of your coffee shop because they only had cash on them? I can't remember the last time I paid or even saw someone pay cash for anything.

csomar(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> and give customers an option to donate to a charity if they still wish to part with additional money.

Please no. That's how it usually starts. It was with small change but now McDonalds harasses you every time you make an order to round up for some charity I never heard about. I'd donate to charities on my own.

Needless to say I avoid these places like the plague.

affgrff2(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I think this is cool and hope your location gets the HN effect today aka real world ddos :)

Just to dump an idea: Maybe instead of using a scale based rating, you could experiment with something that has not a clear maximum value to prevent the all 5-star rating effect described by others. The only thing that directly comes to my mind would be a button, that the user has to hold until the time matches the perceived rating.

shawn-butler(10000) 6 days ago [-]

The issue is that I have to trust the proprietor. In my locale it has become common for restaurants to add 'health & wellness' surcharges which began as charity/Covid response and of course never went away.

It is almost never the case that the restaurant provides any of this to their employees and there is no transparency involved.

I honestly see it as a scam to charge higher prices without itemizing properly on the menu.

Even if you highlight the wage disparity in signage, I would have no way of knowing whether the information is accurate or just another piece of propaganda.

TheDesolate0(10000) 6 days ago [-]


frankfrankfrank(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Keep in mind that a far more pernicious and rather evil system is that of the donation receiving "non-profit". It has over time been exposed and highlighted at various points, but I don't think it has really at all penetrated the consciousness of the general public as to what a vast majority of "non-profits are, borderline con-jobs; and that's being generous.

I won't go into explaining and outlining exactly why that is for the time being, but suffice it to say that I have personal knowledge of the extremely manipulative industry that "non-profits" are. But I get it, some will not want to believe me, I mean they're called "non-profits" and profits are bad, right?

The point of my caution is essentially this, what you are trying to avoid by stopping tipping, you will only far undo by essentially making "non-profit" executives and their friends and family rich instead of that money going to your employees.

bilsbie(10000) 6 days ago [-]

We had a no tipping restaurant we used to go to and the service was reliably terrible.

Hopefully the rating system will work but I'd say you do need some kind of system.

On the other hand Chick-fil-A is able to make their employees act friendly. I wonder how they do it.

Finally I do wish you'd accept cash just for people that want to preserve their privacy.

peterhadlaw(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Please accept cash. We don't need to encourage credit card companies to track our purchases and give them the tools to control who can and cannot do business.

fbelzile(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> We will probably need to highlight that we pay a higher wage for baristas & cooks to account for the lack of tips, and give customers an option to donate to a charity if they still wish to part with additional money.

Yes, after the total confirmation (including tax if you can), where you'd normally be asked to tip, you should see if it's possible to display the no tip policy and higher wage explanation.

You could also tell customers that your business is donating to certain cause at this point. Just don't pass on the burden of deciding whether or not to donate to your customers. Another option is to dedicate certain profits from a specific product to a cause and note that on your menu.

inetknght(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> we don't accept cash either.

Not accepting tips is one thing. But not accepting cash means you will never have me as a customer.

Edit: I've already walked away from a dozen different food places in airports because of this kind of trash: please install this app, can't pay in cash, can't see a menu without scanning a QR code, use an iPad with shitty touchscreen that I can barely see or use...

I just wanted to order some food and pay with legal tender.

lozenge(10000) 6 days ago [-]

You should collect feedback to determine when you are understaffed or alert you to uncleanliness, not to reward individual baristas.

Give your employees the same stress free and untransactional experience you are trying to provide to the customers.

kqr(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I would be concerned about any sort of individual bonus directly linked to the service just rendered. That tends to work against cooperation and creativity and problem solving. Only when you are unencumbered by incentives can you afford to experiment and learn from your mistakes and get better at what you do. (See e.g. Pink's Drive for more details on motivation.)

It's especially bad if it's based on some variant of having scores 'above average' or whatever, because that ends up being a lottery. At that point it's better to just establish a lottery among the employees. If you really have to do individual bonuses, I think it's better to take a leaf from Deming and only grant it for truly (statistically verified) outperformance.

Someone else suggested collective bonuses (e.g. profit sharing). That aligns incentives nicely: it is slightly lagged, meaning you can afford to experiment and learn. It's also not individual, so it fosters collaboration. It's still something of a lottery, of course, but one decided by the customers, not by a manager.

korroziya(10000) 6 days ago [-]

>and we don't accept cash either

You're part of the problem, not the solution.

mnky9800n(10000) 6 days ago [-]

The review feedback program sounds like over engineered nonsense. You get metrics which you think represents customer experience which you can use to evaluate and motivate your employees to act a certain in this coffee fueled skinner box designed to train baristas. But the data won't represent that, the interaction with a barista is only a small fraction of what makes a coffee shop good (first should be good coffee, second probably a nice place to sit). And the obvious conclusion is that the barista tells the customer, 'if you want to leave a tip please give me a 5 star rating, my salary is based on ratings.' So now you just have tipping with extra steps.

If all you care about is rewarding employees who are good, Why not just do profit sharing for employees who been around longer then x months?

cykros(10000) 6 days ago [-]

'Yelp' is the sound a dog makes when you step on its tail. 'Review' websites are, to a large portion of the population, complaint websites.

By all means, keep an eye on what's being said about you and look for red flags, but don't be that neurotic boss that rides your employees every time a review under 5 stars comes in. The best restaurants around that have stayed for more than a few years often are the ones with 3 stars -- 5 usually just means they're new, not particularly good, and people coming in are adventurous, rather than following what someone advised.

brk(10000) 6 days ago [-]

If customers rate their order and interaction with the barista to be satisfactory, a bonus payment will be made to the baristas on shift.

As a customer, please just leave well enough alone. I'd really prefer to just leave a tip if I'm going to be gently shamed into leaving reviews to make sure your employees somehow get the wages they were led to believe they would earn.

I would go a bit out of my way to frequent any non-tipping coffee shop/restaurant. And I'm quite happy to pay a higher price in the menu items to reflect the fact that the business isn't shifting some of their payroll burden to me in lieu of realistic pricing.

zoover2020(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> (I've custom coded an iOS app w/ Stripe Terminal for it)

Most HN thing I've read all day. Sounds awesome.

Good luck!

datatrashfire(10000) 6 days ago [-]

As someone who was in a service role and subject to an opt in post interaction survey, I don't believe systems like this are effective. They select for Karens with unreasonable demands. They use the survey to retaliate against the employee by leaving bad scores.

SoftTalker(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I'm happy to tip when I'm receiving actual table service. I don't tip for a strictly carry-out or over-the-counter sale (e.g. coffee shop).

Even in Europe I tip servers and bartenders. It just seems nice. I've never had one turn it down.

akomtu(10000) 6 days ago [-]

If you show the full price with taxes upfront, that's an astonishing level of integrity.

One idea is to print qr codes on coffee cups: customers can scan those and leave anonymous feedback later.

gymbeaux(10000) 6 days ago [-]

A rare-interesting UX problem with people thinking the screen froze. I guess it's easily solved, but there are surely many ways to solve it.

hedora(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Review / feedback programs are terrible (5/5: would f*ck over soulless management again).

If the whole point of eliminating tips is to treat the workers fairly, why not institute some sort of profit share, or monthly bonus based on YoY revenue growth?

Either way, you should accept cash.

patrick451(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> and we don't accept cash either.

I would not patronize your business.

throwaway292939(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Why don't you set the default to be $0 tip, and make anything else optional?

This seems to go out of the way to fight tipping culture and seems to cause more confusion than necessary.

hooby(10000) 6 days ago [-]

In some countries like afaik Japan, it's customary to NOT tip and actually leaving a tip might be seen as an insult - as if you tried to insinuate they aren't paying their employees enough.

I don't know why here in the west it's common practice to actually not pay employees enough and rely entirely on tips. Without those tips, many job offers in the service industry would not be attractive, as they don't pay enough to make a living. Without tips, many of those positions never could be filled, unless wages were raised.

Of course, if wages were raised, the increased cost would ultimately have to be passed on to the consumer. So instead of paying €9 for your order, and placing a €1 tip - you might end up being billed €10 instead. At the bottom line, on average, this would work out to the consumer paying the same with or without tips, and the worker earning the same, with or without tips.

But with tips, that's just the average - while in actuality, some patrons will tip a lot more than others. And some workers might earn a lot more tips than others.

If you assume that workers are unfriendly by default, you could see this as an incentive to make them behave more friendly in an attempt to earn a tip. If you assume that workers are friendly by default, you could see that as a green-light for them to be unfriendly to those customers who don't tip. Not sure if creating a competitive environment between your workers is a good thing...

What tipping does, is make things more uneven. Some customer will pay more, some customer will pay less, some workers will earn more, some workers will pay less, some patrons will be treated more friendly, other patrons will be treated less friendly. The average stays the same, but the variance increases.

Without tipping, things would be more even. Individual cases would stay closer to the average.

rapht(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> I don't know why here in the west it's common practice to actually not pay employees enough and rely entirely on tips

It's really mostly the case in North America. In most of Europe, tipping is more an exception than a rule. 'Normal' service (i.e. being nice to clients and appropriately responding to requests given the standing of the place) is expected to be included in the price. I tip only when I got really outstanding service, and even then, mostly as a symbolic gesture of appreciation (2-5% ballpark figure).

courgette(10000) 6 days ago [-]

It's a US and Canada thing.

I'm 40ish and I gave a type twice in my life in France. Both were exceptional situations were I felt that the normal compensation was not enough and I felt bad for the worker.

And even then.. I might have been influenced in my reaction by a long period spend in the US.

ciupicri(10000) 5 days ago [-]

It's not quite the same thing if you take into account taxes. If tips are cash only and missing from the bill, the worker gets more money. There's no sales/VAT tax, no income tax, no social security tax and so on. So instead of getting something like €5, the worker gets €9. This is how things are most of the time in Romania.

canibal57(10000) 6 days ago [-]

So we're stopping the gratuitous kindness of strangers towards lower income workers so some other people don't 'feel bad' now?

dmazin(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Seriously! Why is this a story?

holistio(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I live in Central Europe and I think our version of tipping makes a lot more sense than what's common in North America.

If we receive exceptional service, we pay a little extra - usually 10% or less.

Staff doesn't expect to be paid from tips, business owners don't expect their staff to be paid from tips, customers don't have a guilt trip because they feel like if they don't tip generously the staff will be underpaid.

U.S. tipping doesn't make any sense from a European point of view.

Just set the prices of things at a level where you can afford to pay your staff from your revenue.

pastacacioepepe(10000) 6 days ago [-]

If you're an European waiter working in a touristic restaurant you get the best of both worlds. European pay and benefits plus large tips from unknowing USA tourists.

musingsole(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> U.S. tipping doesn't make any sense from a European point of view.

Because you're thinking about it too hard or otherwise unaware of the inner turnings of the system.

Where it matters, servers are almost their own industry, swapping gigs at this or that restaurant to work with this or that regional manager. The restaurant gets their money from the bill, the server gets their money direct from the customer they helped.

My server goes to a different restaurant -- I go there and keep getting awesome service.

This type of arrangement gets really close to a guildhouse/coop more than a franchise.

In places with less stable relationships (tourist restaurants), asking for tips might be a predatory thing -- or you can see it as paying it forward: 'hey person working to get people their demands in a moments notice, I hope this tenner will help you hold that smile in the face of another consumerist monster. Thanks for being a human.'

exabrial(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Yes. If you business wants to collect a 'tip' up front, before services rendered, it's not a tip (Doordash, Instacart, etc). If 100% of the proceeds don't get straight to the employees, but some end up in the pocket of the business, it's not a tip.

This last one is going to be to hear, but if you pay your employees below mimimum wage and allow for tips to make up the difference, well.....

Always tip, in cash, direct to the employee.

nanidin(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I contacted my senators and representatives about how the IRS should classify tips made before service. I got a call back from my senator's office. The reasoning I presented was: that automatic gratuity for large parties is taxed differently than actual gratuity in some jurisdictions (why those have disappeared in most places), and that since the tip is used to determine order priority it is not a tip but is instead a bid for preferential service.

I also went through a call to get back a tip I made on a Chipotle order (DoorDash I believe) up front after the driver failed to find the address and then chewed me out after driving through parking lots for 5 minutes.

teawrecks(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Should the person greeting and seating customers get a tip? Should the people running food from kitchen to table? Cooks? If any of the above are a yes, then unless you want to tip each one in cash individually, you need them to split tips at the end of the night amongst themselves.

The fact that tips technically need to be reported to the IRS and thus your employer aside, I believe it is a legally fireable offense to pocket cash in order to avoid any policies on splitting it with others working the same shift.

undersuit(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I really dislike tipping when I order my pizza deliveries. It doesn't offer me anything over giving the delivery driver a $5 bill.

jackson1442(10000) 6 days ago [-]

delivery services just need to rename it to a 'bid' because that's really what it is.

pirate787(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I worry if I don't tip, they will vandalize my food. It's a hostage situation. I limit my use of the services because of it.

cactusplant7374(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I tip up front with Uber Eats and Rappi because it usually means I get my order faster. But I have reduced tipping recently because I can see other orders are taking priority over mine.

alxmng(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Tipping in the US isn't tipping. It's a fee that's not included in the price. You're expected to "tip" a certain amount and employees can get quite upset if you don't.

mbg721(10000) 6 days ago [-]

But over that expected amount, it's still tipping. It hasn't gotten too much out of control, except in Vegas.

plantwallshoe(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I've implemented a personal policy to make it easier for myself and reduce bias:

Full waiter experience (seated, handed menu, food brought to table, plate cleared) gets 20%.

If the level of service is less than that, the percentage starts to go down proportionally.

Counter service is flat-rate $1 per person served.

This is the same every time regardless of quality of service (unless something truly malicious happens, but I've never experienced that.)

delta_p_delta_x(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> Full waiter experience (seated, handed menu, food brought to table, plate cleared) gets 20%.

I don't understand this. Why do you Americans tip for this? Isn't being seated, handed a menu, food brought to the table, and plates being cleared part of a waiter's job?

Why does the customer have to 'reward' waiters for doing 'a good job'?

Why do restaurants not just drop a flat 10% service/cover charge (it's 10% where I am) and be done with it?

undersuit(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Yeah, the thing I'm most often paying for that I would tip for is my 12oz double-shot Americano. Usually between $2-$4, but I feel stingy giving the servers quarters, so it's always $1 tip.

tptacek(10000) 6 days ago [-]

If the level of service declines below 'full waiter experience', likely so too do the prices.

Scottn1(10000) 6 days ago [-]

>Full waiter experience (seated, handed menu, food brought to table, plate cleared) gets 20%. If the level of service is less than that, the percentage starts to go down proportionally.

I have implemented the same policy of 20% BUT with strict process to make sure it isn't 20% of the full bill:

1) I tip 20% on the Sub-Total amount after subtracting all alcohol (see #2). I am not tipping 20% on the sales tax as well. So don't make a common mistake and tip on the total, go with sub-total.

2) Subtract alcohol from sub-total, calculate 20% on that new sub-total and then I add $1-2 MAX per drink or $5 for a bottle.

With the price gouging on alcohol at restaurants/bars (particularly wine - which they literally charge for a glass what a full bottle costs in the store) I refuse to tip 20% of their inflated prices. Sometimes wife and I can have 3-4 drinks total at a long dinner and can be like $50-100 just on alcohol. No WAY I am over-tipping our waiter $20 to walk the drinks over to our table.

This process drives my wife crazy sometimes and she calls me cheap, but just flat out giving 20% on the full total of the bill is over-tipping. Steakhouses drive me nuts too because they can be very expensive and 20% tip on the full total could be $60! That is just dumb for someone performing the same job at Applebees of taking order and bringing food/drinks to table.

pronlover723(10000) 6 days ago [-]

It's somewhat infuriating. You use to tip waiters/waitresses. They took your order and brought it to you. Now they ask for tips when they do none of that. Every non-chain fast food joint / coffee stand where all they do is stand at the cash register, take your order, and hand it to you, they now ask for a tip. The bakery asks for a tip. The taco stand asks for a tip.

On top of that, in SF, prices are off the chart. Went to a bread store. One loaf of bread + 1 canele + 1 coffee + 1 sandwich, $47. Got chinese dumplings. 3 people 3 plates of dumplings and 3 side dishes, $135 (with tip). That same thing would have been < $30 in Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Taipei. Even Japan

tayo42(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I don't get why food is so expensive in the US. You would think economy of scale would kick in at some point. I eat at home now except for being social and tbh even then I'd rather just cook for a group. A good cookbook will get you better food then almost all restaurants. Even obscure ingredients from Asia are imported or even grown in the US now. There are a few exceptions

tkuraku(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I think tipping should be outlawed. The price should be the price. Workers should not be subject to inconsistent pay for the same amount of work. In addition it gets rid of any bias in wages (more attractive people or people of different ethnicities might get higher tips for the same work).

purpleblue(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I think instead tipping law should be that it is not be asked for until after the service is rendered. These days they will ask for tip BEFORE anything is served which makes me very upset. It traps you into paying and any incentive for good behavior is completely stolen.

DrThunder(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I don't. For sit down restaurants, or many service oriented jobs it makes for a better customer experience. I agree for counter service it where they want tips BEFORE the service experience it makes no sense.

You ought to try sitting down in a restaurant in the EU. They do the bare minimum to serve you.

Tying a possible bonus to the way you act in customer service facing role has a lot of benefits.

'In addition it gets rid of any bias in wages (more attractive people more attractive people' Why are higher wages for a subjectively attractive person a bad thing... Are they not driving better business? Do you think it's somehow more altruistic to provide subjectively uglier individuals the same wage? Bias based on attractiveness is no worse than bias based on personality or any other trait. Your point is moot anyway, in a capitalistic society people can just choose to visit another business where the staff has the traits they desire.

seizethecheese(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Nothing should be outlawed unless it causes a reasonable amount of harm. This mostly doesn't. First, it's just semantics. Second, you don't have to buy again.

godelski(10000) 6 days ago [-]

We don't have to outlaw it but we should do something more difficult: make it not the social norm.

boomchinolo78(10000) 6 days ago [-]

What? Who is harmed? Are we to pretend all waiters do an equally good job? Good service gets good tips, bad service, not good. It's just an incentive system.

The only reason it starts to breakdown is because there are really cheap people out there who will skimp on the tip and then complain when waiters treat them like shit.

If you are a regular at a place and you tip well, they'll spoil you.

crossroadsguy(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I'll pick some examples from the article.

> Schenker says it's hard to sympathize with consumers who are able to afford pricey coffee drinks but complain about tipping.

How will it reflect upon tipper if they in turn judge Mr Schenker for being in this position in the first place?

> Tipping is about making sure the people who are performing that service for you are getting paid what they're owed

This just sounds ignorant because the comment is pointing to the wrong entity - as in "who owes". This is barking up the wrong tree. But society has enabled and allowed business establishments to create a situation like this. At the same time this is also entitled — the thought that the tipper is supposed to pay for service provider's bills above the cost of the item purchased.

This is sad and outrageous. A person is driven to think like this. Is it society, or the culture and tradition? Or the businesses collectively doing this?

> Moore said she believes consumers shouldn't be asked to tip nearly everywhere they go — and it shouldn't be something that's expected of them.

This is what I do. I leave a tip if I feel like. I exclusively do not tip if an establishment points to it, or asks me to tip. I say a simple no and that saying no is difficult but I always say no in this situation.

The last thing I want is this outrageous tipping culture, especially like USA, where I live.

silisili(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Completely agreed. Tipping by definition is paying for good service - what you feel they've earned. Not what they're 'owed.'

yafbum(10000) 6 days ago [-]

There has been a deplorable profusion of dark patterns in restaurant checkout UIs, such as offering preselected tip amounts set along a 18-20-25% scale (standard used to be 15%), making it quite difficult to leave a custom tip, etc.

Add to this various 'surcharges' and other mandatory fees added for this or that (my favorite: mandatory 'resort fees' for hotels - seriously why is that not just rolled into the price of the stay?), and the service industry in the US has a serious price transparency crisis. It is quite literally impossible to predict the final cost of service, so as a rule of thumb I have come to generally expect to be out of pocket about 50% - 80% more than the listed price.

Any other country would call this fraud.

irrational(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Fortunately it is still possible to choose the tip amount. I just move it to 15%.

8note(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Lol, more like 20/25/30

15/18/20 was in 2018

euroderf(10000) 6 days ago [-]

That's one nice thing about living in the EU, that it mandates full price disclosure for some industries. (Anyone got a list?)

In particular, when it says your airline ticket is NNN€, you will pay than NNN€. No screwball fees up the wazoo.

Kagerjay(10000) 6 days ago [-]

100% this

Some of these places will also auto add grauituity charges as well for larger parties, and auto select a tip so if you don't look at the bill you could be footing out as much as 40%. Super shady UI practices.

I don't want to be guilt tripped in tipping for a baked item for instance, or a chipotle style served food restaurant.

rippercushions(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Try taking a taxi in NYC. IIRC the preselected tip options are 20%, 25% and 30%, and this is on top of a base fare of $100 to Newark when an Uber is literally half price.

shostack(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Don't forget:

- Asking for a tip for takeout orders

- Asking for the payment including tip before you've received service, often via one of those stupid QR menus that does who knows what with your order data that is now tied to your phone

- Not having 20% as a tip option, but something like 18%, 23%, 27%

- Looming over your shoulder while you enter the tip

I want servers to make a livable wage. I'm willing to pay more. I want my prices transparent, and I don't want the mountain of guilt and social pressure.

Jedd(10000) 6 days ago [-]

One Australian's anecdata follows.

I hate tipping. It's an unwanted cognitive intrusion with no upside for me whatsoever. It also reflects a broken (wage / reward) system, and obviously my preference is they fix that.

In Australia I may tip - iff the service is really good. And only at sit-down / eat-in restaurants. Cafes, cabs, ubers, couriers, hotels, etc - these are not tipping places. If I'm tipping at a restaurant, in addition to exceptional service / food, it'll be a) only if I feel there's zero guilt or implied obligation to tip, b) 5-10%, and c) cash (ie. not via the EFT / POS device).

ergvgdvgrd(10000) 6 days ago [-]

The rule I was taught growing up in USA was 15% and it was really only for sit down restaurants where waiters served you at your table.

Now, tipping in USA has metastasized, but I haven't changed. You want to play a guilt trip game after every business engagement? You'll lose against me. Tip for pouring a cup of drip coffee?---nah. Tip for making fast food? Nope. I will not enable the tip-everywhere culture.

barbazoo(10000) 6 days ago [-]

It's very reasonable to apply this mindset to North America and you don't have to feel bad about it either.

yawnxyz(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I'm always put off by a server hearing my American accent and insisting / guilt-tripping that I add a tip, thinking I'm a tourist in Sydney...

Yes I do tip sometimes, but only if the service has been fun / great. So off-putting when a place tries to squeeze a tip if they think you don't live here.

koala_man(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I used to round up back in Europe, but after living in the US for a while I never tip anywhere else. I don't want this cancer to spread.

JenrHywy(10000) 6 days ago [-]

As another Australian, tipping and tax are the worst part of traveling to the US (other than maybe the toilets....). I don't really mind what the final price is, but I really would like to know it up front without having to do a bunch of calculations, which vary depending on which state I'm in.

EdwardDiego(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Kiwi here, I will tip in an Uber because I know they're getting shafted by Uber, but typically try to do so in cash because I'm sure Uber tries to take a cut of the in-app tip.

crtified(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Is this a thing in countries other than the USA?

kiwijamo(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I've only ever seen this in the US. Not in Europe, Asia nor Oceania.

hnav(10000) 6 days ago [-]

it's been exported to mexico and others, especially tourist traps where a lot of americans come

nayuki(10000) 6 days ago [-]

The tipping situation is numerically very similar in Canada, unsurprisingly.

But at least in Canada, the waiter brings a wireless point-of-sale machine to the table for you to pay. Whereas in American, they take your credit card all the way to the cash register (unsafe!), bring the receipt to your table, make you write the tip and total on the receipt, and collect the receipt.

davidgay(10000) 6 days ago [-]

It used to be. For instance, France passed a law in 1987 to include an automatic tip on all bills (12-15%), i.e., switched from optional to automatic tipping.

AIUI, French restaurant menus still say 'service compris' (service included).

And, FWIW, the top hit about this when I searched for articles on this in French is an article where the hotel-industry association is thinking about getting tipping reintroduced... (https://www.ouest-france.fr/europe/france/restauration-bient...)

Pxtl(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Yes. Here in Canada it's a couple percent points less (15-20%, I here it's higher there) and servers have a proper minimum wage, but tipping is still expected here.

And the pandemic has shifted things and now everybody's got tip options on the takeout touchpad... I'm iffy on that. It was one thing when everything was shut down and so takeout was a fallback for restaurants with a lot of staff, but that's over.

tmnvix(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I've never experienced the US tipping culture, but have been aware of it for a long time. Am I remembering correctly that the 'standard' tip has been increasing over the past few decades? I don't mean just the dollar amount, but the percentage that is expected. Why has this happened? Is there some standard explanation or justification given for this?

hprotagonist(10000) 6 days ago [-]

yes: restaurant workers are increasingly fucked and low income.

noah_buddy(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I think it's gone up because of the cultural marking of "cheap tippers." You see it lambasted in movies and TV (in Reservoir Dogs it's even a significant point of foreshadowing). The scale as I understand it is:

For delivery, tip 10-20% on the subtotal based on the size of the order and the service/delivery time (and perhaps your relationship with the deliverer or business, in cases where they have a dedicated pool). Often these people live off tips and their wage doesn't even cover gas/maintenance on their own vehicles.

Dining in? Outside of very bad service, I'll tip 18-20% of the subtotal. Service industry is hard and there's a lot going on. Even with a bad experience, sometimes it's not your waitstaff's fault and they're trying to roll with it themselves.

Take out/coffee/etc: tip 10-15% based on your relationship to the business and price. If I'm going to a pricier coffee place, I may tip less because I do have a upper limit on what I'll tip for anything paltry (a buck or two for a latte and a muffin).

Moving guys/tradesmen: May slip em a ten if the job was a pain or they were real punctual.

teekert(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I can tell from experience if you come from a non-tipping country you can really have some negative experiences before you realize what's going on :)

That said, the 'need' for a tip does make the waiter/ress a lot more pro-active and helpful than in my country where waiter/ress's can be cranky even. In the US they introduce themselves ('Hi I'm Jerome, I'm excited to be your waiter today!' Made me smile every time), make sure you are ok, the level of service is pretty high.

We do tip here (Netherlands), but it's more when service was really good. But personnel won't bat an eye when you don't. Of course, we learned from Reservoir Dogs [0] that tipping is basically part of the income in the US. Is that still true? In the Netherlands we generally agree with Mr. Pink, minimum wage is higher here though (I think).

[0]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4sbYy0WdGQ

killerpopiller(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I always have to cringe about such exaggerate expressions, 'excited to be your waiter' and the like. What is the intensification? It just feels like an unnecessary lie or even hypocrisy.

blahedo(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Important to add: in fields where tipping is standard (notably, restaurant waitstaff), in many areas of the US the minimum wage is much much lower. Nationally, $2.13/hour. That pays their taxes... For all intents and purposes, restaurant and bar staff are gig workers that are working for a variable rate determined entirely at the customers' discretion. If you don't tip them, they're essentially working for free, or rather, the rest of us are subsidising your service.

It is a mind-blowingly terrible system, but until we fix it, 'tips' (in the US, in industries that are traditionally tipped) are not a bonus, they're part of the base wage, and if you don't pay them you are absolutely freeloading.

panda88888(10000) 5 days ago [-]

In CA it is not. But it doesn't stop this 25%+ tip minimum for normal service advice.

johnp314(10000) 6 days ago [-]

A few years back I attended the RSA Conference in San Francisco and stayed at an AirBnB in Haight-Ashbury district. I discovered a nearby restaurant, Zazie, that advertised on their web site they were 'proud to be tip free' so I tried it. I had dinner there more than once over my week stay in SF and it was so nice to get a credit card receipt with no space for tip and a reminder from the server that no tip was wanted. The service was great and the prices did not seem excessive compared to other places.

Many of the comments here have discussed how without tips paying a living wage would compel higher prices. I ask, what's the difference between a higher up-front price on the menu for the item or a lower price with the expectation that at payment you'll pay 20% more? I prefer the simplicity and less pressure of a bill with no space for 'tip', that the price you see on the menu is the price you will pay when finished eating.

maerF0x0(10000) 6 days ago [-]

And the advantage of no tips is a-holes like me cant game the system for a 20% discount.

ciupicri(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> what's the difference between a higher up-front price on the menu for the item or a lower price with the expectation that at payment you'll pay 20% more?


post_break(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I got asked for a tip at an automatic car wash, because the guy was there wouldn't let me put the card into it myself, he wanted to push the touch screen buttons. I looked at him and said no. I hate tips, they aren't tips any more, they are subsidized payroll. I almost never eat at sit down places any more. Pick up orders? No tip. I will tip for a pizza delivery though, it's the one time I feel like it's deserved due to the hell they go through, but it's the exception not the rule for me.

dyno12345(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I got prompted for a tip at an auto mechanic at one point

jmckib(10000) 6 days ago [-]

He may not have even worked at the car wash. That's a pretty common scam among panhandlers.

hkarthik(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I wonder if the POS companies take a share of the tip as part of the total transactions flowing through their systems.

Then they'd be incentivized to show the tip screen by default, and maybe jack up the default amount to 20-25%.

justinpowers(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Most POS systems do not charge per transaction, neither by count nor dollar amount. It's usually an upfront or flat monthly fee, based on number of terminals, level of service and feature set.

saghm(10000) 6 days ago [-]

A few days ago I got dinner delivered, and I added a $5 tip through the app (which came out to about 22%). When the delivery person came, he expressed disappointment about the size of the tip, which really surprised me. As much as I know that it would be better for businesses to pay better wages rather than tips being expected, I also know that the system being unfair isn't any consolation to workers who are just trying to make a living and don't have any power over the situation, so I've always tried to make sure that I give a sizable tip whenever receiving any sort of service where it might be expected. I admit that I haven't had any recent discussions with anyone who relies on tips to make a living in the past several years (the last one that I remember was a discussion with my older brother who had waited tables at a restaurant for several years), but my general understanding was that 15% tends to be low enough to not make up for below minimum wage that restaurants can get away with paying due to exceptions in law for jobs where tips are expected, but that 20% was a good baseline. Has this expectation changed in recent years? (Based on the specific wording of the complaint, I know that the delivery person did see the exact amount I tipped, so I don't think that the complaint was due to the app taking a share, but I guess I don't know for sure since he might have assumed I knew that or didn't think to mention it).

Acutulus(10000) 6 days ago [-]

It's hard to say. I would argue that yeah, that baseline tip %age is creeping upwards in the US at least, though the rate at which is hard to quantify. There seem to be a lot of social factors at play that are continuing to put upward pressure on that number. I was taught 15-20% a decade or more back, but that feels to be closer to 25-30% now.

Delivery app tip culture is a fascinating rabbithole in and of itself. /r/doordash is a great repository of posts to look at. You can get a sense of expected order pricing/tip amounts/driving distances sufficient to compel a dasher to pick up your order. Much like with the restaurant industry you will notice that quite a few (I would say a majority of posters there) take issue not with Doordash but with the delivery recipient as the cause of their low earnings. Tips are the name of the game, and any fervor to change or push Doordash into changing their payment models are hushed by the collective din that laments 'stingy customers'.

Whether it was planned or a happy coincidence, that mentality is a sociocultural win for doordash as a company. The customer, who themselves can make no guarantees how much of that tip a driver will receive if paying digitally, is to bear the burden of blame more than the company that contracted that service to a driver when said driver feels underpaid. It feels me with a sense that's hard to describe. Disheartenment maybe? That new markets and services appear and the tipping culture we crafted for ourselves comes in with them, absolving some companies of paying market wages and sometimes shielding them from certain wage laws.

I wish we in the US could collectively agree that this culture of tipping is (imo) a net negative for everyone involved. But with an economy looking over an uncertain horizon, and the recent bottom-to-top wealth transfers facilitated by the chaos of covid, I think the simple act of throwing a few bucks to the service worker will remain the average American's daily act of 'helping the little guy' regardless of how real that benefit truly is.

fishtoaster(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I quite dislike the tip system, but feel I have no good way to protest it. I could 'just not tip,' but that mostly harms the people who have the least power in the situation (the waiter) rather than the people who can change it (management).

Instead, I feel like the only ethical option available to me is to preferentially frequent no-tip restaurants. Unfortunately there aren't too many of those and although I hate the tip system, quality of food is usually more important except at the margins.

It seems like the sort of thing where maybe there's a regulatory answer, but I'm hard-pressed to think of one. California already takes the reasonable step of mandating minimum wage before tips, but that doesn't seem to remove the tip expectation.

Acutulus(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I echo the feeling of a lack of capacity to change things. Given my income level and current situation I resorted to the penultimate form of not tipping: No longer going out to eat, by and large.

