This is your Data Sheet for Monday, August 14, 2017.
Last January, President Xi Jinping gave a through-the-looking glass speech in Davos, Switzerland, urging the world to embrace free trade, hours before the most professedly protectionist President of the United States in living memory was about to take office. One of the few areas where that new president has affected meaningful governmental change in the ensuing half a year has been in his administration’s efforts to disassemble many of the regulations his predecessor put in place.
How topsy-turvy, then, to note that where the U.S. is zigging, once again China is zagging, by adding new regulations, this time in the conduct of its supremely successful Internet giants. The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend an investigation by China’s powerful Cyberspace Administration into potential violations by units of Tencent, Alibaba, and Baidu of a new regulation governing online conduct.
Conventional wisdom holds that Chinese Internet companies operate with the tacit approval of the government and that they know how to stay in compliance with its wishes. The powerful triad generally responded with calming words of obeisance. And the Journal quoted an academic who notes that regulators understand the efficacy of going after big players rather than small fry. U.S. regulators, particularly the Environmental Protection Agency, figured this out long ago.
Back when there were two superpowers in the world only one had an interesting economy. Now the world has only one true superpower, but that won’t last. And China’s economy—high-growth, highly innovative, heavy state involvement, over-the-top debt—just gets more and more interesting.
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You want a piece of me? Uber’s board has voted to move forward on proposals by two investment groups to buy shares in the ride-hailing service. It’s also considering a third offer.
I spy: Facebook knew about rival Snap’s declining user growth before the younger company publicly disclosed it. How? An Israeli company called Onavo, which Facebook acquired in 2013.
Four letters: ISIS. Two words: “Terror cash.”
Netflix is making moves. The streaming media company recruited Shonda Rhimes (Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy). She’ll develop new shows and move her production company ShondaLand from its current base at Disney-owned ABC Studios to Netflix. She’ll remain involved with her current slate of ABC shows.
So is Google. The mom-and-pop shop in Mountain View reportedly picked up Seattle health monitoring company Senosis for an undisclosed price. The company turns your smartphone into a monitoring device for key metrics like pulmonary function and hemoglobin counts.
$110 million raised by Hong Kong’s PCCW for streaming media in Asia.
Now is the summer of our discontent. If you’re a white male, anyway. This weekend’s events in Charlottesville, Va. rightly stole every headline of the last 48 hours, but passions in the wake of Google engineer James Damore’s controversial essay continue to flare all over Silicon Valley. Three words: “White male discontent.”
Speaking of Virginia: Web service provider GoDaddy gave Daily Stormer, an extremist website, the boot after it posted an article denigrating the woman who was killed at a white nationalist rally in Virginia.
A $20 billion valuation for Chinese news aggregator Toutiao, apparently.
Mr. O’Midyar’s Cow. Almost 700 of them, actually. eBay founder Pierre wants to build a dairy farm on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. What is it with tech founders and the 50th State?
Is the reliability of Microsoft Surface devices a problem or not? Consumer Reports expressed concern last week, and Microsoft isn’t taking the news sitting down, according to a new leaked memo.
$4,000. That’s the price Bitcoin soared beyond over the weekend.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Messaging Apps With Surveillance Malware Made It Onto Google Play Store, by David Z. Morris
This Startup Raked in $50 Million to Take on Salesforce, by Barb Darrow
This Elon Musk-Backed Startup Just Used AI to Defeat a Pro Gamer, by David Z. Morris
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
“I worked on Cortana four and a half years ago. At the time we all were like, ‘Amazon, yeah, that technology is so far behind.’ But one thing I learned is that in this race to AI, it’s actually more about having the right application scenarios and the right ecosystems. Google and Microsoft, technologically, were ahead of Amazon by a wide margin. But look at the AI race today. The Amazon Alexa ecosystem is far ahead of anybody else in the United States. It’s because they got the scenario right. They got the device right. Essentially, Alexa is an AI-first device.”
—Baidu chief operating officer and former Microsoft senior exec Qi Lu, speaking to Wired’s Jessi Hempel
ONE MORE THING
Google design VP Matías Duarte: Gregarious, unassuming, and a man of many fabulously colorful shirts. A nice change from the usual black turtleneck vibe, wouldn’t you say?