Alibaba Spinoff Ant Group Preps for a Record $34 Billion IPO

With the goal of disrupting the banking business in China and making it easier for small businesses to get loans, Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma created Ant Group. Now, the Alibaba spinoff is set to raise $34 billion by selling shares in Hong Kong and Shanghai in what is expected to be the largest initial public offering (IPO) on record. After the IPO, the company will be worth around $310 billion. At its size, Ant is a target for Chinese regulators at the same time that some government funds are Ant shareholders. Continue reading Alibaba Spinoff Ant Group Preps for a Record $34 Billion IPO

Alibaba Buys Majority Stake in Big-Box Grocery Store Chain

Alibaba Group, China’s most valuable company with a market capitalization of $800+ billion, is paying $3.6 billion to gain more control of Sun Art Retail Group, which operates 480+ large supermarket stores. As in the U.S. and elsewhere, COVID-19 has seen many consumers shift to online shopping for food and other essentials. In 2017, Alibaba acquired a 36 percent stake in Sun Art for about $2.9 billion. With the latest purchase, Alibaba will own about 72 percent of the company and is positioned to compete with Walmart. Continue reading Alibaba Buys Majority Stake in Big-Box Grocery Store Chain

European Union Alliance Aims to Compete in Cloud Services

In the European Union, 25 countries pledged to provide up to €10 billion over the next seven years to build a cloud computing service to compete with Alibaba, Amazon and Google. Dubbed the European Alliance on Industrial Data and Cloud, the partnership will draw funding from existing EU programs and debut by the end of 2020. EU internal market commissioner Thierry Breton stated the declaration is a “foundation stone for the establishment of European cloud technology.” Cyprus and Denmark are the only two EU holdouts. Continue reading European Union Alliance Aims to Compete in Cloud Services

IBM Advocates for Confidential Computing Security Standard

IBM and others are advocating the adoption of Confidential Computing, a standard that they state will provide deeper levels of security and privacy in the cloud. With encryption that can only be unlocked by keys held by the client, Confidential Computing guarantees that the company hosting data and applications can’t access the underlying data, regardless of whether it is stored in a database or passing through an application. That prevents hackers from accessing encrypted data when it moves to the application layer. Continue reading IBM Advocates for Confidential Computing Security Standard

TikTok Counters Critics, Regulators With More Transparency

TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer published an open letter aimed at regulators intent on curbing its reach. After listing some of the app’s accomplishments in its thus-far short term in social media, he focused on charges critics are levying. He admitted that, “with our success comes responsibility and accountability,” but insisted that the company is made up of “responsible and committed members of the American community that follows U.S. laws.” The company has launched an effort to win over critics with increased transparency. Continue reading TikTok Counters Critics, Regulators With More Transparency

Google Developing New Cloud Services During the Pandemic

According to Google Cloud chief executive Thomas Kurian, the coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on the development of new cloud features. “Every week, there’s a new set of dimensions, and we have to adapt, keep people positive, and focus through it,” he said. A new security product that encrypts data while it’s being processed, for example, is aimed at luring businesses in highly regulated industries to adopt cloud services. Another cloud-computing product is Assured Workloads for Government, a new way to secure public sector deals. Continue reading Google Developing New Cloud Services During the Pandemic

Chinese Cities Invest in National Campaign for Advanced Tech

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology will invest at least $1.4 trillion in the next five years in advanced technologies; more than a dozen Chinese municipalities this year pledged 6.61 trillion yuan ($935 billion) to achieve this goal, for projects on artificial intelligence, data centers and mobile communications. The country’s BeiDou navigation network will be complete this month when the final satellite goes into orbit. Premier Li Keqiang said the campaign is the Communist Party’s top priority. Continue reading Chinese Cities Invest in National Campaign for Advanced Tech

ByteDance Building a Gaming Division to Take On Tencent

ByteDance has quickly built up a gaming division to enter a mobile arena currently dominated by Tencent Holdings. The company purchased gaming studios and exclusive rights to title distribution as well as building a team of 1,000 people by hiring and poaching talent. Its first two games will be released this spring to a global market. ByteDance first debuted Toutiao, a Chinese news aggregation app and launched TikTok and its Chinese version Douyin. Via the latter app, ByteDance has access to 400 million daily active users. Continue reading ByteDance Building a Gaming Division to Take On Tencent

