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Tag Archives: latin-america

Walmart sells 80% of its Brazilian operation to Advent Intl, will record $4.5B loss as a result

Walmart’s ongoing push to cut away unprofitable or slow-growing international operations, to shore up its resources to compete against Amazon at home and in Asia on digital fronts, had another development today. The world’s largest retailer today announced that it has finalised a deal to sell 80 percent of its business in Brazil to private equity firm Advent International, with Walmart keeping the remaining 20 percent. The deal has been in the works for months and is expected to close later this year. Walmart and Advent are not disclosing the terms of the deal (we are asking) but Walmart did note in a statement that it would record a non-cash net loss of $4.5 billion in Q2 as a result. “A significant portion of the net loss is due to the recognition of cumulative foreign currency translation losses and the final loss could fluctuate significantly due to changes in currency exchange rates up to the date of close,” noted Walmart. Although Brazil represents the biggest single market in Latin America, the company has found it a struggle to grow that business substantially and last quarter said that it would wind down its first-party e-commerce business in Brazil, too. “Walmart is committed to building strong, resilient businesses that continuously adapt to local customers’ needs in a rapidly changing world,” said Enrique Ostale, EVP and CEO of Walmart UK, Latin America and Africa, in a statement. “We will retain a stake in Walmart Brazil and continue to share our global retail expertise, giving our Brazil business the best opportunity for long-term growth, providing opportunities for associates and low prices for customers.” Advent is a prolific investor and controls a number of businesses in Brazil , including many retail companies, and the idea appears to be to use some of that to expand the operation in ways that Walmart hadn’t managed to do on its own. “We have been in Brazil for over 20 years and are excited about this partnership with one of the country’s leading retailers,” said Patrice Etlin, a Managing Partner at Advent International in Brazil, in a statement. “We believe that with our local market knowledge and retail expertise we can position the company to generate significant results and reach new levels of success in Brazil.

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YouTeam is a marketplace for offshore developer talent

While software is said to be eating the world, software developers and other technical talent remains in short supply. Not only is this seeing major tech companies compete hard to hire the best engineers, but it has also meant a rise in the use of remote working freelancers or turning to offshore agencies. The problem with either solution, however, is the same: how to ensure outsourced work will be of high quality and that the individuals working on your project will be a good fit with the rest of your team. Enter YouTeam , a U.K. startup and recent graduate of Y Combinator, which has created what it calls a marketplace for offshore talent. The company’s platform connects individual developers at agencies (and large companies that have spare developer capacity) with companies needing to add to their own development teams through outsourcing. In this way the aim is to bridge the gap between hiring an individual freelancer and the added vetting and accountability using an agency affords. “Numerous times in our former companies we were let down by our software development partners and suppliers,” YouTeam co-founder and CEO Anton Mishchenko recalls. “For starters, it’s hard to objectively identify a reliable company because there is no unified industry standard for doing so. Secondly, it is impossible to know whether a company has the right team for the project because they rarely disclose information about their engineers until the contract is signed. Thirdly, the interests of the client and the supplier can often fork in different directions and so there is often limited trust, especially in the beginning of their relationship”

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Kaspersky to move some core infrastructure out of Russia to fight for trust

Russian cybersecurity software maker  Kaspersky Labs  has announced it will be moving core infrastructure processes to Zurich, Switzerland, as part of a shift announced last year to try to win back customer trust. It also said it’s arranging for the process to be independently supervised by a Switzerland-based third party qualified to conduct technical software reviews. “By the end of 2019, Kaspersky Lab will have established a data center in Zurich and in this facility will store and process all information for users in Europe, North America, Singapore, Australia, Japan and South Korea, with more countries to follow,” it writes in a press release. “Kaspersky Lab will relocate to Zurich its ‘software build conveyer’ — a set of programming tools used to assemble ready to use software out of source code. Before the end of 2018, Kaspersky Lab products and threat detection rule databases (AV databases) will start to be assembled and signed with a digital signature in Switzerland, before being distributed to the endpoints of customers worldwide. “The relocation will ensure that all newly assembled software can be verified by an independent organization, and show that software builds and updates received by customers match the source code provided for audit.” In  October  the company unveiled what it dubbed a “comprehensive transparency initiative” as it battled suspicion  that its antivirus software had been hacked or penetrated by the Russian government and used as a route for scooping up US intelligence. Since then Kaspersky has  closed its Washington D.C. office  — after a ban on its products for U.S. government use which was signed into law by president Trump in December . Being a trusted global cybersecurity firm and operating core processes out of Russia where authorities might be able to lean on your company for access has essentially become untenable as geopolitical concern over the Kremlin’s online activities has spiked in recent years. Yesterday the Dutch government became the latest public sector customer to announce a move away from Kaspersky products (via Reuters ) — saying it was doing so as a “precautionary measure”, and advising companies operating vital services to do the same.

