Category Archives: Cloud Computing

Rare Japanese unicorn Mercari closes up 77 percent in market debut

TOKYO (Reuters) – Flea market app operator Mercari Inc’s shares surged 77 percent in their Tokyo stock market debut on Tuesday, underscoring strong investor appetite for a rare Japanese unicorn bent on U.S. expansion.

FILE PHOTO: Novelty goods are displayed at Mercari’s Tokyo headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, June 15, 2018. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Shares rose as high as 6,000 yen in early afternoon trade, hitting their daily limit high and valuing the company at as much as $7.4 billion. The listing makes Mercari the most valuable firm on the Tokyo bourse’s Mothers market for startups, ahead of games and social network company Mixi Inc and robotics firm Cyberdyne Inc.

A popular smartphone app that allows people to trade used items online, Mercari has been downloaded 71 million times in Japan where it has 10.5 million active users. It makes money by charging sellers commission, and expects sales to jump 62 percent to 35.8 billion yen ($325.93 million) this financial year.

Mercari shares already look expensive, said Masayuki Otani, chief market analyst at Securities Japan. While the app is well known in Japan and still growing, it is likely to face more competition at home, he said, with companies such as Rakuten Inc and Start Today Co Ltd offering used-goods services.

Mercari shares opened at 5,000 yen versus their initial public offering price of 3,000 yen. They closed up at 5,300 yen, compared with a 1.8 percent decline in the benchmark Nikkei 225 index.

The IPO, the biggest in Japan this year, raised $1.2 billion through the sale of around a third of Mercari’s shares, with the majority bought by overseas investors.

The company is profitable at home but is losing money in the United States, where its expansion plans are being headed by former Facebook Inc executive John Lagerling.

Its U.S. expansion dragged it to a net loss of 4.2 billion yen in the last financial year through June 2017, with a further loss of 3.4 billion in the nine months to March as the company committed funds to improving its brand recognition through advertising.

“We can’t be successful globally without success in the U.S.,” Chief Executive and founder Shintaro Yamada told Reuters in April.

In a country that has many successful giant corporations but lacks a vibrant startup culture, Mercari gained attention as one of Japan’s two unicorns – startups with valuations above $1 billion – according to data provider CB Insights. The other is information technology startup Preferred Networks Inc.

Mercari’s growing popularity as Japanese shoppers shed their inhibitions about buying and selling used goods has seen it join the ranks of companies such as Uniqlo parent Fast Retailing Co Ltd that have grown by appealing to consumers’ economizing instincts.

The app has outperformed rivals with its focus on mobile, its ease of use – with users able to trade goods with just a few taps – and by offering anonymity to its privacy conscious Japanese audience.

Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Christopher Cushing

Arc System Works Is Publishing A New 'Kill La Kill' Game

, I cover gaming in Japan as well the pop-culture here. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Credit: Trigger

The anime series ‘Kill la Kill’ is getting a new game.

With the recent countdown of a new collaboration between Arc System Works and Studio Trigger, the result of that will be a game for the 2013 anime series Kill la Kill.

Based on the quest of Ryuko Matoi (shown above) to find her father’s killer, she wields the Scissor Blade that can cut the mysterious Life Fibers. The series itself is surprisingly involved and while rather slapstick at times, the series does have an interesting narrative.

Of all the recent Studio Trigger anime, Kill la Kill is probably the best fit for an Arc Systems Works fighting game.

This is because the combat in the anime is obviously highly ostentatious but it is mostly based on close combat type attacks, which is ideal for a fighting game.

Considering how gorgeous Dragon Ball FighterZ turned out, I am fully expecting to this Kill la Kill game to be excellent.

However, it’s worth realizing that this new Kill la Kill game will be in fact developed by A+ Games, rather than internally at Arc System Works.

To be fair though A+ Games has a long history of working with Arc System Works and producing solid games.

Currently, release date and platforms are unannounced but it looks like this Kill la Kill game will surface sometime next year. In the meantime, the game has an official site and a teaser trailer (shown below).