It sucks, for sure. We do not have any no-tip restaurants in my area. But price transparency is something that is very important to me and I will stand by my principles on that matter. And since not tipping a person you are face to face with carries a social weight that renders such a move untenable I just don't go out for food at places that ask for tips in any capacity. I'm sure there's an argument one could make about my choice being harmful for tip-heavy employees that use that money to live on. But I have never chosen to subsidize businesses whose practices I don't agree with and tipping has hit a point where it has fallen squarely into that category. I'd like to think if more people thought like me, the market for tipping restaurants would begin to shrivel, but I have little reason to think such a thing will happen in my area at least.

Does this mean maybe we have a glut of restaurants operating in a preferential-to-the-business economic environment, and some might not survive such a change, maybe yeah. Does it mean those employees will have to look for work in a changed market if that does happen, yes. But I want everyone who works to be paid a fair, predictable, agreeable wage for the work they do and continuing to support places that are (I feel) diametrically opposed to that principle does not work towards that goal.

So cast iron chicken and rice pilaf at home it is!

blahblah1234567(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I think tipping waiters in restaurants, at the end of a meal is fine.

It's the request for a tip at practically every cafe or donut shop, where a person is simply pouring drip coffee or placing an item in a bag, for to-go/carry out, which gets to me. Or the expectation to tip for a re-fill of a coffee mug, at a cafe. It's not service-- it's dispensing a product.

I am starting to wonder how much baristas make, for example, if it's $10-$15 per hour, plus 15 customers per hour (x$1-$2 tip each)... that's potentially $50-60k+ per year. Which is more than many teachers and healthcare workers make-- people with degrees, training, and who provide a skilled, emotionally-involved service.

maerF0x0(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> but that mostly harms the people who have the least power in the situation

They have the ability to choose another job (250k new jobs are created each month!) and they have the ability to negotiate/complain to their manager.

Just dont be surprised when the coffee shop starts to charge $10 for a drip. 50c of beans, 50c of hot water and $8 labor.

eslaught(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I recently saw a '3% cost of living' charge at a restaurant (in California). This same restaurant provided suggested tips of 18, 20, and (I think) 25%.

At a certain level I think this is just dishonesty. They want to raise prices, but they know some people will stop coming, so they try to hide it in extra fees instead. I don't mind tipping per se, but the hidden fees and tip inflation make me think that if this keeps going, we may need to pass some price transparency laws.

CraigRo(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I deduct 2x the added charges from the usual and customary tip and leave a note on the receipt. The goal is to incentivize the servers to agitate against the restaurant.

I particularly detest sneaky 'charges' that are not embedded in the prices.

bbarn(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Just ate at a place in CA with an 18% automatic gratuity added, and a second line for 'additional gratuity'.

Reminds me why I do all the cooking in my house.

PaulDavisThe1st(10000) 6 days ago [-]

It's an extra fee, sure, but the salient quality is that it's an optional fee, which a price increase is not.

I'm not condoning it, just clarifying what strikes me as the central point.

screamingninja(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Went to this Mexican restaurant yesterday. On the payment handheld device, default selection for tip was 22% with buttons for 20% and 25% and a tiny 'custom' button. Making a selection under pressure with the waitress staring at the handheld device was an uncomfortable interaction.

simonebrunozzi(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Give them a 10% tip. Write why. It will make them think.

wetpaws(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I routinely tip 0% at places that practice this

deathanatos(10000) 6 days ago [-]

SF restaurants, when I last lived in CA, were rife with these hidden fees. (The restaurants were upset about a local mandate. I ... don't care about your politics? I just want a burger. Be straight about how much that will cost me...)

cratermoon(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Solution: pay people a decent wage. Stop externalizing the costs of running a business. If you can't make enough money to keep the business viable, then maybe the law of supply and demand and the free market is trying to tell you something.

kube-system(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Why would businesses stop asking for tips if wages rise?

Tipping is a cultural norm in the US that won't be changed by the price on the menu going up a few bucks. If anything, the relationship is the opposite. You are socially expected to tip better for more expensive meals.

bluedino(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Plenty of restaurants have a sign advertising $15 starting wage and have too jars

And this is fast casual where you don't even have a waiter.

loloquwowndueo(10000) 6 days ago [-]

That law works on the side of labor too : if competition (more supply of workers vs fewer work slots) for the job is high enough that employees are willing to risk working for a crappy wage plus tips, then employers can still get away with this. As long as regulations permit. I agree that a decent wage is the best path forward.

zuminator(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I went to a little coffee shop in a museum the other day. I ordered a little sandwich from behind a display, as well as some tea. When I put my card in the machine, the gentleman taking orders immediately said, 'press here, just press one of the buttons here,' jabbing with his finger in the directions some on-screen buttons for adding a 15, 18, or 20% gratuity. It's true that the buttons weren't very noticeable but I was still taken aback by his forthrightness. I left a tip anyway, but then he handed me a pre-made sandwich, an empty paper cup, and a tea bag; and curtly announced, 'Hot water's over there. Next!' So not only had he insisted upon a tip but he wasn't even planning on preparing my beverage. If people wonder why customers get turned off of tipping it's because of entitled people abusing the process. He did nothing but ring me up, but he was expecting the same tip as a full-service table waiter.

quickthrower2(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Museum. Flux of tourists. Probably doesn't care about repeat business.

rhplus(10000) 6 days ago [-]

As a point of reference, Ross tips $20 on $200 in a nice restaurant, after Rachel's dad tips "like 4%" in a season 3 episode of Friends:


So we can say that 15% was more than generous in 1996 according to the NY/LA TV writer set.

GenerocUsername(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Agreed. I remember the days of 10% being standard.

It's the stripe/square payment machines that started offering 18%, 20%, or other.

musicale(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Starbucks: 'No, we won't raise your wages, but we'll add digital tipping.'

DrThunder(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Seems like a win for the consumer. You don't have to tip but if they raise the wages you'll be paying more for the same service and same product.

floren(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I assume some of this comes from small businesses getting a Square terminal and thinking 'Tips? Yeah sure, I'll check that box, can't hurt!'. It can hurt. If I'm prompted to tip [15/20/25]% just because somebody grabbed a donut out of the rack and dumped it in a paper bag, I think less of the place and I'm less likely to come back.

Thought: Somebody should cook up an 'AR' app that reads a menu and adds 20% tip plus local sales tax to every price. I'm just as guilty as anybody of visiting e.g. European countries and thinking everything's expensive, but that's because the prices on the menu are exactly what you'll pay, not 70% of what you'll actually pay.

Yes I realize I can just do basic mental math, but not everybody can do it, and it'd be kinda neat to point my phone at a menu and see all the prices instantly reflect what I'll actually have to shell out.

Psychlist(10000) 6 days ago [-]

As a tourist it sucks though. You have to buy something to see the various taxes, then hope that they're the same for everything. Then you move on in your trip and have to repeat the process.

Just advertise the actual price, dammit.

And keep tipping for 'OMG, this person was wonderful' not 'this is 90% of their income'.

syngrog66(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Not exactly tipping but very similar: Panera became very annoying in recent years by hassling me every time I ordered at the cashier about whether I wanted to 'round up' to ostensibly donate to some charity or other.

Here's my take: I might already be doing charity work or donations elsewhere, and I'm at my limit. And I went to Panera for food and a place to sit a while. If Panera's ownership or rich executives want to donate somewhere as individuals, do that. If they want to make the biz itself donate, do that. If you want to pass this cost on to customers then simply build it into the pricing. But DO NOT hassle each customer and waste everyone's time with cognitive clutter. If anything it feels like a form of intentional guilt-tripping or griefing. What Panera offers isnt unique enough that a person cant go choose an alternate service.

Anyway, not a rant on tippping itself, but a very similar structure. I believe tipping too should just be built into the prices a business charges. Massively simplifies each transaction and reduces griefing and psychological games. (Really, its another case of a more general rule, imo: simplify, simplify, simplify...)

dbalatero(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I believe this is a corporate tax game they are partially playing, as they can write off your charitable donation as their tax benefit. (Never round up, just donate directly to charities you choose.)

alwaysanon(10000) 6 days ago [-]

One thing I was surprised by recently as an American ex-pat (living in Australia for years) too was tipping housekeeping in hotels. I was told by an American colleague on a recent trip there that I was meant to leave $5 in the room every day for housekeeping. This was because it might be somebody different every day - and I was expected to directly recognise each one.

I have gotten used to not having to carry/worry about cash and the idea I need all these $5 notes whenever I stayed in a hotel in the States stressed me out a bit.

Is this a thing?

tayo42(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I think it used to be. It was common travel advice. But only for longer stays. After covid hotels rarely do regular cleaning ime or they want to conserve water. I used to do it, but totally forgot about it until you mentioned. I've pretty much stopped. I also don't carry cash anymore except for emergencies and tipping isn't an emergency

mikhael28(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I guess it's a thing. Happens in America too. Optional though.

Tipping is a societal defense mechanism to rationalize & justify gross inequality.

People will leave a 5 dollar tip, but they won't invest in helping change someones life by giving them knowledge and experience they don't have.

ugh123(10000) 6 days ago [-]

On a recent Disney cruise, I was greeted at the end of my trip with a 'receipt' under the door for over $250 in mandatory tips for our 5 night cruise. Even the 'head server' (who only did so much as greeted us at the table each night) got $80 of that. Such BS.

parallel(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I think 'mandatory tips' is just another name for a bill.

adam_arthur(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Given that even retail stores have added tipping prompts to their checkouts, I'd say yes.

Plus many restaurants with placeholder tip icons that start at 25%+

You also don't know what the tip is really going towards in many cases. In the classic restaurant/waitstaff case you can reasonably expect it to go to the workers, in the random knick knack or general goods stores ???

Tipping in general is a system to transfer wealth from the charitable to the uncharitable (high tippers pay more and subsidize the business, low tippers pay less).

I believe in the spirit of tipping rewarding better service, but by and large it doesn't actually function that way. Most tip ~20% on everything outside of extreme circumstances.

Much better for everything to be baked into the price of whatever good or service it is.

freetime2(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> Given that even retail stores have added tipping prompts to their checkouts

Really?! Which retail stores?

jjav(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> Plus many restaurants with placeholder tip icons that start at 25%+

This is the most egregious part of it. Who ever invented that a percentage should inflate? The price is already inflating so a percentage of it goes up. You don't get to inflate both.

Tipping was always 10% to 15% if particularly exceptional. Although even that should be made illegal, just include all costs of doing business in the price like nearly every shop does.

godelski(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Tipping at best is a form of bribery and at worst a feudal practice of wealth transfer. I tip because it is the social norm (and bribery: don't want my food messed with), but I think we can also acknowledge that this practice is weird and has a shaky history.

notch656c(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I noticed the expected tipping percentage go up after most customers started tipping in credit.

Tipped workers had to up their game because they can no longer do tax evasion with everything on the record. Back in the days where most paid their restaurant with cash, tips were more like 15%. The move from 15 to more like 20 to 25% almost perfectly corresponds with the amount needed to make the same earnings after tax.

tptacek(10000) 6 days ago [-]

No, tipping is in general a system that shifts some of the employer's costs to customers explicitly, rather than hiding them in prices and wages. It's an idiosyncratic system, but not an irrational one: wages and prices are stickier than tip levels.

ninethirty(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Not only that, but then they want to donate to some charity. Roundup for charity? (sometimes they don't even bother to tell you what charity it is) Roundup, Red-Nose day, etc. etc.

zzzeek(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I can't believe these comments, what is wrong with you people?

if you are a highly paid technology worker, when you go to service establishments where people are working hourly and are desperate to work 40-50 hour weeks just to pay their rent and feed their kids, you *tip*. *generously*.

the US has an insanely out of control income inequality issue that is very intractible and structural. If you are so fortunate as to find yourself on the winning end of it, as is the case for a vast portion of Hacker News members, yes, (WHILE SAID STRUCTURAL INEQUALITY CONTINUES TO NOT BE SOLVED BY OTHER MEANS), you should be transferring to the members of your local community who are not so fortunate (AND ARE EXPLICITLY ASKING FOR TIPS AND/OR WORKING WHERE TIPPING IS CUSTOMARY) and you should be happy to do it.

hi - not as *a subsitute for raising the mimimum wage*, of course not, of COURSE wages should be raised. of COURSE if everyone were paid fairly in the first place, THAT WOULD BE GREAT. however, at the moment, the federal minimum wage hasn't been raised in 14 YEARS, so FOR THE MOMENT, until said inequality issue can be structurally modified, workers really could use tips. that's why they are asking for them.

purpleblue(10000) 6 days ago [-]

No. Workers should be paid a fair wage and all prices should be transparent. As well, different types of work deserve different types of pay. End of story.

Your 'oh these poor, hopeless blue collar workers that desperately need our help' is just your own classism, looking down on them and making you feel better about yourself by thinking you're helping them survive, like small swimmer fish eating the leftover from the shark that you are.

rr808(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Agreed the inequality is a problem. However making people who serve wealthy people the highest paid is a bad solution.

djur(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Every day I benefit from the labor of people who make less than most waiters, and I can't tip them. Either they're not physically present to be tipped or company policy prohibits them from accepting tips. I think it's fair to point out the absurdity that it's considered socially necessary to make additional payments to waitstaff and delivery drivers but not to dishwashers and package handlers.

godelski(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I'd rather just increase the minimum wage. Why do this pick and choose thing? If the minimum is not enough then it isn't enough for __everyone__.

jjav(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> you tip. generously

No, absolutely not, that is not the correct solution to the very real problem of underpaid staff.

Instead I want laws to ban tipping and force jobs to pay a reasonable living wage at a minimum. Yes the product will cost more in restaurants but so be it, it's the honest way to do it.

tmnvix(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I live in a place without a tipping culture and significant income inequality.

I really don't like the idea that service in a bar might be prioritised according to who gives the biggest tips. That seems like highlighting inequality to me. It would go down very badly here. A queue is a queue. Queues are fair.

mikhael28(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Buy a plane ticket. Plenty of other countries have the same structural inequality issues, and don't have a tipping culture.

mpawelski(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> I can't believe these comments, what is wrong with you people?

I had a similar feeling while reading comments here, but then I reminded myself that most of people commenting here are from the US and are used to this strange tipping culture.

Oh wait, you mean comments criticizing American tipping culture? ;-)

Seriously though, I wished Americans would keep this broken tipping culture to their own country. Unfortunately they are polluting other places (especially the ones popular for American tourist) and introduce this broken 'mandatory 20-30% tipping' madness.

moomin(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I mean, the US could just get a decent welfare state like a grown-up country, but instead you have the worst paid members of society depending on tips.

kofejnik(10000) 6 days ago [-]

waiters aren't the worst paid workers by far

DrThunder(10000) 6 days ago [-]

What does a 'decent welfare state' mean? Have you seen the amount of people that are jobless in the US right now even though there's a plethora of jobs available? The US must have a pretty heavy welfare state for that to continue.

Additionally, I assume you believe decent welfare state = a handful of 1st world western European nations and maybe Australia/NZ? You may want to check the average salaries of these locations. Higher welfare states come with a lot of cons... it's not all rainbows and daisies.

A safety net should be just that.... a safety net. Otherwise, you risk LA Skid Row type ramifications or feces/meth needle ridden streets in SF where essentially no one is benefiting.

Economically, exactly how does your plan work?

maerF0x0(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> grown-up country

Sanctimonious without good argument.

2OEH8eoCRo0(10000) 6 days ago [-]

No thanks. I don't want a welfare state and I don't want to tip either.

luckylion(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Germany has 'a decent welfare state'. Wait staff depends on tips to make their job worthwhile. Not as badly as in the US, but there's a reason they weren't rushing back into the hospitality industry after the Covid lockdowns were lifted: when they had to work elsewhere, many realized how much more they'd make, how much easier the job is, and how much less abusive the bosses are.

Tipping is just a cultural thing, the welfare state doesn't have a lot to do with it.

rapht(10000) 6 days ago [-]

To me, this relates to a broader subject: the way prices are displayed.

In Europe, laws basically mandate that what you as a customer see on a price tag or price list, is what you ultimately pay.

You don't have to do any guesswork, looking at the fine print, compute anything in your head. You pay the price that is displayed, and there should be no expectation from any one that you pay anything above that.

When I go to a restaurant, I'm not like buying the food on the one hand, and the service on the other hand, and everything that the taxes cover above all that. I'm paying the restaurant for dining, which includes the food, the service, and whatever taxes the restaurant has to pay.

The details are none of my business... and I shouldn't have to do any contorsions to compare prices between restaurants!

courgette(10000) 6 days ago [-]

the tax being calculated separately seems suspiciously petty to my French ass.

I'm used to it now, but the only rational I could find by asking around "why is the tax not part of the final displayed price" were :

- "it depends from state to state." Taxes are also different in Spain, France, Germany and Italy ... we use the same currency and we don't feel the urge to display our taxes by removing them from the displayed prices. Even in places like Andorra, where the tax on Tabacco is close to 0.

- a less common rationale; often find in the libertarian type of interlocutors. "It's to show what the government is taking you"

Sadly; I think it's the second one? I've ask that question a lot in the last 10 years. People just shrug it as un-important and we move on with the sale.

Or maybe nobody knows?

ntr--(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> Tipping is about making sure the people who are performing that service for you are getting paid what they're owed

Here in AU we call that 'wages'.

Having to do quick maths while under social pressure and the threat of having your service quality degraded to make up for an employer or state being unwilling to pay workers enough to live might be called 'coercion', but certainly it is externalising costs onto the customer.

blacksmith_tb(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I can see the point of leaving a tip when a server has done a really good job (of course they should be paid a decent wage too). For me the annoying bit is being asked to tip before I have been served - I don't know yet if I would like to leave a big tip or a small one.

Insanity(10000) 6 days ago [-]

As a European living in Canada, the tipping culture took some time to get used to. It's such a stupid/bad system.

hedora(10000) 6 days ago [-]

The US faced a dilemma: Post civil war, many people didn't want to pay freed slaves for their labor.

A combination of tipping and converting jobs that were typically held by blacks to unpaid positions provided a solution. It became popular despite attempts to ban the practice.

Today, tipped workers in the US are paid, but have a lower minimum wage than normal workers.

Source: https://time.com/5404475/history-tipping-american-restaurant...

FWIW: Because I abhor the practice, I always tip 20%. If service is sufficiently bad, I tip 20% and never come back.

ugh123(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> threat of having your service quality degraded

Or even worse, be publicly outed by a waiter online because they didn't agree with the tipped amount (retrieving your full name from the CC receipt). Happens.

thepasswordis(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I'll offer some dissent. I like tipping because I usually tip a lot, and it causes the staff to remember me and go above and beyond.

During the covid pandemic instacart times would go as high as several days, but if we would tip $100 or so, we'd get our delivery within hours.

I like free markets, and I like being able to bribe service workers. In fact, I wish there were more people I could tip.

pokepim(10000) 6 days ago [-]


photochemsyn(10000) 6 days ago [-]

The solution to eliminating tipping while also incentivizing servers and others to provide excellent service seems pretty obvious - raise prices by 20% on every transaction in the service industry, and then the employee gets that percentage.

This is good for the business as it encourages the server to provide good service (as long at they clearly understand the importance of the return customer), and also rewards them when the business gets really busy (the result of continually providing good service & good products).

It does eliminate the ability of the customer to play the role of generous or stingy aristocrat, but if they don't like it, they can just not come back.

maerF0x0(10000) 6 days ago [-]

interestingly we actually wouldnt need to raise prices 20%. Some customers do not tip. Some groups of people tip far less, so actually the increase likely is less than 20%.

plasma_beam(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Was really shocked to go through my normal Starbucks drive thru recently and was verbally asked "are you going to leave a tip?" and they thrust the card reader in my face which starts with a $1 tip as the first option you see on the left hand side. You have to hunt for the "No". Of course Starbucks knows their target, those that feel too embarrassed if they don't leave a $1 tip. (I paid). I tell myself, not again. Then I was back there today and paid it again. They got me. Not again.

anthonypasq(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Jeez, are people really this spineless? I'm assuming you also get roped into paying for some random dude's mixtape outside a grocery store?

kube-system(10000) 6 days ago [-]

If you pay with a Starbucks card through the app, it's just a quick scan, and it asks in the app after the fact.

tenebrisalietum(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Your community may have a local coffee shop that either doesn't do these shenanigans or will deliver service worthy of a tip.

conaclos(10000) 6 days ago [-]

In France, supermarkets now offer to round up the bill to make donations to associations. This way, supermarkets have a good image and, at the same time, they reduce their taxes by donating to associations.

It is much better to make direct donations to associations.

lleb97a(10000) 6 days ago [-]

This has begun happening in Australia at the self service machines.

xs83(10000) 6 days ago [-]

It's starting to crop up here in Australia too - thankfully Aussies are pretty stoic about looking them in the eyes and clicking 'No Tip'.

To be clear - I will tip for exceptional service or if we have been a particularly difficult table (dietary requirements, number of people etc), but its an exception rather than the rule and its rarely more than 10%.

However often in these cases a surcharge is already added or the meal has been altered in such a way as to negate these issues (Set menu only for tables of 5 or more is common).

Asking me to tip for basic service is going to be refused.

tayo42(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I ate out at a restaurant in Australia, there was a tip section that as an American I instinctively filled out. The waiter didn't even know how to accept the check with the tip section filled out. Felt like a fool.

pugworthy(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I most certainly get paid a lot more than the person behind the counter does. If it's a person who did something helpful and the person gets the $, then I'm happy to tip. If they can give me some attention (e.g., not chatting away with someone behind the counter while I just stand there), I'm happy to tip.

Symbiote(10000) 6 days ago [-]

You also get paid more than the staff at Walmart. Do you tip there?

ForestCritter(10000) 6 days ago [-]

If you want to see tipping go away, then the lower + tip minimum wages would need to go also. Some states it's as low as 2.39 an hour...

mikhael28(10000) 6 days ago [-]

That would be great! Who wants to keep those, apart from restaurant owners?

Historical Discussions: LastPass breach gets worse (January 25, 2023: 635 points)

(635) LastPass breach gets worse

635 points 5 days ago by sunbum in 10000th position

old.reddit.com | | comments | anchor


For those that may not have seen it, since instead of a new post they "updated" the one from November...Looks like it's even worse than they first let on- now not just LastPass, but a bunch of their other products. Oh, and encrypted backups from some of those services- *and an encryption key for some of said backups*

And MFA for some clients for other offerings .

If the original breach wasn't enough to get you and your org off any GoTo products , then I would hope this is it

All Comments: [-] | anchor

andrewmcdonough(10000) 5 days ago [-]

One of the most frustrating things about the LastPass leak is that they still haven't provided all the information needed to determine whether a customer is at risk.

For example, it's clear backups were stolen, but they won't say how old the backups were, or what their retention policy is. So even if you changed your password to a stronger one, with more rotations, it may be that the attacker got hold of very old backups with weaker security. I've asked their support team for information about time windows of backups stolen, if they have a retention policy and whether it was adhered to, but they won't share that information. Instead we are left with a blog post that is more than a month old, no recent updates, and questions remaining unanswered. I'm a paying 'enterprise' customer, and they are meant to be ISO270001 compliant, so a retention policy should be a pretty simple thing to share.

selykg(10000) 5 days ago [-]

At this point you should assume you're breached. If they aren't going to give you the details, you should assume the worst.

I have asked all of my team to change their passwords. We use LastPass via our parent company and will be switching off LastPass soon for our team. LastPass never would've been my choice, it was made before I joined.

But assume you're breached, change it all now, and ideally you're not going to stay with LastPass. Their communication sucks, which is just icing on the cake in this entire situation.

nicce(10000) 5 days ago [-]

If you are in EU, according to GDPR, they should share information so that you can evaluate the risk. Otherwise they are breaking the law.

Calamitous(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> One of the most frustrating things about the LastPass leak is that they still haven't provided all the information needed to determine whether a customer is at risk.

Worst case: it's entirely possible they don't know.

burnte(10000) 4 days ago [-]

'One of the most frustrating things about the LastPass leak is that they still haven't provided all the information needed to determine whether a customer is at risk.'

Yes they have. They had a breach, and lied about it. You can't trust anything about them now. Assume a total breach and move on.

vasco(10000) 5 days ago [-]

There's ISO compliance and there's ISO 'compliance'. I'm pretty sure if most shops were honest they wouldn't be compliant, but more like compliance-inspired.

_fat_santa(10000) 4 days ago [-]

The title should be updated to reflect that this wasn't data from LastPass but from other products under the Gogo umbrella.

> Our investigation to date has determined that a threat actor exfiltrated encrypted backups from a third-party cloud storage service related to the following products: Central, Pro, join.me, Hamachi, and RemotelyAnywhere.

bombcar(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Even if you change all your pssswords NOW you've still had the metadata of where you have accounts leaked.

emodendroket(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Do they even know?

phpisthebest(10000) 4 days ago [-]

>>they are meant to be ISO270001 compliant

means that some auditor, met with someone that does not know anything, and checked boxes in a form.

tallanvor(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Honestly, even before this latest update, it's safest to assume that your data will be decrypted at some point, and get started changing everything now.

Luckily I had already switched over to Bitwarden, but I still had around 250 accounts to go through, although about 40 entries ended up being duplicates, defunct sites/products, or so old that the accounts were already deleted due to inactivity.

If you haven't started rotating all of your credentials already, this news should definitely get you started on it!

rishabhkaul1(10000) 5 days ago [-]

If I have 2FA set up, would I still need to change the passwords (despite the leak)?

coder543(10000) 4 days ago [-]

If everyone knows the password, then it's really just 1FA at that point. If you want it to remain 2FA, then yes, you would need to have a new password.

thenickdude(10000) 4 days ago [-]

2FA bypass bugs on websites are common, e.g. this PayPal bypass that stemmed from them allowing their own app through without 2FA, since their app didn't support 2FA at the time:


acdha(10000) 4 days ago [-]

MFA means that you're not immediately exploitable. It doesn't mean that you can't be phished — and remember that someone with your LastPass vault can make some pretty convincing targeted phishing messages — if your 2FA is anything other than a FIDO2/WebAuthn key. This has become routine and there are toolkits for attackers to make it easier so it's definitely not an emergency but not something you want to slack on.

It also doesn't doesn't help if there's any way around the MFA process. For example, could the attacker convince a minimum-wage support person / chatbot that you need to reset your MFA? Many companies skimp mercilessly on support costs and that makes this easier than it should be. I've even seen sites where your MFA can be reset using an email challenge!

Toutouxc(10000) 5 days ago [-]

What does everyone think about just using Apple's Keychain for everything? Seems that for Keychain the most serious threat is actually being rando-banned by Apple and losing access to my stuff.

andybak(10000) 5 days ago [-]

One would have to exist solely in the Apple ecosystem for this to be viable, surely? Surely most people on HN have at least one device that isn't Apple!

KyleBerezin(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I'm not sure about apple's cloud stuff, but the keychain is an actual just a file on your system. It is password protected, but it is just your login/sudo password (depending on which file it is).

I just had my keychain corrupt last night while I was testing the SecItemAdd API. So keep that in mind, maybe make backups. I was pretty shocked that you can corrupt the keychain using just the API, the entire security process started to lock up too. I had to (manually!) delete the entire keystone and start from scratch. Luckily I don't rely on it much.

It is worth noting that after you back it up to a remote location, it may not be a very secure concept anymore.

tokamak-teapot(10000) 5 days ago [-]

You can export your keychain and import into other password managers, if you have access to a Mac. I doubt this can be automated, though, and passkeys will need another solution.

wrldos(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I use a mix of Keychain and MacPass (keepass compatible). I will add something to MacPass, then sign in with it and let Keychain remember it. Notes however:

1. I do not use the MFA capability of Keychain at all. Putting your MFA, username and password in the same store is fucking stupid. I have a hardware TOTP token. Backup codes for that are however kept in Keepass.

2. I keep an offline backup of everything. Never trust a cloud backup!

3. All vendors are ephemeral, regardless of their size. Everything I have I have a carefully planned exit plan for.

As other people have pointed out, your keychain is on disk, but if you lose the Mac and find out your MFA codes don't work or something (this does happen) then you're SOL. Keep a backup.

kstrauser(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Keychain is perfectly fine if you're all in on Apple stuff. I am, so I could start using it today. A downside is that it doesn't have much in the way of a dedicated UI, especially on iPad/iPhone. Compare the 1Password app to Settings > Passwords on a phone. Keychain also only handles passwords, and not TOTP, notes, software licenses, etc.

lampshades(10000) 4 days ago [-]

This is what I have been doing since migrating away from LastPass. It has been great so far (and free). I'd say that I wish I could share passwords like in LastPass/1Pass but honestly my wife always struggled with that, so it's easier to just AirDrop a credential if we need to share. It's also integrated so well with Apple products that my wife was using it without even realizing it. I suspect the same will happen with my daughters.

If you're an Apple house, it's a great solution.

shp0ngle(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I honestly don't want to be locked out of my passwords, just because Apple decides to block my account for 'abuse', because I use iTunes Music Fitness Plus from wrong country or whatever.

There are all these 'lol we blocked you for abuse, good luck doing anything :^) I guess complain on twitter lol' horror stories that I don't want to be locked down to one provider that does _everything_, the way Google or Apple does.

Even the fact that I have all e-mail at Google that can randomly ban me for 'abuse' makes me scared, but I don't want to figure out how to move all my mail history to ProtonMail or AOL or whatever. I will need to have that as a risk.

LastTrain(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I spent part of my holiday break cleaning up after this mess, resetting hundreds of credentials. On the plus side, it provided a much needed opportunity for some house cleaning.

lampshades(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Did the same. Took several days but feels good to not have to worry about LastPass anymore.

d23(10000) 4 days ago [-]

It also made me realize just how many sites have broken or missing password reset flows.

bjt2n3904(10000) 5 days ago [-]

And my stance against 'cloud based password managers' -- and really, paid password managers -- is vindicated. Never!

I have evolved a little on using software to track passwords though, and I'm using Unix Pass quite happily now. It's just a short bash script that is very readable, and uses GPG as a backend.

Edit: What's doubly nice is how elegantly it scales from a simple folder of gpg encrypted text files to a multi user synchronized git repository on everyone's phone.

But all that's optional, and only requires you to trust other tools that you already regularly depend on.

gsk22(10000) 5 days ago [-]

That might be fine for the HN crowd, but cloud password managers are still the best solution out there for the typical person.

finnh(10000) 5 days ago [-]

After using LastPass for years, this breach led me to do something I should have done long ago: remove my bank account & email account passwords from it (and change them, of course). My wife did the same thing. At some point I'll probably switch password managers, but the basic realization was that those passwords are qualitatively different than the rest and should never, ever be trusted to any password manager.

So now I remember ~3 passphrases, instead of 1, and sleep much better at night.

latchkey(10000) 4 days ago [-]

This logic is like learning that most accidents occur within 50 miles of your home and then moving 51 miles away.

Why would you remove those bits of information and also not switch password managers too?

deltarholamda(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I was always a bit wary of these services. They sound great, and the convenience is amazing, but I have not much of an idea how everything works behind the curtain.

I went with unix pass installed inside of a FreeBSD jail. It's more complex than auto-filling with a browser plugin (though those exist), but as long as I can get an SSH terminal I can get to my passwords, and various other bits of data. You have to allow password login from sshd (which isn't ideal, but I was going for 'access from anywhere I can get an SSH session), so your passphrase had better be good. And you need to have terminal discipline to be sure you clear the screen if shoulder-surfing is an issue.

But it has the advantage of knowing exactly what's going on at all times. And, for added benefit, there are only a handful of things you need to have printed out and stored in a safe or whatever so that your family can access all of the encrypted important stuff if you get struck by lightning.

ericpauley(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I disagree, mostly because the password manager is more than just a place to store passwords. The origin binding also prevents you from typing the password on the wrong domain. For many people they're probably more likely to get phished for a memorized password than pwned for a managed password.

smt88(10000) 4 days ago [-]

It is absolutely insane that you're going back to LastPass after this. We have no reason to believe they're not still fully compromised.

Switch to 1Password. It takes ~5 min to export and import.

toomanyrichies(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I just migrated over to 1Password and deleted my LastPass account. Better late than never, I suppose.

It was surprisingly easy- for all of LastPass's faults, at least they don't use shady vendor lock-in practices (like making data export needlessly difficult). And 1Password has a LastPass-specific import page, which made the migration dead-easy.

lampshades(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Hopefully you reset all your passwords and didn't just migrate over.

throw_pm23(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Honest question: what's the point of password managers? By migrating from one to the other, aren't you exposing yourself to the exact same risk?

ransom1538(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Can someone explain it to me like I am 5 years old. Why would I take all my passwords, centralize them and place them onto a 3rd party site? Why is this security best practice?

silverlake(10000) 4 days ago [-]

You can publicly post an encrypted password file and dare hackers to break it, assuming your password is >80bits of entropy. All this worry about cloud storage and web access is due to ignorance about encryption.

sofixa(10000) 5 days ago [-]

It's a recommended practice (I hate the term 'best', everything depends).

