Hello, hello! 👋🏻👋🏻
Welcome back to another edition of Tidbits covering all the recent things worth talking about in business, media, and technology.
#1 U.S. And EU Signal “Converging” Views On China
The U.S. and the European Union are adopting “increasingly convergent” views on the threat posed by the Chinese government, according to senior Biden administration officials, deepening a trend that could tilt the scales in an era of great power competition.
The U.S. and EU released a lengthy joint statement on Thursday pledging “continuous and close contacts” to “manage our competition and systemic rivalry with China responsibly.”
Meanwhile the incoming German government — which mentioned Taiwan for the first time ever in its coalition agreement — is expected to move away from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s pro-business, “dialogue-first” approach, says Noah Barkin, an EU-China analyst with Rhodium Group.
“We Europeans shouldn’t make ourselves smaller than we are,” Germany’s incoming foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, told a German newspaper this week. “China has massive interests on EU market. We should use leverage of common market much more strongly.”Source: Axios
Not exactly “new”, but the world increasingly seems to be separating into two camps. Countries / regions that are historically fairly neutral have been forced to take sides. Like India now drawing closer to the US and even the EU, which historically would prefer more independent policymaking are now reluctantly joining hands. On the other end, wary neighbors Russia and China continue to draw closer, despite historical misgivings.
#2 U.S. Intelligence Sees Russian Plan for Possible Ukraine Invasion
The Biden administration’s growing alarm about a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine is based in part on U.S. intelligence that Moscow has drawn up plans for a military offensive involving an estimated 175,000 troops as soon as early next year.
A Russian invasion of Ukraine would set off a major national security crisis for Europe and the Biden administration, which has declared an “ironclad commitment” to Ukraine’s borders and independence.Source: NYT
This would certainly be a test for Biden given the pullout in Afghanistan and the lack of domestic support for more involvement in “foreign wars”.
🤑 Economics + Markets
#3 South Africa Covid-19 Cases Have Nearly Quadrupled Since Tuesday, With Omicron Fueling The Surge
South Africa’s Covid-19 cases have nearly quadrupled in the last four days, underscoring concerns around how contagious the new coronavirus Omicron variant might be as the country enters its fourth wave of the pandemic.
On Thursday, the NICD also revealed that some of the new cases were people who had previously had Covid-19 and had been reinfected with the Omicron variant.
“Previous infection used to protect against Delta but now with Omicron that doesn’t seem to be the case,” Professor Anne von Gottberg, a microbiologist from the country’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases, said during news briefing on Thursday.Source: CNN
I’m bit late to this due to Thanksgiving holiday…Omicron seems to spread a lot faster than prior strains, but it’s unclear whether it is deadlier or not. Initial data seems to suggest that it might be more mild, but it’s hard to know until more time has passed (since COVID-19 disease progression is unpredictable…many people that have died from prior strains started with mild symptoms that progressively got worse).
This uncertainty clearly did a number on the markets…
#4 Hawkish Powell Is a Force Markets Haven’t Faced in Three Years
Jerome Powell’s appetite for a faster tapering of Federal Reserve stimulus is casting him in a role financial markets haven’t seen since 2018: hawk.
Stocks slid, short-term interest rates rose and measures of equity volatility surged Tuesday after the central bank chairman warned that elevated inflation could justify ending asset purchases sooner than planned. Buffeted also by anxiety around the coronavirus, the S&P 500 just endured its worst stretch of turbulence in more than a year.
“Powell started out as this fuzzy character here to cuddle investors — but now it looks like somebody fed him after midnight,” he said. “Maybe getting renominated for a Fed chair is like pouring water on the Gremlin,” said Gokhman, referencing a plotline in the movie that allows the Gremlins to replicate out of control.Source: Bloomberg
On top of Omicron, Powell has taken a more hawkish turn. Readers of this site will recall that we were already expecting the Fed to tighten since late August (taper QE and eventually hike rates). Given the upside surprises to inflation since then, the Fed appears to be ready to accelerate the taper program, which has surprised the market.
