Huawei files to trademark mobile OS around the world after US ban


Huawei files to trademark mobile OS around the world after US ban

LIMA/SHANGHAI: China’s Huawei has applied to trademark its “Hongmeng” operating system (OS) in at least nine countries and Europe, data from a U.N. body shows, in a sign it may be deploying a back-up plan in key markets as U.S. sanctions threaten its business model.

The move comes after the Trump administration put Huawei on a blacklist last month that barred it from doing business with U.S. tech companies such as Alphabet Inc, whose Android OS is used in Huawei’s phones.

Since then, Huawei – the world’s biggest maker of telecoms network gear – has filed for a Hongmeng trademark in countries such as Cambodia, Canada, South Korea and New Zealand, data from the U.N. World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) shows.

It also filed an application in Peru on May 27, according to the country’s anti-trust agency Indecopi.

Huawei has a back-up OS in case it is cut off from U.S.-made software, Richard Yu, CEO of the firm’s consumer division, told German newspaper Die Welt in an interview earlier this year.

The firm, also the world’s second-largest maker of smartphones, has not yet revealed details about its OS. Advertisement

Its applications to trademark the OS show Huawei wants to use “Hongmeng” for gadgets ranging from smartphones, portable computers to robots and car televisions.

At home, Huawei applied for a Hongmeng trademark in August last year and received a nod last month, according to a filing on China’s intellectual property administration’s website.

Huawei declined to comment.

CONSUMER CONCERNS

According to WIPO data, the earliest Huawei applications to trademark the Hongmeng OS outside China were made on May 14 to the European Union Intellectual Property Office and South Korea, or right after the United States flagged it would stick Huawei on an export blacklist.

Huawei has come under mounting scrutiny for over a year, led by U.S. allegations that “back doors” in its routers, switches and other gear could allow China to spy on U.S. communications.

The company has denied its products pose a security threat.

However, consumers have been spooked by how matters have escalated, with many looking to offload their devices on worries they would be cut off from Android updates in the wake of the U.S. blacklist.

Huawei’s hopes to become the world’s top selling smartphone maker in the fourth quarter this year have now been delayed, a senior Huawei executive said this week.

Peru’s Indecopi has said it needs more information from Huawei before it can register a trademark for Hongmeng in the country, where there are some 5.5 million Huawei phone users.

The agency did not give details on the documents it had sought, but said Huawei had up to nine months to respond.

Huawei representatives in Peru declined to provide immediate comment, while the Chinese embassy in Lima did not respond to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Marco Aquino in Lima and Brenda Goh in Shanghai, Additional Reporting by Sijia Jiang in Hong Kong; Shanghai Newsroom and Mitra Taj in Lima, Editing by Himani Sarkar)

Source: Reuters

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Huawei unveils server chipset as China cuts reliance on imports


New chip: A Kunpeng 920 chip is displayed during an unveiling ceremony in Shenzhen. Huawei is seeking growth avenues in cloud computing and enterprise services. — AP

HONG KONG: Huawei Technologies Co Ltd has launched a new chipset for use in servers, at a time when China is pushing to enhance its chip-making capabilities and reduce its heavy reliance on imports, especially from the United States.

Huawei, which gets the bulk of its revenue from the sale of telecommunications equipment and smartphones, is seeking growth avenues in cloud computing and enterprise services as its equipment business comes under increased scrutiny in the West amid worries about Chinese government influence over the firm.

Huawei has repeatedly denied any such influence.

Chinese firms are also seeking to minimise the impact of a trade dispute that has seen China and the United States slap tariffs on each other’s technology imports.

For Huawei, the launch of the chipset – called the Kunpeng 920 and designed by subsidiary HiSilicon – boosts its credentials as a semiconductor designer, although the company said it had no intention of becoming solely a chip firm.

“It is part of our system solution and cloud servicing for clients. We will never make our chipset business a standalone business,” said Ai Wei, who is in charge of strategic planning for Huawei’s chipsets and hardware technology.

The Shenzhen-based company already makes the Kirin series of smartphone chips used in its high-end phones, and the Ascend series of chipsets for artificial intelligence computing launched in October.

It said its latest seven nanometre, 64-core central processing unit (CPU) would provide much higher computing performance for data centres and slash power consumption.

It is based on the architecture of British chip design firm ARM – owned by Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp – which is seeking to challenge the dominance in server CPUs of US maker Intel Corp.

