Home / Tag Archives: markets

Tag Archives: markets

YouTube rolls its music subscription services into 12 more markets

YouTube has rolled out its music streaming service to a bunch more international markets, adding 12 new countries today, and also launching the premium music video version of the service across the full 17 markets. In February CEO  YouTube  chief executive Susan Wojcicki discussed the company’s ambitious expansion plans for the service, saying it was intending to expand to as many as 100 countries. The first markets for YouTube Music were the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and South Korea. The additional markets being added today are: Austria, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. YouTube launched the streamlining revamp of its subscription service offerings in May , routing a streaming music service, called YouTube Music, in pay monthly and ad-supported flavors (the latter with pared back features), to replace Google Play Music; and also announcing YouTube Premium (formerly called YouTube Red) — for music with video streaming. It also announced new apps and web player in tandem with the service restructuring — which includes features such as dynamic custom recommendations; expansive search options (search by lyrics or generic description); and “thousands” of playlists across genre, mood and activity. The audio only YouTube Music offering — which in the US is priced at $9.99 monthly (or $14.99 for a family plan) — is intended to compete with the likes of Spotify and Apple Music. While YouTube Premium includes a full video service, albeit for $2 more ($11.99) per month than the YouTube Red service it replaced. (Or $17.99 per month for a Family Plan.) Though it’s currently running a promotion offering the premium service free for the first three months. As well as offering ad-free music streaming, YouTube Premium includes background listening/playing and downloads across all the platform. Members also get access to all  YouTube Originals  shows and movies. The company says current members of YouTube Red and Google Play Music members (including family plans) in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and Mexico will automatically receive access to YouTube Premium at their current price.

Read More »

US Supreme Court to hear Apple’s appeal of lower court ruling that company can be sued for monopolizing iOS app market, allegedly leading to inflated…

Andrew Chung / Reuters : US Supreme Court to hear Apple's appeal of lower court ruling that company can be sued for monopolizing iOS app market, allegedly leading to inflated prices   —  WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to take up Apple Inc's (AAPL.O) bid to escape a lawsuit accusing …

Read More »

Huawei says it shipped 6M P20 and P20 Pro phones in the first 10 weeks, up 81% compared to the same period for P10, with China up 63% and other…

Li Tao / South China Morning Post : Huawei says it shipped 6M P20 and P20 Pro phones in the first 10 weeks, up 81% compared to the same period for P10, with China up 63% and other markets up 150%   —  Huawei Technologies' focus on a better photography experience for smartphone users seems to be paying off with shipments …

Read More »

Plum, the fintech chatbot that helps you save, adds theme-based investing

Plum , the fintech startup co-founded by early TransferWise employee Victor Trokoudes , is continuing its mission to help you manage your finances and save money. The AI-powered Messenger chatbot already offers savings functionality, including round-ups and regular savings, and today is launching an investment tool that lets you choose fund investments based on themes, such as ethical companies or technology. Similar to competitors Cleo and Chip , Plum connects to your bank accounts and its algorithm then analyses your spending patterns to work out how much you can afford to set aside. It is able to identify things like income and bills, and can take a number of actions on your behalf. This includes ‘micro-savings’ — rounding up any purchases you make — and other forms of regular saving, in which money is moved from your bank account to a segregated Plum savings account. From there you’re able to optionally put money into RateSetter, the peer-to-peer lending platform, if you wish to earn interest. However, savings is only one pillar of Plum’s three pillar strategy. The other two are investments and spotting when you are paying too much for things like credit or utilities. Investing is getting an official launch today (having been announced in wait-list form a few months ago), and Trokoudes tells me energy switching, in partnership with green energy company Octopus, has been live for a while. If Plum detects that a user could reduce their home energy bill, it sends them a message offering to initiate the switch on their behalf. Along with letting you invest at three different risk levels, Plum’s new investment tool provides theme-based investing.