Given how aggressively positioned investors have been (and likely employing a decent amount of leverage in certain pockets of the market), the negative surprise has led to a downward spiral.
#5 Cathie Wood’s Ark Innovation Fund Hits 13-Month Low In Tech Selloff
ARK, whose outsized holding of so-called stay at home stocks helped it outperform all other U.S. equity funds last year, is down 25% over the last month. Those declines have come as investors increasingly anticipate that the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates in the year ahead, which would weigh on growth stocks by discounting their future cash flows.
Friday’s declines pushed the ARK Innovation fund down 24.5% for the year to date, well behind the roughly 20% gain in the benchmark S&P 500 over the same time.Source: Reuters
Here’s one example of a downward spiral. Investors are pulling a lot of money out of ARK, which further exacerbates the already poor performance of the funds (since ARK is forced to sell more of its own holdings to meet client redemptions).
ARK once had around $50 billion of assets, which would classify it as one of the largest asset managers out there. Now it’s only at about half the size. And ARK is probably not alone.
#6 I Lost $400,000, Almost Everything I Had, on a Single Robinhood Bet
It didn’t start with Alibaba. It started with a $5,000 bet on AMC. Then the $5,000 became $15,000 when I bet on something else, then it became $50,000 when I bet on silver. And that’s when I was like, Okay, I’m done with this. Now I want to buy a safe bet. And the safe bet was Alibaba. It had fallen from $330 to $245, but I had wanted to find a company where the price-earnings ratio was low, and every single analyst had a buy rating with like a 40-50% upside on it. Looking at all of TipRanks, my understanding was that this was a very, very safe bet with a limited amount of risk.
Then I just went all in on this one single stock option: The $200 strike price call option on Alibaba. I would describe a call option as a leveraged bet on an underlying stock, which helps you increase the upside (or downside) of the bet you’re trying to make. I initially invested $300,000 in February, basically every single liquid asset in my account. Not retirement, but everything cash. I didn’t have anything left. My thesis was I might not make a lot of money, but I won’t lose much. The downside seemed limited, and that if worse comes to worse, it would go down to like $280,000.
My mom told me on April 13, Get out today. And it might have been ego. It might have been just stupidity, ignoring the facts. but my conviction was high. If you listened to “smart people,” they all said it would go up. So I was like, Hey, this is gonna rebound. And as my salary came in, I saved another $100,000. So in July, I put in another almost $100,000. I basically transferred all the liquid cash that I had and maxed out my account. If my company had not paid me at the end of July, I wouldn’t have made my rent payment on August 1. My mom told me not to do it. And I still did it. When I invested the other $100,000, she told me sell tomorrow, sell tomorrow, sell tomorrow. I didn’t listen. It was stupid, an extreme level of greed and risk taking.Source: Vice
Here’s an example of leverage…
It’s a sad story. And it’s even sadder because this retail investor wasn’t even aware that he was taking a really risky bet.
Options are highly levered and dangerous. Many retail investors are likely not aware of the risks they are taking.
#7 China Asks Didi to Delist From U.S. On Security Fears
Chinese regulators have asked Didi Global Inc.’s top executives to devise a plan to delist from U.S. bourses, people familiar with the matter said, an unprecedented request that’s likely to revive fears about Beijing’s intentions for its giant tech industry.
The country’s tech watchdog wants management to take the company off the New York Stock Exchange because of concerns about leakage of sensitive data, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing a sensitive matter. The Cyberspace Administration of China, the agency responsible for data security in the country, has directed Didi to work out precise details, subject to government approval, they said.Source: Bloomberg
For those focused on Chinese stocks, this had an impact.
Still not really clear to me why being listed on a US exchange would make Didi more risky from a cybersecurity perspective.
👻 Cryptocurrencies + NFTs
#8 Crypto’s Hottest Game Is Facing An Economic Maelstrom
Eight months ago, Toronto-based management consultant Ansel Gravelle stumbled across a video game called Axie Infinity, which promised to pay players cryptocurrency for fighting digital monsters. After paying the $1,000 entry fee and playing for over a month, Gravelle realised he could make more money another way.