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. I also manage Mecha Damashii and do toy reviews over at hobbylink.tv.

Read my Forbes blog here.

This Is the Age You're Most Likely to Succeed as a Startup Founder (Hint: It's Not 21)

It’s become a cliché to think about the concept of a twenty-something tech mogul showing up to meetings with investors in a bathrobe and slippers.  We’ve all heard the stories of incredibly gifted individuals who run the hottest new mobile app. d

However, my take on this matter is that this concept of the “young entrepreneur” gets over-sensationalized and can be discouraging to many entrepreneurs.

Older entrepreneurs can feel intimidated to start a new business, with what seems like a sea of young people dominating the space. And it’s equally damaging to the younger crowd, who might assume that it is simple to start a business, and that it will inevitably lead to fame, fortune, and an easy life.

In reality, entrepreneurship can be both difficult and highly rewarding — for any age. 

So just how old are most entrepreneurs?

According to an article published by MIT, research from the Census Bureau reports that most founders are in their early forties — between 42 and 45, to be exact.

This shouldn’t be surprising. It actually points to two key components of successful entrepreneurship: experience and expertise.  

Experience is a predictor of a successful founder.

There’s no denying that experience has its perks. Ask any fresh college grad the number one thing holding them back from their dream job, aside from debt, and it’s probably a lack of experience.

Experience gives you a nuanced perspective on your industry, on customer relationships and expectations, and how to manage people. What experience lacks in youthful fervor, it makes up in wisdom. This isn’t to say that young people aren’t wise, but experience gives you more reference points to have at your disposal.

Expertise often — but not always — comes with experience.

Generally speaking, mastery takes decades of hard work, which is why so many entrepreneurs have successful careers as employees before they venture into business for themselves.

That said, the occasional young prodigy is able to break the mold and create something completely innovative that changes the market forever.  While people like Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs are rare, many young people have new perspectives on ways to make things work easier, or improve them.

My thoughts

In my experience, I know firsthand how ambitious I was when I was younger.  I wanted to take the world by storm and thought that I could conquer any obstacle.

What I didn’t realize is that we don’t know what we don’t know. This is why young people aren’t always best suited to become entrepreneurs.  

However, it is true that the younger generation does things differently–it’s always the case in any society. Combine creative ideas with specific skill sets like coding, or programming, and young people can be ready to change the world.  

I also feel that it is important for entrepreneurs to remember that our society loves to hype up the massively successful people, and play up their youth. While this makes a great headline and attracts readers, it isn’t realistic. These people are outliers.  

Most successful entrepreneurs have some gray hairs. Combining a high level of expertise with relevant work experience is the perfect formula for determining readiness for entrepreneurship — not age.

Chinese ride-sharing giant Didi picks Australia for first Western foray

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Didi Chuxing Technology Co Ltd, the Chinese ride-sharing company which bought the mainland operations of Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL], said it will begin offering its service this month in Australia, its first foray in a Western country.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing is seen at their new drivers center in Toluca, Mexico, April 23, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

The scheduled June 25 launch in Australia’s second biggest city Melbourne sets Didi up for a showdown with the U.S. rival it bought out in China in exchange for a stake. Didi started expanding outside Asia in Mexico earlier this year, and has said globalisation is a core strategy.

Didi’s announcement on Friday about the launch shows business deals between China and Australia are being struck as normal even as relations between the two governments have hit a speedbump after the Federal Government proposed anti-foreign interference laws directed at Beijing.

Australian exporters have blamed anti-Beijing rhetoric for delays clearing product through Chinese Customs.

But just a day earlier, Australia’s Sirtex Medical picked a $1.4 billion Chinese takeover offer that trumped U.S. company Varian Medical Systems.

“Australia has diversified mobility needs, a business-friendly environment and an inclusive culture,” Didi, which is backed by bluechip investors including SoftBank Group Corp and Apple Inc, said in a statement.

“Didi wishes to contribute to the growth of Australia as a long-term investor and business partner by offering affordable, reliable and convenient mobility options and income-generating opportunities,” it added.