Read More »

SEC says Ether isn’t a security, but tokens based on Ether can be

“In cases where there is no… central enterprise being invested in or where the digital asset is sold only to be used to purchase a good or service available through the network on which it was created,” that digital asset is “out of the purview of U.S. securities laws”, according to William Hinman , the director of the division of corporation finance at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. This (edited) statement from Hinman at the  Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit: Crypto  will likely be seen as the starting gun on a crypto free-for-all in the United States. Hinman’s comments were certainly a positive signal to the market. They sent the price of Ether spiking from $469 to $516 over the course of the past hour. While the markets may view this as an unadulterated victory for cryptocurrencies of all stripes, the Securities and Exchange Commission simply looks to be expanding on the fairly nuanced position it’s established with coin offerings and token sales. Earlier this month SEC Chair Jay Clayton made a similar statement about Bitcoin and its place in the regulatory firmament. For the SEC, while cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether are not securities, token offerings for stakes in companies that are built off of those blockchains can be, depending on the extent to which third parties are involved in the creation or exchange of value around the assets.  The key for the SEC is whether the token in question is being used simply for the exchange of a good or service through a distributed ledger platform, or whether the value of the cryptocurrency is dependent on the actions of a third party for it to rise in value. “Promoters, in order to raise money to develop networks on which digital assets will operate, often sell the tokens or coins rather than sell shares, issue notes or obtain bank financing. But, in many cases, the economic substance is the same as a conventional securities offering. Funds are raised with the expectation that the promoters will build their system and investors can earn a return on the instrument — usually by selling their tokens in the secondary market once the promoters create something of value with the proceeds and the value of the digital enterprise increases,” Hinman said. This was at the core of a 1946 case which was decided by the Supreme Court and set a standard for the SEC’s authority to oversee certain types of securities issues.

Read More »

Truecaller makes first acquisition to build out payment and financial services in India

Sweden’s Truecaller started out life as a service that screens calls and messages to weed out spammers. In recent times the company has switched its focus to India, its largest market based on users, adding services that include payments to make it more useful . Now Truecaller is putting even more weight behind its India push after it announced its first acquisition, mobile payment service  Chillr . The vision is to go deeper into mobile payments and associated services to turn Truecaller into a utility that goes beyond just handling messages and calls, particularly payments — a space that WhatsApp is preparing to enter in India . Truecaller doesn’t have WhatsApp -like scale — few companies can match 200 million active users in Indua, but it did recently  disclose that it has 100 million daily active users worldwide, while India is its largest country with 150 million registered users. Truecaller has raised over $90 million from investors to date, according to Crunchbase . TechCrunch reported in 2015 that it was in talks to raise $100 million at a valuation of around $1 billion, but a deal never happened. Truecaller has instead raised capital from Swedish investment firm Zenith . Chillr, which offer payment services between over 50 banks,  had raised $7.5 million from the likes of Blume Ventures and Sequoia Capital. Truecaller isn’t disclosing how much it has paid for the deal, but it said that Chillr’s entire team of 45 people will move over and the Chillr service will be phased out. In addition, Chillr CEO Sony Joy will become vice president of Truecaller Pay, running that India-based payment business which will inherit Chillr’s core features. “We’ve acquired a company that is known for innovation and leading this space in terms of building a fantastic product,” Truecaller co-founder and CSO Nami Zarringhalam told TechCrunch in an interview. Zarringhalam said the Truecaller team met with Chillr as part of an effort to reach out to partners to build out an ecosystem of third-party services, but quickly realized there was potential to come together. “We realized we shared synergies in thought processes for caring for the customer and user experience,” he added, explaining that Joy and his Chillr team will “take over the vision of execution of Truecaller Pay.” Truecaller added payments in India last year Joy told TechCrunch that he envisages developing Truecaller Pay into one of India’s top three payment apps over the next two years.

