Hello, hello! 👋🏻👋🏻
Welcome back to another edition of Tidbits covering all the recent things worth talking about in business, media, and technology.
As Ukraine drags on for another week, the world continues to feel like it’s in an unstable equilibrium that is about readjust very, very quickly and possibly permanently into a new state of equilibrium…The last few years (decades?) has been like a game of chess where the few people that have a front row seat to this table of realpolitik have diligently laid down their pieces…now that the pieces are diligently laid down and positioned, everyone is about to carry out their strategy and trade pieces (but in our world, “pieces” are real people, real cities) in quick fashion. As in chess, it is often hard to see how these critical moments play out because you don’t know what gets sacrificed and how the other side responds.
🗺 World Affairs + Geopolitics
Geopolitics continue to dominate markets and global headlines with Ukraine and Russia in the center.
Putin caused a stir by attacking the largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine:
#1 Ukrainian Nuclear Power Plant Attack Condemned As Russian Troops ‘Occupy’ Facility
Russian troops have occupied Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant, with managers working at “gunpoint” after a fire caused by their attack was extinguished, according to Ukrainian nuclear officials.
Countries around the world swiftly condemned the episode, with the United States embassy in Ukraine warning an attack on a nuclear plant was a “war crime” and the United Nations Security Council convening an emergency meeting.
“We are fortunate there has not been a release of radioactive material and the integrity of the reactors has not been compromised,” he said. However, the operator and regulator have relayed to the IAEA that the situation on the ground is “extremely tense and challenging,” he warned.
He explained that a Russian projectile had hit a building within the site, causing a localized fire, but none of the reactors were affected and radiation monitoring systems are fully functional.Source: CNN
I know war is brutal, but attacking a nuclear power plant still seems to be a bit unhinged and aggressive.
Everything that has happened so far continues to suggest that people are underestimating the risk Putin is willing to take.
Does this (should this?) say anything about his appetite for using the nuclear button?
#2 In Fast-Changing Europe, Rage Against Russia Fuels Suspicion Of China
It was a week that will change Europe forever, and in many different ways.
Switzerland – a favoured bolthole for Russia’s elite – waived historic neutrality to join biting Western sanctions on Moscow.
Historically non-aligned Sweden and Finland are seriously considering joining Nato, while the EU will fund the sale of lethal weapons and arms to a war zone for the first time ever.
“European security and defence has evolved more in the last six days than in the last two decades,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Tuesday.
For some, this is an understatement: lawmakers watched in shock as the usually staid German Chancellor Olaf Scholz quietly dismantled 30 years of foreign policy over the course of an hour on Sunday afternoon.Source: SCMP via Yahoo News
Europe is rapidly changing as a result of Ukraine because History is knocking on its doorsteps again. Europe has been at war for thousands of years, and its geography has condemned it to constant insecurity.
Putin invaded Ukraine with the stated goal of “demilitarizing” Ukraine likely out of an immense fear of History (e.g. Russia has been invaded multiple times from Western / Central Europe such as with Napoleon and Hitler’s campaigns) and possibly an intense focus on legacy.
But he appears to be getting exactly what he doesn’t want. Europe is now rapidly trying to remilitarize. Even Germany is now remilitarizing (which should cause some unease…).
And this is bad news for China because Europe is now highly suspicious about China’s role in all of this (and China’s true feelings toward Russia / Putin). Europe is now fearing for its own security and it is not sure if China is on its side:
But behind the scenes, there is frustration at China’s unwillingness to budge on basic points, such as its refusal to use the word “invasion” to describe Russia’s actions, or to criticise Putin at all.
The spirit of the frustration was captured in a blog post by Ian Johnson for the Council on Foreign Relations this week, where he wrote that “even though China wants to position itself as essentially neutral and advocates dialogue, its positions are actually a remarkable defence of Russia and reflect strengthening China-Russia ties”.