Huawei aims to drive the development of the ARM ecosystem, said chief marketing officer William Xu. He said the chip has “unique advantages in performance and power consumption”.

Xu also said Huawei would continue its “long-term strategic partnership” with Intel.

Huawei’s new ARM-based CPU is not a competitor to the US company’s x86 CPUs and servers, but complementary, Xu added. Redfox Qiu, president of the intelligent computing business department at Huawei, said the company shipped 900,000 units of servers in 2018, versus 77,000 in 2012 when it started.

Huawei was seeing “good momentum for the server business in Europe and Asia Pacific” and expects the contribution from its international business to continue to rise, Qiu added.

Huawei also released its TaiShan series of servers powered by the new chipset, built for big data, distributed storage and ARM native applications.

The firm founded chip designer HiSilicon in 2004 to help reduce its reliance on imports.

In modem chips, Huawei internally sources 54% of those in its own devices, with 22% coming from Qualcomm Inc and the remainder from elsewhere, evidence presented at an antitrust trial for Qualcomm showed. — Reuters

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Huawei’s revenue growth rebounds despite `storm-tossed’ 2018

Year 2018 review: Huawei and the technology cold war, competition in spheres of influence


The Huawei stand is seen during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Yves Herman / Reuters
Newspaper headline: A true multinational – A Huawei Technologies Co logo sits on display inside an electronic goods store in Berlin on December 17. Photo: VCG
2018 was the year that started the U.S.-China tech cold war. 2019 might be the year that splinters the global technology system into distinct spheres of influence.  

Whatever you call it, the U.S.-China science and technology relationship is being violently remade. While a tightly linked technology system benefited the United States and China over the last two decades, there is now widespread concern on both sides of the Pacific that the economic and security risks outweigh the gains. President Xi Jinping has embraced and accelerated policies designed to increase the  innovativeness of the Chinese economy and reduce dependence on foreign suppliers. The Trump administration has put Chinese technologies policies front and center as a danger to U.S. economic and national security. The eventual outcome of this contest may be two distinct technology systems, with other countries forced to choose if they are going to plug into American or Chinese technology platforms and standards.

Over the last year, the Trump administration has pressured Beijing to roll back Made in China 2025 and worked to prevent the flow of American technology to China. Congress passed the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act, which expands the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States’ ability to investigate foreign investment in “critical technologies”, and the Department of Commerce is expected to introduce new export controls on “emerging and  foundational technologies.” In November 2018, then Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a China Initiative to identify priority Chinese trade theft cases and evaluate whether additional legislative and administrative authorities would be required to protect U.S. assets from foreign economic espionage. The Department of Justice indicted two alleged hackers from the Ministry of State Security in December 2018 for stealing secrets from the banking, finance, telecommunications, health care, energy, and automotive industries.

Huawei, the Chinese telecom manufacturer, sits at the center of this new cold war. 5G, the next generation of mobile communication technology, promises greater speed and capacity, and will enable the internet of things, automated vehicles, and other innovations. It will also introduce new cybersecurity vulnerabilities. While U.S. officials have never publicly provided evidence that Huawei equipment has backdoors or been tampered with, they warn that allowing the company to be involved in the build-out of 5G networks raises unmanageable security risks, and they have steadily increased pressure on the company at home and abroad. In January, after scrutiny from U.S. regulators, AT&T walked back from a deal to sell Huawei smartphones in the United States. The Federal Communications Commission proposed making it harder for smaller carriers to use the Universal Service Fund to pay for future purchases of telecom equipment from Huawei. In August, President Trump signed a bill that prohibited any carrier with any substantial amount of installed Chinese telecom equipment from federal government contracts.

Washington has pressured its allies not to use Huawei. In August, Australia effectively banned Huawei from supplying equipment to develop the country’s 5G wireless infrastructure. In November, the New Zealand government rejected a local telecom’s proposal to use Huawei equipment in its 5G network upgrade. In December, a major British telecom announced that it would remove Huawei equipment, and UK intelligence officials have flagged security shortfalls in Huawei software. Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, India, and Japan are reportedly considering banning or limiting Huawei. While not directly connected to the cybersecurity concerns of Huawei products, the detention of CFO Meng Wanzhou in Canada on charges she misrepresented subsidiary relationships in order to deceive U.S. banks into conducting business with Iranian telecommunications companies in violation of U.S. sanctions has raised the tensions around the company considerably.

