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Tencent CEO warns companies must keep innovating to survive amid US-China tensions – TechCrunch

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On Tuesday, Tencent’s usually low-profile founder and CEO Pony Ma made rare comments to weigh in on escalating tensions between the United States and China, calling domestic tech companies to build more self-reliance in a bid to stay competitive.

“China has come to the forefront of development. There is less and less room for taking the best from outside and improving on them. As the ZTE and Huawei cases have intensified recently, we are also constantly watching whether the trade war will turn into a tech war,” said Ma at an event in China’s Yunnan Province per a transcript Tencent provided to TechCrunch.

Ma’s concern is not unexpected. As recent US-China negotiations show, the Shenzhen-based telecommunication and smartphone giant has become deeply entangled in the trade spat. The Commerce Department last week restricted American companies from selling components and other technology to Huawei — which the Trump administration has labeled as posing a national security threat — though it has since scaled back the ban. That would eventually cut Huawei off from certain services from Google, chips made by Qualcomm and Intel, and its other American suppliers.

Despite China’s efforts to lead in global innovation, many of its tech startups and champions still rely heavily on imported technologies to deliver products and services. People have celebrated this level of interdependence as a result of trade, but increasingly they worry decoupling the US and China will hurt companies on both sides and lead to a bifurcation of the global tech economy.

“[China]’s digital economy will be a high-rise built on sand and hard to sustain if we don’t continue to work hard on basic research and key knowledge, not to mention the transformation from old to new forms of drivers or high-quality development,” Ma pointed out.

Jack Ma, founder of Tencent’s arch-foe Alibaba, remarked along the same line following a similar ban placed on the sale of American components to Huawei rival ZTE in April of last year.

“It is the compelling obligation for big companies to compete in core technology,” said Alibaba’s Ma at an industry event per a report from the South China Morning Post.

The latest technology ban from the US has now accelerated Huawei’s efforts to become more technologically independent. That includes designing its own chips and rolling out its own smartphone operating system, though observers and stakeholders, including Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei himself, have raised questions on their viability in the short run.

“We will give it a try. Making the operating system isn’t too difficult. What’s difficult is the ecosystem. How do you build an ecosystem? This is a big project, and it will take time,” said Ren during an interview with state media on Tuesday.

When it comes to Huawei’s homegrown chips, Ren said the company is “capable of making American-quality semiconductors, but that doesn’t mean it won’t buy them.” On the other side, chip experts interviewed by Reuters have called out Huawei for its claim, saying it would be difficult for the Chinese company to manufacture network gears without American suppliers.

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The First Tesla Semi Has Been Delivered After Lengthy Delays

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There had long been suggestion Pepsi would be one of Tesla’s biggest customers — with a subsidiary spotted installing charging stations at one of its plants and test driving the trucks earlier this year. Tesla also placed an order for 100 of the high tech trucks shortly after they were announced in 2017. In October, Musk confirmed the company’s first truck was almost ready for delivery, and it would be going to the soft drink manufacturer.

Today, Tesla finally made it official and delivered its first production semis to Pepsi. Speaking at the handover, which took place at a Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada, Musk described his motivation for designing the truck. The Tesla CEO claims that trucks make up less than 1% of vehicles in the United States, but are responsible for a large chunk of emissions. Musk said it will both help the environment and improve the health of individuals living near highways. At the end of the presentation, Musk thanked Pepsico and described them as a “great partner.” 

The trucks’ keycards were then handed over to Pepsi’s representatives, followed by several high fives. The trucks’ first cargo run involved “an enormous amount of Frito Lays” which were handed out to people in attendance. Pepsi’s Kirk Tanner then took the mic and said: “I want to thank the people who have spent countless hours to make this a reality.” before thanking Elon Musk and the other Tesla representatives. Other companies are also interested in Tesla’s electric semi. Budweiser, Walmart, and UPS are amongst those who have placed pre-orders — with Budweiser ordering at least 40 of the large electric vehicles.

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Kanye West Is No Longer Buying Twitter-Rival Parler

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It’s unclear whether West’s recent controversies have anything to do with the Parler deal falling apart. In a statement shared with CNBC, Parler’s owner notes that the “decision was made in the interest of both parties in mid-November.” Parler says it will be on the lookout for the growth opportunities, without clarifying if it was looking for investors to scale up, or full-fledged buyers. The latter seems unlikely to happen, given the current state of layoffs in the tech industry and the looming fears of a recession.

Parlement Technologies reportedly had high hopes from its acquisition deal with Kanye West. Soon after the agreement press release went out, Parler sent out an email to its “VIP” users, offering them perks like a gold badge for being valuable personalities on the platform. Politico reports that the email campaign inadvertently revealed the personal contact information of nearly a dozen lawmakers and some well-known conservative personalities.

Citing an insider source, Axios reports that West’s unstable financial situation following the cancellation of lucrative deals with the likes of Adidas played a role in his Parler plans falling apart. In the meanwhile, West has returned to Twitter, after his account was restricted for a few weeks ago over sharing anti-Semitic remarks. West currently has a huge follower base of over 18 million on Twitter, which dwarfs the total number of users on Parler, as of December 2021.

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Elon Musk Says Twitter’s Potential Removal From iOS App Store Was ‘Misunderstanding’

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Barely two days after Elon Musk feuded with Apple publicly, he met with Tim Cook to settle the differences. “We resolved the misunderstanding about Twitter potentially being removed from the App Store. Tim was clear that Apple never considered doing so,” Elon Musk tweeted last evening. This was a few hours after he shared a video of Apple’s HQ to disclose the location of the meeting.

However, Elon Musk didn’t reveal if Apple will continue advertising on Twitter. According to the Washington Post, Apple was the biggest ad spender on Twitter in Q1 2022. It spent an average of $4 million per week to run ads on Twitter between January to March this year — this added up to about 4% of Twitter’s revenue. However, Reuters reports that Apple reduced its weekly ad budget on Twitter to $131,600 a few weeks after Elon Musk bought the social media company. We also haven’t heard from Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, about the agenda of his meeting with Elon Musk. 

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