But video game analysts have recently begun questioning the sustainability of Axie’s economy, which largely relies on new player growth to remain in balance.
In the past three months, all but the most experienced Axie players have earned below the average daily wage in the Philippines, according to an analysis by the video game research firm Naavik. Some low-skilled players dropped below the minimum wage beginning in September, after factoring in the cut taken by sponsors.
Sky Mavis has acknowledged that Axie relies on new entrants for growth and promised to release new features that will make the game more desirable for people who are not primarily motivated by cashing out their earnings.Source: FT
Axie has been the hottest crypto game this year, highlighting the potential for play-to-earn games. But seems like it’s starting to lose steam.
Hopefully the people that have borrowed Axie NFTs under “scholarship” contracts in order to play can unwind those contracts easily (since you need several Axies to start playing and Axies cost a fair bit of money, some people borrow them from others in exchange for working for these “scholarship” providers that get a significant chunk of their earnings)…otherwise they could end up being digital slaves of the 21st Century as the amount of earnings decline.
#9 Someone Stole $120 Million In Crypto By Hacking A Defi Website
On Wednesday night, someone drained funds from multiple cryptocurrency wallets connected to the decentralized finance platform BadgerDAO. According to the blockchain security and data analytics Peckshield, which is working with Badger to investigate the heist, the various tokens stolen in the attack are worth about $120 million.
While the investigation is still ongoing, members of the Badger team have told users that they believe the issue came from someone inserting a malicious script in the UI of their website. For any users who interacted with the site when the script was active, it would intercept Web3 transactions and insert a request to transfer the victim’s tokens to the attacker’s chosen address.
While the attack didn’t reveal specific flaws within Blockchain tech itself, it managed to exploit the older “web 2.0” technology that most users need to use to perform transactions.Source: The Verge
People say crypto is secure, but it obfuscates the incredible complexity required to engage in crypto. While crypto transactions might be secure and irreversible, all of the infrastructure and hoops you have to go through to make the transaction is just as insecure as anything else.
Here BadgerDAO’s website was hacked so that scammed users ended up making secure and irreversible money transfers to the scammers wallets. The transactions were definitely secure. Just didn’t go to the right place.
#10 Goldman Sachs, Other Wall Street Banks Exploring Bitcoin-Backed Loans: Sources
Goldman Sachs is among a handful of tier-one U.S. banks figuring out how to use bitcoin as collateral for cash loans to institutions, according to three people familiar with the plans.
“We’ve probably spoken to half a dozen big banks about [bitcoin-backed loans],” said a second person from a large institutional trading firm. “Some of them are in the next three to six months category and some are further out. What’s interesting is some of these banks will use their own balance sheet to make the loan. Others will syndicate this out.”Source: Coindesk
Crypto is something that mainstream investors need to think about not because crypto is exactly mainstream, yet, but because there is a lot of leverage employed in crypto (through DeFi). And some of that leverage is being crossed over into the mainstream financial system.
Hidden leverage is always a recipe for chaotic markets when it is not contained.
#11 My Worry for America
I was a Brigadier General 30 years ago, assigned in Europe as the head of intelligence. Most of the time I was looking at the Balkans because there was a war going on. Yugoslavia lasted for 72 years and then it was gone; it fell apart.
I went to Sarajevo many times. It was a modern city. It was small and picturesque, on the banks of the Miljacka river.
What struck me most though, when I walked through the city, was not how much Sarajevans were different from the rest of us, but how much they weren’t. This had obviously been a cultured, tolerant, even vibrant city. The veneer of civilization, I sadly concluded then, was quite thin.
Now, 30 years later, I worry about the United States, not Sarajevo. The Cato Institute and Freedom House rank every country for personal, economic and human freedom. The worst is Syria; it’s in last place. There are others: North Korea, Eritrea, China, Turkmenistan, Iran, Cuba.
