Author Archive | Newley

Exclusive by Me and a Colleague Yesterday: GrabTaxi Raises New Funds

The story begins:

More cash is pouring into the increasingly competitive ride-hailing business in Asia, fueling local competitors to global market leader Uber Technologies Inc.

Southeast Asia-focused ride-hailing app GrabTaxi is getting an infusion of over $200 million in fresh capital in its latest fundraising round led by U.S. hedge fund Coatue Management LLC, according to a person familiar with the situation. The investment values the company at over $1.5 billion including the fresh capital from the latest fundraising, according to the person.

Existing investors in the company, including Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. and Tiger Global Management LLC, are also participating in the round, the person said. It is possible that GrabTaxi could increase the size of the round with the inclusion of additional investment in coming weeks, the person said.

GrabTaxi is among a crop of local competitors in Asia that have sprung up to battle with global ride-hailing market leader Uber across the region. Local competitors in Asia include China’s Didi Kuaidi, which is raising $2 billion in funding, India’s Ola and Easy Taxi. Uber itself is raising funds specifically for its China unit.

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‘Top Gun’ 2: Fighter Pilots vs. Drone Operators?

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The Guardian:

The long-mooted sequel to 80s blockbuster Top Gun will explore the culture clash between old school aviation and the new generation of unmanned drones, according to the film’s producer.

David Ellison of production company Skydance also confirmed the follow-up will feature Tom Cruise reprising his role as star fighter pilot Maverick during a junket to promote Terminator: Genisys in Berlin.

Here’s more at Collider:

During a group interview at the press day for Terminator Genisys in Berlin, Skydance CEO David Ellison and CCO Dana Goldberg were asked about the status of Top Gun 2, and what we can expect from the film, which is currently being written by Justin Marks (Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li).

Question: You’re also a thrill seeker; you’re a pilot. And you have Top Gun 2 on your list, which is also with Tom Cruise. Can you talk a little bit about that?

DAVID ELLISON: Absolutely. I started flying aerobatics when I was thirteen years old, actually me and my dad took my first lesson on my thirteenth birthday. By the time I was seventeen, I was flying air shows and have thousands of hours flying surface level aerobatics. I absolutely love it. I’ve got three hundred skydives, used to sky surf until that put me in the hospital really badly so I thought maybe let’s not do that anymore, but love aviation, and Top Gun definitely fits into the seminal movie of my childhood, and as a pilot, that is really the movie. Justin Marks is writing the screenplay right now. He has a phenomenal take to really update that world for what fighter pilots in the Navy has turned into today. There is an amazing role for Maverick in the movie and there is no Top Gun without Maverick, and it is going to be Maverick playing Maverick. It is I don’t think what people are going to expect, and we are very, very hopeful that we get to make the movie very soon. But like all things, it all comes down to the script, and Justin is writing as we speak.

You’re gonna do what a lot of sequels have been doing now which is incorporate real use of time from the first one to now.
ELLISON and DANA GOLDBERG: Absolutely.

And:

In addition to confirming that the movie will be in 3D and IMAX (there will also be practical effects because that’s how Cruise rolls), Ellison went into more detail about what he meant when he talked about what the Navy has become and how it relates to Maverick:

ELLISON: Absolutely, I think this is a movie that should be in 3-D and in IMAX, and again something that you can shoot practically. As everyone knows with Tom, he is 100% going to want to be in those airplanes shooting it practically. When you look at the world of dogfighting, what’s interesting about it is that it’s not a world that exists to the same degree when the original movie came out. This world has not been explored. It is very much a world we live in today where it’s drone technology and fifth generation fighters are really what the United States Navy is calling the last man-made fighter that we’re actually going to produce so it’s really exploring the end of an era of dogfighting and fighter pilots and what that culture is today are all fun things that we’re gonna get to dive into in this movie.

I’m a sucker for anything UAV-related. But can this classic 1980s flick really be updated for the drone age? We shall see.