Why? Quite easy actually - having random passwords is better than reusing the same everywhere. Random passwords are impossible to remember by a regular human, hence you need a password manager. Using a local file as a password manager poses a usability/availability risk (you have to sync it yourself, you have to back it up yourself, you have to make it available on all devices without putting it at risk, you have to secure it, etc.), hence cloud-based password managers are better for the average person, especially coupled with MFA for critical accounts (banks, email, etc.). If you're a highly technical or highly security conscious person, or under threat, the equation changes of course, but the recommendation for a cloud-based password manager isn't meant to apply to everyone, just most people.

daveoc64(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Because using a password manager as intended solves several well-known and very common password-related attacks like credential stuffing.

A password manager makes it possible for the average person to have high length, completely random passwords for each and every site, and to have them available on all of their devices.

That makes it a lot less likely that people will do bad things like re-using passwords, having short passwords, or writing them down.

My LastPass account would have been in the breach, but as my vault was protected with 151,000 iterations and a very long password, it'd take an attacker a long time to be able to get to my Hacker News password, which they'd find was 50 random characters long and looked something like jtES^cqhPj3@&rgPW5#frmDpf#^gGyf3eRoPH#fUZWJQGNFJvW

They'd also find that I've since changed it!

npteljes(10000) 5 days ago [-]

It's not a security best practice, but a security 'good enough'.

ejb999(10000) 5 days ago [-]

It's not.

loudmax(10000) 5 days ago [-]

You have to consider what the security landscape looked like when LastPass got going in 2008. The common practice for non-technical people was (or still is) to reuse the same password everywhere. A password that's really easy to remember like '[email protected]$$word'.

In this context, the common alternative to LastPass isn't best practice, it's worst practice.

jerry1979(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Is there a reason why I shouldn't just store my passwords in Firefox?

thescriptkiddie(10000) 4 days ago [-]

firefox and other browsers are just not very good at password management. it does seem like a feature that should be built in to the browser.

Gregoriy(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Maybe an overkill, but i use cryptomator, which encrypts the files, the files are synchronized with nextcloud of remote location, but i suppose you can use whatever software you want. Inside that there is a https://keepassxc.org/ It works on a phone too, cryptomator open vault with finger, open keepassxc with finger, well not the quickest way but it will do. I still have some useless passwors in chrome but for not important stuff.

iillexial(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I use KeepassXC too, and Dropbox for database sync. Probably not very secure, but I store root password only in my head, and secret key offline. Never used mobile client though, not sure if they can be trusted.

Alifatisk(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I am so happy I left and destroyed my account before this breach and went with Bitwarden.

They showed red flags a long time ago!

thenickdude(10000) 4 days ago [-]

This doesn't necessarily mean you're in the clear, as we don't know what the age of the backups that were stolen are.

If you were a LastPass user at any point you should rotate all the credentials that touched that service.

matesz(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Same here but unfortunately have done it 1 month ago.

This breach helped me learn why it is important to have strong passwords.

jonnycomputer(10000) 5 days ago [-]

A reddit thread about another company. Can anyone link me to where the LastPass announcement changed?

hnrodey(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Sucks that LastPass has these significant problems. From purely a product perspective it's pretty good. I used it for years quite happily as it kept myself and wife in sync with all of our accounts/passwords across all of our devices and browsers. LastPass is one of only a handful of products that truly works on virtually all platforms and browsers. Windows and Mac, home and corporate devices, mobile, you name it.

coder543(10000) 4 days ago [-]

1Password works everywhere too, and it works much better than LastPass from everything I've heard and seen.

1Password also actually encrypts your entire vault, and it uses a strong, generated secret key in addition to your password, so even if a user does not use a strong password, their vault would still be very hard to crack.

bigiain(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> LastPass is one of only a handful of products that truly works

"Truly works" except for the one critical feature that is the sole reason people use it. It does not keep your passwords safe.

Doesn't matter how nice their Windows app is, or how smooth the animations on iOS are, or how well it's browser plugins work.

It fails at its only real task, safely storing your credentials.

pragmatick(10000) 5 days ago [-]

The new addon for Firefox doesn't just work but instead is unable to match the current URL to entries. You have to switch off the 'Advanced autofill' which is automatically turned on nearly every day. The android autofill doesn't 'just work' but that may Android's fault.

ranting-moth(10000) 5 days ago [-]

A good advice I was given a long time ago and I have since followed:

When you need to admit a mistake or apologize, get it all out and be truthful about it. Effectively get it over and done with.

People do appreciate honesty, but will strike back with retaliation if they find out you only appeared honest. Telling a half truth is no better than lying.

sethammons(10000) 5 days ago [-]

'If you have to eat crow, best to do so while it is warm.'

nickjj(10000) 5 days ago [-]

In the comments on Reddit someone linked to a podcast where they broke down what this really means in terms of how 'secure' your leaked encrypted vault is.

The TL;DR is even with 100k+ iterations of PBKDF2 an attacker can crack a password with 40 bits of entropy in about 71 days if they had access to 200 modern GPUs. For comparison if there were only 1 iteration instead of 100k the same type of password could be cracked in 61 seconds.

50 bits of entropy changes things a bit. Now it takes 1 year instead of 71 days but if you're a high value target they can just ramp up the number of GPUs to reduce the time.

The difference between 40 and 50 bits of entropy for a password look like this:

    40 bits: !climb33
    50 bits: [email protected]
    40 bits: any 9 lower case letters
    50 bits: any 11 lower case letters
The takeaway I got is you're probably ok if you have a really good password (150+ bits) with 100k+ iterations but if I were using Lastpass personally (which I'm not) I would absolutely re-roll everything and never use the product again. I personally use a command line tool called `pass` which stores everything locally. This story interests me though because I am mildly involved with someone who is using Lastpass and I suggested they re-roll everything. I'm happy to see someone did the math, it's the exact information I wanted to know.

The podcast show notes are on page 6 which has more numbers and practical examples: https://www.grc.com/sn/SN-905-Notes.pdf

Y_Y(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I think this misrepresents password entropy. For example forcing a capital letter mostly results in lusers capitalising the first letter (and losing about 1 bit versus having the choice of case for every character). Requiring 'special characters' further decreases the entropy (certainly in theory, and I assume in practice).

tzs(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> The TL;DR is even with 100k+ iterations of PBKDF2 an attacker can crack a password with 40 bits of entropy in about 71 days if they had access to 200 modern GPUs


> 50 bits of entropy changes things a bit. Now it takes 1 year instead of 71 days

I don't understand this. Going from 40 bits to 50 bits increases the size of the search space by a factor of 1024. Why does it only increase the search time by a factor of 5?

philjackson(10000) 5 days ago [-]

`pass` is lovely, but don't you need your passwords on your phone when you're out-and-about?

traceroute66(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Makes me pleased to be a loyal Zetetic Codebook[1] (née STRIP) customer.

The thought of storing my passwords on a web/cloud-based service always struck me as the dumbest thing anyone could do as it would be only a matter of time until such a service was hacked.

I started using Zetetic after learning about them via a 2012 Black Hat conference presentation[2] where they took a bunch of password managers and STRIP came out on top. I figured if it was good enough for them, it was good enough for me. The product has only got better and better since 2012 (note that the presentation PDF is out of date in terms of security, they have of course changed hash and substantially increased rounds ! see their website for detail).

Their support is first-class too.

[1] https://www.zetetic.net/codebook/ [2] https://media.blackhat.com/bh-eu-12/Belenko/bh-eu-12-Belenko...

neandrake(10000) 5 days ago [-]

+1 for Codebook. I've been using it for ~5 years and haven't had an issue, I feel secure in managing where my vault is stored and haven't had issues with syncing. It's a one-time fee per device type - I paid for iOS, macOS, and Windows without any hesitation.

Additionally their support is really good. They added a feature on iOS version (and Android I assume) which copies the TOTP when you use codebook to auto fill a login. However it cleared the clipboard when the TOTP code expired which was sometimes too soon - I suggested they add a buffer of ~15-30 sec which most TOTP validators allow, giving the user a bit more leeway in pasting it. They added it in the next version.

Some cons though: They do lack Linux support. Syncing is manual (I think they mentioned the next big update will make it more automatic), and there aren't any family/team sharing capabilities. For these reasons I would really only recommend it for tech-savvy individual use. I've recommended it to a few colleagues and they have had great experiences and continue to use it for several years now.

avhception(10000) 5 days ago [-]

No Linux support =/

xwowsersx(10000) 5 days ago [-]

GoTo considered harmful

d23(10000) 4 days ago [-]

This is amazing.

intunderflow(10000) 5 days ago [-]

The fact they're drip-feeding how bad this breach actually was is terrible enough and yet their entire product is built on nothing but trust.

Part of me wonders if this was an intentional strategy: Downplay during the initial media round then very quietly reveal this was a worst case scenario.

Personally I'm never touching them again - anecdotally everyone I know who was an individual customer has migrated away and inside companies lots of engineers have stopped adding new passwords.

prepend(10000) 5 days ago [-]

When it comes to important stuff I think it's important to trust no one.

I'm sure LastPass tried really hard to protect data. But everything fails eventually. If there's things that are life threatening or financially devastating then I don't think I can afford to audit people sufficiently to trust them with the info.

This is also why I can't imagine ever using Plaid/Mint/etc that require my bank credentials just to do minor stuff like make payments or read transactions.

These password managers are in a tough spot market wise as they aren't smart enough to secure super important stuff and for unimportant things, iOS/chrome password management is pretty good. I don't mind if my audible account gets rooted, but it would be very bad if my bank or brokerage gets rooted.

arp242(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> Part of me wonders if this was an intentional strategy: Downplay during the initial media round then very quietly reveal this was a worst case scenario.

Seems like a poor strategy. This is like an infected wound that keeps on festering. A turd that will not flush. A house guest that won't take multiple hints it's time to leave. Better to just get it over with in one go; next week the news cycle will be something else and it will be over; now it's in several news cycles again and again.

usrusr(10000) 5 days ago [-]

And each drip paints a bigger crosshair on the back of keypass wrt supply chain attacks (the only angle where keepass isn't inherently better than others). I wish lastpass all the best in terms of improving their communication!

verisimi(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I'm now expecting a raft of these sort of leaks.

This sort of thing, will all encourage us to 'naturally' move towards a government backed, biometric solution. Which will of course be phone based, will hold your wallet, id and medical information, and will be provided to us by kindly corps such as twitter, google, apple, microsoft, meta, etc.

Denzel(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Can confirm. Migrated from LastPass -> 1Password last month.

lolinder(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I don't think it was intentional: this is one of those places where ripping the band-aid off is far better than slowly dragging it out. The drip-fed reveal increases the raw number of headlines about the breach and drills the idea 'GoTo is bad at security' into people via spaced repetition. If they said 'our entire company was pwned' on day one, they would have had their day in the media and by now only HN would still be grumbling about it.

I think what's actually happening is that they're just really bad at security. Either every few weeks they discover something new or they still haven't successfully locked the attacker out.

blitzar(10000) 5 days ago [-]

If drip-feeding the details is an intentional strategy it is a stupid one. Keeping the negative story in the headlines for a day longer means it will reach more people and draw more attention.

sureglymop(10000) 5 days ago [-]

How many more times can we shout it. KeePass with Syncthing.

chinathrow(10000) 5 days ago [-]

As a long time KeePass user, I throw in KeePassXC. Much more polished.

eatsyourtacos(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I love KeePassXC and have used it forever.

However is there any good way to use it with my phone? I do find it frustrating to have to type in passwords manually sometimes, even though it's not very often.

irrational(10000) 5 days ago [-]

What is Syncthing? A thing that syncs?

a10c(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I use 1Password with a family account. Good luck getting my mother to understand the nuances of KeePass with Syncthing.

Previously she wrote her passwords down in a notebook.

avhception(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Have a look at unison, it's what I use instead of Syncthing and I couldn't be more happy.


edit: Also, KeepassXC!

twobitshifter(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I use strongbox pro, which is an iOS keepass app, and keep it on iCloud Drive. It's a simple no fuss solution.

2OEH8eoCRo0(10000) 5 days ago [-]

And yubikey

this_steve_j(10000) 5 days ago [-]

According to https://layoffs.fyi a company named "GoTo Group" based in Indonesia recently laid off 1200 employees, however they appear to have no obvious relation to "GoTo Company" which owns LastPass.

Under the circumstances, a staffing shakeup in the CISO office sometimes occurs in companies after this kind of accident.

Does anyone know what the situation is like inside LastPass headquarters?

After a previous LP incident I noticed a number of senior security officer positions advertised on the LastPass Careers site.

uyaij(10000) 5 days ago [-]

That 'GoTo Group' was formed when Gojek and Tokopedia merged [1] and isn't related to Lastpass.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GoTo_(Indonesian_company)

abfan1127(10000) 5 days ago [-]

What product supports Cross Platform (minimum of Windows, Mac, iOS) that is easy to setup for non-technical people?

whatch(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Surprisingly, Apple built-in password manager. They have Chrome extension for windows (but not for Mac OS Chrome, unfortunately)

gopkarthik(10000) 5 days ago [-]

1password. In addition to above, it has Linux support & browser extensions

ikekkdcjkfke(10000) 5 days ago [-]

What idiot transfers all their passwords to a small private company

kossTKR(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I use iCloud keychain - has there been any reason to suspect this is an idiotic move, especially when coupled with twofactor auth on important sites?

Really important stuff is of course handled in other ways..

Freak_NL(10000) 5 days ago [-]

What idiot transfers all their passwords to any private company?

altacc(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Whilst not good, this seems to be bad news for some GoTo products but not specifically Lastpass:

> a threat actor exfiltrated encrypted backups from a third-party cloud storage service related to the following products: Central, Pro, join.me, Hamachi, and RemotelyAnywhere

Lastpass is a GoTo product, so in general the multiple security breaches undermine confidence in all their products. Your password manager is not something you want low confidence in.

manuelabeledo(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I didn't realize that Lastpass was part of the same company who brought us GoToMeeting.

It makes me wonder if this is all a result of GoTo general culture permeating into Lastpass. GoToMeeting and Webinar feel hilariously outdated, and I think that people use them mostly because corporate inertia.

snehk(10000) 5 days ago [-]

GoTo has been bad for a while. I recently sent their team a support ticket for their GoToWebinar API (API response contained completely different/wrong data). They said it's not that much of a problem and said they weren't gonna fix anything. Hilariously bad.

imperialdrive(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I'm on hold with lastpass enterprise support as I type because upon reviewing our account we found a super-admin that is 'blank', no text appears but it has been granted policy access to all shared folders. This is nuts. We use SSO so iirc the keys were 128bit x2 which was supposed to be completely unaffected by the dump. Perhaps not. Screenshot here: https://freeimage.host/i/H0RICCu

ThatsAllForNow(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I have recently moved away from lastpass onto 1password and find myself with some 1000+ credentials that I will now have to change. Been working though the list and made a small dent of 50 accounts so far... There must be a quicker way to do this?

substation13(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Dashlane claims to be able to do this for you.

I don't personally use Dashlane and cannot speak to its security.

coremoff(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I imagine you can triage that quite heavily; change the critical ones (bank/email/etc.), then change anything where passwords and usernames have been duplicated. Anything else is probably pretty low priorty both in importance or criticality.

tokamak-teapot(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Ironically I believe I remember that LastPass had such a feature, though it didn't work for more than about 2% of my passwords when I used it a long time ago.

fckthisguy(10000) 5 days ago [-]

We should introduce an industry best practice for account management. A '/.well-known' url for changing passwords would make this trivial to do in bulk with a password manager.

4lun(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Currently in the process of cycling a few thousand passwords myself. Realised I just have to nip away at it a bit each day

Time boxed to about 15 mins a day, it hasn't felt like too much of a burden. But also finding I can just delete quite a few, as my vault is over a decade old and many sites/services are now defunct

Will take another month or so, but have the more recent/crucial ones done already so worst case someone might crack my old digg password

fluidcruft(10000) 5 days ago [-]

One thing I've found is 'forgot password' is typically far, far faster/easier than hunting around trying to figure out how to change a password.

Weryj(10000) 5 days ago [-]

From paying customer, to deleted account.

prepend(10000) 5 days ago [-]

What's the best way to delete an account? Overwrite all password values? Wait a month, overwrite again, wait a month, delete? It's hard to tell what's sufficient to reduce risk of someone who breaches in the future will use my data.

I doubt LastPass deletes my data when I delete my account. I even wonder if to comply with GDPR, they just disassociate the data from me so it can never relink, but keep the data so it can be used, sold, or rented.

2OEH8eoCRo0(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I use KeepassXC with password + yubikey challenge response. My mental model is that this encrypts my database using my password combined with the yubikey response. With this configuration- it appears that I should be able to put my database anywhere in the open.

Which leads me to my point: If the password manager is properly used then why do we care if the encrypted databases were leaked?

AmalgatedAmoeba(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Not all the contents of the databases were encrypted.

seanieb(10000) 5 days ago [-]

What happens to the serial security recidivists? Where are the regulators? LastPass has had security incident after security incident, how are they still allowed to operate?

briffle(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I think at this point, they need to get purchased by Experian, so they can combine into such an ugly mess of problems, that identity laws get overhauled.

Alifatisk(10000) 5 days ago [-]

They failed to secure sensitive user credentials, that must've broken some law.

Also, people can store notes on lastpass, did those get leaked too?

arbitrage(10000) 4 days ago [-]

What regulation? Nobody will ever prosecute them.

2Gkashmiri(10000) 5 days ago [-]

as a keepass user, i cannot be more happy.

contrary to popular belief, maintaining a file synchronized is not difficult.

This 'breach' is just as good as assuming google or apple or any other bitwarden or any other cloud password manager is broken because they all work in the same way 'we promise to keep it secure'. this is different from storing a keepass file on the same google cloud because an attacker has to break into your cloud login first, then hope to find your keepass file. Then try to break that file.

as opposed to breaking into your google account and seeing the passwords or by breaking into bitwarden or 1password or something else.

if someone has a login to 1password of 10 people, there is good reason to assume there will be passwords stored.

somezero(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I was a long time keepass user but moved to Bitwarden. My problem with keepass is the low quality and often poorly supported closed source clients that you get on mobile.

totetsu(10000) 5 days ago [-]

The occasional times I haven't been able to log into my bank because I was on a computer that didn't have my kdbx file, or the small worry I have of keeping it up to date in multiple places while transitioning my main system.. are no bother compared to constant worry that someone might have my logins because of some security breech.. That said I just give apple everything when on that echosystem. ̄\_ (ツ)_/ ̄.

jp191919(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I've had good luck with KeepassXC. For an android client I use KeepassDX

Historical Discussions: Evidence that Adani Group has engaged in stock manipulation and accounting fraud (January 25, 2023: 592 points)

(594) Evidence that Adani Group has engaged in stock manipulation and accounting fraud

594 points 5 days ago by toomuchtodo in 10000th position

hindenburgresearch.com | Estimated reading time – 224 minutes | comments | anchor

  • Today we reveal the findings of our 2-year investigation, presenting evidence that the INR 17.8 trillion (U.S. $218 billion) Indian conglomerate Adani Group has engaged in a brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud scheme over the course of decades.
  • Gautam Adani, Founder and Chairman of the Adani Group, has amassed a net worth of roughly $120 billion, adding over $100 billion in the past 3 years largely through stock price appreciation in the group's 7 key listed companies, which have spiked an average of 819% in that period.
  • Our research involved speaking with dozens of individuals, including former senior executives of the Adani Group, reviewing thousands of documents, and conducting diligence site visits in almost half a dozen countries.
  • Even if you ignore the findings of our investigation and take the financials of Adani Group at face value, its 7 key listed companies have 85% downside purely on a fundamental basis owing to sky-high valuations.
  • Key listed Adani companies have also taken on substantial debt, including pledging shares of their inflated stock for loans, putting the entire group on precarious financial footing. 5 of 7 key listed companies have reported 'current ratios' below 1, indicating near-term liquidity pressure.
  • The group's very top ranks and 8 of 22 key leaders are Adani family members, a dynamic that places control of the group's financials and key decisions in the hands of a few. A former executive described the Adani Group as "a family business."
  • The Adani Group has previously been the focus of 4 major government fraud investigations which have alleged money laundering, theft of taxpayer funds and corruption, totaling an estimated U.S. $17 billion. Adani family members allegedly cooperated to create offshore shell entities in tax-haven jurisdictions like Mauritius, the UAE, and Caribbean Islands, generating forged import/export documentation in an apparent effort to generate fake or illegitimate turnover and to siphon money from the listed companies.
  • Gautam Adani's younger brother, Rajesh Adani, was accused by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) of playing a central role in a diamond trading import/export scheme around 2004-2005. The alleged scheme involved the use of offshore shell entities to generate artificial turnover. Rajesh was arrested at least twice over separate allegations of forgery and tax fraud. He was subsequently promoted to serve as Managing Director of Adani Group.
  • Gautam Adani's brother-in-law, Samir Vora, was accused by the DRI of being a ringleader of the same diamond trading scam and of repeatedly making false statements to regulators. He was subsequently promoted to Executive Director of the critical Adani Australia division.
  • Gautam Adani's elder brother, Vinod Adani, has been described by media as "an elusive figure". He has regularly been found at the center of the government's investigations into Adani for his alleged role in managing a network of offshore entities used to facilitate fraud.
  • Our research, which included downloading and cataloguing the entire Mauritius corporate registry, has uncovered that Vinod Adani, through several close associates, manages a vast labyrinth of offshore shell entities.
  • We have identified 38 Mauritius shell entities controlled by Vinod Adani or close associates. We have identified entities that are also surreptitiously controlled by Vinod Adani in Cyprus, the UAE, Singapore, and several Caribbean Islands.
  • Many of the Vinod Adani-associated entities have no obvious signs of operations, including no reported employees, no independent addresses or phone numbers and no meaningful online presence. Despite this, they have collectively moved billions of dollars into Indian Adani publicly listed and private entities, often without required disclosure of the related party nature of the deals.
  • We have also uncovered rudimentary efforts seemingly designed to mask the nature of some of the shell entities. For example, 13 websites were created for Vinod Adani-associated entities; many were suspiciously formed on the same days, featuring only stock photos, naming no actual employees and listing the same set of nonsensical services, such as "consumption abroad" and "commercial presence".
  • The Vinod-Adani shells seem to serve several functions, including (1) stock parking / stock manipulation (2) and laundering money through Adani's private companies onto the listed companies' balance sheets in order to maintain the appearance of financial health and solvency.
  • Publicly listed companies in India are subject to rules that require all promoter holdings (known as insider holdings in the U.S.) to be disclosed. Rules also require that listed companies have at least 25% of the float held by non-promoters in order to mitigate manipulation and insider trading. 4 of Adani's listed companies are on the brink of the delisting threshold due to high promoter ownership.
  • Our research indicates that offshore shells and funds tied to the Adani Group comprise many of the largest "public" (i.e., non-promoter) holders of Adani stock, an issue that would subject the Adani companies to delisting, were Indian securities regulator SEBI's rules enforced.
  • Many of the supposed "public" funds exhibit flagrant irregularities such as being (1) Mauritius or offshore-based entities, often shells (2) with beneficial ownership concealed via nominee directors (3) and with little to no diversification, holding portfolios almost exclusively consisting of shares in Adani listed companies.
  • Right to Information (RTI) requests we filed with SEBI confirm that the offshore funds are the subjects of an ongoing investigation, more than a year-and-a-half after concerns were initially raised by media and members of parliament.
  • A former trader for Elara, an offshore fund with almost $3 billion in concentrated holdings of Adani shares, including a fund that is ~99% concentrated in shares of Adani, told us that it is obvious that Adani controls the shares. He explained that the funds are intentionally structured to conceal their ultimate beneficial ownership.
  • Leaked emails show that the CEO of Elara worked on deals with Dharmesh Doshi, a fugitive accountant who worked closely on stock manipulation deals with Ketan Parekh, an infamous Indian market manipulator. The emails indicate that the CEO of Elara worked with Doshi on stock deals after he evaded arrest and was widely known as a fugitive.
  • Another firm called Monterosa Investment Holdings controls 5 supposedly independent funds that collectively hold over INR 360 billion (U.S. $4.5 billion) in shares of listed Adani companies, according to Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) data and Indian exchange data.
  • Monterosa's Chairman and CEO served as director in 3 companies alongside a fugitive diamond merchant who allegedly stole U.S. $1 billion before fleeing India. Vinod Adani's daughter married the fugitive diamond merchant's son.
  • A once-related party entity of Adani invested heavily in one of the Monterosa funds that allocated to Adani Enterprises and Adani Power, according to corporate records, drawing a clear line between the Adani Group and the suspect offshore funds.
  • Another Cyprus-based entity called New Leaina Investments until June-September 2021 owned over U.S. $420 million in Adani Green Energy shares, comprising ~95% of its portfolio. Parliamentary records show it was (and may still be) a shareholder of other Adani listed entities.
  • New Leaina is operated by incorporation services firm Amicorp, which has worked extensively to aid Adani in developing its offshore entity network. Amicorp formed at least 7 Adani promoter entities, at least 17 offshore shells and entities associated with Vinod Adani, and at least 3 Mauritius-based offshore shareholders of Adani stock.
  • Amicorp played a key role in the 1MDB international fraud scandal that resulted in U.S. $4.5 billion being siphoned from Malaysian taxpayers. Amicorp established 'investment funds' for the key perpetrators that were "simply a way to wash a client's money through what looked like a mutual fund", according to the book Billion Dollar Whale, which reported on the scandal.
  • 'Delivery volume' is a unique daily data point that reports institutional investment flows. Our analysis found that offshore suspected stock parking entities accounted for up to 30%-47% of yearly 'delivery volume' in several Adani listed companies, a flagrant irregularity indicating that Adani stocks have likely been subject to 'wash trading' or other forms of manipulative trading via the suspect offshore entities.
  • Evidence of stock manipulation in Adani listed companies shouldn't come as a surprise. SEBI has investigated and prosecuted more than 70 entities and individuals over the years, including Adani promoters, for pumping Adani Enterprises' stock.
  • A 2007 SEBI ruling stated that "the charges leveled against promoters of Adani that they aided and abetted Ketan Parekh entities in manipulating the scrip of Adani stand proved". Ketan Parekh is perhaps India's most notorious stock market manipulator. Adani Group entities originally received bans for their roles, but those were later reduced to fines, a show of government leniency toward the Group that has become a decades-long pattern.
  • Per the 2007 investigation, 14 Adani private entities transferred shares to entities controlled by Parekh, who then engaged in blatant market manipulation. Adani Group responded to SEBI by arguing that it had dealt with Ketan Parekh to finance the start of its operations at Mundra port, seemingly suggesting that share sales via stock manipulation somehow constitutes a legitimate form of financing.
  • As part of our investigation, we interviewed an individual who was banned from trading on Indian markets for stock manipulation via Mauritius-based funds. He told us that he knew Ketan Parekh personally, and that little has changed, explaining "all the previous clients are still loyal to Ketan and are still working with Ketan".
  • In addition to using offshore capital to park stock, we found numerous examples of offshore shells sending money through onshore private Adani companies onto listed public Adani companies.
  • The funds then seem to be used to engineer Adani's accounting (whether by bolstering its reported profit or cash flows), cushioning its capital balances in order to make listed entities appear more creditworthy, or simply moved back out to other parts of the Adani empire where capital is needed.
  • We also identified numerous undisclosed related party transactions by both listed and private companies, seemingly an open and repeated violation of Indian disclosure laws.
  • In one instance, a Vinod Adani-controlled Mauritius entity with no signs of substantive operations lent INR 11.71 billion (U.S. ~$253 million at that time) to a private Adani entity which did not disclose it as being a related party loan. The private entity subsequently lent funds to listed entities, including INR 9.84 billion (U.S. $138 million at more recent substantially lower exchange rates) to Adani Enterprises.
  • Another Vinod Adani-controlled Mauritius entity called Emerging Market Investment DMCC lists no employees on LinkedIn, has no substantive online presence, has announced no clients or deals, and is based out of an apartment in the UAE. It lent U.S. $1 billion to an Adani Power subsidiary.
  • This offshore shell network also seems to be used for earnings manipulation. For example, we detail a series of transactions where assets were transferred from a subsidiary of listed Adani Enterprises to a private Singaporean entity controlled by Vinod Adani, without disclosure of the related party nature of these deals. Once on the books of the private entity, the assets were almost immediately impaired, likely helping the public entity avoid a material write-down and negative impact to net income.
  • Adani Group's obvious accounting irregularities and sketchy dealings seem to be enabled by virtually non-existent financial controls. Listed Adani companies have seen sustained turnover in the Chief Financial Officer role. For example, Adani Enterprises has had 5 chief financial officers over the course of 8 years, a key red flag indicating potential accounting issues.
  • The independent auditor for Adani Enterprises and Adani Total Gas is a tiny firm called Shah Dhandharia. Shah Dhandharia seems to have no current website. Historical archives of its website show that it had only 4 partners and 11 employees. Records show it pays INR 32,000 (U.S. $435 in 2021) in monthly office rent. The only other listed entity we found that it audits has a market capitalization of about INR 640 million (U.S. $7.8 million).
  • Shah Dhandharia hardly seems capable of complex audit work. Adani Enterprises alone has 156 subsidiaries and many more joint ventures and affiliates, for example. Further, Adani's 7 key listed entities collectively have 578 subsidiaries and have engaged in a total of 6,025 separate related-party transactions in fiscal year 2022 alone, per BSE disclosures.
  • The audit partners at Shah Dhandharia who respectively signed off on Adani Enterprises and Adani Total Gas' annual audits were as young as 24 and 23 years old when they began approving the audits. They were essentially fresh out of school, hardly in a position to scrutinize and hold to account the financials of some of the largest companies in the country, run by one of its most powerful individuals.
  • Gautam Adani has claimed in an interview to "have a very open mind towards criticism...Every criticism gives me an opportunity to improve myself." Despite these claims, Adani has repeatedly sought to have critical journalists or commentators jailed or silenced through litigation, using his immense power to pressure the government and regulators to pursue those who question him.
  • We believe the Adani Group has been able to operate a large, flagrant fraud in broad daylight in large part because investors, journalists, citizens and even politicians have been afraid to speak out for fear of reprisal.
  • We have included 88 questions in the conclusion of our report. If Gautam Adani truly embraces transparency, as he claims, they should be easy questions to answer. We look forward to Adani's response.

Initial Disclosure: After extensive research, we have taken a short position in Adani Group Companies through U.S.-traded bonds and non-Indian-traded derivative instruments. This report relates solely to the valuation of securities traded outside of India. This report does not constitute a recommendation on securities. This report represents our opinion and investigative commentary, and we encourage every reader to do their own due diligence. Please see our full disclaimer at the bottom of the report


India is home to many of the world's most brilliant entrepreneurs, engineers, and technologists and is emerging as a global superpower. However, the country's economy has been held back by the broken state of its capital markets.

Criticism of India's elite businessmen and politicians has increasingly resulted in journalists being imprisoned or outright murdered. Stock market analysts have been arrested for writing negatively about companies. Amidst this climate of stifled expression, corporate fraud has largely gone unchecked.

In this report, we highlight what we believe to be one of, if not the most egregious example of corporate fraud in history.

We have uncovered evidence of brazen accounting fraud, stock manipulation and money laundering at Adani, taking place over the course of decades. Adani has pulled off this gargantuan feat with the help of enablers in government and a cottage industry of international companies that facilitate these activities.

These issues of corruption permeate multiple layers of government. According to numerous sources we spoke with, Indian securities regulator SEBI seems more inclined to protect the perpetrators than punish them.

We view sunlight as the best remedy, and hope this report helps illuminate these issues. Further to that goal, we hope Adani addresses the 88 questions we have included in the conclusion to this report.

Background On Adani Group, One Of India's Largest Conglomerates With a Collective Market Capitalization Of INR 17.8 Trillion (U.S. $218 Billion)

Adani Group is the 2nd largest conglomerate in India, run by its Chairman and Founder Gautam Adani, who is currently the 3rd richest man on earth, previously having reached the #2 spot.

The group has 7 key publicly listed equities (9 in total) with a collective market value of about INR 17.8 trillion (U.S. $218 billion).[1] It also includes a maze of Adani private companies and family trusts. Through their holdings in the group, Gautam Adani and his family have amassed a paper fortune of over U.S. $120 billion, with over $100 billion of that coming in the past 3 years, largely through the meteoric appreciation of its stock prices.

The conglomerate is involved in a wide array of businesses, largely focused on key infrastructure projects such as development of ports, mines, airports, data centers, power generation and power transmission.

The 7 key Adani listed companies have seen their stock prices mysteriously surge over the past 3 years – with most increasing multifold – ranking them individually among the largest companies in India. Both Adani Enterprises and Adani Ports feature in India's Nifty 50 index and 6 of the companies are included in the MSCI India Index.[2]

(Source: Bloomberg) **Adani Wilmar performance is since February 2022 IPO

The 7 Listed Companies Of Adani Group Are 85%+ Overvalued Even If You Ignore Our Investigation And Take The Companies' Financials At Face Value

Even before examining the evidence put forward in this report and based solely on financials taken directly from its companies, the Adani Group appears to be highly overvalued.

Infrastructure firms are generally relatively sleepy, low growth, low multiple enterprises, yet valuation metrics of the Adani listed companies are comparable to the frothiest of high-growth tech companies.