How about the United States? It’s not good.Source: The Cipher Brief
#12 All-Time High Support for Nuclear Energy
Interestingly, it doesn’t feel this way at all if all you read is mainstream or green-focused publications. The lack of interest in nuclear power among environmentalists (and sometimes outright hostility towards it) is fascinating because nuclear power is the most straightforward way to get to net zero carbon emission and meet climate change goals.
💬 Media + Games
#13 With ‘Red Notice’ Shop, Netflix India Gives Fans The Opportunity To Steal And Feel The Adrenaline Rush
Netflix India’s new campaign to promote the Hollywood action movie ‘Red Notice’ is to give fans an opportunity to steal, if they can, and keep it.
The Red Notice Shop had been created in a 3000 square feet retail space at Phoenix Palladium, Mumbai. The space was guarded with lasers, sensors, secret codes, CCTV cameras, alarms, and top-notch security. The heist is successfully completed if one is able to steal from the Red Notice Shop. Prizes include not only goodies, tech delights, ownable shop merchandise, but also three precious gold Faberge eggs from the film with exclusive rewards inside them.
Debashish Ghosh, National Creative Director, 22 feet Tribal Worldwide, said, “Most viewers fantasise about being in a role similar to one of their favourite characters or plots in a film. We wanted to give them an unexpected leg-up. So, we set up a shop to pull off a heist where stealers are keepers, if you don’t get caught. And if you do, you don’t land up behind bars. Either way, the experience leaves an indelible mark and lodges Netflix and Red Notice in your memory for good.”Source: Best Media Info
Creative and fun!
This isn’t really all that different from Disney and Disneyland. People want to engage with their content. People want to live out their fantasies!
#14 HBO Enters Mobile Gaming Going Toe-to-Toe with Netflix with ‘Insecure: The Come Up Game’
HBO announced that fans can further explore the world of “Insecure” from creator Issa Rae through a mobile game: Insecure: The Come Up Game. Available in the Apple App Store, the game is one of HBO’s first free gaming properties and comes hot on the heels of Netflix’s own entrance into the space. The studio says that they will be updating content and features throughout the next year.Source: The Streamable
Ditto – People want to engage with their content. People want to live out their fantasies. If you like Disney content, you would live out your fantasy at Disneyland. But not every company can make such a thing. The easiest way to create something similar is to do it virtually as a game or in the metaverse.
Every company with valuable content can do this now because the creation of 3D worlds is becoming easier and easier to do.
#15 ‘Tis the Season for Buy Now, Pay Later
The Swedish financial services company saw a 129% increase in U.S. Cyber Monday sales employing its payment options compared to 2020.
Similarly, another BNPL platform, Afterpay, reported in-store sales using its service on Black Friday were up 442% compared to 2020.Source: Adweek
BNPL starting to gain meaningful traction in the US.
#16 [Translated] Shopee [Brazil] Best Sellers – Black Friday
Considered a huge success among consumers, the campaign held on November 26, Black Friday, achieved one of the highest results ever seen during the period.
On this date alone, Shopee reached 10 times more product sales than the previous year. Consumers saved about R$ 1.8 million with Shopee Coins, where 1 in 5 orders were paid using PIX.
Another significant data from Black Friday this year was a 3-fold increase in the number of local retailers who earned between R$1,000 and R$10,000, compared to the average of an ordinary day.
In addition to discount coupons and free shipping* and promotions, games and prize draws have been made available to further engage users in the Shopee app during Black Friday.Shopee
Seems like they’re doing really well in Brazil.
Some of the items bought by Brazilians made me laugh, though.
#17 Sea’s Shopee To Open A Distribution Center In Brazil
While Shopee continues to message themselves as a cross-border business, they have gotten meaningful traction with local sellers already.
The buildout of logistics will start to put it more in direct competition with local players.
#18 Ecommerce Braces Up For Discount War, As Singapore’s Shopee Enters India
Shopee, which kick-started its operations just a month ago, has left industry watchers flabbergasted even as it draws customers from India, reports Moneycontrol, citing sources privy to the development.
According to the report, Shopee has grabbed 100,000 orders a day in India and has more than 1 million app installs on the Google Play Store. Industry sources said Amazon and Flipkart average 2-2.5 million orders per day.