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Petr Cech: The Signing that Will Win Arsenal the Premier League Title

I’m calling it right here, right now.*

Arsenal signing world-class goalkeeper Petr Cech from Chelsea is the move that will lead to their eventual Premier League triumph.

The 33-year-old — just entering is his goalkeeping prime — is said to be in final talks with the North London club, and could be unveiled today.

Maybe they won’t win the title this season, for reigning champs Chelsea look too strong. But perhaps next.

Arsenal’s other top goalkeepers, Wojciech Szczęsny and David Ospina, are excellent. But Cech is a step above. He is more consistent than Szczęsny and commands his box better than Ospina.

This is the kind of signing that, along with a strong defensive midfielder, will give Arsenal the defensive fortifications to finally match their attacking prowess.

(*I am fully aware that as an Arsenal supporter and a life-long goalkeeper, this analysis may be colored by my emotions.)

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Businesses Pressured SC Gov. to Push for Confederate Flag Removal

Following up on my post from Tuesday

Here’s an interesting, behind-the-scenes bit from a WSJ story on how businesses pressured South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to ditch the Confederate flag:

Ms. Haley came under significant pressure to call for the flag’s removal from leaders of multinational and South Carolina businesses after the shootings, according to people involved in the discussions. Michelin North America, based in Greenville, S.C., was among companies calling for immediate removal of the flag.

“We are ready to support our elected officials as they take the necessary steps to do so,” Michelin CEO Pete Selleck said.

Top elected officials, including the governor, business and nonprofit leaders, made frantic calls and emails over the weekend, according to people involved. One of them was Chad Walldorf, co-founder of a barbecue chain called Sticky Fingers and the chairman of the state Board of Economic Advisors. He said he made dozens of calls from vacation in Colorado. “There was a very widespread consensus in the business community to get the flag down,” he said.

Mikee Johnson, chairman of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, also began lobbying to bring the flag down. “I felt like it was going to be a turning moment in the state’s history,” said Mr. Johnson. “I told [Ms. Haley] she’d get overwhelming support from the business community if she took that action.”

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By Me Yesterday: Q&A with Symantec CEO

The story begins:

The new Symantec isn’t the old Symantec.

That’s according to Chief Executive Michael Brown, who says the company, which developed computer security with its antivirus software in the late 1980s, is now concentrating on producing newer products and services amid a rise in high profile attacks in the U.S. and abroad.

Some see the well-established Mountain View, Calif.-based Symantec — which says some 99% of Fortune 500 companies are its clients — as struggling to compete with security upstarts like Palo Alto Networks and FireEye.

But Brown stresses that Symantec is moving to introduce new offerings like a service that prioritizes security alerts so that workers can determine which are most pressing.

Symantec in October 2014 said it was planning to divide its cybersecurity and Veritas information-management business into two publicly traded companies. The Wall Street Journal in April reported the company was exploring a sale of Veritas in lieu of splitting it off.

Symantec in the quarter ended April 3 reported revenue of $1.52 billion, down from $1.63 billion a year earlier. Net income fell to $176 million from $217 million a year earlier.

In an interview earlier this week in Singapore, Brown talked about what he says are misconceptions about the company, and what lies ahead.

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On the Charleston Shootings and the Confederate Flag — and Some Links for Following the Debate

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South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said Monday that the Confederate flag should be taken down.

That comes, of course, after a white man, in a racist attack last week, killed nine African-Americans at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. Photos uncovered later showed him embracing the Confederate flag.

That banner — which South Carolina hoisted in 1961, in the middle of the civil rights movement — represents to so many of the state’s citizens racism, hate, violence and subjugation.

What about those who say the flag symbolizes pride in the South’s history, that it represents “heritage, not hate,” as the saying goes?

At The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates points out that South Carolina’s secession from the union — which kicked off the Civl War, of course — was centered on the very institution of slavery. In the state’s own language at the time:

A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.