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Brazil’s tech startups begin to expand globally

Startups in Brazil, Latin America’s largest entrepreneurial ecosystem, are no longer solely focused on Brazil as their only frontier to conquer. Based on conversations with founders and in tracking the news, dozens of startups born in Brazil have realized they can compete on a global scale and expand their companies quickly by exporting their business models to other regional markets around the world, including Canada, Colombia, Europe, Japan, Mexico, the U.K. and the U.S. Traditionally, many Brazilian startups have been content to focus on growing their revenues and market share on the “Ilha de Santa Cruz” (Island of the True Cross, as Brazil was named by a Portuguese sea-captain in 1500). There is plenty to feast on here with a growing middle class, the citizens’ voracious appetite for social and digital media consumption and a population of nearly 211,000,000. More so than other major entrepreneurial centers, Brazil’s founders are known for bootstrapping early-stage companies and avoiding global expansion, as the capital can be costly and lead to a dilution in shares in their startups. Yet, as the country that is home to the world’s eighth largest economy slowly pulls out of a long recession with its first annual uptick in GDP last year, increasingly the “Brazilians are coming” to compete in more international markets — and more rapidly than ever before. Entrepreneurial expansion outside the country is on the rise as the startup ecosystem becomes more mature, and against a backdrop of unprecedented levels of global investment coming into Brazil from China, Japan, Europe, Silicon Valley and beyond. Indeed, international investment in LatAm startups has “ more than doubled since 2013 .” Another trend that’s providing more Brazilian companies with the capital needed to fuel their global expansion is the “flurry of equity deals” during the first part of 2018, “ahead of the presidential elections in October that are expected to prompt volatility in the markets,” according to  Bloomberg Markets . For example, NYSE’s biggest IPO since Snap earlier this year raised nearly $2.3 billion for Brazilian fintech PagSeguro (NYSE:PAGS), a payment processing company similar in business model to Jack Dorsey’s Square. It was the largest IPO of a Brazilian company since 2011. Brazil’s export of fast-growth startups is on the rise There has been a growing stream of Brazilian startups that have begun to shift focus to the U.S.

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iZettle, the ‘Square of Europe’, plans IPO to raise around $227M, valuing it at $1.1B

The strong climate for tech IPOs at the moment is leading yet more mature startups to set up their own plans to list, and the latest development on that front is coming out Sweden. iZettle , the payments and small business financial services startup that is often referred to as the “Square of Europe,” with some 413,000 business customers, today confirmed plans  to list on Nasdaq in Stockholm. The company plans to raise 2 billion Swedish kronor ($227 million at current rates), giving it an estimated valuation of about SEK10 billion ($1.1 billion). Jacob deGeer, iZettle’s co-founder and CEO, said in an interview that the plan is to use the proceeds to “execute on our ambitious growth strategy” both by continuing to serve small and medium businesses but also by turning its focus also to larger merchants and other companies in Europe and Latin America, the two markets where iZettle is currently active. The company is currently operating at a loss, but it’s growing quickly with that loss narrowing. In its prospectus, iZettle said it forecasts consolidated net revenue (gross revenue less interchange and card scheme fees) growth of at least 40 percent annually, with a profit — specifically, positive consolidated Ebitda — “by the year ended December 31, 2020.” “Our growth is driven by two factors,” DeGeer said in an email interview, “an increase in the number of active users and improved user engagement. Our strategy going forward is to grow our merchant base in existing markets as well as shift the mix towards slightly larger merchants, though our focus will continue to remain on small businesses.” iZettle notes that the listing would happen sometime in 2018 but has not yet specified an exact date. Along with the IPO announcement, iZettle has published its most up-to-date financials, which confirm that the company is still operating at a loss, but with that margin shrinking as its revenues continue to grow. In the first three months of 2018, the company reported negative earnings before tax, depreciation and amortization of SEK73 million ($8.3 million), slightly narrower than its negative Ebitda of SEK78 million ($8.8 million). More details on its financials below. iZettle’s announcement puts to rest IPO speculation that has been swirling around the company for a while now, which reached a crescendo pitch last week. It also comes less than five months after the company raised its last funding — $47 million at a $950 million valuation . A number of strong tech IPOs so far this year point to a sympathetic climate for more to list, rather than stay private and raise more growth funds that way. “We were founded eight years ago and have grown from a start-up to a mature fintech company,” DeGeer said.

