Latin America is the next stage in the race for dominance in the ride-hailing market

As the number of competitors in the ride-hailing industry dwindles, geographic expansion is emerging as the next proving ground to determine who will be the victor in the ride-hailing market.

The race for control of the industry, which is estimated by Goldman Sachs to grow eightfold to $285 billion by 2030, is escalating with China’s Didi Chuxing already surpassing Uber as the most valuable startup in the world. With a recent valuation of approximately $56 billion, compared to Uber’s $48 billion, Didi is posing a real threat to Uber’s operations and shows no signs of slowing down. Cementing its position as the top ride-hailing service in China, Didi

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Former Facebook security chief says creating election chaos is still easy

As someone who’s had a years-long front-row seat to Russia’s efforts to influence U.S. politics, former Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos has a pretty solid read on what we can expect from the 2018 midterms. Stamos left the company last month to work on cybersecurity education at Stanford. “If there’s no foreign interference during the midterms, it’s not because we did a great job,” Stamos said in an interview with TechCrunch at Disrupt SF on Thursday. “It’s because our adversaries decided to [show] a little forbearance, which is unfortunate.” As Stamos sees it, there is an alternative reality in which the U.S. electorate would be better off heading into its next major nationwide voting day, but critical steps haven’t been taken. “As a society, we have not responded to the 2016 election in the way that would’ve been necessary to have a more trustworthy midterms,” he
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Facebook is opening its first data center in Asia

Facebook is opening its first data center in Asia. The company announced today that it is planning an 11-story building in Singapore that will help its services run faster and more efficiently. The development will cost SG$1.4 billion, or around US$1 billion, the company confirmed. The social networking firm said that it anticipates that the building will be powered 100 percent by renewable energy. It said also that it will utilize a new ‘StatePoint Liquid Cooling’ system technology, which the firm claims minimizes the consumption of water and power. Facebook said that the project will create hundreds of jobs and “form part of our growing presence in Singapore and across Asia.”

A render of what Facebook anticipates that its data center in Singapore will look like

Asia Pacific accounts for 894 million monthly users, that’s 40 percent of the total user base and it makes it the highest
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Google will struggle if it re-enters China, says its former country head

The odds are stacked against Google if the reports are true and the company is trying to bring its services back to China, according to the former head of Google China. News reports last month uncovered details of internal plans to introduce a search product and a news app in China, moves that would mark a re-entry to the consumer market which Google left in 2010. The plans, which follow a noticeable increase in activity in China from Google, were widely criticized by activists and also raised concern internally from Google employees. Kaifu Lee left the search giant nine years following a four-year stint, and today he’s best-known as one of the world’s leading thinkers on AI and the founding partner of Chinese VC Sinovation Ventures. Speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco this week, he shared his belief that China’s tech ecosystem is rapidly catching the U.S. on
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Mobile spyware maker leaks 2 million records

mSpy, a commercial spyware solution designed to help you spy on kids and partners, has leaked over 2 million records including software purchases and iCloud usernames and authentication tokens of devices running mSky. The data appears to have come from an unsecured database that allowed security researchers to pull out millions of records. “Before it was taken offline sometime in the past 12 hours, the database contained millions of records, including the username, password and private encryption key of each mSpy customer who logged in to the mSpy site or purchased an mSpy license over the past six months,” wrote security researcher Brian Krebs. Bug hunter Nitish Shah found the data and notified mSpy about the leak but couldn’t reach anyone who could shut it down. He showed Krebs how to access the data, which included personal data on customers. mSpy is a platform that allows parents to see
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Highlights from the Senate Intelligence hearing with Facebook and Twitter

Another day, another political grilling for social media platform giants. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s fourth hearing took place this morning, with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey present to take questions as U.S. lawmakers continue to probe how foreign influence operations are playing out on Internet platforms — and eye up potential future policy interventions.  During the session US lawmakers voiced concerns about “who owns” data they couched as “rapidly becoming me”. An uncomfortable conflation for platforms whose business is human surveillance. They also flagged the risk of more episodes of data manipulation intended to incite violence, such as has been seen in Myanmar — and Facebook especially was pressed to commit to having both a legal and moral obligation towards its users. The value of consumer data was also raised, with committee vice chair, Sen. Mark Warner, suggesting platforms should actively convey that value
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Facebook sues BlackBerry over patent infringement of voice-messaging tech

