WASHINGTON, Aug 9 ― Broadcom announced plans yesterday to buy the enterprise unit of cybersecurity firm Symantec Corp for US$10.7 billion (RM44.8 billion) in a move to further diversify the US semiconductor maker. The all-cash deal was revealed…
WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday his administration would investigate whether Alphabet Inc’s Google supports the Chinese government, following accusations that a company official refuted hours later at a Senate hearing.
The president repeated accusations made previously by Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and venture capitalist, that Google may be infiltrated by Chinese intelligence agents.
“A great and brilliant guy who knows this subject better than anyone! The Trump Administration will take a look!” the president wrote on Twitter.
Trump later told reporters he would have various agencies, including potentially the Justice Department, “see if there’s any truth to” Thiel’s accusations.
Thiel has called on the FBI and the CIA to probe Google on its relations with China, and alleged that the company worked with the Chinese military.
The top US general, Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed similar concerns about Google in a congressional hearing in March.
Google said in an email statement: “As we have said before, we do not work with the Chinese military.”
At a wide-ranging US Senate subcommittee hearing on Tuesday about Google’s content policies, the company’s top government affairs official told Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican, that it did little business in China.
“Fundamentally in China we actually do very little today, certainly compared to any other major technology company,” said Karan Bhatia, vice president for government affairs and public policy.
Bhatia rejected accusations that Google has been infiltrated by Chinese intelligence agents or that it has turned a “blind eye” to theft of its code. Its decisions about contracts with the US government have not been based on pressure from China, he said.
He added that Google had “terminated” an effort to develop a search engine that abides by China’s political censorship rules. Google would only launch such a service now in consultation with “key stakeholders”, Bhatia said.
But under questioning from senators, Bhatia declined to commit to not censoring content in China or to undergoing a third-party audit of its content moderation policies.
The lack of commitment drew sharp criticism from Hawley.
“Clearly our trust and patience in your company and the behavior of your monopoly has run out,” he said. “It’s time for some accountability.”
Thiel has financially backed several Republican politicians at the state and federal level, including Trump and Hawley, who have expressed concern about the influence of Google’s search and advertising businesses.
Thiel invested in Facebook Inc soon after its founding and is a director at the social media company, which is Google’s top rival for online ad spending. He also is a director at data analytics software firm Palantir Technologies, which, like Google, competes to secure government technology contracts.
Senators on Tuesday criticised Google over several issues, including whether it was biased against conservative content and why it has been slow to stop the spread of some graphic material.
Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, said Google’s YouTube needed to do a better job of policing content.
“You can’t simply unleash the monster and say it’s too big to control,” Blumenthal said. “The hourglass has run out.” – Reuters
TOKYO: Japanese car giant Toyota and investment fund SoftBank Vision Fund on Friday unveiled an investment of $1 billion in US company Uber to drive forward the development of driverless ridesharing services.
The latest cash injection, expected to close in the third quarter this year, came amid fevered anticipation of Uber’s public share offering which is expected to be the largest in the tech sector for years.
Toyota has already invested $500 million in Uber as the firm races Google-owned Waymo and a host of other companies, including major automakers, to develop self-driving vehicles.
The latest investment, which also involves Japanese parts maker DENSO, will go to Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group in a bid to “accelerate the development and commercialisation of automated ridesharing,” the firms said in a statement.
Toyota and DENSO are stumping up $667 million and SoftBank Vision Fund, the investment arm of Japanese tycoon Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank, will pour $333 million into the venture. It is already the top shareholder in Uber, holding 16 percent.
The Japanese car firm said it would also contribute “an additional $300 million over the next three years to help cover the costs related to these activities.”
Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said driverless cars would “transform transportation as we know it, making our streets safer and our cities more liveable.”
His firm is aiming to go beyond car rides to becoming the “Amazon of transportation” in a future where people share, instead of own, vehicles.
If all goes to plan, commuters could ride an e-scooter to a transit station, take a train, then grab an e-bike, share a ride or take an e-scooter at the arriving station to complete a journey — all using an Uber app on a smartphone.
Uber is also seeing growing success with an “Eats” service that lets drivers make money delivering meals ordered from restaurants.
Last week, Uber filed official documents for its much-anticipated public share offering.
The filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission said it operates on six continents with some 14 million trips per day and has totalled more than 10 billion rides since it was founded in 2010.
The filing contained a “placeholder” amount of $1 billion to be raised but that figure is expected to increase ahead of the initial public offering (IPO) expected in May.
The Wall Street Journal said earlier this month that Uber was seeking to raise $10 billion in what would be the largest stock offering of the year.
Media reports said the ride-hailing giant was likely to seek a market value of close to $100 billion.
Uber is the largest of the “unicorns” or venture-backed firms worth at least $1 billion to list on Wall Street, and is one of the key companies in the “sharing economy” based on offering services to replace ownership of cars, homes and other commodities.
Its revenue grew 42 percent last year to $11.2 billion but it continued to lose money from its operations. A net profit was reported for the year from a large asset sale, but operational losses were more than $3 billion.
And some analysts have voiced caution over the forthcoming IPO given a relative lacklustre debut for Lyft, the main US rival.
Khosrowshahi has promised greater transparency as he seeks to restore confidence in the global ridesharing leader hit by a wave of misconduct scandals.
In October, Toyota and SoftBank announced the creation of a joint venture to create “new mobility service” including driverless vehicles for services such as meal deliveries.
The new company — called “Monet”, short for “mobility network” — is majority owned by SoftBank.
SoftBank started as a software firm but has increasingly been pushing into investments under tycoon Son, one of Japan’s richest men.
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TOKYO: Japan's SoftBank is planning to invest between US$60-100 billion in a solar power project in India, a Japanese report said Friday, as the firm looks to expand its interests into various sectors.
The report by public broadcaster NHK comes after SoftBank announced in March it would partner Saudi Arabia on a multi-billion dollar solar project that the company's founder called the largest in the world.
NHK said the massive investment in India would be funded jointly by SoftBank and Saudi Arabia, which have already partnered to create the Vision Fund investment vehicle.
A spokesman for SoftBank declined to comment on the report.
NHK said the deal would likely be announced by SoftBank and the Indian government after details were finalised, without giving a timeline.
Under CEO Masayoshi Son, SoftBank, which started as a software firm, has increasingly been seen as an investment firm, ploughing funds into a broad range of companies and projects outside its core business. In recent years it has completed deals with the likes of French robotics firm Aldebaran and e-commerce Chinese giant Alibaba.
In March, Son said it would fund the “largest solar project ever”, in Saudi Arabia.
The project aims to generate 200 gigawatts of energy by 2030, with building beginning in 2018 and operations to start the following year.
The entire project is expected to cost $200 billion, with the first phase costing US$5 billion.
SoftBank's US$100-billion Vision Fund, created in 2016 with money from Saudi and other investors, will contribute US$1 billion to the first phase. — AFP
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