China

Arrivo partners with a Chinese state-owned infrastructure developer to commercialize hyperloop tech

Arrivo, the upstart high-speed mass transit technology developer launched by a former co-founder of Hyperloop One, has inked a massive partnership with a Chinese state-owned infrastructure developer to help finance mobility projects around the world. Genertec America, an affiliate of the China National Technical Import and Export Corp., which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the General Technology Group Holding Co., has agreed to put up a $1 billion credit line to finance projects anywhere in the world that will use Arrivo’s technology. “Arrivo provides a unique solution for regional mobility and a great complement to high speed rail and airports. We are excited to be an early partner in the deployment of mobility systems utilizing Arrivo’s transformative technology,” said Yalin Li, Preside...

Alibaba boosts its offline reach with $2B+ investment in outdoor digital marketing firm

Alibaba is investing big bucks into offline distribution. The Chinese e-commerce giant has forked out $2.23 billion in exchange for a sizeable piece of Focus Media, a Shanghai-based company that operates outdoor digital advertising screens across China, Singapore and Hong Kong, according to a U.S. filing. The deal itself is broken up into a few pieces. Alibaba itself is paying $1.43 billion for a 6.62 percent share of Focus Media, which is listed in Shanghai, It is also spending $504.7 million to buy 10 percent of an entity (managed by Focus Media founder and chairman Jason Nanchun Jiang) which controls 23.34 percent of Focus Media. In addition, an Alibaba-aligned fund called ‘New Retail Strategic Opportunities’ is buying 1.37 percent of Focus Media, while Alibaba itself is planning to exe...

Google launches its first WeChat mini program as its China experiments continue

Google is continuing to test new strategies in China after the U.S. search giant released its first mini program for WeChat, the country’s hugely popular messaging app. WeChat is used by hundreds of millions of Chinese people daily for services that stretch beyond chat to include mobile payments, bill paying, food delivery and more. Tencent, the company that operates WeChat, added mini programs last year and they effectively operate like apps that are attached to the service. That means that users bypass Google Play or Apple’s App Store and install them from WeChat. Earlier this year, Tencent added support for games — “mini games” — and the Chinese firm recently said that over one million mini programs have been created to date. Engagement is high, with some 500 million WeChat users intera...

Apple’s iCloud user data in China is now handled by a state-owned mobile operator

If you’re an Apple customer living in China who didn’t already opt out of having your iCloud data stored locally, here’s a good reason to do so now. That information, the data belonging to China-based iCloud users which includes emails and text messages, is now being stored by a division of China Telecom, the state-owned telco. The operator’s Tianyi cloud storage business unit has taken the reins for iCloud China, according to a WeChat post from China Telecom. Apple separately confirmed the change to TechCrunch. Apple’s transition of the data from its own U.S.-based servers to local servers on Chinese soil has raised significant concern among observers who worry that the change will grant the Chinese government easier access to sensitive information. Before a switch announced earlier this ...

Travel giant Booking invests $500M in Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing

Didi Chuxing, China’s largest ride-hailing company, has pulled in some strategic capital after Booking Holdings invested $500 million into its business. The deal will see Booking Holdings — which was formerly known as Priceline — work closely with Didi to offer its on-demand car services through its Booking.com apps via an integration. Likewise, Didi customers will have the option to book hotels through Booking.com and its sister site Agoda. The deal isn’t about money. Didi has said publicly that it has multiple billions of US dollars on its balance sheet, thanks to a gigantic $4 billion funding round that closed at the end of 2017 and a history of raising big in recent years. Instead, the tie-in helps on a strategic level. Besides Booking.com and Agoda, Booking also operates Kayak, Pricel...

3D printed guns are now legal… What’s next?

Jon Stokes Contributor More posts by this contributor How President Trump could abuse big data and the surveillance state How Intel missed the iPhone revolution On Tuesday, July 10, the DOJ announced a landmark settlement with Austin-based Defense Distributed, a controversial startup led by a young, charismatic anarchist whom Wired once named one of the 15 most dangerous people in the world. Hyper-loquacious and media-savvy, Cody Wilson is fond of telling any reporter who’ll listen that Defense Distributed’s main product, a gun fabricator called the Ghost Gunner, represents the endgame for gun control, not just in the US but everywhere in the world. With nothing but the Ghost Gunner, an internet connection, and some raw materials, anyone, anywhere can make an unmarked, untraceable gun in t...