“We have zero expectation of China to deliver on this. Everything we learned in the last few years through Covid and wider relations means we don’t trust China. And China should be worried, we’ve proven we can move fast. After this crisis, there will be more and more suspicion,” they said.Source: SCMP via Yahoo News
It’s still not clear to me that China knew Putin would invade or that it wants this. We may never really know the truth about what China knew on 2/4 (the day China and Russia declared “no limits” to their friendship), but China is now in a tough spot. Once trust is lost, it’s very, very hard to regain.
#3 Ukraine’s Secret Weapon Against Russia: Turkish Drones
The star of this video and others circulating on Twitter is the Bayraktar TB2 – a type of Turkish drone that the Ukrainian military has increasingly deployed against Russian forces in recent days. On Tuesday, the Ukrainian military said that Bayraktar drones had destroyed one tank and two surface-to-air missile systems overnight. In other videos shared on Twitter, Bayraktar drones, in use by the military since at least 2021, are shown blowing up what appears to be a Russian fuel convoy and a group of supply trucks.
Reliable and accurate military drones were once the exclusive purview of the U.S. military. But the technology has become more commonplace in recent years, and is now a fixture of many 21st century battlefields. And Turkey is now the preeminent supplier. In the last two years, Turkish Bayraktar drones have appeared not only in Ukraine, but also Ethiopia, Azerbaijan, Libya and Syria. Last year in Ethiopia, a rebel force was bearing down on the capital Addis Ababa before the government repelled them with the drones. In the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia in 2020, Turkish drones proved decisive in the Azeri victory against Armenia – a Russian ally.
The video shared by the Ukrainian armed forces on Sunday reveals one of the drones’ key selling points: that they are capable of inflicting disproportionate damage on enemy hardware, far more cheaply than other drones, and at low risk. Osborne estimates that the Bayraktar drones were sold to Ukraine at a cost in the single-digit millions of dollars each – but that the Russian surface-to-air missile system destroyed in the video on Sunday could be worth up to $50 million.Source: Time
One thing we’ve talked about periodically around here is how drones is changing the nature of warfare. Ukraine’s usage of drones is giving us a real world case study. Drones are very cheap and very effective.
While these drones are on the West’s side for now, this technology is increasingly becoming widely available. This type of technology can very easily be misused by unfriendly parties.
I’m frankly surprised Russia is not better prepared against Turkish drones. Turkey has been opposing Russia in various Middle East conflicts for a while. Turkey sells drones to several Middle Eastern governments. Putin has likely already been on the receiving end of these drones before. Makes Putin seem unprepared.
#4 Ukraine Takes The Resistance To Cyberspace, Assembling An ‘It Army’ To Hack Sites From Russia And Its Allies, Calls On Tech Leaders To Get Involved
As Ukraine continues to make efforts to mobilize and equip ordinary citizens on the ground to resist Russia’s unprovoked invasion of the country, those who are outside Ukraine who want to help are being asked to get involved in the fight in the virtual world. While the G7 (today with the addition of Japan) mobilize to shut down Russia’s access to the Swift banking system, the country has been running campaign corralling developers to join an “IT army” tasked with specific cyber challenges. It’s also making specific calls to technology leaders to do their part.
The “IT Army of Ukraine“, announced yesterday and already with nearly 184,000 users on its main Telegram channel (and that number is growing — it gained almost 10,000 users in the time I wrote this story), is using that account to name specific projects and call-outs for help to shut down Russian sites, Russian agents and those working in concert with the country, and to mobilize those living in Ukraine around work they can do.
And it seems to be making some progress. A call out on the channel to shut down the API for Sberbank, one of Russia’s major banks, earlier today appears to have come into play, with the site currently offline. Ditto Belorussia’s official information policy site, which it says was also taken offline after a call out on the channel. It’s taking the tongue-in-cheek approach similar to the one adopted by Anonymous and other activist hacker groups when going after specific targets.Source: TechCrunch
One hundred years ago, World War 1 catapulted the world into a new age of warfare that was much more brutal with the introduction of machine guns, poison gas, tanks, and planes.
