12 Feb 2020

TechBits, Feb 12, 2020

1. FTC to examine every acquisition by Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft in 2010-2019 over antitrust issues

  • Companies like Apple, Amazon and Google do not always disclose every acquisition they make, especially when the companies in question are little fish in the big tech pond. But in aggregate, all that M&A could pose bigger questions about how they are using their financial power and market influence in anticompetitive ways.
  • That idea is the subject of the latest announcement from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which today issued Special Orders to five big tech firms — Alphabet (including Google), Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft — “requiring them to provide information about prior acquisitions not reported to the antitrust agencies under the Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) Act.”
  • The five companies will need to come clean and report on every deal they have made — whether or not the media has spilled the beans on the acquisition or not — including the terms (that is, price and other financial details), scope, structure and purpose of each transaction made between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2019.

2. SpaceX hires ex-NASA human spaceflight expert and shows off Crew Dragon set to carry astronauts

  • SpaceX is gearing up for its historic first human spaceflight, with a crewed demonstration mission of its Crew Dragon spacecraft tentatively set for May 7 (though that date is flexible right now). The company on Tuesday showed a clip of the completed Crew Dragon spacecraft, which will carry astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, undergoing testing, and CNBC revealed that it had hired former NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations William Gerstenmaier.
  • Gerstenmaier served NASA for 14 years in that capacity, and was with the agency for 40 years working on the Space Shuttle program as well as the International Space Station. It’s likely there are few other individuals in the world, if any, who have as much experience as he does with flying people in space, which makes him a very clutch hire for SpaceX as it readies itself for the operational kick-off of its human spaceflight program.

3. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip hands-on: This is more like it

  • The buyer beware adage is never more true than among early adopters. It was price, however, that made the Galaxy Fold such a difficult pill to swallow. When it was finally released to the public after numerous delays, the device came swaddled in warnings. It was a long list, and not exactly a vote of confidence for those who just dropped $2,000 on an unproven device.
  • At the same time, the impulse to purchase the device was understandable. After years of teasing flexible displays, Samsung was finally ready to show us what life could be like after a decade worth of flat smartphones.
  • The 6.7-inch display puts its toward the larger end of the spectrum among smartphones, but it fits extremely comfortably in the pocket when closed. If you’ve ever used a clamshell phone before (which is to say if you’re over the age of 30), you get the appeal on that front. The Fold’s long form factor was still pretty large when closed.

4. Hyundai taps EV startup Canoo to develop electric vehicles

  • Hyundai Motor Group said it will jointly develop an electric vehicle platform with Los Angeles-based startup Canoo, the latest startup tapped by the automaker as part of an $87 billion push to invest in electrification and other future technologies.
  • The electric vehicle platform will be based on Canoo’s proprietary skateboard design, according to the agreement that was announced Tuesday. The platform will be used for future Hyundai and Kia electric vehicles as well as the automaker group’s so-called “purpose built vehicles.” The PBV, which Hyundai showcased last month at CES 2020, is a pod-like vehicle that the company says can be used for various functions in transit, such as a restaurant or clinic. The concept is similar to Toyota’s e-Palette vehicle, which can theoretically be customized to serve as a retail shop, restaurant or shuttle for people.

5. RBI has a NUE plan for digital payment players

  • The Reserve Bank of India has taken yet another step towards opening the mandate of issuing and operating of new retail payment channels to private sector players. A draft framework detailing the eligibility and governance criteria of the proposed ‘new umbrella entities’ (NUE) along with scope of activities has now been issued by the central bank for public scrutiny.
  • This, the banking regulator believes, has been necessitated for the prevention of “concentration risk” in India’s burgeoning digital payment landscape where the mandate of issuing and governing payment channels is largely monopolised by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
  • As per these proposed guidelines, only those entities with at least three years of experience operating as payment operator or service providers can apply as a promoter group. Furthermore, these entities can either be ‘for profit’ or be registered under the Section 8 of Companies Act as a non-profit company like NPCI.
  • The NUE should also maintain a minimum net-worth of ₹300 crore always. Among other functionalities, the proposed umbrella body primarily will set up, manage and operate new payments system, especially in the retail space.

For Previous TechBits, Click Here.

About Philomathes Jigyasu

Philomathes (pronounced as fillo-MAY-thus) is a fictional character at VAYUZ (https://www.vayuz.com), who is on a never ending journey called “LEARNING”. In a way, Philomathes embodies VAYUZ - Way of life, which is if you are not learning then you are not breathing. The word Philomathes, comes from the Greek roots philo and philein meaning "to love" and the Greek roots mathos (MAH-thos) and mathesis (muh-THAYSIS) meaning “learning”. Philomathes through his Blogs and Vlogs (Video Blogs) will share his experience, learnings and thoughts. In his tryst to learn and understand, he would also seek answers to questions. So if you would like to join him in this incredible journey called “ life” then feel free to write to him on philomathes.jigyasu@vayuz.com. Always remember, knowledge is all around us, we just need to keep our guards down and senses on.

Leave a Comment