(Source: FactSet & Hindenburg analysis)

On a blended basis, compared to industry peers, we see 85%+ downside purely on fundamentals.

Adani Group Companies' Use Of Extreme Leverage Spells Danger For Creditors. In The Past, Members Of The Adani Group Have Breached Financial Covenants And Obligations, According To Regulatory Filings

"Any Group With Such A Meteoric Ride Based On Borrowings, Acquisitions, And An Elevated Stock Price Deserves Scrutiny." – Former Senior Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Official

From a solvency perspective, multiple listed entities in the group are highly leveraged relative to industry averages: Four of 7 of these entities have negative free cash flow, indicating that the situation is worsening.

A company's 'current ratio' is a measure of liquid assets less near-term liabilities. Five companies in the group (all but Adani Ports and Adani Wilmar) have current ratios below 1.0, suggesting a heightened short-term liquidity risk.

(Source: FactSet)

In terms of unrestricted cash, Adani Ports is the only listed entity with significant reserves at INR 86 billion (U.S. $1.05 billion), according to its FY 2022 Annual Report. [Pg. 515] It is also the only listed entity which seems capable of consistently generating substantial positive cash flow: approximately INR 52 billion (U.S. $640 million) as of 31 March 2022. [Pg. 141]

Concerns about the Adani Group's leverage have been expressed by CreditSights, a fixed income research firm owned by prestigious financial services firm Fitch Group. A blistering report about Adani Group published in August 2022 had called the group "deeply over-leveraged" and suggested it could "unravel Adani's vast business empire". The report was "toned down" in September 2022 after CreditSights met with the company.

In its latest report, CreditSights refused to change its investment recommendations, and maintained that "several of the Group companies maintain elevated leverage, owing to aggressive expansion plans, that are largely debt-funded and that have pressurized their credit metrics and cash flow", per local media.

We contacted a former senior official with India ́s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), to hear his view on the Adani Group ́s debt mountain and possible knock-on effects for the public banking sector. His comments were guarded, saying:

"Any group with such a meteoric ride based on borrowings, acquisitions, and an elevated stock price deserves scrutiny. That said, he [Gautam Adani] also has an amazing ability to buy assets on the cheap. That may mitigate credit risk, but worth examining why."

An Adani Green Energy Offering Circular, dated September 2021, stated that members of the Adani Group "have from time to time breached, and may in the future breach, certain covenants and obligations under existing financing arrangements." [Pg. 69]

As a result of these breaches, lenders could declare an event of default, accelerate repayments or trigger cross defaults on other arrangements. The company provided no assurances that it would have "sufficient resources to repay these borrowings" if this were to happen. [Pg. 69, 70]

As detailed below, the Adani Group companies are intricately and distinctly linked and dependent upon one another. None of the listed entities are isolated from the performance, or failure, of the other group companies.

We believe it could take only one serious liquidity event at a single entity to trigger a negative cascade of events at other group entities which could affect the entire Adani Group.

A Portion Of Promoter Equity In Adani Group Listed Entities Is Pledged For Loans, Effectively Leveraging The Group To The Hilt

Beyond debt held by individual Adani Group entities, the companies' promoter group (i.e., Adani insiders) have pledged portions of their equity as collateral for loans.

Equity share pledges are an inherently unstable source of lending collateral because if share prices drop, the lender can make a collateral call. If no additional collateral is available, the lender could require a forced liquidation of shares (often perpetuating a self-fulfilling cycle as stock prices move lower and selling continues).

Below is a breakdown of the publicly disclosed equity share pledges by promoter group entities for each of its listed companies: [3]

(Source: BSE pledge data as at Dec-end 2022 [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9])

Beyond explicit leverage, we strongly suspect there may be additional, hidden leverage within the Adani empire in the form of pledges on the undisclosed shareholdings described in Part 1.

A Family Affair: The Adani Group Is Largely Controlled By Family Members, Creating A Ripe Environment For Unilateral And Opaque Financing Decisions

The Chairman and Founder of the Adani Group is Gautam Adani, a former school drop-out turned diamond and plastics trader. He is also chairman of 6 out of Adani ́s 7 publicly listed entities bearing the Adani name.[4]

The CreditSights August 2022 report referenced above also warned of the problems of concentrating power in the hands of Gautam Adani, saying:

"It also comes with high key-man risk, as the senior management capability in the group companies in his absence may prove to be inadequate." [5] [Pg. 10]

The Adani Group has been managed by family since its formation. Beyond Gautam Adani, the Adani Group's 22-person leadership team features at least 8 members of the Adani family.

From early in our investigation, it became apparent that it would be a major challenge getting first-hand insight into the sprawling business empire from former employees.

We contacted dozens of former senior executives and former directors or past members of the Group ́s audit committees. Some expressed loyalty or admiration for their former bosses. Others seemed acutely aware of the Adani leadership ́s relentless retaliation against its critics via criminal legal proceedings. [See Part 7] Some, however, did agree to talk on condition of strict anonymity.

Despite its formidable expansion in recent years, former senior executives told us that the Adani Group remains very much a family affair. One former executive said:

"It's a family business, you know, it has been developed as a family business. It's the first-generation business... In the Adani Group, Gautam Adani, his brother, his sons, I think they play a very, very, you know, hands-on role in day-to-day business. Because frankly, the culture has not changed since the time it was a small business. Since the time they had just got into Mundra port."

Other former senior executives echoed that assessment. One explained that "as far as any key decision-making, I would say it all flows back to Gautam Adani. All key decisions are made by Gautam Adani himself".

Another said Gautam Adani retained maximum permissible shareholdings because "he felt he had built up the business and it was his and the family ́s".

The Adani Group Has Repeatedly Faced Allegations Of Corruption, Money Laundering And Theft Of Taxpayer Funds, Totaling An Estimated U.S. $17 Billion

Investigations Have Either Been Stalled Or Stonewalled By Various Arms Of The Indian Government

Members of the Adani family have also played a significant role in alleged illegal activities taking place within the group.

Import-export scams – involving diamonds, iron ore, coal and power equipment — were some of the early building blocks of the Adani business empire, according to multiple investigations by the Finance Ministry ́s anti-smuggling unit and other national and state-level investigative authorities.

The Adani Group has been the focus of multiple government investigations alleging corruption, money laundering, theft of taxpayer funds and siphoning from listed companies, estimated to total at least U.S. $17 billion.[6] [1, 2, 3]

We thoroughly detail these investigations, in Part 5 below.

In virtually all these cases, despite what appears to be extensive evidence of wrongdoing, including documents, witnesses, and bank records, relevant investigations were eventually stonewalled or delayed by various other arms of the Indian government.

Gautam Adani's Brother Helped Plan A Diamond Trading Scheme Between 2004 to 2006, As Alleged By Directorate Of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) Investigative Records

He Had Separately Been Arrested On Allegations Of Customs Tax Evasion, Forging Documents And Illegal Imports

He Currently Serves As Managing Director Of A "Vital" Part of the Adani Group

Gautam Adani ́s younger brother, Rajesh Adani, then managing director of Adani Exports (later renamed Adani Enterprises), was one of several family members accused by investigators of playing a central planning and consultation role in a diamond trading import/export scheme around 2004-2005.

Per DRI investigators and witness statements:

"...all the policy decisions regarding imports/exports of gold/diamonds in respect of AEL (Adani Exports Ltd) and other companies was being taken by Shri Samir Vora in consultation with Shri Rajesh Adani, Managing Director, AEL." [Pg. 6]

Rajesh Adani has been arrested twice, in 1999 and 2010, for matters unrelated to the diamond trading accusations, according to media reports. The 1999 arrest was over allegations of customs tax evasion, forging import documentation and illegal coal imports, according to one media report.

The 2010 arrest was linked to a separate allegation of customs tax evasion and undervaluation of imported goods, this time related to naphtha and petroleum products, according to another media report.

Typically, when an executive is alleged to have spearheaded a scheme to defraud the government and is arrested multiple times over allegations of other types of fraud, that executive is terminated. In some countries, they end up in jail.

At Adani Group, they apparently get promoted. Rajesh Adani currently serves as Adani Group's managing director, described as a "vital" part of the Adani Group, adept at "developing its business relationships".

Gautam Adani's Brother-In-Law, Samir Vora, Was Allegedly A Ringleader Of The Same Diamond Trading Scam And Was Accused Of Repeatedly Making False Statements To Regulators, Per The Same DRI Fraud Investigation

He Was Subsequently Promoted To Executive Director Of Adani Australia

Another Adani family member accused of being a ringleader of a diamond trading scam was Samir Vora, according to DRI investigation records. [Pg. 4] Samir Vora is identified in the investigation as the brother-in-law of Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani.[7]

One of the witnesses in the case, an Adani company senior vice president, told investigators that Samir Vora oversaw the pricing and import-export of diamonds and precious metals between various front companies.

(Source: DRI investigative records [Pg. 7])

When questioned about the use of front companies to engage in a circular trading scheme to defraud the government of export credits, a key witness said:

"Samir Vora looked after entire business of exports/imports of gold & diamonds for all the above said (front) companies". [Pg. 7]

Samir Vora was alleged to have made multiple inaccurate statements to regulators during the investigation.

(Source: DRI investigative records [Pg. 124])
(Source: DRI investigative records [Pg. 124])

Typically, when an executive is alleged to have spearheaded a scheme to defraud the government and then provides false testimony about it, that executive is terminated. In some countries they might even end up in jail.

Once again, at the Adani Group, they apparently get promoted.

Samir Vora was named Executive Director of Adani Australia from April 2017, according to his LinkedIn profile. In that role he oversees the company's key Carmichael Mine and Rail Projects.

Gautam Adani ́s Elder Brother, Vinod, Was A Group Executive Also Implicated In The Diamond And Power Equipment Scams

While Adani Now Denies Vinod's Involvement In The Group Outside Of Being A Shareholder, In Reality He Operates A Vast Empire Of Shell Companies That Funnel Assets Through Adani Group Companies

Vinod Adani (also known as Vinod Shantilal Shah in certain company documents) held various official executive roles early in the history of the Adani Group until at least 2011. [8] [9] A pre-IPO prospectus for Adani Power from 2009 detailed that Vinod was director of at least 6 Adani Group companies, a shareholder of Adani Enterprises and part of the promoter group of Adani Power. [Pgs. 175, 190, 194, 204, 206, 216, 223, 224] He does not appear to hold any current formal positions.

Despite his early formal roles, the Adani Group has at times denied Vinod Adani ́s involvement. As part of the 2014 DRI investigation regarding an INR 39.74 billion (~U.S. $800 million) power generation over-invoicing scandal [See Part 5], which covered the period 2009-2014, Adani submitted that Vinod Adani was "not at all having any involvement in any Adani Group of companies," except as a shareholder. [Pg. 109]

Like younger brother Rajesh, Vinod also allegedly played a key role in the INR 6.8 billion (U.S. $151 million) diamond trading scandal. [See Part 5]

Indian media describes Vinod as an elusive and enigmatic figure with a vague role in the Adani empire.

(Vinod Adani, elder brother of Group Chairman Gautam Adani)

Per media outlet The Morning Context:

"For years, Vinod Adani has been an elusive figure...Not much is known about him other than a few advertorials"

During our investigation, a confidante of Gautam Adani and former director of one of the Adani Group entities told us Vinod Adani "continues to be in [the] Middle East. He takes cares of Adani Group's interest in Dubai."

That corroborates a November 2022 biography of Gautam Adani that states Vinod Adani "does not hold any formal position with the group," but "remains actively involved with the group, especially when negotiating international finance and connections."

In the course of our research, we downloaded and catalogued the full Mauritius corporate registry database and were able to document how Vinod Adani, along with other close associates, have set up dozens of entities in Mauritius that have little to no genuine corporate presence.

We also found other entities in Cyprus, the UAE, Singapore and the Caribbean associated with Vinod Adani, comprising a vast empire of shells. Many of these entities later appear in suspect transactions, often funneling assets into or out of the Adani Group companies. [See Part 3]

Part 1: Stock Parking – Offshore Funds And Shells Tied To The Adani Group Surreptitiously Own Stock In Adani Listed Companies, Seemingly In Blatant Violation Of SEBI Exchange Rules

Indian Securities Regulator SEBI's Rules Require A Minimum Public Shareholding of 25% To Limit Insider Trading, Stock Manipulation, And Undisclosed Margin Lending

Publicly listed companies in India are subject to rules that require all promoter holdings (more commonly known internationally as insider holdings) to be disclosed.

These disclosures are required in order to satisfy Indian rules that publicly listed companies have a float of at least 25% that is not controlled by promoters (insiders). The minimum public float rules are intended to ensure a minimum level of liquidity, to reduce insider trading and market manipulation, and to minimize volatility.

Promoter shareholding disclosures also allow investors to determine whether insiders have pledged their shares, an important gauge of the financial strength and/or potential solvency risk of insider entities and individuals.

Indian market observers have long been aware that Indian promoters may use entities based in Mauritius and other offshore jurisdictions to evade these disclosure requirements and manipulate the share prices of their listed companies.

Suspicions over the shareholding patterns in Adani listed companies held by a number of offshore funds has previously attracted questions from the media and Indian politicians, but deep dives into their shareholders have yet to be carried out.

"We Want To Know Whose Money It Is. If It Is Adani's Money, Then Minority Shareholders Are Being Screwed": Indian Opposition Politician And Former Investment Banker In July 2021

In June 2021, Adani Enterprises stock fell as much as 25%, with other group companies falling 4%-8% on the day, amid media controversy over who the ultimate beneficial owners of a handful of offshore funds heavily invested in Adani stock were, and reports that those trading accounts had been frozen.

In outspoken comments to the media at that time, opposition lawmaker Mahua Moitra, herself a former investment banker, said:

"We want to know whose money is it. If it is Adani's money, then minority shareholders are being screwed."

Below is a simplified overview of the alleged scheme, which appears to involve money being routed out of companies controlled by the Adani Group, through multiple tax havens and then invested back into listed stocks of the Adani Group.

(Source: Diagram of suspected scheme reproduced from public post by Indian Politician Mahua Moitra)

Such a scheme could have critical implications for any investor in Adani listed companies. If the Adani Group secretly controls significant amounts of publicly traded stock without disclosure, the resultant share price of Adani listed companies could be easily manipulated to meet the immediate needs of the Adani Group (i.e., to give the appearance of liquidity, to help raise money, etc.)

Background: 4 of Adani's Listed Companies Are On The Brink Of India's Delisting Threshold Due To High Reported Promoter Ownership

Currently, 4 Adani listed companies are on the brink of India's delisting threshold due to high disclosed promoter (insider) ownership. Adani Enterprises, Adani Transmission, Adani Power, and Adani Total Gas all report 72%+ of their shares held by insiders. Furthermore, Adani Wilmar, a new company with current insider ownership of 87.94%, must reduce its insider holdings to 75% by early 2025 to meet these requirements – a significant feat requiring the offloading of 12.94% of its current insider equity.

  1. Adani Transmission (74.19%)
  2. Adani Enterprises (72.63%)
  3. Adani Power (74.97%)
  4. Adani Total Gas (74.80%)
  5. Adani Wilmar (87.94%)

(Source: BSE Shareholding Patterns 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) [10] [11]

For many Adani listed companies, a large portion of their "public" shareholders are funds based in the opaque jurisdiction of Mauritius. Importantly, funds identified in this section, which we believe should be classified as "promoter" (insider) entities, hold enough shares of Adani listed companies to put four of them well over the 75% threshold, triggering delisting.

*Disclosures as per Trendlyne, BSE : 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, **No other holding visible in listed equities

Note that shareholding lists in India only specifically name foreign funds (FPIs) if they hold more than 1% of equity. We believe it likely that smaller stockholders below this threshold are also be used as vehicles to conceal promoter/insider ownership.

The total stockholding of all offshore foreign funds (FPIs), including smaller funds (below 1%) and large funds (above 1%), in Adani listed companies is, per the latest disclosures: Adani Transmission (19.32%), Adani Enterprises (15.39%), Adani Power (12.88%), Adani Total Gas (17.25%), Adani Green (15.14%), Adani Ports (13.76%), and Adani Wilmar (1.57%).

Our estimates, which only analyze the pattern of larger named funds, likely significantly understates the scale of the issue. This suspicion is reinforced when examining 2021 parliamentary disclosure of all the Adani shareholders and their beneficial owners which showed many suspect Mauritius-based funds with holdings below the 1% threshold that were not normally visible to the investing public.

Adani's Key "Public" Investors Are Secretive And Exhibit Behavior Inconsistent With Normal Investment Funds

These Funds, That We Believe Should Be Classified As "Promoter" Entities, Hold Enough Shares Of Adani Listed Companies To Put Them Over The 75% Threshold, Triggering Delisting

Major holders of large public equities generally share basic characteristics:

  • They are typically well-known investment funds with websites that share essential details such as key employees and contact information.
  • They share basic information, like their history and source of funds.
  • They usually raise capital from other investors and have marketing documents sharing key details about their organizations.
  • They generally have numerous investments as part of a balanced, diversified portfolio or flagship strategy.

Yet many key named Adani "public" investment funds fit none of these basic criteria:

  • They are Mauritius or offshore-based entities, often shells, with beneficial ownership concealed via nominee directors.
  • Despite controlling billions in capital, we generally found no meaningful web presence or employees on LinkedIn, no fund marketing materials, and no signs that named fund principals publicly exist.
  • We found no news articles about many of the named investment funds (aside from media questions and confusion over why the entities are so opaque and own so many Adani shares).
  • They have little to no diversification and simply hold shares in Adani listed companies for long periods. They seem price insensitive – holding the shares despite extreme volatility that would see most investment managers trim or otherwise manage their stakes.

Stock Regulator SEBI Is Investigating Foreign Fund Ties to Adani, According To Recent Right-To-Information Petitions We Have Obtained – But, Thus Far, Nothing Has Actually Happened

In July 2021, media reported that Indian securities regulator SEBI was examining some of these issues.

Adani previously denied any wrongdoing regarding such allegations, saying it has "always been fully complaint with applicable SEBI regulations."

Hindenburg confirmed in September 2022 that SEBI is still investigating Adani's suspicious Mauritius owners, but thus far has taken no action:

1. The Adani Power Complaint by opposition lawmaker Mahua Moitra "is under examination and has not reached a logical conclusion."

2. The investigation into the Adani Group Foreign funds mentioned in the Indian Parliament is also "under examination and has not reached a logical conclusion."

Although SEBI's investigation "has not reached a logical conclusion," ours has.

Stock Parking Entity #1: Monterosa Investment Holdings

5 Supposedly Independent Funds Collectively Holding Over INR 360 Billion (U.S. $4.5 Billion) In Shares of Adani Companies, According to Bloomberg Ownership Data

A group of 5 supposedly independent investment funds have an incredibly suspicious pattern of holdings. All 5 entities were formed out of Mauritius by the same incorporator, based out of the same address, and with multiple overlapping nominee directors:

  1. APMS Investment Fund [1,2,3]
  2. Albula Investment Fund [1]
  3. Cresta Fund Limited [1]
  4. LTS Investment Fund Limited [1,2]
  5. Lotus Global Investment Fund [1,2]

All 5 funds are controlled by Monterosa Investment Holdings ("Monterosa"), per Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) data.[12]

Collectively, these funds own a massive INR 360 billion (U.S. $4.5 billion) in Adani listed companies. When drilling down into the individual funds' assets, as per holdings data, we see:

(*Holdings data as per Trendlyne disclosures: 1 2 3)

The funds collectively hold 1.69% of Adani Enterprises, 5.09% of Adani Transmission, 2.72% of Adani Total Gas and 1.29% of Adani Power. [1, 2, 3, 4]

The concentration of such large holdings in such a small group of related Adani listed companies is wildly inconsistent with normal investor behavior.

"Monterosa Is Very Close To The Government And SEBI Officials...The Whole System Is Very Much Working Hand In Glove. SEBI Knows About It" – Former Trader Banned For Mauritius-Based Stock Manipulation

Monterosa Group, like many of the Mauritius shareholders, has gained a reputation in specialist circles as a front for the Adani Group.

Hindenburg spoke with a broker, who has been banned from Indian markets for manipulating Indian stocks using Mauritius-based funds, about Monterosa.

Our source stressed that Mauritius-based funds were a vehicle to "cut the trails" and conceal the identity of an investor bringing cash from overseas into the Indian market.

He alleged – based on his own track-record of dealing with regulators and being investigated by them – that SEBI is aware that conglomerates like the Adani Group are using Mauritius funds to flout laws on maximum stock ownership, and that SEBI participates in the schemes due to bribes.

"I won ́t say they [SEBI] put a blind eye. They know about it. They personally make their money [from bribes] and then they would like to ignore it. A blind eye is where you ́re definitely not touching and not disturbing it at all. So it ́s not the blind eye. The whole system is very much working hand in glove. People know about it. SEBI knows about it."

He also said he had personal knowledge of the Monterosa-operated funds:

"Monterosa's fund has always been used as a platform... as a chainer platform to reach into India. And Monterosa is very close to the government officials and SEBI officials...So, those people are well versed with Indian systems now."

Monterosa's Chairman And CEO Served As Director In 3 Companies Alongside A Fugitive Diamond Merchant Who Allegedly Stole U.S. $1 Billion Before Fleeing India

Vinod Adani's Daughter Married The Fugitive Diamond Merchant's Son

Alastair Guggenbühl-Even, Monterosa's Chairman and CEO, has significant past connections with a notorious Indian fugitive diamond merchant, Jatin Rajnikant Mehta ("Mehta").

Monterosa's Chairman and CEO resides in Switzerland and has promoted his strong ties to India, having been a "pioneer investor in the Indian sub-continent" since the 1990s, according to his CV.

He has served as director of Monterosa entities in India as far back as 2002.[14] He has also previously served as a director on at least three separate Indian companies alongside Mehta, according to online company directories.[15]

Mehta stands accused of illegally siphoning U.S. $1 billion from various Indian banks through standby letters of credit, then fleeing the country to a tax haven with no extradition treaty, per media reports. (1,2,3,4)

According to local media, Mehta's son married Vinod Adani's daughter Krupa, indicating a close familial tie.

(Suraj – son of Jatin Mehta, and Krupa, daughter of Vinod Adani. Source: Eternal Mewar – a website celebrating the Mewar dynasty in the state of Rajasthan)

An Adani Group Related Party Entity Has Used Monterosa To Invest In Adani Companies, Drawing A Clear Line Between The Adani Group And The Suspect Offshore Funds

In 2002, Adani Exports (later renamed Adani Enterprises) disclosed that an entity Gudami International ("Gudami") was a related party, likely because it shared a director and key common shareholder with Adani Global. [Pg. 132, Pg. 153] [16]

That Gudami director/shareholder is a man named Chang Chung-Ling, who has been described in a DRI criminal investigation as a director of multiple Adani entities. [Pg. 179] Chang Chung-Ling continues to have close links and connections to Adani Group (as we detail in part 2).[17]

Gudami's annual reports show that it invested $17 million in Lotus Global Investments, a Monterosa entity, over a 2-year period. Per Gudami's 2007 Annual Report:

(Gudami FY 2007 Annual report [Pg. 14])

Lotus Global's holding in Adani Enterprises increased significantly during the period, up to 4.51% at the end of December 2008. Lotus also went on to become a large shareholder in Adani Power by March 2011, disclosing a 1.64% stake.

Early in our investigation, we reached out to executives and former Monterosa staff to learn more about the shareholding pattern in Adani stock. We received an unsolicited message from a Zurich-based PR agency hired by Monterosa:

"I am the PR agent in Switzerland for the Monterosa Group. We learned that you are contacting former employees to gather information on the Group."

Despite his offer to answer our questions "directly" he responded a week later in general terms:

"Thank you for your questions. Monterosa only provides services to institutional investors. In line with and in constant compliance with all regulatory requirements in various jurisdictions, Monterosa does not disclose information to private investors."

Prior to publication, we contacted two senior Monterosa executives in Switzerland and Mauritius asking to clarify their funds ́ significant, narrowly-focused investment in Adani listed companies. So far they have not responded.

Stock Parking Entity #2: Elara Capital Plc

Elara Capital Plc Operates Various Mauritius-Based Funds. One Fund Almost Exclusively Invests In Adani, Holding Nearly U.S. $3 Billion in Shares Representing ~99% Of Its Holdings

London-based Elara Capital Plc ("Elara") operates the Mauritius-based India Opportunities Fund and Vespera. [Pg. 39]

As of December 2022, the India Opportunities Fund had a total market value of about INR 246.36 billion (U.S. $3.04 billion) – of which INR 243.35 billion (U.S. $3.01 billion), or 98.78%, was invested in 3 Adani stocks, per Trendlyne data. Elara funds hold 3.62% of the equity of Adani Transmission, 1.62% of Adani Total Gas and 1.6% of Adani Enterprises, per the most recent data.

Previously, Vespera Fund, another fund managed by Elara, held significant stakes in Adani stocks, including a 1.04% stake in Adani Enterprises at the end of June 2022, representing over 93.9% of its assets at the time. Vespera's shareholding has since dipped below the 1% equity reporting threshold, thus the extent of its shareholding in Adani stocks is currently unknown.

It is unclear exactly when Elara first began acquiring Adani stock, but the Elara India Opportunities Fund first disclosed holding over 1% in Adani Enterprises in June 2012, per BSE records.

"It ́s Staring In Your Face...But Does Somebody Have The Courage Or The Balls To Really Put It Out There?"— Former Elara Employees Told Us Adani and Promoters "Definitely" Have Money In These Funds

Banking secrecy in Mauritius, like many opaque offshore jurisdictions, makes it difficult to establish the ultimate beneficial owners of funds, but the answer seems to be an open secret among those employees of the Adani stock parking entities who were willing to talk to us on a strictly confidential basis.

We asked a former Elara trader whether they thought outsiders would ever be able to acquire hard, documentary evidence that Adani family members and group promoters owned Elara (and another stock parking entity that we discussed above, Monterosa Investment Holdings). They were adamant:

"Never ever. That ́s the whole beauty of the structure..."

They described transactions routed through offshore funds in Mauritius as a "Chinese Wall" intended to conceal the identity of the beneficial owners. They said that the Indian regulatory authority SEBI knew the reality but had other priorities:

"The regulator knows everything, actually, to be very frank...They [SEBI] knows each and every dirt in the bag but the point is that: Who wants to clean it? That ́s the main point. It's like nobody wants to make their hand messy..."

The former trader said it was obvious Elara ́s India Opportunities and Vespera funds belonged to the Adani Group, citing the ownership concentration:

"The answer to your question lies on, like, a fund, for example Elara India [Opportunities Fund], what [are] its concentrated holding[s]? So what are its top ten value [of] holdings? So you would come to know who controls this fund, which conglomerate controls this fund. It's very simple."

As explained above, around 99% of Elara India Opportunities is comprised of Adani stock, and previously in June 2022, 93.9% of Vespera was invested in Adani Enterprises:

"The picture is right there, you know. It ́s like staring in your face. It is just [that] somebody needs an audacity to kind of put it down on a piece of paper and you know just get it out. Because it ́s right out there. You can see that, okay, but does somebody have the courage or the balls to really put it out there?"

A second former Elara employee, who agreed to talk on condition we did not reveal their identity, explained how these vehicles help skirt SEBI regulations on public float and could facilitate market manipulation. They described the structure as being somewhat akin to a P-note, or a "participatory note" that allows groups to invest in India without registering with SEBI:

"It is not a fund. No, it ́s not a fund. It ́s not a pooled investment vehicle. This is what I ́m saying. It's a P-note structure masquerading as a fund."

"It [the fund] is a set of separately managed accounts. So you can today walk up to Elara and tell them that I want to start a product. They will do your KYC. And [you tell them] I want to start an account, and you start an account, and you can fund the account to a million pounds or whatever you want, and tell them 'I want to buy a million shares of this particular thing' or you know, 'buy me a million pounds worth of that'. It could be anything. It can be DCS or Adani or anything you want. And they will buy exactly what you tell them to buy and that will become part of the Elara India Opportunities Fund."

The second former Elara employee further stated:

"That ́s precisely the advantage of, you know, these kind of vehicles. So that you have the illusion of float but there is no float. There is no float, and the price can be really anything, right. I mean, you can take the price up to whatever you want it. And after a while, you don ́t even have to do that. There are guys in the market who will do it for you."

They also expressed a strong belief that the Elara India Opportunities fund was owned by the Adani promoter group:

"I think this is definitely held by the Adani Group...Because no one else would want to buy [it]. I mean, as any investor why would you invest with Adani Group? Because you know that the stock is inflated, you know that they cannot be trusted."

"And then, you know, looking at the business, I mean it's a house of cards, it ́s all fueled on debt. And, you know, if the Modi government goes out of power, maybe the whole thing will come crashing down. And I think that this is really how brazen this is happening. It ́s like, almost like the Russia of the late 90s, that ́s what ́s happening."

Elara's CEO Has A Track Record of Deals With Dharmesh Doshi, A Notorious Indian Fugitive

Leaked Emails Show Elara's CEO Dealt With Doshi Even After He Fled India

In 1999-2001, a chartered accountant named Dharmesh Doshi was accused by Indian authorities of running a widescale stock manipulation scam along with Ketan Parekh, who was convicted for his role in the same scheme. [Sebi Order Section 3.2.1]

The Ketan Parekh scandal is one of the largest stock market scandals in Indian history, as well known in the country as the Bernie Madoff scandal is in the U.S.

The scam involved rigging Indian markets and pumping several stocks, including those of Adani Exports (later renamed Adani Enterprises) , according to investigations by SEBI and an Indian parliamentary inquiry. [See Part 2] Adani Group promoters were also sanctioned for their role in aiding and abetting the scam.

Doshi fled India, evading a 2002 attempt to arrest him.

But the CEO of Elara Capital, Raj Bhatt, was making deals with Doshi as late as 2006 when he was still a widely known active fugitive.[18] [19] According to emails from a suspected leaked trove of data, Bhatt worked with Doshi on deals involving Indian stocks.[20]

The email also connected Bhatt to Jermyn Capital, an entity used by Doshi and his partner Ketan Parekh in their Indian market crime spree.

We phoned Mihir Kapadia, one of the Jermyn Capital directors named on that email, at his London home. He served on the board between 2000-2008, simultaneously with Doshi according to UK corporate records. Sources told us Kapadia has close family ties to Parekh, a detail Kapadia declined to confirm.

We asked if he recalled Doshi or Jermyn Capital dealing with Raj Bhatt or Elara Capital. He replied vaguely:

"I can ́t recall. But I mean it might have been."

When we asked why he had been in business with a known fugitive and why had Doshi dealt with a London-based fund, Kapadia responded:

"I don ́t have any comment on that. I don ́t know where you got that information. But I don ́t have any comment."

We talked via phone to Achal Ghai, the investment fund manager named in the apparently leaked email. He confirmed he had dealt with Mihir Kapadia and appeared to confirm the veracity of the email:

"I remember Mihir Kapadia, now that you mention the name. I remember him, again I have not spoken to him maybe or dealt with him for the last 15 years? I don ́t know how long. But, yeah, at the time he was in London, if I remember clearly, and we ́d looked at a few deals with him at the time for different clients. But that ́s been a long time."

"They [Mihir Kapadia and Elara] must have done some investments, co-investments, and looked at Moschip because I remember a semi-conductor deal since you mention [it] to me. It was a long time ago."

We forwarded him a copy of the email, to which he responded:

"It appears it was a cold call from them ref(erencing) Mihir reg(arding) Moschip GDR. We did not proceed or do anything with them ever."

We phoned and emailed Elara CEO Raj Bhatt, asking him to clarify the shareholding pattern of Adani stock in Elara-managed funds. At time of publication we have received no response.

Stock Parking Entity #3: New Leaina Investments

Cyprus-Based New Leaina Investments Owned Over U.S. $420 Million In Adani Green Energy, Comprising ~95% Of Its Portfolio

New Leaina Investments ("New Leaina") is a Cyprus-based investment manager whose website vaguely describes its investment approach as "considerably broad." Despite the "broad" approach, as of June 2021 approximately 95% of New Leaina's holdings consisted of a $420 million, 1.01% stake in Adani Green Energy, according to Bloomberg.[21]

Parliamentary records show New Leaina was also (and may still be) a shareholder in 4 other Adani companies.[22]

As with the other stock parking entities, this pattern of ownership is inconsistent with third-party investment and indicates instead an attempt to shield Adani Group ownership from public view.

New Leaina Is Managed By Amicorp Group, A Corporate Services Firm With Extensive Ties to Adani's Web Of Offshore Entities

New Leaina seems to be managed by Amicorp Group ("Amicorp"), a corporate services firm with an extensive history with Adani, including supplying directors and managerial services to Adani's vast web of promoter entities and offshore shells.[23]

New Leaina's website names no actual investment managers, just two board members that respectively work at Amicorp and an accounting firm.[24] A search of LinkedIn records similarly returned no investment staff. Its address is a P.O. Box shared by Amicorp.[25] Its phone number also matches that of Amicorp.

