Technology

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China’s ByteDance gets Trump nod to avoid TikTok shutdown

Technology|: Washington/New York: US President Donald Trump said on Saturday he supported a deal in principle that would allow TikTok to continue to operate in the United States, even as it appeared to conflict with his earlier order for China’s ByteDance to divest the video app. ByteDance was racing to avoid a crackdown on TikTok after the U.S. Commerce Department said on Friday it would block new downloads and updates to the app come Sunday. U.S. officials had expressed concern that the personal data of as many as 100 million Americans that use the app were being passed on to China’s Communist Party government. Trump signed an executive order on Aug. 14 giving ByteDance 90 days to sell TikTok. The deal announced on Saturday, however, is structured as a partnership rather than a divestment. US ownership TikTok will be owned by a new company called TikTok Global and will be headquartered in the United States, possibly in Texas, Trump said. Oracle Corp will take a 12.5% stake in TikTok Global and store all its U.S. user data on its cloud to comply with U.S. national security requirements, the companies said. Retail giant Walmart said it would take a 7.5% stake in TikTok Global. The implied valuation for TikTok Global as a result of these investments could not be learned. While Oracle and Walmart said that TikTok Global will be majority-owned by U.S. investors, this is the case only if one takes into account ByteDance’s investor base, according to a source familiar with the matter who requested anonymity to discuss the deal’s structure. This is because ByteDance will own 80% of TikTok Global, the source said. Given that U.S. investors currently own about 40% of ByteDance, the White House will count that towards how much of TikTok Global is owned by U.S. parties, the source added. As a result, Oracle, Walmart, and ByteDance’s U.S. investors will own, directly or indirectly, about 53% of TikTok Global, a second source said. Beijing-based ByteDance did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Walmart and Oracle also did not offer more information on TikTok Global’s ownership structure. Why compromise It was not immediately clear what spurred the White House to compromise on its push for an outright sale of TikTok. However, the deal comes with pledges that cater to Trump’s ‘America First’ policy agenda. It also averts alienating TikTok’s young users ahead of the Nov. 3 U.S. election. ByteDance agreed to create 25,000 new U.S. jobs at TikTok, up from a little over 1,000 now. Trump, who had previously called on companies such as Oracle and Walmart to pay the United States a “fee” to participate in the TikTok deal, said there would also be a $5 billion U.S. education fund as part of the deal. “I said, you know, do me a favor, could you put up $5 billion into a fund for education so we can educate people as to the real history of our country, not the fake history,” Trump told a rally of supporters in Fayetteville, North Carolina on Saturday. Oracle and Walmart described the agreement differently. They said that together with ByteDance top investors General Atlantic, Sequoia and Coatue they would create an educational initiative to deliver an artificial-intelligence driven online video curriculum for children, from basic reading and math to science, history and computer engineering. The companies did not say how much they would spend on the education initiative. However, they said TikTok Global would pay more than $5 billion in new taxes to the U.S. Treasury. While ByteDance will get to keep TikTok’s source code under the deal, Oracle will get to inspect it. Oracle CEO Safra Catz said her company was “100% confident in our ability to deliver a highly secure environment to TikTok and ensure data privacy to TikTok’s American users, and users throughout the world.” Catz served on Trump’s transition team in 2016, while Oracle’s co-founder and chairman Larry Ellison is one of the few top technology executives to openly support the U.S. president.

