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SpaceX recruited 4,300 staffers for COVID-19 antibody study

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SpaceX recruited 4,300 staffers for COVID-19 antibody study

SpaceX quietly recruited 4,300 employees for a coronavirus antibody study as it prepared for its historic crewed mission to the International Space Station.

The effort earned SpaceX chief Elon Musk a byline on a research paper detailing the study and its findings that was published in the journal Nature last week.

Researchers who tested the SpaceX staffers’ blood about once a month found that people who caught COVID-19 may develop “durable” protection from getting it again if they produce enough antibodies to ward off the virus.

SpaceX sent out an email seeking volunteers for the study that started last April, the month before it launched the first manned spaceflight from US soil since 2011.

That was also the month that Musk called coronavirus restrictions “fascist” after unsuccessfully fighting the shutdown of Tesla’s factory in northern California, where officials issued one of the nation’s first lockdowns.

SpaceX worked with two of the researchers, Eric Nilles and Galit Alter, to set up the blood-testing scheme at a time when regular COVID-19 tests were hard to track down, according to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the study Saturday.

Musk — who tested positive for coronavirus himself in November — got personally involved in the study and has had the scientists working on it brief him and other SpaceX honchos as the pandemic wore on, the paper reported.

Musk and SpaceX medical director Anil Menon are credited with helping to design the study, and the tech billionaire’s charity, the Musk Foundation, provided support for the research.

The study pointed to the existence of an “immunologic threshold” that determines lasting immunity to the virus in people who survive COVID-19, meaning individuals with enough antibodies could be protected from getting sick again, the research paper says.

The SpaceX volunteers weren’t exactly a diverse group — about 84 percent of them were male and their median age was 32 years, according to the study.

Some 120 staffers ended up contracting COVID-19 and developing antibodies that the researchers could examine — 61 percent of whom didn’t come down with any of the bug’s hallmark symptoms, such as fever, cough or loss of taste and smell, the study says.

People who got through such asymptomatic infections may not generate an immune response strong enough to clear the antibody threshold, according to the study.

Nevertheless, the findings could “guide surveillance efforts and provide insights for the prioritization of vaccine campaign efforts to immunize those most vulnerable to re-infection,” the researchers wrote.

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Goldman Sachs executive exodus gains steam as top lawyer exits

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Goldman Sachs executive exodus gains steam as top lawyer exits

The exit door at Goldman Sachs is getting quite a workout.

The megabank’s head lawyer Karen Seymour is reportedly on her way out — marking the third high-profile departure this week for Goldman CEO David Solomon as he works to remake the one-time trading juggernaut into a more accessible and transparent institution.

Seymour — who the world might best remember as the federal prosecutor who sent domestic diva Martha Stewart to prison in 2004 — is exiting as Goldman’s general counsel after just three years, according to a report from Bloomberg on Tuesday.

News of the departure comes just days after reports emerged that the newly promoted co-head of Goldman’s asset management group, Eric Lane, and the newly promoted head of Goldman’s consumer bank, Omer Ismail, are also on their way out.

Sources say the departures suggest a rocky phase for Solomon, a part-time DJ who took over the top job from then-CEO Lloyd Blankfein in 2018. As CEO, Solomon has been focusing less on Goldman’s traditional bread-and-butter of trading and more on consumer banking and deal-making.

“Reorganizations are tough, especially at a place like Goldman,” one former insider told The Post. “Solomon sold himself as a change agent when he replaced Lloyd. Well, this is what change looks like.”

Lane reportedly gave up his job co-running Goldman’s massive hedge fund operation to work for hedgie superstar Chase Coleman’s $36 billion Tiger Global Management — a move that’s being read on Wall Street as a signal that Goldman’s superstar trading days are over.

Goldman’s trading desk has thinned considerably under Solomon. Even veteran trading superstar Ran Sundaram split from the bank in February. Coleman, by contrast, pocketed a reported $3 billion in 2020.

“Trading at Goldman isn’t what it used to be,” mused one hedge fund manager. “Leaving for Tiger would be a no-brainer when you see what Chase made last year.”

Ismail reportedly left to take the helm of Walmart’s new fintech venture, surrendering the reins of Marcus — Solomon’s pet consumer lending project — that he had been handed in September.

“Ismail leaving is a bad signal,” said the former Goldman insider. “He was supposed to be the future.”

