Uber “exits” China, Growth and Developing Economies, Minecraft and the Future of Work + more

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This last week we learned that Uber, who invested heavily trying to win in the China market, has decided to sell that investment to its competitor in the market, Didi Chuxing.  Now, while Uber “lost” while Didi won, in the end Uber is ending up with a $1B cash infusion from Didi and an ~18% stake in Didi that is worth another $7B, what the Uber venture in China was valued.  Now, some might view this as a smart move on Uber’s part, as it allows Uber to shift its expansion efforts to other markets while maintaining a stake in China, but the Wall Street Journal notes that Uber, like many other Western tech companies before it, faced the same issues of favoritism for the local competitor and obstacles being thrown in their way by the Chinese government.  By selling to Didi, it allows Uber to remain competitive in China through this new partnership, but is also allowing Didi access to Uber’s algorithms.  That said, there are other threats out there to Uber than just unfavorable governments, from driver-owned apps to Uber itself.

Apple, by far, is one of the best marketing companies in the world today.  Yup, you heard me, not technology, but marketing.  They create their message in a way that creates an identity people want to be part of.  Yes, they make great technology to boot, but also encouraged all of us to think different in the process.  What about the world of public relations at Apple though?  Well, in this article from HBR, Cameron Craig talks about four key rules: keep it simple, value reporters’ time, be hands on, stay focused, and prioritize media influencers.  While we might not be dealing with the press on a day to day basis, these rules reinforce how we as leaders should interact with our people, perhaps worded like this: keep it simple, value our people’s time, be hands on (without micromanaging), stay focused, and prioritize people over all else.

Lithium ion batteries are something we use every day and are all well aware of their capacity issues,  Well, as odd as it is for me to be this excited about, lithium-air batteries might finally have reached a point where they are no longer theory.  What does that mean for us?  Lighter batteries that will have twice the charge capacity of the batteries of today and will last longer as well.

VB has a good follow up on chat bots this week – yes, they’re the most hyped tech add in this year, but this article gives an update on how bots are progressing as well as some of the challenges faced in the UX design.

Michael Spence may not be a name you’re familiar with, but he is a nobel laureate in Economics and wrote this week on the growth models of developing countries and how robotics and technology will again shift the way and where things are manufactured.  The slow growth were seeing in advanced countries is likely to persist, and that will tempt developing countries to pursue quick fixes, fixes that would burden those economies in the long run.  One of Spence’s points is that “entrepreneurial activity is vital to translate economic potential into reality.”  That’s my long set up for another two articles on tech in Africa, one about a day in the digital life on that continent, the other about how fintech is building the African financial market (not disrupting it).

Interesting things are going on in Dubai, where AstroLabs, a tech incubator, has set up a coworking space that allows companies to obtain free-zone company licenses, without which entering that market would be a huge hurdle.  It’s the first incubator of this sort to gain traction in that region, and it will be interesting to see how companies are able to leverage it to test out the Dubai market.

For those of us not paranoid enough, Motherboard has done a good job this week of capturing some of the things we should be scared of from a hacking standpoint thanks to the internet of things.  They posit that the IoT will soon see the first large scale disaster due to hacking.  For those of us that follow the infosec space, this isn’t a shock.  Motherboard goes on to have a collection of articles about the current state of hacking you can find here.

Microsoft’s Nokia purchase is leading to even more job cuts.  Yahoo is on a hiring frenzy despite layoffs.  Our brains are on a new drug and it’s called our phone.  A radical change to how kids learn everywhere might come from an online school.  This may be the smartest thing Facebook has ever done.

Last, Jim Fowler, the CIO at GE, has some interesting observations on how Minecraft predicts the future of collaborative work.  He posits this will happen in four ways: we will live inside our designs, we will work on platforms that attract skill and unleash creativity, through collaboration, no problem becomes too difficult to solve, and last, science and technology education will be more like games and less like school, making them both more engaging and exciting.  Also critical, though, is easy access to technology and data and the freedom to find the best way to use it.

I stumbled across a great TED talk this week by John Green titled “the nerd’s guide to learning everything online.”  To Green (who starts his talk with a story about a made up town), we all need to find out how learning works best for us.  He didn’t understand, when he was younger, why people would put nooses around their necks and then head off before it was daylight out to something that seemed to make them miserable.  As a child, if education led to that, why would he want education? Eventually he did, but it took a different kind of school for him to do so.  Check it out.

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