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Breakfast Briefing: SoftBank backs FIFA, Baidu’s Blockchain & Golem

 4 min read / 

SoftBank Backs New FIFA League

The Japanese tech conglomerate is supporting plans to create a FIFA global club league.

Editor’s Remarks: SoftBank, alongside investors from China, the Middle East and the US, has backed a $25bn plan to bring football a new global club league. The move is a step away from SoftBank’s bread and butter of technology-driven investments but reports suggest that the financing is being arranged by Centricus, the same UK firm that helped SoftBank to raise its $100bn Vision Fund. The new global competition, dubbed the “Club World Cup” will meet every four years starting in 2021 and will comprise of the world’s 24 top clubs. The consortium will take a 49% stake in the venture and guarantee revenues of at least $25bn, with FIFA retaining the remainder.

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Baidu’s Blockchain Photo Service

The Chinese search company has launched a blockchain-based photo service.

Editor’s Remarks: The service, called Totem, uses blockchain technology to timestamp original photos submitted to the platform with a real-name identity. Data associated with each photo, such as who has used it, will also be distributed across the blockchain network. The innovation is a response to China’s intellectual property problem; Baidu will be able to use its artificial intelligence and data scraping capabilities to verify that none of the photos on Totem have been used illegally. Totem’s launch follows Baidu’s existing forays into blockchain, which have so far included a blockchain-as-a-service platform and a CryptoKitties lookalike called Laici Go.

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Golem Launches on Ethereum Mainnet

One of Ethereum’s earliest decentralised applications launched its beta this week.

Editor’s Remarks: Golem, which promises to enable users to monetise their computer’s unused processing power by linking to a centralised computer that is loaned to third parties that carry out intensive computational work, has released a beta version called Golem Brass Beta. Golem was one of the first major ICOs on the Ethereum blockchain and raised a huge $340m in this new way of funding. However, critics have pointed to its slow development time – something that its founders say is to be expected in projects of Golem’s size. Although the Golem programme is not actually built upon Ethereum, it uses it for its native token, GNT, which is paid out to users.

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Apple’s HomePod Limps on

Apple’s smart device has not generated the sales that the company had hoped for.

Editor’s Remarks: When the HomePod hit the market in January, after months of delays, it faced inevitably stiff competition from Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo devices and the Google Home. Although Apple has made a big deal of the HomePod’s superior sound system, it has not convinced many it’s worth its $349 price tag. The Echo, by comparison, costs just $100. Apple has already lowered sales forecasts for the HomePod and cut back orders from Inventec, one of its manufacturers. Critics say the HomePod is too heavily reliant on existing Apple products, and does not boast many of the features its rivals have, such as ordering food and answering questions.

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WeWork Buys Naked Hub

The co-working space announced a deal to buy Naked Hub, one of its largest Chinese rivals.

Editor’s Remarks: The deal, thought to be worth around $400m, was first announced on Chinese media before it was confirmed by WeWork CEO Adam Neumann in a blog post. Naked Hub is part of the China-based resort company, Naked Group, which was started in 2015. The company has most of its co-working space in Shanghai and Beijing but has also developed operations in Australia, Hong Kong, and Vietnam for a total of 24 offices. Naked Hub is not WeWork’s only rival in China, however. Unicorn Ucommune, formerly called URWork prior to a lawsuit filed by WeWork, is probably its largest Chinese Challenger.

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