Melbourne, a city of 4.5 million people with cheaper real estate than larger Sydney, is a popular Australian entry point for companies in the so-called “sharing economy”. Uber has routinely launched new offerings in the city, while several Chinese and Singapore-owned dockless bicycle rental companies have picked Melbourne to start in Australia.

“We welcome competition because it keeps us focused on delivering the very best product and customer experience for riders, driver partners and Uber Eats customers and partners,” an Uber spokeswoman said in an email.

Didi did not give any investment details or a timeline for expanding its Australian operation outside Melbourne and was not immediately available for comment.

Its statement said it would “shape product offerings and user experience in Australia based on the feedback from drivers and passengers in Melbourne and Geelong”, a satellite city 75 kilometres (46 miles) away.

The Chinese company started recruiting drivers in Melbourne in early June “to warm responses”, it added.

Didi cemented its spot as China’s biggest ride-hailing company when it bought Uber’s operations in the country in 2016.

Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

Qualcomm-NXP deal still waiting for China nod: sources

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China is yet to approve U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm Inc’s (QCOM.O) proposed $44 billion acquisition of NXP Semiconductors (NXPI.O), three people close to the talks said, dismissing an earlier media report that said Beijing had already greenlit the deal.

FILE PHOTO: A sign on the Qualcomm campus is seen in San Diego, California, U.S. November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

Chinese clearance would remove a long-running roadblock to the deal that has become entangled with broader trade tensions between the United States and China. The acquisition has already got a nod from eight of the nine required global regulators, with China being the only hold-out.

Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported on Friday morning that China had given its go-ahead to the deal, citing people with knowledge of the matter, driving up shares of the U.S. firm in extended trade.

FILE PHOTO: A man works on a tent for NXP Semiconductors in preparation for the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. January 4, 2015. REUTERS/Steve Marcus/File Photo

But Reuters sources, who are close to the Qualcomm-NXP deal, said they were not aware of any Chinese approval. One of them said planned U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods expected to be unveiled later in the day could impact the process.

Qualcomm did not have an immediate comment on Friday, while NXP did not respond to a request for comment.

China’s State Administration for Market Regulation, the regulator which reviews merger deals, did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.

Qualcomm met with regulators in Beijing last month in a bid to secure a clearance, but sources at the time said an approval would depend on the progress of broader bilateral talks and the U.S. government lifting a crippling supplier ban on telecoms equipment maker ZTE Corp (000063.SZ)(0763.HK).

Washington and Beijing have struck a deal to help ZTE back into business. However, trade talks remain in the balance with U.S. President Donald Trump expected to unveil “pretty significant” tariffs on Chinese goods on Friday.

Analysts said a Chinese approval would be significant as it would remove the last major barrier to the NXP deal, which is seen as key for Qualcomm to diversify its business and make a push into new areas like smart cars.

Qualcomm initially announced its bid for Dutch semiconductor company NXP in October 2016.

Reporting by Michael Martina and Matthew Miller in BEIJING, Adam Jourdan in SHANGHAI and Nikhil Subba in BENGALURU; Editing by James Dalgleish, Grant McCool and Himani Sarkar

Embattled ZTE proposes $10.7 billion credit proposal, new board

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE Corp (0763.HK)(000063.SZ) has proposed a $10.7 billion financing plan and nominated eight board members in a drastic management overhaul, as it seeks to rebuild a business crippled by a U.S. supplier ban.

The logo of China’s ZTE Corp is seen on the building of ZTE Beijing research and development center in Beijing, China June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee

The news, announced late on Wednesday, indicates China’s No.2 telecom equipment maker is working towards meeting the conditions laid out by the United States so it could resume business with American suppliers, who provide about 25-30 percent of the components used in ZTE’s equipment.

Investors cheered the development, driving up ZTE’s Hong Kong-listed shares as much as 3.7 percent on Thursday morning, outperforming the Hang Seng Index .HSI that dipped slightly.

