Note: This issue of Interconnected Weekly covers the period between June 1-7, 2020, with six news stories – three from English language sources, three from Chinese language sources – hand-picked by your humble author to further our exploration of the interconnections between technology, business, investment, and geopolitics. All translated article titles are done by me; they are not official translations from the media outlets.
“Google pulls popular app that helped remove Chinese apps from phones” (English Source: The Verge)
My Thoughts: this is the most significant yet under-discussed story of the week, when it comes to the interconnections between technology and geopolitics. The current military skirmishes caused by the ongoing China-India border dispute is heating up and has a history dating back to at least the 1960s. Anti-China sentiment in India is running high, which led to the existence and popularity of the “Remove Chinese Apps” app in India. Google removed it from the Play Store, Android’s app store, but how the app violated Google’s Deceptive Behavior Policy is unclear -- the app does exactly what its name suggests. While the US-China “cold war” sucks up all the oxygen, the China-India tension is already becoming a “hot war”.
“Chip maker SMIC plans to raise US$2.8 billion on Shanghai’s Star Market as US moves to stifle China’s tech ambitions” (English Source: South China Morning Post)
My Thoughts: This IPO may be the first “Patriotic IPO” of its kind in the technology sector. SMIC, the largest semiconductor manufacturer in China, received a $2.2 billion USD equity investment from the Chinese government three days after the latest round of sanctions on Huawei-designed chips from the U.S. Department of Commerce. Now it's listing on the Star, China’s new NASDAQ-like tech-focused exchange launched just last year. As I’ve noted in a previous post, “Chips, Geopolitics, Elections”, the connections between the semiconductor industry and both geopolitics and domestic politics are stronger than ever.
“Zoom in Talks With Google to Use Cybersecurity Service” (English Source: The Information) [Paywall]
My Thoughts: While Zoom started as an enterprise videoconferencing product, it has serious potential in the consumer market. To prepare for that potential, it is quickly evolving its multi-cloud posture to meet that opportunity to leverage the expertise of other tech companies. I’ve discussed Zoom’s evolving multi-cloud posture in “Why Zoom Chose Oracle”. Now, its multi-cloud mix may include Google Cloud Platform’s Web Risk API, a cybersecurity product that “lets client applications check URLs against Google's constantly updated lists of unsafe web resources.” Google, who’s been operating so many global-scale web services from search to Gmail, has the most expertise to help Zoom defend attacks on its free users, most of whom are ordinary consumers using the product for consumer use cases (not work meetings, but birthday parties). If this deal goes through, it could buy Zoom some much-needed time to figure out what its proper place should be in the lives of consumers around the world.
“JD.com Will Begin Its Hong Kong IPO process next Monday, Scheduled to Begin Listing on June 18th, Price Range Upper Bound 236 HK Dollars” (Chinese Source: iponews)
My thoughts: JD.com’s plan to have another public listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, after its IPO on the NASDAQ in 2014, is happening in the backdrop of increasing scrutiny on the ownership structure and financial accounting of Chinese companies publicly listed in the U.S. The Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act (HFCAA), currently making its way through the U.S. House of Representatives, is formalizing much of this scrutiny into law. This is a topic I’ve discussed in “Why Huawei Should IPO in America”. Another geopolitical backdrop to JD’s Hong Kong listing is Hong Kong’s own struggle to maintain its autonomy.
“China’s First Year with 5G: 180 Billion RMB Investment, 200,000 Antenna Stations, 36 Million Users” (Chinese Source: InfoQ)
My thoughts: last week marked the first anniversary of the issuance of 5G licenses in China. This article summarizes the progress of 5G implementation during its first year. The three major telecoms in China are developing two networks: one by China Mobile, the other by China Unicom and China Telecommunications Corporation jointly. The global 5G conversation has been contentious, both between countries and between technology companies and governments. It’s worth a close watch on how the 5G-rubber meets the road in China.
“Why Is Kuaishou Having Such A Hard Time Expanding Abroad?” (Chinese Source: 36Kr)
My thoughts: this article is about the differences in the global expansion strategy and progress between two of the hottest social media companies in China, Bytedance and Kuaishou. While TikTok (from Bytedance) appears to be getting traction in the U.S., Zynn (from Kuaishou) is also gaining ground by directly paying users to watch short videos on its app. Zynn brief took over Zoom as the #1 downloaded app in the Apple app store in America and, at the time of this writing, sits in the #2 spot, below Zoom and ahead of TikTok (#3). As Zynn grows, will it meet the same security scrutiny that Senator Chuck Schumer, the most powerful Democrat in the Senate, has been voicing on TikTok? (Note: I installed Zynn last week to test out its payment feature. So far, I’ve made $2.34.)
“谷歌在印度删除热门app，此app帮助手机删除所有中国公司制造的程序”（英文来源: The Verge）
“Zoom在考虑使用谷歌云的网络安全服务”（英文来源: The Information，需付费阅读）
我的想法：虽然Zoom是一款为企业服务的视频会议产品，但它在to C市场上有着巨大的潜力。为了应对这一未来，它正在迅速发展其“多云”（multi-cloud）的构架，充分利用其他科技巨头的经验和知识。我在“Zoom为什么选择了Oracle”中讨论到Zoom不断发展的“多云”构架。它未来的多云组合很可能包括谷歌云平台的Web Risk API，一个网络安全产品。此产品“允许客户端应用程序根据谷歌不断更新的不安全网络资源列表来检查URL。” 谷歌，从搜索到Gmail，一直在运营着多个庞大的，有全球规模的网络服务，拥有最专业的技术和经验来帮助Zoom抵御对其免费用户的网络攻击。这些用户大多是普通消费者，他们用Zoom的原因也是来满足to C的需求（不是上班开会，而是开生日party）。如果与谷歌的这笔交易成功，它可以为Zoom争取一些宝贵的时间，让产品逐渐在全球消费者生活中的位置成熟。
“京东（9618）将于下周一开始招股，6月18日登陆港交所，发行价上限定为236港元” (中文来源: 独角兽早知道）
我的想法：京东自2014年在NASDAQ上市之后，准备在香港证券交易所二次上市，正是在对在美国上市的中国公司的管制日益严格的背景下发生的。《外国公司责任追究法》（Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act，HFCAA）正在把许多管制要求正式化，此法案正在通过美国众议院的过程中。这是我在“为什么华为该赴美上市”一文中讨论到的话题。京东在香港上市的另一层背景就是香港为维护自治而进行的斗争。
“中国5G商用这一年：1800亿投入、20万基站、3600万用户” (中文来源: InfoQ）
“快手的海外战役怎么这么难？” (中文来源: 36氪）
我的想法：这篇36氪文章是关于中国最红的两家社交媒体公司，字节跳动和快手，在全球扩张战略和进展方面的差异。虽然字节跳动的 TikTok 在美国似乎越来越受欢迎，但快手的海外版 Zynn 正在通过直接给用户钱来奖励观看短视频的增长手段来获得市场份额。最近 Zynn 临时取代了Zoom，高居美国境内苹果App Store排行榜的第一位。在本文撰写之时，它位居第二，仅次于Zoom，领先TikTok（第三名）。Zynn是否会引起美国参议院级别最高的民主党参议员Chuck Schumer在安全方面的质疑，就像他对TikTok的质疑一样呢？（注：我上周下载了Zynn来测试他的发钱支付功能。到目前为止，我已经赚了2.34美元。）