Moving deeper into enterprise cloud, Intel picks up Barefoot Networks

When it launched out of stealth just three years ago, Barefoot Networks was hailed as a company that would transform the way a generation of computing giants like Facebook, Alphabet, Amazon and Microsoft would function while making chip manufacturers like Intel and networking companies like Cisco take notice

Now, Intel has not only taken notice, it’s acquired Barefoot Networks for an undisclosed amount.

It’s a sign of just how important cloud computing has become, and an opportunity for Intel to stake more of a claim in the networking space after losing ground to the GPU manufacturers whose chipsets have been in demand since the rise of gaming, graphics, and artificial intelligence made them ascendant.

Essentially, Barefoot Networks chips allow its customers to program whatever functionality they need on to the networking chips that Barefoot sells them. 

Previously, companies could customize network architecture down to everything BUT the chipset. The lack of programmable chips meant that network architectures couldn’t be quite as responsive as a company like Facebook, Microsoft, or Google would want, because they were always working around chipsets that had been designed for specific functions.

Based in Santa Clara, Calif., Barefoot Networks was launched from stealth in late 2016 by Dr. Craig Barratt, a former Stanford University professor whose work was critical to the development of the networking architectures that allowed Alphabet, Facebook and others to operate at the massive scale they now have.

As these companies demanded more customized hardware ranging from chipsets to enable their various machine learning algorithms to manage and monitor content (and win Go games), to the servers and routers that they’ve put up in their own internal networks Barratt realized they’d need chipsets that they could modify.

With the acquisition, Intel adds a core knowledge set around p4-programmable high speed data paths, … Read the rest

Alibaba reportedly mulling to raise $20B through a second listing in Hong Kong

Massive news just dropped for Hong Kong’s capital markets. Alibaba, one of the world’s largest tech companies, is considering raising $20 billion through a second listing in Hong Kong, Bloomberg reported on Monday citing sources.

TechCrunch has reached out to Alibaba for comment and will update the story if and when we have more information.

Unnamed people told Bloomberg that the money raised in Hong Kong is intended to help Alibaba “diversify funding channels and boost liquidity.” The Chinese ecommerce behemoth is aiming to file a listing application confidentially as early as the second half of 2019, according to the report. That would come five years after Alibaba famously scored a record $25 billion listing on the New York Stock Exchange following Hong Kong’s refusal to approve its filing due to rules around company structure.

But the Hong Kong Stock Exchange is becoming an increasingly popular destination for public offerings that put Chinese tech businesses closer to investors at home, as my colleague Jon Russell explained in 2017. The turning point came when the bourse finally introduced dual-class tech stock listings last year, a major appeal that helped HKEX attract such tech darlings as smartphone maker Xiaomi and food delivery service Meituan Dianping.

The news also arrived at a time when Chinese tech firms are coping with increasing hostility in the US amid a series of prolonged trade negotiations. Just last week, China’s largest chipmaker announced that it would delist from the NYSE and focused on its existing Hong Kong listing, although the company claimed the plan had been brewing for some time and had nothing to do with the trade war.

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Tencent’s latest education push is a nod to new collaborative structure

When Tencent announced it had formed a new education brand this week, the internet giant wasn’t just flexing its muscles to conquer China’s booming online education sector. The new initiative is also an early result of Tencent’s long plan to foster more internal collaboration at a time when its core businesses, the lucrative video gaming segment and the billion-user WeChat, are under attack.

Called “Tencent Education,” the new brand consists of 20 products across all six of the firm’s business groups, announced executive senior vice president Dowson Tong at the company’s annual ecosystem summit on Wednesday. According to Tong, Tencent has over the years served some 15,000 schools and 70,000 educational institutes, giving it a reach of more than 300 million users in the sector.

What this means is when it comes to making education products, there will be more teamwork among Tencent divisions, from the one overseeing WeChat to the entertainment-focused unit operating some of the world’s most played games. The catalog of services ranges from face recognition technology to monitor students during class time (I know, it makes me cringe) to personal development classes for adults.

This level of cross-department cooperation had been rare at Tencent until recently. For years, the Shenzhen-based company fostered a competitive culture it compares to horse races. On the one hand, internal rivalry spawns innovation. The success of WeChat has demonstrated Tencent’s willingness to let a new product eat into its legacy social network QQ. The strategy doesn’t always work, though. To contain TikTok’s rise, Tencent has churned out a dozen short-video apps, but none has reached their rival’s supremacy.

Competition, on the other hand, produces internal silos and hurts collaboration. This is a critique that has often come at Tencent, although Tong refuted the notion in a recent interview with local … Read the rest

A young entrepreneur is building the Amazon of Bangladesh

At just 26, Waiz Rahim is supposed to be involved in the family business, having returned home in 2016 with an engineering degree from the University of Southern California. Instead, the young entrepreneur is plotting to build the Amazon of Bangladesh.

Deligram, Rahim’s vision of what e-commerce looks like in Bangladesh, a country of nearly 180 million, is making progress, having taken inspiration from a range of established tech giants worldwide, including Amazon, Alibaba and Go-Jek in Indonesia.

It’s a far cry from the family business. That’s Rahimafrooz, a 65-year-old conglomerate that is one of the largest companies in Bangladesh. It started out focused on battery manufacturing, but over the years its businesses have branched out to span power and energy and automotive products while it operates a retail superstore called Agora.

During his time at school in the U.S., Rahim worked for the company as a tech consultant whilst figuring out what he wanted to do after graduation. Little could he have imagined that, fast-forward to 2019, he’d be in charge of his own startup that has scaled to two cities and raised $3 million from investors, one of which is Rahimafrooz.

Deligram CEO Waiz Rahim [Image via Deligram]

“My options after college were to stay in U.S. and do product management or analyst roles,” Rahim told TechCrunch in a recent interview. “But I visited rural areas while back in Bangladesh and realized that when you live in a city, it’s easy to exist in a bubble.”

So rather than stay in America or go to the family business, Rahim decided to pursue his vision to build “a technology company on the wave of rising economic growth, digitization and a vibrant young population.”

The youngster’s ambition was shaped by a stint working for Amazon at its Carlsbad … Read the rest

The misunderstandings of 18-month-old Luckin’s $500M IPO

Luckin Coffee is the most energizing IPO in recent memory, and not just because it sells caffeine.

Most venture-backed startups can take a decade to reach the public markets. Luckin cut that time down to about 18 months. Founder Jenny Qian Zhiya opened a trial coffee shop in Beijing, with a focus on rapid coffee delivery and mobile app ordering. Fast forward to today, and the company’s 2,370 stores conducted nearly 17 million transactions in the most recent quarter ending March 31.

Now Luckin — which can barely offer year-over-year comparables — intends to list its American depository shares (ADSs) on Nasdaq in the coming weeks, hoping to raise over $500 million through the IPO.

Understanding and going long or short on this company requires that we drop the facile analogies (aka it’s Starbucks!), understand the context of startup growth in China, and take a (rare) bet on a high-flying growth company in the public markets.

The incredibly useless Starbucks analogy

Lonely Planet via Getty Images

There is nothing in the United States that compares to Luckin. But that hasn’t stopped journalists, financial analysts, and what I suspect is Luckin’s own PR folks from making the obvious coffee chain comparison.

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