Shopee is doubling down with a focus on order volumes, and is not hung up on the average order value or selling price. It runs four sales a day – at 12am, 12pm, 4pm and 8pm – with offers ranging from Rs 9 to Rs 49 to Rs 99 to Rs 199. It even has products priced as low as Re 1. It offers zero commission for sellers and free shipping for customers.Source: Outlook India
Seems like they’re doing well in India, too! This is also fascinating because India (unlike Brazil / Latam) is not a cross-border-first market. They are starting with entirely local sellers first, which is a much harder strategy to get going given how strong the local players are already.
#19 Alibaba Empowers Business Units to Be More Agile as Challenges Mount
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s chief executive, Daniel Zhang, is devolving power to the heads of the company’s business units to become more agile in tackling rising challenges and potentially open the way for spinoffs, people familiar with the matter said.
Mr. Zhang, also chairman of the internet giant, is delegating more responsibility to presidents at each business line—from location-based services to cloud computing—who now function as “mini-CEOs,” the people said. The strategy is intended to speed up decision making so each division can better fend off competition, revitalize flagging sales and reshape its monolithic image in the wake of Beijing’s regulatory crackdown on big platforms.
The management shift, which has been taking shape over the past few months, reverses a centralization drive begun almost three years ago. That drive brought the company’s subsidiaries and affiliates into close alignment, the so-called Alibaba Economy conceived by former boss Jack Ma.
In the long run, the changes may pave the way for Alibaba to hive off smaller subsidiaries and seek separate listings for them, the people said. Units that could be ripe for spinoffs in the future include Cainiao Smart Logistics Network, grocery chain Freshippo, a local services department that comprises several of Alibaba’s location-based service apps, as well as overseas e-commerce platforms Lazada and Trendyol, they said.
While Alibaba and Ant had continued to grow at a brisk pace, the centralized structure also created problems. Decision-making was focused at the top, flexibility was reduced and the company oftentimes was slow to respond to rapid changes across industries.Source: WSJ
I used to write a lot more about Alibaba 2-3 years ago when Alibaba was at the top of its game…the competitive environment has changed dramatically, and Alibaba has been forced to dial back its aggressiveness in order to comply with regulatory requirements.
Not sure if the change in management structure would change the situation all that much, but it’s certainly a very, very cheap stock now.
#20 Douyin Tests First Independently Developed E-Commerce App “Douyin Box,” Positioned as Trendsetting Platform
According to TechPlanet on Thursday, Douyin, the Chinese mainland version of TikTok, recently tested a new app called “Douyin Box,” positioning it as a trendsetting e-commerce platform. According to informed sources, Douyin’s e-commerce app has already been developed for Android and iOS, and the logo has been designed to resemble a small square box. The company has not yet responded to the news.
However, a person in charge of Douyin e-commerce said that Douyin Box focuses on fashion products, which is a scenario exploration of the business.Source: Pandaily
Douyin / TikTok is part of the problem for Alibaba. I’m looking forward to see what they can do with a pure e-commerce app!
#21 Here’s What Your Mall Will Look Like In The Metaverse
Before the internet, the mall was the spot for watching movies, hanging out, listening to music, finding love — and an embodiment of all-American consumerism. “The shopping center was Amazon, it was Facebook, it was Tinder, it was Spotify, it was Netflix,” said retail futurist Doug Stephens. “It was the gathering point in the community.”
Not all malls are dying. A key factor is whether they’re located in affluent communities. But another common trait among successful malls is their focus on experiential tenants like climbing walls, movie theaters or axe-throwing centers. “[These malls] are the biggest, shiniest pennies in the marketplaces they serve,” said Mark Cohen, director of retail studies at Columbia Business School. Shopping is not just about buying stuff; it never has been. It’s about the experience and the community that grows around it.
A metaverse shopping center would fit in naturally with gaming and entertainment industries. Video game companies like Epic Games and Roblox have been early leaders in metaverse-like realities. Video games and retail are already linked in that players can often buy weapons, apparel or currency within a game. Luxury brand Balenciaga brought digital garments to Fortnite. The worlds are closely intertwined.
