Tata’s JLR invests in Uber rival Lyft for driverless cars

InMotion’s investment in Lyft makes India’s Tata Group an indirect shareholder

Company News :Tata Motors-owned British luxury carmakr Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has invested $25 million in US ride-hailing company Lyft as part of a partnership that includes development and testing of autonomous cars.

The investment in Uber‘s chief rival Lyft was done through InMotion Ventures, the venture capital arm of JLR. This was part of the $600-million funding round the ride-hailing firm closed in April at a valuation of $7.5 billion.

In a statement, InMotion said that the innovation would help Lyft expand by supplying its drivers with fleets of Jaguar and Land Rover cars. However, more importantly, it said that the partnership would be used to further its research and development in mobility services, including autonomous cars.

“Personal mobility and smart transportation is evolving. This new collaborative venture will provide a real-world platform, helping us develop our connected and autonomous services,” VentureBeat quoted Sebastian Peck, Managing Director at InMotion.

In May, Lyft announced its partnership with Google’s self-driving vehicle spinoff, Waymo to work on developing new autonomous car technologies. The company’s focus on autonomous cars comes at a time when its rival Uber is in the midst of a crisis that could see founder Travis Kalanick taking leave, temporarily.

One of Uber’s biggest headaches right now is a lawsuit filed by Waymo, accusing Anthony Levandowski- a former Waymo employee who founded self-driving truck start-up Otto – of stealing its IP(Internet Protocol). Otto was bought out by Uber in August last year and while the company fired Levandowski recently, it is still being investigated for fraud.

Aurobindo Pharma looks to sell cancer drugs in the US by year end

Hyderabad-based pharma major says US FDA approval likely to come after upcoming audit

Company News : Hyderabad-based Aurobindo Pharma Limited is hoping to receive three-four product approvals in the oncology space from the US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) before March 2018.

The company’s optimistic prediction about a possible good start in this high-margin product business comes just ahead of a maiden audit slated to be conducted for its oncology formulations manufacturing facility by the US drug regulator.

A research and development facility and a manufacturing plant, both dedicated to the development and production of oncology and hormonal drugs, was set up in Hyderabad by Aurobindo-controlled Eugia Pharma Specialties Ltd, a joint-venture with Sequoia-backed Celon Laboratories.

Aurobindo holds around 68 per cent stake in Eugia Pharma.

The product approvals are expected to follow once the facility clears the US FDA inspection, which is scheduled to be conducted in the July-August period.

“This year, we will be filing 15-17 products (in the oncology segment, including hormonal drugs) and we can get some four-five products in hormonal and oncology injections. We have an audit in July-end or August-beginning and we hope that we will definitely start selling from the unit by the end of this year,” P V Ramprasad Reddy, executive chairman of Aurobindo Pharma USA and founder of Aurobindo, said in a recent investor call.

If everything goes as planned, oncology will become the latest addition to the company’s generics business this year. In the fields of vaccines and biosimilars, the other two new product verticals, the company may come out with its first set of product applications between 2019 and 2020. Read more

OnePlus 5 to be launched in India at Rs 32,999; here is what the device looks like

The much-awaited smartphone is expected to initially have two variants — 64GB/6GB and 128GB/8GB

Company News :Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus is gearing up for the launch of its much-awaited flagship OnePlus 5 on June 22. And, according to latest reports, the smartphone is initially going to be available in two variants and a price tag of Rs 32,999 for the base model.

True-tech.net report mentioned the price quoting “reliable sources” and said OnePlus 5 would be launched with two storage and RAM variants – 64GB/6GB and 128GB/8GB. According to the report, the base model, with 64 GB of storage and 6 GB of RAM, might be priced at Rs 32,999, while the premium version with 128 GB of storage and 8 GB of RAM could retail at Rs 37,999.

Recently, a teaser image posted on microblogging site Twitter by OnePlus showed that the OnePlus 5 smartphone would have dual rear cameras placed horizontal at the top left of the device. It also revealed that the upcoming smartphone might offer black as a colour option.

