The war wages on


January 30, 2019

The DoJ announced it is pursuing criminal charges against Huawei, the world’s largest telecom giant.
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Holy Hua-camole: The US is pursuing criminal charges against Huawei

On Monday, a grand jury charged the world’s largest telecom giant with conspiracy to steal trade secrets, attempted theft of trade secrets, obstruction of justice, and 7 counts of wire fraud.

The indictments follow a 2014 T-Mobile civil suit accusing Huawei of stealing trade secrets related to a robotic phone-testing device known as “Tappy.”

The Chinese company denied any wrongdoing and expressed its frustration for not getting the chance to help clear its name of the charges following the arrest of its CFO in Vancouver, B.C.

Sh*t’s gettin’ spicy

At the end of last year, Huawei Technologies CFO (and the company founder’s daughter) Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada, allegedly violating US sanctions on Iran under charges of a “fraudulent financial scheme.” She still faces extradition to the US.

The story less talked about is ‘Tappy’: From 2012 to 2014, T-Mobile  partnered with Huawei and gave it partial access to its phone testing robot. But the DoJ alleges Huawei tasked its engineers working with T-Mobile to take photos, measure the robot, and even steal a part. 

The US further alleges that, aside from emails that illustrate these actions, Huawei implemented a “bonus program” in 2013 that incentivized employees to steal competitors’ secrets.

Real life? Or John Grisham novel?

The US government has long fought to keep Huawei out of the market, citing in 2005 that “industrial espionage” is part of China’s strategy for technological development.

Since then, US agencies and lawmakers continue to warn that Huawei poses a major security threat (due to alleged ties to the Chinese government). 

There’s only one problem: As of now, “substantial evidence” of these emails doesn’t substantially exist.

Conspiracy? Wei hope not.

As TechCrunch reports, some believe the absence of proof points to the fact the US is worried that China’s role in building out 5G infrastructure could promote spying in the future.

Bottom line: Tensions between US and China have spiraled considerably over the last year, and this only lands the rock further down the hill. If found guilty, Huawei could be faced with a fine of up to $5m.

Let’s see those emails
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Brand on the run: Equinox doubles down on the treadmill trend

Inspired by the runaway success of its treadmill classes, the luxury fitness brand Equinox launched a whole new type of treadmill studio called ‘Precision Run.’

Like all the rest of Equinox’s offerings, ‘Precision Run’ will be exhausting, extravagant, and expensive. But the treadmill business is on the incline across the board: Fitness brands like Orangetheory and Barry’s Bootcamp are also jumping on the tread train.

Treadmills just got trendy

At Equinox, ‘running’ class is about as far from your experience in middle school phys-ed as you can imagine. 

Equinox joggers run on customized Woodway treadmills to the beat of efficiency-maximizing music under performance-enhancing lights while sipping CBD-infused water and breathing oxygen-enriched air.

After launching as a class in 2014, Precision Run soon became Equinox’s most popular exercise offering. Classes, which cost $36 a pop, last for around 50 minutes and include 30-40 runners. 

The next SoulCycle?

Equinox’s 135 locations sell out of all 500 Precision Run classes per week. 

But, since treadmill classes are the fastest-growing type of exercise class (increasing in popularity by 82% last year, according to ClassPass data), Equinox hopes that standalone studios will bring in more runners — and more dollars.

The first Precision Run studio will open this spring in Manhattan, with a location in LA to follow.

» Run and done

Billd, a startup that offers short-term construction loans, raised $60m

Billd, the Austin fintech startup that works with materials suppliers across the US to extend short-term loans to contractors, announced it has raised $60m in a Series A funding round.

Billd will use the capital raised to “expand product capabilities” and scale operations.

Construction is expensive

Although New York City building costs are the highest in the world at over $362 per square foot, funds for building materials and labor are notorious for not coming through on time. 

Construction suppliers usually expect payment for building materials within 30 days, which, as VentureBeat notes, is far shorter than the average 60 to 90 days it takes for contractors to receive payment for their work.

Billd’s solution is 120-day terms: Contractors get a range of financing options on material orders, which suppliers can approve the same day while getting upfront payments from Billd on behalf of the contractor.

More like Bob the Build-ers

The construction industry is hot right now: Analysts estimate the global construction industry to be around $10T, so it’s no surprise that investors are eager to construct deals.

In 2018, North American construction startups raised $220.7m, up 348% YoY, and, according to CB Insights, architecture, engineering, and construction companies attracted $1.38B in investment last year.

“The construction industry has by far some of the worst supply chain [financing] of any industry,” Billd CEO Chris Doyle said. “Billd provides subcontractors solutions so they can take that extra project, grow their business, and simplify their process.”

» Build it and billd it.

Collibra and its data governance competitors are the real winners of GDPR

Collibra, a ‘data governance’ company that helps tech companies comply with data privacy laws, raised $100m at a valuation of more than $1B.

Tech giants used to play fast and loose with data. But after Sheriff GDPR rolled into town, tech companies started taking data protection more seriously — and Collibra has taken off.

GDP-R you listening now?!

When the GDPR went into effect last May, tech companies had to start disclosing data breaches to consumers (and alerting consumers to all data collection).

But for businesses like Google that collect mind-numbing amounts of user info, it’s been hard to kick the dirty data habit: Last week, France fined Google for $57m for failing to manage its data properly.

As steeper fines loom, tech companies are finally turning to data governance companies for help getting clean and compliant. In Collibra’s recent funding round, Google was a primary investor.

One company’s crisis is another company’s cash

Founded in 2008 on the heels of the financial crisis, Collibra got its start helping big banks clean up their financial data.

Today, Collibra and data governance competitors like Informatica, Adaptive Insights, and Okera are growing rapidly thanks to the GDPR.

Last year was Collibra’s best year ever. Collibra, which has 300+ clients in industries ranging from finance to tech, expects demand for data governance to grow in coming years.

» Cheers to the gov’nance
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