Read More »

Bitcoin price falls but doesn’t flatline

Those not looking at the Bitcoin markets lately will either gasp or smile. Bitcoin, down from its all time high of around $19,000, is now floating at $6,785 as of this writing. To many this means that either the Bitcoin experiment is over or, to many more, that it has just begun. There are plenty of folks who will have been hurt by this crash. I was speaking with a Romanian entrepreneur about his friend who bought BTC on a credit card only to find that he is wildly underwater. The volatility is also frightening to folks who might have gotten in on the last run up only to find themselves back at the start. I pity the poor waiter who a friend saw making Bitcoin trades at $18,000 during his shift. I hope he sold. But there are no signs that the cryptocurrency train is stopping. Startups around the world are all examining – and doing – ICOs. Plenty of early crypto miners and buyers still have enough cash to play around in all sorts of ways. Bitcoin naysayers like R3 are figuring out that bankers didn’t want to hear “blockchain, not bitcoin” after all once they realized that bitcoin, like their beloved equities and commodities, was just another place for them to play. And people are still active in the market

Read More »

Amazon will now directly pay top Alexa ‘kid’ skill developers in the U.K. and Germany

Amazon is expanding its program that pays developers directly for their top-performing Alexa skills, by now offering these “developer rewards,” as they’re called, to those based in the U.K. and Germany who publish “kid” skills. This emerging skill category was one of the last to be included in the developer rewards program, which already offered payments for top skills in over half a dozen other categories, including Education & Reference; Food & Drink; Games, Trivia & Accessories; Health & Fitness; Lifestyle; Music & Audio; and Productivity. The developer rewards program quietly launched just over a year ago , as a way to encourage developers to build voice apps for Alexa before the ecosystem had expanded to include support for other monetization options like the in-app purchases and subscriptions offered today. The program helped to seed Amazon’s skill store with more content, while also rewarding quality apps that gain traction with consumers. The initiative has seemingly had an impact – Alexa is now adding 5,000 new skills every 100 days, and reached over 30,000 in the U.S. as of March. Amazon says today it has since paid out “millions” to developers in 23 countries as a result of this program. Some individual voice app developers, like game maker Volley , have reported earning in the five-figure range on a monthly basis from Amazon’s program, to give you an idea of the payout potential. With the expansion to Kids skills in the U.K. and Germany, the hope is now to encourage U.S. developers to roll out their app (or localize it) for other markets. Making other markets a priority will be important for Amazon, as the smart speaker race heats up outside the U.S

Read More »

Governments are cracking down on fake token sales

From Howeycoin to a Chinese study that found 421 fake token sales , governments and researchers are finally shedding light on bad actors in the token sale space. Take, for example, Operation Cryptosweep. According to an North American Securities Administrator’s Association , regulators in the US and Canada are looking into 70 token sales and may be taking action against as many as 35. They write: NASAA members from more than 40 jurisdictions throughout North America participated in “Operation Cryptosweep,” which to date has resulted in nearly 70 inquiries and investigations and 35 pending or completed enforcement actions related to ICOs or cryptocurrencies since the beginning of May. NASAA members are conducting additional investigations into potentially fraudulent conduct that may result in additional enforcement actions. These actions are in addition to more than a dozen enforcement actions previously undertaken by NASAA members regarding these types of products. Many NASAA members also are conducting public outreach initiatives to warn investors in their jurisdictions of the risks associated with ICOs and cryptocurrencies. “The persistently expanding exploitation of the crypto ecosystem by fraudsters is a significant threat to Main Street investors in the United States and Canada, and NASAA members are committed to combating this threat,” said NASAA President, Joseph P. Borg. “Despite a series of public warnings from securities regulators at all levels of government, cryptocriminals need to know that state and provincial securities regulators are taking swift and effective action to protect investors from their schemes and scams.” Further, regulators in China have compiled a page detailing scams including products that are clearly pyramid schemes featuring “dynamic (rewards in proportion to money invested)” and “static (fixed)” incentives.