Facebook has accused BlackBerry of stealing its voice-messaging technology in its instant messaging app. In an 118-page complaint filed Tuesday in San Francisco, Facebook claimed BlackBerry infringed on five other patents, including the tracking and analysis of GPS data, voice-messaging technology, and the ways in which the app displays graphics, video and audio. In the complaint, Facebook claims that the infringements have “caused and will continue to cause damage” to the company’s Messenger and WhatsApp messaging apps. Facebook hasn’t yet put a figure on possible damages, but the tone of the lawsuit itself rings hollow in retrospect of comments Facebook made when receiving its own lawsuit for such charges. If this case sounds familiar, it’s because BlackBerry itself filed a similar lawsuit against Facebook in March. Paul Grewal, Facebook’s deputy general counsel, claimed at the time that “BlackBerry’s suit sadly reflects the current state of its messaging business” as well as the
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Facebook users becoming more cautious and critical, says Pew

Ahead of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg testifying before Congress later today, where she will be questioned alongside Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey as US lawmakers wrestle with how to regulate social media platforms (and even just to get bums on seats, given Google’s Larry Page declined to attend), the Pew Research Center has published new research suggesting Americans have become more cautious and critical in their use of Facebook over the past year. It’s certainly been a year of scandals for the social media behemoth, which started 2018 already on the back foot already in the wake of Kremlin-backed election interference revelations — and with Mark Zuckerberg saying his annual personal mission for the new year would be the embarrassingly unfun challenge of “fixing Facebook”. Since then things have only got worse, with a major global scandal kicking off in March after fresh revelations about the Cambridge Analytica data misuse sandal
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How to watch Facebook and Twitter’s big hearings with Congress

On Wednesday, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey will appear before Congress in the latest high profile hearings for tech on Capitol Hill. The main event will take place at 9:30 a.m. ET, as the pair of tech execs faces the defense and cybersecurity-minded Senate Select Intelligence Committee. Following that hearing, Dorsey will stick around for a chat with the House Energy and Commerce Committee in a hearing set for 1:30 p.m ET. For a thorough preview, you can catch Facebook and Twitter’s opening statements. In the Senate hearing, expect most of the discussion to focus on the company’s efforts to thwart coordinated efforts by US adversaries to influence domestic politics. Titled “Foreign Influence Operations and Their Use of Social Media Platforms,” the hearing will give some of the Senate’s most tech-savvy members a chance to take their questions and concerns straight to the top.

Facebook, Twitter: US intelligence could help us more in fighting election interference

Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg has admitted that the social networking giant could have done more to prevent foreign interference on its platforms, but said that the government also needs to step up its intelligence sharing efforts. The remarks are ahead of an open hearing at the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, where Sandberg and Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey will testify on foreign interference and election meddling on social media platforms. Google’s Larry Page was invited, but declined to attend. “We were too slow to spot this and too slow to act,” said Sandberg in prepared remarks. “That’s on us.” The hearing comes in the aftermath of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Social media companies have been increasingly under the spotlight after foreign actors, believed to be working for or closely to the Russian government, used disinformation spreading tactics to try to influence the outcome of
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Instead of Larry Page, Google sends written testimony to tech’s Senate hearing

Silicon Valley is about to have another big moment before Congress. On Wednesday, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg will go before the Senate Intelligence Committee to follow-up on their work investigating (and hopefully thwarting) Russian government-linked campaigns to sow political division in the US. The hearing is titled “Foreign Influence Operations and Their Use of Social Media Platforms” and begins tomorrow morning at 9:30 AM ET. It will be both Dorsey and Sandberg’s first time appearing before Congress on the high-stakes topic, but they’re not the only invitees. Alphabet CEO Larry Page was also called before the committee, though he is the only one of the three to decline to appear on Wednesday. Google also declined to send Sundar Pichai. “Our SVP of Global Affairs and Chief Legal Officer, who reports directly to our CEO and is responsible for our work in this area, will be in Washington,
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Three former Social Capital partners are reportedly raising a $200M fund

Tribe Capital, the venture capital firm launched by Arjun Sethi, Jonathan Hsu and Ted Maidenber, a trio of former Social Capital partners, is reportedly raising $200 million for its first flagship venture capital fund.  This story is developing. We’ve reached out to the firm for comment. Tribe was said to be focusing on cryptocurrency and blockchain startups, recently leading the $22.7 million round for crypto trading platform SFOX. Though the Wall Street Journal is reporting today that capital from the fund will be deployed across multiple industries. The news is a kick in the gut for former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya‘s venture capital firm Social Capital, which has been bleeding partners as of late—so much so that the firm has removed the page on its website that listed its team.

