Hello Interconnected Readers:
This weekly issue has a little bit of everything: possible US investment into OpenRAN, the monumental Google vs Oracle Supreme Court decision, Kavak the Mexican Unicorn getting bigger, Alibaba’s antitrust fine, Chinese engineers fleeing tech to work in civil service, and Didi’s impending US IPO.
[If you’d like to skip ahead to the six news stories and commentaries from last week – three from English language sources, three from Chinese language sources -- here are this issue’s items:
- “Lawmakers want Biden to fund technology they say could secure American telecommunications companies from spies” (English Source: Washington Post)
- “Google vs Oracle; Supreme Court Decision” (English Source: US Supreme Court)
- “Mexican unicorn Kavak raises a $485M Series D at a $4B valuation” (English Source: TechCrunch)
- “State Administration for Market Regulations imposes penalties on Alibaba Group for its “choose one out of two” monopolistic behavior in the e-commerce platform service market in China” (Chinese Source: Xinhua News Agency)
- “Programmers gave up high salaries in Big Tech, flock to jobs in ‘the system’” (Chinese Source: AI Frontier)
- “Rumor: DiDi chooses Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley are underwriters for US IPO, plans to submit confidential registration document this month; earliest listing time: July” (Chinese Source: iponews)]
Before you read on, please check out last week's deep dive post: "Tech in Mexico: A Confluence of Latin America, the US and Asia"
“Lawmakers want Biden to fund technology they say could secure American telecommunications companies from spies” (English Source: Washington Post)
My Thoughts: US lawmakers from both parties are asking for $3 billion in investment into OpenRAN, the open source 5G standard, to be included in President Biden’s multi-trillion dollar infrastructure plan. I’m happy that open solutions to 5G are now on Congress’s radar. I’m not sure, though, that pouring money into it is the right way to foster OpenRAN in the telecom industry. Surely, more resources always help, but establishing an open standard for wide industry adoption internationally requires more “convening power” than “money power”. The US has that “convening power”, but it does not seem to know how to use it with regard to OpenRAN, or open source technology more broadly.
“Google vs Oracle; Supreme Court Decision” (English Source: US Supreme Court)
My Thoughts: This monumental Supreme Court decision on the “Google vs Oracle” case released last week will fuel technology innovation for decades to come. The 6-2 decision, thankfully, sided with Google and established copying for the purpose of utilizing existing skills as “fair use”, not a copyright infringement. I linked to the full opinion (62-pages long) for those interested in diving deep. As for the tl;dr, here’s the text of the holding:
“Google’s copying of the Java SE API, which included only those lines of code that were needed to allow programmers to put their accrued talents to work in a new and transformative program, was a fair use of that material as a matter of law.”
“Mexican unicorn Kavak raises a $485M Series D at a $4B valuation” (English Source: TechCrunch)
My Thoughts: Kavak, a used car marketplace startup, has just reached any impressive $4 billion valuation with aggressive plans to expand across the LATAM region. As the first Mexican unicorn, I heard about it often during my recent visit to Mexico and mentioned it in my own writing on the ecosystem there as well. I saw a close nexus and tight competition between American, Asian, and homegrown startups in the LATAM region. It’d be interesting to see if Kavak takes learnings from its Asian tech counterparts to fuel its next phase of hypergrowth.
“State Administration for Market Regulations imposes penalties on Alibaba Group for its “choose one out of two” monopolistic behavior in the e-commerce platform service market in China” (Chinese Source: Xinhua News Agency)
My thoughts: The antitrust investigation “shoe” on Alibaba finally dropped, curiously on a Saturday morning in China. I’m linking to the official announcement, even though there are many media outlets covering (and spinning) this news with their own flavor. We will likely do a deeper analysis on this topic later. For now, I’d simply like to put this penalty in context of other Big Tech fines we’ve seen around the world so far. Alibaba was fined at 4% of its 2019 revenue in the Chinese market only, which amounted to about 18.2 billion RMB ($2.8 billion). Google was fined 3 times by the EU; each penalty’s percentage was 2.5% (of 2016 revenue or $2.7 billion), 4.5% (of 2017 revenue or $5 billion), and 1.2% (of 2018 revenue or $1.68 billion). (We are ignoring Facebook’s $5 billion fine by the FTC, because that wasn't antitrust related.) Thus, Alibaba’s fine is on the higher end of the range, but not by much.