One hundred years later, it is clear now that we are entering a new era defined by cyber, AI, drones, and psychological / disinformation warfare.
#5 Hacking Groups Launching ‘Cyber Proxy War’ Over Ukraine Attacks By Russia
Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is leading hacking groups worldwide to increase their activities — in some cases to support a side, or possibly just to capitalize on the chaos.
During the Cold War, “the superpowers fought many small wars by proxy,” said Sam Curry, CSO at Cybereason. “Today, we can expect a cyber proxy war to emerge.”
Anonymous has declared itself aligned with “Western allies” and said it would only target operations in Russia. The group has posted a number of claims on Twitter.
“The Anonymous collective is officially in cyber war against the Russian government,” the group tweeted.
Also unsurprisingly, Conti — believed to be a state-sponsored group operating out of Russia responsible for hundreds of ransomware attacks in recent years — threw its support behind the Russian side.
In the midst of the Russian attacks on Ukraine on Thursday, CISA posted a warning about MuddyWater, a state-sponsored Iranian APT. The group has been observed “conducting cyber espionage and other malicious cyber operations targeting a range of government and private-sector organizations across sectors — including telecommunications, defense, local government, and oil and natural gas — in Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America,” CISA wrote in a post.Source: VentureBeat
#6 U.S. Delegation Arrives In Taiwan As China Denounces Visit
A delegation of former senior U.S. defence and security officials sent by President Joe Biden arrived in Taipei on Tuesday on a visit denounced by China and happening in the midst of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The visit, led by one-time chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, comes at a time when Taiwan has stepped up its alert level, wary of China taking advantage of a distracted West to move against it.
Mullen, a retired Navy admiral who served as the top U.S. military officer under former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, is being accompanied by Meghan O’Sullivan, a former deputy national security adviser under Bush, and Michele Flournoy, a former undersecretary of defense under Obama.Source: Reuters
As if Europe isn’t already a mess, the US and China relationship continues to face challenges. China likely views this visit as an uncalled for provocation.
🤑 Economics + Markets
#7 Commodities Gas And Aluminium Hit Fresh Records; Oil, Wheat Soar On Supply Turmoil
Commodity prices raced still higher on Thursday as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine entered a second week, disrupting global raw material flows and boosting natural gas, coal and aluminium to record peaks, while crude oil and wheat scaled multi-year highs.
Russia’s stature as a top supplier in oil, gas, metals and grain has meant that harsh sanctions applied to Russian entities following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine has derailed critical resource supply chains.
“The invasion has upended the markets, supply chains are ceasing to work, which means we have dislocations all over the place,” said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank in Copenhagen.Source: Reuters
As if inflation isn’t high enough already, inflation is going higher near-term.
#8 War Shocks Ripple Across One of World’s Busiest Trade Lanes
Importers from London to Warsaw will soon face higher shipping costs, longer delays and an obstacle course of sanctions to navigate as Russia’s widening assault on Ukraine complicates the movement of cargo between Europe and Asia.
Mediterranean Shipping Co. and A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, the world’s biggest container carriers, halted bookings for Russian freight, with Maersk on Wednesday warning customers, “this is a global impact, and not only limited to trade with Russia.” Not a good signal for European economies already facing energy spikes, product shortages, clogged ports and the highest inflation since the inception of the common currency more than two decades ago.
“There is still substantial disruption in the supply chain,” said Jennifer Hillman, a Georgetown University professor and a former U.S. trade official. “There is an effort to build resilience but that will take time. With Russia invading Ukraine, we don’t have time.”Source: Bloomberg
Part of the inflation in the US is caused by pandemic-stressed supply chains. Although there was potential for supply chain improvements as the pandemic impact recedes, Ukraine invasion now creates a completely different challenge (that could be permanent if Russia conquers it and ends up being completely isolated by the West).