‘Five Eyes’ governments call on tech giants to build encryption backdoors — or else

A pact of five nation states dedicated to a global “collect it all” surveillance mission has issued a memo calling on their governments to demand tech companies build backdoor access to their users’ encrypted data — or face measures to force companies to comply. The international pact — the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, known as the so-called “Five Eyes” group of nations — quietly issued the memo last week demanding that providers “create customized solutions, tailored to their individual system architectures that are capable of meeting lawful access requirements.” This kind of backdoor access would allow each government access to encrypted call and message data on their citizens. If the companies don’t voluntarily allow access, the nations threatened to push through new legislation that would compel their help. “Should governments continue to encounter impediments to lawful access to information necessary to aid the protection of the
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UK media giants call for independent oversight of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter

The UK’s leading broadcasters and ISPs have called for the government to introduce independent regulatory oversight of social media content. The group of media and broadband operators in the tightly regulated industries spans both the state-funded and commercial sector — with the letter to the Sunday Telegraph being inked with signatures from the leaders of the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky, BT and TalkTalk. They argue there’s an “urgent” need for independent oversight of social media, and counter suggestions that such a move would amount to censorship by pointing out that tech companies are already making choices about what to allow (or not) on their platforms. They are argue independent oversight is necessary to ensure “accountability and transparency” over those decisions, writing: “There is an urgent need for independent scrutiny of the decisions taken, and greater transparency. This is not about censoring the internet, it is about making the most popular
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It’s time for Facebook and Twitter to coordinate efforts on hate speech

Since the election of Donald Trump in 2016, there has been burgeoning awareness of the hate speech on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. While activists have pressured these companies to improve their content moderation, few groups (outside of the German government) have outright sued the platforms for their actions. That’s because of a legal distinction between media publications and media platforms that has made solving hate speech online a vexing problem. Take, for instance, an op-ed published in the New York Times calling for the slaughter of an entire minority group.  The Times would likely be sued for publishing hate speech, and the plaintiffs may well be victorious in their case. Yet, if that op-ed were published in a Facebook post, a suit against Facebook would likely fail. The reason for this disparity? Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), which provides platforms
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How Silicon Valley should celebrate Labor Day

Ask any 25-year old engineer what Labor Day means to him or her, and you might get an answer like: it’s the surprise three-day weekend after a summer of vacationing. Or it’s the day everyone barbecues at Dolores Park. Or it’s the annual Tahoe trip where everyone gets to relive college. Or simply, it’s the day we get off because we all work so hard. And while founders and employees in startup land certainly work hard, wearing their 80-hour workweeks as a badge of honor, closing deals on conference calls in an air-conditioned WeWork is a far cry from the backbreaking working conditions of the 1880s, the era when Labor Day was born. For everyone here in Silicon Valley, we should not be celebrating this holiday triumphantly over beers and hot dogs, complacent in the belief that our gravest labor issues are behind us, but instead use this holiday as
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Wish, Netflix, Uber and ~100 others testing WhatsApp’s new Business API

Earlier this month, WhatsApp announced the launch of its first revenue-generating enterprise product, the WhatsApp Business API. The API allows businesses to respond to messages from WhatsApp users for free up to 24 hours, then charges for any responses after that point on a per message basis. Though still in a limited preview, the company is now supporting around 100 businesses directly on its API platform, including airlines, e-commerce companies, banks, and others like Uber and Netflix, and plans to onboard many more in the months ahead. Because businesses have to first apply to gain access the API, there’s some misinformation floating around on backchannels about how to get approved. For example, some industry sources have been telling partners that no U.S.-based businesses are being onboarded to the API at this point. This is untrue, WhatsApp says. In fact, there’s a public site where U.S. companies
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Chat app Line hopes its own crypto token can solve its user growth problem

Line, the Japanese messaging app firm that’s best known for its cutesy characters and stickers, is pushing deeper into crypto after it launched its own token to help grow its stagnant user base. Line went public two years ago with 218 million monthly active users, but it hasn’t been able to kick on. The company no longer gives out its worldwide user number, but the number of active users in its four biggest markets has fallen from 169 million in Q2 2017 to 164 million in its recent Q2 2018 period. Link — Line’s token — isn’t being minted through an ICO, instead, it’ll be given out to Line users as an incentive for using certain services. Line hasn’t said exactly how it can be earned yet, although it is likely that it’ll be tied to specific activities to promote engagement.

Line plans to use Link to incentive user activity on its messaging

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The Apps Winning the Battle For Our Attention

The Apps Winning the Battle For Our Attention Span

The Apps Winning the Battle For Our Attention Span

With the smartphone as the centerpiece of the new global consumer economy, how we allocate our screentime between the myriad of apps that exist is becoming a very telling statistic. After all, the companies that win the battle for app mindshare will have unfettered access to billions of consumers, as well as the economic opportunities that emerge from that access.

The Duopoly vs. Everyone Else

Most know that Facebook and Google, the two tech giants that are lovingly referred to as “The Duopoly” by advertising executives, are already capturing $0.60 of every dollar spent on advertising online. And now, through acquisitions, The Duopoly is showing that they are able to stay ubiquitous as consumers spend even more time on their smartphones. According to recent data from Apptopia, the global app ecosystem is dominated by Facebook and Google owned apps.
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