“Programmers gave up high salaries in Big Tech, flock to jobs ‘in the system’” (Chinese Source: AI Frontier)
My thoughts: In this newsletter, I try to not just talk about technology, companies, and investments in the abstract, but also bring in some human element to our discussion. This Chinese language article is one of those stories, which interviewed several programmers working in China’s cutthroat internet industry, who are fleeing for more stable jobs as civil servants in various levels of the government (or “in the system”). According to this article, applicants for civil service exam openings have reached a 3-year high. There is also a popular GitHub repo, first of its kind, that shares resources to help programmers do well on civil service exams. With 996 and the culture of “involution” (内卷) pervading the tech industry, is it causing a brain drain in favor of China’s public sector?
“Rumor: DiDi chooses Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley are underwriters for US IPO, plans to submit confidential registration document this month; earliest listing time: July” (Chinese Source: iponews)
My thoughts: DiDi’s US IPO will be highly anticipated when it happens later this year. The company’s footprint is increasingly global; I saw its expansion first hand in Mexico. Its product is evolving into yet another Asian SuperApp with ridesharing, delivery, payment, financial services, and who knows what else. Its tech stack is also improving, with a well-funded self-driving unit supported by Softbank. DiDi doesn't quite get as much attention as some of the other Chinese Big Tech’s in the US; that is bound to change after this IPO.
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- “立法议员们希望拜登资助可以保护美国电信公司免受间谍侵害的技术”（英文来源: 华盛顿邮报）
- “谷歌vs甲骨文；最高法院的判决”（英文来源: 美国最高法院）
- “墨西哥独角兽Kavak以40亿美元估值募集4.85亿美元D轮融资”（英文来源: TechCrunch)
- “市场监管总局依法对阿里巴巴集团控股有限公司在中国境内网络零售平台 服务市场实施“二选一”垄断行为作出行政处罚” (中文来源: 新华网）
- “放弃大厂高薪的程序员，涌进体制内” (中文来源: AI前线）
- “传滴滴选择高盛、摩根士丹利负责赴美IPO，计划本月秘密提交上市文件，最快7月上市” (中文来源: 独角兽早知道）】
我的想法: 美国两党议员联合要求向开源5G标准项目，OpenRAN，投资30亿美元，希望这一投资纳入拜登数万亿美元的基础设施投资计划中。我个人很高兴像OpenRAN这种开放式5G解决方案终于被国会关注了。不过，我不确定“砸钱”是帮助OpenRAN发展的正确方式。资源更多总是好事，但要想建立一个开放的国际标准，让业界广泛采用，需要的更是 "号召力"，而不是钱。美国是有这种 "号召力"的，但似乎并不知道该怎么用，来培养开放5G网络标准或更广的开源技术领域。
我的想法: 美国最高法院上周宣布的对 "谷歌vs甲骨文" 一案的判决具有深远意义，会推动未来数十年的科技创新。结果值得庆幸，6-2的裁决站在了谷歌一边，把利用现有技能为目的去复制代码的使用列为 "合理使用"（fair use），而不是侵犯版权。我链接的是法院发布的判决全文（共62页长），给有兴趣深入了解的朋友读。至于tl;dr，以下是判决的总结：
"谷歌对Java SE API的复制，只包括那些允许程序员将其积累的才能投入到新的变革性程序中所需要的代码，作为一项法律问题，是对该材料的合理使用。"
“市场监管总局依法对阿里巴巴集团控股有限公司在中国境内网络零售平台 服务市场实施“二选一”垄断行为作出行政处罚” (中文来源: 新华网）
“放弃大厂高薪的程序员，涌进体制内” (中文来源: AI前线）
我的想法: 在写《互联》的过程中，我尽量不只是抽象地谈论科技、各大公司和投资，也会在讨论中带入些有“人情味儿”的方面。这篇报道就是一个例子。它采访了几位在中国互联网行业工作的程序员，他们正在逃离大厂，企图转行去当公务员，脱离互联网行业的动荡和辛苦，寻找更稳定的工作机会。根据这篇文章，报名国考的人数已达三年新高，最近还出现了一个很受欢迎的GitHub项目，给想参与公务员考试的程序员提供帮助和资源。随着996和 "内卷" 文化在科技行业的弥漫，是否已经开始造成往体制内的“人才流失”？
“传滴滴选择高盛、摩根士丹利负责赴美IPO，计划本月秘密提交上市文件，最快7月上市” (中文来源: 独角兽早知道）