Tech Brief: Chinese Smartphone Vendor Xiaomi Plans to Break Into U.S. Phone Market as Early as This Year

Top Stories

  • Chinese smartphone vendor Xiaomi Corp. is hoping to break into the U.S. market as early as this year as it also plans an initial public offering to raise $10 billion or more. The Beijing-based company currently sells a number of internet-connected devices in the United States, such as speakers and cameras, but does not formally sell any of its smartphones. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • A survey conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research found that minimum wage jobs are more profitable than working for Uber Technologies Inc. or Lyft Inc. as a driver. The analysis found that the median profit for the companies’ drivers is $3.37 per hour before taxes, with 74 percent of drivers earning less than the minimum wage in their states, a finding that Uber and Lyft have both questioned. (USA Today)
  • Singapore-based chipmaker Broadcom Ltd., which is currently attempting to purchase rival Qualcomm Inc., plans to complete moving back to the United States by mid-May, according to a source familiar with the matter. Broadcom’s return to the United States, which the company first announced plans for in November, could potentially remove roadblocks to the proposed Qualcomm acquisition by alleviating concerns at the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which has the authority to stop deals that could prove harmful to national security. (Reuters)
  • Inc.’s retail team reportedly informed employees of Google LLC’s smart home division Nest that it would not sell any of the newest products announced by the company, escalating a war over the future of smart home products between the two tech giants. Amazon currently sells a limited number of Nest products that will reportedly disappear from the site once the remaining inventory has been sold, since Nest is said to have decided to no longer work with the e-commerce giant on selling the limited number of its products listed on Amazon’s site. (Business Insider)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

No events scheduled
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on NTIA 10 a.m.
Senate Finance Committee hearing on protecting e-commerce consumers from counterfeits 10 a.m.
House Small Business subcommittee hearing on rural broadband 10 a.m.
DOT and NHTSA meeting on self-driving vehicles 10 a.m.
ITIF event on piracy and streaming media boxes 9 a.m.
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on emerging tech’s impact on retail 10 a.m.
House Financial Services subcommittee hearing on legislative proposals to reform data security systems 2 p.m.
FCBA committee meeting on public safety communications systems 6 p.m.
US-China Economic and Security Review Commission hearing on next generation connectivity 9:30 a.m.
World Radiocommunication Conference Advisory Committee meeting 11 a.m.
Silicon Flatirons event on Section 512 Safe Harbor 1 p.m.
CICA event on EU general data protection regulation 12 p.m.

The Most Polarizing Brands in America

From the NFL to CNN, here are the brands that divide Democrats and Republicans the most.


Trash in the Fjords? Norway Turns to Drones
Richard Martyn-Hemphill, The New York Times

Norway’s fjords have long inspired the country’s artists and drawn streams of tourists. In winter, their ice-laced surfaces shimmer beside snow-capped mountains: a vision of natural beauty, blissfully untouched.

Teen shooting survivors leverage huge social media followings for gun control
Ali Breland, The Hill

Teenaged survivors of the Parkland, Fla. High school shooting have amassed huge followings on social media in the weeks since a gunman attacked their school, assembling powerful social media tools in the national debate over guns and mass shootings. Senior Emma Gonzalez, who now has more than 1.1 million followers on Twitter, has seen her audience expand by tens of thousands of new followers each day since Feb. 19 according to data from SocialBlade.

The Falcon 9 rocket may reach 50 launches on Tuesday
Eric Berger, Ars Technica

SpaceX launched its first Falcon 9 rocket less than a decade ago, in June 2010. Early next week, the California-based rocket company will go for its 50th launch of its workhorse booster.

Chinese Investors Bet on Latin America for Next Tech Gold Rush
Lulu Yilun Chen, Bloomberg

Two years ago, Tang Xin had never set foot in Mexico and didn’t know a word of Spanish. While his grasp of the language hasn’t improved much since then, he has built one of the country’s hottest apps.

Stocks Mixed as Trade War Looms; Italian Bonds Drop: Markets Wrap
Samuel Potter, Bloomberg

The threat of a global trade war loomed large over equities on Monday, with heavy losses across many Asian markets and U.S. futures trading lower even as European shares rose. The dollar edged higher and Treasuries gained, while Italian assets fell as the nation faced a hung parliament.