Lane and Ismail were promoted as part of a talent shakeup in September that saw purported Solomon favorite Stephanie Cohen elevated to co-head of the bank’s consumer banking and wealth management group.

That move put Cohen firmly in the running to be Solomon’s possible successor, which some watchers say may have kicked off the exodus, starting with Goldman’s former co-head of global investment banking Gregg Lemkau, who shocked Wall Street by taking his leave after almost 30 years in November.

“When Lemkau left, it opened some eyes,” said the former Goldman banker. “People realized that your spot on the ladder hasn’t changed, it’s a whole new ladder.”

Insiders say that Seymour’s departure, by contrast, may actually have created an opportunity for Solomon, who wanted Kathy Ruemmler to fill the top legal job when Blankfein tapped Seymour for the job in 2017.

Seymour recently negotiated the bank’s record-setting $3 billion plea deal to settle charges for its role in the star-studded 1MDB corruption scandal, but she has also been dealing with an explosive civil suit filed in October alleging she and her team staged a sham investigation to cover up a steamy office affair between top lieutenant Darrell Cafasso and a younger subordinate.

Goldman has denied the allegations but a judge recently denied Goldman’s request to quash it.

“Seymour wasn’t David’s person,” claimed another former Goldman banker.

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JPMorgan looks to sublet NYC office space: report

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JPMorgan looks to sublet NYC office space: report

JPMorgan Chase is looking to sublet big blocks of office space in Manhattan, Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

The bank is looking to sublet just under 700,000 square feet at 4 New York Plaza in the Financial District and more than 100,000 square feet at 5 Manhattan West in the Hudson Yards area, the report said.

Due to COVID-19 pandemic-led lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, fewer people have been going to office, which has prompted companies to reassess the need for real estate.

“It is too early to comment on specifics as we continue to learn and adapt to this current situation and how it impacts our commercial real estate needs. We are committed to New York and are planning for the next 50 years with our new headquarters here,” a spokesperson for the bank said.

Real estate broker Jones Lang LaSalle is marketing JPMorgan’s space, the report said.

In October, JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said JPMorgan would press ahead with its plans to build a large headquarters in New York that is scheduled to open in 2024.

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Jack Ma no longer China’s richest man after Beijing scrutiny

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Jack Ma no longer China's richest man after Beijing scrutiny

Alibaba and Ant Group founder Jack Ma has lost the title of China’s richest man, a list published on Tuesday showed, as his peers prospered while his empire was put under heavy scrutiny by Chinese regulators.

Ma and his family had held the top spot for China’s richest in the Hurun Global Rich List in 2020 and 2019 but now trail in fourth place behind bottled water maker Nongfu Spring’s Zhong Shanshan, Tencent Holding’s Pony Ma and e-commerce upstart Pinduoduo’s Collin Huang, the latest list showed.

His fall out of the top three comes “after China’s regulators reined in Ant Group and Alibaba on antitrust issues,” the Hurun report said.

Ma’s recent woes were triggered by an Oct. 24 speech in which he blasted China’s regulatory system, leading to the suspension of his Ant Group’s $37 billion IPO just days before the fintech giant’s public listing.

Regulators have since tightened antitrust scrutiny on the country’s tech sector, with Alibaba taking much of the heat; the market regulator launched an official antitrust probe into Alibaba in December.

Chinese regulators also began to tighten their grip on the fintech sector and have asked Ant to fold some of its businesses into a financial holding company to be regulated like traditional financial firms.

Ma, who is not known for shying away from the limelight, then disappeared from the public eye for about three months, triggering frenzied speculation about his whereabouts. He re-emerged in January with a 50-second video appearance.

China’s current richest man, Zhong, made his first appearance at the top spot with a fortune of 550 billion yuan ($85 billion), largely thanks to the share price performances of Nongfu Spring and vaccine maker Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise, which he also controls.

Tencent’s Ma saw his wealth swell 70 percent over the year to 480 billion while Pinduoduo’s Huang’s fortune grew 283 percent to 450 billion yuan, the list said. In comparison, the wealth of Ma and his family grew 22 percent, to 360 billion yuan.

Zhang Yiming, founder of TikTok owner ByteDance, broke into the top five rankings among Chinese billionaires in Hurun’s Global Rich List for the first time, with an estimated personal wealth of $54 billion.

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