Alibaba’s Revenue Jump 59 Percent, GMV Increases by a Quarter

Alibaba's Revenue Jump 59 Percent, GMV Increases by a Quarter

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd reported a better-than-expected 59 percent jump in quarterly revenue on Thursday, defying a slowdown in the Chinese economy.

Alibaba’s total revenue rose to CNY 32.15 billion, or $4.84 billion (roughly Rs. 32,349 crores), in the quarter ended June 30 from CNY 20.25 billion a year earlier. Analysts on average had expected revenue of CNY 30.17 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Mobile revenue from the company’s China commerce retail business increased 119.3 percent to CNY 17.51 billion, while monthly mobile active users increased 39 percent.

“We passed an important milestone this quarter in achieving higher monetization of mobile users than non-mobile users for the first time,” Chief Financial Officer Maggie Wu said.

The company said its gross merchandise volume (GMV) – the value of transactions carried out by third-party sellers on the company’s platforms – rose 24.4 percent to CNY 837 billion.

Alibaba said in June it would in the future only release GMV figures on an annual basis. The change followed the disclosure that the US Securities and Exchange Commission was looking into the company’s accounting practices.

 The company, whose shares were up 4.8 percent in premarket trading, said in June that it expected to nearly double its transaction volumes by 2020.

The business is seen as a future growth driver for Alibaba, but contributed just 2 percent of overall revenue in the quarter.

Paying customers in Alibaba’s cloud computing business increased to 577,000 from 263,000 a year earlier, boosting revenue by 156 percent.

Net income attributable to shareholders fell to CNY 7.14 billion, or CNY 2.94 per share, from CNY 30.82 billion, or CNY 11.92 per share, in the year-earlier quarter.

Facing the prospect of a saturated online retail market in China, Alibaba has been looking to grow outside its home base.

The company bought Singapore-based online retailer Lazada Group for about $1 billion in April, giving it a greater presence in Southeast Asia.

It has also been investing in a diverse array of other businesses, including cloud services provider Aliyun and driverless vehicles, hoping they can become an eventual source of growth.

Up to Wednesday’s close of $87.33, Alibaba’s shares had risen 7.46 percent since the start of the year.


Global Business Groups Petition China’s Premier on Cyber Rules

Global Business Groups Petition China's Premier on Cyber Rules

In a letter addressed to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, 46 global business groups spanning finance, information technology, insurance and manufacturing urged Beijing to revise its draft cyber rules which they said would hamper trade.

The signatories include industry associations from Asia, Australia, the United States, Mexico and Europe, according to a copy of the letter seen by Reuters.

Foreign industry groups have made no secret of their concerns over China’s draft cyber security law, which in June underwent a second of three parliamentary readings typically required before being adopted.

They say the draft regulations, as well as cyber rules from China’s insurance regulator, include provisions for invasive government security reviews and onerous requirements to keep data in China.

“Trade-inhibiting security reviews” for information and communications technology products and services under the rules may weaken security and constitute technical barriers to trade under the World Trade Organization, the groups said in the letter.

Broad data residency requirements “would impede economic growth and create barriers to entry for both foreign and Chinese companies”, they said, urging China to revise the rules.

“The current drafts, if implemented, would weaken security and separate China from the global digital economy.”

China’s Foreign Ministry did not respond immediately to a request for comment on the letter on Thursday.

Chinese officials have said the cyber-security rules, along with internet restrictions including the blocking of popular foreign sites like Google and Facebook, are needed to ensure security against growing threats such as terrorism.

The first draft of the cyber-security law, published more than a year ago, toughened user privacy protection from hackers and data resellers, but also boosted the government’s powers to access and block dissemination of private information records that Chinese law deems illegal.

It is not clear when the law may be adopted, but it could undergo a final reading by the standing committee of the National People’s Congress, or parliament, later this year.

The petition from the industry groups came as China prepares to host world leaders at the G20 summit in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou in September.

Beijing hopes it will be a platform to address slower economic growth and rising protectionism, even as it struggles to make difficult reforms at home.

Foreign businesses in China are becoming increasingly pessimistic, in part due to rules that companies think could make it harder to operate there.

The cyber rules have added to problems between China and its trade partners, from overcapacity in the steel sector to worries about Beijing’s Made in China 2025 plan, which calls for a progressive increase in domestic components in sectors such as advanced information technology and robotics.


CAIT Alleges Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal Are Violating FDI Norms

CAIT Alleges Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal Are Violating FDI Norms

Traders body CAIT has filed a complaint with DIPP alleging that major e-tailers Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal are blatantly violating FDI norms.

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has filed a complaint with the “DIPP against Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal for blatant violation of FDI Policy in e-commerce of the government”, CAIT said in a statement.

When contacted, Snapdeal declined to comment on the matter. Amazon and Flipkart did not respond to e-mail queries.

