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5 things you should know about tech today

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Is it Wednesday already?

Lots of global news today.

Don’t forget to tune into the Startup Daily show on the business TV streaming channel ausbiz.com.au every weekday, 2-3pm, where we talk to startup founders, investors and innovators about everything tech.

If you’ve missed an episode, you can catch up on the ausbiz site here.

 

1.  Wirecard’s ex-CEO arrested

We mentioned German payments fintech Wirecard AG on Monday after the company said a missing €1.9 billion (A$ 3.1bn), supposedly in a couple of banks somewhere in Asia probably didn’t exist – despite the fact it was supposed to be sitting there in trust for risk management.

The hunt for the money amid fraud claims has been underway for several months, with questions about the DAX-listed venture fir raised in February 2019. Billionaire CEO Markus Braun resigned last Friday after claiming the company might be a victim of fraud, but overnight police in Munich arrested him for alleged market manipulation and false statements about the strength of the company balance sheet.

The other missing billions are in the company’s share price, which now sits at around a 5th of its value at $ 3.9 billion, compared with just a week ago.

Meanwhile, companies are beginning to step away from Wirecard, with Bloomberg reporting Singapore ride hailing company Grab among those distancing themselves.

 

2. Trump unites tech

The CEOs of tech giants Google, Apple, Amazon, YouTube and Tesla are among many companies to criticise President Donald Trump’s decision to suspend work visas the companies rely on to hire overseas workers. The Trump visa ban covers a wide range of jobs from computer programming to au pairs, but the result could mean more than 500,000 workers the US won’t get green cards. The block is expected to remain in place until at least the end of 2020.

Apple’s Tim Cook and Google’s Sundar Pichai said they were “disappointed”, but on the upside, Startup Daily TV spoke to Paul Naphtali from venture capital firm Rampersand today on our ausbiz show, and like many in Australian tech, he thinks it’s a golden opportunity to lure skilled tech workers to Australia. You can watch what he had to say here.

 

3. No more Mixer for Microsoft

Microsoft suprised many yesterday when it announced it was shutting down its Twitch gaming rival, Mixer, over the next month and moving everyone over to Facebook Gaming. The party’s over by July 22.

Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s head of gaming, told The Verge, they were too far behind the pack to catch up.

“We started pretty far behind, in terms of where Mixer’s monthly active viewers were compared to some of the big players out there,” he said.

That’s despite spending tens of millions of dollars poaching gamers Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Mike “Shroud” Grzesiek from Twitch to Mixer in exclusivity deals. Both players are now free agents, but don’t come cheap, with Blevins reportedly on a US$ 20 million-plus deal with

 

4. Hey’s Apple truce

Last week we mentioned David Heinemeier Hansson, the Danish programmer and Basecamp CTO, who was having a ding-dong fight with Apple over the tech giant seeking a slice of his subscription email app, Hey, to get it up on the Apple App Store.

This week, with Apple currently under investigation in the EU over concerns about its App Store conditions, appeared to soften its stance.

 

Meanwhile, Hansson says “HEY is already doing 30,000 web requests per minute” and the Basecamp team is working on fixes as users bring issues to their attention, including  pulling the public links feature from HEY following consent, saying “HEY is here to IMPROVE email, not repeat its past mistakes”.

And speaking of fixes, at Monday’s Apple announcement, one thing that caught his eye and the eyes of developers everywhere is that Apple will let developers challenge the previously god-like decisions made by the App Store around whether an app violates a particular guideline of the App Store Review Guidelines.

5. Checkout’s cash-in

Checkout.com, the UK payments fintech which last month acquired Perth-based Pin Payments, closed a US$ 150 million Series B round, tripling its valuation to US$ 5.5 billion following US$ 230 million Series A, 12 months ago that gave the business a US$ 1.8 billion valuation.
The fresh funds will be used to further strengthen the balance sheet, bringing available cash to over US$ 300 million, as well as invest in the development of new products, including an upcoming advanced Payouts solution and the capability to accelerate settlement times.
Checkout.com says it’s seen online transaction numbers increase by 250% in the past 12 months  to May 2020

BONUS ITEM: They both have roughly the same market cap/GDP too, so maybe we’re on the right track.

 

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