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Shunning Huawei Could Actually Hurt American Tech

November 19, 2019, 2:23 PM UTC

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Ten days ago in Guangzhou, China, I interviewed Stephanie Cohen, the chief strategy officer of Goldman Sachs (who grew up near where I did in the Chicago suburbs and attended the same university). On Monday in Paris, at the Fortune Global Forum, some of the most interesting things I learned were also about China.

Globalism is alive and well, in my experience at least.

Vincent Qiu, CEO of Chinese e-commerce company Baozun, said the fastest-growing category in his country’s Singles’ Day shopping extravaganza was cosmetics. (He attributes the surge to social-media promotion.) Annie Young-Scrivner, CEO of chocolatier Godiva, explained how her company created chocolate mooncakes for China’s mid-Autumn festival. Mooncakes are common gifts during the celebration. So Godiva went local by chocolatizing them.

On a more serious note, Huawei’s Ken Hu genially but defiantly suggested his country’s dispute with the United States won’t end any time soon. Huawei is growing in China and other Asian countries, he said, as well as parts of Europe. America’s loss will be Europe’s gain, as Huawei shifts its $11 billion in component purchases from one to the other. (He also showed off the new $2,600 foldable Mate X smartphone.)

Elsewhere, Kay Bailey Hutchison, the former U.S. senator from Texas and current U.S. ambassador to NATO, stretched credulity by saying that the United States had the European alliance’s back. French Finance and Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire stated the obvious: that France and Europe need to plan for a world where America doesn’t guarantee its safety.

Check for complete coverage of the Fortune Global Forum. And, if the time zone suits you, the entire event is being livestreamed.

Adam Lashinsky

Twitter: @adamlashinsky


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This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman.


I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow. After seven years of brash talk, memorable marketing campaigns, and brilliant business moves, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said he would step down in May 2020. Legere will be replaced by his top lieutenant, chief operating officer and president Mike Seivert. Legere, who will remain a member of T-Mobile's board of directors, denied rumors he might take the top job at WeWork.

If you take no risks, you will suffer no defeats. At Fortune, we named our business person of the year. As you can read in Adam's profile, the winner was Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore. The Federal Communications Commission on Monday said it would hold an auction by the end of next year for critical spectrum for 5G, known as the C-band. The airwaves are currently licensed to satellite communications companies who had hoped they could re-sell the rights on their own. Shares of Intelsat, one of the current holders, plummeted 40% after the FCC announcement.

Remember, always give your best. Despite an ongoing antitrust investigation, Google continues making acquisitions. On Monday, Google bought enterprise software firm CloudSimple, which helps companies move their apps, data, and VMware instances, to the cloud. The purchase price was not disclosed.

Defeat doesn't finish a man, quit does. Ride hailing service Juno is shutting down. The company, which promoted itself as more driver friendly than other services, blamed tighter New York City regulations.

(Headline quotation reference explainer for those who missed the 1970s.)


Some artificial intelligence programs learn by doing—or at least doing in a controlled, virtual environment in a computer. Researchers at OpenAI decided to see if they could teach one of their apps to play hide and seek. Not only did the little bots learn how to play, they started expanding the game in unforeseen ways, as Stephen Ornes reports for Quanta.  

Even though the AI agents hadn’t received explicit instructions about how to play, they soon learned to run away and chase. After hundreds of millions of games, they learned to manipulate their environment to give themselves an advantage. The hiders, for example, learned to build miniature forts and barricade themselves inside; the seekers, in response, learned how to use ramps to scale the walls and find the hiders...“This was an impressive use of a tool, and tool usage is incredible for AI systems,” said Danny Lange, a computer scientist and vice president of AI at the video game company Unity Technologies who wasn’t involved with the hide-and-seek project. “These systems figured out so quickly how to use tools. Imagine when they can use many tools, or create tools. Would they invent a ladder?”


Thomas Buberl, CEO of insurer AXA, is joining the board of directors of IBM next year...Microsoft’s head of A.I. and research Harry Shum is leaving the company after 23 years. No word on his next gig yet while chief technology officer Kevin Scott gets Shum's responsibilities in the meantime...The San Francisco office of VC firm Spark Capital is adding Natalie Sandman, who worked previously at startups including Zenefits and investing firm Shasta.


Harvard Economist Calls for Outlaw of Online Advertising Markets—Just Like the Trade of ‘Organs, Babies, or Slaves’ By Robert Hackett

Google Stadia Review: Streaming Game Service’s Potential and Problems Collide By Chris Morris

Intel Gains First Big Corporate Partners for Brain Computing Push By Aaron Pressman

OECD: Taxes on ‘Digital Companies’ Are Coming By Jen Wieczner

Why Virtual Brain Simulations Are the Future of Health Care By Sy Mukherjee

UPS Says Jobs Will Survive A.I.—But With One Condition By David Meyer

Why Every Company Wants To Look Like a Bank—Without Becoming One By Maria Aspan


All that controversy over Apple's laptop keyboard designs already meant a lot to ordinary folks like us, but the members of Silicon Valley's Input Club have much more, so much more, to say about keyboard quality. So much that they like to build their own keyboards. Gizmodo has a long and funny feature about the obsessives, and the objects of their obsession, called "Key Crazy."

Aaron Pressman

On Twitter: @ampressman


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