We live in an integrated world. Many goods that don’t originate from Ukraine or Russia may still need to transit through it (e.g. from Europe to Asia and vice versa). With a war going on and potential isolation of Russia, it means trains and planes may not be able to make the journey across.
#9 China’s Ambitious Growth Target Puts Focus Back on Fiscal Plans
China set an ambitious economic growth target for the year, putting the spotlight back on fiscal stimulus to counter risks of an ongoing property market slump and rising geopolitical tensions.
While the growth goal of about 5.5% for this year is the lowest in more than three decades, it’s above the consensus forecast of 5% and the International Monetary Fund’s projection of 4.8% expansion. Economists said the target implies Beijing will increase infrastructure spending, cut interest rates further and do more to stabilize housing.
Fiscal spending will climb 8.4% in 2022, including a more than 7% boost to China’s defense budget. The government plans to draw on savings from previous years to pay for the rise in expenditure, with the budget deficit targeted to fall to 2.8% of gross domestic product this year.Source: Bloomberg
China just wrapped up its Two Sessions meetings. The government is guiding for 5.5% GDP growth for the year, which is on the higher end of what people were expecting. China’s economy continues to chug along despite domestic and external pressures.
#10 Ken Griffin Talks Russia, Market Chaos and a Move to Go Public
Very interesting interview with Ken Griffin. The topics are fairly wide-ranging so it’s hard to pick one or two hard-hitting quotes. Worth reading in its entirely.
This discussion about the potential unforeseen consequences of sanctions was interesting:
Let’s contrast that with what we’re doing. We’re imposing sanctions on Russia and limiting their access to U.S. technology, much as we’ve done with China. What’s the upshot of that?
We are hurting one of the leading parts of our economy, which is the big tech firms of the Valley that have driven so much prosperity for our country. We’re forcing China to develop its own processors, its own software stack, and to be independent from America.
They’re going to take those solutions and push them across their sphere of influence. So it’s going to be much harder for Apple or Google or Microsoft to have a big success story in emerging markets like Africa, where China’s going to now export their technologies aggressively.
By putting sanctions on American technology vis-à-vis Russia, all we’re doing is accelerating that event. Although American sanctions may feel good in the short run, they are really hurting one of our critical success stories in the world, which is our ability to develop technology.
The second one is the United States’s weaponization of the dollar. The U.S. dollar is the reserve currency for the world. That’s an incredible asset for our nation, particularly as it faces record levels of indebtedness.
When we put on the table the possibility that your dollars will become seized, or you can’t move dollars, we’re telling the rest of the world to embrace other currencies in their portfolio and we diminish the value of the dollar as the reserve currency. American taxpayers are going to pay for this in the form of higher interest rates on our debt. It hurts our country in a profound way.Source: Bloomberg
Also, this made me laugh:
What do you do for relaxation and exercise?
One thing that surprises people? I love to play “Call of Duty” and I’ll play it while I’m on the elliptical trainer. Takes a bit of work on balance to do both at the same time; maybe a bit of multitasking. But I’m always trying to find ways to stay in shape and to stay engaged.Source: Bloomberg
#11 Dollar Surges Versus Almost Everything on Ukraine Conflict Risks
The dollar is rising against virtually every peer as fallout from the deepening conflict in Ukraine supercharges demand for the world’s reserve currency.
Nordic currencies fell the most among the Group-of-10 in early Asia trading Monday, with the Norwegian krone and Swedish krona falling more than 2%. The euro fell 1%, while the South African and Turkish currencies dropped as emerging-markets faced contagion concerns.Source: Bloomberg / Yahoo
Although many people are wondering whether the liberal and aggressive use of sanctions against Russia dooms the USD, near-term the USD is strengthening because the USD remains the global safe haven in times of stress and uncertainty.
👻 Cryptocurrencies + NFTs
#12 U.S. Prods Exchanges To Thwart Crypto Use By Sanctioned Russians
The Biden administration is asking crypto exchanges to help ensure that Russian individuals and organizations aren’t using virtual currencies to avoid sanctions leveled on them by Washington, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.