A day earlier, its shares plunged a record 41 percent in Hong Kong and 10 percent in Shenzhen, wiping out almost $3 billion off embattled ZTE’s market value, as it resumed trading after being suspended for almost two-months due to the U.S. ban.

The United States imposed the seven-year supplier ban on ZTE in April after it broke an agreement to discipline executives who conspired to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran and North Korea.

ZTE last week agreed to pay a $1 billion fine to the U.S. government. The ban will, however, not be lifted until ZTE places another $400 million in an escrow account in a U.S.-approved bank for 10 years.

ZTE was also ordered to radically overhaul its management and hire a U.S.-appointed special compliance coordinator.

BOARD OVERHAUL

As part of the agreement, ZTE needs to replace its 14-person board and fire all members of its leadership at or above the senior vice president level, along with any executives or officers tied to the wrongdoing. The U.S. commerce department can exercise discretion in granting exceptions.

In filings late on Wednesday, ZTE said its controlling shareholder, ZTE Holdings, had nominated 8 new board members.

This includes 5 non-independent directors – Li Zixue, Li Buqing, Gu Junying, Zhu Weimin, and Fang Rong – all from state-linked firms that are shareholders or investors of ZTE Holdings, which has a 30.34 percent stake in ZTE.

Cai Manli, Yuming Bao and Gordon Ng have been nominated as independent non-executive directors.

Voting on this will take place at an AGM on June 29.

ZTE also proposed to amend a company statute at the AGM to remove a clause that required the chairman to be elected from directors or members of the senior officers of the company who have served for three years or more.

In addition, ZTE proposed to allow the board to apply for a $10.7 billion credit line, including a 30 billion yuan ($4.69 billion) from Bank of China (601988.SS) and $6 billion from China Development Bank.

ZTE’s Shenzhen-listed shares dropped by the maximum daily permitted limit of 10 percent on mainland exchanges for a second day on Thursday.

Reporting by Sijia Jiang; Editing by Himani Sarkar

Are Flags Just a Piece of Cloth, or Are They a Powerful Symbol of Something Greater?

This week is Flag Day, June 14. To Americans, the US Flag is an evocative image. It’s a symbol of our freedom, and of what others have sacrificed to ensure it. It can also be a symbol of protest. The US Supreme Court famously confirmed the right to burn the flag as an act of free speech, and nearly no one has missed the recent debate over standing versus kneeling during the national anthem at sporting events.

Non-national flags are powerful symbols, too. They represent ideals, movements, and aspirations. Even national flags can come to represent controversial issues, as the recent kneeling controversy in football reminded everyone.

No one can deny that flags are powerful symbols. Here are quotes that reflect on the power of flags to rouse passions, one way or another:

1. “The stars and stripes were fluttering bright against the rain, clear blue overhead, and their minds were saying the words before their ears heard them.” ― Laura Ingalls Wilder

2. “I see Americans of every party, every background, every faith who believe that we are stronger together: black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American; young, old; gay, straight; men, women, folks with disabilities, all pledging allegiance under the same proud flag to this big, bold country that we love.” ― President Barack Obama

3. “I believe our flag is more than just cloth and ink. It is a universally recognized symbol that stands for liberty, and freedom. It is the history of our nation, and it’s marked by the blood of those who died defending it.” ― Senator John Thune

4. “A true flag is not something you can really design. A true flag is torn from the soul of the people. A flag is something that everyone owns, and that’s why they work. The Rainbow Flag is like other flags in that sense: it belongs to the people.” ― Gilbert Baker

5. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” ― Colin Kaepernick

6. “Every red stripe in that flag represents the black man’s blood that has been shed.” ― Fannie Lou Hamer

7. “I long to be in the Field again, doing my part to keep the old flag up, with all its stars.” ― Joshua Chamberlain

8. “I prefer a man who will burn the flag and then wrap himself in the Constitution to a man who will burn the Constitution and then wrap himself in the flag.” ― Craig Washington

