Tech & Telecom news — Sep 5, 2017

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Connectivity

TalkTalk has decided to close down its mobile (MVNO) business in UK, which has approx. 1m customers, that they now intend to transfer to another operator (O2, Vodafone or Virgin Media have been explicitly mentioned). Apparently, the company views an opportunity in selling low cost FBB in non-convergent offers (Story)

Video

Facebook is committed to become a leading global video player, including large content expenses, to be diluted among their massive user base. They just bid $600m (!) for exclusive 5-year streaming rights to India’s cricket premier league (but they lost to Murdoch, who paid $2.6bn for online + conventional TV rights) (Story)

Messaging

Kakao, the leading messaging app in Korea, with more than 43m users and a market value of $7.2bn, is making efforts to expand abroad, as its sustainability as a purely local play is under question by investors (-33% share price fall since Aug 2014). They’re initially targeting Japan, with manga comics content as a hook (Story)

HARDWARE ENABLERS

Network

Three UK finally filed its formal challenge with British courts against Ofcom’s proposed rules for the new spectrum auction, for which they’re demanding a 30% cap to be applied to Vodafone and BT’s EE (while Ofcom is proposing 37%). This will possibly delay the auction until early 2018 (Story)

SOFTWARE ENABLERS

Artificial Intelligence

As many others, Google seems to view China as an emerging AI powerhouse, with its massive base of internet-connected people using mobile payments, gaming, social, search and news, and generating data on all of this. So they’ve started to hire local AI experts, apparently intending to ramp up presence in the market (Story)

An interesting theory in the FT’s Opinion pages claims that AI and its ability to efficiently process massive amounts of data could finally make it possible to run economies in a fully centralised way, and deliver on the old communist dream of a planned economy. At least this seems to be what some politicians think in China (Story)

FINANCE

Tech stocks continue to be the best performing group within the S&P500, even after a slight decline earlier in August, as investors continue to prioritise growth, which tech companies will keep delivering, according to forecasts. S&P500 Info Tech index has gained +25% this year, vs. healthcare +17.6% and utilities +12% (Story)

Google has completed its corporate re-organization to fully separate “other bets” (like Waymo or DeepMind) from the core Google company. This move had started by the creation of Alphabet, but the “bets” were still legal subsidiaries of Google, and now they will all be owned by XXVI, a new holding under Alphabet (Story)

Regulation

China is banning the emerging (and increasingly popular) practice of “Initial Coin Offerings”, which startups are using globally to raise funds through launches of token-based digital currencies. $2.16bn have been raised this way in 2017. ICOs were a driver for cryptocurrencies’ recent “bubble”, so Bitcoin is now tumbling (Story)

VC

China is actually a key player in the blockchain ecosystem / computing infrastructure, as shown by the recent decision by VC funds Sequoia and IDG to invest in Bitmain, a local startup specialised in mining Bitcoin, which produces chips and machines for this computing-intensive task, and has its own mining facilities (Story)

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