CAIT said that during past three days these companies have given big advertisements in media announcing sale on their platform which is a violation of FDI guidelines on e-commerce.

These companies are allowed to do B2B business but they are doing B2C for which they are not authorised, it said. CAIT has sought an appointment with Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sithraman.

It asked the ministry to “take immediate action against these companies which are habitual in contravening the policy”.

 In March, government allowed 100 per cent FDI through automatic route in the marketplace format of e-commerce retailing.

As per the guidelines issued by the DIPP on FDI in e-commerce, foreign direct investment (FDI) has not been permitted in inventory-based model of e-commerce.


South Korea Says Investigating Whether Google Broke Antitrust Laws

South Korea Says Investigating Whether Google Broke Antitrust Laws

South Korea’s antitrust regulator said on Friday it is looking into whether Google has violated the country’s anticompetition laws, acknowledging formal scrutiny of the global internet search company for the first time.

The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) disclosed the investigation in a brief statement, without commenting on the nature of the probe nor any potential antitrust violations. A person familiar with the matter told Reuters last month the KFTC inspected Google’s Seoul headquarters in July.

The antitrust body’s statement came after a local media report said the KFTC had decided to clearGoogle of anticompetition charges involving the pre-loading of the company’s apps on smartphones running on the Android operating system.

Google, whose corporate parent is Alphabet Inc, declined to comment.

While it wasn’t clear whether the probe would lead to any formal charges, the investigation opens another regulatory front for Google. The firm was fined $6.8 million in Russia on Thursday and faces multiple European Union antitrust charges.

The KFTC has investigated Google before. In 2013, the regulator cleared Google of wrongdoing following a probe into whether the company hurt competition by forcing smartphone makers using Android to pre-load its search engine on the handsets.


Hacking Group Claims to Offer Cyber-Weapons in Online Auction

Hacking Group Claims to Offer Cyber-Weapons in Online Auction

Hackers going by the name Shadow Brokers said on Monday they will auction stolen surveillance tools they say were used by a cyber group linked to the US National Security Agency.

To arouse interest in the auction, the hackers released samples of programs they said could break into popular firewall software made by companies including Cisco Systems Inc, Juniper Networks Inc and Fortinet Inc.

The companies did not respond to request for comment, nor did the NSA.

Writing in imperfect English, the Shadow Brokers promised in postings on a Tumblr blog that the auctioned material would contain “cyber weapons” developed by the Equation Group, a hacking group that cyber-security experts widely believe to be an arm of the NSA.

The Shadow Brokers said the programs they will auction will be “better than Stuxnet,” a malicious computer worm widely attributed to the United States and Israel that sabotaged Iran’s nuclear programme.

Reuters could not contact the Shadow Brokers or verify their assertions. Some experts who looked at the samples posted on Tumblr said they included programs that had previously been described and therefore were unlikely to cause major damage.

“The data [released so far] appears to be relatively old; some of the programs have already been known for years,” said researcher Claudio Guarnieri, and are unlikely “to cause any significant operational damage.”

Still, they appeared to be genuine tools that might work if flaws have not been addressed. After examining the code released Monday, Matt Suiche, founder of UAE-based security startup Comae Technologies, concluded they looked like “could be used.”

Other security experts warned the posting could prove to be a hoax. The group said interested parties had to send funds in advance of winning the auction via Bitcoin currency and would not get their money back if they lost.

The auction will end at an unspecified time, Shadow Brokers said, encouraging bidders to “keep bidding until we announce winner.”


IOC Fights Cyber-Attacks During Rio 2016 Olympics

IOC Fights Cyber-Attacks During Rio 2016 Olympics

The International Olympic Committee is fending off massive cyber-attacks during the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

“Throughout the games, the same in London (in 2012) when you are the center of attention of the world, there are massive attempts everyday all day long to break our security,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams told the Associated Press.

“We have it all year round anyway but it’s particularly intense at the moment.”

The IOC is coming under “regular attack,” he said.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport warned earlier this week of attempts to break into its website. The sports court is overseeing doping sanctions at the Olympics for the first time.

The World Anti-Doping Agency has disclosed a successful breach of its system by hackers, who gained access to Russian whistleblower Yulia Stepanova’s account for the ADAMS database, which tracks athletes for drug testing.

The 800-meter runner and her husband provided evidence that exposed the doping scandal in Russian track and field. Stepanova has been barred from competing in Rio because she served a past doping ban.

WADA said Saturday that Stepanova’s password for ADAMS was “illegally obtained, which allowed a perpetrator to access her account.”

The database is used by athletes to enter so-called “whereabouts” information which they are obliged to provide in order to make themselves available for drug testing outside competitions. Someone with an athlete’s credentials could potentially change that information, sending testers to the wrong location, potentially leading to athletes being wrongly blamed for missing a test.

