A compilation of important news from around the world:
Where are tech startups going wrong?
Remember when sale season was well categorized-summer sale, winter sale, end-of-the-season sale and so on. Today, you don’t need to wait for a sale season, for discounts are abound all year round, thanks to the e-commerce companies that jostle to take the biggest bite of the market. But is the market based on revenue or volume? Most companies firmly believe that as long as they have enough scale, they are safe, even if they are losing money on each transaction. The idea is to make up the losses on volumes. But industry experts say that a business cannot defy the basic logic of sales, expenses, profit and loss for too long. This attitude is missing among most of the startups, especially tech startups.
Tech coalition targets financial startups’ regulatory hurdles
A coalition of major technology companies are drawing attention to the regulatory challenges faced by emerging financial services startups ahead of a key congressional hearing. Financial Innovation Now released a report Monday evening detailing how new financial technology (“FinTech”) companies struggle with a patchwork system of state laws and federal laws geared toward traditional institutions. Those regulations don’t account for the unique reach and services FinTech companies provide, says the coalition. The group includes Google, Amazon, Apple, Intuit and PayPal and is run through Franklin Square Group, a lobbying firm that represents a slew of Silicon Valley titans. “Although well intended, the underlying laws, regulations and regulatory interpretations are often slow to adapt to technological change, creating barriers to innovators who wish to bring new products and services to market,” the report reads. The report explains how two theoretical FinTech companies–a lending company and a payments processing company–could struggle to comply with decades of regulations geared toward traditional banks.
Can the Airbnb regulatory nightmare be solved with more tech?
Got an angry mob of local government officials, taxi drivers and hotel operators trying to shut down your business? There’s an app for that. But can solving regulatory nightmares really be that simple? Sharing economy startups like Airbnb and Uber have gone nuclear to defend their business model, suing city governments or shuttering their services entirely when they don’t get their way. Airbnb recently sued the City of San Francisco over legislation that would require Airbnb to boot hosts off its platform if they don’t register with the city. Uber and Lyft haven’t had much more success when flirting with regulators. The two ride-sharing companies flew the coop in Austin after voters affirmed city legislation requiring fingerprint-based background checks and strict rules on drop-off and pick-up locations. These battles between tech companies and local governments have become formulaic: Municipality makes gutsy move, draws national attention for sticking up to industry giant, company refuses to compromise.
Cambridge on the map as Google scouts tech startups
Google is inviting entrepreneurial businesses from Cambridge and other UK tech hotspots to bid for places at its space for startups – Campus London – for an intense and potentially rewarding initiative in August. Google mentors will also be coming to Cambridge later this month to cement its interest in the cluster; more details are promised in due course.Google has already paid big money for two companies based on Cambridge IP both in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) sector – Photonic Arts and DeepMind Technologies. The latter features in the Cambridge Computer Laboratory’s hall of fame and was acquired by Google for $400 million in 2014 and since rebranded as Google DeepMind. Google legend Larry Page is said to have led the negotiations.
Bangkok’s Techsauce Summit ‘Asia’s top tech conference ever’
Online media Techsauce, which focuses on promoting tech start-up stories, aims to spotlight Thailand’s tech start-up ecosystem to the world. It claims its debut Techsauce Summit will be the most-attended regional flagship conference for top leaders in the Asian tech ecosystem. Techsauce Summit takes place in Thailand on July 23 and 24 at the Centara Grand & Bangkok Convention Centre at Central World. Techsauce co-founder Amarit Charoenphan said the Summit would spotlight Thailand’s tech start-up ecosystem; give meaning to Asia and the world through Thailand; and bring the prestige of tech startups to the Kingdom. Organisers are promoting Techsauce Summit as one of the biggest tech conferences in Asia with over 3,000 attendees and 100 exhibitors from across the world.
Tesla crash raises stakes for self-driving vehicle startups
Concerns raised by the first reported fatality in a semi-automated car were expected to speed adoption of more sensitive technology to help vehicles see and drive themselves safely, increasing demand on the emerging autonomous vehicle technology industry, investors and analysts said. Goldman Sachs forecasts the market for advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous vehicles will grow from about US$3 billion last year to US$96 billion in 2025 and US$290 billion in 2035. More than half of that revenue in 20 years, Goldman estimates, will come from radar, cameras and lidar, a sensor that uses laser – all tools considered essential to building vehicles that can pilot themselves. The May 7 death of Ohio technology company owner Joshua Brown in a Tesla Motors Inc Model S while the car’s semi-automated Autopilot system was engaged highlighted the limitations of current automated driving systems. Tesla’s Autopilot system uses cameras and radar, but not lidar. The company said its system would have had trouble distinguishing a white semi-trailer positioned across a road against a bright sky.