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Moto g6 and e5 Smartphones Unveiled

The new moto g6 and moto e5 smartphone families are smarter than ever and focus on display, design and power. The new  moto g6  plus is picture perfect in every way. Featuring a 5.9″, 18:9 aspect ratio, its Full HD Max Vision display delivers vivid colors and all the fine details. Capture the most creative shots using its advanced software, and focus in an instant with Dual Autofocus Pixel technology. Taking great pictures even in low light just got easier, thanks to its large f/1.7 aperture and 1.4um pixel size.

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Canon IVY Mini Photo Printer

The Canon IVY Mini Photo Printer can print creative 2x3 photos and stickers in seconds. Available in Rose Gold, Mint Green and Slate Gray, the IVY Mini Photo Printer is Canon's smallest and lightest printer yet. The Canon IVY Mini Photo Printer is currently available for an estimated retail price of $129.99*, which includes the printer body and a starter pack of ten sheets of photo paper. Twenty-sheet and fifty-sheet packs of photo paper will also be available for an estimated retail price of $9.99* and $24.99*, respectively.

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Google changes its messaging strategy again: Goodbye to Allo, double down on RCS

Google’s long-and-winding road to figuring out messaging is taking yet another change of direction after the company called time on Allo, its newest chat app launch, in order to double down on its vision to enable an enhanced version of SMS. The company told The Verge  that it is “pausing” work on Allo, which was only launched as recently as September 2016 , in order to put its resources into the adoption RCS (Rich Communication Services), a messaging standard that has the potential to tie together SMS and other chat apps. RCS isn’t new, and Google has been pushing it for some time, but now the company is rebranding it as “Chat” and putting all its efforts into getting operators on board. The new strategy will see almost the entire Allo team switch to Android Messages, according to The Verge. In case you didn’t hear about it before, RCS is essentially a technology that allows basic ‘SMS’ messaging to be standardized across devices. In the same way that iMessage lets Apple device owners chat for free using data instead of paid-for SMS, RCS could allow free chats across different networks on Android or other devices. RCS can be integrated into chat apps, which is something Google has already done with Android Messages, but the tipping point is working with others, and that means operators. Unlike Apple, RCS is designed to work with carriers who can develop their own messaging apps that work with the protocol and connect to other apps, which could include chat apps. Essentially, it gives them a chance to take part in the messaging boom, rather than be cut out as WhatsApp, Messenger, iMessage and others take over. They don’t make money from consumers, but they do get to keep their brand and they can look to get revenue from business services. But this approach requires operators themselves to implement the technology. That’s no easy thing since carriers don’t exactly trust tech companies — WhatsApp alone has massively eaten into its SMS and call revenues — and they don’t like working with each other, too. Google said more than 55 operators worldwide have been recruited to support Chat, but it isn’t clear exactly when they might roll it out. Microsoft is among the OEM supporters, which raises the possibility it could bring support to Windows 10, but the company was non-committal when The Verge pressed it on that possibility. Google has tried many things on messaging, but it has largely failed because it doesn’t have a ramp to users. WhatsApp benefitted from being a first mover — all the other early leaders in Western markets are nowhere to be seen today — and Facebook Messenger is built on top of the world’s most popular social network.

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iZettle expands from mobile payments into e-commerce and online sales for SMBs

iZettle , the startup out of Sweden that has been referred to as the Square of Europe, is today making a move that underscores its bigger strategy to build on its traction with small businesses in mobile payments, to expand into an ever-wider range of financial services to fill out its $950 million valuation . The company is launching a new e-commerce platform, where customers can build online inventory and check-out experiences either to complement the physical sales they are already making with iZettle itself, or as a standalone service as new customers to the company. The service is rolling out in Sweden and the U.K. first, with plans to extend to the rest of iZettle’s footprint in Europe and Latin America over the coming months. The idea is to provide a set of tools build and run shops quickly and easily for the same kinds of small businesses and sole traders that already use iZettle, or “Shopify simplified,” as iZettle’s founder and CEO Jacob DeGeer describes it. Pricing follows the same basic format as that of the company’s core mobile payments service. In the case of the UK, for example, DeGeer says iZettle takes a 1.75 percent fee for each transaction on its mobile payments, and the e-commerce product will come in at £29 per month plus 2.5 percent on each transaction. (Rates might vary depending on the market in question.) iZettle moving into e-commerce is not exactly a revolutionary idea. Square has been offering a Stripe-style online component to businesses since 2016 , and of course companies like Shopify and Stripe and many others are also providing similar services. DeGeer says that iZettle’s service is differentiated and better because it follows on from iZettle’s belief that there have not been enough attention given to building products specifically for the small business person. “It’s a segment that is traditionally underserved,” he said. The same had been the case in card payments, where sole traders and small businesses were regularly not accepting cards simply because the cost of doing so was too high for them, a problem solved by turning ordinary smartphones and tablets into point of sale terminals with the help of a dongle. The same ethos appears to be applying here: for those who are already iZettle customers and running sales through the company’s platform, DeGeer said that they can bring their sales online with one click, and then all sales across both offline and online will be viewable in a single database. And why would customers add the online component? It’s potentially a way to, for example, facilitate online ordering ahead for a cafe, or for a jewellery vendor from a market or small shop to develop a web-based store — offerings that in the past would have been too costly or complicated for small businesses to create and integrate