The United States is also working with its allies to slow Huawei’s expansion in third markets. Australia objected after the Solomon Islands signed a deal with the company to explore building a link between it and the Australian mainland, and the government eventually stepped in and will pay for the bulk of the construction to keep Huawei out. Efforts by the United States, Japan, and Australia to stop Huawei in its efforts to build a submarine telecommunications cable to Papua New Guinea were not as successful when the country decided that it could not afford to walk away from a project that was more than half finished. As one minister put it, “Whatever views Australia or the U.S. might have in relation to cybersecurity, as far as Huawei or China are concerned, those are for the big boys to worry about.”

The race for 5G is far from over. U.S. companies hold a strong position in patents and technological development. Chinese telecoms are rapidly developing competing technologies, benefit from government support in roll out and implementation of 5G services, and often offer their products at prices twenty to thirty percent cheaper than their competitors. The challenge for Washington is to create an environment that supports innovation at home and a shared approach to 5G security with its friend and allies. The competition is likely to pick up in 2019, and the end result increasingly looks like separate spheres of technology influence.

Most Chinese feel West’s growing containment of China, but optimistic about future: poll

China-US relations are the most important bilateral ties, and more Chinese listed the trade friction between them as the most impressive international event in 2018, according to a latest survey report on how Chinese people view the world.

China excels in testing year of 2018

After this tough year, China has more adequate policy and mental preparations, no matter how 2019 turns out. China needs to be well-prepared for difficulties. No external force can bring China down and those who try will pay a hard price. This is the confidence that 2018 has brought China.

A true multinational – Newspaper headline: A Huawei Technologies Co logo sits on display inside an electronic goods store in Berlin on

US IP hacking allegations reach new depths in whimsical thinking


US Justice Department officials issued indictments on two Chinese nationals who allegedly stole, “in association with” the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS), vast amounts of confidential data from at least 45 US tech companies and government agencies over the past ten years.

Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong were charged with three counts each of computer hacking, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. According to the indictment, the two men targeted and “stole hundreds of gigabytes of sensitive data” in aviation, space and satellite technology, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, and oil and gas exploration, as well as from communications and computer processing firms and maritime technology companies. The indictment also said the hackers stole personal information on more than 100,000 US Navy personnel.

The indictment claimed the two men were part of the hacking unit, and worked for a company called Huaying Haitai, in association with the Chinese MSS.

This most recent charge is part of the unprecedented prosecutorial efforts aimed at so-called “Chinese government-backed hacking,” and serves as an accurate reflection of the escalated attacks against China that have been carried out by the US through legal mechanisms. The indictment refers to specific individuals, which is actually misleading as it suggests the US has evidence worthy of an indictment against China. But the logical fallacies tucked inside the allegations will not prevent outsiders from thinking that the move was nothing more than a carefully constructed effort motivated by political purposes.

It is unknown if the two Chinese nationals in question, and the company they worked for, have hacked anything at all, let alone US corporations and institutions. However, it is an over-exaggeration to say the alleged hackers are so “omnipotent” that they can pilfer anything they desire from key American sectors. Are they capable of doing so in the real world?

Supposing, as the US DoJ indictment states, that hackers could get whatever they wanted through internet channels, where one or two individuals could steal technology developed by thousands of researchers, then the world’s most profitable sector would be the hacking industry. Computer hackers would have the ability to take down pirates and drug-trafficking enterprises, as well as the top companies in innovation. They would be immune to any kind of legislation. If this really were the case, the best hackers would undoubtedly come from the US and other Western countries as they are most developed in the world.

The US government initially claimed that China’s hacking efforts have so far cost the US hundreds of billions of dollars annually, a preposterous claim from any vantage point. To begin with, and assuming China is so powerful that it has stolen technological information for over a decade that is supposedly worth over a trillion in intellectual property, as the US has indicated, then how is it that China still lags behind the US in so many fields, from chips to electric vehicles, and even aviation engines?

Since the US has been combating hackers for such an extended period, then how is it that some are able to do whatever they want? If American institutions had such fragile cyber systems, then nothing would be worth stealing.