GulfNews Technology

3 bold moves CFOs can make today to outperform the market

Technology|: For years, finance leaders have been seeking ways to leverage technology to make their organisations future-ready. The current pandemic exposed the shortcomings of outdated platforms and accelerated the pace of innovation, even as some organisations battle for their very lives. The bold moves are drawn from research conducted by McKinsey & Co. on the financial performance of 1,500 companies following the global financial crisis of 2007-2009 to understand how the top 25 per cent in terms of total returns to shareholders were able to outperform their competitors after the downturn. These “resilients”, the research found, shared key characteristics, including an aggressive approach to reallocating resources and investing in productivity initiatives within the organisation. Bold move #1 Adopt a transformation mindset when reallocating resources The upside to any economic crisis is that it presents a logical and necessary opportunity to rethink every aspect of the business. Contrary to what one might think, now is not the time to invest resources in small, incremental adjustments; rather, it’s the time to focus on bold, transformational moves that can deliver outsize productivity gains and returns on investment. Bold moves during a crisis also require powerful tools, yet many companies found themselves ill-equipped to maintain the business, let alone accelerate innovation. Many Oracle customers were running on-premises systems from the early 2000s, which lack crucial capabilities that are integrated into Oracle’s current Cloud ERP. The current generation of Cloud ERP software is giving companies outsize productivity gains now — when they are desperately needed — as well as the flexibility to adopt new business models that support subscription-based revenue streams or digital sales channels. Getting on the cloud today also provides access to continuous innovations being architected now into the software’s road map, from digital assistants and chatbots to AI-driven predictive and prescriptive analytics. Bold move #2 Pursue pragmatic M&A and divestitures to improve the company’s portfolio Based on McKinsey’s research of the past and assessment of current conditions, the economic downturn is an ideal opportunity to embark on a programmatic approach to mergers, acquisitions and divestitures that can increase your business’ competitive advantage. Organisations using outdated technologies will be challenged to gain visibility into the profitability of their current business models, assess the potential of new M&A activities or spin-offs, and operationally support the choices they make. Oracle uses its own Cloud ERP to support its M&A strategy and realise expected synergies. Oracle is very acquisitive, and we have been buying a number of companies over the years, over 100-plus in the past 20 years — many of them large-sized organisations. More than 25 of those acquisitions were completed during the great recession of 2007-2009, to support Oracle’s pivot into enterprise applications and hardware. The true cloud financial management systems are continuously updated with the latest capabilities to provide scalability and flexibility, rapidly integrate new entities, and provide the ability to model the impact of individual acquisitions or divestitures on both the bottom and top lines. Bold move #3 Boost productivity through digitisation Innovation in finance has been a priority for years but has now become urgent as a result of the pandemic. More digitisation and automation of finance processes have long been on the to-do list of finance leaders. According to the McKinsey report Get in front of digital finance, more than 75 per cent of tasks can be automated in areas such as cash disbursement, revenue management, and general accounting operations. As organisations move towards digitisation and high levels of automation, the importance of advanced data and analytics to drive visibility and collaboration across an organisation has never been higher. At Oracle, our strategy has always been to provide a single integrated service: connected enterprise, connected data, connected view of the business processes to help you actually drive these big transformations. The view from the front office to the back office is critical, not just to operationalise all these new business models, but to also help manage ongoing changes. Through a single unified platform that facilitates more automation and better collaboration, CFOs and finance teams can more easily adopt modern practices such as continuous forecasting and planning, and predictive capabilities to better respond to the next crisis. Plus, they gain the ability to execute more work remotely — such as the critical task of closing the books. Oracle was able to increase productivity during the pandemic, shortening the monthly close by an additional 20 per cent while working from home. In fact, Oracle is reaping the benefits of its own cloud solutions across hundreds of processes, every day. Next steps for reimagining finance Finance teams in every organisation must move towards resiliency and finance reimagination at their own pace. There is no cookie-cutter approach. Covid-19 won’t be the last of the disruptions businesses must contend with. It’s important for them to re-evaluate and rebuild their business models to be more resilient. Yet resilience is no longer about having the cash reserves and resources to weather disruption right now – it’s about building an infrastructure that is flexible, cloud-based and automated to deal with constant, unrelenting change. Here’s how you can start building business resilience with Oracle Cloud Applications The writer is Executive Director, ERP and EPM Product Marketing at Oracle

GulfNews Technology

TikTok files complaint against Trump administration to block US ban

Technology|: Washington: Popular video-sharing app TikTok has asked a US judge to block the Trump administration from enforcing a ban on the Chinese social media network, according to court documents filed late on Friday. TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance Ltd., filed a complaint in a Washington federal court challenging the recent prohibitory moves by the Trump administration. See more Photos: New products, services rolled out by Apple Get set to climb UAE’s tallest restaurant location from October 1 Mexico holds symbolic raffle for unwanted presidential jet Chinese firms bet on plant-based meat as COVID-19 fuels healthy eating trend With airline fleets grounded, plane recyclers bet on parts boom The US Commerce Department announced a ban on Friday blocking people in the United States from downloading Chinese-owned messaging app WeChat and TikTok starting Sept. 20. The ban was being introduced for political reasons, TikTok and ByteDance alleged in their complaint. TikTok also said the ban would violate the company’s First Amendment rights. US President Donald Trump, who has been locked in a long-running trade dispute with China, issued an executive order on Aug. 6 that prohibited U.S. transactions with the Chinese owners of messaging app WeChat and TikTok. Both ByteDance and TikTok are seeking a “declaratory” judgment and an order “invalidating and preliminarily and permanently enjoining the Prohibitions and the August 6 order,” according to the complaint. The White House did not immediately respond when Reuters contacted it for comment early on Saturday. TikTok, which has over 100 million users in the United States, said the ban would “irreversibly destroy the TikTok business in the U.S.”

