There has been a lot of pressure lately to curb the powers of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.
Now the US tech giants are facing the threat of an EU attempt to break them up after France and the Netherlands jointly issued a call for the bloc’s competition authorities to take pre-emptive measures as they prepare sweeping legislation to curb the companies’ market power.
Cedric O, France’s digital minister, and Mona Keijzer, the Netherlands state secretary for digital affairs, have signed a position paper calling on regulators in Brussels to take swift action against emerging tech giants and existing “gatekeeper” platforms — including options to break them up.
The latest move came after Silicon Valley’s tech giants found out this week that they now risk being placed on a European “hit list” as part of an effort by regulators to curb their market power.
In his column, FT’s Miles Johnson writes that the EU will have to grow more comfortable with bigness in tech if it wants to cultivate homegrown groups that can compete with tech giants in the US and China.
Meanwhile, within Big Tech, Bloomberg reports that Facebook has taken steps to reduce the distribution of a story from the New York Post about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden so the social media platform can fact check its claims. Twitter also said it was blocking the article.
The Internet of (Five) Things
1. Stripe moves into Africa
Stripe, the online payments provider that is one of Silicon Valley’s most valuable private companies, is expanding into Africa for the first time with the acquisition of Lagos-based payments company Paystack. The five-year-old start-up has been at the vanguard of a group of companies that have made Lagos the hottest fintech ecosystem in Africa.
2. TSMC ups 2020 guidance
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) raised its full-year revenue forecast for a second time after the world’s largest contract chipmaker enjoyed a record quarter as Covid-19 boosted demand. The group controls more than half of the world’s market for made-to-order chips and is closely watched as a bellwether for global electronics demand.
3. Telecoms turn to Apple for 5G ‘tipping point’
Apple gave 5G top billing in Tuesday’s iPhone 12 launch, marking a stronger push for networking technology by the Silicon Valley company than in any previous transition in mobile infrastructure. FT reporters have done an analysis on how telecoms companies are pinning their hopes on Apple and its new iPhone 12 to kickstart the long-promised shift to 5G, after slow adoption of the new networks among consumers.
4. Ligado tests limits of bond markets
Wireless communication company Ligado Networks is preparing to pay a whopping 17.5 per cent interest rate in the US bond market this week, the most any company has shelled out to investors since coronavirus struck and the highest rate on any US corporate bond since 2011.
5. Local news is drowning in ‘pink slime’
FT reporters look into the proliferation of local news outlets in recent years, particularly in the run-up to the US presidential election. Despite presenting themselves as apolitical, many are what researchers have dubbed “pink slime”: outlets that push low-quality, partisan material through their own sites and social media pages.
Forwarded from Sifted — the European start-up week
As the second wave of coronavirus hits, we are just starting to get data on the impact of the first wave on European start-ups. It’s not great. New figures this week showed that so far this year there has been a 12 per cent decline in Venture Capital investment compared with 2019, with some badly hit cities such as Madrid seeing as much as a 70 per cent drop. At the same time in the UK, new data shows that the number of start-ups filing for administration was at the highest level for 10 years in September. More than 1,000 businesses have filed for administration, liquidation or dissolution since lockdown began in the UK in March.
In other start-up news, London-based fintech Revolut has moved one step closer to finally getting a UK banking licence, nominating ex-Standard Chartered chief Richard Holmes to oversee its UK application, sources close to the company told Sifted. Holmes is expected to become chairman of Revolut’s UK entity, subject to regulatory approval. A Revolut spokesperson declined to comment on the nomination but confirmed Holmes was now acting as an adviser to the company.
Finally, French start-up Welcome to the Jungle has come to the conclusion that all its employees should work four days a week for full pay, sparking a debate in France; Balderton, one of Europe’s most active venture capital firms, is raising money for a new growth fund to plug a financing gap in the European market; and 83-year-old Han van Doorn is not letting age get in the way of him building a tech start-up.
Tech tools — The Fujifilm X-S10
For camera fans out there, Fujifilm has unveiled a new mirrorless digital camera called the X-S10. In his review, Gizmodo’s Sam Rutherford writes that the new camera is a fun, beginner-friendly take on the Japanese group’s X-T4 with its lighter and more compact body. He concludes that the X-S10 is “a great choice” for travel or a beginner who does not want to carry around a big and heavy full-frame camera.