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Of late, OnePlus has been teasing the upcoming flagship through subtle tweets and images on other social media channels. Not much information has been divulged yet about the device, except CEO Pete Lau confirming that the phone would use a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor.

Laptops cheaper than smartphones: Best deals under Amazon India’s ‘Back to Class’ sale Edit

Company News : In its ‘Back to College’ sale and ‘Back to class’ offers, Amazon India has since June 8 been offering very exciting deals especially for school and college students. The sale, to continue till June 11, is centred around products particularly of interest to students.

Here are some of the best deals that are currently running on Amazon India for students:

Back to Class Sale

Under the ‘Back to Class’ sale, Amazon India is offering huge discounts and offers on books, school bags, sports & fitness accessories and basic school supplies.

Books

For students in class 10, the e-commerce giant is offering Oswaal social science CBSE chapter-wise and topic-wise question banks with complete solutions (for March 2018 exam) for Rs 215. The deal is available as a lightning deal and is valid till 2 pm on June 9. At current lightening deal price, the book is selling at a discount of 46 per cent.

Photo: Amazon Photo: Amazon For students looking for a book on English language for class 10, Amazon is offering All in One English communicative by Gajendra Singh at Rs 227, down from Rs 350, a discount of 35 per cent. The book is also a part of lightning deals.

School bags

Amazon is offering school bags for as low as Rs 500 under the ‘Back to Class’ sale. Currently, the portal is offering a backpack made by Kuber Industries for as low as Rs 590 under its lightning deals. The actual price of the product is Rs 1,298. Under the current sale, the product is available at a discount of 55 per cent.

There is another spacious school bag with 30 litres of space that is currently retailing at a discount of 55 per cent. The backpack is available under lightning deals and is selling for Rs 817, down from Rs 1,798.

Amazon lent $1 billion to merchants to boost sales on its marketplace

Loans range from $1,000 to $750,000. Sellers have said interest rates are between 6% and 14%

Company News : Amazon. com Inc has stepped up lending to third-party sellers on its site who are looking to grow their business, a company executive said in an interview on Wednesday.

The e-commerce giant has doled out more than $1 billion in small loans to sellers in the past 12 months, compared with more than $1.5 billion it lent from 2011 through 2015, said Peeyush Nahar, vice president for Amazon Marketplace. Sellers have used the money to expand their inventory or discount items on Amazon, he said.

Boosting sales for third-party merchants is lucrative for Amazon, which takes a cut of transactions on its site.

It also has made a business out of handling more leg work for sellers, too. They pay Amazon to fulfill their orders and boost their placement in search results, without which sellers might struggle to grab shoppers’ attention.

More than 20,000 small businesses have received a loan from Amazon and more than half of those have taken a second loan from the company, it said.

Loans range from $1,000 to $750,000. Sellers have said interest rates are between 6 percent and 14 percent.

Rivals, including eBay Inc and Wal-Mart Stores Inc, now are doubling down on their marketplace businesses, but loans may help keep sellers close to Amazon’s orbit.

“We do tell them it’s to help them grow on the Amazon Marketplace,” Nahar said.

Traditional lenders shied away from small merchants after the 2008 financial crisis, which created an opening for other sources of financing. While this exposes Amazon to additional credit risk, the company has near real-time data on sellers’ businesses and access to their customer reviews, which are helpful in deciding whether to make a loan.

The loan program is invitation-only.

Amazon has issued loans to sellers in the United States, United Kingdom and Japan.

The company has said it would expand to other countries where it operates marketplaces, such as Canada, France and China. On the rollout’s timing, Nahar said, “Stay tuned.”

Toshiba aims to name buyer of $18 bn semiconductor chips biz on June 15

The unit cannot be sold without its consent, demanding exclusive negotiating rights: Toshiba

Company News : Toshiba Corp aims to name a winner for its prized semiconductor business next week, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday, as a row with one of the bidders over the sale appeared to escalate.

