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Tuesday, September 22, 2020
The logo of Swedish payment provider Klarna is shown on the display of a smartphone on April 22, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. Thomas Trutschel | Photothek | Getty Images Klarna is now officially Europe's highest valued private fintech company. The Swedish online payments firm says it has raised $650 million in an equity funding round, valuing the company at $10.6 billion. The round was led by Silver Lake Partners, alongside GIC, Singapore's sovereign wealth fund, as well as BlackRock and HMI Capital. "Klarna is one of the most disruptive and promising fintech companies in the world, redefining the ecommerce experience for millions of consumers and global retailers, just as ecommerce growth is accelerating worldwide and rapidly shifting to mobile," said Jonathan Durham, managing director of Silver Lake Partners. A regulated bank, Klarna is mostly known for its "buy now, pay later" model that offers shoppers interest-free financing on retail purchases over a period of installments. Klarna pays a merchant once a customer buys something using its platform, while users are later invoiced over a number of installments. Its regional competitors include British banking app Revolut and payments software maker Checkout.com. Revolut, Klarna and Checkout had all been valued at $5.5 billion,
Visitors play video games at the Xbox stand during 2020 China International Cartoon and Game Expo (CCG Expo) at Shanghai World Expo Exhibition and Convention Center on July 16, 2020 in Shanghai, China. Zhou You | Visual China Group | Getty Images A wave of major companies are suddenly letting people finance everything from video game consoles to hair products in smaller, monthly payments.  These so-called installment loans have been around for decades, and historically used for big-ticket purchases such as furniture. But online payment players and fintechs are rushing to launch their own version of a "pay later" product for online items in the hundreds of dollars. "There's no question this is on the rise," said JMP Securities analyst David Scharf. "The application of pay later in a digital environment has definitely gained traction." This week, Microsoft announced it would let consumers finance the new $499 XBox in monthly payments, through a partnership with Citizens Bank in the U.S., and fintech company Klarna in the U.K. PayPal announced an installment product last week, and Mastercard and Fiserv both announced new partnerships to expand installment options in recent days. American Express, Citi and J.P.
Oculus Quest 2 Facebook Facebook on Wednesday announced the Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headset. It's a successor to last year's Quest and, like that version, doesn't require a computer to run. Everything you need to use VR is bundled inside. This is the strategy Facebook is taking moving forward. It's ditching the Oculus Rift headset, which required a PC to operate. You can still run advanced PC virtual reality games designed for the Rift on the Quest 2 using an Oculus Link USB-C cable. Oculus Link was in beta on the original Oculus Quest, but now it's an official feature. This is Facebook's long-term vision: a headset you can use anywhere you want, but that you can still link to a PC to render games that require more powerful hardware. Oculus Quest 2 Facebook The Oculus Quest has been popular during the coronavirus pandemic, as people look for more entertainment options at home. Facebook and its retail partners have had a hard time keeping them in stock. Facebook told CNBC that it's boosting production of the Oculus Quest 2 in order to meet demand.
The Twitter App loads on an iPhone in this illustration photograph taken in Los Angeles, California. Mike Blake | Reuters LONDON – Twitter says it's investigating why its picture-cropping algorithm sometimes prefers White faces to Black ones. The investigation comes after Twitter users noticed Black faces were less likely to be shown than White ones in image previews on mobile when the image contains a Black face and a White face. The micro-blogging platform said it didn't find any evidence of racial and gender bias when it tested the algorithm but conceded it had more analysis to do. Parag Agrawal, Twitter's chief technology officer, said Twitter analyzed the model when it shipped it, but said that it needs continuous improvement. "Love this public, open, and rigorous test — and eager to learn from this," he said on the platform. The issue came to light after Colin Madland, a university manager in Vancouver, noticed that his Black colleague's head kept disappearing when using the video conferencing app Zoom. It appeared as though Zoom's software thought the Black man's head was part of the background and removed it as a result. Zoom did not immediately
Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai gestures during a session at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos. Fabrice Coffrini | AFP | Getty Images Alphabet's Google aims to power its data centers and offices 24-7 using solely carbon-free electricity by 2030, its chief executive told Reuters, building on its previous goal of matching its energy use with 100% renewable energy. The "stretch goal," as CEO Sundar Pichai described it, will force Google to move beyond the tech industry norm of offsetting carbon emissions from electricity use and require technological and political breakthroughs to achieve. "The problem is so immense, many of us need to lead the way and show solutions," Pichai said. "We're one small player in this but we can set an example." Wildfires burning a record area in the western United States this month have increased public awareness of climate change, Pichai said, and Google wants to bring further attention through its new goal as well as product features. Wind, solar and other renewable sources accounted for 61% of Google's global hourly electricity usage last year. The proportion varied by facility, with carbon-free sources fulfilling 96% of hourly power needs at
Robin Li, chief executive officer of Baidu. Nelson Ching | Bloomberg | Getty Images GUANGZHOU, China — Chinese internet search giant Baidu is in discussions with investors to raise up to $2 billion over three years for a new biotech company, CNBC has confirmed. The company would be a standalone entity rather than a subsidiary of Baidu, said a person close to the matter. The individual was not authorized to speak publicly about the project.  A number of investors are interested in joining the funding, the person said, adding that they could not disclose more details as talks are still in the early stage. Reuters first reported the news.  Baidu declined to comment when contacted by CNBC.  The biotech company would focus on using artificial intelligence (AI) and computing to create new drugs and and make early-stage diagnoses of diseases such as cancer, the person said. Powerful algorithms can be used to scan medical images or help develop drugs faster than humans can.  Baidu's move comes as China's technology companies try to boost their presence in healthcare, a move accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic.  Alibaba, Tencent-backed WeDoctor and Huawei have gone