The bias here is rooted in such strong cultural arrogance that some American elites are now convinced that China’s rapid growth could not have happened without first stealing US technology. After failing to find such Chinese cyberspies, US officials amplified concerns by publicly claiming that Chinese scholars and college students in the US were indeed engaged in some level of espionage. Now, these same people whimsically believe that Chinese hackers have an important role on the internet when it comes to US intellectual property theft.

Nobody knows how many hackers are in China, but there isn’t one Chinese citizen who believes that a few online game masters, who could also be cyber thieves, are the true pioneers behind China’s technology modernization. After all, officials from China’s security sector are not that stupid or naïve.

It would be farcical in nature to pair cybersecurity authorities with gaming experts, especially when taking into account the Chinese system. Security officials do not blithely categorize gaming experts, while disregarding Sino-US relations, accusing them of stealing critical foreign technology from a variety of industries, the way a burglar would break into a department store.

Those security officials simply do not exist, who are technology experts that can create a complex system serving the needs of companies in all industries while effectively manipulating would-be hackers with ease. There is not an entity on the planet that would take such a risk when network security is one of the most sensitive issues between China and the US.

The US allegations against China are practically hysterical all by themselves. This latest round shows the US attack on China has become more comprehensive, which could see more of China’s government agencies getting involved. Actually, it is inevitable. Therefore, instead of adhering to a low profile strategy, China must face these provocations from the US and do more to safeguard national interests.

In recent months, the US has taken provocative action, like sanctioning senior-ranking PLA generals, ordering their allies to arrest Huawei executives, to prosecuting and extraditing so-called “Chinese spies,” and signing Tibet-related bills.

China needs to reflect upon the previous passivity that it has shown and respond proactively. China is a country that loves peace and always pursues gentle action. However, now is the time for China to consider new countermeasures against nations who have done nothing but pour dirty water on the country’s basins. – Global Times.

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Malaysia’s Broadband Plans Not Up to Speed Yet


Still waiting: Some existing users are
exasperated as they have yet to enjoy the higher broadband speeds
promised by their service providers.

Broadband users also complain of not enjoying lower prices

PETALING JAYA: The telcos may have announced lower prices and faster Internet speeds, but many existing fixed broadband users are complaining that they have yet to enjoy these benefits.

On Sunday, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) announced that Telekom Malaysia (TM), Maxis, Celcom and Time have introduced new entry-level plans below RM100 that are more than 30% cheaper.

But the price reduction and speed increase brought about by the Mandatory Standard on Access Pricing (MSAP), which was implemented on June 8, have yet to trickle down to consumers.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said in a statement he was aware that not all existing fixed broadband users are enjoying higher speeds and lower prices.

“I found that the packages do not lower the price of services to existing customers. This means that they cannot benefit from the new packages immediately,” said Gobind.

“I will meet with the telco representatives to discuss this matter in the near future. At the same time, I would also like to emphasise that telcos that have offered the new packages should ensure the services are actually implemented.”

Gobind said MCMC is required to monitor the implementation of the new plans and manage all complaints received and to take firm action where necessary to ensure that the services provided are in line with what was promised.

MaxisOne Home Fibre subscriber Leela Krishnan is disappointed that she has yet to receive any update from Maxis.

“No SMS, e-mail or call from the company to tell how MSAP would affect my monthly bill, or what new plans are available for me,” said the graphics designer, 44.

Maxis said the upgrade was not automatic for existing customers as they have to first pick one of two plans – 30Mbps at RM89 or 100Mbps at RM129 per month.

They can do so at the Maxis page, bit.ly/2gacJxB, but will be recontracted for 24 months. Also, customers who break the new contract will incur a RM500 penalty.

Maxis said recontracting is necessary as it is providing a new router which is capable of maximising the higher speed for WiFi, and at no cost to the consumer.

Astro IPTV customers have also been left hanging on the status of their packages as the company has yet to announce anything.

Idzla Hafiz, 34, who is using the Astro IPTV 10 package, said he is paying RM148 for a mere 10Mbps broadband speed, and he has not received any updates.

“I hope I won’t be paying the same amount next month because that means I will be spending RM59 more than Maxis users and still get a lower speed,” he said.

An Astro spokesman told The Star that the company is still in discussion with its broadband partners – Time and Maxis.

“Discussions are progressing well and we hope our broadband partners will extend the same benefits to our Astro IPTV customers,” the spokesman said, adding that it hopes to make an announcement soon.

Meanwhile, TM’s free upgrade for existing users, which started in August, is expected to go on until the first quarter of next year, as it says it has over 800,000 subscribers to upgrade.