When you’re not bound by the laws of physics, the design options are endless. “We could transport the consumer into any unique or remarkable environment that they want,” Stephens said. “A consumer might want to shop for a handbag on Mars. The sky’s the limit in terms of what we can do.” Why design an exact replica of a traditional mall when you can instead shop in outer space?Source: Protocol
Recently I wrote about how the metaverse and digital twin technology can reduce the cost of experimentation and accelerate innovation.
This is a good example!
The experiences people / shoppers want now (and the constant expectation for novelty) is very costly to do in real life. Most malls only renovate once every decade (or two…or three). But digital malls can change every week or every month. Digital malls can even be tailored to your interests and tastes.
#22 Snapchat Launches New AR Shopping Showcase as Part of its Holiday Season Push
Snapchat’s partnered with a range of big-name brands on several AR-focused shopping initiatives, the biggest of which being its ‘Snap Holiday Market’, which includes immersive AR shopping experiences from Amazon, Coca-Cola, Hollister, Under Armour, Verizon, and Walmart.
“Each brand will have a dedicated virtual store environment within the Holiday Market, where Snapchatters will be able to browse products and holiday deals in an AR space that’s been custom-built and unique to each brand.”Source: Social Media Today
#23 Food Scan Is Inspiring The Next Generation Of Cooks, And It’s As Easy As Pie
Food Scan can parse and understand foods and ingredients you have right in front of you using computer vision. Then, our Camera connects what it sees to suggestions from Allrecipes, changing the way Snapchatters cook, grocery shop, and find recipe inspiration. So, if you have an extra carton of eggs chilling in the refrigerator, Scan them and relevant recipes will be immediately at hand — everything from huevos rancheros to bacon devilled eggs. Just open your Snapchat Camera, point it at the egg, and press the Scan button to get started.
Food Scan recommends 4,500+ recipes from Allrecipes based on 1,200+ ingredients understood through the Snapchat camera. It also returns relevant info from Wikipedia to help Snapchatters learn even more about the food in front of them, like where that type of food comes from.Source: Snap
AI-augmented knowledge is going to be one of the killer apps for AR.
#24 Get lost in Layers, now on Snap Map
Today, we’re making Snap Map even more personalized with Layers, a new feature that brings special experiences right into the platform–and we’re debuting with two original Layers: Memories and Explore.
Take a scroll down memory lane and revisit your favorite Snapchat Memories pegged to the places they happened, or go on a virtual expedition to sights and events captured through Snapchat cameras around the world with Explore. Whether you’re in the mood to look back or just look around, Memories and Explore let you activate a personalized worldview that brings you closer to places you care about.
And, with more Layers coming soon from our close partners Ticketmaster and The Infatuation that will help Snapchatters find upcoming shows and restaurants nearby, we’re excited to introduce new ways to find things to do with the people you love.Source: Snap
#25 ‘Paint Me a Picture’: NVIDIA Research Shows GauGAN AI Art Demo Now Responds to Words
The deep learning model behind GauGAN allows anyone to channel their imagination into photorealistic masterpieces — and it’s easier than ever. Simply type a phrase like “sunset at a beach” and AI generates the scene in real time. Add an additional adjective like “sunset at a rocky beach,” or swap “sunset” to “afternoon” or “rainy day” and the model, based on generative adversarial networks, instantly modifies the picture.Source: Nvidia
You need to watch this. It’s amazing.
#26 Nvidia Ceo Says The Metaverse Could Save Companies Billions Of Dollars In The Real World
“We waste a whole bunch of things to overcompensate for the fact that we don’t simulate. We want to simulate all factories in metaverses, in this omniverse. We want to simulate plants in omniverse. We want to simulate the world’s power grids in the omniverse,” Huang said.
