Why is everyone investing in India's Jio Platforms
Possible reason: It's one of the fastest growing tech companies in the world.
👋 Welcome to the FWIW by David Tvrdon, a tech, media & audio newsletter.
In this edition
🤔 Why is everyone investing in Jio (India)
🤙 Is TikTok safe?
💬 Other tech, media & podcasting news
Why is everyone investing in Jio Platforms
Jio Platforms is an Indian digital services company and a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL). It owns India's largest mobile network operator Jio and other digital businesses of Reliance and was reported to be the fourth largest Indian company by market capitalization. RIL is a Fortune Global 500 company and India's most valuable company by market value.
The founder is Mukesh Ambani, an Indian billionaire business magnate. Ambani is the richest man in India per Bloomberg.
Jio has been in the news lately a lot due to several investments from U.S. tech companies (here is a list). Google is the latest, the search giant is investing $4.5 billion for a 7.73% stake in the top Indian telecom network.
The biggest foreign investment yet came from Facebook in mid April ($5,7 billion).
Jio has made some smart moves in 2016 when it started by offering access to affordable and comprehensive telecommunications services, attracting nearly 400 million subscribers in just a few years.
Some even go as far as calling Jio Platforms the world’s most ambitious tech company.
Maybe the smartest move when starting was not to offer 2G or 3G service and instead uses only voice over LTE to provide voice service on its 4G network. This made it much easier (and cheaper) to build a network over the country.
Jio also leveraged super cheap phones from China and later has shipped at least 40 million JioPhone powered by KaiOS, which is a mobile operating system based on Linux, developed by KaiOS Technologies (Hong Kong) Limited. KaiOS is pretty basic, though it has a large user base in India, Africa, and other developing markets.
Together with Google Jio plans to build its 5G future. Google and Reliance Jio Platforms will work on a customized version of Android operating system to develop low-cost, entry-level smartphones to serve the next hundreds of millions of users, said Ambani.
How much can you trust TikTok?
Is TikTok safe to use? Depends who you ask. If you ask security researchers on Reddit, they will say you should instantly remove the app from your phone. If you look at India, they already removed the app from the country (though the reasons were political). And if you ask the American government, they are considering a ban as well.
I tried to find out the question to that answer in the past couple of days and there are the single two best articles on the topics I have found: The TikTok War by Ben Thompson on Stratechery and Is it time to delete TikTok? A guide to the rumors and the real privacy risks by Washington Post.
The two articles approach the same question from different angles and the conclusion isn’t entirely the same, to sum up: They both warn you that TikTok can be compelled by the Chinese government to give them your data and that TikTok is mining a lot of your data but maybe less than Facebook.
The problem isn’t the app as it is, Thompson perfectly captures the innovation that it brought and the smart use of algorithms it has perfected over the years on the billion user Chinese market. The problem is that the parent comapany, ByteDance, is in China and TikTok is a subsidiary even though it has an American CEO.
The Washington Post columnist concludes if you really want to use the app, sign up with a different email you do not use elsewhere. The company will get some information about you, but won’t know everything and might not be able to connect it to your profile. Because we all can have profile in the Chinese database, that’s just how it works in China.
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In other news
📈 Crazy week for EVs and stock markets. Let’s start with Tesla. The electric automaker’s stock kept rising and surpassed all other carmakers’ market caps. Tesla’s short-interest level (the dollar value of all shares sold short) recently hit $19.95 billion and is poised to be the first stock to hit $20 billion. And then there are upstarts like Rivian, which just raised $2,5 billion and has a 100,000 cars future order from Amazon. Then there is Nikola, which is hyping up its Cybertruck rivals and riding the unpredictable EV stock wave. [CNBC]
🎈 Project Loon launched in Kenya. Google’s balloons are bringing the internet to new parts of the country. In partnership with Telkom Kenya, Loon technology has now launched with 35 balloons in constant motion above eastern Africa delivering mobile internet speeds of up to of 4.74 mbps uplink, and downlink speed of 18.9 mbps, and a latency of 19 milliseconds for everything from emails, web browsing, voice calls via WhatsApp and YouTube with up to 35,000 early users connected, according to the partners. [Quartz Africa]
One fun thing: The balloons launched from Nevada and Puerto Rico took a long trip to come to Keyna. I guess they loved the journey 😅
Plus: Here is an explainer how project Loon works.
😜 Apple vs. Vestager 1:0. Apple won its court fight over a record 13 billion-euro ($14.9 billion) Irish tax bill to EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager’s crackdown on preferential fiscal deals for companies. [Bloomberg]
The same day (what a coincidence!) the EU Commission proposed a new set of measures called ‘Fair and Simple Taxation‘. Here is an interesting part:
The proposal on administrative cooperation (DAC 7) extends EU tax transparency rules to digital platforms, so that those who make money through the sale of goods or services on platforms pay their fair share of tax too. This new proposal will ensure that Member States automatically exchange information on the revenues generated by sellers on online platforms.
