SoftBank Charts New Direction Following WeWork Debacle

SoftBank Group founder Masayoshi Son and board director Rajeev Misra, who is also SoftBank Investment Advisers chief executive, are focused on saving the Vision Fund, whose bets on Uber Technologies and WeWork have been disastrous. Last week, SoftBank bailed out WeWork, whose value had dipped 80 percent below its peak, with $10 billion. The London-based private investment fund debuted two years ago, with the goal of raising $100 billion to invest in startups valued at $1+ billion, the so-called unicorns of Silicon Valley. Continue reading SoftBank Charts New Direction Following WeWork Debacle

Blizzard Suspends Pro eSports Player for His Political Stance

Gaming company Activision Blizzard suspended an eSports player who, during a live broadcast, expressed his support for the pro-democracy protest movement in Hong Kong. Professional “Hearthstone” player Chung Ng Wai has been suspended for a year and forced to give up $10,000 in prize money. The move led to a significant backlash from gamers and politicians via social media and online forums. The public relations dilemma is similar to what played out this week following NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s support of free speech, which led to the decision by China’s state-run television not to broadcast two NBA games. Continue reading Blizzard Suspends Pro eSports Player for His Political Stance

SoftBank to Lend Employees $20B to Invest in Vision Fund

SoftBank Group plans to lend up to $20 billion to its 400 employees to buy stakes in its second Vision Fund, following the first fund launched in 2017. That first $100 billion fund, which debuted in 2017, made big investments in Uber Technologies, WeWork, and Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing Technology, driving up their valuations. For the second Vision Fund, SoftBank chief executive Masayoshi Son may invest as much as $15 billion, and SoftBank could put in $38 billion, more than is typical for a fund sponsor. Continue reading SoftBank to Lend Employees $20B to Invest in Vision Fund

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

Facing New Pressure, Huawei Trademarks Own Mobile OS

As the trade war between China and the U.S. escalates, the Trump administration’s order preventing telecoms from using foreign-made hardware that could threaten national security has placed Huawei under increased scrutiny. As a result, a number of major tech companies — including ARM, Broadcom, Intel, Qualcomm and Xilinx — as well as carriers in Japan, Taiwan and the U.K. have stalled business with Huawei. Since Google plans to cut off Android support for new Huawei phones, the Chinese company faces significant trouble in Europe where it historically has been very successful. In response, Huawei is taking matters into its own hands and was granted a trademark last week for a smartphone OS to replace Android. Continue reading Facing New Pressure, Huawei Trademarks Own Mobile OS

Multiple Carriers and ARM Are the Latest to Cut Off Huawei

Carriers in Japan, Taiwan and the United Kingdom have stopped accepting pre-orders for Huawei’s newest 5G-enabled smartphones, fearful that the U.S.-China trade war could impact the functioning of the phones. Google has stated it would not permit Huawei to use its latest Android operating system and future phones will lose access to popular Google services. ARM, Huawei’s chip supplier, confirmed it has ceased doing business with the Shenzhen-based Huawei. If the U.S. Commerce Department does not issue a waiver, Huawei could be in serious trouble. Continue reading Multiple Carriers and ARM Are the Latest to Cut Off Huawei

Verizon Media Tackles Production Tech With Global Studios

Verizon Media (formerly Oath) now has production studios located in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, London, New York, Paris, Singapore, Sunnyvale and Taiwan. In addition, it built a 5G Los Angeles studio with plans to help pioneer new formats and production tech enabled by advanced 5G wireless connectivity. The worldwide facilities are being used by Verizon Media brands such as AOL, HuffPost, TechCrunch and Yahoo. The L.A. space — led by Verizon Media’s immersive media arm RYOT — is outfitted with full motion capture and volumetric capture stages. Continue reading Verizon Media Tackles Production Tech With Global Studios

Apple Among Those Impacted by Slowing Chinese Economy

Apple stock slumped 10 percent last Thursday to $142.19, the company’s biggest single-day percentage drop in almost six years, erasing $74.65 billion from its market value. That came after Apple chief executive Tim Cook warned that China’s economic slump is responsible for slowed-down iPhone sales in the past quarter. China’s wobbling consumer confidence is impacting the entire world economy, however, and Apple has problems beyond China. In India, it’s reaping a mere 1 percent of overall smartphone sales. Continue reading Apple Among Those Impacted by Slowing Chinese Economy