CES 2020: Quibi and NBCU Envision Future of Entertainment

Quibi founders Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg opened the second day of CES unveiling their new mobile specific entertainment — and NBCUniversal chairman of advertising and partnerships Linda Yaccarino underscored the value and role of entertainment in her afternoon keynote. Even as screen sizes get bigger in the living room, the ubiquity of mobile screens drives Katzenberg and Whitman’s pitch to deliver A-list entertainment to audiences everywhere. Diverse, quality content serving audiences wherever they choose is Yaccarino’s mission for NBCU. Continue reading CES 2020: Quibi and NBCU Envision Future of Entertainment

Yahoo Japan and Line to Merge, Plan For New ‘Super App’

SoftBank Group founder Masayoshi Son has developed a plan to create an Internet company that could rival Big Tech companies Amazon and Google. Son wants to combine Yahoo Japan with Line Corp., a public company that SoftBank and South Korean corporation Naver Corp. plan to take private. The two would then be merged in a joint venture dubbed Z Holdings, scheduled to close by October 2020 given shareholder approval. The combined companies would share engineering resources and data and invest in artificial intelligence. Continue reading Yahoo Japan and Line to Merge, Plan For New ‘Super App’

Big Tech Firms Pursue Financial Services Despite Setbacks

When Walmart started a bank in the early 2000s, states passed laws to ban branches and Congress drafted a law to ban retailers from opening banks. Almost ten years later, Walmart threw in the towel, with its president for financial services Jane Thompson vowing the company would never try it again. That hasn’t stopped Google from announcing it will begin to offer checking accounts next year. Uber wants to open Uber Money, a bank for its drivers (and perhaps riders) and Facebook debuted Facebook Pay. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Pursue Financial Services Despite Setbacks

Alibaba’s Singles Day Reaps $38.3B, Dwarfing Black Friday

On November 11, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba brought in nearly $38.3 billion worth of goods in the 24-hour period known in that country as Singles Day. That surpasses last year’s Singles Day that bought in $30.8 billion. Both figures dwarf the numbers for Black Friday, the massive commercial day-after-Thanksgiving sale in the U.S. Alibaba invented Singles Day ten years ago and, since then, has become a tech giant along the line of Amazon or Alphabet. China also has become wealthier and more digitally connected. Continue reading Alibaba’s Singles Day Reaps $38.3B, Dwarfing Black Friday

Alibaba Dominates E-Tail in China But Fails to Thrive Abroad

In its last fiscal year, which ended in March, Alibaba Group’s 654 million customers bought $835 billion worth of goods, with revenues of $56.2 billion, cementing the company’s credentials as the world’s largest e-tailer. Put another way, the company handled more business than Amazon and eBay combined. Notably, 66 percent of Alibaba’s revenue — $36.9 billion — came from China. But translating that success to other countries has proven elusive — a mere 5 percent of the company’s revenue came from international locations. Continue reading Alibaba Dominates E-Tail in China But Fails to Thrive Abroad

SoftBank Debuts Vision Fund 2, Focused on AI Investment

SoftBank Group changed technology venture capital when it launched the Vision Fund in May 2017, by setting $100 million as the minimum investment. Since then, the Vision Fund, which raised almost $100 billion, has invested in Uber Technologies, Didi Chuxing Technology and other startups. Now, the Japanese company is debuting Vision Fund 2 and jumpstarting it with its own $38 billion investment. The fund, which will focus on artificial intelligence, has already drawn investment commitments from Apple and Microsoft. Continue reading SoftBank Debuts Vision Fund 2, Focused on AI Investment

IBM to Take on Competitors With Its Hybrid Cloud Strategy

IBM has a new strategy to compete with Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Alibaba in cloud computing: it spent $34 billion to acquire Red Hat, which specializes in open source software tools to write cloud computing applications. Red Hat already has partnerships with all the major cloud providers. IBM, a latecomer to this highly competitive sector, is presenting itself as a neutral party to those concerned about becoming too dependent on a single player. For this reason, Germany also has plans to build its own cloud infrastructure. Continue reading IBM to Take on Competitors With Its Hybrid Cloud Strategy

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