Users of the database have been receiving so-called phishing emails disguised as official WADA communications requesting their login details.

“Through WADA’s regular security monitoring of ADAMS, the agency noted that someone, other than Ms. Stepanova, had accessed her account,” the agency said. “WADA immediately locked Ms. Stepanova’s account to prevent further access and notified her of the situation.”


Google Building Fuchsia OS for IoT Devices

Google Building Fuchsia OS for IoT Devices

  • Google has released the project details on GitHub
  • The new OS is not based on Linux
  • It is built to favour IoT devices

In what can be considered as an interesting new development, Google is building a new operating system. The new OS is called Fuchsia, and is probably the first operating system built by Google that is not based on the Linux kernel.

While Google hasn’t announced any official details about the Fuchsia operating system, the tech giant released the project on GitHub. The description is at its cryptic best, and reads Pink + Purple = Fuchsia (a new operating system).

After Android Police’s investigation of the extensive documentation, it found out that the new OS was largely built to favour IoT and embedded hardware. The rapid increase of products in this space has evidently led Google to build a lightweight OS that was more compatible with modern IoT hardware. However, Fuchsia also appears to be designed so that it can scale to support smartphones and desktop computers as well.

Firstly, Fuchsia uses a new Magenta kernel that is specifically designed to compete with other embedded hardware operating systems like FreeRTOS, and ThreadX. Google has used Dart as the main programming language, and has introduced support for Flutter hinting that it will use Material Design as the UI. The new OS is meant to be open source as well, with full details yet to be finalised it apperas.

Google could be building Fuchsia as a separate OS only for its IoT devices, and probably isn’t looking to replace its Linux-based Android and Chrome OS software at all. It is building IoT devices like OnHub andGoogle Home, and is probably looking to build a lightweight OS to pair seamlessly with these devices. Alternatively, Google could just be testing this operating system, and it could just shelve the project before release. As there is no clarity from Google yet, all of this is mere speculation and should be taken as such.


Software Maverick John McAfee Warns China of Hacking Weakness

Software Maverick John McAfee Warns China of Hacking Weakness

China leads the world in connecting everyday devices to the Internet, but is creating huge hacking vulnerabilities for itself and others by doing so, renegade American software pioneer John McAfee warned Tuesday.

Hackers had already been able to gain control of devices such as safes and heating controls, and take over the computer systems of automobiles and aeroplanes, he said.

“China is taking the lead in putting intelligence into devices, from refrigerators to smart thermostats, and this is our weakest link in cyber-security,” he said in Beijing.

“I am hoping that in the short time I am here I can raise a warning flag that we have to take security of these devices even more importantly than our large computers or our smart phones,” he told a conference of internet security professionals.

“Because there are so many more of these devices, and the more that are connected, then the higher the risk of a potential hack becomes.”

McAfee, 70, is the colourful founder of an antivirus software company who once fled Belize after police sought to question him in a murder case.

He has since returned to the United States, where he announced he was running for president.

He amassed an estimated $100 million fortune during the early days of the Internet in the 1990s, but lost most of it to bad investments and the financial crisis.

He was living with a 17-year-old girl in Belize when police came looking for him to discuss the killing of his neighbour – a crime of which he maintains his innocence. He was briefly incarcerated and fled the Central American country.

McAfee’s at times dire and alarming speech in Beijing came as his new company MGT Capital prepares to launch cyber-security products later this year.

Hacking threat
“Our species has never before faced a threat of this magnitude. And we have not noticed it by and large,” he said.

“You may thinking I am exaggerating, that I am an alarmist. I am friends with many of the hackers who have the capability to do enormous damage if they so chose.”

Chinese companies such as Xiaomi have been praised for innovation in adding internet connectivity to a variety of devices including air purifiers and rice cookers, allowing users to switch them on from work or on their way home.

Such connections create serious new weaknesses that could leave users’ networks especially vulnerable to hacking, McAfee said.

But in a briefing with reporters he also commended Beijing’s protection of its domestic internet, which is heavily censored and blocks many foreign websites, for its seeming security against the large-scale breaches seen recently in the US.

“You may notice that last year America suffered hundreds of major hacks from all around the world,” he said, and added that he had “heard nothing” of similar hacks on China.

“Now perhaps that’s the government’s control of the press, I don’t know,” he said. “But I do know that within certain industries of China, the awareness of cyber-security threats is far greater than our awareness in America.”


Google Alters Searches to Try to Make It Easier for Americans to Vote

Google Alters Searches to Try to Make It Easier for Americans to Vote

  • Google says it will now provide in-depth search result on voting information
  • Google accounts for roughly two-thirds of the US search market, says comScore
  • In-depth results spell things out clearly for people unclear about their situation

One of the things that makes Google so powerful is that the sheer amount of data it gathers makes it possible to understand what the people as a whole are interested in.