Unifi Home 20Mbps or lower subscribers will be upgraded to 100Mbps, 30Mbps to 300Mbps, 50Mbps to 500Mbps and 100Mbps to 800Mbps.

Public relations consultant Daniel Yao, a Unifi customer of seven years, said it is “ridiculous” that Unifi introduced a cheaper plan for new users but long-time users are still stuck in the same plans.

He said Unifi informed him that the only way to opt for the cheaper and faster plan is to terminate his current package and sign up for a new one.

“That means I need to sign a new contract and redo the whole thing at a TM office,” he added.

TM’s Streamyx customers, especially in the outskirts, have also been complaining to MCMC on Twitter that they are still not being upgraded to Unifi and are being forced to pay more for lower speeds due to lack of infrastructure.

“I found out that there are no suggestions provided to address the issues faced by existing Streamyx users, therefore this is something I need to tackle immediately,” said Gobind.

As at press time, TM has yet to respond to queries from The Star.

Celcom, which offers its Home Fibre plans only in Sabah, said it has upgraded all existing customers to the higher speeds and lower prices since September without recontracting.

All its Home Fibre users, starting from 10Mbps, were upgraded to 100Mbps, and their bill reduced to RM120 per month.

The telco said those who have yet to receive their upgrades can contact its customer service line at 1-300-11-3282.

Time also claims that it has upgraded all its existing users and notified them via e-mail.

The 100Mbps plan (RM149) was upgraded to 500Mbps (RM139) while the 300Mbps (RM189) and 500Mbps (RM299) plans were both upgraded to 1Gbps (RM189).

However, the new subscription fees will only be reflected in bills that are issued from Oct 15 onwards.

If users are still facing slow speeds, it recommends that they restart their router and perform another speed test.

It is best done via a desktop or laptop connected to the router via an Ethernet cable, as users may not be able to get the full speed via WiFi.

If nothing works, users can get in touch with Time via 1800-18-1818 or cs@time.com.my.

Source: The Star by angelin yeoh, mei mei chu, and sharmila nair

Broadband users also complain of not enjoying lower prices

PETALING JAYA: The telcos may have announced lower prices and faster Internet speeds, but many existing fixed broadband users are complaining that they have yet to enjoy these benefits.

On Sunday, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) announced that Telekom Malaysia (TM), Maxis, Celcom and Time have introduced new entry-level plans below RM100 that are more than 30% cheaper.

But the price reduction and speed increase brought about by the Mandatory Standard on Access Pricing (MSAP), which was implemented on June 8, have yet to trickle down to consumers.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said in a statement he was aware that not all existing fixed broadband users are enjoying higher speeds and lower prices.

“I found that the packages do not lower the price of services to existing customers. This means that they cannot benefit from the new packages immediately,” said Gobind.

“I will meet with the telco representatives to discuss this matter in the near future. At the same time, I would also like to emphasise that telcos that have offered the new packages should ensure the services are actually implemented.”

Gobind said MCMC is required to monitor the implementation of the new plans and manage all complaints received and to take firm action where necessary to ensure that the services provided are in line with what was promised.

MaxisOne Home Fibre subscriber Leela Krishnan is disappointed that she has yet to receive any update from Maxis.

“No SMS, e-mail or call from the company to tell how MSAP would affect my monthly bill, or what new plans are available for me,” said the graphics designer, 44.

Maxis said the upgrade was not automatic for existing customers as they have to first pick one of two plans – 30Mbps at RM89 or 100Mbps at RM129 per month.

They can do so at the Maxis page, bit.ly/2gacJxB, but will be recontracted for 24 months. Also, customers who break the new contract will incur a RM500 penalty.

Maxis said recontracting is necessary as it is providing a new router which is capable of maximising the higher speed for WiFi, and at no cost to the consumer.

Astro IPTV customers have also been left hanging on the status of their packages as the company has yet to announce anything.

Idzla Hafiz, 34, who is using the Astro IPTV 10 package, said he is paying RM148 for a mere 10Mbps broadband speed, and he has not received any updates.

“I hope I won’t be paying the same amount next month because that means I will be spending RM59 more than Maxis users and still get a lower speed,” he said.

An Astro spokesman told The Star that the company is still in discussion with its broadband partners – Time and Maxis.

