Xiaomi postpones plan to sell shares in China alongside Hong Kong IPO

Xiaomi postpones plan to sell shares in China alongside Hong Kong IPO

Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi has shelved a plan to sell shares in China in conjunction with its imminent Hong Kong IPO. The company will instead go public in Hong Kong first and consider the potential for a Chinese offering at a later date.

The change in strategy was confirmed in a message posted to Xiaomi’s Weibo account without specific explanation. Reuters reported that the move was down to a dispute over valuation. Xiaomi declined to comment further when asked by TechCrunch.

The news is a blow to China, which is reportedly scouting out promising tech companies with a viewing to issuing China depositary receipts (CDRs) on Chinese stock exchanges. Recent laws paved the way to allow CDRs, which is tipped to create a trillion-dollar wealth-generation opportunity. Certainly, snagging Xiaomi would have given the initiative a flying start, but other companies including Baidu are said to be the subject of aggressive courtship so big names will likely gather sooner rather than later.

Xiaomi’s IPO is set to happen this month and it is poised to raise as much as $10 billion, potentially, and at a valuation that could reach as high as $100 million. There have, however, been suggestions that the top number won’t be reached. Still, the listing is shaping up to be the world’s largest since Alibaba’s record-breaking IPO in New York in 2014.

In filing for CDRs, Xiaomi gave away a little more financial information ahead of its public market debut. Chiefly, it revealed that it made a big $1.1 billion loss for Q1 but that was mainly down to one-off charges. The company actually posted a 1.038 billion RMB ($162 million) profit for the quarter when those items are excluded, and that included impressive revenue growth to give encouragement to investors.

Still, it’s hard not to feel a little disappointed by the company’s recent Mi 8 flagship device, which bears more than a passing resemblance to Apple’s iPhone X. Yes, Xiaomi is known to aggressively ‘borrow’ for others in the mobile space — as do many in the industry — but the fact that the phone was celebrating its eighth anniversary and that it has made independent design strides in recent times raised expectations that the company didn’t deliver on. This is, after all, a company that’s shooting for a $100 billion valuation.


Source: Tech Crunch

Apple slapped with $6.6M fine in Australia over bricked devices

Apple slapped with .6M fine in Australia over bricked devices

Apple has been fined AUS$9M (~$6.6M) by a court in Australia following a legal challenge by a consumer rights group related to the company’s response after iOS updates bricked devices that had been repaired by third parties.

The Australian Competitor and Consumer Commission (ACCC) invested a series of complaints relating to an error (‘error 53’) which disabled some iPhones and iPads after owners downloaded an update to Apple’s iOS operating system.

The ACCC says Apple admitted that, between February 2015 and February 2016 — via the Apple US’ website, Apple Australia’s staff in-store and customer service phone calls — it had informed at least 275 Australian customers affected by error 53 that they were no longer eligible for a remedy if their device had been repaired by a third party.

Image credit: 70023venus2009 via Flickr under license CC BY-ND 2.0

The court judged Apple’s action to have breached the Australian consumer law.

“If a product is faulty, customers are legally entitled to a repair or a replacement under the Australian Consumer Law, and sometimes even a refund. Apple’s representations led customers to believe they’d be denied a remedy for their faulty device because they used a third party repairer,” said ACCC commissioner Sarah Court in a statement.

“The Court declared the mere fact that an iPhone or iPad had been repaired by someone other than Apple did not, and could not, result in the consumer guarantees ceasing to apply, or the consumer’s right to a remedy being extinguished.”

The ACCC notes that after it notified Apple about its investigation, the company implemented an outreach program to compensate individual consumers whose devices were made inoperable by error 53. It says this outreach program was extended to approximately 5,000 consumers.

It also says Apple Australia offered a court enforceable undertaking to improve staff training, audit information about warranties and Australian Consumer Law on its website, and improve its systems and procedures to ensure future compliance with the law.