Netflix Plans to Experiment With Lower Price in Asian Markets

Netflix revealed its plan to test a lower-priced tier of its subscription streaming service in certain areas as part of a strategy to boost sales, especially in emerging markets such as Asia. While the company has not committed to specific regions or a time frame, CEO Reed Hastings explained that Netflix is looking to experiment. The move would represent a shift for the company, which has consistently maintained or raised its prices while spending more on new content and local productions to attract new customers. Netflix is not expected to reduce the cost of its lowest tier, but rather introduce an alternate fourth tier with different features. Continue reading Netflix Plans to Experiment With Lower Price in Asian Markets

India Concerned Over Dominance of U.S. Internet Companies

Some Indian leaders are resisting the dominance of U.S. Internet platforms and services such as Facebook’s WhatsApp, Google’s Android mobile operating system and Amazon’s e-commerce business, calling it a form of colonialism and vowing to regulate these foreign companies, especially regarding what they do with users’ personal data and how they might undercut prices offered by local businesses. India’s smartphone market, second largest in the world, is dominated by offerings from China, Taiwan and South Korea. Continue reading India Concerned Over Dominance of U.S. Internet Companies

GlobalFoundries Will Not Build Factory for 7-Nanometer Chips

Building a new chip manufacturing plant is expensive, usually costing between $10 billion and $15 billion. GlobalFoundries has now opted out of building a cutting edge fabrication plant for 7-nanometer chips, indicating it plans to focus its attention on older 12-nanometer and 14-nanometer factories, which would require less investment. Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) said it would switch from GlobalFoundries to Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC) for its latest chips. With the GlobalFoundries move, only TSMC, Intel and Samsung are left to build the new 7-nanometer factories. Continue reading GlobalFoundries Will Not Build Factory for 7-Nanometer Chips

In Taiwan, CE Firms Devise Contingency Plans for Trade War

Taiwan plays an important role in the global technology supply chain, assembling devices from smartphones to computers. Now, as tensions rise between China and the U.S., some of the largest Taiwan-based companies are figuring out ways to avoid the worst depredations of the trade war. Foxconn Technology Group chairman Terry Gou took the first step, by opening a $10 billion display plant in the U.S., and now the chief executives of Pegatron and Inventec are revealing details of their own plans. Continue reading In Taiwan, CE Firms Devise Contingency Plans for Trade War

Foxconn Selects Wisconsin for North American Headquarters

Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group announced that it has acquired a seven-story building in downtown Milwaukee that will serve as the company’s North American corporate headquarters. The new facility will employ 500 people and also house an innovation center that will focus on display technology. Foxconn, which purchased the downtown building from Northwestern Mutual, is additionally planning a major manufacturing complex about 30 miles south of Milwaukee in Racine County, expected to open in 2020. Continue reading Foxconn Selects Wisconsin for North American Headquarters

FCC Advances Proposed Rule to Block Chinese Telecom Gear

The FCC voted unanimously to push forward a new rule that would prevent federally subsidized telecommunications carriers from buying gear from “suppliers deemed to pose a risk to American national security.” A second vote will make the rule final. The rule is aimed at Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE. The day previous to the vote, the government blocked ZTE from using U.S.-made components, saying it “failed to punish employees who violated American sanctions against North Korea and Iran.” Continue reading FCC Advances Proposed Rule to Block Chinese Telecom Gear

Report: Worldwide Piracy for TV and Music Increases in 2017

According to the latest figures from London-based piracy tracking firm MUSO, entertainment media piracy continues its ascent. Globally, consumers made more than 300 billion visits to piracy websites in 2017, up 1.6 percent from the previous year. Despite the popularity of legal streaming options such as Netflix and Spotify, MUSO found that the illegal streaming and downloading of television content and music increased last year, up 3.4 percent and 14.7 percent, respectively. However, movie piracy decreased by 2.3 percent. Continue reading Report: Worldwide Piracy for TV and Music Increases in 2017

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