“Discussions are progressing well and we hope our broadband partners will extend the same benefits to our Astro IPTV customers,” the spokesman said, adding that it hopes to make an announcement soon.

Meanwhile, TM’s free upgrade for existing users, which started in August, is expected to go on until the first quarter of next year, as it says it has over 800,000 subscribers to upgrade.

Unifi Home 20Mbps or lower subscribers will be upgraded to 100Mbps, 30Mbps to 300Mbps, 50Mbps to 500Mbps and 100Mbps to 800Mbps.

Public relations consultant Daniel Yao, a Unifi customer of seven years, said it is “ridiculous” that Unifi introduced a cheaper plan for new users but long-time users are still stuck in the same plans.

He said Unifi informed him that the only way to opt for the cheaper and faster plan is to terminate his current package and sign up for a new one.

“That means I need to sign a new contract and redo the whole thing at a TM office,” he added.

TM’s Streamyx customers, especially in the outskirts, have also been complaining to MCMC on Twitter that they are still not being upgraded to Unifi and are being forced to pay more for lower speeds due to lack of infrastructure.

“I found out that there are no suggestions provided to address the issues faced by existing Streamyx users, therefore this is something I need to tackle immediately,” said Gobind.

As at press time, TM has yet to respond to queries from The Star.

Celcom, which offers its Home Fibre plans only in Sabah, said it has upgraded all existing customers to the higher speeds and lower prices since September without recontracting.

All its Home Fibre users, starting from 10Mbps, were upgraded to 100Mbps, and their bill reduced to RM120 per month.

The telco said those who have yet to receive their upgrades can contact its customer service line at 1-300-11-3282.

Time also claims that it has upgraded all its existing users and notified them via e-mail.

The 100Mbps plan (RM149) was upgraded to 500Mbps (RM139) while the 300Mbps (RM189) and 500Mbps (RM299) plans were both upgraded to 1Gbps (RM189).

However, the new subscription fees will only be reflected in bills that are issued from Oct 15 onwards.

If users are still facing slow speeds, it recommends that they restart their router and perform another speed test.

It is best done via a desktop or laptop connected to the router via an Ethernet cable, as users may not be able to get the full speed via WiFi.

If nothing works, users can get in touch with Time via 1800-18-1818 or cs@time.com.my.

Source: The Star by angelin yeoh, mei mei chu, and sharmila nair

Related:

Broadband prices come down – Nation
You can now get Unifi Pro 100Mbps with unlimited data for RM129 …

Gobind to immediately tackle issue of existing broadband and Streamyx users not getting upgraded

Bringing telecom industry up to speed – Business News

 

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SY Lau, a Malaysian took China’s WeChat by storm

Unknown Chinese startup creates the world’s most valuable Bytedance


Independent moves: Bytedance has become among the most successful major Chinese tech companies in creating an
international base without the backing of giants Alibaba and Tencent. — Reuters

 

Building a vision: Over five years, Zhang has grown the app into one of the most popular news services anywhere, with 120 million daily users. — Bloomberg

Said to be valued at over $75 billion in new round of funding.

Bloomberg reports that when  Zhang Yiming first shopped the idea of a news aggregation app powered
by artificial intelligence six years ago, investors including Sequoia Capital were skeptical
.

Back then, the question was how a 29-year-old locally trained software engineer could outsmart the numerous news portals operated by the likes of social media behemoth Tencent Holdings. and extract profit
where even Google had failed.

Zhang, now 35, proved them wrong. Today his company, Bytedance Ltd., is on its way to a more than $75 billion valuation — a price tag that surpasses Uber Technologies. to top the world, according to CB Insights.
The latest in a long line of investors who’ve come around is Softbank Group., which is said to be planning to invest about $1.5 billion.  Bytedance now counts KKR & Co., General Atlantic and even Sequoia as
backers. Much of its lofty valuation stems from the creation of an internet experience that’s a cross between Google and Facebook.

35-Year-Old Unknown Creates the World’s Most Valuable Startup

 

News aggregation app evolves into a multi-faceted media goliath

 

WHEN Zhang Yiming first shopped the idea of a news aggregation app powered by artificial intelligence six years ago, investors including Sequoia Capital were sceptical.

Back then, the question was how a 29-year-old locally trained software engineer could outsmart the numerous news portals operated by the likes of social media behemoth Tencent Holdings Ltd and extract profit where even Google had failed.