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Australia to amend law making Facebook, Google pay for news

Technology|: Canberra: Australia’s fair trade regulator Rod Sims, chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, said he would give his final draft of the laws to make Facebook and Google pay Australian media companies for the news content they use by early October. See more Photos: Egypt's blossoming trade in fragrant jasmine flowers Billionaire car-part supplier aims to triple sales in five years Vanishing jobs and empty offices plague Britain's retailers Photos: Czech guitar maker born of necessity woos stars Photos: Unemployment rate rises due to coronavirus Facebook has warned it might block Australian news content rather than pay for it. Google has said the proposed laws would result in ``dramatically worse Google Search and YouTube,’’ put free services at risk and could lead to users’ data ``being handed over to big news businesses.’’ Sims said he is discussing the draft of his bill with the U.S. social media platforms. It could be introduced into Parliament in late October. ``Google has got concerns about it, some of it is that they just don’t like it, others are things that we’re happily going to engage with them on,’’ Sims told a webinar hosted by The Australia Institute, an independent think-tank. ``We’ll make changes to address some of those issues -- not all, but some,’’ Sims said. Among the concerns is a fear that under the so-called News Media Bargaining Code, news businesses ``will be able to somehow control their algorithms,’’ Sims said. ``We’ll engage with them and clarify that so that there’s no way that the news media businesses can interfere with the algorithms of Google or Facebook,’’ Sims said. He said he would also clarify that the platforms would not have to disclose more data about users than they already share. ``There’s nothing in the code that forces Google or Facebook to share the data from individuals,’’ Sims said. Sims was not prepared to negotiate the ``core’’ of the code, which he described as the ``bits of glue that hold the code together, that make it workable.’’ These included an arbitrator to address the bargaining imbalance between the tech giants and news businesses. If a platform and a news outlet can’t reach an agreement on price, an arbitrator would be appointed to make a binding decision. Another core aspect was a non-discrimination clause to prevent the platforms from prioritizing Australia’s state-owned Australian Broadcasting Corp. and Special Broadcasting Service, whose news content will remain free. Sims said he did not know whether Facebook would act on its threat and block Australian news, but he suspected that to do so would ``weaken’’ the platform. Spain and France and have both failed to make Facebook and Google pay for news through copyright law. Sims said he has spoken about Australia’s approach through fair trading laws to regulators in the United States and Europe. ``They’re all wrestling with the same problem,’’ Sims said.


GulfNews Technology

US bans WeChat, TikTok from app stores, threatens shutdowns

Technology|: Washington: The US Commerce Department said Friday it will ban Chinese-owned TikTok and WeChat from US app stores on Sunday and will bar the apps from accessing essential internet services in the U.S. _ a move that could effectively wreck the operation of both Chinese services for U.S. users. TikTok won’t face the most drastic sanctions until after the Nov. 3 election, but WeChat users could feel the effects as early as Sunday. See More More residential options added at Dubai south residential district Trees, birds, ponds: Mexico City's ancient lake reclaims scrapped airport Abu Dhabi: 9 places where rents have dropped in the capital Get set to climb UAE’s tallest restaurant location from October 1 Chinese firms bet on plant-based meat as COVID-19 fuels healthy eating trend With airline fleets grounded, plane recyclers bet on parts boom The order, which cited national security and data privacy concerns, follows weeks of dealmaking over the video-sharing service TikTok. President Donald Trump has pressured the app’s Chinese owner to sell TikTok’s U.S. operations to a domestic company to satisfy U.S. concerns over TikTok’s data collection and related issues. Oracle deal California tech giant Oracle recently struck a deal with TikTok along those lines, although details remain foggy and the administration is still reviewing it. Trump said Friday said he was open to a deal, noting that ``we have some great options and maybe we can keep a lot of people happy,’’ suggesting that even Microsoft, which said its TikTok bid had been rejected, might continue to be involved, as well as Oracle and Walmart. Trump noted that TikTok was ``very, very popular,” said ``we have to have the total security from China,” and added that ``we can do a combination of both.’’ The new order puts pressure on TikTok’s owner, ByteDance, to make further concessions, said James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Trump had said this week that he does not like the idea of ByteDance keeping majority control of TikTok. TikTok expressed ``disappointment’’ over the move and said it would continue to challenge President Donald Trump’s ``unjust executive order.’’ The Commerce Department is enacting an order announced by President Donald Trump in August. TikTok sued to stop that ban. WeChat owner Tencent said in an emailed statement that it will continue to discuss ways to address concerns with the government and look for long-term solutions. Google and Apple, the owners of the major mobile app stores, did not immediately reply to questions. Oracle also did not reply. ``At the President’s direction, we have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a prepared statement. Security concerns The action is the Trump administration’s latest attempt to counter the influence of China, a rising economic superpower. Since taking office in 2017, Trump has waged a trade war with China, blocked mergers involving Chinese companies and stifled the business of Chinese firms like Huawei, a maker of phones and telecom equipment. China-backed hackers, meanwhile, have been blamed for data breaches of U.S. federal databases and the credit agency Equifax, and the Chinese government strictly limits what U.S. tech companies can do in China. The order requires WeChat, which has millions of U.S. users who rely on the app to stay in touch and conduct business with people and companies in China, to end payments for business transactions through its service as of Sunday and prohibits it from obtaining vital technical services from vendors. The Justice Department said in a filing that it would not target users with criminal or civil penalties for messaging on the app. WeChat users have sued to stop the ban, and a federal judge in California on Friday set an emergency hearing for Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Pacific time. Similar technical limitations for TikTok don’t go into effect until Nov. 12, shortly after the U.S. election. Ross said early Friday on Fox Business Network that access to that app may be possible if certain safeguards are put into place. TikTok says it has 100 million U.S. users and 700 million globally. Nicholas Weaver, a computer science lecturer at UC Berkeley, said the actions taking effect Sunday are short-sighted and suggest that ``the U.S. is not to be trusted and not a friendly place for business.’’ Users, meanwhile, face a security ``nightmare’’ because they won’t be able to get app updates that fix bugs and security vulnerabilities, he said.

