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LATEST TECH NEWS: Facebook admits adapting features of rivals. 4 other things and a trivia you need to know today, July 30, 2020

These 5 latest stories from the tech space will keep you updated with trends today:

1. Facebook admits adapting features of competitors

Social media giant Facebook has admitted replicating features from its rivals in a bid to tag along with latest trends in the industry. CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted to this when directly questioned, at the House Antitrust Subcommittee hearings today, about his company’s strategy of copying competitors’ app and features. The query added that Facebook, beyond adapting features from the competition, also often threatens to do so as a negotiation tactic amid Merger and Acquisition discussions.

Press noted that Zuckerberg was forced to admit to the allegation, acknowledging that Facebook “certainly adapted features that others have led in.” However, Facebook CEO denied any characterization claiming Facebook used such tactics in an anti-competitive way such as pressuring a company to sell to Facebook instead of trying to compete with it. “Our job is to make sure that we build the best services for people to connect with all the people they care about. And a lot of that is done by innovating and by building new things,” Zuckerberg submitted.

2. VC4A opens applications for seed-stage startups

For its annual Venture Showcase, VC4A has opened its application window for the November Seed edition, seeking African startups looking to raise between US$150,000 and US$1 million in funding. According to VC4A, the edition will take place virtually, given the disruption of the pandemic. Notwithstanding, Ten innovative early-stage startups will be selected to showcase their businesses to the world, with applicants needing to be based in Africa with a tech-enabled solution that is already on the market and gaining traction.

Earlier, VC4A usually hosts the annual showcase as part of the Africa Early Stage Investor Summit in Cape Town. Speaking on the edition, Ben White, founder and director of VC4A, noted that the focus was to support tech entrepreneurs looking to connect with leading investors. He said: “Based on investor demand we have added a Seed track to the Venture Showcase – now in its fourth year. This exciting addition opens the door to up and coming companies looking to connect with leading investors active across the continent. The Seed track targets ventures with highly scalable business models demonstrating strong traction.”

Tech Trivia:

Which of these digital tools doesn’t help monitor mentions online?

A. Google Alert
B. Awario
C. Agorapulse
D. AdWords

Answer: See end of post.

3. Nigeria’s TradeDepot enters retail revolution in 2 African cities

Nigerian B2B e-commerce startup TradeDepot has announced piloting into 2 other African cities. According to the ecommerce platform, the pilot looks to streamline Africa’s fragmented informal retail sector. The four year old company, which is an end-to-end distribution platform, aims to connect the world’s top consumer goods companies directly to African retailers. Industry review has revealed that with a network of over 40,000 micro retailers across Nigeria, the startup seem to be building Africa’s largest retail distribution network.

Since inception, the startup reportedly “works with global distributors and manufacturers like Nestlé, Unilever, GB Foods and Danone to make household supplies more accessible and affordable for the informal urban retail networks it operates in.” Recall, however, that Ripples Nigeria reported that TradeDepot raised a US$10 million pre-Series B funding round to help it expand its venture. Speaking on the funds, earlier, the CEO of TradeDepot noted that his company will be “running pilots in a couple of cities outside Nigeria, and we will also be doubling down on our presence, to evolve from pilot stage to more extensive operations.”

4. Huawei beats Samsung and Apple in phone sales

Chinese mobile phone manufacturer Huawei, for the first time in nine years, leads Samsung and Apple in the global smartphone charts. Industry and marketing insights revealed that Huawei sold the most phones in the second quarter of 2020. Experts have linked this surprising rise to its growing dominance in China, the largest smartphone market. Statistics, according to Canalys, claimed that at an overall of 55.8 million units, Huawei shipped about 2 million more phones than Samsung (53.7 million) which retained the second spot followed by Apple.

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Analysts have further argued that the rise recorded by Huawei was characterised by the pandemic, citing that while “countries like the United States, where Samsung and Apple hold pole positions, continue to struggle with Covid-19 restrictions, China has largely returned to normal,” hence, “allowing Huawei to close the gap.” Speaking on the development, Ben Stanton, a senior analyst at Canalys, concluded that Huawei took “full advantage of the Chinese economic recovery to reignite its smartphone business.”

5. AI Foundation secures $17 million to invest in AI-powered personas

American artificial intelligence company AI Foundation has, Thursday, closed a $17 million financing round. According to the Lars Buttler and Rob Meadows founder company, the proceeds will be used to scale the company’s platform. Allowing people to create personas prototype, the company hopes to develop “ethical,” trainable AI agents to complete tasks. Experts noted that as the pandemic makes virtual meetups a regular occurrence, the concept of personal AI is rising to the fore.

The three year old company is a dual commercial and nonprofit enterprise with the stated mission of bringing “the power and protection of AI to everyone in the world so they can participate fully in the future.” Commenting on its vision, the company noted that the AI Foundation’s steering committee has a mandate to anticipate and figure out how to counteract the negative effects of AI. Meanwhile, the AI Foundation has recently partnered with a team at the Technical University of Munich’s (TUM) Visual Computing Lab to explore new media forgery detection and flagging techniques.

Tech Trivia Answer: AdWords

While Awario, Agorapulse and Google Alert are web/social mentioning tools, AdWords is an online advertising platform developed by Google, where advertisers pay to display brief advertisements, service offerings, product listings, video content, and generate mobile application installs within the Google ad network to web users.

Monitoring tools, on the other hand, help users keep track of the digital mentions of netizens, brands, companies, and/or products.

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