Fast Five from the Valley: Edition 39

 In Fast Five from the Valley

Amazon cracks into the top 10 of the Fortune 500’s list and brings cross-border aspirations to Alibaba’s turf

Fortune 500’s 2018 list has been released with a retailer giant claiming the number 1 spot. Walmart. Yes, not Amazon. However, the e-commerce powerhouse has been climbing the list in recent years, now breaking through into the top 10 for the first time from No. 12 to No. 8. This is thanks in large part to its acquisition of Whole Foods. Amazon isn’t stopping there, also bringing its competition straight to Alibaba’s hometown, Hangzhou, China. Amazon is planning to connect online merchants with 400 Chinese manufacturers to sell electronics, car parts, home goods and more directly to European and American consumers. As part of Amazon’s effort to evolve into a global logistics operation, it will be interesting to see how this unfolds, and how Alibaba responds.

Uber facing some serious heat

This week UBER announced that they will shut down all of their self-driving car operations in Arizona entirely. After hitting and killing a pedestrian in March, investigations revealed that the car was aware of the pedestrian crossing the road. However, the automated braking system was disengaged and the system failed to alert the driver of the pedestrian. To make matters worse, Uber’s CPO for the flying cars division, Jeff Holden is leaving the company. He is just one among many top executives to leave in the past year, so it’s certainly not looking good for Uber’s envisioned IPO in 2019. On the other side, Elon Musk, who has been under scrutiny for the lacking success of Tesla in the past few weeks, has pushed forward and presented his vision for the Boring company: Providing public transportation in Los Angeles for under $1 per ride. Dubbed “The Loop”, it is a system of Tunnels in which electric pods seating up to 16 people will maneuver underground. Supposedly, it aims to connect existing public transportation methods and could even be used for inter-city connections. We’re curious if the Boring company will get off the ground quicker than Tesla, as they’ve only sold hats and flamethrowers…so far.
After our last edition on electric scooters, we stumbled across something interesting: Charging these scooters has presented an opportunity for some college students to earn a few bucks on the side. But in a market that is quickly being saturated, the competition is heating up very fast…

Looking at the Fortune 500 list… is bigger, better?

The new Fortune 500 list is out and it yields some interesting insights: Walmart wins 1st place for the sixth year in a row in revenue, Apple snags the top spot for the most profitable company, and Amazon lands in the top 10 for the first time. The biggest leap of the year goes to – surprise – Tesla! The electric car manufacturer jumped from rank 383, to 260. Xerox on the other hand, took the biggest plunge after the failed merger with Fujifilm, dropping from 162 to 291. An exciting outcome… let’s see if anyone can knock Walmart off the top spot next year…

‘Person of Interest’ is becoming a reality

Did you know that information about your current location can be purchased by basically… anyone? You might be wondering who could be allowed to sell this data, perhaps your operator? Well, they’re not. But, LocationSmart is. A so-called “data aggregator” is not restricted by law to sell location data, whereas telco operators are. This loophole potentially exposes “one of the biggest gaps in US privacy law.”
In other news, AT&T has just started to compete against Amazon’s Dash Button for automatically replenishing goods, by introducing the LTE-M button, which also allows companies to customize them for additional uses such as ordering products or generating alerts).

Are the cyborg-cows coming?

Probably not, however, a company called Livestock Labs is currently testing a new device named, EmbediVet. EmbediVet is a wearable tracker that is implanted right underneath the skin of cows, tracking their chewing frequency, temperature, and general rambling around the farm. In future, wearables like this could help to detect illnesses and provide other useful information… and thankfully not limited to just cows.
Another interesting fact that you probably don’t know, is that half of the 143 tech billionaires on the planet, reside in Silicon Valley. Even amongst billionaires, those in tech are doing extremely well, owning an average net worth of $6 billion, which is nearly twice as much as billionaires in other industries.

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