EU plays hardball with tech giants

Google, Amazon and other tech firms will have to tell companies how they rank their own or rival products on their platforms, according to new EU rules.

Paul Booth.
Paul Booth.

The European Union getting tough on Amazon, Google and other tech companies was the top story of the international ICT market last week.

At home, the withdrawal of Electronic Communications Amendment Bill was the main local story.

Key local news

* An interim loss from Silverbridge Holdings, with revenue down 3.8%.
* A positive trading update from Mustek.
* Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams withdrew the Electronic Communications Amendment Bill.
* Huawei will build two data centres in SA as part of plans to expand cloud services across Africa.
* Rubben Mohlaloga, chairman of communications regulator ICASA's powerful decision-making council, has been sentenced to 20 years in jail for money-laundering and fraud.

Key African news

* Wim Vanhelleputte, CEO of MTN Uganda, has been deported from the East African country over national security.
* The appointment of Michael Jordaan as chairman of Clickatell.

Key international news

* The Abacus Group acquired Proactive Technologies, another managed service provider.
* Amazon bought Eero, a start-up that makes home routers to help customers better connect smart home devices.
* Apple purchased Pullstring, a voice application company.
* Brightcove, a leading provider of cloud services for video, acquired the online video platform business of Ooyala, a provider of cloud video technology.
* Ebix bought an 80% controlling stake in India-based Zillious Solutions, an on-demand SaaS travel technology solutions company.
* Facebook purchased GrokStyle, a visual shopping and AI start-up, whose technology lets users conduct visual searches by taking a picture of products.
* FLIR Systems acquired Endeavor Robotic Holdings, a developer of battle-tested, tactical unmanned ground vehicles for the global military, public safety and critical infrastructure markets.
* HelpSystems bought the Core Security division of SecureAuth, a move designed to expand its cyber security portfolio.
* Larsen & Toubro Infotech, a technology and digital solutions firm, purchased NIELSEN+PARTNER, an independent Temenos WealthSuite specialist.
* Qualys acquired the software assets of Adya, in a move designed to help businesses of all sizes consolidate administration of their SaaS applications in a single console.
* Symantec bought Luminate Security, a privately held company with pioneering software-defined perimeter technology.
* Alibaba-backed Shiji, a hospitality tech company, purchased IcePortal, a media content management and distribution platform.

Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has withdrawn the Electronic Communications Amendment Bill.

* Chroma Ate, a Taiwan-based high precision test and measurement equipment provider, made a 20.5% investment in Camtek.
* US private investment firm Searchlight Capital Partners invested $133.3 million for a controlling stake in the parent of Bezeq Israel Telecom, according to a regulatory filing.
* Koch Equity Development and Golden Gate Capital invested $1.5 billion in Infor, a global leader in business cloud software specialised by industry.
* Alibaba made an 8% investment in Bilibili, a Chinese video platform.
* Google, Amazon and other tech firms will have to tell companies how they rank their own or rival products on their platforms, under new rules agreed by EU negotiators aimed at stopping unfair practices by online platforms and app stores.
* Very good quarterly figures from Airgain, Arista Networks, Camtek, CyberArk Software, Epam Systems, Mimecast (back in the black) and Yandex.
* Good quarterly numbers from Activision Blizzard (back in the black), Insperity, Qualys and Zebra Technologies.
* Good year-end numbers from Global Unichip and Veeam Software.
* Satisfactory quarterly results from Akamai, Cisco (back in the black), Cognex (back in the black), Diodes, Forrester Research, Iron Mountain, j2 Global, MAM Software Group (back in the black), NetApp (back in the black), Perceptron, Sabre, Telus, Tower International, Trend Micro, Unisys (back in the black) and Vodafone Qatar (back in the black).
* Mediocre quarterly results from America Movil (but back in the black), Amkor Technology, DISH Network, Global Payments, Groupon and Nvidia.
* Mixed quarterly figures from Equinix, FIS, i3 Verticals, LogMeIn, Nice, Sierra Wireless, SMIC, SS&C Technologies, Varonis and Yelp, with revenue up but net income down; and from Applied Materials, CPSI (but back in the black), Flir (but back in the black), Gilat Satellite Networks, Insight Enterprises, IPG Photonics, Monolithic Power Systems and Omnicom Group, with revenue down but net income up.
* Mixed year-end figures from Micro Focus, with revenue up but net income down; and from Gemalto, with revenue down but net income up.
* Very poor quarterly figures from Avaya.
* Quarterly losses from Aquantia, Bandwidth, BlackLine, CenturyLink, Cincinnati Bell, Cray, Diebold Nixdorf, Lattice Semiconductor, MagnaChip Semiconductor, PDF Solutions, QuickLogic, Quotient Technology, Radcom, RingCentral, Shopify, SurveyMonkey, Talend, Twilio and Veeco Instruments.
* The appointments of Revathy Advaithy as CEO of Flex; and David Bennett as CEO of Axcient.
* The retirement of Dave Hitz, co-founder and executive VP of NetApp.
* The death of Lenovo Superstar SVP Roderick Lappin.

Research results and predictions

Worldwide:
* Worldwide notebook shipments are forecast to decrease 12.9% sequentially in the first quarter of 2019 as vendors are still seeing some unfulfilled demand created by the CPU shortages, according to Digitimes Research.
* ICT spending by service providers will reach $426 billion by 2022, representing average growth of 6% per year, as the ongoing shift from on-premises IT management to the "as a service" model continues to gather pace in many regions around the world, according to IDC.
* The installed base of storage capacity worldwide will more than double over the 2018-2023 forecast period, growing to 11.7 zettabytes in 2023, according to IDC.
* The value of blockchain in the financial sector reached $1.9 billion in 2017, according to IHS Markit. With the projected increase in the number of blockchain projects expected to launch and become commercially deployed in the coming years, revenue is projected to reach $462 billion by 2030.
* The global semiconductor industry posted sales of $468.8 billion in 2018, the industry's highest annual total and an increase of 13.7% compared to the 2017 total, according to SEMI.

Stock market changes

* JSE All share index: Up 2.6%
* FTSE100: Up 2.3%
* DAX: Up 3.6%
* NYSE (Dow): Up 3.1%
* S&P 500: Up 2.5%
* Nasdaq: Up 2.4%
* Nikkei225: Up 2.8%
* Hang Seng: Down 0.2%
* Shanghai: Up 2.5%

Look out for

International:
* Further EU moves against the bigger tech boys.

South Africa:
* The listing of the MultiChoice Group.

Final word

Barron's recently published its 2019 list of 'The 100 most sustainable US companies'. Included, from a technology perspective, were:
* 2: Cisco (was number one)
* 3: Agilent Technologies (was 17)
* 4: HP (was number five)
* 5: Texas Instruments (was six)
* 9: Motorola Solutions (was 13)
* 11: Salesforce.com (was two)
* 13: Intuit (was four)
* 20: Lam Research (was 22)
* 21: Autodesk (was 77)
* 25: Applied Materials (was 20)
* 34: Keysight Technologies (was 44)
* 37: Teradata (was 29)
* 43: Microsoft (was seven)
* 44: DXC Technology (was 76)
* 50: CenturyLink (was 68)

Also on the list for the first time were (in alphabetical order) AT&T, Avnet, F5 Networks, HPE, Nvidia and Verizon Communications.

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