A new $124 million for Brazil’s Movile proves that investors still see promise in Latin American tech

Brazil’s macroeconomic picture may be gloomy, but technology investors still see hope in the nation’s burgeoning technology sector — and a recent $124 million financing for the mobile conglomerate Movile is the latest proof that that the pace of investment isn’t slowing down. Brazil was already the hottest spot for technology investment throughout Latin America — with Sao Paulo drawing in the majority of the record-breaking $1 billion in financing that the region’s startups attracted in 2017. And with this latest funding for Movile, led by Naspers, that trend looks likely to continue. Indeed, Naspers investments in Movile (supplemented by co-investors like Innova, which participated in the most recent round) have been one of the driving forces sustaining the Brazilian startup community. In...

Aspire Capital offers fast finance for SMEs in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia’s digital economy is tipped to grow more than six-fold to reach more than $200 billion per year, according to a report co-authored by Google, with e-commerce accounting for the dominant share. The emergence of e-commerce platforms like Alibaba’s Lazada and U.S.-listed Shopee have enabled online entrepreneurship across the region, but still financial support for online sellers, who are basically SMEs, is lagging. That’s where Singapore-based Aspire Capital, a six-month-old organization focused on speedy SME lending, is hoping to make a difference. The company certainly has opportunity. With a cumulative population of over 600 million consumers and a rising middle class, Southeast Asia is increasingly an attractive market for businesses of all kind, and online companies in par...

Daimler can now test self-driving cars on public roads in Beijing

Daimler has been granted a license to test self-driving vehicles on public roads in Beijing, making it the first international automaker to receive such permission. The owner of the Mercedes-Benz brand was given the test permit by the Chinese government after extensive closed-course testing, the company said in a statement, adding that it marks a milestone in its research and development efforts in China. Daimler, which also has licenses in Germany and the U.S., said it will now begin road tests in Beijing. There are other companies testing autonomous vehicles in China, notably Baidu, which has been on public roads since at least 2016. For Daimler to qualify, the company said it had to add to its Mercedes-Benz test vehicles technical applications from Baidu’s Apollo platform. Daimler had t...

ZTE replaces its CEO and other top execs

A number of top executives are out at ZTE as the phone maker works to fulfill the requirements of U.S.-imposed restrictions. Among the big changes up top is new CEO Xu Ziyang, who formerly headed up the company’s operations in Germany. A new CFO, CTO and head of HR have been named, as well, according to The Wall Street Journal. The move comes a few days after company slowly began to resume some business operations on a one-month waver, following a seemingly D.O.A. seven-year export ban. The ban was announced back in April, after the company failed to appropriately punish top employees over Iran/North Korean trade violations. Trump, however, was quick to toss the company a lifeline, citing potential job loss in China. The President’s willingness to bail out ZTE has been met with staunch cri...

Chinese company claims its ‘laser AK-47’ can set you on fire from half a mile away

Lasers! Everybody loves them, everybody wants them. But outside a few niche applications they have failed to live up to the destructive potential that Saturday morning cartoons taught us all to expect. In defiance of this failure, a company in China claims to have produced a “laser AK-47” that can burn targets in a fraction of a second from half a mile away. But skepticism is still warranted. The weapon, dubbed the ZKZM-500, is described by the South China Morning Post as being about the size and weight of an ordinary assault rifle, but capable of firing hundreds of shots, each of which can cause “instant carbonization” of human skin. “The pain will be beyond endurance,” added one of the researchers. Now, there are a few red flags here. First is the simple fact that the weapon is only desc...

Microsoft launches two new Azure regions in China

Microsoft today launched two new Azure regions in China. These new regions, China North 2 in Beijing and China East 2 in Shanghai, are now generally available and will complement the existing two regions Microsoft already operates in the country (with the help of its local partner 21Vianet). As the first international cloud provider in China when it launched its first region there in 2014, Microsoft has seen rapid growth in the region and there is clearly demand for its services there. unsurprisingly, many of Microsoft’s customers in China are other multinationals who are already betting on Azure for their cloud strategy. These include the likes of Adobe, Coke, Costco, Daimler, Ford, Nuance, P&G, Toyota and BMW. In addition to the new China regions, Microsoft also today launched a new ...

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