Zhang, now 35, proved them wrong.

Today his company, Bytedance Ltd, is on its way to a more than US$75bil valuation – a price tag that surpasses Uber Technologies Inc to top the world, according to CB Insights.

The latest in a long line of investors who have come around is Softbank Group Corp, which is said to be planning to invest about US$1.5bil. Bytedance now counts KKR & Co, General Atlantic and even Sequoia as backers.

Much of its lofty valuation stems from the creation of an internet experience that’s a cross between Google and Facebook.

“The most important thing is that we are not a news business. We are more like a search business or a social media platform,” Zhang said in a 2017 interview, adding that he employs no editors or reporters.

“We are doing very innovative work. We are not a copycat of a US company, both in product and technology.”

What’s remarkable is Zhang was able to do it all without taking money from the twin suns of China’s internet: Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Tencent.

It’s the first startup to emerge from the dwindling cohort of mobile players that hasn’t sought protection or funds from either of the two. In fact, it has often locked horns with them, in court and elsewhere. And it’s arguably more successful at engaging youthful audiences abroad.

The story of how Bytedance became a goliath begins with news site Jinri Toutiao but is tied more closely to a series of smart acquisitions and strategic expansions that propelled the company into mobile video and even beyond China. By nurturing a raft of successful apps, it has gathered a force of hundreds of millions of users and now poses a threat to China’s largest Internet operators.

The company has evolved into a multi-faceted empire spanning video service Tik Tok – known as Douyin locally – and a plethora of platforms for everything from jokes to celebrity gossip.

But as with Facebook at the same stage of its life, Bytedance now faces questions over when or even how it will start making a profit.

“The predominant issue in China’s internet is that the growth in users and the time each user spends online has slowed dramatically.

“It is becoming a zero-sum game, and costs for acquiring users and winning their time are increasing,” said Jerry Liu, an analyst with UBS.

“What Bytedance has created is a group of apps that are very good at attracting users and retaining their time, in part, leveraging the traffic from Jinri Toutiao.”

Despite its seeming isolation, it’s become the most successful major Chinese tech company in creating an international base, venturing via apps like Tik Tok into the US, South-East Asia and Japan.

Even Tencent’s WeChat had to pump the brakes on its own overseas initiative four years ago.

What Zhang perceived in 2012 was that Chinese mobile users struggled to find information they cared about on many apps.

That’s partly because of the country’s draconian screening of information. Zhang thought he could do better than incumbents such as Baidu, which enjoyed a near-monopoly on search.

The latter conflated advertising with search results, a botch that would later haunt the company via a series of medical scandals.

There was little Toutiao could do about censorship – in fact, the company’s been repeatedly excoriated by authorities for failing to filter content and been forced to clean up its services with alarming regularity.

But Zhang held fast to his early vision of delivering content that mattered to users through AI. The closest American equivalent was Facebook’s news feed.

After falling flat with the bulk of China’s venture capital stalwarts, Zhang eventually secured investment from Susquehanna International Group.

It began offering the news app in August 2012. The platform studied what users read and searched for, then referred information and articles based on those habits. The more people used it, the better the experience, and the longer people stayed.

By mid-2014, daily active users had climbed to more than 13 million.

Sequoia finally came to the table, leading a funding round of US$100mil.

“We push information, not by queries, by news recommendations,” Zhang said in the interview last year.

But it was video that really propelled Bytedance into the big leagues.

Streaming services have always been popular in China. Even during the desktop era, companies like YY Inc championed a model where people sang and danced in virtual showrooms to win online gifts from fans. Later, outfits like Kuaishou fuelled that penchant for zany showmanship.

Bytedance saw an opportunity, but made its videos much shorter: 15 seconds, to be precise.

Around September 2016, it quietly launched Douyin. The app let users shoot and edit footage, add filters and share them across platforms like the Twitter-like Weibo or WeChat.

That format appealed to shorter millennial attention spans and became an instant hit, so much so that WeChat later blocked direct access to the app.

A year after, Bytedance acquired Musical.ly for US$800mil. It saw synergy between the buzzy teen US social video app created by Chinese co-founders and Tik Tok, and is now in the process of combining them. Tik Tok and Douyin had a combined 500 million users as of July.

The challenge now is in translating buzz and viewership into dollars. The company is expanding its ad sales operations, particularly for Toutiao.