The Biden administration is asking crypto exchanges to help ensure that Russian individuals and organizations aren’t using virtual currencies to avoid sanctions leveled on them by Washington, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.
A spokesperson for Binance said the exchange isn’t moving to block all Russian users, but has taken steps to identify crypto wallets of sanctioned individuals and is prepared to act against any with accounts. FTX is consulting with officials in the U.S. and Bahamas, where the firm is headquartered, on the proper course of action and plans to keep applying laws related to sanctioned countries, the firm said in a statement.Source: Bloomberg
The last edition of Tidbits highlighted how Ukraine was seeking donations through crypto. We discussed how crypto is just a tool and could be used for Russian donations as well. Because it is just a tool, we cannot guarantee that it is only used by “good” people.
The US is now trying to play whack-a-mole and close off Russian usage of crypto. Crypto is one way that Russians can escape sanctions.
#13 Ukrainian Govt Offering Rewards For Russian Politicians’ Crypto Info
The Ukrainian government is soliciting any leads on information related to the cryptocurrency wallets of Russian and Belorussian politicians as the country continues to rely on crowdfunding efforts for its defense against Russia and its allies.
Afian said that he’s looking to match top politicians with the crypto wallet addresses they use to receive digital currencies and has received more than 500 tips so far. He plans to publish a list of politicians’ addresses in the next two to three days, and share it with top crypto exchanges. The goal, Afian said, is to mark these addresses as “toxic” and discourage people and businesses from transacting with them.Source: News24
The problem with crypto (from a sanctions and government perspective) is that it is anonymous. Service providers don’t generally do KYC (know your customer) checks. Without knowing which accounts belong to Putin or Russian government officials, it is very hard to police.
This is another reminder that when you try to create a currency beyond the reach of government, it really does mean beyond the reach of any government (even one that you might want to support).
#14 FTX Takes Aim At The $300 Billion Luxury Goods Market And Hires A Beauty Entrepreneur To Head The Push
Crypto exchange FTX is widening its ambitions to target the luxury market, and it has hired former model-turned-beauty entrepreneur Lauren Remington Platt to head the push.
Platt will hunt out major luxury brands — a market estimated to be worth $300 billion — that have not yet gotten into cryptocurrency, the company said Wednesday.
Last year’s jump in cryptocurrency prices helped create a new crop luxury buyers — young Americans with profit to spend, according to a December report from Jefferies. People under 35 are using that crypto cash to buy art, expensive jewelry, apparel, and accessories, it found.Source: Business Insider
On a brighter note, crypto continues to converge with fashion and culture in interesting ways. I’ve been highly skeptical of crypto’s potential as a currency, but I think there is high potential in luxury fashion and culture. Luxury is all about exclusivity and buying symbolic things. That’s what crypto and NFTs do well.
The article also points out something I never thought of before – Luxury companies like NFT because crypto gains is an important source of spending power for young Americans interested in luxury fashion and art.
#15 Convoy Picks Up Cars And Anti-Ukraine Talking Points Ahead Of Washington Arrival
The American offshoot of the “Freedom Convoy” that brought chaos to Canada’s capital is promising to stop traffic outside of Washington, D.C., on Saturday, but exact plans remained vague Friday as the group hit its last pit stop in Maryland.
The convoy, which was organized on pro-Trump and anti-vaccine channels on the Telegram messaging app, has picked up hundreds of cars and several trucks since the group left a rural parking lot in Adelanto, California, on Feb. 22.
Livestreamers from within the convoy have repeatedly referred to “blocking the Beltway,” the 64-mile highway that surrounds Washington, but specific plans have been kept secret by group leaders.
