On the very day the U.S. honored military veterans who have made America great for more than two centuries, China celebrated a shopping orgy that makes Best Buy shoppers on Black Fridays look like consumerist pikers.
I refer, of course, to Singles’ Day, a set piece of Hallmark-worthy hokum that e-commerce giant Alibaba hijacked into its own shopping extravaganza. Sales hit $25.3 billion for one day, proof positive that the Chinese are great capitalists, political ideology be damned. Indeed, as China’s retailing champion, Alibaba makes Amazon look like a company that carefully picks its spots. Sure, Amazon does e-tailing. So does Alibaba. Amazon represents third-party merchants. So does Alibaba. Amazon does online application hosting. So does Alibaba.
But Alibaba does much more. It has a dominant payments business. Its affiliated logistics network is vast. It is a major player in entertainment. It owned supermarkets for two years before Amazon bought Whole Foods.
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People tend to wonder when Alibaba will enter the U.S. market. But those people are asking the wrong question. Alibaba reckons that in 2010 China and the U.S. had an equal number of online shoppers, about 140 million. By 2020 China should have 890 million. The U.S.: 270 million. Talk about pikers. The action clearly is in China, where non-Chinese e-commerce companies have been unwelcome, unsuccessful, uninspiring, or all of the above.
In case you missed it, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Foxconn chief Terry Gou signed a contract on Friday for the Taiwanese company to move forward on the taxpayer-subsidized display factory it announced earlier in the year. Gou personally guaranteed up to $500 million in penalties if the plant falls through.
Also, watch happens with Apple’s billion-dollar fund for TV shows and other entertainment. It won a contested bidding for a new show with Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston. Interestingly, Apple hasn’t indicated yet how it will distribute the highly anticipated show.
Have a good week.
“We’re hoping.” Credit reporting bureau Equifax said continuing fallout from the massive data breach it suffered could reduce fourth quarter revenue by up to $75 million as some customers have delayed signing contracts. “We’re hoping to win back their trust and then be able to regain the business,” CEO John Gamble told analysts on Friday.
Best deal. Tech reporter Kara Swisher tries to explain the state of play at Uber, which has gone from confusing to confusing as hell and then got more confusing. Bottom line: under a compromise agreement now supported by all sides, SoftBank will become a major owner of the struggling car ride device. SoftBank will invest about $1 billion at Uber’s current $68 billion valuation then will be allowed to buy up to 17% of the company’s shares from current investors and employees at a discount.
No, thank you. Qualcomm’s board of directors rejected an unsolicited, $70-per-share takeover bid from Broadcom and its dealmaking CEO Hock Tan, saying the price “significantly undervalues” the company. That could spur a hostile offer from Broadcom, possibly at a higher price.
Up and downs. The price of bitcoin has been extremely volatile the past few days, which is nothing unusual. But at least there’s a clear reason why, which is less common. As noted last week, a faction of bitcoin miners decided not to split off and create a new, incompatible version of the digital currency. The decision ended chances that bitcoin holders would get a dividend payout of the new coinage. And it made the product of an earlier split off, known as bitcoin cash, more valuable. By Monday, bitcoin was trading at about $6,750, down from around $7,800 last week, and bitcoin cash was at $1,044, up from $600 a week ago, but well down from a peak of almost $2,500 on Sunday.
You know what’s cool. Video gaming gear maker Razer went public in Hong Kong and saw its shares rise 18% on the first day of trading. That makes CEO and avid gamer Tan Min-Liang officially a billionaire.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Apple’s new Face ID feature drew some concerns about the privacy implications of facial recognition technology. The iPhone maker seemed to assuage most of those concerns by noting that it wasn’t collecting the identifying features in a massive database—the data stays resident on each user’s own iPhone X. But that’s not what the U.S. government’s Department of Homeland Security is doing with people’s faces, fingerprints, and other biometric information. Online civil liberties group the Electronic Frontier Foundation warns that DHS is in the early stages of a huge push to collect biometric data that could be used for identifying people all over the country.
All Americans should be concerned about these proposals because the data collected—your fingerprint, the image of your face, and the scan of your iris—will be stored in FBI and DHS databases and will be searched again and again for immigration, law enforcement, and intelligence checks, including checks against latent prints associated with unsolved crimes.
That creates a risk that individuals will be implicated for crimes and immigration violations they didn’t commit. These systems are notoriously inaccurate and contain out-of-date information, which poses a risk to all Americans. However, due to the fact that immigrants and people of color are disproportionately represented in criminal and immigration databases, and that face recognition systems are less capable of identifying people of color, women, and young people, the weight of these inaccuracies will fall disproportionately on them.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
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BEFORE YOU GO
Were you bitten by the annoying iOS 11 bug that turns a capital letter “I” into “A[?]” before Apple issued its fix? Apparently some Ohio State football fans had been. At a game against Michigan State this weekend, they had some fun spelling out the school name, as you can see in this video.