Sources told Reuters the choice has narrowed to one bid from U.S. chipmaker Broadcom Ltd and U.S. tech fund Silver Lake and another from Toshiba chip partner Western Digital Corp and Japanese government-related investors.

Toshiba is rushing to find a buyer for the world’s second-largest producer of NAND chips, which it values at $18 billion or more, to cover billions of dollars in cost overruns at its now-bankrupt U.S. nuclear business Westinghouse Electric Corp.

The laptops-to-nuclear conglomerate will hold a board meeting on June 15 to decide on the preferred bidder, two sources said, declining to be identified as they were not authorised to speak to the media.

Western Digital, which jointly operates Toshiba‘s main chip plant in Yokkaichi, western Japan, has complicated the sale effort with a legal challenge, accusing Toshiba of a serious breach of contract over the joint venture.

It argues that the unit cannot be sold without its consent and has demanded exclusive negotiating rights.

But in a letter seen by Reuters, Toshiba struck back, again asking Western Digital to stop challenging the plans.

“Toshiba encourages Western Digital to redirect the considerable efforts that it has put into disrupting Toshiba’s sale process into more productive channels.”

Toshiba did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Western Digital confirmed in a statement that it had received Toshiba’s letter but added that any move by Toshiba to sell the unit without its consent “clearly violate the transfer restrictions in the joint venture agreements.”

Western Digital said it was “best positioned to assist Toshiba in addressing its challenges and advancing its legacy of technological innovation in Japan.”

The Broadcom-Silver Lake bid is seen as attractive because of its higher price of 2.2 trillion yen ($20 billion), sources have said.

Western Digital, by comparison, has an offer of fewer than 2 trillion yen and could also face antitrust hurdles because the firm is the third-largest maker of NAND flash-memory chips.

“Naturally, for the Toshiba corporate side, Broadcom is the best choice,” one source said.

Toshiba shares rose as much as 6 percent on Thursday on the news that the company was closing in on a buyer. The stock has lost some 36 percent since late December when the company flagged huge losses at its U.S. nuclear power operations.

Other bidders include U.S. private-equity firm Bain Capital with South Korean chipmaker SK Hynix Inc, and Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd with its Japanese unit Sharp Corp.

Apple helped UK investigate terrorist attacks, says Tim Cook

‘We have been cooperating with UK govt on some attacks besides law enforcement matters’, he added

Company News : Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said the company has helped UK officials investigate terror attacks, while reiterating his dismay over US plans to quit the Paris agreement on climate change.

“We have been cooperating with the UK government not only in law enforcement kind of matters but on some of the attacks,” Cook said during a Bloomberg Television interview on Monday. “I cannot speak on detail on that. But in cases when we have information and they have gone through the lawful process we don’t just give it but we do it very promptly.”

A third attack in the UK in less than three months has put more pressure on technology companies to prevent their products and services from being used by violent extremists. Tim Cook didn’t specify which attacks led to the company’s cooperation. Apple’s high privacy standards and tough encryption have been criticised by law enforcement officials and the company clashed last year in court with the FBI over the issue.

Cook said on Monday that Apple’s encryption is misunderstood. “It doesn’t mean no information. Metadata exists and that’s very important for building a profile,” he added. “The reality is that cyberattacks on people and governments, these affect your safety and security.” Cook also said he didn’t join any of US President Donald Trump’s business advisory councils because he thinks those groups aren’t “terribly productive.” “It wasn’t about not wanting to advise on something that we thought should be heard,” he added. Cook said he will continue to advise the president on matters that are important to him and the US, such as the Paris climate accord. Trump decided last week to pull the US out of the pact.

“He didn’t decide what I wanted him to decide,” Cook said of the president. “He decided wrong. It’s not in the best interest of the United States what he decided.” Cook spoke after Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California, where the company unveiled a new internet-connected speaker called HomePod and updated its Siri digital assistant to wed users more tightly to its growing slate of products and services. (more)