Read More »

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”

Read More »

Zuckerberg didn’t make any friends in Europe today

Speaking in front of EU lawmakers today Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg namechecked the GDPR’s core principles of “control, transparency and accountability” — claiming his company will deliver on all that, come Friday, when a new European Union data protection framework, GDPR , starts being applied, finally with penalties worth the enforcement. However there was little transparency or accountability on show during the session, given the upfront questions format which saw Zuckerberg cherry-picking a few comfy themes to riff on after silently absorbing an hour of MEPs’ highly specific questions with barely a facial twitch in response. The questions MEPs asked of Zuckerberg were wide ranging and often drilled deep into key pressure points around the ethics of Facebook’s business — ranging from how deep the app data misuse privacy scandal rabbithole goes ; to whether the company is a monopoly that needs breaking up; to how users should be compensated for misuse of their data. Made clear to Mark Zuckerberg that digital platforms have to guarantee full protection of our citizens' privacy. We cannot accept illicit use of personal data to manipulate elections. Democracy cannot be turned into a marketing operation. pic.twitter.com/Nk0MB5IK8u — Antonio Tajani (@EP_President) May 22, 2018 Is Facebook genuinely complying with GDPR, he was asked several times (unsurprisingly, given the scepticism of data protection experts on that front). Why did it choose to shift ~1.5BN users out of reach of the GDPR ? Will it offer a version of its platform that lets people completely opt out of targeted advertising, as it has studiously avoided doing so so far. Why did it refuse a public meeting with the EU parliament? Why has it spent “millions” lobbying against EU privacy rules? Will the company commit to paying taxes in the markets where it operates? What’s it doing to prevent fake accounts? What’s it doing to prevent bullying? Does it regulate content or is it a neutral platform? Zuckerberg made like a sponge and absorbed all this fine-grained flak.

Read More »

Progressive advocacy groups call on the FTC to “make Facebook safe for democracy”

A team of progressive advocacy groups, including MoveOn and Demand Progress, are asking the Federal Trade Commission to “make Facebook safe for democracy.” According to Axios , the campaign, called Freedom From Facebook , will launch a six-figure ad campaign on Monday that will run on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, among other platforms. The other advocacy groups behind the campaign are Citizens Against Monopoly, Content Creators Coalition, Jewish Voice for Peace, Mpower Change, Open Markets Institute and SumOfUs. Together they are calling on the FTC to “break up Facebook’s monopoly” by forcing it to spin off Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger into separate, competing companies. They also want the FTC to require interoperability so users can communicate against competing social networks and strengthen privacy regulations. Freedom From Facebook’s site also includes an online petition and privacy guide that links to FB Purity and the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Privacy Badger, browser extensions that help users streamline their Facebook ad preferences and block online trackers, respectively. The FTC recently gained a new chairman after President Donald Trump’s pick for the position Joseph Simons was sworn in early this month , along with four new commissioners also nominated by Trump. Simons is an antitrust lawyer who has represented large tech firms like Microsoft and Sony. The FTC is currently investigating whether or not Facebook’s involvement with Cambridge Analytica violated a previous legal agreement it had with the commission, but many people are wondering if it and other federal agencies are capable of regulating tech companies, especially after many lawmakers seemed confused about how social media works during Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Congressional hearing last month. Despite its data privacy and regulatory issues, Facebook is still doing well from a financial perspective. Its first-quarter earnings report showed strong user growth and revenue above Wall Street’s expectations. TechCrunch has contacted Freedom From Facebook and Facebook for comment.

Read More »

Walmart says Flipkart is ‘a key center of learning’ for its entire global business