One organizer, Dan Fitzegerald, who has been livestreaming his journey in the convoy on YouTube, said on a Friday morning stream: “I can tell you now that there will be select trucks going to the White House.”Source: NBC News
Back in Tidbits #71 we discussed the Canadian convoy and its sister movement in Australia. Now there is one in the US as well. At the time, I suggested we may be seeing a new evolution of Democracy, perhaps call this Democracy 3.0. Instead of getting a voice through your vote and voting to get what you want, you can block a bridge or a critical piece of infrastructure until you get what you want.
I’ve seen a lot of debates everywhere. And it’s very polarizing. Even people I respect very much have suggested the Canadian government’s heavy-handed response to the peaceful protest is extreme. However, I’m not sure blocking a bridge or a critical piece of infrastructure should be called peaceful. While this type of protest doesn’t physically harm anyone, it very much economically harms people. In our modern financialized world, economic harm should be considered a very real form of harm. (Even Putin has suggested that economic sanctions against Russia are an act of war. Similarly some US officials have called China’s economic policies as “acts of war”).
People should have a right to protest. But should people have a right to damage the livelihoods of innocent bystanders such as people trying to get to work or do their jobs?
#16 Chartbook #84: Trucks, Bridges & State Power
A modern, North American semi-truck is a substantial physical object. On average they stand 13.5 feet tall, 8.5 feet wide. With trailer attached, a truck is 72 feet long and weighs up to 80,000 pounds. It takes 400 to 600 hp to move at speed and 1000-2000 lb-ft of torque to pull it from a standing start. When the airbrakes are locked, it becomes an immense, immovable dead weight.
Such vehicles make an excellent object with which to form barricades and blockade space. If mobilized in coordinated groups, they can, as the protests in Canada have demonstrated, pose a serious challenge to the public control of public space.
But though the resemblance to a conventional labour dispute may be superficial, the protests are revealing of the limits of public control of public space when not just human bodies, as in demonstrations, but substantial objects – machines, barricades, vehicles, coal shipments etc – are brought into play on the side of protestors.
As Cameron Abadi put it to me in the latest Ones and Tooze podcast, the question with which the Canadian authorities have apparently struggled, is simply how to clear the streets.
Will the police do the job? Does the Canadian state have the equipment necessary to do the job?
The Canadian trucker protests are not a working-class rebellion. But they do expose the limits of the idea of the public control of public space. Both at the grand scale of international infrastructure and the use of public roads, public power is mediated and negotiated with private interests.Source: Adam Tooze
This was an interesting post! It discusses a lot of the challenges of this Democracy 3.0 concept. Also contains an interesting bit of history about how it rhymes in labour movements in the past.
The main difference Adam highlights between this modern incarnation vs past labor movements is that in the past it was just a general strike. Now we are talking about blocking critical infrastructure with objects that cannot be removed easily without sending in the military. This puts democratic governments in a strange position to have to send in the military. Normal police forces do not usually have the necessary equipment to quickly remove a lot of large trucks.
#17 How Caffeine Addiction Changed Society
Source: Wired / Youtube
Every society has its drug. The world owes a lot to caffeine. But slowly I think the world’s choice of drug is shifting to other things. Will that be good or bad for society in the long-run?
💬 Media + Games
#18 Developing Games Around the World: Netflix to Acquire Next Games
Since I [Mike Verdu, VP Games] joined Netflix last summer, our vision for games – to build a library of great games for our members to enjoy – has always been clear and simple. But to get there is no simple feat; it takes time to develop games that people love. So today, I am pleased to share that we have entered into an agreement to acquire Next Games, a developer and publisher of mobile games based in Helsinki, Finland.
Founded in 2013 and led by Teemu Huuhtanen, Next Games specializes in mobile games based on popular entertainment franchises like Stranger Things: Puzzle Tales, the story-driven puzzle RPG (role-playing game) inspired by one of our most watched series. Over the years, the team has successfully created and operated live service games with a dedicated fan base across the globe who play over long periods of time.Source: Netflix
Netflix is starting to get more serious about games. Now acquiring its own game studios.
