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Baidu Enters the Global Race for Driverless Car Domination

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Wang Jing bought his first car, a Dodge Shadow, with $3,000 he scratched together working three part-time jobs in the U.S. as a postgraduate student in Florida. These days, the senior vice president in charge of Baidu Inc.’s autonomous driving efforts is far better paid. He’s also a man on a mission: To push China to the forefront of the coming driverless-car era.

Baidu joins a crowded field. Google Inc., which started developing autonomous cars in 2009, has tested self-driving vehicles for more than 2 million miles and is considering making its self-driving car unit a stand-alone business under the Alphabet Inc. corporate umbrella later this year. Tesla Motors Inc. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk has said his customers will be able to summon an electric car to drive autonomously from Los Angeles to New York within two years. General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. are also in hot pursuit of this emerging market.

Undeterred, Wang, 51, sees a level playing field in the coming era of intelligent, autonomous cars–and one that China is capable of dominating.

“Chinese carmakers started making cars 100 years after others and a lot of the core technology aren’t in Chinese hands, such as engines” said Wang. “With electric cars, with intelligent cars, the core technology shifts from the engine and gearbox to artificial intelligence and that’s an area where China is very close to the U.S., giving China the chance to catch up and seize leadership.”

Robotic Brain

Robin Li, Baidu’s co-founder and chief executive officer, has invested heavily into a subfield of artificial intelligence known as deep learning, which aims to improve search results and computing tasks by training computers to work more like the human brain. The company hired Andrew Ng, a renowned computer scientist and expert in robotics and machine learning as Baidu’s chief scientist in May 2014.

Wang thinks the company can leverage its expertise in artificial intelligence, data mapping and Internet connectivity to excel in autonomous driving technology. Getting China into that game is a priority for Chinese President Xi Jinping, who sees digital technology as an opportunity for Chinese manufactures to become more innovative. At a global Internet forum last month, Xi made the point of visiting Baidu’s stand, where he listened to Baidu CEO Li discuss autonomous car development.

It may take time for Chinese companies to scale up in this business, according to Cao He, an analyst with Minzu Securities in Beijing. “There is a long way ahead for Baidu and other companies trying to mass produce and sell autonomous driving cars,” said Cao. “Given the wide diversity of road conditions from one place to another, it is unlikely for any company to come up with a sizable industry operation within five years.”

That said, there could be a lot of money at state. Baidu estimates that the Chinese market for car sales, buses, taxis and related transportation services is potentially worth more than $1.5 trillion a year in revenue. Getting a sliver of that could be a huge new revenue source for China’s biggest search engine company.

Bloomberg

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Startups

5000 Startups From Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa Completed Google Training Programme

No less than 5000 startups from Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa have completed the Google Hustle Academy training programme.

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No less than 5000 startups from Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa have completed the Google Hustle Academy training programme. The programme was designed to help business owners learn soft skills that complement their hard talents.

Investors King learnt that Google received more than 10,000 applications for this year’s edition. 

It could be recalled that earlier this year, Google announced a plan to train 5,000 African Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with participants coming from Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. 

Google noted that participants will go through a training academy where they will undergo five days of hands-on training and receive 3,000 hours of training on fundamental aspects of business to help them navigate the challenges faced by SMEs in Africa.

According to the press statement released by Google Head of Brand & Reputation, Sub Sahara Africa, Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde after the completion of the training, participants attended a five-day virtual boot camp where they learned how to define their business strategy, increase sales, and how to pitch for investor funding. 

While dividing them into 23 cohorts, they were also trained in digital marketing and effective financial planning.

This is in addition to the one-on-one mentoring sessions received by each participant. The mentoring session was handled by a network of trained mentors and coaches. 

Meanwhile, Aderemi-Makinde further revealed that Google has launched a new speaker series in which successful African entrepreneurs share lessons and advice. 

He added that Google will continue to do more to help African entrepreneurs and small businesses thrive.