9. “The American flag represents all of us and all the values we hold sacred.” ― Adrian Cronauer

10. “Standing as I do, with my hand upon this staff, and under the folds of the American flag, I ask you to stand by me so long as I stand by it.” ― President Abraham Lincoln

11. “I don’t judge others. I say if you feel good with what you’re doing, let your freak flag fly.” ― Sarah Jessica Parker

12. “There is a strong tendency in the United States to rally round the flag and their troops, no matter how mistaken the war.” ― George McGovern

13. “America has been the country of my fond election from the age of thirteen, when I first saw it. I had the honour to hoist with my own hands the flag of freedom, the first time it was displayed, on the Delaware; and I have attended it with veneration ever since on the ocean.” ― John Paul Jones

14. “I just bought a Jeep painted like an American flag. No one better question how patriotic I am.” ― Blake Anderson

15. “When I see the Confederate flag, I see the attempt to raise an empire in slavery. It really, really is that simple. I don’t understand how anybody with any sort of education on the Civil War can see anything else.” ― Ta-Nehisi Coates

16. “I’m proud of the U.S.A. We’ve done some amazing things. To wear our flag in the Olympics is an honor.” ― Shaun White

17. “Burning the flag is a form of expression. Speech doesn’t just mean written words or oral words. It could be semaphore. And burning a flag is a symbol that expresses an idea – I hate the government, the government is unjust, whatever.” ― Antonin Scalia

18. “I can understand if you think that I’m disrespecting the flag by kneeling, but it is because of my utmost respect for the flag and the promise it represents that I have chosen to demonstrate in this way.” ― Megan Rapinoe

19. “If a jerk burns the flag, America is not threatened, democracy is not under siege, freedom is not at risk.” ― Gary Ackerman

20. “I savored my time on top of the podium by watching the American flag rise up out of the crowd as the anthem played, thinking about how every single second of training I’ve done was for this minute and how many people played a role in my achievement.” ― Hannah Kearney

21. “In most countries, you have a monarch or some other principal person to whom its officers and its military swear their allegiance. Our officials in this country and our military swear allegiance to the Constitution. We say that when we say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag”. ― Edwin Meese

22. “For any athlete growing up, the Olympics is the one thing you watch with your family, and it’s the one thing you dream about. Seeing your country’s flag go up as you get a gold medal is the best thing you can achieve.” ― Abby Wambach

23. “I can take the steel guitars and fiddles off, we can make it a little more pop, cover ideas that are a little less cowboy. But you got to look at yourself in the mirror and ask, whose flag you are under? For Garth Brooks, I’m steel, fiddles, red, white and blue.” ― Garth Brooks

24. “If anyone, then, asks me the meaning of our flag, I say to him – it means just what Concord and Lexington meant; what Bunker Hill meant; which was, in short, the rising up of a valiant young people against an old tyranny to establish the most momentous doctrine that the world had ever known – the right of men to their own selves and to their liberties.” ― Henry Ward Beecher

25. “Our flag means all that our fathers meant in the Revolutionary War. It means all that the Declaration of Independence meant. It means justice. It means liberty. It means happiness…. Every color means liberty. Every thread means liberty. Every star and stripe means liberty.” ― Henry Ward Beecher

26. “There is not a thread in it but scorns self-indulgence, weakness and rapacity.” ― Charles Evans Hughes

27. “We identify the flag with almost everything we hold dear on earth, peace, security, liberty, our family, our friends, our home… But when we look at our flag and behold it emblazoned with all our rights we must remember that it is equally a symbol of our duties. Every glory that we associate with it is the result of duty done.” ― Calvin Coolidge

28. “‘Shoot, if you must, this old gray head, But spare your country’s flag,’” she said. ― John Greenleaf Whittier

Deliveroo steps up Just Eat battle, letting restaurants use own riders

LONDON (Reuters) – Deliveroo will allow restaurants to use their own riders for orders placed through its takeaway food app, in a move which will boost the number of available outlets by 50 percent as it intensifies a battle with rival Just Eat.