#19 Shopify’s Evolution
The critical thing to understand about this process is that no one app or e-commerce seller stands alone; everyone has collectively deputized Facebook to hold all of the pertinent user data and to figure out how all of the pieces fit together in a way that lets each individual app maker or e-commerce retailer acquire new customers for a price less than what that customer is worth to them in lifetime value.
This, by extension, means that Shopify doesn’t stand alone either: the company is even more dependent on Facebook to drive e-commerce than Apple ever was to drive app installs. That’s why it’s not a surprise that Facebook’s recent plunge in value was preceded (and then followed) by Shopify’s own:
Part of Shopify’s decline is likely related to the fact that it is another pandemic stock: the sort of growth the company saw while customers were stuck at home with nothing to do other than shop online couldn’t go on forever. Moreover, the company announced big increases in spending (more on this in a moment). However, the major headwind the company shares with Facebook is Apple.Source: Stratechery
A few weeks back, Ben Thompson over at Stratechery wrote a very insightful article discussing Shopify and how its business model is changing.
Shopify, like Facebook, is seeing massive disruption from Apple due to Apple’s changes around tracking. Facebook is an ad company. Shopify isn’t an ad company, but its merchants are highly dependent on ads. Now Facebook and Shopify need to adjust.
#20 [Translated] Tiktok E-Commerce GMV Peaked Nearly 6 Billion In 2021, Doubling Its Target This Year
36Krypton learned from multiple sources that TikTok e-commerce’s GMV [gross merchandise value] in 2021 was up to about 6 billion yuan, of which more than 70% of GMVs came from Indonesia and the remaining less than 30% came from the United Kingdom. 36Krypton also learned that TikTok e-commerce’s GMV target in 2022 was close to 12 billion yuan, nearly doubled from 2021.Source: 36kr
Doesn’t seem like there is much traction outside of Indonesia, yet. Traction in Indonesia may affect Sea / Shopee.
🚘🌽 “Nuts and Bolts” Tech
#21 Uber Adds New Ways To Buy Concert Tickets And Book Restaurants In Its App
Uber introduced a new app feature called “Explore” that allows customers to buy concert tickets, book restaurant reservations, and get discounted rides to popular destinations. It’s the latest attempt by the ride-share company to turn its app into more of a lifestyle product.
Starting March 1st, Uber customers in over a dozen North American cities will see the new Explore tab when they open the app. Tapping on it brings up a variety of live event and restaurant recommendations that they are encouraged to check out. And if this sounds a lot like Yelp, it’s by design: restaurant reservations are handled through a Yelp integration in the app, and Uber is even featuring that company’s five-star ratings for restaurants in Explore.
Another integration, with PredictHQ, brings in live event recommendations. And if customers need a ride to any of these destinations, Uber is offering a discount: 15 percent (up to $10) off rides to locations included in Explore. An Uber spokesperson declined to share which third-party ticket sellers it was working with to power that part of the Explore tab.Source: The Verge
🚀 Enterprise Software
#22 Snowflake Announces Intent to Acquire Streamlit to Empower Developers and Data Scientists to Mobilize the World’s Data
Streamlit’s open-source framework enables developers and data scientists to build and share data apps and to do so quickly and iteratively, without the need to be an expert in front-end development. Developers and data scientists already trust Streamlit for building data applications and interactive data experiences. Streamlit has over 8M downloads and more than 1.5M applications have been built using their framework.
Together, the two companies will enable developers to build apps using tools they love with simplified data access and governance. Streamlit users will benefit from greater resources for continued innovation on Streamlit’s framework and easier access to trusted and secure data to power their data applications. Snowflake customers will be able to leverage Streamlit’s robust app development framework to further unlock data with the Snowflake Data Cloud. Both will benefit from an even larger and more active community contributing to the Streamlit framework.Source: Snowflake
Interesting acquisition. Snowflake is already enabling companies to do more with data than any other company (including offering a marketplace where companies can sell datasets to each other). Now with Streamlit, they can empower companies to build data apps that run on top of the data.