Several media buying agencies said its massive reach and the attention it draws is a natural lure for marketers. Many said Bytedance is even pulling spending away from Tencent.

Bytedance, which previously cut a deal with Cheetah Mobile to sell ad space, has brought most of its ad sales in-house, said Kenneth Tan, the chief digital officer for Mindshare China, an agency.

“From a pricing perspective, they are expensive for what they are. They definitely charge a premium,” Tan said. “But that has not been an inhibitor for the large brands.”

There’s a big caveat, however. Brands remain cautious about Bytedance’s regulatory issues, particularly given Beijing’s historic unpredictability around censorship.

This year, it had to shut down a popular joke-sharing app in April just as it appeared to take off. It also suspended Douyin and its bread-and-butter Toutiao around the same time.

That’s “a potential risk to brand collaboration,” said Sherry Pan, general manager for China at the agency Magna Global. — Bloomberg

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Khazanah to see foreign appointments – Business News

 

Buy and sell stocks online



Rakuten Trade: Fully Online Trading Platforms

 

Rakuten Trade is Malaysia’s first digital equities broker

FOR the first time, trading on Bursa Malaysia can be done completely online. No more having to go through a dealer or making a trip the bank to open an account.

Investors can now open an account within two hours, top up available funds via bank transfer, trade instantly and have access to real time market price feeds – all the functions of a traditional broker except it is completely online.

If you are ready to start investing, it’s pretty simple to get going. Ordinarily, you would need to engage a licensed broker to buy and sell stocks. But not with Rakuten Trade, which has been operating in Malaysia for more than a year as the country’s first fully digital equities broker.

Rakuten Trade Sdn Bhd, a joint venture company of Kenanga Investment Bank Bhd and Japan’s Rakuten Securities Inc, was named fintech company of the year at the Malaysia FinTech Awards 2018 in March.

Rakuten Trade has already activated more than 18,000 accounts on its platform of which more than 70% of the account holders are below the age of 40.

“Rakuten Trade has become popular with investors especially first-timers to the equity broking market, which make up 46% of the total client base,” says Rakuten Trade managing director Kaoru Arai.

“Our all-in-one seamless trading platform makes it appealing to this new breed of investors who are more digitally inclined and prefer to execute their trading ideas end-to-end on their own.”

How Rakuten Trade works

The Rakuten Trade business model is premised on six value propositions that are complemented by aggressive marketing efforts that combine local insights with Japan’s best practices.

Its value propositions are as follows:

Online account opening and approval within two hours

> No hardcopy paperwork required.

> No physical visit to the branch.

> Credit/debit card part of the verification process.

> Mobile-friendly account opening page.

Japanese cutting edge mobile trading platform

> Unique platform compared to existing brokers’ mobile trading sites.

> Indices and stock prices are available for free and are not exclusive only to Rakuten Trade customers.

> Additional features available exclusively for Rakuten Trade customers.

Competitive brokerage rates

> The lowest brokerage rates in town.

Financial information

> Research reports derived from the Rakuten Trade research team.

> Hot picks for the week presented in easy to understand formats.

> Short and to the point in the form of a one-page report or 30-second YouTube video.

> Market information available to all (delayed) and live market feeds for Rakuten Trade customers (powered by Thomson Reuter).

Investor awareness and knowledge resource platform

> Knowledge and trading ideas are shared through our seminars, webinars, social influencers.

Rewards ecosystem

> Rakuten Trade customers will be rewarded with RT points that can be converted into points from Malaysia’s top three leading loyalty providers.

> First of its kind in Malaysia to successfully combine AirAsia BIG, B Infinite by Berjaya Group and BonusLink under one umbrella.

Choice of account

Rakuten Trade currently offers investors the choice of two accounts – Cash Upfront and/or Contra Account.


Cash account

> Allows you to trade based on available cash now.

> You will always know your actual cash/portfolio position.

> Available cash balance will earn 2.5% interest per annum.

Contra account

> Allows you to trade more than the money you have in your account.

> Maximises your trading exposure by offering shares as collateral.

> Available cash balance will earn 2.5% interest per annum.

> Settlement of transaction within three days after the transaction (T+3).

If you already purchase airline tickets, electronic gadgets, clothes or even groceries online without any physical intervention, why not trade online?

To learn more about trading online, go to http://www.rakutentrade.my

Source: TheStaronline

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