“(The) speaker series will allow Small and Medium Businesses to get insight from business owners from an array of sectors, focusing on the issues, themes and subjects they face on a regular basis,” he said. 

He stated that Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of the global economy while noting that in Africa, they account for an estimated 80 per cent of jobs. 

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Fund Raising

Nigerian Based Food Tech Startup, Orda Raises $3.4 Million in Seed Funding

Orda Africa has now raised a combined $4.5 million raised by the African-centric food tech company. 

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Nigerian-based food tech startup, Orda announced it has raised a sum of $3.4 million in seed funding after it raised $1.1 million in pre-seed funding at the beginning of this year. This makes it a total of $4.5 million raised by the African-centric food tech company. 

Investors King understands that Orda is an African restaurant cloud operating system that helps restaurants to move from pen and paper to a fully automated digital platform. 

According to the startup, it aims to help more African restaurants maximize their business operations and expand distribution. 

The tech company added that it plans to improve on some new features which include loan, credit, and payment options which will eventually enable its clients to maximize the potential of their business. 

Investors King learnt that this new round of funding was co-led by Quona Capital and FinTech Collective. Other institutional investors which participated in the seed funding include Far Out Ventures, Lofty Inc Capital, Enza Capital, and Outside VC.

In the last one year, Orda has been able to increase its customer base to more than 600 restaurants across Nigeria and Kenya while its weekly processing orders has increased by more than 500 percent. 

Speaking about the growth and focus of the company, Orda’s CEO and co-founder, Guy Futi said “From day one, Orda has been focused on building solutions for small and medium-sized restaurants”.

“These businesses operate with slim profit margins and the power of Orda’s software and financial solutions can catapult their business. Our goal is to provide end-to-end solutions that help them optimize their operations so they become more prosperous”. 

Founded in 2020 by Guy Futi, Fikayo Akinwale, Mark Edomwande, Kunle Ogungbamila, and Namir El-Khouri, Orda has the vision to help small-sized African restaurants optimize their business and achieve sustainable growth.

Meanwhile, the company has attributed its growth over the last 12 months to the excellent team it has put together, a trend it hopes to continue in the coming months. 

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Social Media

Twitter CEO, Elon Musk Alleged Apple Plans to Remove Twitter From iOS Store

Musk claimed that Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter

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Twitter’s new owner and CEO, Elon Musk, has alleged that Apple Inc. is planning to remove the Twitter app from the iOS App Store, the billionaire revealed this in a series of tweets yesterday. 

“Apple has also threatened to withhold Twitter from its App Store, but won’t tell us why,” Musk tweeted on Monday. 

Aside from the threat to remove Twitter from its App Store, Musk also disclosed that Apple has mostly’ stopped advertising on Twitter.

In the following tweet, Musk claimed that Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter. “Do they hate free speech in America,” he asked. 

Investors King had reported that a number of big brands which include Ford, Volkswagen, and General Motors have paused paid advertising on the microblogging platform. 

The brands have alleged that Twitter under the leadership of Elon Musk will open the social media platform to hate speech. 

If Apple eventually removes Twitter from the iOS store, it would be detrimental to Twitter’s business, which is already struggling with a loss of advertisers following Musk’s takeover. 

Millions of users get the Twitter application from the Apple iOS store. Therefore new users will not be able to download the Application on the iOS store while existing users will be deprived of updating the app. 

Washington Post reported that Apple was the top advertiser on Twitter in the first quarter of 2022, spending $48 million on ads on the social platform. 

The newspaper added that Apple’s spending accounted for more than 4 percent of Twitter’s revenue in that quarter.

Although Apple CEO, Tim Cook nor any of the company’s representatives responded to Musk’s post. 

The tweet however caught the attention of United States lawmakers who have proposed bipartisan legislation that aims to dismantle the power that Apple and Google wield through their app stores.

“This is why we need to end the App Store duopoly before the end of this year,” one of the lawmakers, Rep. Ken Buck tweeted. 

“No one should have this kind of market power,” he added.

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