Digital information technology is increasingly becoming entrenched into the fabric of our society, and it will not be long before we all permanently connect via the Internet. As the extensive digitisation of society is set to radically change practically all aspects of our lives, QUANTech (#QTech) aims at helping you stay in the know about the rapidly changing landscape of both organisations and society alike in the digital age.
Reading time: 5-6 minutes
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: China, Zuckerberg and mobility
In April’s QUANTech 10, I did highlight an in-depth analysis from The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) about « how venture-capital investment from Asia is skyrocketing, threatening to shift power over innovation. » We’ve learned this week that China has surpassed North America in attracting venture capital funding for the very first time. This milestone echos the growing role China is playing in technology. Along with the story, I also came across an article titled « The China that can be understood is not the real China », which relates the experience from an expat who has been living in China for over 10 years. A piece worth reading.
Also this week, we have learned that Mark Zuckerberg has overtaken Warren Buffet in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index to become the third richest person in the world. It is the first time that the three wealthiest people of the ranking, namely industry luminaries Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), made their fortunes from technology, solidifying the sector as the most robust creator of wealth.
As for mobility, we have heard that Intel and Baidu, two of the biggest names in autonomous driving, are teaming up for technology sharing. China’s Baidu also made the headlines as we learned that the company’s first 100 level 4 self-driving buses rolled off the production lines to be put into use in cities including Beijing, Xiongan, Shenzhen and Tokyo.
Still on the Chinese side, « Daimler will soon take its Mercedes-Benz self-driving cars to the public streets of Beijing, » which makes it the first non-Chinese company to earn a permit there.
Last week’s QUANTech focus was all about the following question: Is the future of car transportation about access rather than ownership? Part of how brands can develop themselves, Volvo offered us a good example this week by announcing M, a new brand which aims at rethinking mobility « by providing dependable, on-demand access to cars and services through an intuitive app. »
IN SHORT (reading time)
• Facebook confirms that it’s acquiring Bloomsbury AI. (5-6m)
• These academics spent the last year testing whether your phone is secretly listening to you. (8-10m)
• [Video] Vision-free MIT Cheetah robot in action. (2:48m)
• Search engine Qwant changes design (use DeepL for translation). (7-9m)
IN CONTEXT: WeChat
We have learned that WeChat is now host to 1 million mini-programs. But what is WeChat exactly? WeChat, which has one billion users globally, is almost the Internet in China. It offers a social network like Facebook with personal publications and corporate pages as well as an advanced messaging system as we know it with Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. Email is replaced by messaging. The website by the company page. But that is not all. WeChat also allows you to search for content, make payments with WeChat Pay and, with the unfailing support of the government, WeChat ID is designed to verify the identity of the citizen. Imagine Facebook as your identity card.
The close collaboration with the Chinese government makes it possible to integrate WeChat into the daily lives of Chinese citizens. To keep users into the WeChat ecosystem, the mobile app offers mini-programs, which are comparable to integrated apps within the platform.
Behind WeChat, we find parent company Tencent, which by the way has just signed an agreement with Nokia to accelerate 5G webscale research this week, one of China’s biggest companies. Tencent’s Wikipedia page shows how impactful Tencent is.
The tech conglomerate became the first Chinese company to join the ranks of the five most valuable companies in the world when it surpassed Facebook in terms of market capitalization last November. It was also the first Chinese company to be worth more than $500 billion.