FILE PHOTO: Deliveroo food delivery bags are seen in Nice, France, June 5, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

All orders currently placed on the platform in Britain are delivered by one of the firm’s 15,000 riders, well-known for their distinctive black and teal jackets and delivery boxes emblazoned with its kangaroo logo.

Just Eat, however, works with restaurants which mainly supply their own drivers in Britain, and in limited cases uses third-party couriers.

Deliveroo hopes the change, which is called Marketplace+ and comes into effect in July, will boost the number of available restaurants from 10,000 to 15,000 by the end of the year with thousands more riders likely to be taken on.

Restaurants will be able to accept orders and assign them to either their own drivers or those on Deliveroo’s platform.

“Traditionally we’ve been unable to work with those restaurants … because they already have their own delivery fleet and so they thought ‘well we don’t really need Deliveroo,’” co-founder and Chief Executive Will Shu told reporters.

“We’re changing the game. We’re enabling these restaurants to tap into our delivery fleet,” he added.

Just Eat said in March it would spend an extra 50 million pounds ($67 million) this year to battle competition from rivals such as Uber Eats and Deliveroo, in a fiercely competitive market which has burgeoned in recent years.

Since making its first delivery in London in 2013, Deliveroo has expanded into 11 other countries with new markets due soon, prompting questions about whether the firm will pursue an initial public offering (IPO) as it continues to grow.

“An IPO – I’m not saying it’s off the cards,” said Shu. “It’s definitely something that we’ll consider but just not now. We’re not in any rush, we’re heads-down on trying to really grow this business,” he said.

Editing by Stephen Addison

Craigslist Founder Donates $20 Million To Endow Journalism Program

Craig Newmark, founder of the online classifieds site Craigslist, donated $20 million to the endowment of the graduate journalism school at the City University of New York (CUNY), which is changing its name to the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY.

The school has focused on ways to instill more trust in journalism, including a program Newmark helped underwrite, the News Integrity Initiative, to which he gave $1.5 million, and which ultimately raised $14 million. The school will continue to pursue that initiative, as well as hire more faculty, and create new programs. The school says Newmark will not be involved in choosing how money is spent. A relatively new school, it can’t yet rely on donations from alumni.

This may seem like an ironic gift for a man who newspaper publishers once railed against as the destroyer of classified ads, a high-margin pillar in broadsheet and tabloid profits. Craigslist, founded in 1995, gained steam as the decade progressed, and a 2013 report in the journal Management Science estimated papers lost $5 billion to Craigslist between 2000 and 2007.

Newmark, however, has nourished an interest dating back a decade in better understanding the future of journalism, partly by funding investigations into that topic, and by underwriting non-profit reporting organizations and academic institutions and publications. In recent years, he has donated millions to investigative news site ProPublica, the Sunlight Foundation, the Columbia Journalism Review, Data & Society Research Institute, and others. In 2015, Newmark founded Craig Newmark Philanthropies, through which these gifts now flow.

His operational involvement with Craigslist has been minimal for many years, though he remains a key shareholder in the privately held firm. Some estimates suggest the site nets hundreds of millions of dollars a year from charging small fees for jobs, apartments, and a few other categories. Forbes lists him as a billionaire, but Newmark hasn’t commented precisely on his wealth.

Though Newmark has no direct history with CUNY, he does with Jeff Jarvis, a professor at and director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the CUNY journalism school, as a key influence in guiding his understanding of the field. The center focuses on researching a viable financial future for journalism and training students in creating sustainable editorial ventures.

Newmark has credited Jarvis, a veteran journalist and editor, and at CUNY since 2005, with providing an education for him as newspapers faltered following the rise of Internet-based advertising and information sources. Jarvis, in a blog post today, knocked the idea to the side that Newmark deserved blame (or credit) for the shift in cost for short ads and its impact on the news business: “Craig didn’t invent the internet. He created the most prominent example of what the internet could do in directly connecting buyers and sellers, reducing inefficiency in a market.”