The three ultimate beneficial owners of New Leaina were disclosed in July 2021 by India's Finance Ministry after questions emerged about the ownership patterns of Adani's public companies. All three are likely Amicorp employees.[26] Furthermore, all 3 current shareholders of New Leaina have key ties to Amicorp. [Pg. 3]

We called the Cyprus phone number listed on the New Leaina website. A receptionist answered saying that it was the Amicorp Cyprus headquarters, a fact also confirmed by Marios Tofaros, listed as a director of New Leaina and also an Amicorp director according to his LinkedIn profile.

Tofaros declined to confirm specifically whether Amicorp controlled New Leaina, telling us instead to "find this information online".

When we asked outright if New Leaina was helping the Adani Group to stock park, he responded:

"You ́re just saying that and as you said yourself this is like a suspicion or your suspicion. I wouldn ́t want to comment any of that, nor [do] I confirm any of the statements you are making."

We then phoned accountant Michalis Ashiotis, who is listed as the second director of New Leaina in Cyprus. He told us that "I ́m not an active director as such" and told us to phone Amicorp to find out details of New Leaina.

Finally, we called Andetta Group, headquartered in the Caribbean tax haven of Curacao – a company listed as the main underlying shareholder in New Leaina. [Pg.3]

At the Andetta phone number listed on the group ́s website, a female receptionist answered

"Amicorp, good afternoon. How can I help you?".

When we asked if Andetta was part of Amicorp, she said matter-of-factly "Yes, yes, yes, sir".

Amicorp Played A Key Role in The $4.5 Billion 1MDB Fraud Scandal, Creating Money Laundering Entities Masquerading As Mutual Funds, According To Reporting On The Scandal

Adani Group has a deep relationship with Amicorp, an incorporation and business services company that it has used for at least 7 of its promoter entities, 17 other current or dissolved shells associated with Vinod Adani and at least 3 opaque Mauritius funds with holdings of Adani stocks. [27] [28]

Note that Amicorp is not just an incorporator – it is also a worldwide facilitator of the movement of funds with its own bank and investment vehicles which can serve as a wall between markets and ultimate beneficial owners.

Amicorp entities played a key role in a massive international scandal, the $4.5 billion 1MDB fraud, according to U.S. legal case files and documents compiled by the Malaysian anti-corruption commission. One of those entities, Cistenique, was until recently a shareholder of New Leaina.[29]

In the book "Billion Dollar Whale", an exposé of the 1MDB scandal based on court records and additional investigation, the authors describe how Amicorp developed expertise in finding ways to "wash a client's money", "disguise money flows" and "discretely move money around". [Pgs. 141-142] [1, 2]

The book also specifically described how Amicorp helped launder money for the key perpetrators of the scheme by setting up sham mutual funds. Per the book, the structure "was simply a way to wash a client's money through what looked like a mutual fund." [Pg. 181]

Stock Parking Entity #4: Opal Investment Private Ltd.

Adani Power's Largest "Independent" Public Investor Is An Opaque Mauritius-Based Entity Called Opal Investment Private Ltd; Which Owns 4.69% Of The Company (~19% Of The Reported Public Float)

As of December 2022, Adani Power reported that 4.69% of its shares outstanding, or around 19% of the supposed "public" shareholdings are held by an entity called Opal Investment Private Ltd. ("Opal").

Opal shares many of the same suspicious characteristics of other offshore Mauritius "public" investors with key stakes in Adani:

  • Opal is a Mauritius shell entity. Its beneficial ownership is concealed via nominee directors, per the Mauritius corporate registry.
  • We found no news articles about the investment firm (aside from media questions and confusion over why the entity is so opaque and owns so much Adani Power).
  • We found no website, and no employees on LinkedIn. We found no marketing materials for the investment fund. No signs that any of its principals have presented at any investment conferences.
  • Opal's investment portfolio has zero diversification. It consists solely of Adani Power shares, per FactSet.

We also found evidence demonstrating a link between Opal and the Adani Group.

Opal Was Formed On The Exact Same Day, In The Exact Same Jurisdiction, By The Same Registered Agent As Another Entity Formed and Controlled by Vinod Adani

Opal was incorporated in Mauritius by a small corporate services company called Trustlink International, per Mauritius corporate records.[30] Trustlink's CEO openly touts his close relationship to Adani Group on his own LinkedIn profile even claiming he "sits on the board of ... the Adani Group."

Trustlink incorporated Opal in Mauritius on October 4, 2005, per Mauritius corporate records.

On the exact same day, Trustlink incorporated another entity in Mauritius called Krunal Trade & Investment Pvt Ltd. ("Krunal"). Krunal is one of Vinod Adani's shadow companies described in Appendix 1.

In addition to his work creating shell companies for Vinod Adani, Trustlink's CEO Giandeo Reemul appears as an early director of Adani Global Ltd., one of Adani ́s Mauritius-based holding companies. Reemul was also named in Indian Directorate of Revenue intelligence (DRI) investigative records, having formed a key offshore entity in an Adani over invoicing scandal. [Pg. 13]

In short, Opal, a supposedly "independent" investment entity that owns nothing but shares of Adani Power, was created on the same day in the same jurisdiction as another suspicious entity formed by Vinod Adani, using the same small incorporation firm that openly touts its close relationship with Adani and which has been alleged to have previously facilitated fraudulent practices involving use of shell companies for Adani.

Suspected Stock Parking Entities Accounted For As Much As 30%-47% Of 'Delivery Volume' In Adani Stocks, Reinforcing Concerns Of Circuitous Trading & Market Manipulation

"That Would Be Alarming...Being 40% Delivery...Is Too Much. More Like Cornering The Stock"—Institutional Trader Of Indian Stocks

The stock parking entities bought and sold stock in the market, sometimes in a synchronized manner, according to exchange data and disclosures in the annual reports of Adani listed companies.[31]

We analyzed these disclosures as a percentage of delivery volumes – a unique, daily data point provided by Indian exchanges that captures large institutional flows and excludes day-trading activity.[32] The data point captures trading among Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs), such as the suspect Mauritius entities, which are not allowed to day trade in the cash market in India.

Using the top ten shareholder disclosures by Adani listed companies, which display granular detail on purchase and sale activities of these shareholders, we analyzed the activity of the stock parking entities – Monterosa, Elara, and New Leaina[33] – and also constructed a wider dataset which included four other Mauritius shareholders with portfolios having suspiciously concentrated holdings in Adani stocks. These suspicious offshore entities are EM Resurgent Fund, Asia Investment Corporation, Emerging India Focus, and Capital Trade and Investment.

The trading patterns suggest that the stock parking entities and the suspicious offshore entities may have artificially inflated the volume and/or price of some Adani listed companies.

Suspicious Trading Pattern #1: Adani Transmission—Up To 47% Of Delivery Volume Was Through Stock Parking Entities And Suspicious Offshore Entities

The stock parking entities accounted for 30%, 2%, and 8% of the delivered volume in Adani Transmission for each of 2018, 2019, and 2020. [34]

Including Emerging India Focus, EM Resurgent Fund, and Asia Investment Corporation raises the volume to 44%, 47%, and 9% for 2018, 2019, and 2020.

Suspicious Trading Pattern #2: Adani Enterprises—Up To 33% Of Delivery Volume Was Through Stock Parking Entities And Suspicious Offshore Entities

The stock parking entities accounted for 22%, 19%, and 3% of the delivered volume in Adani Enterprises for each of 2018, 2019, and 2020.

Including EM Resurgent Fund, and Asia Investment Corporation raises the volume to 33% and 26% for 2018 and 2019.

Suspicious Trading Pattern #3: Adani Power—Up To 33% Of Delivery Volume Was Through Stock Parking Entities And Suspicious Offshore Entities

The stock parking entities accounted for 10%, 12%, and 8% of the delivered volume in Adani Enterprises for each of 2018, 2019, and 2020.

Including Emerging India Focus, EM Resurgent Fund, Asia Investment Corporation, and Capital Trade and Investment raises the volume to 17%, 33%, and 11% for 2018, 2019, and 2020.

In Q2 2019, Several of The Suspected Stock Parking Entities Purchased Just Enough Stock In Adani Green Energy To Avoid Violation of Minimum Public Shareholding Rules, Which Could Have Resulted In Delisting

As mentioned earlier, Indian regulations require listed companies to maintain a non-promoter public float of at least 25%. In 2019, Adani Green Energy was in danger of delisting because public shareholders only accounted for 13.5% of the float.

To avoid losing critical access to the public markets, Adani Green Energy completed two offerings in in May and June 2019 through "offer for sale". [1, 2] These offerings ultimately resulted in the sale of 11.58% of the company, barely reaching the 25% threshold.

(Source: Adani Green Energy FY 2020 Annual report [Pg. 40])

Our research, however, shows that Adani Green Energy simply sold many of those shares to the stock parking entities and the suspicious offshore entities.

A Brokerage Firm Previously Convicted Of Market Rigging In India Was Chosen By Adani To Bookrun Both Of The Adani Green Energy Share Sales Totaling INR 7.8 Billion (U.S. $110 Million in 2019)

Adani Had Been A Small Stakeholder In The Brokerage Firm Since 2016

Despite the critical importance of the offerings to Adani Green Energy, it chose a small brokerage firm called Monarch Networth Capital to handle both tranches of its offer for sale. Given the combined size of the two offerings – totaling INR 7.8 billion (U.S. $110 million in 2019), and given the importance of maintaining SEBI compliance, one would have expected the Adani Group to have chosen experienced, credible bookrunners to manage the deal. [1, 2]

Instead, Adani Green Energy chose an entity it could likely influence, if not control outright. Adani Properties Private Limited has been a shareholder in Monarch since 2016 with a small investment valued at INR 432,620 (U.S. $5,289), according to annual reports. [Pg. 119] (Note that Albula, a suspected Monterosa stock parking fund, had significant shareholdings – 9.75% – in Monarch in 2009, according to ownership records).

A year prior to the offerings, Gautam Adani ́s brother-in-law, Rakesh Shah, went into business with Monarch when they purchased an airline together in 2018.

Monarch also has a history of market manipulation. In 2011, SEBI suspended Monarch, then known as Networth Stock Broking, for a month because:

"...four member brokers, including the appellant, and their clients traded in the scrip of the company in a circular manner intra day for forty days during the investigation period." [Pg.2] [35]

A Breakdown Of The Suspected Adani Stock Parking Entities' Participation In The Offerings

There are no specific publicly available records showing the purchasers in the offerings. But analysis of the holdings of the stock parking entities and suspicious offshore entities shows a substantial increase in their holdings of Adani Green Energy stock from the period before the offerings to the period after the offerings.


March 30, 2019 – Adani Green Shareholders % Holding
Elara India Opportunities Fund Limited 2.99%
Cresta Fund Ltd 1.62%
Albula Investment Fund Limited 1.41%
Asia Investment Corporation (Mauritius) Ltd 1.08%
(Source: BSE Shareholding)

After the second offering concluded, there was a dramatic increase in the holdings of previous shareholders and a flood of new offshore holders, some of which we have described previously:

June 13, 2019– Adani Green Shareholders % Holding
Elara India Opportunities Fund Limited 3.91%
Albula Investment Fund Limited 2.43%
Asia Investment Corporation (Mauritius) Ltd 2.32%
Cresta Fund Ltd 2.30%
APMS Investment Fund Ltd 2.26%
Vespera Fund Limited 1.69%
LTS Investment Fund 1.54%
Marshal Global Capital Fund Ltd 1.36%
Polus Global fund 1.09%
(Source: BSE Shareholding)

These suspect funds increased their stakes in Adani Green by between 6.85%-11.8% during the offering period.[36] It would be virtually impossible for this ownership increase to occur unless they purchased shares in the offerings.[37]

The proper classification of even one of these holdings as an insider holding likely would have resulted in Adani Green Energy losing its listing and being unable to access the capital markets.

Part 2: The Adani Group Has A Track Record Of Engaging In Alleged Stock Rigging With India's Most Notorious Market Fraudsters

As we noted regarding the Mauritius-based funds, highly concentrated ownership and low effective free trading 'float' create fertile ground for stock rigging. As we combed through the archived files of more than 60 regulatory investigations, it became clear that the Adani Group has seen its stock price artificially pumped at various times in the last 20 years as a result of well-coordinated stock rigging scams – a fact that appears to have been largely overlooked by the Indian media and financial analysts.

SEBI has investigated more than 90 entities or individuals, and sanctioned or reached financial settlements with at least 70 of those, including Adani promoters, for pumping Adani Enterprises stock – at some points in excess of 100%, according to SEBI documentation available online. The alleged manipulation occurred between 1999 and 2005.

Adani Group promoter entities initially received bans for their role in market manipulation, but those were later reduced to negotiated settlement payments. Other regulatory issues have slowed or been stonewalled for decades.

Stock Manipulation Case #1:

1999-2001 The Ketan Parekh Adani Stock Rigging Scam

"The Charges Leveled Against Promoters Of Adani That They Aided And Abetted Ketan Parekh Entities In Manipulating The Scrip Of Adani Stand Proved" – 2007 SEBI Ruling

Stock broker Ketan Parekh was banned from markets for 14 years for rigging the price of at least 10 stocks, including Adani Exports (later renamed Adani Enterprises), from 1999-2001. [Pg. 148, 149]

The "2001 Ketan Parekh Scam" was deemed so serious that it was the focus of a detailed parliamentary inquiry in 2002, and became known as one of the most notorious Indian stock market scams in history.

SEBI orders alleged that in less than six weeks spanning November and December 1999, Adani Exports stock rose from INR 495 to 1,300, a 162% gain. It fell back, but again between May and July 2000 it rose from INR 570 to 1,111, a 95% gain. [Pg. 2]

SEBI rulings described Ketan Parekh ́s role as "the mastermind of all the misdeeds [and he] needs to be imposed with the heaviest possible penalty/punishment." [Pg. 142]

Seven Adani private companies and promoter entities were also banned from "buying, selling or otherwise dealing in securities" for two years for their role in the scheme, according to a SEBI ruling from May 2007 that noted:

"Promoters of Adani Group aided and abetted KP [Ketan Parekh] entities in manipulating the market. Therefore, it was alleged that promoters of Adani Group had violated Regulation 4 (a), (b), (c), and (d) of SEBI (Prohibition of Fraudulent and Unfair Trade Practices) Regulations." [Pg. 4] [Pg. 46]

The regulator said it had "proved" that Adani Group and its promoters "were party" to, and had "aided and abetted", Parekh:

"All the aforesaid findings show that the Adani group was party to the design and activities of [Ketan Parekh] and his entities. A cumulative view of the aforesaid findings, therefore, persuades me to conclude that the charges leveled against promoters of Adani that they aided and abetted [Ketan Parekh] entities in manipulating the scrip of Adani stand proved and therefore, it would be in the interest of justice to take appropriate preventive actions against Adani group/noticees that would not only deter them but also the potential violators from indulging in similar activities in future". [Pg. 45, 46]

Stock Manipulation Case #1 (Cont'd):

Investigators Showed That 14 Adani Private Companies Transferred Shares To Entities Controlled By Parekh, Which Then Engaged In Blatant Stock Manipulation Of An Adani Listed Entity

Adani Group Entities Initially Received Bans For Their Role, But Those Were Later Reduced To Small Fines

Investigators revealed that 14 Adani private companies had organized transfers of shares and funds to 11 entities controlled by or associated with Ketan Parekh. The documented transfers showed movement of more than INR 3.4 billion (U.S. $75 million) between February and August 2000 alone. [Pg. 3] [Pg. 32] [Pg. 39]

A judge of the Securities Appellate Tribunal upheld earlier rulings that Parekh had carried out synchronized and circular trades and created fake demand and fake volume for a series of stocks, including those of publicly listed Adani Exports (later renamed Adani Enterprises). [Pgs. 2-3, 31-32]

"Entering into such synchronized trades is a misuse of the stock exchange mechanism and tampers with the free, fair and transparent price discovery system of the stock exchange. Such practices...distort and interfere in the price discovery mechanism of the stock exchange and leads to the creation of a false market." [Pg. 51]

In its defense, Adani Group told SEBI it had simply been dealing with Ketan Parekh to finance the start of operations at Mundra port, in its home state of Gujarat. [Pg. 5, 6]

SEBI roundly dismissed Adani Group's argument:

"In the very nature of things, a stock market is not meant for financing transactions. If one needs money, the shares could be sold in the market which provides liquidity but you can ́t raise short term finances through the circuitous methods as resorted to by Ketan Parekh." [Pgs. 140-141]

After negotiations and an agreed settlement, the bans were later reduced to fines in a SEBI decision in April 2008. [Pg. 2] One of the Adani Group entities paid a settlement of INR 1.05 million (U.S. $26,000). Six more settled for INR 750,000 (U.S. $19,000) each, according to the SEBI document [Pgs. 2,3]

Stock Manipulation Case #2:

December 2003 – SEBI Alleged That 34 Brokers, Sub-Brokers And Clients Conspired To Carry Out "Synchronized Reversal Trading/Fictitious Trading In The Shares of AEL", Causing A 128% Spike In Shares Of AEL In Less Than One Month

Starting in June 2009, SEBI began issuing prosecution notices (so-called Adjudication Orders,) after an investigation showed how over a month-long period in late 2003, at least 34 brokerages, brokers and individual traders, included in 21 separate investigations, "had indulged in fictitious synchronized reversal of trades, which in turn had created the artificial volumes and contributed to the price rise in the scrip of Adani". [Pg. 2]

The alleged practices were in violation of SEBI regulations known as the Prohibition of Fraudulent and Unfair Trade Practices relating to the Securities Markets. [Pg. 2]

A later SEBI order laid out the network of those directly involved:

According to the allegations, Adani Exports (later renamed Adani Enterprises) stock suspiciously rose as much as 128% during 19 trading days in late 2003.[38]

It took SEBI almost 6 years to prosecute the cases. [Pg. 1] Per one of the SEBI orders at the time:

"The sub-broker by participating in the trading in this manner involved in the execution of synchronized/reversal transactions created artificial liquidity in the scrip and played a role in the manipulation of the trading." [Pg. 15]

Sanctions ranged from light fines up to two-year bans from trading or accessing Indian securities markets. [Pg. 18] [Pg. 22]

Note that there was no specific mention in the orders relating to this November-December 2003 time period that Adani promoters or principals had been involved.

Stock Manipulation Case #3:

July 2004- Sept. 2005 – SEBI Investigated A Scheme By 30 Entities And Individuals To Manipulate Shares Of Adani Exports (Renamed Adani Enterprises), Resulting In Numerous Fines And Sanctions

"Certain Entities...Transacted In The Shares of AEL (Adani Exports Ltd) In A Fraudulent Manner...Leading to Spurt In the Price" –SEBI Order

Later, SEBI investigated a scheme allegedly perpetrated by 30 brokerages, brokers and individuals to pump Adani Exports (renamed Adani Enterprises) stock in two periods between July 2004 and September 2005.

Per a SEBI order on the issue:

"The Investigations revealed that certain entities...transacted in the shares of AEL [Adani Exports Ltd] in a fraudulent manner that led to creation of artificial volume and a false market. Their trading distorted market equilibrium leading to spurt in the price which did not have any correlation with the performance of the company." [Pg. 2]

In the first period of the alleged scheme (July 2004-Jan. 2005), Adani Enterprises stock spiked 57% (from INR 481 to INR 756). During a second period (Aug 2005-Sept. 2005), AEL rose over 15%. [Pg. 1]

Some entities and individuals were fined while others agreed to settle the charges. [Pg. 11, Pg. 2]

Note that none of the Adani entities or promoters were implicated by SEBI relating to this July 2004 to September 2005 time period.

Ketan Parekh, Associates And Relatives Shifted Operations To London. Traders Say They May Still Be Rigging Stocks

"All The Previous Clients Are Still Loyal To Ketan And Are Still Working With Ketan"– Rogue Indian Trader Who Knows Ketan Parekh Personally

As Indian authorities launched protracted investigations, resulting in formal charges, fines and bans, Ketan Parekh and some of his closest associates in the 2001 scam shifted part of their operations to London, according to media reports and our review of UK corporate filings.

Multiple sources told us they believe some of India ́s most notorious market manipulators may still be working with the Adani Group.

A review of the LinkedIn profile for Ketan Parekh's daughter shows she worked at Elara Capital – the London-based brokerage which almost exclusively holds Adani Group stock in its Mauritius-based fund, as detailed earlier.

India ́s Intelligence Bureau alleged that Ketan Parekh defied a 14-year market ban handed down to him in 2003 and remained active in Indian markets until at least 2010, pumping stocks through "little-known investment entities, market operators and a string of loyal brokers", according to an investigation cited by the Economic Times.

A lawyer for India ́s Central Bureau for Investigation (CBI) was quoted in another media report, as opposing one of several travel permits to London, saying:

"They [Parekh ́s frequent trips to London] are being used to manage millions of ill-gotten wealth stashed in a bank there".

Ketan Parekh has been arrested multiple times since the 2001 market crash he helped spark but each time has made bail, including in 2001, 2008, 2014 and 2018.

In February 2022, prominent Indian investigative journalist Sucheta Dalal hinted at a new alliance between the Adani Group and known market manipulators like Ketan Parekh and his associates, in a Tweet:

The above-referenced broker, who was banned from trading on Indian markets for stock manipulation via Mauritius-based funds, said he knew Ketan Parekh personally, adding:

"Ketan Parekh never stopped working in India. His brother-in-law lives here. He [Ketan Parekh] has a full set up in London, he has a full set up in Singapore, he has a very good link in Switzerland. He has absolutely full trust, actually, in Mumbai and he is doing what he was doing, still continues in the same fashion and his business has continued. SEBI knows about it. All the politicians know about it, even people and corporations go to him for their businesses and he ́s playing his role."

It is well-documented that the Adani Group was one of Parekh ́s high-profile clients. We pressed our source on whether he believed that relationship was current:

"Yes. None of them have broken relationships with him...Ketan Parekh is a market maker, was a market maker and still is a market maker... All the previous clients are still loyal to Ketan and are still working with Ketan."

The London Hub – Market Riggers From the Notorious 1999-2001 Scam Continued Doing Business With Vinod Adani And A Former Adani Company Executive

After Ketan Parekh and related brokers were sanctioned for their role in market rigging between 1999-2001, one may have expected Adani Group promoters to distance themselves.

What we found, through a review of corporate records and media reports, is that the relationship seems to have simply continued while masked through different offshore entities.

In 2007, an Economic Times article focused on transactions between Jermyn Capital (a brokerage linked to market riggers) and various offshore entities in 2007.

The article describes a transaction which involved a brokerage, at the time controlled by a Ketan Parekh associate, buying shares in a pharmaceutical company for a BVI company called Jineshwar Holdings. The article did not mention this, but Vinod Adani served as shareholder and director of Jineshwar Holdings, per ICIJ.[39] That Vinod Adani company received a payment of U.S. $1 million as part of the transaction, according to the Economic Times.

Following the scandal, the same Ketan Parekh-associated brokerage firm was renamed Orbit Investment Securities, per UK corporate records. It is now controlled by an individual named Jayechund 'Jaye' Jingree, who previously served as a director of Adani Global Ltd, based in Mauritius, according to BSE records. [40]

Part 3: Adani Group's Corporate Maze—How The Group Surreptitiously Funnels Money In And Out Of Its Empire Through Related-Party Transactions And Offshore Entities

Aside from using offshore capital to park stock, the Adani Group also seems to have a system for laundering the money onshore directly onto the Adani listed companies' balance sheets.

Through our multi-year research into the Adani Group and its corporate structure, we've uncovered a pattern whereby capital is moved from offshore entities to private Indian companies within the Adani empire, often through undisclosed related party transactions in apparent violation of the law, then transferred from there to listed companies.

At that point, the capital can be used to engineer Adani's accounting, whether by bolstering its reported profit or cash flows, or cushioning its capital balances in order to make listed entities appear more solvent or creditworthy. If needed elsewhere, it can be siphoned back out again through a similar maze of related party deals.

Essentially, it seems capital is simply moved where needed, a perpetual juggling act propping up the empire through both stock parking and direct capital infusions.

Adani's Key 7 Publicly Listed Entities Have 578 Subsidiaries And Engaged In 6,025 Disclosed Related-Party Transactions In FY 2022 Alone

"Use of complicated group structures and complex related-party transactions increase the concern on siphoning of funds, money laundering, round tripping etc, while such structures and transactions happen at a cross-country level, the lack of free information flow hinders monitoring and enforcement as well"

Former SEBI Chairman, Ajay Tyagi, speaking about issues affecting the Indian stock market.

Investors generally prefer clean and simple corporate structures to avoid the conflicts of interest and accounting discrepancies that can lurk in sprawling, convoluted structures.

The Adani Group has chosen sprawling, convoluted structures for most of its listed companies.

Adani ́s key 7 listed companies have a total of 578 subsidiaries, some of which are incorporated in notoriously opaque jurisdictions including Mauritius, Panama and the UAE, according to the annual reports of the conglomerate. The key 7 listed entities collectively engaged in a staggering total of 6,025 separate related-party transactions in fiscal year 2022 alone, per BSE disclosures.[41] Many Adani private entities are structured through offshore private trusts, with similarly complicated structures.

Amidst this vast maze of related-party dealings, we've shined the spotlight on several questionable transactions, some of which were not disclosed as related-party transactions, to highlight undisclosed issues lurking in the structure.

Suspicious Money In – Adani Group Has Funded Some Of Its Listed Companies With Massive Amounts Of Money From Shell Entities

Vinod Adani, Gautam's Brother, Runs An Intricate Network Of Offshore Entities That Extensively Deals With Adani Group

He Has A History Of Fraud Allegations From Regulators Involving His Dealings With Adani Companies

As briefly mentioned earlier, Indian media describes Vinod Adani as a shadowy figure with a nebulous role in the Adani empire.

(Vinod Adani, elder brother of Group Chairman Gautam Adani)

Vinod and offshore entities he controls have played a central role in Adani Group company scandals, including an INR 6.8 billion (U.S. $151 million) diamond trading scandal and an INR 39.74 billion (U.S. $800 million at the time) power generation over-invoicing scandal.

The government investigations into those scandals alleged that Vinod Adani's offshore entities were involved in sham transactions and inappropriately received payments from listed companies of the Adani Group for which there was little or zero public disclosure at the time.[42] [See Part 5]

Vinod Adani Currently Runs A Massive Network Of Offshore Shell Entities That Regularly And Surreptitiously Transact With Adani

Our Research Indicates That Vinod Adani, Along With Close Associates, Has Set Up At Least 38 Mauritius Shell Entities

Vinod Adani held various official executive roles early in the history of the Adani Group until at least 2011. A November 2022 biography of Gautam Adani described Vinod Adani, saying he "does not hold any formal position with the group," but "remains actively involved with the group, especially when negotiating international finance and connections."

A confidante of Gautam Adani and a former director of one of the Adani Group entities corroborated this, telling us Vinod Adani "continues to be in [the] Middle East. He takes cares of Adani Group's interest in Dubai."

Our research, which included downloading and cataloging the full Mauritius corporate registry database, evidences how Vinod Adani, along with other close associates, have set up dozens of entities in Mauritius that have little to no genuine corporate presence.

We found other entities in Cyprus, the UAE, Singapore and the Caribbean associated with Vinod Adani, comprising a vast empire of shells. Many of these entities later appear in suspect transactions, often funneling assets into or out of the Adani Group companies. We have also identified an instance where a private entity seems to have been used to help listed Adani Enterprises avoid reporting losses, bolstering the appearance of its reported earnings.

See Appendix [1] for the full list of entities we identified and key individuals connected to these entities.

Websites Were Built For At Least 13 Vinod Adani-Associated Entities In An Apparent Attempt to Conceal That They Are Shells

Many Of The Websites Were Set Up On The Same Day Using The Same Templates And Exact Same Vague Business Descriptions

At some point, Vinod Adani seems to have become aware that setting up dozens of shell entities in offshore tax havens with no signs of genuine business comes across as suspicious.

In an apparent effort to counter this, websites were set up for 13 of Vinod Adani's shell entities. All share strange commonalities:

  • Many of the domains for the supposedly independent businesses were registered on the exact same day. For example, we identified 5 that were registered on May 4th 2017. [1,2,3,4,5] Another 5 were registered on June 1st, 2016. [1,2,3,4,5].
  • Each website is nearly a carbon copy template of the others, with pages for "home" "about" "services" "gallery" (filled with stock photos) and "contact".
  • Each "contact" page lists the address and phone number of the entity's registered agent rather than an actual named business.
  • The websites almost never name any actual people associated with the company. There are no details on teams or associated people. The exception is that several explicitly identify Vinod Adani or Subir Mittra (the head of Adani's private family investment office) as being associated with the entity. [1,2,3,4]

Here are the shell entities for which we have identified functionally identical websites:

6 Of Vinod Adani's Shell Websites List The Exact Same Set Of Nonsensical Services Such As "Consumption Abroad" And "Commercial Presence"

Among their other bizarre commonalities, the "services" listed for Vinod's shell entity websites are often identical and nonsensically vague, such as "consumption abroad" and "commercial presence".

Vinod's Labyrinthian Network of Shells Appears To Serve Several Functions, Including Shuffling Losses Into Private Entities To Boost Reported Earnings, And Surreptitiously Moving Money To Prop Up Entities In The Group

This dynamic is best illustrated through several examples.

Money In, Transaction #1: Krunal Trade & Investment, One Of Vinod Adani's Mauritius Entities, Lent INR 11.71 Billion (U.S. ~$253 Million At The Time) To An Adani Private Entity, Without Disclosure That It Was A Related Party Loan

The Adani Private Entity Lent INR 9.84 Billion (U.S. ~$138 Million At More Recent Substantially Lower Exchange Rates) To Adani Enterprises, An Adani Listed Company

In many instances, once money flows into Adani-controlled entities, it then flows to other Adani Group private and listed entities. Sometimes, offshore money controlled by Adani family members travels through multiple entities before reaching publicly listed companies.

One example is Krunal Trade & Investment ("Krunal"). Mauritius corporate records show that the directors of Krunal are (1) Vinod Adani, the brother of Gautam Adani and (2) Subir Mittra, the CEO of the Adani private family investment office.[44]

Krunal has no physical address or phone number listed other than its corporate registrar. We found no employees on LinkedIn nor any web mention of the entity's operations except its own vague website. Krunal's website provides nonsensical explanations for its supposed business activities, such as "offers services such as sale and delivery of an intangible product, between a producer and consumer."

Despite the lack of signs of genuine operations, between financial years 2009 and 2010, Krunal lent INR 11.71 billion (US ~$253 million) to an Adani private entity focused on real estate named Sunbourne Developers Pvt. Ltd. ("Sunbourne"), per Sunbourne's financial records. [Pg. 24][45]

Despite the related party nature of the loan, Krunal is simply described as being "a limited Company incorporated in Mauritius" in Sunbourne's filings, with no apparent disclosure of it being a related party. [Pg. 25][46]

After previously being funded by Krunal, in 2020 Sunbourne lent INR 9.84 billion (U.S. $138 million) to Adani Enterprises, an Adani listed entity, in a disclosed related party transaction. [Pg. 195][47]

The net result is that Vinod Adani's funds, with no discernible business behind them, wound their way through an actual operating Adani private entity to show up on the balance sheet of publicly-listed Adani Enterprises.

We have no way to know how Krunal had a quarter of a billion U.S. dollars to lend (Krunal doesn't advertise lending services on its website). The entire transaction bears red flags of money laundering.

Money In, Transaction #2: Emerging Market Investment DMCC, A Mauritius Entity With No Obvious Signs of Operations Lent U.S. ~$1 Billion To An Adani Power Subsidiary, As Of March 2022

One of the suspicious Vinod companies we identified was referenced in Adani Power's disclosed related-party transactions. Emerging Market Investment DMCC is a UAE-based entity that engages in "Investment in Commercial Enterprises." According to Adani Power's disclosures to the Bombay Stock Exchange, Emerging Market Investment DMCC loaned INR ~79 billion (U.S. $1 billion) to Mahan Energen, a subsidiary of Adani Power. [Line 372]

Emerging Market Investment DMCC lists no employees on LinkedIn; doesn't show up through online searches other than its corporate registration; has announced no clients and no deals; and has a luxury residential apartment in the UAE as its official contact address. It appears to be nothing more than a shell.

This raises the question: How did Emerging Market Investment DMCC amass $1 billion in capital to lend to Adani Power? The utter lack of evidence of any real operations, the recent founding, and the complete control by the Adani family are red flags for money laundering. [48] Emerging Market Investment DMCC provides a terse explanation on its website where it admits it exists to "invest only...the funds of our promoter, Mr. Vinod S. Adani."

Money In, Transaction #3: A Cypriot Entity Controlled By Vinod Adani Had An Investment of U.S. ~$85 Million in An Adani Private Entity, With No Disclosure of the Related Party Nature

The Money Appears To Then Have Then Been Directed To Listed Adani Enterprises, Along With Other Private Adani Entities

Another entity in the Adani Group private real estate empire, Adani Estates Private Limited ("Adani Estates"), received a U.S. ~$85 million investment from an offshore Vinod Adani entity, Vakoder Investments.[49]

(Adani Estates Private Limited Disclosures Source: Pg. 2)

Vakoder Investments was formed in Cyprus in April 2012. Cypriot corporate records list its directors as Vinod Adani and Subir Mittra, head of the Adani private family investment office. Despite the familial connection, we found no disclosure that Vakoder's Investment involved a related party.