Intellectual Property and Antitrust

Broadcom return to the U.S. could be complete in mid-May: sources
Diane Bartz, Reuters

Singapore-based chipmaker Broadcom Ltd, which is seeking to buy rival Qualcomm Inc, plans to complete its move back to the United States by mid-May, according to sources familiar with the matter. Wrapping up the move from Singapore and redomiciling in the United States relatively quickly could remove a roadblock to the proposed deal by calming concerns at the inter-agency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which has the power to stop deals that could harm national security.

Qualcomm’s Future, and the Jacobs Family Legacy, Goes to a Vote
Ted Greenwald, The Wall Street Journal

Qualcomm Inc. Chairman Paul Jacobs strode to the stage at the annual meeting a year ago after a marketing video boasted that the chip maker’s innovations enable the inventive insurgents who are creating a new generation of connected devices. “While that video was about insurrection, we’re looking for no insurrection today,” Mr. Jacobs joked to the assembled shareholders.

Here’s how a lawsuit against Ring scuttled one deal a few months before Amazon bought it
Theodore Schleifer, Recode

An injunction against Ring scuttled one fundraising deal it had planned just a few months before Amazon’s billion dollar purchase of the smart-home security company, according to sources. Ring did end up raising $100 million anyway this winter before the sale.

Telecom, Wireless and TV

Xiaomi Set to Enter U.S. Smartphone Market as Early as This Year
Liza Lin and Dan Strumpf, The Wall Street Journal

China’s Xiaomi Corp. could sell smartphones in the U.S. as early as this year, extending its Western expansion as it plans a highly anticipated initial public offering. Beijing-based Xiaomi, China’s fourth-largest smartphone vendor, has succeeded in emerging markets like India and Southeast Asia in recent years, and has also pushed into some Western markets, including Spain, where it opened stores earlier this year.

Mobile Technology and Social Media

Amazon will stop selling Nest smart home devices, escalating its war with Google
Steve Kovach, Business Insider

It was an awkward phone call, but one the Nest team had been expecting. After weeks of silence, Amazon’s retail team informed Nest employees on a conference call late last year that it would not list any of the newer Nest products recently announced by the company, according to a person familiar with the call.

Uber, Lyft drivers actually earn less than minimum wage, MIT survey suggests
Ashley May, USA Today

Minimum wage jobs bring home more profit than working for Uber or Lyft, according to an analysis by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Median profit for Uber and Lyft drivers is $3.37 per hour before taxes, according to a survey of over 1,100 drivers by the MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research.

Uber called an MIT study concluding drivers make less than $4 an hour ‘flawed’
Johana Bhuiyan, Recode

The average Uber driver makes less than $4 an hour, at least according to a new paper published by MIT. In fact, the study, which coupled data from a survey of 1,100 drivers with vehicle cost information, found that 74 percent of drivers earned less than minimum wage in the state they worked in.

Tone-Deaf: How Facebook Misread America’s Mood on Russia
Deepa Seetharaman et al., The Wall Street Journal

Weeks after Facebook Inc. disclosed it had been exploited by Russia-backed propagandists, the company was still underestimating its problems, with users and advertisers and, crucially, Washington. At an October off-the-record conference of tech-industry elites in Hawaii, Facebook’s head of advertising, Rob Goldman, defended Facebook’s response and argued the Russians bought ads to exploit social divisions, not primarily to sway the 2016 U.S. presidential election, say people who heard his remarks.

Advertisers flee InfoWars founder Alex Jones’ YouTube channel
Paul P. Murphy and Gianluca Mezzofiore, CNN

Some of the biggest brands in the U.S. had ads running on the YouTube channels for far-right website InfoWars and its founder, notorious conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and they say they had no idea YouTube was allowing their advertising to appear there. Last week, YouTube reprimanded the conspiracy theory site and Jones for violating its community guidelines after a video posted to The Alex Jones Channel, InfoWars’ biggest YouTube account, claimed student anti-gun activists were actors.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

State Dept. Was Granted $120 Million to Fight Russian Meddling. It Has Spent $0.
Gardiner Harris, The New York Times

As Russia’s virtual war against the United States continues unabated with the midterm elections approaching, the State Department has yet to spend any of the $120 million it has been allocated since late 2016 to counter foreign efforts to meddle in elections or sow distrust in democracy. As a result, not one of the 23 analysts working in the department’s Global Engagement Center — which has been tasked with countering Moscow’s disinformation campaign — speaks Russian, and a department hiring freeze has hindered efforts to recruit the computer experts needed to track the Russian efforts.

