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Breakfast Briefing: A Tech Arms Race, Ant’s Valuation & Tesco Profits

 4 min read / 

The Tech Arms Race

Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook is in “an arms race” with Russian cyber trolls.

Editor’s Remarks: The Cambridge Analytica scandal has shed light on how ineffective successive governments have been at regulating technology firms; Facebook, after all, has been around for nearly 15 years and only now are governments worried about its data practices. However, as the West investigates Facebook’s data-harvesting, Russia and China are actively encouraging various state and private elements to collect data. Furthermore, China appears to be winning the AI race – something that billionaire Mark Cuban is especially worried about – which when combined with its government’s data gathering will give the nation a huge edge over western countries.

Read more on Big Tech:

Ant Valued at $150bn

Ant Financial is raising $10bn in funding at an enormous $150bn valuation.

Editor’s Remarks: Just weeks ago, reports suggested that Ant might seek an IPO at a valuation of $100bn – now, its latest investment round puts the figure at nearly $150bn. That 50% increase makes the Chinese fintech company the world’s most valuable startup, ahead of the likes of Uber, SpaceX and Airbnb, and also a staggering 50% more valuable than banking stalwarts Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. The company, founded by Alibaba’s CEO Jack Ma, operates the Alipay platform and an online money-market fund. Ant’s stellar rise is a reflection of how cash is losing ground in China, where even some beggars accept mobile payments.

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Questions Arise in Uber’s Harassment Case

A lawyer suing Uber for harassment has difficulties in finding a pattern that matches his clients’ claims.

Editor’s Remarks: Jahan Sagafi, who represents the two women that have filed a $10m class action suit against Uber over workplace harassment and unfair pay, said that it was hard to find “something terrible” in the accounts of the female employees he interviewed. Sagafi, in response to the judge’s questions, also claimed that there was a “lack of enthusiasm” among the class members to come forward, causing him to question how widespread his clients’ allegations were. The judge presiding over the hearing concluded it without ruling on Uber’s request for the preliminary approval of an $8m deal.

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Allianz Backs Go-Jek

The German insurer invested $35m in Indonesian ride-hailing app Go-Jek.

Editor’s Remarks: The investment was made out of Allianz X, the insurer’s digital investment arm, which has made a series of startup investments in recent years. Allianz also provides health insurance for Go-Jek’s drivers and their families, and has said that it is looking to expand its offerings to Go-Jek’s employees and business partners. Go-Jek has just raised a $1.5bn funding round at a valuation of roughly $4.5bn, and now counts Google, Tencent and JD.com among its backers. However, Go-Jek has not yet confirmed the details of the raise.

Read more on Investment:

Tesco Smashes Earnings Estimates

Annual profits at Tesco rose nearly 800% despite troubles on the British high street.

Editor’s Remarks: Following the massive uptick in profits, Tesco has announced that it will issue a £1bn dividend – its first in five years. The results are a vindication of CEO Dave Lewis’ turnaround plan and Tesco reported pre-tax profits of £1.3bn, compared to just £145m the year before. The latest results are the first time since 2014 that Tesco has made a profit exceeding £1bn. Elsewhere in the UK, a number of high street retailers, such as Mothercare, have fallen into administration. However, consumer spending in the UK remains high, due largely to the relative strength of the pound this year.

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