Now, the company is using all that data to google-wants-to-help-you-vote-could-it-affect-the-election.

Google says it will now provide what it calls an “in-depth” search result when users look for information on how to cast a ballot – a search that’s seen triple-digit growth in contested states like Arizona since the last presidential election. Basically, this means telling you exactly what you need to bring to the polls and when the registration deadlines are. The information, which is tailored to the exact state you’re in, will also tell you precisely how to register.

In-depth results are what Google gives you when it has the exact answer to a question, such as what today’s date is. The company has increasingly been using these to supply information directly, as opposed to presenting users with links to sources that may have the right information.

What will be the practical outcome of all this information? Well, since Google accounts for roughly two-thirds of the US search market, according to the research firm comScore, it seems reasonable to conclude that equipping all those people with better resources may encourage them to vote at greater rates. That’s backed up by years of political science research that shows a link between the ease of voting and voter turnout.

“When people have access to more information about an election, they tend to be more likely to turn out,” said Danny Hayes, an associate professor of political science at George Washington University. “But I’d expect any effects to be small.”

For instance, as far back as 1997 scholars were studying the effect of lowered registration barriers on elections.

“It is well established that a substantial reduction in registration barriers such as a state’s adoption of election day registration (EDR) increases turnout, although the exact magnitude of the effect remains in some dispute,” wrote Craig Brians of Virginia Tech and Bernard Grofman at the University of California-Irvine. The researchers went on to examine a 20-year stretch of voting data and concluded that same-day registration had a remarkable impact on the likelihood of “medium education and medium income” Americans to vote.

This is a timely debate. Courts across the country have been striking down voter ID laws, making it easier for Americans to exercise their civic rights. But given the changes in the law, voters may be more confused about what they need to do. The in-depth results from Google spell things out clearly for people who are unclear about their situation.

Whether higher turnout tends to benefit Democrats or Republicans is a perennial question for scholars. One 2007 study by New York University found that non-voters tend to identify more with liberal causes than with conservative ones. Other research suggests that higher-income Americans are more likely to vote. (The Atlantic has a pretty good rundown from last year on this topic, with lots of charts, as well as an explanation for why everyone should hope for better turnout, regardless of which party it benefits.)

There’s been lots of breathless reporting on the potential for Google or Facebook to tilt an election just by giving people certain search results or by structuring our social newsfeeds to prioritize certain information. It’s not an idle concern, particularly as these online services come to dominate how we work, play and socialize. But, said Hayes, most elections won’t be decided by small changes in turnout. More importantly, he said, Google’s potential influence on electoral behavior would not be much different from the League of Women voters facilitating civic participation.

“Anything that encourages people to vote could in theory affect an election, but that doesn’t mean that it’s done with some partisan intent,” said Hayes.

Providing people with the information they need to enjoy their political freedoms – information they’re already looking for – is a little bit different from “tilting” a contest. What’s more, it stands to give Americans greater faith in an institution that’s critical to the healthy function of the republic.


Cisco Systems to Reportedly Lay Off About 14,000 Employees

Cisco Systems to Reportedly Lay Off About 14,000 Employees

  • Cisco to shift focus to become a software-centric organisation
  • The job cuts are beacuse of this action taken by Cisco
  • HP and Microsoft also announced job cuts earlier this year

Cisco Systems Inc is laying off about 14,000 employees, representing nearly 20 percent of the network equipment maker’s global workforce, technology news site CRN reported, citing sources close to the company.

San Jose, California-based Cisco is expected to announce the cuts within the next few weeks, the report said, as the company transition from its hardware roots into a software-centric organisation.

Apart from Cisco, two other big software companies, Microsoft Corp and HP Inc, have also announced job cuts this year.

Microsoft said in July that it would lay off about 2,850 jobs over the next 12 months, taking its total planned job cuts to up to 4,700, or about 4 percent of its workforce.

HP Inc said in February it would cut about 3,000 jobs by the end of fiscal 2016.

Cisco, which had more than 70,000 employees as of April 30, declined to comment.

 Cisco increasingly requires “different skill sets” for the “software-defined future” than it did in the past, as it pushes to capture a higher share of the addressable market and aims to boost its margins, the CRN report said citing a source familiar with the situation.

Cisco has been investing in new products such as data analytics software and cloud-based tools for data centers, to offset the impact of sluggish spending by telecom carriers and enterprises on its main business of making network switches and routers.

The company has already offered many early retirement package plans to Cisco’s employees, according to CRN.

Up until Tuesday’s close of $31.12 on the Nasdaq, the company’s stock had risen about 15 percent this year, compared with a 10.5 percent increase in the Dow Jones US Technology Hardware & Equipment index.