We’ve kept you updated on the happenings in the Indian startup ecosystem. With the week coming to a close, it’s time to catch up on the important updates in the tech and startup ecosystem around the world.
After nearly a fortnight of drama marked by tears, stress, and an SEC warning, electric vehicle (EV) maker Tesla’s founder Elon Musk has now announced that the company will not go private and will remain public.
The saga started with a Tweet by Musk saying that Tesla will be taken private at $420 per share.
Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 7, 2018
However, now, the Tesla founder has decided, after speaking with shareholders and investigating the process of taking the company private, that it’s better for Tesla to remain public.
Musk met Tesla’s board of directors on Thursday (August 23) and told them his decision, and the board agreed with him.
Meanwhile, the electric vehicles industry saw another major development last week with the Russian weapons manufacturer Kalashnikov — best known for making the gas-operated AK-47 machine gun — unveiling a fleet of electric and hybrid cars, buggies, and motorcycles, along with an electric vehicle that the company says will rival Tesla.
With the upcoming US midterm election scheduled for November 6, global social media and technology companies — Google, Snapchat, Microsoft, and Facebook — recently met at the Twitter headquarters to discuss security issues surrounding the election.
However, two of them — Microsoft and Facebook — took a few steps ahead by meeting with the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and two bodies of state election officials — the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) and the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) — about their election security efforts.
Both the meetings address separate challenges for both the stakeholders — while the states are mainly concerned with securing voter databases and election systems, private tech companies are waging a very public war against coordinated disinformation campaigns by US foreign adversaries on their platforms.
Meanwhile, a new report by the Pew Research Center has said that US teens are now taking steps to limit themselves from overuse of their phones and addictive apps such as social media ones.
A majority of the teens surveyed — 54% — said they spend too much time on their phone and nearly as many – 52% – said they were trying to limit their phone use in various ways. Further, 57% said they’re trying to limit social media usage and 58% are trying to limit video games.
Global cab aggregator Uber, which has withdrawn from China, Russia, and Southeast Asia and is focusing on India, the Middle East and Latin America, has no plans of slowing down. The company has now hired a new chief financial officer — Nelson J Chai, the former CEO of insurance and warranty provider Warranty Group.
On the appointment, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said, “He will be a great partner for me and the entire management team as we move towards becoming a public company.”
Looks like Uber for Public is ready to go public in line with its target — 2019.
In Inc42’s weekly rundown of international stories to educate and entertain you and keep you informed about the startup landscape across the globe, we bring you the important developments from the week gone by. Here are some more:
Facebook Asks Users To Report Fake News, Rates Their Trustworthiness
Social media giant Facebook, which has become the unwitting propagator of widespread fake news, has now enabled users to report fake news stories in a bid to stop them from spreading.
Facebook sends the stories reported as false to third-party fact checkers, and these purposefully inaccurate reports can clog the already-overcrowded queues that fact checkers struggle to go through.
Facebook is also giving its users a trustworthiness score ranging from 0 to 1 depending on the reliability of their flags of false news. It is to be noted here that if a user flags something as fake, but fact checkers find it true, their score may be impacted negatively. Similarly, if users consistently report false news that’s indeed proven to be false, their score improves and Facebook will trust their future flagging more.
Another applaudable step taken by Facebook after the Cambridge Analytica debacle is the suspension of apps as part of its large-scale audit that started in March. The company has banned the myPersonality app for improper data controls and suspended hundreds more.
The total number of app suspensions has reached 400, twice the number we last heard Facebook announce publicly.
Airbnb Takes New York City To Court To Protect Users’ Privacy
Not just Facebook, even online marketplace and hospitality service company Airbnb is taking its users’ privacy very seriously. It has filed a suit against New York City’s new law, which requires Airbnb and other home-sharing companies to share the names and addresses of hosts with the city’s enforcement agency on a monthly basis.
The New York City enforcement agency responsible for investigating illegal rentals on Airbnb said that the law would help it more systematically go after people skirting the law; such cases were previously discovered largely through anonymous tips.
In the lawsuit, Airbnb said that the law violates its users’ privacy and constitutional rights. However, in New York, the Office of Special Enforcement estimates that as many as two-thirds of listings on Airbnb are illegal.
World Bank Launches Blockchain-Based Bond Instrument
Presenting a new use case of Blockchain, the World Bank has launched the first bond on a blockchain in association with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA).
The $87 Mn bond-i (blockchain operated new debt instrument) is the first bond to be created, allocated, transferred, and managed using distributed ledger technology.
Investors in the blockchain bond include the CBA, First State Super, NSW Treasury Corporation, Northern Trust, QBE, SAFA, and the Treasury Corporation of Victoria.
The World Bank said that this was one of many experiments that the organisation will make into blockchain research.
Alibaba’s Revenue Rises By 61%
The company reported total sales of $12.2 Bn for Q1 2019 and a net profit of $1.3 Bn for the same period, which was down 41% on account of costs around its recent fundraising for Ant Financial. Alibaba took up an option to acquire one-third of Ant Financial, its financial services business that’s tipped to go public next year.
Further, Alibaba’s core ecommerce business remains its most lucrative business line with its revenue in Q1 rising 61% annually to hit $10.5 Bn. It’s cloud computing business Alibaba Cloud recorded total sales of $710 Mn, but a year-on-year growth rate of 93%, which is down slightly on the 103% increase it saw in the previous quarter.
Stay tuned for the next edition of Around The Tech And Startup World!