Headlines 

China posts slowest economic growth since 1990

Hong Kong (CNN Business)China’s economy grew at its slowest pace in almost three decades last year. Economic growth in China slowed to 6.4% in the fourth quarter of last year, according to Monday’s data, in line with economist’s predictions. Stocks listed in Shanghai and Hong Kong rose modestly after the figures were published. Ken Cheung, a strategist at investment bank Mizuho, said investors were relieved that nothing in the data suggested China’s slowdown was worse than previously thought. Economic growth is expected to drop closer to 6% this year. But…

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Odds and Ends 

Lazada, Alibabas Southeast Asia e-commerce business, gets a new CEO

Alibaba has reshuffled the leadership at Lazada, its e-commerce firm in Southeast Asia, after CEO Lucy Peng — an original Alibaba co-founder — stepped down to be replaced by Lazada executive president Pierre Poignant after just nine months in the role. Alibaba owns more than 90 percent of Lazada but it has been involved in the business since April 2016 when it bought 51 percent of Lazada for $1 billion from Rocket Internet. It invested a further $1 billion last year to increase its equity to around 83 percent and earlier this year…

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Odds and Ends 

Payment service Toss becomes Koreas newest unicorn after raising $80M

South Korea has got its third unicorn startup after Viva Republica, the company beyond popular payment app Toss, announced it has raised an $80 million round at a valuation of $1.2 billion. This new round is led by U.S. firms Kleiner Perkins and Ribbit Capital, both of which cut their first checks for Korea with this deal. Others participating include existing investors Altos Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Goodwater Capital, KTB Network, Novel, PayPal and Qualcomm Ventures. The deal comes just six months after Viva Republica raised $40 million to accelerate growth, and it takes…

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Odds and Ends 

Today in brighter crypto news: SEC says tokens are securities

Crypto news got a little boost last week after a dark month of crashes, stablecoins and birthdays. The SEC ruled that two ICO issuers, CarrierEQ Inc. and Paragon Coin Inc., were in fact selling securities instead of so-called utility tokens. “Both companies have agreed to return funds to harmed investors, register the tokens as securities, file periodic reports with the Commission, and pay penalties,” wrote Pamela Sawhney of the SEC. “These are the Commission’s first cases imposing civil penalties solely for ICO securities offering registration violations.” From the release: Airfox,…

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Odds and Ends 

In venture capital, its still the age of the unicorn

Howie Xu At the time, the piece defined a new breed of startup — the $1 billion privately held company. When Lee did her first count, there were 39 “unicorns”; an improbable, but not impossible number.. Today, the once-scarce unicorn has become a global herd with 376 companies on the roster and counting. But the proliferation of unicorns begs raises certain questions. Is this new breed of unicorn artificially created? Could these magical companies see their valuations slip and fall out of the herd? Does this indicate an irrational exuberance…

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Odds and Ends 

Toys R Us Is Going Out Of Business Because America Wasnt Ready To Accept A Celibate Giraffe Mascot

When I became CEO of Toys ‘R’ Us, I was excited for a chance to lead one of America’s most well-known toy stores into a new era of prosperity. Unfortunately, it pains me to announce that after 70 years of bringing joy to children across the world, Toys ‘R’ Us will soon be shutting its doors forever. Many people will say that our company couldn’t compete with online retailers like Amazon, or that the billions of dollars in debt we were saddled with proved to be an insurmountable obstacle to…

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Odds and Ends 

Security robots are being used to ward off San Franciscos homeless population

Is it worse if a robot instead of a human is used to deter the homeless from setting up camp outside places of business? One such bot cop recently took over the outside of the San Francisco SPCA, an animal advocacy and pet adoption clinic in the city’s Mission district, to deter homeless people from hanging out there — causing some people to get very upset. Silicon Valley game developer and Congressional candidate Brianna Wu tweeted yesterday her dismay at the move, saying, “I’m sorry for being so frank but…

