Decision-making platform Prowler.io raked in US$24 million in a series B round led by RB Capital, Tencent, Mandatum Life, and Pearson.The startup claims the round boosted its valuation to around US$100 million.Amadeus Capital Partners, Atlantic Bridge, Cambridge Innovation Capital, Passion Capital, and SGInnovate also participated in the round.Founded in 2016, Prowler helps businesses manage logistics and financial decisions as well as allocate resources through its AI-powered platform.Along with the fresh funds, the startup’s strategic partnerships with the investors will support its recent product expansion efforts, Prowler said in a statement.“Having initially focused on developing our AI platform, we are excited to be expanding our product offering into new verticals,” said Prowler CEO Vishal Chatrath.
Remove this ad space by subscribing.Taxi operator ComfortDelGro will test a self-driving shuttle bus at the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Kent Ridge campus starting this Saturday, although trials with passengers will start in the third quarter this year, Channel News Asia reports.“The key purpose of the road test is to ‘map’ the route through the collection of data for the vehicle’s navigation systems,” said a news release issued on Thursday.The vehicle is based on EasyMile’s autonomous technology, and is funded by car dealership chain Inchcape in Singapore.
Increased focus should be placed on democratizing artificial intelligence (AI) so that the technology’s capabilities aren’t solely available to big corporations, according to a director at Microsoft Research Asia (MSRA).“It will be very difficult for a taxi driver to change his or her job to be a computer scientist in their lifetime,” said Pan.The country is pushing to become a global leader in the technology by 2030, while increasing its focus on high-tech industries, including chipmaking, through its Made in China 2025 initiative.Pan said governments should play an active role in mitigating these risks by, for instance, strengthening the younger generation’s computer science abilities.Pan was speaking on a panel focused on AI ethics in China at TechNode’s Emerge conference in Shanghai on Thursday morning.He was joined by Nancy Xu, CEO and founder of Cevolution, Christopher Byrd, fellow at Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute, and Danny Wang, China new IT and AI managing director at Accenture.
Alibaba-owned online marketplace and retailer Daraz has named Rakhil Fernando as managing director of Daraz Sri Lanka, effective June 1, 2019.He will head the company’s business strategy and overall operations in the country, according to a statement.Prior to this appointment, Fernando was the innovation director at LumenLab, the Asia-focused innovation arm of insurance firm MetLife.He also served as CEO of Kashmi, a peer-to-peer payments and digital banking platform that operated in Singapore and Sri Lanka.Set up in 2012, Daraz has its own online marketplace and logistics business that target customers in South Asia.The company, which also operates in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Myanmar, claims to have over 10 million products in more than 100 categories.
More than a quarter of short video app users in China are under 24 years old, and lower-tier cities are becoming increasingly important sources for growth, Hillary Han, a director at market research company iResearch said at TechNode’s Emerge conference on Thursday.As of the end of 2018, 80% of China’s 829 million netizens use short video apps, making them even more prevalent than online payment tools, according to a report from the China Internet Network Information Center.Short video apps have become an increasingly important component of user leisure.Time spent on these types of apps account for 36% of all time spent on entertainment apps in the first quarter of 2019, compared with 22% in the same period of 2018.Combined average daily active users (DAUs) of short video apps also rose 8% in the past six months, a report from data research firm Jiguang said.These factors have made short video platforms an ideal place for brands to market their products, especially through key opinion leaders (KOLs), experts at the conference said.
This article originally appeared on Trivium UB, a Trivium China project focused on exploring the human factors driving China’s user markets.As internet use diversifies across China’s population, reaching younger, older, and rural demographics, there’s been a general scramble to understand these emerging consumer markets.Last month, we took a look at China’s Gen Z, collecting study results and big data reports to piece together a profile on “the Focused Generation.”But there’s one major flaw in most of the data: though there are huge disparities between the needs and characteristics of urban and rural residents, studies tend to lump the two together, drawing conclusions that are either biased towards urban populations, or are too general to be actionable.A series of new reports avoid these flaws by turning their lens on the attitudes of xiaozhen qingnian, or “small town youth.”Drawing on big data scraped from its user base of 230 million 18-35 year olds from third-tier cities and below, short video platform Kuaishou (in Chinese) painted a picture of a hard-working demographic willing to roll up their sleeves in the name of self-improvement:
AmazeVR, a virtual reality content creation platform provider, has secured an additional US$7 million in a fundraise led by Japan’s Mirae Asset Group.South Korean firms Timewise Investment and Smilegate Investment also participated in the round, along with US-based LG Technology Ventures, the venture capital arm of South Korea’s LG Group.With the new funds, AmazeVR plans to accelerate the development of proprietary content created and distributed through its cloud-based platform and partners.The company also announced that a collaboration with LG Uplus, a cellular carrier owned by LG to co-produce content that will be hosted on AmazeVR’s platform.The partnership will leverage LG Uplus’ position as one of the leaders in the global 5G race for cloud-based VR use cases.Established in 2015 by a team of Korean tech veterans, AmazeVR aims to clear the content hurdle that prevents the mass adoption of VR.