Adani Estates reported 10 types of related-party transactions in its 2021 annual report and previously had receivables from Adani Enterprises, per its 2020 report, indicating that it directed value to or otherwise transacted with Adani Enterprises. [Pg. 142] [Pg. 135]

Money In, Transaction #4: In 2013-2015, A Private Vinod Adani Singaporean Company Appeared To Shuffle Material Losses Off The Books Of Listed Adani Enterprises, Allowing Adani Enterprises To Report Higher Net Income

In 2013-2015, Carmichael Rail and Port Singapore Holdings Pte. Ltd, a Singaporean entity controlled solely by Vinod Adani, [Pg. 2] engaged in a series of 3 transactions that may have resulted in Adani Enterprises avoiding recognition of large asset impairment charges. The impairments likely would have negatively impacted listed Adani Enterprises' net income.

The 3 transactions involve a related coal mine, railway, and port in Australia. None of the transactions were specifically disclosed in the Adani Enterprises annual reports. We uncovered them only by reviewing financials for the private Singaporean Carmichael Rail entity.

1. AUD $147 million for unspecified "Work-In-Progress" assets: From April 2013 through March 2015, private Carmichael Rail bought two tranches of "work-in-progress" assets from Adani Mining Pty Ltd. ("Adani Mining"), an Adani Enterprises subsidiary.[50] [Pg. 133] We found neither a detailed description of the actual assets nor any indication of how the large purchase was financed. These sales to a related party were not detailed in Adani Enterprises' 2013-14 or 2014-15 annual reports. [1, 2, 3]

(Source: Carmichael Rail and Port Singapore Holdings 2015 Annual Report [Pg. 24])

2. AUD $155 million for "Right to Use the Rail Facilities": In October 2014, Adani Mining, through another subsidiary, assigned an intangible "right to use the rail facilities" asset to Carmichael Rail in exchange for a note. It is unclear how Carmichael Rail financed this acquisition – Adani Mining accepted payment in the form of a note that it agreed not to enforce in the near term. Again, the transaction was not disclosed in Adani Enterprises' annual report. [Pg. 172]

3. AUD $100 million to pay debt: During the same fiscal year, another Adani Enterprises subsidiary, Adani Global Pte., then provided Carmichael Rail an additional AUD $100 million credit line "to pay its debts." Once again, Adani Enterprises failed to provide any disclosure that we could find of this loan to its investors.

Following these deals, Carmichael Rail reported consistent losses from 2015-2018, driven by (a) asset impairments from the assets acquired from public Adani Enterprises subsidiaries and (b) interest payments on loans to Adani Enterprises.

For example, in 2015, Carmichael Rail wrote down the value of its newly acquired assets by AUD $23 million almost immediately.

Had the publicly listed Adani Enterprises been required to accept just that single write-down, it would have resulted in an INR ~1.2 billion impairment, which would have directly impacted its reported consolidated profit after minority interests of INR ~19 billion for that year. [Pg. 36]

We calculate Carmichael Rail's losses for that period totaled AUD $50.5 million, representing an estimated ~5% of Adani Enterprises' reported profits during the period.[51]

In short, Carmichael Rail: (1) acquired assets from publicly listed Adani Enterprises (without disclosure by the listed entity) (2) with loans funded by Adani Enterprises (without disclosure by the listed entity), then (3) almost immediately wrote down the value of the assets in the same year, enabling Adani Enterprises to potentially avoid a significant loss.

Money In, Transactions #5 Through #7: Three Entities With Virtually No Signs Of Operations And Undisclosed Links To Adani Collectively Lent INR 74 Billion (U.S. $996 Million) To Private Adani Infra (India) In 2021

Private Adani Infra (India) Then Lent INR 47 Billion (U.S. $632 Million) To Adani Enterprises and A Subsidiary of Adani Power In the Same Year

In 2021, Adani Infra (India), an Adani private entity, loaned an aggregate U.S. $632 million to:

  1. Adani Enterprises in the amount of INR 17.2 billion (U.S. $231 million) and
  2. Adani Power Mundra in the amount of INR 29.8 billion (U.S. $401.5 million). [Pgs. 176, 179]

Adani Infra (India) records showed that during the same year, it received INR 74 billion (U.S. $996 million) from three entities: (1) Rehvar Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd. ("Rehvar Infrastructure"), (2) Gardenia Trade and Investment, and (3) Milestone Tradelinks.[52]

(Source: Adani Infra (India) Disclosures [Pg. 2])

Our investigation shows that none of the 3 entities appear to have business operations consistent with the ability to provide huge chunks of capital to the Adani Group.

As we also show, each entity has clear ties to Adani, but none of the transactions were disclosed as being with related parties in the Adani Infra (India) financial statements. The 3 entities were also not disclosed as the ultimate source of funds in the Adani Enterprises or Adani Power Mundra financial statements.

Money In, Transaction #5 – Rehvar Infrastructure, A "Silver Bar" Merchant With No Website, Zero Employees And Almost No Signs Of Operations, Run By A Current And A Former Adani Director Lent INR 15 Billion (U.S. $202 Million) To Adani Infra (India)

We Found No Disclosure Of The Loan Being A Related Party Transaction

Rehvar Infrastructure's main line of business is 'silver bars,' according to its annual report. [Pg. 2] The company has no fixed assets and generated losses in financial year 2021. It has no website, no employees listed on LinkedIn, and no obvious online sign of operations aside from its corporate filings. Its 2021 annual reports disclosed that it had zero employees:

(Source: Rehvar Infrastructure Private Limited March 2021 accounts [Pg. 1])

Despite the lack of operations, Rehvar Infrastructure somehow managed to lend INR 15 billion (U.S. $202 million) to Adani Infra (India).

Rehvar Infrastructure's shareholding list reports just 2 shareholders, both of whom are closely connected to the Adani Group:

1. Laxmiprasad Chaudhary (50% shareholder), who has been a director in a private company of the Adani Group since late 2013. A newly released 2022 biography on Gautam Adani described Chaudhary as a "director with Adani Group"; and

2. Yogesh Ramanlal Shah (50% shareholder), who was a former director of at least 3 Adani Group Companies.[53]

Money In, Transaction #5 Cont'd—Rehvar Infrastructure Is Located In An Empty Office In A Dilapidated Building

Contact Information On The Door Appears To Lead To An Assistant Manager At Adani

Up until February 2022, Indian corporate filings listed Rehvar Infrastructure's address at a residence. Recent filings show a corporate address in a building in Ahmedabad, the same city where Adani is based.

We sent an investigator to the new address and found it located in a dilapidated building with chipped paint and moldy walls, hardly the scene we would expect from a silver merchant with INR 15 billion (U.S. $202 million) to lend.

Our investigator visited during working hours, but a sign on the door said. "Out of Office Visit," leaving the name "Jignesh Desai" and a contact number, along with other hand-written details.

On LinkedIn, Desai describes himself as an Executive at Adani Enterprises.

Per Facebook, Jignesh Desai was awarded an Adani Group "star performer" award in 2015.

We confirmed it is the same "Jignesh Desai" by researching the phone number given on the door. First, we used a caller ID service to confirm the phone number belongs to a Jignesh Desai, with an associated Gmail address.

(Source: TrueCaller)

We then found a website of a registered trust clearly connecting Jignesh Desai's Gmail address to an Adani Group company as an Assistant Manager.

Lastly, the international contact database Rocket Reach also lists Jignesh Desai as an Assistant Manager at Adani Enterprises. The jdesai1012 Gmail address seen on Rocket Reach uses the same convention as the jdesai1012 yahoo address listed on that service.

Money In, Transaction #5 Cont'd — At The Time Of The Transaction, Rehvar Infrastructure Was Based Out Of A Residence, Further Calling Into Question How The Supposed Silver Merchant Had So Much Cash To Lend

Prior to February 2022, Rehvar Infrastructure's corporate address was a residential home in Ahmedabad, per Indian corporate records. Note that the entity lent Adani Infra (India) INR 15 billion (U.S. $202 million) as of the year ended March 2021, during the time it was based at the residence.

We visited the address to see if there was any evidence of a bustling silver hub, but once again we found no visible sign of commercial operations.

(Source: Hindenburg Investigator. The sign translates to "Neminathnagar Co. O. H. So. Li. [Satyakam society]. Information Hawkers and Salesmen are strictly not allowed between 12 to 4 pm. -By order Neminath Nagar cooperative housing society limited")

Money In, Transaction #6—Gardenia Trade And Investments Ltd., A Mauritius-Based Entity With No Website And No Apparent Signs of Operations, Lent INR 51.4 Billion (U.S. $692.5 Million) to Adani Infra (India)

One Of Gardenia's Directors Is the CEO Of the Adani Family Private Investment Office

We Found No Disclosure Of The Loan Being A Related Party Transaction

Gardenia Trade and Investments Ltd. ("Gardenia") is a Mauritius-based entity formed in February 2021. It is unclear what the entity even claims to do as it has no website, no employees on LinkedIn, no social media presence and no apparent web or physical presence aside from its corporate registration.

A search of its registered email address, [email protected], provided in a statutory placement disclosure, produced no specific matches. The domain name was registered on February 7, 2021, shortly after the entity's formation.

Despite its lack of basic signs of existence, during 2021 Gardenia has been a massive investor in an Adani Group private entity – Adani Infra (India). Gardenia holds INR 51.4 billion (U.S. $692.5 million) in Adani Infra (India) convertible debentures. [Pg. 2]

Gardenia also appears to clearly be a related party entity to the Adani Group. One of its directors is Subir Mittra, the head of the Adani family private office. Mittra is involved in many of the Adani Group shadow entities and served as the manager for Emerging Market Investment DMCC, one of Vinod Adani's UAE entities covered earlier that loaned massive sums to a subsidiary of Adani Power.

Money In, Transaction #7— Milestone Tradelinks, Another Claimed Silver And Gold Merchant, Run By A Longstanding Employee Of Adani Group And A Former Director Of Adani Companies, Lent INR 7.5 Billion (U.S. $101 Million) To Adani Infra (India)

We Found No Disclosure Of The Loan Being A Related Party Transaction

Milestone Tradelinks is another entity claiming that its main activity is trading in silver and gold, per its annual report. [Pg. 2] It is located in the same dilapidated building complex as Rehvar Infrastructure (see above) in Ahmedabad.[54] We found no website for the entity. Nor could we find any employees on Linkedin.

The registered phone number of Milestone Tradelinks, per 2022 corporate filings, is the same as auditor Dharmesh Parikh & Co, the co-auditor for Adani Green Energy, and previously an auditor of Adani Enterprises, Adani Total Gas, and Adani Transmission.

(Source: Indian Corporate Records and Dharmesh Parikh Website)

This is not a case of using the auditor as contact information however– Dharmesh Parikh & Co is not the auditor for Milestone Tradelinks. Its auditor, Adwani Peshavaria & Co., has been in place since financial year 2015. [Pg. 12]

Milestone Tradelinks has 6 shareholders, per its 2021 shareholding list. One of its key shareholders, Rajesh Mandapwala, holding 17.3% of the entity, is a longstanding employee of the Adani Group, per corporate records.[55] In a biography about Gautam Adani released in November 2022, Rajesh Mandapwala confirms he "joined the Adani Group when it was just a packaging unit 1982."

Milestone Tradelinks previously had a 100% owned subsidiary called Aditya Corpex (until it merged with Milestone Tradelinks in financial year 2013). [Pg. 4]. At various points, Aditya Corpex was directed by several individuals with family or executive ties to the Adani Group, per records in a Customs Tribunal case. [56]

Milestone Tradelinks is obviously intricately tied to Adani Group insiders.

Money In, Transaction #8—Adani Group Companies Lent INR 6.2 Billion (U.S. $87.4 Million) To A Company Run By Yet Another Family Friend Who Passed Most Of It Along To Adani Power

The Adi Group is a coal supplier and longstanding client of the Adani Group. Adi Group's promoter is Utkarsh Shah, who has been described as 30+ year friend of Gautam Adani, per an Economic Times article.

Adicorp Enterprises is a small company, with 2020 revenues of just INR 643 million (U.S. $9 million) and total net profit of INR 6.9 million (U.S. ~$97,000), per its 2020 financials.

Despite Adicorp Enterprises' modest financial profile, 4 Adani Group companies lent the company a total of INR 6.2 billion (U.S. $87.4 Million) in 2020. [Pg. 39] We found no disclosure of these transactions in the financial statements of the Adani Group lenders, several of which are publicly listed.

(Source: Adicorp 2020 Annual Report [Pg. 39])

The loans seem financially ill-advised. Given its net profit, it would take Adicorp Enterprises around 900 years to earn enough to pay back the loans even without interest.

In 2020, Adicorp Enterprises used its newfound capital to loan INR 6.1 billion (U.S. $86 million) to Adani Power on an unsecured basis. The loan to Adani Power represented about 98% of the funds it received from the 4 other Adani entities. [Pgs. 36, 39]

(Source: Adicorp 2020 Annual Report [Pg. 39])

In short, it looks like Adicorp has simply been used to route funds from various Adani Group companies to publicly listed Adani Power.

After Pumping In Suspicious Funds, The Adani Group Also Has Methods Of Extracting Money From The Publicly Listed Companies Through Suspect Deals With Related Parties, Re-Routing Money Through The Empire As Needed

Money Out, Undisclosed Transaction #1 – Another Secretive Mauritius-Based Shell Entity Named Growmore Trade And Investment Netted An Overnight U.S. ~$423 Million Gain Through A Stock Merger With Adani Power, A Massive Windfall, To The Detriment Of Public Shareholders

In 2009, Adani Power Maharashtra Ltd., an Adani Power subsidiary, was developing a 1,980 MW project in Tiroda, India. In 2010, a mysterious Mauritius entity – Growmore Trade and Investment ("Growmore") – bought a 26% interest in Adani Power Maharashtra for a purchase price of $128 million.

In 2011, Growmore received a very generous offer from Adani Power to purchase, via merger, Growmore's stake in Adani Power Maharashtra. The valuation of that stake grew overnight from $128 million to around $551 million[57] – a U.S. $423 million windfall. Growmore's financials – available only through litigation records in a local court – carried the stake at $128.3 million on March 31, 2011, just a day before the merger was declared effective by an Indian court. [Pg. 108]

The purchase price was paid in shares of the parent, Adani Power, and resulted in Growmore holding 213 million shares of Adani Power, ~9% of its total equity, according to news reports.

We found no specific disclosure from Adani Power in its annual reports that the Growmore deal was a related-party transaction. [1,2,3]

Adani Power also claimed that it had a fairness opinion for the merger consideration – but does not appear to have publicly shared it.

Money Out, Undisclosed Transaction #1 Cont'd – Growmore Is Another Mauritius Shell Entity Controlled By A Friend Of The Adani Family Who Shared An Address With Vinod Adani And Is Prominently Mentioned In Adani Corruption Investigations

Our review of the audited financial statements for Growmore (once again found only through local court records) identified no owners, but lists the sole director of Growmore as a man named Mr. Chang Chung-Ling.

(Source: 2011 Growmore audit, annexed in court merger filings [Pg. 104])

Chang Chung-Ling was also a director, together with Vinod Adani, in an Adani private entity based in Singapore called Adani Global Limited, per Adani Enterprises' annual report.[58] [Pg. 66] Taiwanese media reports describe Chang Chung-Ling as a key Adani shareholder and close business partner.

(Pictured: Chang Chung-Ling (left) with and Gautam Adani (center). Source: Taiwanese media.)

During and prior to his involvement with Growmore, Chang Chung-Ling played central roles in two fraud schemes involving Vinod Adani that are detailed further in Part 5.

Chang Chung-Ling's name appears in a 2014 Directorate of Revenue intelligence (DRI) report detailing a scheme alleging that the Adani Group siphoned cash from its publicly listed companies. He served as a director of Electrogen Infra Holding Pvt. Ltd., an Adani private company that was part of a complex scheme to siphon funds out of Adani Enterprises and Adani Power, per DRI investigative records. The day he resigned as director, he was replaced by Vinod Adani.

(Source: DRI Investigation 2014 [Pg. 7])

Chang Chung-Ling also served as a director of Gudami International Pte Ltd., which was identified as part of a government fraud investigation into the Adani Group's alleged circular trading of gems. [Pg. 16]

Corporate records cited in that investigation show that Chang Chung-Ling shared the same residential address as Vinod Adani: 75, Meyer Road, #17-01, Hawaii Tower. The records were dated around 2005.

(Source: DRI Diamond Scam Investigation [Pg. 16])

We visited the address, called Hawaii Tower in Singapore, and photographed Vinod and Chang Chung-Ling's shared address at the entirely residential condominium complex.

(Source: Hindenburg Research on-site visit)

All of the evidence we uncovered indicates that the Growmore transaction with Adani was an undisclosed related-party transaction that siphoned off hundreds of millions of dollars from public shareholders.

Money Out, Undisclosed Transaction #2: A Major Contractor To The Adani Group Named 'PMC Projects' Has Generated INR 63 Billion (U.S. $784 Million) In Revenue In The Past 12 Years

The Entity Currently Has No Website. Records Show It Was Based At Adani's Corporate Address, Shared A Phone Number With Adani, And Has Numerous Overlapping Employees

A 2014 DRI Investigation Called It A "Dummy Firm" For Adani Group

PMC Projects is an Indian infrastructure development company that has generated INR 63.7 billion (U.S. $784 million) in cumulative revenue since 2010, according to its annual reports.[59] The revenue is mostly attributable to work with the Adani Group, based on its archived website which shows no other key clients. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)

The Adani Group has not specifically named PMC Projects as a related party in its public filings.

This massive flow of revenue from Adani comes despite few public signs that PMC Projects does anything separate and apart from functioning as an arm of the Adani Group. According to a 2014 DRI investigation, PMC Projects was a "dummy firm" used by the Adani Group in a coal/power equipment over-invoicing scandal.

Historical captures of its website show that PMC Projects formerly shared its address and phone number with an Adani company.

PMC Project's old website claimed it worked extensively with Adani Group, touting itself as the creator "of some of the largest and complex port projects" including the Adani Dahej Port.

(Source: The Wayback Machine archive)

Many PMC Projects employees seemingly exhibit confusion over whether they work for Adani Group or PMC Projects. One assistant manager, for example, reports working at "PMC Projects (Adani Group)."

Another employee believed he worked for "Adani PMC Projects India," an entity name that does not seem to exist in corporate registries.

We identified 7 LinkedIn profiles of employees who simultaneously claimed to work for both Adani Group and PMC Projects. Others appear to believe that PMC Projects is part of the Adani Group. (1,2,3,4,5,6,7)

Money Out, Undisclosed Transaction #2 Cont'd: Newly Revealed Records Name PMC Projects' Owner

He Is Described In Media Reports As "Adani Group's Taiwan Representative". We Found A Picture Of Him Holding An "Adani" Sign At a Government Event, Representing The Adani Group

Once Again, We Found No Disclosure Of PMC Projects Being a Related Party Entity To Adani

When PMC Projects was originally investigated by the DRI, law enforcement officials could not determine who its ultimate owner was.[60] [Pg. 49, 74, 75] In 2021, however, after a change in India's ownership disclosure regime, newly revealed information shows that the current sole beneficial owner of PMC Projects is Chang Chien-Ting, the son of Chang Chung-Ling – Vinod Adani's old shared address-mate from the Growmore transaction described earlier.

Taiwanese media covered an official government event attended by PMC Projects' owner Chang Chien-Ting and described him as "Adani Group's Taiwan Representative." The article included a picture of Chien-Ting holding an Adani sign and speaking on behalf of the Adani Group at the event.

(Taiwanese media showing Chang Chien-Ting holding an Adani sign as the official Adani representative at the government-sponsored event.)

In 2018, Chinese media also referred to Chang Chien-Ting as Adani Group's Taiwan representative.

Taken together, these facts paint a blindingly obvious picture to us – PMC Projects is an Adani Group private entity used to suck money out of the Adani Group's publicly listed entities with no disclosure of the conflict to investors.

Adani Group Also Has Suspicious Disclosed Related-Party Transactions That Involve Siphoning Money From Listed Companies

Money Out, Disclosed Transaction #1: Adani Group Companies Paid A Private Promoter Entity INR 21.1 Billion (U.S. $260 Million) Over The Past 5 Years, Including INR 6.9 Billion (U.S. $83 Million) In Financial Year 2022

Adani Infrastructure Management Services, an Adani private entity, generated revenue of over INR 6.9 billion (U.S. $83 million) in FY22. Most of that revenue was recorded as 'rendering of services' and 'other transactions' to other Adani Group companies, according to its annual reports. (1,2,3,4,5)

(Source: Adani Infrastructure Management Services Limited Standalone Financials Statements FY2018-FY2022)

Adani listed companies focus on building infrastructure. Given that these are the very businesses in which they claim to be experts, it seems odd to pay a privately held, promoter-controlled entity to do the same.

We identified INR 2.6 billion (U.S. $31.9 million) extracted from Adani Group listed entities into the private entity. The 2022 annual report of Adani Infrastructure Management Services records the following revenue from subsidiaries of Adani listed companies, to name a few:

  1. Adani Power Mundra: INR 1 billion (U.S. $12.2 million).
  2. Adani Power Maharashtra: INR 1 billion (U.S. $12.2 million).
  3. Raipur Energen: INR 632 million (U.S. $7.7 million).

Furthermore, Adani Power recently received audit committee approval to lend up to INR 50 billion (U.S. $615 million) to the entity. ­[Line 2]

Money Out, Disclosed Transaction #2: An Entity Owned By An Adani Private Family Trust In A Caribbean Tax Haven Charged Publicly Listed Adani Enterprises An INR 7.8 Billion (U.S. $100 Million) Upfront Security Deposit To Use A Coal Terminal In Australia

Suspect related deals involving the Adani Group take numerous forms. In footnote 48 of Adani Enterprises' 2022 annual report, it disclosed paying almost INR 7.83 billion (U.S. $100 million) to an entity called NQXT (North Queensland Export Terminal).

NQXT is the rebranded name of Adani's Abbot Point project – a 50 metric ton per annum coal export terminal in Australia.

NQXT is ultimately controlled, through multiple layers, by a private trust of the Adani family in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), a well-known tax haven, per Australian corporate records for the holding company of NQXT. [Pg. 31] [61]

Once again, it is unclear why an Adani private entity is charging the Adani Group listed company for port handling services in yet another conflicted transaction, drawing capital out of the public company.

Part 4: How Virtually Non-Existent Financial Controls Enabled Adani Group's Obvious Accounting Irregularities And Dubious Dealings

One question that arose throughout our research was: 'How can a conglomerate so large get away with such obvious and massive accounting irregularities without anyone stepping in?'

Our review found that the basic functions meant to act as checks and balances on Adani Group companies were lacking. These include (i) stability in the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) roles (ii) credible independent auditors and (iii) independent incorporation agents.

Key Accounting Red Flag #1: Adani Group Has Had Extensive Turnover In Its CFO Roles

Example: Adani Enterprises Has Had 5 CFOs In 8 Years

Most major enterprises aim to have stability in their top executive ranks. While Gautam Adani and his family have been continuously and heavily involved in Adani Enterprises and the Adani Group's other listed entities, they have struggled to retain Chief Financial Officers.

For example, the top accounting executive role at Adani Enterprises has seen remarkable turnover in a short span—5 CFOs in 8 years—a key red flag suggesting accounting and internal financial control issues.

# Date of Resignation CFO Name Source
1 Current CFO Jugeshinder Singh Pg. 32
2 April 16th 2019 Rakesh Shah Pg. 32
3 May 1st 2018 Rajiv Nayar Pg. 43
4 August 12th 2017 Ameet H. Desai Pg. 43
5 May 17th 2014 Devang S. Desai Pg. 65

In fact, all the Adani listed companies have struggled to retain CFOs, with extensive turnover across the group:

Entity CFO Resignations Source(s)
Adani Enterprises 5 CFOs in 8 years Annual reports [Pgs. 32, 43, 65]
Adani Green Energy 3 CFOs in 5 years Annual reports [Pgs. 146, 33, 35] & '22 Release
Adani Ports 3 CFOs in 5 years Annual reports [Pgs. 262, 50]
Adani Power 3 CFOs in 5 years Annual reports [Pgs. 41, 27]
Adani Total Gas 2 CFOs in 4 years Annual reports [Pgs. 63, 42]
Adani Transmission 2 CFOs in 2 years Annual reports [Pg. 200]

Key Accounting Red Flag #2: The Independent Auditor For (1) Adani Enterprises And (2) Adani Total Gas Is A Tiny Firm That Reported Having Only 4 Partners And 11 Total Employees

The Audit Partners Who Signed Off On The Companies' Financials Are 28 Years Old. They Were 23 And 24 Years Old When They Started Approving Financials For The Now-U.S. $100 Billion Combined Market Cap Companies

Most large companies hire credible, well-known external auditing firms in order to give investors confidence that their financials are being independently reviewed by a capable team.

Given the complexity of Adani Total Gas and, particularly, Adani Enterprises, with 156 subsidiaries and many more affiliates and joint ventures, one would expect a large, highly experienced team to be monitoring its labyrinthian corporate structure.[62]

But Adani Group has apparently shunned this approach, choosing a tiny auditor named Shah Dhandharia to oversee the audits for these two public companies.

Shah Dhandharia's website has gone offline during our investigation and now appears to have no website. Archived versions of the website as of February 2020 show that the firm was comprised of only 4 audit partners and 7 support staff.[63]

Of the partners featured on its team page, we found that 3 were in their 20s – hardly the level of experience or seniority needed to seriously scrutinize one of the world's wealthiest and most powerful businessmen.

(Source: Shah Dhandharia's now defunct website and private entity filing [1,2,3])

The audit partner named on Adani Total Gas's financials, Shubham Rohatgi, was as young as 23 years old when he started signing off on Adani Total Gas's financial statements.

(Left: Adani Gas Financials signed by audit partner Shubham Rohatgi, 23 years old at the time. [Pg. 5] Right: Shubham Rohatgi's official PAN card (tax identity document) displaying his date of birth. [Source: Shah Dhandharia filings])

The audit partner named on Adani Enterprises' financials, Ankit Ajmera, was as young as 24 years old when he started signing off on its financial statements.

(Left: Adani Enterprises Financials signed by audit partner Ankit Ajmera, 24 years old at the time. [Pg. 11] Right: Ankit Ajmera's official government ID displaying his birthday [Source: Shah Dhandharia filings])

Shah Dhandharia operates out of a small office in Ahmedabad, paying about INR 32,000 (U.S. $435 in 2021) in monthly rent, per Indian corporate records. [Pgs. 2, 3]

According to our searches via leading information database Prime, the only other listed company (excluding Adani companies) that Shah Dhandharia has audited was a penny stock called Globe Textiles, which has a market cap of approximately INR 640 million (U.S. $7.8 million).

Key Accounting Red Flag #3: Audits At Adani's Other Group Companies Show A Pattern Of Financial Control Weaknesses

Adani Power Auditor: Issued A Qualified Opinion Due To A "Material Weakness" In Financial Controls

Audits for Adani's other listed entities have been performed all or in part by "Big-4" firms like Deloitte or affiliates of Ernst & Young.

Among those audits, issues have emerged. In Adani Power's FY22 report, for example, auditor SRBC, an Ernst & Young affiliate, provided a "qualified" audit opinion, reflective of the auditor's inability to give a clean, or "unqualified" opinion. [Pg. 206]

The auditor explained that a "material weakness has been identified in the Company's internal financial controls over financial reporting" in its most recent annual audit, relating to the valuation of certain assets connected to its power plant in Mundra.

Adani Power Auditor: Raised Major Concerns About 23% Of The Company's Asset Base, INR 56.75 Billion (U.S. ~$700 Million)

The auditor noted that the Mundra power plant's net worth had been "completely eroded" due to sustained losses. Despite its dire financial straits, management valued investments and loans relating to the troubled enterprise at INR 56.75 billion (U.S. ~$700 million). [Pg. 131]

The auditor found no basis to support the carrying value of those assets, which represented ~23% of Adani Power's total asset base, and felt compelled to specifically point out the issue.

Adani Power has consistently struggled. Current liabilities, a measure of short-term obligations, exceeds current assets, posing a solvency question. [Pg. 140] By inflating the value of its assets, Adani Power could claim to be on healthier footing than its reality suggests.

Part 5: Numerous Government Investigations Indicate That A Key Source of Adani Group's Early Cash Inflows Stemmed From Misappropriation Of Taxpayer Funds, Siphoning From Listed Companies And Corruption

Import-Export Scams Seemed To Be The Early Building Blocks Of The Adani Business Empire

Despite the group ́s "Growth With Goodness" slogan, the Adani Group has repeatedly faced government allegations of corruption, theft of taxpayer funds and siphoning from listed companies. The allegations have included those from the anti-smuggling agency, called the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) and a local state Ombudsman on corruption.

In several instances, investigative findings have been released, including extensive detail on secret offshore entities, forgery, corruption of government officials, accounting manipulation, and money laundering.

The investigations alleged Adani's participation in or facilitation of at least U.S. $17 billion in fraud through various schemes.[64] [1, 2, 3]

The alleged theft follows a pattern. It often involves use of Adani Group ́s infrastructure assets to illicitly bilk funds from the government or listed group companies through a variety of means including (i) over-invoicing, (ii) transporting goods illicitly, (iii) illegitimate tax rebates and (iv) misrepresentation of goods/services.

Investigative records show that once funds and assets are misappropriated, they are regularly siphoned to entities in offshore tax haven jurisdictions, often controlled by Vinod Adani, brother of Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani.

Despite detailed investigative records, which regularly include bank statements, emails, witness testimony and invoices, virtually every government action has either been stalled, stonewalled or dismissed by other arms of the government.

Scandal #1, Money In: 'The Diamond Scandal'. The Indian Directorate Of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) Alleged Adani Enterprises Engaging In Circular Trading Of Cut And Polished Diamonds In Order To Illegally Claim Almost INR 6.8 Billion (U.S. $151 Million At The Time) In Illegitimate Export Credits

Period Under Investigation: 2004-2006

An investigation by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), a government anti-smuggling agency, and the Customs agency alleged that publicly listed Adani Exports (later renamed Adani Enterprises) and other Adani-controlled companies engaged in circular trading in cut and polished diamonds (CPD), over-inflating the value of goods and massively boosting export turnover.

The investigative documents, publicly released much later in 2017, alleged that the scheme resulted in Adani Exports earning illicit tax credits:

"Adani Exports Ltd., Ahmedabad – now Adani Enterprises Limited – (hereinafter referred to as AEL) had formed a consortium with various companies and indulged in the mis-declaration of FOB value [market value] and circular trading of Cut and Polished Diamonds (hereinafter referred to as CPD) exported by them with an intent to inflate their export turnover to fraudulently avail the benefit of Target Plus scheme." [Pg. 2]

The Target Plus scheme was a government export credit program in effect for part of the period under investigation. It rewarded entities that met a minimum export threshold by giving them valuable tax credits.

In just one of those years, 2004-2005, the report alleged that Adani Enterprises and its associated companies fraudulently claimed INR 6.8 billion in government export benefits (U.S. $151 million at the time). [Pg. 102]

The report added:

"it was very clearly brought out that the entire transaction in the Cut and Polished Diamonds (CPD) was a well thought out, premeditated and pre-determined exercise for indulging in fraudulent import and exports of CPD with an intention to defraud the government exchequer by availing of undue export benefits." [Pg. 28]

The investigation stated for the period 2004-2005 and 2005-2006:

"Total (CPD) exports of Adani Exports Ltd and their 5 group companies was about 3 times the total export of all the other 34 firms put together." [Pg. 172]

Scandal #1, Money Out: The Same DRI 'Diamond Scandal' Investigation Showed The Involvement of Numerous Adani Family Members, Including Gautam Adani's Brother Vinod Adani, And The Use Of Offshore Tax Havens Like Dubai, UAE And Singapore

The DRI investigations demonstrated the lengths the Adani Group was willing to go to design and set up elaborate, multi-layered, offshore structures. The pattern has been repeated throughout the Adani Group ́s corporate existence.

The investigative documents included witness testimony, bank and corporate records, and even emails showing Adani company employees establishing bank accounts and directing trades for front entities with which it engaged in circular trading. [Pgs. 26, 49]

As an example of these offshore structures, customs investigators found several excel sheets containing flowcharts on the computer of an Adani company employee. These charts showed the intricate offshore network for which investigators alleged were prime vehicles in the elaborate scam:

"...there did not take place any genuine trade between AEL and its group companies with the overseas firms. The overseas firms in UAE/Singapore and Hong Kong were merely used to facilitate the to and fro movement of CPD and finances from India to Overseas and back, thereby creating trade volumes for AEL and its group companies" [Pgs. 77, 36-39]

(Source: Reproduced flowchart from DRI records [Pg. 37])

The documentation detailed the role of Vinod Adani, who at the time managed a Dubai entity called G.A. International that was a claimed buyer of gems and also received large sums of money. [Pgs. 20, 63, 71-72, 92-93]

Other Adani family members, including Gautam Adani ́s younger brother Rajesh Adani, and brother-in-law Samir Vora were accused by investigators of playing a central planning and consultation role in the circular diamond trading scheme.