TikTok logos are seen on smartphones in front of a displayed ByteDance logo in this illustration taken November 27, 2019. Dado Ruvic | Reuters ByteDance is speaking with the U.S. government about possible solutions that may allow it to retain some ownership of the U.S. operations of TikTok, while satisfying regulators in both China and the U.S. Those possibilities include handing over operational control of TikTok data to a U.S. tech company, while potentially still holding on to some ownership of assets, a person familiar with the process told CNBC. The Wall Street Journal previously reported Wednesday that ByteDance was working with the U.S. government on ways to avoid a full sale.  The discussions have been taking place for months, the Journal reported, and the situation remains remains fluid. It's still unclear if the Trump administration will be willing to go along with such a solution. The White House previously set a deadline of Sept. 20 for the Chinese-owned company to announce a plan to sell TikTok's U.S. operations to a U.S. corporation, or face a shutdown in the United States by Sept. 29. Any such deal would have to be completed
A worker assembles a box for delivery at the Amazon fulfillment center in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., April 30, 2019. Clodagh Kilcoyne | Reuters The U.S. Department of Justice on Friday accused six individuals of participating in a scheme to bribe Amazon employees and contractors to gain "an unfair advantage" on the company's online marketplace. Federal prosecutors allege that, since at least 2017, the individuals used bribery and fraud to benefit third-party merchants selling goods on Amazon's marketplace. In some cases, individuals worked with Amazon employees to reinstate suspended products that had been flagged as unsafe, according to the indictment. The indictment describes a complex, coordinated effort by outside consultants to allegedly bribe Amazon employees for valuable data on third-party sellers' competitors, as well as privileged access to information about Amazon's internal algorithms and benefits violating Amazon's own rules, like selling products in restricted categories.  The individuals allegedly served as consultants for third-party sellers who sold a range of goods including household items, consumer electronics and dietary supplements. Several of the individuals not only served as consultants, but also sold products as third-party sellers on Amazon.   As a result of the alleged conspiracy, the
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks on upon his arrival before a meeting at Necessidades Palace in Lisbon on June 24, 2017. Patricia De Melo Moreira | AFP | Getty Images Chinese state media slammed India's ban of more than 100 Chinese apps, calling it a move to build nationalist sentiment and decouple economically from China. On Tuesday, India's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology released a list of 118 apps that would be banned in the country, including major gaming titles from Tencent and NetEase and services from Baidu and Alibaba affiliate Ant Group.  The Indian government cited national security concerns as a reason behind the ban. India's move comes against the backdrop of rising geopolitical tensions with China over the disputed Himalayan mountain border in the region of Ladakh. Tensions have flared up again after a fatal clash between the two nations left 20 Indian soldiers dead in June. China's state media has criticized India's actions.  Global Times, a tabloid under the People's Daily, which is the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China, said India's app ban shows a "reckless intention to further decouple" with the world's second-largest economy economically.  "The move is a double-edged sword which
Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan responds to a question during a 2014 news conference at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C. Jeff Siner | Charlotte Observer | Tribune News Service via Getty Images This is a developing story. Check back for updates. Shares of DraftKings jumped 13% in premarket trading after the company said Michael Jordan is joining the betting company as a special advisor to the board of directors.  Jordan, a member of the National Basketball Association Hall of Fame, will have an equity interest in the company as part of the deal. He is the current chairman and owner of the Charlotte Hornets franchise. "Michael Jordan is among the most important figures in sports and culture, who forever redefined the modern athlete and entrepreneur," DraftKings CEO Jason Robins said in a press release. "The strategic counsel and business acumen Michael brings to our board is invaluable, and I am excited to have him join our team." Jordan is expected to offer DraftKings his expertise on sports company strategy, product development, diversity, equity and belonging, marketing activities and other key initiatives, according to the release. The assist from the six-time NBA
Jeff Lawson, co-founder and chief executive officer of Twilio Inc., center, rings the opening bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, Sept.17, 2018. Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images When he unveiled a new cloud computing index in 2013, Byron Deeter of Bessemer Venture Partners noted that the industry had just hit a major milestone, topping $100 billion in combined market cap.  Seven years later, that number looks trivial. Three companies in the group — Adobe, Salesforce and PayPal — are each worth more than $200 billion. Zoom is worth over $120 billion just 16 months after its IPO. The BVP Nasdaq Emerging Cloud Index, which includes more than 50 publicly traded cloud software vendors, is valued at over $1.7 trillion.  The cloud trend is well into its second decade now, but the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has ramped it up dramatically, turning popular tools into fundamental technologies. With offices forced to shut down across the globe and employees dispersed and working from home, a host of products designed for remote communication, collaboration, productivity and data storage have become critical to keeping businesses functioning.   The BVP Nasdaq Emerging Cloud Index is
A pig with a Neuralink implant. Screengrab of live demo Elon Musk's brain-machine interface company, Neuralink, conducted a live demo of its technology on Friday, showing a coin-sized device without wires. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO brought along three pigs, who had varying levels of interest in cooperating. Eventually, the audience was shown real-time neural signals from one of the pigs, which Musk named Gertrude. According to Musk, Gertrude has had the implant for about two months.  The start-up, which launched in 2016 and is funded primarily by Musk, said it is designing tiny flexible 'threads' that are 10 times thinner than a human hair with the goal of treating brain injuries and trauma, along with someday enabling symbiosis between humans and artificial intelligence. The design has been tested on at least 19 different animals with robots with around an 87% success rate, according to the venture's presentation last year.  Musk described it on Friday as "like a Fitbit in your skull." Musk described the surgery to insert a Neuralink device as taking less than an hour. Neuralink demo This was one the company's first demonstrations