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Another chapter on Facebook’s privacy woes is being written in Latin America

The abuse of Facebook’s platform for political purposes is a problem that doesn’t stop at the U.S border. Governments around the world are continuing to wrestle with the implications of Cambridge Analytica’s acquisition of Facebook user data from the heart of Europe to the capitals of Latin America’s most populous nations.  In South America, several chapters are still being written into the public record of Facebook’s privacy privations. Some Latin American democracies are also beginning to investigate whether the data harvesting techniques associated with Cambridge Analytica (CA) were used in their electoral processes. Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and South America: a recap Brazil The Brazilian Public Prosecutor’s Office started an investigation to clarify if Cambridge Analytica (CA) had illegal access to Facebook’s private information from millions of Brazillians through their subsidiary, a Sao Paulo-based consulting group named A Ponte Estratégia Planejamento e Pesquisa LTDA. The investigation came as a result of Cambridge Analytica Chief Data Officer Dr Alex Tayler and Managing Director Mark Turnbull saying to an undercover journalist that the company was now targeting Brazil, among other countries. The Brazilian case is a big deal for Facebook because it is its third-largest market and has an election coming in seven months. Argentina Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, SCL Group, has an office in Buenos Aires which address matches with the office of an Argentinian agricultural enterprise called Blacksoil, according to the news outlet,  Clarin . The article pointed out that Alexander Nix, former CA’s CEO, was friend of the owner of the company, Lucas Talamoni Grether with whom he had conducted business before. The Argentinian National Electoral Chamber (CNE), which is in charge of overseeing the elections and auditing campaign contributions and expenses, initiated an “internal investigation” following the scandal revealed by British TV Channel 4. Political parties are accusing one another of using CA services in the 2017 midterm election but there is no hard evidence either supporting or refuting the allegations. Mexico and Colombia Mexico, the fifth largest market for Facebook, is also involved in the Cambridge Analytica debacle. In the same video that CA executives mention targeting Brazil, they admit having operated in Mexico using an app called Pig.Gi.

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YouTube, growing rapidly in India, has done little to keep misleading videos from dominating its India-specific Trending feed; Google says it is…

Manish Singh / CNBC : YouTube, growing rapidly in India, has done little to keep misleading videos from dominating its India-specific Trending feed; Google says it is working to fix   —  YouTube is tackling hoaxes and other problems that plague it in much of the developed world, but it's falling short in a booming new market.

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Qualcomm-Broadcom merger threatened US security more because it would have dulled Qualcomm’s competitiveness beyond 5G than because Broadcom is a…

Ben Thompson / Stratechery : Qualcomm-Broadcom merger threatened US security more because it would have dulled Qualcomm's competitiveness beyond 5G than because Broadcom is a foreign firm   —  From the New York Times: … I can see why the New York Times (and most other commentators) immediately attributed this decision …

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Major trends in agtech for 2018

 The disruption over the last decade in the retail food value chain gained momentum in 2017 with the IPO of Blue Apron, and acquisitions such as Bai Brands, Sir Kensington Condiments and Whole Foods by Amazon. This wave of disruption is being paralleled in the agricultural value chain, driven by increasing land turnover and altered land use, renewed focus on sustainability and changing… Read More

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YC-backed Ropeo brings on-demand fashion to Latin America

 As ecommerce grows here in the United States, there are still some significant hurdles for the Latin American market. Credit card penetration is lower than the U.S. and there isn’t the same infrastructure for shipping, meaning that returns are far more tedious. That’s where Ropeo comes in. Ropeo was founded by Alejandro Casas, Santiago Gomez, and Luis Huertas, who saw that the… Read More

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