Walmart has opened up on the thinking behind its $15 billion majority investment in Flipkart , and perhaps the most interesting facet is that the retailer plans to export ideas from the Indian e-commerce firm to the rest of its global business, including the U.S.. Walmart’s decision to follow Amazon into India is a testament to huge potential growth in the market. Internet penetration is tipped to cross 500 million this year and a rising middle-class emerging, all of which led Walmart CEO Doug McMillon to describe the deal as  “a unique opportunity in a market with significant long-term growth prospects” — but the aspirations run further. “At Walmart, we’re learning how to build — and how to partner to build — retail ecosystems around the world. India will now become a key center of learning for our entire company,” he said on a call with analysts following the announcement of the deal. McMillon credited Flipkart for more than just an e-commerce business. The company’s verticals span electronics, fashion and more, but Flipkart’s management team consistently returned to other services including its mobile payment arm, supply chain business than does 500,000 deliveries daily and more. They also dropped a hint at the potential to do groceries in the future, for one. That “ecosystem” play is something that is quite unique to Asia, particularly in China, and it is an area where Walmart believes it can glean operational intelligence and potential strategy for other markets, including the U.S.. “Not only is Flipkart innovative with the problem-solving culture that they have, but they are doing some great work both in the AI space, how they are using data across their platforms but particularly in terms of the payment platform that they’ve created through PhonePe,” Judith McKenna, Walmart COO, said on the call. “All of those things we can learn from for the future and see how we can leverage those around the international markets and potentially into the US as well,” McKenna added. That admission is notable, and it stands to reason that Walmart — a traditional offline retailer — might seek to lean on Flipkart’s technical expertise to build out its online or tech-enabled businesses elsewhere in the world, particularly with Amazon entering offline via its Whole Foods deal. That helps bring more immediate returns since, as Walmart’s executives admitted, Flipkart isn’t likely to turn a profit any time soon since it is focused on chasing scale in India. There’s also some synergy with Walmart’s other recent star acquisition. McKenna added that Marc Lore, the founder of Jet.com which Walmart acquired last year for $3 billion , had been involved in scouting out Walmart during due diligence. She added that, for now, he wouldn’t be a part of the Flipkart business.

Read More »

Whoops: SoftBank CEO reveals Walmart has acquired Flipkart

Here’s one way to make sure Amazon doesn’t get control of Flipkart in India by outbidding you for a majority stake: buy it outright. Today during SoftBank’s earnings presentation, it looks like CEO Masayoshi Son slipped in a little scoop: he announced that Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, on Tuesday night reached a deal to buy Flipkart, the leading e-commerce retailer in India, putting an end to months (and actually years) of speculation . SoftBank is currently one of Flipkart’s biggest investors . “Walmart is purchasing Flipkart,” Son said in the presentation (he spoke in Japanese with a real-time translation provided by a SoftBank representative). “Last night there was the official announcement.” Very soon after, there was a quick and slightly messy recovery: a second gentleman approached Son during the Q&A section of his presentation and slipped him a note, after which point the CEO read it, and then said an announcement had not yet been confirmed. “With regards to Flipkart, it’s not officially announced yet,” he said with a weak smile. “Maybe I should not have mentioned that … Well, I can’t take it out!” “Not yet announced” is also the line that SoftBank spokespeople are also taking, and we have yet to hear back from Flipkart and Walmart with their comments. Yet it could come very soon, though: we’ve been told by a source that the official news will be released at 5pm India time. If Masa’s first statement was accurate, Walmart’s acquisition would end a long-running saga.  For months now, there have been rumors that the world’s largest retailer was gearing up to acquire a sizeable stake in the Indian company to get its foot into India — with reports putting the size of the stake at anywhere between 51 percent and around 70 percent , and at a value of between $15 billion and $20 billion, with additional investors potentially including Google . But in the last week , alternative reports started to emerge that Amazon would try to gazump Walmart and take a pole position as a shareholder. Walmart and Amazon have been hotly competing against each other in other markets, specifically the US — where Amazon dominates in online sales but Walmart continues to lead the charge in brick-and-mortar, despite many aggressive moves from Amazon, such as its acquisition of Whole Foods. Meanwhile, India — Asia’s second-largest economy after China and one of the world’s fastest-growing markets — has become a key country for Amazon over the last several years, with billions already ploughed into its operations there and billions more earmarked for future investment. So when it appeared that Walmart was also going to try to muscle in by taking a stake in the country’s largest homegrown online retailer, Flipkart became the latest battleground between the two U.S. giants.

Read More »