“By doing that, we could decrease the amount of waste, and that’s the reason why the economics are so good for companies,” he continued. “They’re willing to invest a small amount of money to buy into this artificial intelligence capability but what they save is hopefully hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars.”Source: CNBC
🍪 Semiconductors + Chips
#27 FTC Sues to Block $40 Billion Semiconductor Chip Merger
The Federal Trade Commission today sued to block U.S. chip supplier Nvidia Corp.’s $40 billion acquisition of U.K. chip design provider Arm Ltd. Semiconductor chips power the computers and technologies that are essential to our modern economy and society. The proposed vertical deal would give one of the largest chip companies control over the computing technology and designs that rival firms rely on to develop their own competing chips. The FTC’s complaint alleges that the combined firm would have the means and incentive to stifle innovative next-generation technologies, including those used to run datacenters and driver-assistance systems in cars.
“The FTC is suing to block the largest semiconductor chip merger in history to prevent a chip conglomerate from stifling the innovation pipeline for next-generation technologies,” said FTC Bureau of Competition Director Holly Vedova. “Tomorrow’s technologies depend on preserving today’s competitive, cutting-edge chip markets. This proposed deal would distort Arm’s incentives in chip markets and allow the combined firm to unfairly undermine Nvidia’s rivals. The FTC’s lawsuit should send a strong signal that we will act aggressively to protect our critical infrastructure markets from illegal vertical mergers that have far-reaching and damaging effects on future innovations.”Source: FTC
Nvidia announced an acquisition of ARM over a year ago. While the acquisition was not expected to sail through, it’s been a bit more challenging than I expected. Back in Tidbits #18 I reasoned that the main pushback would likely be from China, but China has limited leverage to block the deal (because the primary “stick” that any government wields in such situations is to threaten to block the combined company from accessing your market if the company pushes through anyway). I reasoned that there was no way China could credibly threaten to block Nvidia and ARM from China if Nvidia just goes through with the acquisition anyway. China is still too dependent on the tech.
BUT, now the US (and the UK and EU) are all interested in stopping this deal. Nvidia still wants to try to get the deal done, but it seems very difficult to meet the demands of all these regulatory bodies at this point.
🚘🌽 “Nuts and Bolts” Tech
#28 Uber Eats Holiday Shopping
One thing I’ve written about repeatedly is how e-commerce is now just a logistics game. Amazon is a logistics company. But this also means that any logistics company could potentially become an e-commerce company as well.
Uber (Eats) is starting to look a little bit like an e-commerce company! Rather than selling mostly Chinese goods like Amazon (more than 60% of Amazon’s goods come from Chinese merchants), Uber is focused on bringing goods from local merchants (both big and small) to you.
💉🔬 Health + Science
#29 The First Metaverse Experiments? Look To What’s Already Happening In Medicine
Right now, though, the health-care industry is utilizing some of the essential components that will ultimately comprise the metaverse — virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), and artificial intelligence (AI) — as well as the software and hardware to power their applications. For example, medical device companies are using MR to assemble surgical tools and design operating rooms, the World Health Organization (WHO) is using AR and smartphones to train Covid-19 responders, psychiatrists are using VR to treat post-traumatic stress (PTS) among combat soldiers, and medical schools are using VR for surgical training.
In real-world applications of AR medical technology, Johns Hopkins neurosurgeons performed the institution’s first-ever AR surgeries on living patients in June. During the initial procedure, physicians placed six screws in a patient’s spine during a spinal fusion. Two days later, a separate team of surgeons removed a cancerous tumor from the spine of a patient. Both teams donned headsets made by Augmedics, an Israeli firm, equipped with a see-through eye display that projects images of a patient’s internal anatomy, such as bones and other tissue, based on CT scans. “It’s like having a GPS navigator in front of your eyes,” said Timothy Witham, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Neurosurgery Spinal Fusion Laboratory.
“In the digital environment, we’re not bound by physical objects,” said Barry Issenberg, MD, Professor of Medicine and director of the Gordon Center. Before developing the virtual technology curriculum, he said, students had to physically be on the scene and train on actual trauma patients. “Now we can guarantee that all learners have the same virtual experience, regardless of their geographic location.”Source: CNBC
🤔 Hmm… / 😮 Much Wow
#30 Life-like Robot
Those facial expressions!