Angus King: Report coming this month on Russia’s attempts to hack state election systems
Kyle Feldscher, Washington Examiner

Maine Sen. Angus King said Sunday the Senate Intelligence Committee would release a report in the coming weeks on Russia’s attempts to hack state election systems. Speaking on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” King refused to go into any details about the report, but said it shows the Senate Intelligence Committee is wrapping up its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

GitHub targeted with largest DDoS attack ever recorded
Olivia Beavers, The Hill

GitHub, a software platform developer, recently faced what has been described as one of the most powerful distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks seen to date. An explosion of traffic — 1.35 terabits per second — bombarded the site on Wednesday afternoon from over a thousand different autonomous systems.

Companies Sharpen Cyber Due Diligence as M&A Activity Revs Up
Kim S. Nash and Ezequiel Minaya, The Wall Street Journal

Automatic Data Processing Inc. deployed a team of cybersecurity, risk management and financial-crime specialists to WorkMarket before acquiring it in January. The ADP team combed the software maker’s technology, practices and internal policies.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Keeping America in the Lead on Innovation
Patrick Kilbride, Morning Consult

Supply-chain interruptions, slow-growth environments, changing tastes and good old-fashioned competition are all challenges that businesses large and small willingly face. In a healthy economy, risks are balanced with reward, encouraging entrepreneurs to bring new ideas to the market.

Is China Destined to Dominate Tech?
Christopher Balding, Bloomberg

The digital world relies on data, and no one produces more of it than China’s 1.4 billion internet users. The vast wealth of information these users emit has helped Chinese tech companies become some of the world’s best, and led to speculation that China will inevitably dominate future technologies, such as artificial intelligence.

The Qualcomm Question
The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal

Broadcom Ltd.’s hostile bid to buy Qualcomm Inc. is playing as a typical brawl for corporate control, but sooner or later it will also become a national security issue. Qualcomm shareholders ought to know this going into their vote Tuesday on Broadcom’s slate of directors who would give the Singapore-based company effective control.

Political Sex-Trafficking Exploitation
The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal

Bipartisanship isn’t always a force for good. See how plaintiff attorneys are trying to exploit political fury at Silicon Valley and online sex-trafficking to blow a hole in a law that has been crucial to internet freedom. The House this week passed legislation that would create a carve-out to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 for online sex trafficking.

Your Kid’s Phone Is Not Like a Cigarette
Anya Kamenetz, The New York Times

A new national ad campaign, “Truth About Tech,” is designed to expose the ways that platforms like YouTube, Snapchat and Facebook are harmful to children and to “protect young minds from digital manipulation and exploitation.” Organized by the nonprofits Common Sense and the Center for Humane Technology, it has been compared by its organizers to the “Truth” anti-tobacco campaign, which, beginning in 1999, rolled out ads — including images of body bags placed outside a major tobacco company to represent the number of people killed by tobacco each day — that are credited with helping to slash teenage smoking rates.

Everything here is fake
Robert D. Kaplan, The Washington Post

I recently had a private tour of Paramount Studios in Los Angeles. I was shown the famous stage where the original “King Kong” was filmed.

Making progress with the critical mission of modernizing federal IT
Tom Gann, The Hill

We may well remember 2017 as the year the government finally sent a strong message on the importance of modernizing federal IT. The message is bolstered by funding to which Congress and the Trump administration agreed.

Research Reports

Social Media Use in 2018
Aaron Smith and Monica Anderson, Pew Research Center

A new Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults finds that the social media landscape in early 2018 is defined by a mix of long-standing trends and newly emerging narratives. Facebook and YouTube dominate this landscape, as notable majorities of U.S. adults use each of these sites.

The Economics of Ride-Hailing: Driver Revenue, Expenses and Taxes
Stephen M. Zoepf et al., MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research

We perform a detailed analysis of Uber and Lyft ride-hailing driver economics by pairing results from a survey of over 1100 drivers with detailed vehicle cost information. Results show that per hour worked, median profit from driving is $3.37/hour before taxes, and 74% of drivers earn less than the minimum wage in their state. 30% of drivers are actually losing money once vehicle expenses are included.