The Commission will also work on a new approach to business taxation for the 21st century, to address the challenges of the digital economy and ensure all multinationals pay their fair share.
😈 Twitter got hacked. On Wednesday, famous people (Obama, Musk, Biden) and international companies got their Twitter profiles hacked. The attackers posted messages asking people to send money and that they will send it back doubled. Imagine Elon Musk tweeting with Tesla stock rising that he has a lucky day and will double the $1000 you send him. Some people fell for it. It is still unclear what happened, Twitter is investigating. [The Verge]
📺 The video-making middle class on YouTube is not happy. A research paper came out, by Robyn Caplan and Tarleton Gillespie, which says (based on interviews with YouTube video creators and analyzing their work) the video makers are frustrated by YouTube’s complicated rules and unpredictable paychecks. Also, the researchers found that while YouTube is working together with the biggest stars and helping them flourish, this is not happening to the middle class of creators. They say it would help to ease the tensions if YouTube talked to them more. [The New York Times]
📲 iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 are in public beta. I have read some of the reviews while still in developer beta and now again once they got into open beta. It seems, per several sources, the systems are quite stable. I am strongly considering going for it early on my iPhone. [The Verge]
💸 Biggest salaries among U.S. executives? No surprise, men in tech. [Bloomberg]
Bloomberg Graphics @BBGVisualDataFrom Silicon Valley to Wall Street, these U.S. executives receive the biggest salaries. Tesla’s Elon Musk takes the top spot for the second year https://t.co/xCt4QuGkka
🎥 A new documentary, 10 years in the making. The New York Times will premiere its first feature documentary on Netflix this Friday (July 17). NYT journalists Catrin Einhorn and Leslye Davis chronicle the cost of combat and the call to service for Master Sgt. Brian Eisch and his family. [The New York Times]
Axios also breaks down how the Gray Lady is stepping up its TV & film productions: NYT has 10 scripted TV show projects in development, as well as 3 feature documentaries coming out this year and several other documentary projects in development and production.
That’s something editor-in-chief, Dean Baquet, said in a recent podcast he is very proud of. If you haven’t heard that Longform interview with him I really recommend listening.
🤦♂️ In Quibi news: the service reportedly lost 90 percent of early users after their free trials expired. This just keeps getting better and better. [The Verge]
👀 How Instagram helps The Economist to reach a new generation. The Economist writes that Instagram has become a key platform for their digital growth. Their Instagram account passed the 5 million mark. The publication says it’s not only driving new traffic from IG stories and “link in bio”, but it’s also about acquiring and retaining the next generation of readers and subscribers. [Medium]
🎧 Apple is launching its own daily news podcast. Among other audio announcements (audio versions of stories in Apple News), the show called Apple News Today was revealed. It will be hosted by Apple News editors Shumita Basu and Duarte Geraldino. Episodes will be 7 - 8 minutes long, released Monday through Friday. Apple is careful not to use the word ‘podcast‘ in the press release, it’s calling it ‘daily audio news briefing‘. Because we both know that podcast is an open format and this does not seem to be a podcast, in the technical sense. Also, in Slovakia, I couldn’t find the show in Apple Podcasts and later found out it will be exclusively available in the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia. I get it, but I am not happy about this fragmentation. [CNN]
😥 Podcasts will not hit the billion mark in 2020. It’s due to the pandemic according to the IAB’s annual Podcast Ad Revenue Study. Despite the pandemic, the U.S. podcast advertising revenue is expected to grow by 14.7% in 2020. The leading content genre for US podcast advertisers is News, which generated 22% of revenues. [IAB]
💰 SiriusXM buys Stitcher (officially). The agreed price is $325m. As many tried to explain, the price speaks to the extraordinary growth of the podcast industry. Also, the consolidation is a sign of maturing of the podcast market. [Reuters]
🎙️ Spotify announced a bunch of new things. First, there are new charts: Top podcasts and Trending podcasts. They rolled out in 26 countries, if you are reading this is Slovakia don’t bother, it’s not coming here yet. The company also introduced a new exclusive podcast called An Oral History of The Office, which as the title suggests dives into the creation and behind the scenes of the U.S. version of The Office. And finally, Spotify is available in 13 new markets including Russia, Ukraine, or Croatia. All countries I thought already had the service. [Spotify Newsroom]
🌐 With Podpage you can create a podcast website for free. Or if you want your domain, it’s $5 monthly. [Podpage]
🤖 This 1947 French film predicted how people would use smartphones. To be clear, it’s a clip from a movie about the future of television called “Télévision œil de demain”. It is based on the work of science fiction writer René Barjavel and directed by J.K. Raymond-Millet. If you look at it the clip is pretty opinionated and tries to convey the idea people will be walking around looking at screens and bumping into each other.