A Curated Rundown Of News And Happenings From Around The Tech And Startup World
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.
It looks like the European Union (EU) is keeping a hawk’s eye on all companies operating in the EU and is not letting any breaches of its rules go unpunished. After fining Google in an anti-trust case last week, the EU has issued penalties and fines against consumer electronics companies Asus, Denon & Marantz, Philips, and Pioneer. These companies have been fined a total of more than $130 Mn in four separate penalties imposed for charging fixed or minimum resale prices from their online retailers, which is in breach of EU competition rules.
Meanwhile, Snapchat has decided to shut down its peer-to-peer payment service Snapcash by August 30. The move will bring an end to Snapchat’s four-year partnership with mobile payments company Square to power the feature.
Further, Apple is now expanding its Search Ads to more countries including France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, and Spain, bringing the total number of countries offering the feature to 13. To encourage sign-ups, Apple is also offering first-time advertisers a $100 USD credit to try out the product.
The Search Ads feature will be available in all these countries from August 22. Apple’s Search Ads was originally designed to enable developers to target users’ keyword searches, combined with other factors such as location, gender, and whether or not they had installed the application in the past.
SpaceX, Elon Musk’s rockets and spacecraft developing and manufacturing company, is soaring to greater heights. It has successfully launched and landed its second Falcon 9 Block rocket. The mission marks the 13th launch of the year for SpaceX and the 26th successful landing of a Falcon 9 rocket booster. The Falcon 9 Block 5 is optimised for rapid reusability and boasts a number of improvements that make the vehicle easier to land after launch, as well as upgrades that minimise the amount of refurbishment the rocket needs between flights.
Global media company Discovery Communications is planning to launch its own direct-to-consumer service. The company is considering a service with all of Discovery’s networks at an affordable price point of $5 to $8 per month. Discovery Communications recently acquired Scripps Networks Interactive, a developer of lifestyle-oriented content for television and the Internet, for $14.6 Bn, and its channels are available on a number of over-the-top live TV services, including WatchTV, which houses 30 of its networks.
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 Registers A Subsidiary In China, Losing Users Worldwide
Facebook has registered a subsidiary in the city of Hangzhou, China, according to a Chinese government filing, which said the company got approval for the move last Wednesday. The subsidiary was financed with an investment of $30 million. Facebook has said that it will use the subsidiary to coordinate with Chinese developers in the closely censored market.
The corporate registration was taken off from the Chinese government’s website and references to the subsidiary were also censored. The move indicates that it is complicated for Facebook to navigate China after being blocked for 10 years.
At the same time, Facebook is trying to hide that people are not using its main application and are sticking with Instagram and Whatsapp by publicising a new metric. It recently announced that in June it had 2.5 Bn users, who were using one of its four applications — Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, and Messenger.
Facebook has seen a slowdown in its growth in recent times amind a rise in the number of moderation controversies and data privacy scandals concerning the company. According to its Q2 2018 results, the social media platform saw 42% year-over-year growth in ad revenues and 11% year-over-year growth in monthly and daily active users. Although the numbers look impressive, this is the slowest quarterly user growth Facebook has seen since 2011. It has also stopped growing entirely in the US and Canada, which were its most lucrative markets. The revenue slowdown show is attributed to a series of bad press and an ever-changing and inconsistent approach to policing its platform.
On the back of this news, Facebook shares registered a fall of 19.6% when they opened at $174.89 on July 26. It’s market capitalization has also come down to $506.2 from $629.6 Bn, which makes for a loss of a whopping $123.4 Bn overnight.
In another blow to the company, Facebook’s chief legal officer Colin Stretch made a recent announcement that he would be leaving the company by the end of this year. Facebook has been caught in the midst of various scandals such as the massive Kremlin-fuelled election interference and the Cambridge Analytica data misuse debacle.
Google Set To Become $1 Tn Company
Meanwhile, Google is on its way to becoming a $1 Tn company. Google’s parent company Alphabet has outperformed in the market in the second quarter by bringing in revenues worth $32.66 Bn. It has shown a 26% increase Y-o-Y in Q2 2018, an increase over its revenue figures from the same quarter in the previous year. Google’s Q2 revenues in 2017 too saw a 21% jump from its Q2 2016 figure.
Google is also cracking down on applications on its Play Store. The company will ban a number of applications including cryptocurrency miners, those selling firearms and accessories, and those that aim to trick children into downloading adult-themed apps.
Google Cloud Offers Blockchain Toolkit To Developers
Google Cloud has partnered with distributed ledger technology startup Digital Asset to provide a software development kit to developers working on its platform. It will allow users to test and build blockchain applications without having to code the entire platform themselves.
Developers will have access to an end-to-end toolkit to build and deploy sophisticated distributed applications as a result of the move.
Q2 2018: Amazon Tops $2 Bn In Profit, Twitter Shares Fall 20%
Other companies that reported their Q2 2018 results last week are US ecommerce giant Amazon and Twitter. Amazon recorded earnings per share of $5.07, which is more than double the estimates made by Wall Streets analysts. This is the third time that the company has posted profits of more than $1 Bn and also the first time in its history it has topped $2 billion in quarterly profit. The recordings equate to a quarterly profit of $2.5 Bn and make for a 1200% percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Amazon had expected to earn $53.41 Bn and managed to rake in a close $52.9 Bn.
Twitter, meanwhile, recorded $100 Mn profit but saw its shares fall by 20% after the company announced decreasing user numbers. The company has recorded a drop of 1 Mn monthly users in Q2 2018, having lost 335 Mn losers overall and 68 Mn in the US alone. Twitter earlier intensified its efforts at finding and suspending fake accounts, but hadn’t thought that this would impact the number of users.
YouTube To Explore Original Programming
YouTube, also owned by Google parent Alphabet, seems to be going the over-the-top way by creating scripted series and other original programming for international markets including France, Germany, Mexico, and India. With this new initiative, the company is trying to draw new customers to its paid subscription service.
The programming will come in the form of multiple genres such as music documentaries, reality series, talk shows, and scripted series. The content will be produced in local languages and will be subtitled/dubbed for other markets.
Uber’s Self-Driving Cars Are Back In The US
Uber is bringing back the concept of autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the US. The modified self-driven Volvo XC90 vehicles will only be driven manually by humans and under a new set of safety standards that includes real-time monitoring of its test drivers and efforts to beef up simulation. Apart from this, there will be sensors, including light detection and ranging radar known as LiDAR, which will be operational in these self-driving vehicles.
Stay tuned for next edition of Around The Tech And Startup World!