At a company conference yesterday, Tencent Auto Intelligence (TAI)’s vice president Zhong Xuedan announced that it will launch voice-enabled WeChat services in its connected vehicle ecosystem this year, ifanr reported (in Chinese).The planned features include only chat, calls, and GPS navigation for now.All aspects will be voice command-enabled, purportedly to reduce driver distraction and risk of accidents.Using the TAI system, drivers will be able to hear WeChat messages read out loud to them and dictate responses, initiate conversations, and find contacts without taking their hands off the wheel.When receiving calls, drivers will also be able to accept or reject calls with voice commands.In addition, after receiving a GPS location pin from a WeChat friend, drivers will be able to easily launch directions to the place.
Online travel agency Mafengwo has raised US$250 million in fresh funds according to an announcement by Tencent, which led the investment round, KrASIA reports.General Atlantic and Qiming Venture Partners also contributed funds.Tencent said Mafengwo’s gross merchandise volume has been increasing by more than 100% year-on-year for the past four years, without revealing further details.In December 2017, the company closed its Series D round with US$133 million, according to Crunchbase.
Chinese tech giant Huawei may have its own smartphone and laptop operating system ready for its Chinese customers by fall of this year, CNBC reports, citing a high-level exec.Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s consumer business, added that an international version of the operating system may follow by the first or second quarter of 2020.Huawei was recently placed on a blacklist that restricted it from dealing with any US firm, resulting in the telecom company not having access to a licensed version of Google’s Android along with its services.
What happened: Two over-the-counter (OTC) traders are facing charges of fraud after allegedly tricking more than 100 investors to send them Bitcoin in exchange for interest payments on their deposits.According to The Beijing News, Yi Zhou and Xiang Li used WeChat groups to gain their victims’ trust, and ultimately received more than 7,000 BTC (currently worth approximately $55 million) from unsuspecting investors.Why it’s important: Illicit cryptocurrency activity has run rampant recently, with security firm CipherTrace reporting $1.2 billion in crypto theft, scams, and fraud in the first quarter of 2019 alone.But CipherTrace also notes that 17 countries plus the European Union within the jurisdiction of the Financial Stability Board had at least some regulation or standard-setting bodies dealing with cryptocurrencies as of April.And with the Chinese government already taking a tough stance on crypto, there’s a chance that fraud may take a meaningful downturn as the year progresses.
TikTok hires a senior executive to boost monetisation in India – QuartzWhat happened: TikTok owner ByteDance has hired former GroupM CEO of Asian operations Sameer Singh to be its vice-president of monetization for India.A statement by the company said that “Sameer will work closely with ByteDance’s partners and clients while leading the advertising, sales and marketing strategies across all of ByteDance’s products in India.” He will be based in Gurugram and start work in August.Why it’s important: Despite being banned in India for a week in April, Indians still comprise a massive 40% of TikTok’s 500 million-strong user base, and according to The Economic Times, ByteDance’s products have approximately 300 million monthly active users in India.As far as monetization, ByteDance’s strategy for TikTok has so far revolved around advertising, and brands have already seen success reaching audiences in India by leveraging the app’s various social features.A hire with intimate knowledge of the country’s marketing landscape should help ByteDance more effectively profit from its fast-growing market share.
Huawei: ARM memo tells staff to stop working with China’s tech giant – BBCWhat happened: UK-based chip design firm ARM has severed ties with Huawei.According to an internal memo, the decision is in response to last week’s sanctions on China by the US, as ARM utilizes American technology in its chip designs.An analyst described impact of the move, if long-term, as an “insurmountable” blow to the telecom giant’s business.Why it’s important: Losing access to ARM’s designs may not be immediately destructive for Huawei, but if the two companies do not renew ties, Huawei will be unable to update its devices with new chips and may have to begin building its own from scratch, a process that could take years.Additionally, the Android operating system is designed for ARM-based processors, so in combination with Google’s revocation of Huawei’s Android license, the company will have an even more difficult time providing a user interface for its devices.