The ACCC further notes that a concern addressed by the undertaking is that Apple was allegedly providing refurbished goods as replacements, after supplying a good which suffered a major failure — saying Apple has committed to provide new replacements in those circumstances if the consumer requests one.

“If people buy an iPhone or iPad from Apple and it suffers a major failure, they are entitled to a refund. If customers would prefer a replacement, they are entitled to a new device as opposed to refurbished, if one is available,” said Court.

The court also held the Apple parent company, Apple US, responsible for the conduct of its Australian subsidiary. “Global companies must ensure their returns policies are compliant with the Australian Consumer Law, or they will face ACCC action,” added Court.

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment on the court decision and will update this post with any response.

A company spokeswoman told Reuters it had had “very productive conversations with the ACCC about this” but declined to comment further on the court finding.

More recently, Apple found itself in hot water with consumer groups around the world over its use of a power management feature that throttled performance on older iPhones to avoid unexpected battery shutdowns.

The company apologized in December for not being more transparent about the feature, and later said it would add a control allowing consumers to turn it off if they did not want their device’s performance to be impacted.


Source: Tech Crunch

Microsoft is finally launching its new Xbox Avatar Editor

Microsoft is finally launching its new Xbox Avatar Editor
Microsoft has been whetting Xbox users' appetites with the promise of new, customizable avatars since last year, and after several delays, they're finally becoming available. Xbox Insiders can get a taste of the Avatar Editor app starting tomorrow.
Source: Engadget

Penta, the bank account for SMEs, adds multi-card support to manage expenses

Penta, the bank account for SMEs, adds multi-card support to manage expenses

Penta, the German fintech startup that offers a digital bank account targeting SMEs, has launched multi-card support to make it easier to manage company expenses.

Dubbed ‘Team Access,’ the new feature — which affords similar functionality to the likes of Pleo, Spendesk, and Soldo — lets business owners issue multiple MasterCards to employees who need to make purchases on a company’s behalf.

Each card is linked to a business’ Penta account but can have custom rules and permissions per card/employee, in terms of how much money can be spent and where. More broadly, the feature is designed to cut down the time and cost of expense management for SMEs.

“As business owners know, it can take weeks of daunting paperwork to get another debit card from a legacy bank. The alternative solution for a business owner is to apply for a business credit card which has a predefined credit limit. Most early stage businesses aren’t credit-worthy, and therefore can’t get a second card,” explains the company.

To help with expense management, Penta already lets you categorise transactions and export them to various accounting software. On the public roadmap is “automated accounting,” which will offer the ability to sync your account to third-party accounting tools.

Meanwhile, Team Access is being rolled out in two stages. As of today, users will be able to issue team debit MasterCards and give account access to founders/Managing Directors. In the “coming weeks,” the option to issue Penta cards and give account access to all employees will be added.

The two-stage roll out is likely related to Penta’s recent scaling issues that saw it initially struggle to open new accounts in a timely manner due to high demand. The fintech startup runs on top of Banking-as-a-Platform solarisBank (rather than holding a banking license of its own), and I understand the bottleneck, which has now been cleared, was related to solarisBank’s account verification processes.


Source: Tech Crunch

Talentry scores €6M for its ‘social recruitment and marketing’ platform

Talentry scores €6M for its ‘social recruitment and marketing’ platform

Talentry, a startup based in Munich that has developed a “social recruitment and marketing platform,” has closed €6 million in Series A funding.

Leading the round is Nauta Capital, the pan-European VC focused on SaaS, with participation from Rocket Internet’s GFC, Allgeier SE, and number of angel investors. I also understand that GFC previously backed Talentry’s €2 million seed round.

Relatively low-key to date, Talentry offers a SaaS to enable companies to utilise their employees’ social networks to help with recruitment. The platform powers employee referral and employee advocacy programs, including the ability for employees to easily share job openings and corporate content. The premise is that, although social recruitment is as old as recruitment itself, simply having employees post job openings on various social channels alone, is no longer going to cut it.

