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This week: Good news turns tech upside down as Jeff Bezos looks for new friends

jeff bezos
Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive officer of Amazon, poses as he stands atop a supply truck during a photo opportunity at the premises of a shopping mall in the southern Indian city of Bangalore September 28, 2014.
REUTERS/Abhishek N. Chinnappa

In just a few days, the sunny land of tech has been jolted by a series of destabilizing forces. Just as tech investors were sorting out the implications of a Biden presidency, Pfizer’s November surprise of a coronavirus vaccine turned everything upside down.

Suddenly, the champions of the stay-at-home era — from Zoom to Netflix to Amazon — looked less invincible. And the dogs of the pandemic came out of hibernation, ready to party.

  • Yelp, whose business depends on people going to restaurants, saw its stock surge more than 19% on Monday.
  • Lyft, which offers ride-sharing but not food deliveries, enjoyed 26% pop in its share price.

Even if the celebrations of Pfizer’s vaccine results prove premature (the results are based on an ongoing trial with plenty of unanswered questions), some of the major trends and assumptions that have shaped the tech market are now in flux.

The European Commission’s antitrust charges against Amazon, filed on Tuesday, represent the most significant regulatory threat the ecommerce giant has faced in its 26 years.

  • If Amazon loses the case, it could be fined 10% of its revenue, which would be about $28 billion. More important, Jeff Bezos’ Everything Store could see its influence and power in commerce severely constrained.
  • With Amazon under threat in Europe, Bezos needs a friend: After years of clashing with Trump, Bezos rushed to congratulate Joe Biden on winning the election — but it’s not at all clear that Biden has the same warm, fuzzy feelings for Bezos or Amazon. (The president-elect has blasted both for not paying enough in taxes.) 
China phone
Feng Li/Getty

China’s decision to put the kibosh on Ant Group’s $37 billion IPO presaged what appears to be a larger clampdown by China on its homegrown tech companies. 

  • This week, China published draft antitrust guidelines aimed at reining in tech platforms like Alibaba, Tencent, and JD.com. It’s a surprising turn of events given China’s history of protecting its tech companies.
  • What does it means for the ongoing US-China tech cold war? If nothing else, China is now in a similarly awkward position as the US, cracking down on its tech companies on the homefront while fighting for their interests abroad. 

And Apple’s newly unveiled M1 microprocessors carry a symbolic power that could resonate beyond the Mac computers that house them.

Lees ook op Business Insider


Tech-tonic shifts

Larry Page Eric Schmidt
REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

On the block: SoftBank is reportedly looking to sell Boston Dynamics, the maker of those four-legged robo-dogs. SoftBank had acquired Boston Dynamics from Google in 2017.

On the move: Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, is in the process of getting a passport from the Mediterranean island-nation of Cyprus, according to Vox. The move will make Schmidt a Cypriot.

On lockdown:  A former Microsoft engineer was sentence to nine years in jail for stealing $10 million worth of digital currency from the company. According to GeekWire, the Ukrainian-born engineer used a “bitcoin mixing service” to cover his tracks — apparently not well enough. 


Snapshot: Disney’s Magic Kingdom goes Westworld

Theme parks have seen business plunge during the pandemic, so it’s no surprise that Disney is eager to show off its latest attractions.

But you have to wonder if these new animatronic robots are the best way to attract back wary visitors.

Disney Research robot gaze
A screenshot of Disney's "Realistic and Interactive Robot Gaze" YouTube video.
Disney Research

The nightmarish fellow pictured above belongs to the new generation of Disney’s animatronic robots, bearing all the features of a human face such as eyelids, nose, and teeth with gums. 

Disney says the robot can mimic human-like actions such as rapid eye movements, blinking, breathing, and tilting its head. In particular, the robot’s gaze can convey various human-like emotions and non-verbal cues during interactions.

Presumably these robots will have a friendlier skin covering their mechanical skeletons when they’re set free in the parks. No matter how cuddly the final version looks, though, the robots’ lifelike traits might strike some visitors as creepy enough to make them wonder if they bought a ticket to Disney World or Westworld.


Attention political news junkies:

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Recommended Readings:

Kids are losing tens of thousands of their parents’ money betting on video games like ‘Fortnite.’ Here’s a look inside the secret underworld.

Trump’s refusal to concede the election is creating an opening for cybercriminals to mount attacks on American companies, experts say

Leaked documents show Microsoft is pegging some employee bonuses to helping the Teams chat app ‘win against Zoom and WebEx in meetings’

How Intel went ‘off the rails,’ as rivals like AMD and Nvidia take advantage of its stumbles to chip away at the juggernaut’s dominance

Billionaire Tom Siebel is taking on Salesforce and throwing punches at its AI product: ‘It’s all marketing and very little technology’


Not necessarily in tech:

Insiders at Fox News wonder what’s next as they try to acknowledge Biden’s victory without turning away Trump voters


OK then, that’ll do it for this week. Thanks for reading, and if you like this newsletter, tell your friends and colleagues they can sign up here to receive it. 

— Alexei

Read the original article on Business Insider