Per DRI investigators and witness statements:

"All the policy decisions regarding imports/exports of gold/diamonds in respect of AEL and other companies was being taken by Shri Samir Vora in consultation with Shri Rajesh Adani, Managing Director, AEL." [Pg. 6]

When questioned about the use of front companies to engage in a circular trading scheme to defraud the government of export credits, a key witness said:

"Samir Vora looked after entire business of exports/imports of gold & diamonds for all the above said (front) companies". [Pg. 7]

As referenced near the beginning of the report, Samir Vora was also accused of making multiple false statements to regulators. Both Samir Vora and Rajesh Adani were subsequently promoted to key executive roles in the Adani Group.

Scandal #1, Investigation Stonewalled: An Appeals Court Overturned The Prosecution And Ruled That The Original Diamond Trading Scheme Investigation Failed To Produce "Tangible Evidence"

The original investigation and prosecution proceedings spanned 5 1⁄2 years and resulted in a 239-page order from the Commissioner of Customs that detailed intricate evidence and findings. [Pg. 1]

In its 2013 ruling, the commissioner fined Adani Enterprises INR 250 million (U.S. $4.6 million). It also fined five other diamond trading companies, which it ruled were directly controlled and managed by Adani Group, a further INR 20 million (U.S. $370,000) each. Rajesh Adani was fined INR 10 million (U.S. $185,000), while Samir Vora received an INR 7.5 million (U.S. $138,000) penalty. [Pgs. 220, 221, 222]

But in August 2015, the Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT), the tribunal that handles appeals against customs and tax evasion cases, completely dismissed the findings of the original investigation and exonerated all parties involved. It stated in its ruling:

"In the present case, we find that the department [of revenue investigations] has failed in discharging the burden cast upon it to produce any tangible evidence in respect of the charge of over-valuation or circular trading." [Point 18.21]

In its final point, the tribunal concluded:

"In the circumstances we set aside the impugned order passed by the Commissioner and allow the appeals filed by all the parties and dismiss the appeals filed by the Department [of Revenue Investigations]."

The appeals tribunal declared that the transaction values were genuine, and effectively ignored the extensive evidence trail of circular trading and fraudulent intent. The multi-year investigation was effectively dead, a pattern that has emerged with numerous other investigations and charges that Adani Group has faced in India.

Scandal #2, Money In: 'The Iron Ore Scandal'. Adani Enterprises ́ Role In An Alleged INR 600 Billion (U.S. $12 Billion) Scam Involving Illegal Exports Of Iron Ore

Period under investigation: 2006-2010

In 2011, the parliamentary ombudsman for Karnataka state issued a 466-page report detailing"the various methods used by the people involved in the mining industry to illegally lift, transport and export iron ore". [Pg. 12]

The ombudsman's role is to investigate corruption and maladministration in the state government.

The report alleged that Adani Enterprises played a major role in exporting undeclared volumes of often illegally mined iron ore through the port it leased at Belekeri. [Pg. 32, 55]

Belekeri port, where Adani Enterprises and another operator were accused of participating in the illegal exports, was reportedly the "anchor point" for the scam, estimated to have been up to INR 600 billion (U.S. $12 billion at the time). [1,2]

The investigation detailed how companies involved in the alleged scam stole state resources and evaded royalty payments on mined and exported volumes of iron ore:

"Any quantity (of ore) extracted and dispatched without paying royalty is illegal. The quantity of ore transported without transit permits (trip sheets, Form 31, Form 27) means non-payment of royalty and also theft of State property, hence has to be treated as illegal." [Pg. 12]

The investigation also concluded that the systemic corruption of state officials amounted to "large scale corruption and complaints of profiteering through illegal mining with the complicity of the authorities in all levels of Government", including the state ́s chief minister. [Pg. 2]

Scandal #2: The Investigative Documents Squarely Accused Adani Enterprises Of Bribing All Levels Of Government

"The Adani Enterprises has paid the bribes for getting undue favour for illegal exports." [Pg. 55]

"The officials of Port department, Customs, Police, KSPCB, CRZ, Mines, Local politicians and others are involved in receiving the bribe money from M/s. Adani Enterprises...The criminal cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act should be filed against those who figured in the seized record of Adani Enterprises". [Pg. 54]

Based on documentation seized during the investigation, Justice Santosh Hegde said Adani Enterprises had paid bribes on a per-ship basis ranging from INR 50,000 (~U.S. $1,100 at 2010 exchange rates), to the port director at INR 5,500 (U.S. $120 at the time) and to individual port staff. [Pg. 52]

Justice Hedge recommended that Adani Enterprises' lease of the state government-owned Belekeri port be terminated and that the company be barred from any future government leases. [Pg. 55]

Scandal #2, Investigation Stonewalled: The Iron Ore Investigation Has Faced Numerous Legal Hurdles By The Government

Despite some political fall-out affecting the state chief minister and others of his cabinet immediately after the ombudsman report was leaked, there seems to have been little long-term impact, with disgraced politicians returning to the political sphere, criminal investigations stalled and no clear indication of when or if they may resume.

Justice Hegde, the former Supreme Court judge who oversaw the investigation, eventually resigned in protest over the unwillingness of the government to actually do anything about the alleged mass-corruption he uncovered. The government seemingly turned its guns on the investigators instead.

In a phone conversation, Justice Hedge criticized India ́s slow judicial process for failing to hold Adani Group and other perpetrators to account. He seemed baffled why, despite the severity of the evidence and allegations, that the Adani Group went on to receive ever bigger government concessions:

"The cases are still pending and that is one of the problems you have with slow movement of the judiciary."

Scandal #3, Money In: 'Power Equipment Over-Invoicing Scandal'

In 2014, The DRI Alleged Adani Group Had Over-Invoiced Power Plant Equipment By INR 39.74 Billion (~U.S. $800 Million At The Time), "Indulged in Trade Based Money Laundering", Passing On Costs To Consumers And Siphoning Funds From Its Public Entities

Period of investigation: 2009-2014

A 2014 investigation by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) alleged that two Adani Power subsidiaries had "grossly" over-valued the import valuation of boilers, generators and turbines imported for its power plants. [Pg. 96]

In a summary of its investigation, the DRI accused the power companies (APML and APRL), related entities and Vinod Adani of siphoning off cash abroad and indulging in trade-based money laundering.

(Source: Director of Revenue Intelligence Report [Pg. 96])

The DRI investigation, which included extensive bank records, invoices, witness testimony, corporate entity records and customs records, calculated that Adani Power companies falsified invoices and more than doubled the declared value of imports of power equipment. [Pg. 58, 67]

According to the investigation, the aim of the scheme was "indulging in gross over-valuation of imported goods (zero or low duty rated) to siphon off money abroad from public listed companies." [Pg. 1]

Although not explicitly laid out in the DRI report, a secondary motivation for inflating equipment costs would have been to obtain higher energy tariffs set under official guidelines by the Central Electricity Regulation Commission (CERC).

CERC documents made it clear that energy tariffs are calculated on a series of components that include a return on the value of investment including initial capital costs. [Pg. 10, 15, 17, 20]

Ultimately, if the Adani Group inflated costs of either coal imports or equipment costs, the end consumer could pay more for that via higher energy tariffs.

Although the imports were shipped directly from China to India, invoices were issued by intermediary entities in Dubai, surreptitiously controlled by Vinod Adani, brother of Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani.

A schematic of the alleged fraud is reproduced below from the DRI investigation:

(Source: Director of Revenue Intelligence Report [Pg. 96])

The DRI called the Dubai, UAE-based entity "an intermediary dummy agent for invoice copying and value inflation." [65] [Pg. 32]

Scandal #3, Money Out: The 2014 DRI Investigation Found That Vinod Adani's Intermediary Entity Then Sent U.S. $900 Million In Siphoned Funds To A Privately Controlled Adani Entity In Mauritius

In what would become a pattern, the allegedly skimmed money found its way into Vinod Adani controlled entities in Mauritius, according to the DRI investigation. Investigators estimated that U.S. ~$808 million had been skimmed, and that U.S. ~$900 million was subsequently directed out to tax-haven Mauritius.

Per the 111-page investigation report:

"This corroborates the modus-operandi of the siphoning off of money abroad by inflation of value of imported goods by creating an intermediary invoicing agent in the UAE. While actual value of the goods as per the invoice of actual supplier/OEM is remitted by EIF (Adani-controlled Electrogen Infra) to the said supplier, the over-valued amount is siphoned off to their own companies in Mauritius or elsewhere." [Pg. 71]

(Source: Show Cause Notice [Pg. 71])

Scandal #3, Investigation Stonewalled: The Power Equipment Over-Invoicing Investigation Was Shelved by The Same Agency That Launched It, Overturning Its Own Evidence

"This Probe Has Been Shelved. This Has Been Done Under Pressure From The Government" – Opposition Member Of Congress

Despite the overwhelming evidence, the investigation was shelved by one of the DRI ́s own senior officials three years later in an August 2017 order.

The ruling overturned the organization ́s own evidence assembled during the original investigation and stated that there was no proof the power equipment had been over-valued. The ruling also stated that the deal between the Adani power companies and Vinod Adani, despite being related parties, were somehow conducted at arms-length:

"Even though I find that EIF [Electrogen] and APRL [Adani Power Rajasthan] to be related entities through Shri Vinod Shantilal Adani @ Vinod Shantilal Shah I have come to the conclusion that the said relation has not affected the price and that the same was at arms length and have accepted the transaction value. Thus I find that the allegation that the impugned goods were over-valued does not hold water." [Pg. 278]

Proceedings against all the accused were dropped. [Pg. 279] In what amounted to an internal squabble, a different department of the DRI launched an appeal against that ruling. The appeals tribunal, CESTAT, upheld the decision to drop the charges in a ruling in July 2022. [Pg. 87]

Such rulings have led to accusations from opposition leaders in India ́s Congress that the ruling party was protecting the Adani companies from prosecution. As senior congress member Jairam Ramesh said:

"Wherever Adani is investigated, this government shows an alarming alacrity to terminate the probe. The first probe conducted by the DRI gave a notice to Adani regarding the import of power equipment...This probe has now been shelved. This has been done under pressure from the government."

Scandal #4, Money In: Adani Group's Involvement In An Alleged INR 290 Billion (U.S. ~$4.4 Billion) Scam To Over-Invoice Indonesian Coal Imports, Passing Costs Off To Taxpayers

Period under investigation: 2011 to 2016

Another investigation by the DRI, revealed in March 2016, alleged that 40 companies, including five Adani Group entities and another 5 supplied by Adani Group were "artificially inflating [coal] value as compared to the actual value." [Pg. 1, 4]

(General Alert Circular Source: Directorate of Revenue Intelligence [Pg. 4])

Per the report:

"The objective of the over-valuation appears to be two-fold (i) siphoning off money abroad and (ii) to avail higher power tariff compensation based on artificially inflated cost." [Pg. 1]

Media reports indicated at least 1,300 Adani Group coal consignments were being investigated by authorities.

The DRI alleged:

"The cases under examination suggest huge over-valuation to the extent of about 50% to 100%". [Pg. 2]

The DRI also alleged that laboratory test reports were falsified in order to show the coal was of higher quality than reality. [Pg. 2]

Media reports indicated that coal imports by the suppliers under investigation may have exceeded INR 290 billion (U.S. ~$4.43 billion at 2015-2016 exchange rates). Those figures may not have considered the value of higher electricity tariffs paid to some suppliers including the Adani Group, leading a local commentator to suggest the figure might be INR 500 billion (U.S. $7.63 billion).

Scandal #4, Money Out: The Alleged Indonesian Coal Export Scam Involved Invoices Being Routed Through Entities In Dubai, UAE, Singapore And The British Virgin Islands

Like the allegations in the power equipment over-invoicing scandal described earlier, the DRI stated that coal was shipped directly from Indonesia to Indian ports, but the supplier invoices were routed through one or more intermediary agents based in other countries including Singapore, Dubai, Hong Kong and the British Virgin Islands. [Pg. 1]

Scandal #4, Investigation Stonewalled: The Indonesian Coal Import Scheme Investigation Has Faced Numerous Legal Hurdles By The Government

The investigation still appears to be ongoing but has once again been subject to multiple slowdowns. In 2019, the Bombay High Court—in response to an Adani Enterprises' petition – blocked DRI efforts to seek corporate information from overseas jurisdictions including Singapore.

In early 2020, the Supreme Court overturned that ruling, allowing the DRI to press ahead with its investigation and issue requests for overseas cooperation, the outcome of which is still awaited.

Media reports explained that higher coal costs pushed India ́s energy regulator to approve increased payments to Adani Group and other power generators, which are ultimately passed off to consumers by way of a hike in energy tariffs.

The Supreme Court then blocked the tariff hike in a 2014 ruling which was projected to net the Adani Group more than INR 185 billion (U.S. $3.05 billion at 2013-2014 exchange rates).

In February 2022, the Supreme Court ordered the Rajasthan state power company to pay Adani Power for the higher priced imported Indonesian coal. Those payments, totaling close to INR 60 billion and backdated to 2013, according to its 2022 annual report, appear to have been mostly booked by Adani Power in March 2022. [Pg. 88]

Despite that financial victory for Adani Group, the Supreme Court ruling does not mean that the Adani Group is entirely off the hook for over-invoicing issues just yet.

In its deliberations in 2020 – during an appeal hearing in the long-running dispute between Adani Group and the Rajasthan power company – the Supreme Court stated the DRI investigation was ongoing and there was no "ultimate conclusion" about allegations of over-invoicing the Indonesian coal imports.

Scandal #4, The Over-Invoicing Practices Appear To Be Ongoing: Adani Transmission's Subsidiary Awarded A Coal Supply Contract To An Opaque Singaporean Entity Controlled By A Former Adani Group Company Director

Despite the numerous investigations into Adani Group's alleged import-export scams, there are signs these practices continue at the conglomerate.

In 2019, a subsidiary of publicly listed Adani Transmission sought to purchase coal, and requested quotes on coal prices from various suppliers. [Pg. 37] The winning bid was from an entity named 'Pan Asia Coal Trading'.[66]

We checked the website for Pan Asia Coal Trading, hoping to learn more about how an unknown merchant company managed to undercut actual coal producer prices by 6%, considered a massive discount in the commodities sector.

We would have expected to find that Pan Asia Coal Trading had a team of seasoned coal professionals with experience trading international markets. Instead, we found a vague website that did not name a single person associated with the company.

Its coal trading section simply stated "coming soon".

(Source: The "Coal Trading" section of Pan Asia Coal Trading's website, accessed 12/22/2022)

Singaporean corporate records list a single director and shareholder behind the entity, an individual named Chetan Kumar S/O Mulchand Ambalal Parikh.[67]

(Source: Singaporean corporate records)

Chetan Kumar was a former managing director of Adani-Wilmar (Singapore), according to Singaporean corporate records.

Chetan Kumar was also a former director of a subsidiary of Adani Enterprises called Libra Shipping Pte, per the 2008 annual report for Adani Enterprises and Singaporean records of the subsidiary. [Pg. 18]

If the links to Adani Group were not already apparent, in the same year as winning the coal deal in 2019, Pan Asia Coal Trading lent U.S. $30 million to a private entity of the Adani Group, per Singaporean corporate records. [Pgs. 30-31, 34]. Vinod Adani is a director of that entity. Its ultimate parent company is based in the British Virgin Islands, controlled by an Adani private family trust. [Pgs. 3, 30].

Pan Asia then went on to lend another U.S. $10 million to the same private entity of Adani Group in 2021. [Pgs. 2, 28, 32]

In short, it appears Adani Group has used the same pattern of routing deals through undisclosed related intermediaries in order to siphon money and/or shoulder Indian citizens with added power costs.

Part 6: Investment Banks And Professional Investors Have Steered Clear Of Adani Listed Companies

Sell Side Coverage From Major Banks And Brokers Is Virtually Non-Existent In Many Adani Stocks

Some Brokers Have Quietly Expressed Concerns About the Trading Activity In Adani Stocks

There is a vacuum of sell-side and broker research coverage for stocks like Adani Enterprises, Adani Green, Adani Transmission and Adani Green Energy. We believe this is by choice and not by limitation.[68]

As an example, one regional broker, CLSA, dropped coverage of Adani Transmission in May 2021, stating:

"We drop coverage, as the stock is driven by speculative interest and a lack of 'real' effective liquidity, keeping valuation at a stratospheric 16x premium to the sector".

(Source: CLSA Research)

Except for Adani Ports, other listed Adani companies are severely underfollowed relative to peers of similar market capitalization.

Adani Company # Analysts Covering, Per Bloomberg (Jan-23) Indian Company With Similar Market Cap, Number of Analysts Covering
Adani Green Energy 1 Bajaj Finance: 33 analysts
Adani Enterprises 2 Larsen & Toubro: 44 analysts
Adani Transmission 2 HCL Technologies: 46 analysts
Adani Total Gas 1 ITC: 37 analysts
Adani Ports 22 Mahindra & Mahindra: 48 analysts
Adani Wilmar 7 Dr Reddy's: 43 Analysts
Adani Power 1 Britannia: 41 analysts
*Bloomberg Analyst Coverage (with 12 Month Recommendation and/or Target Price)

Not A Single Domestic Active Mutual Fund Manager Is Willing To Own Multiple Key Adani Stocks In Significant Size

At the end of December 2022, domestic mutual funds had over U.S. $180 billion of equity & growth related assets under management.

Yet despite Adani listed companies featuring in domestic and overseas indices, no active local fund owns Adani Green, Adani Enterprises, Adani Total Gas or Adani Transmission above 1% of equity, according to shareholding disclosures. [1, 2, 3, 4]

Adani Company Domestic Mutual Fund Above 1% of equity? Comments
Adani Transmission No 19 mutual funds owning aggregate of 0.13% of equity
Adani Green Energy No 19 mutual funds owning aggregate of 0.12% of equity
Adani Enterprises No 31 mutual funds owning aggregate of 1.19% of equity
Adani Total Gas No 20 mutual funds owning aggregate of 0.13% of equity
(Source: December-2022 Shareholding Patterns, 1, 2, 3, 4 )

We believe it telling that India's most well-heeled, connected set of participants has consciously chosen to avoid the equity of these Adani Group stocks, despite their size.

Part 7: Adani Group's Response To Critics

"I have a very open mind towards criticism. For me, the message has always been more important than the messenger. I always introspect and try to understand the other's point of view. I am conscious that I am neither perfect nor am I always right. Every criticism gives me an opportunity to improve myself."

–Gautam Adani interview in India Today [Pg. 9]

Gautam Adani claims to welcome criticism, embracing it as a personal development opportunity, regardless of where it comes from.

But despite his claims, Adani Group has a long track record of strongarming critics into silence through expensive and drawn-out litigation, whether it be YouTubers, journalists, or simply people tweeting in protest.

In late 2020, Adani Group wrote a letter to a law minister urging the government to investigate planned negative tweets about environmental issues relating to the Adani Group ́s Australian coal project. Adani Group called the social media protest:

"A planned attempt to malign the reputation of the prominent business houses through fake news on Twitter, urging several Twitterati to participate in a 'Tweetstorm', to systematically wreak havoc".

It wasn't the first time one of the wealthiest men in the world felt threatened by social media posts. Earlier in 2021, Adani Group sought a court order to gag a YouTuber from making critical videos.

Adani Group "Harasses" Critics And "Manipulates" The Courts – Leading Media Watchdog

The Adani Group started a series of libel actions in 2017, which could see a leading Indian investigative journalist jailed In response to a series of articles about alleged tax evasion by the Adani Group, including the import-export of diamonds, and irregularities in the creation of tax-free Special Economic Zones.

International media watchdog Reporters Without Borders issued a strong defense of Paranjoy Guha Thakutra and his work and accused the Adani Group of manipulating the judicial system:

"Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the withdrawal of all charges against Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, a journalist who could be arrested at any time under a warrant issued on 19 January by a court in the state of Gujarat, in western India, as a result of a libel action by the industrial giant Adani. The justice system is being manipulated"

"It is absolutely inconceivable that a journalist is to be arrested for an article published four years ago whose accuracy was confirmed by a civil court. Everything suggests that the Adani Group is using the Kutch court to take its harassment of Paranjoy Thakurta to the extremes of persecution."

Earlier, Adani Group attempted to have an environmental protestor's home raided in Australia, and had a private investigator follow him as he took his 9-year-old daughter to school.­­­­­­­

In response to a 'public interest' documentary into Adani's affair by Four Corners (an Australian media channel), called Digging into Adani, the Adani Group said it was yet again prepared to pursue strict legal action against opponents of the company:

"To suggest that we are non-compliant, deviant or unethical will once again attract defamation and severe legal action" (Source: Local Media)

And in August 2021, the Adani Group launched a defamation action against India ́s Economic Times after the newspaper reported that authorities had frozen the accounts of a handful of Mauritius-based investment funds holding almost exclusively Adani stocks.

According to campaign group AdaniWatch, the journalists in that case were ordered to appear at a remote courthouse in Adani ́s home state Gujarat.

"The tactics employed make it clear that journalists and media houses that publish stories not to the Group's liking are being harassed by those in authority."­­­­­­­­­

At Hindenburg, we regularly scrutinize companies that try to silence criticism with intimidation. A functioning market requires diverging views and opinions so investors and citizens can make informed decisions.

We also believe that companies engaging in bullying practices are vastly more likely to have something to hide. Typically, credible, stable organizations are not threatened by questions, criticism or mean tweets.

Conclusion: Growth With Transparency

A system is broken when corporate behemoths like Adani Group seem able run an intricate fraud in broad daylight and when ordinary citizens are terrified to speak out against those who use their power and wealth to suppress criticism. We hope this report marks the beginning of a change.

Given Gautam Adani's claims to welcome criticism and embrace transparency, we hope the Adani Group will be pleased to answer the following 88 questions:

  1. Gautam Adani's younger brother, Rajesh Adani, was accused by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) of playing a central role in a diamond trading import/export scheme around 2004-2005. He was subsequently arrested twice over allegations of customs tax evasion, forging import documentation and illegal coal imports. Given his history, why was he subsequently promoted to serve as Managing Director at the Adani Group?
  2. Gautam Adani's brother-in-law, Samir Vora, was accused by the DRI of being a ringleader of a diamond trading scam and of repeatedly making false statements to regulators. Given his history, why was he subsequently promoted to Executive Director of the critical Adani Australia division?
  3. As part of the DRI investigation into over-invoicing of power imports, Adani claimed that Vinod Adani was "not at all having any involvement in any Adani Group of companies", except as shareholder. Despite this claim, a pre-IPO prospectus for Adani Power from 2009 detailed that Vinod was director of at least 6 Adani Group companies. Were Adani's original statements about Vinod, made to regulators, false?
  4. What has been the full extent of Vinod Adani's role in the Adani Group to date, including all roles on deals and entities that have transacted with the Adani Group?
  5. Mauritius-based entities like APMS Investment Fund, Cresta Fund, LTS Investment Fund, Elara India Opportunities Fund, and Opal Investments collectively and almost exclusively hold shares in Adani-listed companies, totaling almost U.S. $8 billion. Given that these entities are key public shareholders in Adani, what is the original source of funds for their investments in Adani companies?
  6. Recent right-to-information requests confirm that SEBI is investigating Adani's foreign fund stock ownership. Can Adani confirm that this investigation is ongoing and provide details on the status of that investigation?
  7. What information has been provided thus far as part of any investigations, and to which regulators?
  8. Entities associated with Monterosa Investment Holdings collectively own at least U.S. $4.5 billion in concentrated holdings of Adani Stock. Monterosa's CEO served as director in 3 companies alongside fugitive diamond merchant Jatin Mehta, whose son is married to Vinod Adani's daughter. What is the full extent of the relationship between Monterosa, its funds, and the Adani family?
  9. What is the extent of the Adani Group Companies, and any Vinod Adani related entities' dealings with Jatin Mehta?
  10. A once-related party entity of Adani called Gudami International, headed by close Adani associate Chang Chung-Ling, invested heavily in one of the Monterosa funds that allocated to Adani Enterprises and Adani Power. Monterosa entities continue as key Mauritius shareholders in Adani companies. What is Adani's explanation for this large, concentrated investment into Adani listed companies by a related-party entity?
  11. What was the original source of funds for each of the Monterosa funds and their investments in Adani?
  12. A former trader for Elara, a firm with almost $3 billion in concentrated holdings of Adani shares, including a fund that is 99% concentrated in shares of Adani, told us that it is obvious that Adani controls the shares. He added that the structure of the funds is intentionally designed to conceal their beneficial ownership. How does Adani respond?
  13. Leaked emails show that the CEO of Elara had dealings with notorious stock manipulator Dharmesh Doshi, partner of Ketan Parekh, even after Doshi became a fugitive for his alleged manipulation activity. How does Adani respond to this relationship, given that Elara is one of the largest "public" holders of shares of Adani?
  14. What was the original source of funds for the Elara funds and their investments in Adani?
  15. Adani has worked extensively with international incorporation firm Amicorp, which has established at least 7 of its promoter entities, at least 17 offshore shells and entities associated with Vinod Adani, and at least 3 Mauritius-based offshore shareholders of Adani stock. Amicorp played a key role in the 1MDB international fraud scandal, according to the book Billion Dollar Whale and U.S. legal case files, along with files from the Malaysian anti-corruption commission. Why has Adani continued to work closely with Amicorp despite its proximity to a major international fraud and money laundering scandal?
  16. New Leaina is a Cyprus-based investment firm, which held ~95% of its holdings in shares of Adani listed companies, consisting of over U.S. $420 million. The entity is operated by Amicorp. What was the original source of funds for New Leaina and its investments in Adani?
  17. Opal Investment Private Ltd. is the largest claimed independent holder of shares of Adani Power, with 4.69% of the company (representing ~19% of the float). It was formed on the same day, in the same jurisdiction (Mauritius) by the same small incorporation firm (Trustlink) as an entity associated with Vinod Adani. How does Adani explain this?
  18. What was the original source of funds for Opal and its investments in Adani?
  19. Trustlink's CEO touts its close relationship with Adani. The same Trustlink CEO was previously alleged by the DRI to have been involved in a fraud using shell companies with Adani. What are the full details of Trustlink's CEO's dealings with the Adani Group, including those detailed in the DRI investigative records?
  20. The above-named offshore entities holding concentrated positions in Adani stock accounted for up to 30%-47% of the yearly delivery volume in Adani stocks, a massive irregularity, according to our analysis of data from Indian exchanges and disclosed trading volume per Adani filings. How does Adani explain the extreme trading volume from this concentrated group of opaque offshore funds?
  21. The nature of this trading suggests that these entities are involved in manipulative wash trading or other forms of manipulative trading. How does Adani respond?
  22. In 2019, Adani Green Energy completed two offerings for sale (OFS) that were critical for ensuring that its public shareholders were above the 25% listing threshold requirement. What portion of these OFS deals were sold to offshore entities, including Mauritius and Cypriot entities named in our report?
  23. Indian listed corporates receive a weekly shareholding update, not disclosed to the public, which would detail the shareholding changes around the deals. Will Adani detail the full list of offshore entities that participated in the OFS deals?
  24. Adani chose Monarch Networth Capital to run the OFS offerings. An Adani private company has a small ownership stake in Monarch, and Gautam Adani's brother-in-law had previously purchased an airline together with the firm. This close relationship seems to pose an obvious conflict of interest. How does Adani respond?
  25. Why did Adani choose Monarch Networth Capital, a small firm previously suspended and sanctioned by SEBI over allegations of market manipulation, to run the offerings, rather than a large, well-respected broker?
  26. Mr. Robbie Singh, Group CFO at the time the shareholding issue erupted in public forums in 2021, claimed in an NDTV interview on June 16th 2021 that funds like the Mauritius shareholders had not made fresh investments and had come to own shares of other Adani stocks through vertical demergers. Our analysis shows that it was almost certain that the Mauritius shareholders made further investments in Adani Green. This coincides with the time when the promoters were required to bring their shareholding down to meet public shareholding norms. How does Adani Group respond to this new evidence?
  27. Our findings indicate that SEBI has investigated and prosecuted more than 70 entities and individuals, including Adani promoters, for manipulating Adani stock between 1999 to 2005. How does Adani respond?
  28. A SEBI ruling determined that Adani promoters aided and abetted Ketan Parekh in the manipulation of shares of Adani Exports (now Adani Enterprises), showing that 14 Adani private companies transferred shares to entities controlled by Parekh. How does Adani explain this coordinated, systematic stock manipulation in its shares, together with one of India's most notorious convicted stock fraudsters?
  29. In its defense, Adani Group claimed it had dealt with Parekh and his stock manipulation efforts to finance operations at the Mundra port. Does Adani view extraction of capital through stock manipulation as a legitimate method of financing?
  30. Individuals close to Ketan Parekh have told us that he continues to work on transactions with his old clients, including Adani. What was and is the full extent of the relationship between Parekh and the Adani Group, including either entity's relationship with Vinod Adani?
  31. Given that Adani Group promoters pledge shares as collateral for loans, wouldn't stock manipulation artificially inflate the collateral and borrowing base for such loans, posing a significant risk for the promoters' counterparties and, by proxy, Adani shareholders who would suffer at the hands of a collateral call or deleveraging via equity sale?
  32. In 2007, an Economic Times article described a deal whereby a brokerage controlled by Dharmesh Doshi, a fugitive associated with Ketan Parekh, bought shares in a pharmaceutical company for a BVI entity where Vinod Adani served as shareholder and director. What was and is the full extent of the relationship between Dharmesh Doshi and the Adani Group, including with Vinod Adani?
  33. What is the explanation for a Vinod Adani entity receiving an alleged U.S. $1 million as part of a transaction with Jermyn Capital, the brokerage entity previously run by Dharmesh Doshi, at the time a fugitive and wanted market manipulator?
  34. Investors generally prefer clean and simple corporate structures to avoid the conflicts of interest and accounting discrepancies that can lurk in sprawling, convoluted structures. Adani's 7 key listed entities collectively have 578 subsidiaries and have engaged in a total of 6,025 separate related-party transactions in fiscal year 2022 alone, per BSE disclosures. Why has Adani chosen such a convoluted, interlinked corporate structure?
  35. We found at least 38 Mauritius-based entities associated with Vinod Adani and Subir Mittra (the head of the Adani private family office). We also found Vinod Adani associated entities in other tax haven jurisdictions like Cyprus, the UAE, Singapore, and various Caribbean islands. Several of these entities have transacted with Adani entities without disclosing the related party nature of the dealings, seemingly in violation of the law, as evidenced throughout our report. What is the explanation for this?
  36. How many entities is Vinod Adani associated with as either director, shareholder, or beneficial owner? What are the names and jurisdictions of these entities?
  37. What are the full details of the Vinod Adani-associated entities' dealings with private and listed entities in the Adani empire?
  38. We found websites for 13 Vinod Adani entities that seem like rudimentary efforts to demonstrate that the entities have operations. Many websites were formed on the exact same day and listed the same set of nonsensical services such as "consumption abroad" and "commercial presence". What business or operations do each of these entities actually engage in?
  39. One of the websites for a Vinod Adani-associated entity claimed "we trade in Services such as sale and delivery of an intangible product, like a Service, between a producer and consumer." What does that even mean?
  40. A Vinod Adani-controlled Mauritius entity now called Krunal Trade & Investment lent INR 11.71 billion (U.S. ~$253 million) to a private Adani entity without disclosure of it being a related party loan. How does Adani explain this?
  41. A Vinod Adani-controlled UAE entity called Emerging Market Investment DMCC lists no employees on LinkedIn, has no substantive online presence, has announced no clients or deals, and is based out of an apartment in the UAE. It lent U.S. $1 billion to an Adani Power subsidiary. What was the source of the Emerging Market Investment DMCC funds?
  42. A Vinod Adani-controlled Cyprus entity called Vakoder Investments has no signs of employees, no substantive online presence, and no clear operations. It had an investment of U.S. ~$85 million in an Adani private entity without disclosure that it was a related party. How does Adani explain this?
  43. What was the source of the Vakoder funds?
  44. We have identified a series of transactions from 2013-2015 whereby assets were transferred from a subsidiary of listed Adani Enterprises to a private Singaporean entity controlled by Vinod Adani, without disclosure of the related party nature of these deals. What is the explanation for these transactions and the lack of disclosure?
  45. The private Singaporean entity controlled by Vinod Adani almost immediately wrote down the value of the transferred assets. Were those still held on the books of Adani Enterprises, it likely would have resulted in an impairment and significant decline in reported net income. What is the explanation for why these assets were transferred to a private undisclosed related party before being written down?
  46. We found that a "silver bar" merchant based at a residence with no website and no obvious signs of operations, run by a current and former Adani director, lent INR 15 billion (U.S. $202 million) to private Adani Infra with no disclosure of it being a related party transaction. What is the explanation for the lack of required disclosure?
  47. What was the purpose of the loan, and what was the original source of the "silver bar" merchant's funds?
  48. Gardenia Trade and Investments is a Mauritius-based entity with no website, no employees on LinkedIn, no social media presence, and no apparent web presence. One of its directors is Subir Mittra, the head of the Adani private family office. The entity lent INR 51.4 billion (U.S. $692.5 million) to private Adani Infra with no disclosure of it being a related party loan. What is the explanation for the lack of required disclosure?
  49. What was the purpose of the loan, and what was the original source of the Gardenia Trade and Investments funds?
  50. Milestone Tradelinks, another claimed silver and gold merchant also run by a longstanding employee of the Adani Group and a former director of Adani companies, invested INR 7.5 billion (U.S. $101 million) into Adani Infra. Once again there was no disclosure of it being a related party loan. What is the explanation for the lack of required disclosure?
  51. What was the purpose of the loan, and what was the original source of the Milestone Tradelinks funds?
  52. Another secretive Mauritius entity called Growmore Trade and Investment netted an overnight U.S. ~$423 million gain through a stock merger with Adani Power. According to court records, Growmore is controlled by Chang Chung-Ling, an individual who shared a residential address with Vinod Adani and had been named in DRI fraud allegations as director of a key intermediary entity used to siphon funds out of Adani Enterprises. What is the explanation for this windfall gain to an opaque private entity controlled by a close associate of the Adani family?
  53. What is the nature of Chang Chung-Ling's relationship with the Adani Group, including his relationship with Vinod Adani?
  54. Listed Adani companies have paid INR 63 billion to private contractor PMC Projects over the past 12 years to help construct major projects. A 2014 DRI investigation called PMC Projects a "dummy firm" for Adani Group. Given that constructing major projects is Adani's business, is PMC Projects in fact just a "dummy firm"?
  55. PMC Projects has no current website. Historical captures for its website show that it shared an address and phone number with an Adani company. Numerous employee LinkedIn profiles show that they work concurrently at both. Several expressed confusion at whether there was any difference. Is PMC Projects a mere "dummy firm" for Adani?
  56. Newly revealed ownership records show that PMC Projects is owned by the son of Chang Chung-Ling, the close associate of Vinod Adani mentioned above. Taiwanese media reports that the son is "Adani Group's Taiwan representative". We found pictures of him literally holding an Adani sign at an official government event, where he represented Adani. Once again, is PMC projects a mere "dummy firm" for Adani, as earlier alleged by the government?
  57. If so, why hasn't either company reported its extensive dealings as being related party transactions, as required?
  58. In FY20, AdiCorp Enterprises only generated INR 6.9 million (U.S. $97,000) in net profit. That same year, 4 Adani Group companies entities lent it U.S. ~$87.4 million, or more than 900 years of AdiCorp net income. These loans seemed to make little financial sense. What was the underwriting process and business rationale that went into making these loans?
  59. AdiCorp almost immediately re-lent 98% of those loans to listed Adani Power. Was AdiCorp simply used as a conduit to surreptitiously move funds into Adani Power from other Adani Group entities and side-step related party norms?
  60. Why have listed Adani companies paid private Adani entity "Adani Infrastructure Management Services" INR 21.1 billion (U.S. $260 million) over the past 5 years, given that the listed companies' business is also managing infrastructure?
  61. Listed company Adani Enterprises paid U.S. $100 million to a company, ultimately held by private trust of the Adani family in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), a notorious Caribbean tax haven, with the claimed rationale being to pay a security deposit to use an Australian coal terminal. Why did the listed company need to pay such lucrative fees to Adani's private interests?
  62. Adani Enterprises has had 5 chief financial officers over the course of 8 years, a key red flag suggesting potential accounting irregularities. Why has Adani Enterprises had such a difficult time retaining someone for its top financial position?
  63. What were the reasons for the resignations or terminations each of these prior CFOs?
  64. Adani Green Energy, Adani Ports and Adani Power have each had 3 CFOs over 5 years, while Adani Gas and Adani Transmission have both had CFO turnover within the past 4 years. Why have Adani entities struggled to retain individuals at its top financial positions?
  65. What were the reasons for the resignations or terminations each of these prior CFOs?
  66. The independent auditor for Adani Enterprises and Adani Gas is a tiny firm called Shah Dhandharia. Historical archives of its website show that it had only 4 partners and 11 employees. It seems to have no current website. Records show it pays INR 32,000 (U.S. $435 in 2021) in monthly office rent. The only other listed entity we found that it audits has a market capitalization of about INR 640 million (U.S. $7.8 million). Given the complexity of Adani's listed companies, with hundreds of subsidiaries and thousands of interrelated dealings, why did Adani choose this tiny and virtually unknown firm instead of larger, more credible auditors?
  67. The audit partner at Shah Dhandharia who signed off on Adani Gas' annual audits was 23 years old when he began approving the audits. He had just finished university. Is that individual really in a position to scrutinize and hold to account the financials of a firm controlled by one of the world's most powerful individuals?
  68. The audit partner at Shah Dhandharia who signed off on Adani Enterprises annual audits was as young as 24 years old when he began approving the audits. Is that individual really in a position to scrutinize and hold to account the financials of a firm controlled by one of the world's most powerful individuals?
  69. The audit partners signing off on Adani Gas and Adani Enterprises annual audits are now both 28 years old. Again, are they in a position to credibly scrutinize and hold to account the financials of firms controlled by one of the world's most powerful individuals?
  70. The auditor for Adani Power, an Ernst & Young affiliate, gave a "qualified" opinion in its audit, saying that it had no way to support the value of INR 56.75 billion (U.S. ~700 million) in investments and loans held by Adani Power. What is Adani Power's full explanation for the valuation of these investments and loans?
  71. Which parts of the valuation of Adani Power's investments and loans did the auditor disagree with?
  72. Adani has been subject to numerous allegations of fraud by the DRI and other government agencies. In the 2004-2006 diamond scandal investigation, the government alleged that Adani Exports Ltd (renamed Adani Enterprises) and related entities' exports were 3x the total exports of all the other 34 firms in the industry group put together. How does Adani explain that sudden surge in trading volume?
  73. The diamond export investigation also demonstrated the role played by Vinod Adani and entities in the UAE, Singapore and Hong Kong that were used to facilitate the back-and-forth movement of money and product. How does Adani explain all the trading that took place with entities associated with Vinod Adani?
  74. In 2011, the parliamentary Ombudsman for the Karnataka state issued a 466-page report describing Adani as the "anchor point" for a massive INR 600 billion (U.S. $12 billion) scam involving the illegal importation of iron ore, alleging that Adani had bribed all levels of the government in facilitation of the scheme. What is Adani's response to the investigation and the extensive evidence presented as part of these findings?
  75. In 2014, the DRI once again accused Adani of using intermediary UAE-based shell entities controlled by Vinod Adani to siphon funds, in this case through the over-invoicing of power equipment. Did Adani invoice the power equipment purchases to UAE-based entities such as Electrogen Infra FZE? If so, why?
  76. Was there a markup from the original purchase price for the equipment? What services did the Vinod Adani-associated entities provide that would have justified a markup?
  77. The same DRI investigation found that Vinod Adani's intermediary entity sent ~$900 million to a privately owned Adani entity in Mauritius. What is the explanation for these transactions?
  78. Where did the money from these transactions go after it was sent to a private Adani entity in Mauritius?
  79. The DRI investigation also documented many other transactions through the Vinod Adani intermediary entity, which were not probed further by investigators. What is Adani's explanation for these other transactions?
  80. In yet another scandal, Adani was accused of over-valuing coal imports through shell entities in Dubai, the UAE, Singapore, and the BVI. Did Adani transact with entities in these jurisdictions? If so, which ones and why?
  81. In 2019, the Singaporean entity Pan Asia Coal Trading won a coal supply tender floated by Adani Group. Pan Asia Coal Trading's website provides no details on its coal trading experience, nor does it name a single individual associated with the company. Why did Adani Group select such a small firm for coal supply? What was the due-diligence process that went into its selection?
  82. Corporate records show that a former Adani Group company director was a director and shareholder of Pan Asia. Why didn't Adani Group disclose the potential conflict of interest in the transaction?
  83. In the same year as winning the coal deal in 2019, Pan Asia Coal Trading lent U.S. $30 million to a private entity of Adani Group, per Singaporean corporate records. Why did a private company of the Adani family take money from a small single shareholder entity in Singapore at the same time its listed company was awarding a coal supply deal to it?
  84. In interviews, Gautam Adani has said "I have a very open mind toward criticism." Given this, why did Adani seek to have critical journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakutra jailed following his articles on allegations of Adani tax evasion?
  85. In the same interview, Gautam Adani said "Every criticism gives me an opportunity to improve myself." Given this, in 2021, why did Adani seek a court gag order on a YouTuber that made critical videos of Adani?
  86. In the same interview, Gautam Adani said "I always introspect and try to understand the others' point of view." Given this, why has Adani Group filed legal suits against journalists and activists, which have been condemned by media watchdogs? Why did it have an activist in Australia followed by private investigators?
  87. If Adani Group has nothing to hide, why does it feel the need to pursue legal action against even the smallest of its critics?
  88. Does Adani Group truly view itself as an organization with sound corporate governance that embodies its slogan, "Growth With Goodness?"