Huawei’s mobile chief expects self-developed OS to be ready for market roll-out as early as year end – South China Morning PostWhat happened: Huawei mobile business chief executive Yu Chengdong said that the smartphone brand may roll out an Android-compatible OS later this year, or at least “no later than spring next year.” The Huawei OS would support a broad range of devices, from phones to tablets, TVs, computers, automotive, and smart wearables.Android web and mobile applications will be compatible with the OS.The company has not confirmed or commented on the statement.Why it’s important: The announcement comes right on the heels of a move last week that rocked China’s tech world: the blacklisting of Huawei and affiliates by the US government which effectively bans the company from installing Google services on its devices.Huawei has been preparing its own OS system, not least for just such an eventuality, which may win it some independence from US software companies.
All major porn websites are blocked by the country’s Great Firewall, the censorship tool that basically made the Chinese internet a local network.An individual from the central China province of Hunan was sent to prison for four years and fined RMB 400,000 (around $57,870) for running two small websites that hosted pornographic content.A set of standards for live-streaming platforms released by a provincial government this January, for instance, prohibits female live-streamers from wearing overly revealing, flesh-colored, or figure-hugging clothing.Chinese users can easily purchase erotic games on the platform with Alipay and WeChat Pay, the top two payment tools in China.For instance, during a scene where players clean her ears, a catgirl by the name “Chocola” says: “Deeper!Last month, the National Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications (NOAPIP) started an eight-month cleanup campaign to further intensify the crackdown on pornography.
Chinese internet giant Tencent launched a new education brand “Tencent Education,” Dowson Tong, senior executive vice president, announced at the Tencent Global Digital Ecosystem Summit in Kunming Wednesday.The company’s latest push in the education sector comes as its other businesses face new challenges in China.On the same day, Tencent also announced the launch of a new smart education lab, which is its first artificial intelligence (AI) lab focusing on a specific industry vertical.Tencent formed its new education business segment after reorganizing its products to fall under its six core business groups.In September, the company underwent its first major restructuring in six years, during which the company established two new business groups, one of which focuses on cloud and smart industries that aim to help the digitalization of industries including education.The internet giant has been exploring AI for use in education, including deploying AI tools in WeChat for schools.
Does data science require coding?Michal Polanowski, data science team lead for financial services at Gojek, answers some questions about data science from the internet.
Gurugram-based Spinny, an online used cars platform, said it has raised US$13.2 million in a series A funding round to cover more locations and improve inventory.US-based Accel and venture capital firm SAIF Partners led the investment, along with existing investors Blume Ventures and Simile Ventures.Other investors in the round included Raghunandan G, a cofounder of shuttered ride-hailing startup TaxiForSure, Haresh Chawla, a partner at private equity firm True North, and venture debt fund Alteria Capital.Founded in 2015, Spinny operates in Delhi, Gurugram, and Noida, and expects to open at least 5 more locations by the end of the year.Mukul Arora, managing director of SAIF Partners, and Anand Daniel, a partner at Accel, will join the company’s board, according to a media statement.
The Indonesian government restricted the use of social media apps WhatsApp and Instagram following a series of deadly riots, CNN Indonesia reports.The temporary disruption of service was reportedly done to prevent the spread of false information through social media outlets.The restrictions, which are scheduled to last for three days, include disabling the transfer of photos and videos through the apps.
QQ 小程序将于6月上线，目前处于灰度测试 – TechNode ChineseWhat happened: At a Tencent conference on Wednesday, QQ product manager Zhang Hao announced that the company’s longstanding social app is currently testing out its mini-program ecosystem, with plans to fully launch in June on iOS.The approach, first pioneered by WeChat in 2017, allows lightweight applications with a diverse range of functions to be accessed from within one app.The in-app ecosystem will reportedly support easy migration from WeChat mini-programs, making the transition easier for developers.Why it’s important: The move by QQ isn’t unprecedented: in November, Tencent announced it was testing out mini-programs for Android, called “Light Applications” (QQ轻应用).Still, the latest move promises to bring WeChat and QQ even closer than before by offering extra functionality to the older platform.