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Odds and Ends 

Canadian grocery chain orders 25 Tesla electric Semi trucks

Tesla’s Semi is off to a promising start, despite there being no official pricing information available yet: In addition to a Walmart pilot, Canadian grocery giant Loblaw is purchasing 25 of the heavy duty all-electric transport trucks (via Canadian Press), with a $5,000 deposit for each upfront even though pricing is TBD for the vehicle, which is supposed to start shipping in 2019. Loblaw has a target of running a fully electric vehicle fleet to support its stores, as part of a goal of reducing its emissions impact by 2030.…

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Odds and Ends 

Heres our first look at Elon Musks Boring Co. LA tunnel

Elon Musk is digging a tunnel under Hawthorne near SpaceX headquarters in California, after receiving approval from city council to do so. Musk’s Boring Co. has already made considerable progress on the dig and tunnel build, apparently, as Musk shared an image of the tunnel from the inside showing a reinforced tube that stretches off into the distance out of sight. The tunnel features paneled walls, cables and a large upper conduit, as well as lighting and what appear to be tracks. The tunnel just outside of LA is the…

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Odds and Ends 

Iflix raises $133M for its Netflix-style service for emerging markets

Iflix, an Asia-based startup providing Netflix-like streaming services in emerging markets, has landed $133 million in fresh funding to accelerate its business. The investment was led by U.S. media conglomerate Hearst, which counts BuzzFeed, Vice and Roku among its investment portfolio. The group was joined by anothernew backerEDBI the corporate investment arm of the Singapore Economic Development Board alongside undisclosed clients of Singapore-based DBS bank. Existing investors joining includedEvolution Media, UK broadcaster Sky, Malaysias Catcha Group, Liberty Global, Jungle Ventures and PLDT. Iflix was started in May 2015, initially in…

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Odds and Ends 

The decentralization of startup building

Sam Cash is a vice president at Betaworks. Building and investing in startups is rapidly proliferating to the many, instead of remaining the preserve of the few. The old paradigm of physical centralization Silicon Valley is the innovation bellwether of our time. The concentration of talent and capitalas well as a culture typified by speed and boldnesshas created trillions of dollars of shareholder value and pushed the envelope of innovation. The venture capitalists on Sand Hill Road have for decades dined on the fruits of funding entrepreneurs who travelled to…

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The Canvas autonomous cart can ferry goods around chaotic factory floors

Most Econ 101 classes start with an explanation of fixed and marginal cost in the context of factories. The factory is the principal fixed cost expensive and permanent. Canvas wants to smash this assumption of expensive, inflexible, factories by replacing infrastructure with autonomous vehicles. The Boulder-based startup is announcing its first product this morning an autonomous cart designed to shuffle goods around chaotic and unpredictable factory floors. Traditionally, factories install conveyor belts when they want to regularly move goods from one place to another. The problem with this is that,…

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Odds and Ends 

Pendo closes $25M Series C from Meritech to scale its customer understanding platform

Just seven months after announcing a $20 million Series B, Pendo, a platform to help businesses better understand their customers, has closed a new $25 million Series C led by Meritech Capital Partners. The North Carolina-based startup has been growing at a rapid clip ballooning to 106 employees across offices in San Francisco, New York and Raleigh. Meritechs Rob Ward will be joining the Pendo board of directors to help guide future acquisitions and an international expansion strategy. Pendo is a tool that companies can use to track key customer…

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Odds and Ends 

Toyota launches venture capital fund targeting artificial intelligence startups

Toyota is the latest Fortune 500 company to launch an AI focused venture capital fund. The initial early-stage fund will deploy $100 million and operate as a subsidiary of theToyota Research Institute.The automaker has strategically positioned itself as an ROI rather than strategic-focused fund meaning that it aims to profit like any other VC firm. Jim Adler will serve as managing director of the fund. He has been serving as vice president of Toyota Research and comes from a product background. Adler and the rest of the team at Toyota…

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