Appendix 1: Vinod Adani's Involvement in At Least 38 Mauritius Shell Entities

After cataloguing the entire Mauritius corporate registry, it became clear that Vinod Adani's involvement in offshore shell entities in Mauritius over the last 2 decades has been prolific.

Below we identify 38 Mauritius entities where Vinod Adani is a director and/or beneficial owner or where his close associates are directors. These connected associates include Subir Mittra, who is named in several Vinod Adani controlled entities across other opaque jurisdictions (as detailed in part 3) and who is head of the Adani family office, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Chang Chung-Ling is another individual who at one point shared a residential address with Vinod Adani. He was also a director in entities that had allegedly deployed fraudulent schemes to siphon money from publicly listed Adani Group companies, ultimately for Vinod Adani's benefit, according to DRI investigations (as outlined in part 5).

Many of these companies have no meaningful signs of corporate substance: no websites (or nonsensical ones), no publicly disclosed employees, and no independent address or other basic contact information outside that of their incorporation firms.

Entity Name Jurisdiction Date Formed Key Director Connection Identified Link to Registry Document
Acropolis Trade and Investments Mauritius 2017.04.27 Vinod Adani 1
Afro Asia Trade and Investment Mauritius 2015.10.09 Subir Mittra 2
Altroz Trade and Investment Ltd Mauritius 2021.04.29 Subir Mittra 3
Assent Trade & Investment Pvt Ltd Mauritius 2010.10.04 Vinod Adani 4
Asset Trade & Investment Mauritius 2008.06.09 Vinod Adani 5
Athena Trade and Investments Pvt Ltd Mauritius 2017.07.18 Subir Mittra 6
Atlantis Trade & Investment Pvt Ltd Mauritius 2017.02.08 Vinod Adani 7
Birch Trade and Investment Ltd Mauritius 2021.10.19 Subir Mittra 8
Brahma Opportunities A, Ltd Mauritius 2007.11.26 Vinod Adani 9
Concord Trade & Investment Pvt Ltd Mauritius 2009.02.16 Vinod Adani 10
Delphinium Trade and Investment Ltd Mauritius 2021.02.02 Subir Mittra 11
Dome Trade and Investment Mauritius 2017.08.18 Vinod Adani 12
Efficacy Trade and Investment Mauritius 2018.01.19 Vinod Adani 13
Endeavour Trade and Investment Ltd Mauritius 2021.04.29 Subir Mittra 14
Fervent Trade and Investment Mauritius 2018.01.19 Vinod Adani 15
Flourishing Trade and Investment Mauritius 2017.08.18 Subir Mittra 16
Fortitude Trade and Investment Mauritius 2017.08.18 Subir Mittra 17
Gardenia Trade and Investment Ltd Mauritius 2021.02.02 Subir Mittra 18
Global Resources Investment Holding Mauritius 2015.10.09 Vinod Adani 19
Growmore Trade & Investment Pvt Mauritius 2010.09.15 Chang Chung-Ling 20
Growth Trading & Venture Pvt Ltd Mauritius 2009.10.23 Vinod Shantilal Shah 21
Harmonia Trade and Investment Ltd Mauritius 2020.11.17 Subir Mittra 22
Hibiscus Trade and Investment Ltd Mauritius 2021.04.29 Subir Mittra 23
Infinite Trade and Investment Mauritius 2021.02.02 Subir Mittra 24
Juventus Trade and Investment Ltd Mauritius 2020.12.03 Subir Mittra 25
Krunal Trade & Investment Pvt Ltd Mauritius 2005.10.04 Vinod Adani 26
Lingo Trading & Investment Pvt Ltd Mauritius 2009.12.10 Chang Chung-Ling 27
Oasis Trade and Investment Mauritius 2017.08.21 Vinod Adani 28
Orbit Trade and Investment Mauritius 2017.08.18 Vinod Adani 29
Pan Asia Trade & Investment Mauritius 2017.02.08 Subir Mittra 30
Primrose Trade and Investment Ltd Mauritius 2021.02.02 Subir Mittra 31
Resource Asia Trade & Investment Mauritius 2011.04.18 Vinod Adani 32
Resurgent Trade and Investment Ltd Mauritius 2020.12.03 Subir Mittra 33
Robust Trading & Venture Pvt Ltd Mauritius 2009.10.23 Vinod Shantilal Shah 34
Ventura Power Investments Pvt Ltd Mauritius 2007.08.08 Vinod Shantilal Shah 35
Virtue Trade & Investment Ltd Mauritius 2011.01.31 Vinod Adani 36
Worldwide Emerging Market Holding Mauritius 2015.10.30 Subir Mittra 37
Xcent Trade and Investment Ltd Mauritius 2021.04.29 Subir Mittra 38

Disclosure: We Are Short Adani Group Through U.S.-Traded Bonds And Non-Indian-Traded Derivative Instruments

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We hold short positions in Adani Group Companies through U.S.-traded bonds and non-Indian-traded derivatives, along with other non-Indian-traded reference securities. This report relates solely to the valuation of securities traded outside of India. This report does not constitute a recommendation on securities. This report represents our opinion and investigative commentary and we encourage every reader to do their own due diligence. Use of Hindenburg Research's research is at your own risk. In no event should Hindenburg Research or any affiliated party be liable for any direct or indirect trading losses caused by any information in this report. You further agree to do your own research and due diligence, consult your own financial, legal, and tax advisors before making any investment decision with respect to transacting in any securities covered herein. You should assume that as of the publication date of any short-biased report or letter, Hindenburg Research (possibly along with or through our members, partners, affiliates, employees, and/or consultants) along with our clients and/or investors has a short position in all stocks or bonds (and/or derivatives of the stock) covered herein, and therefore stands to realize significant gains in the event that the price of any security covered herein declines. Following publication of any report or letter, we intend to continue transacting in the securities covered herein, and we may be long, short, or neutral at any time hereafter regardless of our initial conclusions, or opinions. This is not an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security, nor shall any security be offered or sold to any person, in any jurisdiction in which such offer would be unlawful under the securities laws of such jurisdiction. Hindenburg Research is not registered as an investment advisor in the United States or have similar registration in any other jurisdiction. To the best of our ability and belief, all information contained herein is accurate and reliable, and has been obtained from public sources we believe to be accurate and reliable, and who are not insiders or connected persons of the stock covered herein or who may otherwise owe any fiduciary duty or duty of confidentiality to the issuer. However, such information is presented "as is," without warranty of any kind – whether express or implied. Hindenburg Research makes no representation, express or implied, as to the accuracy, timeliness, or completeness of any such information or with regard to the results to be obtained from its use. All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice, and Hindenburg Research does not undertake to update or supplement this report or any of the information contained herein.

[1] The list of 7 excludes the recent acquisition of Ambuja Cements and ACC.

[2] The recently-listed Adani Wilmar is the only company on the table not included in MSCI India.

[3] In ACC and Ambuja Cements, the Adani Group shareholders (promoters) had pledged their entire holdings just after the acquisition, as per the September 2022 disclosures.

[4] Gautam Adani is not Chairman of Adani Wilmar, but serves as Chairman of Adani Enterprises, Adani Green Energy, Adani Ports, Adani Power, Adani Total Gas, Adani Transmission

[5] Even though immediate family members are positioned in key leadership roles, Adani has not publicly revealed any succession plans.

[6] Historical exchange rates throughout are based on Reserve Bank of India (RBI) statistics, unless otherwise sourced.

[7] Samir Vora is the brother of Gautam Adani ́s wife, based on our review of his corporate registration and passport details for Priti Adani, indicating the father's name Sevantilal Vora.

[8] Directorships as of mid-2009 included Adani Power (Overseas), Adani Global FZE, Adani Global Ltd, Adani Global Pte, Adani Shipping Pte and Chemoil Adani Pte as well as a shareholding in AEL and part of Adani Power promoter group.

[9] He stepped down from Adani Global Pte in August 2010, Adani Shipping in March 2011 and Adani Power Pte in April 2011, according to Singaporean Corporate Filings and what appears to be a blog by Vinod Adani himself. Vinod Adani ́s son Pranav, nephew of Gautam Adani, is a director in the Adani Group ́s agro, oil and gas business and a director of AEL. Vinod ́s daughter Krupa Adani is married to Suraj Mehta, son of fugitive diamond dealer Jatin Mehta, who is now reportedly hiding out from Indian justice in the Caribbean. [See Part 1 for more on Jatin Mehta ́s links to the Monterosa offshore funds]

[10] The other 2 Adani Group companies report elevated promoter group holdings, though not on the brink of critical thresholds, as above. (1) Adani Ports (65.13%) (2) Adani Green Energy (60.75%). (Source: BSE December 2022 Shareholding Patterns 1, 2)

[11] Major Adani peers have much smaller insider holdings, making Adani an outlier: (i) Reliance Power, 24.99% (ii) Tata Power, 46.86% (iii) Tata Steel, 33.90% (iv) Reliance Industries Ltd., 50.49% (v) Jindal Steel and Power, 61.20%. [Source: Recent BSE Shareholding Patterns 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

[12] LEI data is a global corporate database that is standardized, and regularly registered and verified to help provide key information on global companies.

[13] Given that only holdings above 1% are disclosed, the entities could hold stakes in other Adani stocks without being required to disclose those additional holdings.

[14] Alastair Guggenbühl-Even has also served on the board of Swiss-Indian Chamber of Commerce (SICC), and was a director in an Indian entity, BTS Investment Advisors, which was registered to a Monterosa email and also displayed Monterosa's website on corporate pages.

[15] Alastair Guggenbühl-Even served on the board of the following companies where Jatin Mehta was also a director: Forever Precious Jewellery and Diamonds Limited (30 September 2006 to 9 December 2008), Revah Corporation Limited (23 January 2007 to 9 February 2008) and Carbon Accessories Limited (2 May 2007 to 9 December 2008). [1, 2]

[16] Per the 2005 annual report of Gudami International, Chang Chung-Ling held 1,999,999 shares of the company and Joseph Selvamalar held 1 share. [Pg. 3] In the diamond scam investigation, Chang Chung-Ling was disclosed as a director of Adani Global Pte and Adani Global Ltd.

[17] Gudami International was also named in a government investigation into bribery in the Agusta Westland scam, per local media reports.

[18] The leaked emails appear to have come from one of more than 30,000 emails presented in a May 2017 fraud trial in a UK court involving an alleged front company for Dharmesh Doshi. [Pg. 10]

[19] Doshi became a fugitive around mid-2002, per SEBI documents, roughly 3-1/2 years prior to the email correspondence. [SEBI Order Section 3.2.4]

[20] The Twitter account leaking the documents seems to correspond to Sunil Jain, CPA. Jain was the former CFO of First International Group and Jermyn Capital Group, and is referenced in the leaked emails. Jain was convicted of fraud against his employer in 2017. The emails were leaked in the run up to trial, at a time when he would have had access to such sensitive documents.

[21] The general reporting threshold in the shareholding pattern uploaded on the exchange website is above 1% of equity. If a holder falls below 1%, it generally moves out of public sight, unless there are other ad-hoc non-statutory required disclosures. It is thus not known whether New Leaina is still a shareholder or not.

[22] As per the disclosures to parliament, New Leaina was (and might still be) a shareholder in Adani Total Gas, Adani Power, Adani Enterprises and Adani Transmission.

[23] Per Mauritius company records, Amicorp is both the secretary and management company for at least 7 of the offshore entities operated by Adani promoters. It has also supplied directors to its entities: Endeavour Trade and Investment, Flourishing Trade and Investment Ltd, Afro Asia Trade and Investments Ltd, Worldwide Emerging Market Holding Ltd, Infinite Trade and Investment, Fortitude Trade and Investments, and Acropolis Trade and Investment (where Vinod Adani is a director). (See Appendix 1)

[24] Further tying New Leaina to Amicorp, Phoenix Global Investment Fund, the third largest New Leaina shareholder, states it is administered by Amicorp in a placement memorandum. One of the board members of that shareholder – Ume Management – is led by director Edgar Victor Lotman, who is also on the board of Amicorp Bank.

[25] Per the new Leaina Investment website, the entity is reachable at P.O. Box 23293 at the address of Amicorp.

[26] The three individuals appeared as the controllers of Amicorp's UK subsidiary until September 2021, as we discovered in a search of UK corporate records.

[27] These 17 entities include, Altroz Trade and Investment, Athena Trade and Investments, Birch Trade and Investment, Delphinium Trade and Investment, Dome Trade and Investment, Efficacy Trade and Investment, Fervent Trade and Investment, Gardenia Trade and Investment, Global Resources Investment Holding, Harmonia Trade and Investment, Hibiscus Trade and Investment, Juventus Trade and Investments, Oasis Trade and Investment, Orbit Trade and Investment, Primrose Trade and Investment, Resurgent Trade and Investment, Xcent Trade and Investment. The entities are registered at Amicorp's Mauritius address and have either Vinod Shantilal Shah (aka Vinod Adani) as a director or Subir Mittra (CEO of Adani's family office).

[28] These include (1) New Leaina Investments Limited (2) LGOF Global Opportunities Fund and (3) Connecor Investment Enterprise Ltd

[29] This can be verified by the change in shareholding between 28th and 29th January 2021 as disclosed in Cypriot screen shots from Cyprus' corporate registry [1,2]

[30] The domain for Trustlink's website is currently for sale but earlier versions are archived on Wayback Machine.

[31] Adani-listed companies stopped providing granular disclosure of the top 10 shareholders after their FY 2020 annual reports.

[32] Put in simple terms, delivery volume = total volume minus day-trading activity. In the Indian market, retail investors, local corporates, and local proprietary firms are allowed to day trade ("intra-day trading").

[33] Opal, despite its large shareholdings, does not appear to be actively trading in the Indian markets.

[34] Transactions include both buys and sells; calculations use delivery volume as per NSE and BSE

exchanges combined; figures may not sum exactly due to rounding.

[35] This was summarised in the appeal order, which was successful but then was over-turned by the Supreme Court (the highest court in India). The suspension came into force in 2016, per a broker update.

[36] The estimated variance is due to lack of disclosure on how much a fund held before crossing the 1% shareholding disclosure trigger. For example, APMS Investment Fund, which held 2.26% in June 2019, must have bought a minimum of 1.27% of the equity (i.e. 2.26% – 0.99%) to a maximum of 2.26%.

[37] We analyzed trading volume on both stock exchanges where Adani Green Energy trades, the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and the National Stock Exchange (NSE). The total traded volume between March 31, 2019, and June 13, 2019, was 74,614,575 shares, representing approximately 4.8% of equity. Our calculations demonstrate a minimum additional shareholding of 6.85%. Therefore, it likely would have been impossible that the increase in shareholdings could have been obtained through open market purchases of existing shares.

[38] The stock rose from INR 209.55 – 443.1 with a high of INR 478.

[39] The brokerage was named Jermyn Capital and was controlled by Dharmesh Doshi (associate of Ketan Parekh), according to the judge's closing remarks in the case of Regina v Sunil Kumar Jain [2017]. It has since been renamed to Orbit Investment Securities Services Limited.

[40] Records show that Jayechund Jingree was a director of Mauritius-based Adani Global Ltd in 2004. Note that the spelling in the two records are different by one character (Jayechund vs. Jaychund). Both records show the exact same birth month and year for the individual. Other records similarly use the alternative spelling while also listing Jaychund's same company email. These factors indicate that the naming conventions apply to the same individual.

[41] AOC-1 Subsidiaries disclosures details the number of subsidiaries as found in the 2022 Annual reports. BSE's related party disclosures list out the separate related party transactions. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]

[42] A 2014 DRI investigation into gross over-valuation of import goods (involving PMC Projects, Adani Enterprises, Vinod entities and others) alleged transaction values of INR 18.87 billion, or approximately U.S. $232 million at current exchange rates. [Pg. 93] Another DRI show cause notice against Adani Power (also involving offshore entities belonging to Vinod Adani) alleged U.S. $808 million of over-valuation at the time. [Pg. 71] See Part 5 for more details.

[43] Universal Trade and Investments was a Vinod Adani-associated entity until it was acquired by Total in January 2021.

[44] Krunal is also mentioned in an Indian Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) report that lists its flows into Adani companies as among the 25 largest FDI investments identified in the city of Ahmedabad from 2000 to 2015. Adani related entities appear on this list 8 times, with almost all investments coming from various entities in Mauritius.

[45] The ultimate holding company of Sunbourne is Adani Properties Pvt. Ltd, per the 2020 Annual Report of Sunbourne. [Pg. 6] Sunbourne was previously named Adani Developers.

[46] Early filings for Sunbourne refer to a Mauritius entity named "Krunal Oil Marketing Pvt. Ltd." Using the Mauritius company number (C58854) we were able to establish that Krunal Oil Marketing Pvt Ltd was the previous name of Krunal Trade and Investment. [1, 2]

[47] Adani Enterprises FY20 annual report shows long term borrowings from Sunbourne of INR 5 billion and short term borrowings of INR 4.8441 billion.

[48] Emerging Markets' website says it was founded in 2015 and is managed by Subir Mittra, the head of the Adani Family investment office.

[49] Adani Estates 2020 Annual Report shows a compulsorily convertible debentures (CCDs) investment of INR 6.09 billion (U.S. $85 million at the time) [Pg. 16]

[50] We speculate that the "works in progress" may refer to portions of the railway connecting the coal mine and the port.

[51] INR 47.2 billion profit after minority interests minus INR ~2.5 billion from 4 years of losses from the private entity. Adani Enterprises profit per year (INR billion): 2015: 19.48 [Pg. 36] 2016: 10.4 [Pg. 143] 2017: 9.8 [Pg. 34] 2018: 7.5 [Pg. 38]

[52] Calculated using nominal value of the Compulsorily Convertible Debentures (CCDs) i.e. INR 100.

[53] Laxmiprasad Chaudhary has been a director in Adani Estate Management since 2013. Yogesh Ramanlal Shah was a director in Adani Power Dahej (2015), Adani Transmission (India) Ltd (2015) and Kutchh Power Generation (2015).

[54] The address is in the Anand Milan Complex, per a corporate information provider.

[55] Rajesh Mandapwala, shareholder of Milestone Tradelinks, has been a long-standing employee of Adani Enterprises. We checked the old shareholding patterns, which showed Rajesh "B" Mandapwala. Normally taking the likely father's name, the B=Bhogilal. The information also matches his LinkedIn profile.

[56] Samir Vora, the brother-in-law of Gautam Adani was a director from 2008 until the entity was amalgamated into the parent in Financial Year 2013. [Pg. 4]; Rakesh Shah, another of Gautam Adani's brothers-in-law, was a director from 2004 until 2008 according to corporate databases. Saurin Shah, a longtime executive of the Adani Group, according to the same tribunal, was a director from 2004 until the company merged with its parent.

Separately, Milestone Tradelinks is also a shareholder in India TV (a fact that we do not think has come into public conscience at a time when Adani has acquired another media entity: NDTV)

[57] According to our calculations: 115 (INR per share on April 1st) x 213,236,910 (shares) x 1/44.463 (INR/USD on April 1st), which differs from the implied exchange rate used in the cited Reuters article.

[58] The entity was called Adani Exports Ltd. at the time, later renamed.

[59] The calculation uses either total revenue or total income, found in less comprehensive earlier annual filings.

[60] One of the original PMC shareholders was Malay Mahadevia. [Pg. 11] Mahadevia was described as a "childhood friend" of Gautam Adani in a recent biography and is one of the original PMC shareholders, per PMC Projects Articles of Association. [Pg. 11] Mahadevia now serves as CEO of Adani's airport business – AAHL.

[61] This is disclosed in NQXT Holdings' financial statements, the holding company of NQXT. [Pg. 3]. Atulya Resources is known to belong to the Adani Family.

[62] Adani Enterprises had 156 subsidiaries, per the AOC-1 regulatory disclosure. Adani Total Gas has no subsidiaries, though it does have Joint Ventures. [Pg. 459 – 471]

[63] Note that during our investigation, the website of Shah Dhandharia was taken down. Anticipating this, we took screenshots before it was taken down and independently archived the website through The Wayback Machine.

[64] Out of various scandals that Adani was involved in, the iron-ore scandal was said to be worth U.S. $12 billion [1], the coal pricing scandal around U.S. $4.4 billion [2] and the power equipment scandal (involving Adani Power) estimated to be about INR 39 billion, over U.S. $800 million at the time of the alleged offences. [3]

[65] The DRI investigation said the imported equipment was to be deployed in two units of Adani ́s power plant at Maharashtra (APML) and at another in Rajasthan (APRL) that were under construction at the time.

[66] Pan Asia Coal Trading Pte is now called Pan Asia Tradelink Pte, per Singapore Corporate Records.

[67] S/O refer to "Son of", sometimes used by Singaporeans. We searched for any articles connecting Mr. Chetan Kumar to the coal trade, but the only information we found described his experience as focused on the Singaporean real estate sector.

[68] Sell side refers to the part of the financial industry that is involved in the creation, promotion, and sale of stocks. (Investopedia)

All Comments: [-] | anchor

logicallee(10000) 5 days ago [-]


pkd(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I don't think you not having heard of the guy mentioned makes it machine generated? You could Google him, he is very big fish but keeps a low profile in the media. Most of his wealth is also stocks so it's highly vulnerable to fluctuations.

roywiggins(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Hindenburg Research have a pedigree. I don't find these sorts of reports at all readable either, but that doesn't mean that the people they're aimed at (investors, etc) don't. I assume it's an industry style because it's worked for them in the past.


cyral(10000) 5 days ago [-]

You looked at a publication filled with images of evidence and thought it of all things was machine generated?

mdani(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I started reading but couldn't get my sleepy brain around how Adani manipulated the stocks. Sure, the valuations are astronomical but doesn't indicate that Adanis themselves are behind the rise? Can someone please post a TLDR?

chx(10000) 5 days ago [-]

As far as I understand, an overwhelming majority of the stock of the companies are not up for trade on the exchange but rather held by offshore entities in violation of the rules which makes it trivial to manipulate the price of the stock. These entities are owned by Adani or his associates.

barbazoo(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> Initial Disclosure: After extensive research, we have taken a short position in Adani Group Companies

toomuchtodo(10000) 5 days ago [-]

That is pretty much what Hindenburg does; they find frauds and short them. Peruse their site. I mean, it's in the name, you know, like the dirigible.



frozenport(10000) 5 days ago [-]

idk, should I also take one?

adam_arthur(10000) 5 days ago [-]

There are a few of these outlets that do research into companies with questionable accounting/fundamentals and then monetize the research via shorting+publicizing.

Haven't seen many 'manufactured fraud' allegations. In my experience the research is often quite in-depth and they tend to be proven correct in the end.

pclmulqdq(10000) 5 days ago [-]


fastball(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Can we not make every HN thread about Elon Musk? It hardly adds to the conversation.

notch656c(10000) 5 days ago [-]


anon291(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I would encourage you to read the classic children's fairy tale 'Puss in Boots', if you think this idea is new.

skizm(10000) 5 days ago [-]

If these companies assets or stocks go to zero or are locked due to fraud or something that makes the actual public stocks untradable, how do you get out of a short position? Borrowing and selling the stock means you can't get it back to return to the original owner, and buying put options means you can't sell the stock to the contract holder. Do you have to get out before it gets completely vaporized?

cperciva(10000) 5 days ago [-]

If stocks go to zero, it's generally easy to get your hands on them, since people holding those shares will want to realize capital losses for tax purposes. Even if the stock is delisted from exchanges, brokerages routinely 'buy' such shares from their clients, and I'm sure they would make the shares available to anyone wanting to close out a short position.

defrost(10000) 5 days ago [-]

The Adani Group is massive, transnational, and has resource partnerships that cross continents with multiple joint companies and government relations.

There are relationships with Indian banking giant ICICI that are questionable and that also cross continents.

And more (it's big wall map tiny font material here).

Point being, shaking up the Adani Groups reputation has flow on effects that can be capitalised upon in many ways by shorting many other associated companies that may fail due to governments losing confidence to proceed on large projects, choosing other partners, etc.

quickthrower2(10000) 5 days ago [-]

If it is vaporised there