Many are saying now that it’s time to move on, at long last.

In Columbia, a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate are required for the flag to be taken down. The (Charleston) Post and Courrier quotes Haley as saying that if the two bodies don’t debate the issue summer, she’ll call them back into session to do so.

Now, following the shootings, an issue that for years has seemed settled — that the flag will continue to fly — is up for debate. And things seem to be moving quickly.

Just yesterday, The Post and Courrier reported:

Proponents of removing the flag could have an uphill climb. A Post and Courier survey of state lawmakers — predominately Republicans who control the House and Senate — found there is no consensus that the flag has to go, with many saying it’s too soon after the tragedy to act.

And today:

A Post and Courier poll shows the state Senate is within striking distance of having a majority in favor of removing the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds. Support appears strong in the House, as well.

Here are a few sites to keep an eye on as things develop.

In a feature I love for its simplicity, the Post and Courrier is asking every member of the legislature where they stand on the flag, and posting the results in real time.

Meanwhile, in the Lowcountry, the Beaufort Gazette/Island Packet is collecting statements from Beaufort legislators:

While five local legislators have come out in support of removing the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds, three others have remained quiet on the issue.

In Columbia, The State newspaper has also been covering the issue.

Stay tuned.

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By Me Yesterday: The Taj Mahal Just Got Free Wi-Fi

The post, at our Digits blog, begins:

The Taj Mahal: India’s most famous monument, where visitors can take in a striking example of Mughal architecture, gaze at the edifice’s gleaming white marble, and…surf the Internet via free Wi-Fi.

Wait, free Wi-Fi? You better believe it.

India’s federal information technology minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, on Tuesday took to Twitter to kick off a new service in which state-run telecom Bharat Sanchar Nigam is providing the service at the famed 17th century mausoleum.

Click through to read more.

Do we not live in an amazing world?

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All 6 ‘Star Wars’ Films Shown at Once

I see your “Dark Side of the Rainbow” and raise you two hours and twenty two minutes of galactic beauty and strangeness.

Embedded above and on YouTube here: “Star Wars Wars: All 6 Films At Once.”

There are also some pretty cool stills available here.

Related fun stuff: Twelve hours of Death Star ambient audio.

Folks, this is what the Internet is for.

(Via.)

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By Me Last Week: Twitter to Beef up Singapore Office

The story, which ran on Thursday, began:

Twitter Inc. plans to double its staff in Singapore over the next two years as it seeks to lure new users and advertisers in Asia, an executive said.

Shailesh Rao, Twitter’s vice president for Asia Pacific, the Americas and emerging markets, told The Wall Street Journal in an interview Wednesday that the company will hire more than 100 new staff in Singapore, doubling its current workforce of about 80 employees. Twitter opened a small office in Singapore in 2013 and in recent weeks has moved to a larger space, which has now become the company’s Asia-Pacific headquarters.

“We need more capabilities and more people doing what they’re doing already,” in jobs such as sales, marketing, finance and more, Mr. Rao said.

Twitter is focusing on fast-growing Asian countries like India and Indonesia as it seeks to attract new users and advertising dollars, analysts say. The company, which derives most of its revenue from advertising, is looking for a boost from such emerging markets as user growth levels off in developed markets like the U.S. and the U.K.

Meanwhile, the big story on Friday was that Chief Executive Dick Costolo is stepping down. Here are the first few grafs of my colleague Yoree Koh’s story:

Dick Costolo is stepping down as Twitter Inc.’s chief executive after five years, as Wall Street began losing faith in him and the social-media company’s future growth.

The move puts a spotlight back on co-founder and Chairman Jack Dorsey, who will serve as interim CEO while he remains chief executive of payments startup Square Inc. Mr. Dorsey was Twitter’s first CEO from May 2007 to October 2008.

Twitter said it would be looking both inside and outside the company for a new chief.

Stay tuned for more.

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