Monday, 21 May 2018

百度与天津市达成战略合作 打造天津智 – 东方财富网

What happened: Baidu has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Tianjin city government to jointly build the “Tianjin smart port” (天津智港) and push forward Baidu’s AI CITY program. The company will implement cutting-edge technology such as AI, cloud computing, IoT, and blockchain to transform the port city into a full-fledged smart city.

Why it’s important: Tianjin government recently announced that it will set up a $16 billion fund to support AI development. As an important member of China’s “National AI Team”, Baidu has been working closely with local governments on implementing smart city technologies. In December 2017, the internet giant signed a similar strategic agreement with the Xiong’an New Area in Hebei province. —Nicole Jao

Want to Invest in Jack Ma? Avoid Alibaba’s Rivals – WSJ (Paywall)

What happened: According to people familiar with the matter, in the latest fundraising round by Ant Financial, investors looking to fund the Alibaba fintech affiliate are restricted from investing or increase their stakes in Tencent and or other competitors of Ant Financial or Alibaba.

Why it’s important: WSJ noted that investors are the party usually setting the terms of the investment and not the other way around. Ant Financial’s restriction shows how in-demand it has grown and the significant market power that the fintech company wields. Even though such investment restrictions are rare, there are precedents. In 2015, Uber and Lyft had similar investment restrictions against investors funding competitors for a specified period. – Linda Lew

中国证监会下发宁德时代和绿色动力环保IPO批文 前者募资低于预期 - Reuters China

What happened:  China Securities Regulation Commission formally permitted CATL to file for IPO, one of China’s most well-known new energy battery manufacturers. CATL will land on China’s growth enterprise board (also known as the second board). According to the Commission, CATL and another company that is also on the permission list shall raise no more than RMB 6 billion. The company is likely to raise RMB 5.4 billion, a number less than even half of the company’s expectation RMB 13.1 billion.

Why it’s important:  The RMB 5.4 billion CATL will raise implies political and national financial moves behind technology companies’ market moves. CATL, as battery supplier to world-leading car-makers including BMW, Volkswagen, and even potentially Aston Martin, is among China’s top strategic players’ list. The Commission considers massive power CATL has and thus decided to put it into growth board to avoid any main board fluctuation. It also signals Beijing’s intention to scale major technology powers into controllable range. – Runhua Zhao


What happened: Precision farming start-up Mcfly finished RMB 25 million Pre-A series funding, lead by Baidu Ventures and private equity firm ECC Capital. The company is using remote sensing technology and artificial intelligence to provide precision pesticide. The funding will be used to expand the market, develop core technology and products.

Why it’s important: Pesticide is an important stage in China’s agriculture production. In the present, what is common is that drones are gradually replacing human labor to spray pesticide. What Mcfly tries to achieve is using technology to use pesticide more effectively to cut costs as well as grow healthier food. —Jiefei Liu

China launches satellite to explore dark side of moon: Xinhua – Reuters

What happened: China launched a satellite that will provide a communication link between Earth and an upcoming lunar probe that will explore the dark side of the moon.

Why it’s important: China is rapidly developing its space technology and missions while other space-going nations have slowed down their exploration. China plans to be the first nation to land a probe on the far side of the moon. To be able to communicate with an operation on the far side of the moon–a communications blackspot–a special contact channel will be needed. Queqiao (Magpie Bridge) will be the first communications satellite orbiting at 455,000km where it will be able to reach a mission on the far side of the moon, while the rest of the world will remain in the dark. -Frank Hersey

Over 600 companies offer 3,000 blockchain jobs in China – 8btc

What happened: According to a report by recruitment agency BOSS Zhipin, over 600 companies in China are offering more than 3,000 blockchain-related vacancies. The recruitment demand for blockchain-related talent has reached 9.7 times of the same period in 2017. The supply of blockchain talent has increased by 235% year-on-year. AI and blockchain became the most-wanted fields for high-level technical talents.

Why it’s important: China’s big problem in technology is the lack of talent but it according to this report, talent levels are rising fast. Another interesting number is the turnover rate for the internet industry which is quite high: 63%. – Masha Borak

China’s top Netflix-style app iQiyi plans on-demand cinemas in online-to-offline push – SCMP

What happened: Chinese video streaming site iQiyi is moving offline. The company will open a chain of on-demand cinemas at which users can select content from the company’s library of titles. The first cinema will open in Guangdong’s Zhongshan city.

Why it’s important: iQiyi’s move from an online platform into the O2O space is a trend among technology giants in China. This is especially true of e-commerce sites, which team up with brick-and-mortar stores to offer their products in an offline setting. iQiyi hopes the move will provide it with the opportunity to integrate retail services and offline consumption into its business model. The company said it would also sell merchandise related to its online content at the cinemas. —Christopher Udemans

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