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Breakfast Briefing: James Damore, Samsung and the VC Boom

Google Sued by James Damore

Damore was sacked after questioning the company’s diversity policy and has brought a class action suit.  

Editor’s Remarks: James Damore has brought a class action suit against his former employer on behalf of every employee that he alleges have been discriminated against for “their perceived conservative views…their male gender [or] their Caucasian race”. After publishing an internal memo claiming that Google’s diversity policies were misguided because of inherent differences in men and women, Damore was dismissed by CEO Sundar Pichai in August. Damore maintains that the company suffers from “groupthink”, which drowns out any remotely conservative thought. Pichai drew the ire of the wider conservative community for his actions, which many perceived as restricting free speech.

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Samsung Misses Targets

The stronger won led to the South Korean giant missing its sales targets.

Editor’s Remarks: The company reported lower-than-expected profit due to both a stronger South Korean won and weaker performance in its memory chip business. The South Korean won gained around 7% in the final quarter of 2017 against the dollar, which eroded profits abroad. However, demand increased for organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screens, which boosted sales in that quarter. Samsung is currently the market leader in OLED screens and supplies them for Apple’s iPhone X, despite the two companies waging a war for the smartphone sector. Samsung saw its shares fall 1.6% on the news and is due to publish its final results later this month.

Read more on Technology:

VC Boom Continues

Venture capital funding is at its highest since the dot-com boom.

Editor’s Remarks: Despite the huge amounts of cash being pumped into US startups, the number of VC-backed exits has hit its lowest since 2011. Last year, US VCs piled $84bn into some 8000 or so companies. However, the CEO of PitchBook, a leading research firm, says that the dynamics of the VC market is very different to its state at the turn of the millennium. He added that late-stage companies with strong customer bases are also attracting large amounts of capital – as shown by SoftBank’s recent investment in Uber – meaning that there is no concentration of capital in very early stage investments. On the flipside, the lack of companies going public means VCs are struggling to realise their gains.

Read more on Venture Capital:

Indian E-Commerce Shifts

Allcargo Logistics is turning to the e-commerce market in an attempt to cash in on the sector.

Editor’s Remarks: Coinciding with a report that over 200 million Indians will shop online by 2022, Allcargo – one of India’s largest logistics companies – is reinventing itself as an e-commerce player in a bid to challenge both Amazon and Flipkart. Both Amazon and local rival Flipkart have invested billions into broadening their products and services to capitalise upon the vast swathes of India that are now coming online. Allcargo will reshape itself into a business-to-customer enterprise by extending its logistical operations to the so-called “last mile” of e-commerce – actually delivering goods to the doorstep.

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China Cracks Down on Bitcoin

The Chinese government continues to crack down on cryptocurrencies. 

Editor’s Remarks: Last year, China banned ICOs and stopped basically all cryptocurrency trading on online exchanges. Since then, the government’s regulators have stepped up efforts to curb the rise of bitcoin and its cousins in order to keep as much of the nation’s economy under close watch as possible. As a consequence, China – the home of most of the world’s bitcoin miners – is losing its role at the forefront of the cryptocurrency community. However, China has also been running trials for its own prototype digital currency, which will enable the state to take full control of digital transactions.

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