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ROG and ACRONYM announce partnership with new special edition Zephyrus G14

Technology|: Asus Republic of Gamers (ROG) has announced a collaboration with ACRONYM, a leading technical apparel design agency, creating a special edition ROG Zephyrus G14 gaming laptop with top-of-the-line hardware and a new vision for what technology can be. ROG x ACRONYM . Image Credit: Supplied ACRONYM co-founder Errolson Hugh and long-time collaborator, designer David Rudnick have designed and prototyped a new design language for the laptop. It features bespoke typefaces and material treatments, touching every aspect of the ROG Zephyrus G14. As always, ROG is committed to making premium gaming hardware for pro-level work and play, while also incorporating customization options for gamers to express themselves. ACRONYM designs consistently embody their belief that aesthetic expression is a form of freedom and through style, audiences can share their story. Pushing Engineering Limits The Zephyrus G14 converges style and technology, making the ultra slim gaming laptop the most powerful 14-inch offering on the market. It comes with hardware for both everyday multitasking and gaming, engineered with high-end materials that are lightweight and resilient enough during travel. . Image Credit: Supplied It boasts a punchy 8-core 16-thread AMD Ryzen 9 CPU alongside an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU, giving it the power for content creation or streaming. You also find an IPS-level Pantone Validated display on it for color accuracy and ultra-smooth gaming performance. Taking premium to a new level, all of this comes housed in a compact 14-inch chassis at less than 20mm thin. From its magnesium alloy deck to its aluminium lid, the Zephyrus G14 is not only light but also strong. And visually, it sets itself apart via its one-of-a-kind AniMe Matrix LED display that offers gamers and creators a new platform to display custom animations, text effects and audio visualizers, with the ROG Zephyrus 14 ACRNM RMT01 exclusively equipped with eight ACRONYM designed animations. Expanding Premium Gaming . Image Credit: Supplied In the ROG Zephyrus G14 ACRNM RMT01, you get a design that pushes what is possible. It uses custom materials, etchings, specially developed paints and two original typefaces to bring ACRONYM’s vision to life. While its carbon black surfaces are sleek, a closer look reveals striking touches such as schematic markings and iconography that invite curiosity. ACRONYM even addresses the device’s packaging, building on its philosophy of sustainability and functionality. The ROG Zephyrus G14 ACRNM RMT01 comes with a unique ACRONYM Airpak laptop sleeve which is both reusable and recyclable. In combination, it represents a bold new perimeter in gaming technology, collating next-generation styling with next-generation hardware. . Image Credit: Supplied Availability and Pricing Reflecting the belief of Asus and ROG, customers will be able to take advantage of a free upgrade to a 2 Year Perfect Warranty that includes accidental damage protection from spills, drops and electrical surges. They will also benefit from a 1-month subscription to XBOX Game Pass, offering unlimited access to over 100 high-quality PC games on Windows 10. The ROG Zephyrus G14 ACRNM RMT01 is available now in the UAE, exclusively at Virgin Megastore Dubai Mall for Dh9,999.