The things I’ve seen

A shortlist of things I read, saw and heard in these last days…

Goodbye and good riddance to 2020! Read about the expected trends for 2021!

Crypto is growing – one trillion and counting

I’ve been using signal (and telegram) for some time now… and now I am less alone

Cloudflare reviewing 2020 with great fashion and a lot of intel 

I finally finished a podcast about superhuman and now I have a dilema… I want to try out it!


A great podcast from the knowledge project, interviewing the CEO of Automatic and one of the fathers of WordPress

Voice enabled tech is a thing to follow – Alexa just announced some cool things

An in-depth great article about Didimo that we invested in at Bright Pixel along side with our friends from Armilar

Top social media monitoring tools

Weforum.org article about remote working

Singapore – a place I have to visit ASAP 

A nice tech crunch article about the Portuguese startup ecosystem

Sizzle.Io – Perhaps a cool and data driven way to promote more sales

Issunboshi – a graphic novel that deserves funding

 

Birth of the Frankenfirm

I think the Frankenfirms trend will not affect the Big Tech (FAMGA) that are already too big to have UE or US (perhaps only China can…) impose anything major that will cause a real dent in their market positions.

It’s easier to attack TikToks or impose things to companies like ARM in a M&A scenario, than to split Amazon or impose change to Google or Facebook.

We are going perhaps to see an economic cold war between China and US but these Big Tech are meta-state companies. It’s going to affect a lot more the rest of the pack… I believe.

Great article from The Economist:

Will TikTok survive?

The contortions at TikTok and Arm are an unfortunate sign of things to come

On august 6th, when the White House told TikTok that it had 45 days to shut down or find an American buyer, there was a risk that the Chinese-owned video app would disappear from America, infuriating its 100m users there and destroying billions of dollars of investors’ wealth. Now a last-minute fudge seems to have been found. TikTok has said it will enter a complex partnership with Oracle, an American tech giant, that is designed to show it is more under American sway. The day before Nvidia, an American semiconductor company, bid $40bn for Arm Holdings, a British-based chip-design firm, triggering a storm in Britain about how to stop its tech champion from being dragged into America’s trade war. Far from being oddities, the two episodes offer a preview of how the new age of nationalism will change the way multinational firms are run—for the worse.

Both companies straddle geopolitical divides and are at the heart of the digital economy (see article). TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese tech star. The White House says it fears that users’ data are being sent to China, where Big Brother can spy on them, and that the algorithm which selects videos is vulnerable to Chinese manipulation. Arm’s designs are used worldwide, not least in America and China, its two largest markets. Britain’s government worries that a takeover will see key activity shifted abroad (in 2016 Arm was bought by SoftBank, a Japanese firm, which promised to keep the firm’s base in Britain until 2021). A further concern is that, under American ownership, Arm will no longer be a “neutral” supplier, instead becoming an instrument of Uncle Sam’s expanding sanctions regime.

Throughout history companies have adapted to geopolitics. In the freewheeling era of globalisation that began in the 1980s, the idea took hold around the world that all firms should be treated equally, regardless of their nationality. That made it efficient to operate as a global firm with a unitary management, capital structure and system of production. By contrast the 1930s and 1940s were plagued by wars and protectionism. Businesses such as General Motors responded by allowing their foreign operations to become semi-autonomous. Rather than merge, many firms co-operated across borders through alliances and cartels.

The proposed TikTok deal shows how business is heading in a 1930s direction. Although the details are not yet public, the firm’s ownership will probably change, with American shareholders, including Oracle, and possibly Walmart, holding a large minority stake, perhaps with rights to veto some decisions. The location of key assets will shift, with the headquarters moving to America and Oracle managing the data-storage there (and monitoring the algorithm). Arm, meanwhile, has already contorted its structure once to deal with geopolitics: in 2018 it sold a 51% stake in its China operation to mainly Chinese investors, including state-backed funds. Now it may face a new metamorphosis. The British government, for example, may demand further legal guarantees that it is run autonomously in Britain. That would be part of a push to bolster the country’s industrial base, which has triggered a row with the European Union (see article).

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