Instead, explained Talentry CEO Carl Hoffmann on a call last week, social recruitment combined with content marketing works much more effectively. For example, employees could share a company blog post about an upcoming product, which would also include relevant job postings. The landing pages generated by Talentry are personalised, too, so that the employee who shared the content is clearly signposted and the recruitment-related content can be further adapted for their audience accordingly.

More broadly, Hoffmann says that fierce competition for talent is changing the way companies recruit. This is seeing a marketing strategy comparable to winning customers. “To do this successfully — attracting candidates, building talent pools and nurturing them long-term — companies need the right technology,” he explains.

Talentry says it serves over 150 clients across all industries, including Henkel, Swiss Post, Vodafone, Axel Springer, and Universal Music Group. Meanwhile, the new funding will be used to develop further product features, such as a more powerful CRM for tracking recruitment leads, and to grow the team. Hoffmann says the company also plans to launch in international markets, including the U.K. and U.S., adding to the German-speaking countries it currently targets.

Guillem Sagué, who led the investment at Nauta Capital, says: “At Nauta we invest in capital-efficient global disruptors in the software space, and we believe Talentry has the potential to create a new software category focused on building and nurturing relationships with talented potential candidates at scale. As this is the first investment we made in Germany from our current €155 million fund this investment is the first building block of our German operations”.


Source: Tech Crunch

Facebook wants to help small businesses protect your privacy

Facebook wants to help small businesses protect your privacy
Data privacy is a continually growing concern in the wake of news of election tampering and Cambridge Analytica scandals. As the EU's General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) take full effect, it's not only big corporations that need to be wary of…
Source: Engadget

Senate votes to reinstate ZTE ban in the US

Senate votes to reinstate ZTE ban in the US
The Trump administration's decision to work with Chinese President Xi Jinping to bring ZTE back to business didn't sit well with lawmakers from both sides. A group of Senators from the Republican and Democratic parties recently amended the National D…
Source: Engadget

Microsoft says it is “dismayed” by the forced separation of migrant families at the border

Microsoft says it is “dismayed” by the forced separation of migrant families at the border

Amid calls for a boycott and employee dissent over its cloud-computing deal with the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Microsoft issued a statement saying that the company “is dismayed by the forcible separation of children from their families at the border.” The ICE is currently under fire from both sides of the political spectrum for separating migrant parents from their children at the United States-Mexico border.

The controversy over Microsoft’s involvement with the ICE stems from an Authority to Operate (ATO) that the agency granted to Azure Government earlier this year. In a January blog post, Microsoft said the ATO would help the ICE deliver cloud-based identity and access services and “help employees make more informed decisions faster.” It also said that the use of its government compliant cloud computing software would enable ICE to “process data on edge devices or utilize deep learning capabilities to accelerate facial recognition and identification.”

Though the ATO has been public for six months already, it resurfaced as outrage grew over the separation of families, including those legally seeking asylum with children, with many social media users calling for a boycott of Microsoft and some employees considering resigning.

In its statement, however, Microsoft said it is not working with ICE or U.S. Customs and Border Protection on “any projects related to separating children from their families at the border” and that it is unaware of Azure being used for that purpose. It also “urged” the Trump administration to change the policy.

Microsoft’s full statement is below. TechCrunch has contacted the company for more information.

In response to questions we want to be clear: Microsoft is not working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or U.S. Customs and Border Protection on any projects related to separating children from their families at the border, and contrary to some speculation, we are not aware of Azure or Azure services being used for this purpose. As a company, Microsoft is dismayed by the forcible separation of children from their families at the border. Family unification has been a fundamental tenet of American policy and law since the end of World War II. As a company Microsoft has worked for over 20 years to combine technology with the rule of law to ensure that children who are refugees and immigrants can remain with their parents. We need to continue to build on this noble tradition rather than change course now. We urge the administration to change its policy and Congress to pass legislation ensuring children are no longer separated from their families.


Source: Tech Crunch