A very large ant. What is FaceCoin? WeWork branches out.

Would you like chips with that?


Everyone’s talking about the alleged Chinese hack that placed tiny chips on widely commercialized server hardware. This may have compromised the security of multiple US government and tech company networks. 

This is serious stuff. We warned of this supply chain risk in our 2018 Cybersecurity Trends report published early this year, which also covers four other infosec trends. 

Expect to see this news ripple over the course of this year, in the US and beyond.

BTW, hats off to the Bloomberg editor responsible for allowing this dry, tongue-in-cheek line to remain in their huge story.

One could argue humor has no place in a story of this gravity, but I’d say the humor & details help a story stick in the mind and are actually helpful.

The ant goes marching

Ant Financial was originally launched to support online payments. Now it's the world's largest fintech player, and it does much more than payments.

Ant's current $150B valuation trumps the market caps of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and other leading financial institutions. We dive into Ant's strategy to see what it can tell us about where fintech is going.

Gentlemen, place your bets

Pharma companies that traditionally focus on drug development are exploring new verticals.

Since 2015, top pharma companies have made 413 investments across 28 subsectors ranging from chips and semiconductors to e-commerce.

We take a look at where the top 10 publicly traded pharma companies and their associated venture arms are placing their bets.

 WeDo other stuff

Last month, WeWork acquired software and analytics startup Teem for $100M. The coworking giant has made 8 acquisitions since 2017, many of which were outside the real estate/coworking space.

We take a look at how WeWork is using acquisitions to position itself as a company that provides its customers with all the tools they need to succeed in business — not just work space. Clients with expert intelligence can read it here.

Blockchain sent you a friend request

Since Mark Zuckerberg mentioned his interest in exploring blockchain in January, Facebook has formalized a group dedicated to doing just that.

But it turns out that Facebook has been experimenting with digital currency tech for quite a while.

From a new org structure to patent trends, we examine Facebook's blockchain ambitions and the possibility of FaceCoin.

 Keep this confidential

The chips used in the cyberattack by China were meant to attack data on its way to the server's central processor.

Data is at its most vulernable when it's being processed, or "in use." An encryption technique known as homomorphic encryption has only recently become commercially viable. It protects data in use, allowing orgs to securely manipulate data.

We take a look at how homomorphic encryption keeps data secure and what it could mean for the future cybersecurity. Clients with expert intelligence can read about it here.

My, my, that’s a lot of data

Saman Farid is leading the charge for Baidu Ventures in the US to leverage Baidu’s data, technical talent, and domain expertise to turbocharge the AI ecosystem.

He’ll share how he’s doing that at TRANSFORM, December 4-5 in NYC. 
Get your tickets now for $500 off using the code kingmaker.

Have a great rest of the week.


P.S. On October 9, we'll be discussing how retailers can survive this holiday season. Register for the briefing here.

This week in data:

  • 30: A Chinese military unit may have hacked up to 30 companies using surveillance microchips the size of a pencil tip, per a new report from Bloomberg. Motherboards manufactured in China for California-based Supermicro were allegedly fitted with these microchips prior to being purchased and used by large tech companies and US government departments. The chips then acted as a back door to the servers in which they were built.
  • $2.75B: Honda is taking a stake in General Motors' self-driving cars subsidiary Cruise Motors, to the tune of $2.75B. The Japanese automaker is buying a 5.7% stake for $750M upfront, and will contribute an additional $2B to the project over the next 12 years. Autonomous vehicle tech companies have attracted increasing investment in recent years — in 2018 to date, the sector's driven 70% of the roughly $5B invested in auto tech startups. Read more about it here.

  • $2.18B: This week, US online employment marketplace ZipRecruiter and Chinese fast fashion retailer Miniso Life became the latest companies to join the unicorn club. ZipRecruiter raised a $156M Series B from Wellington Management, among others, to reach a $1B valuation, while Miniso raised a $146M Series A from Hillhouse Capital Management and Tencent Holdings at a $2.18B valuation. We previously discussed the role fast fashion plays in our Future of Fashion report, and clients with expert intelligence can read more about online-first “ultra-fast fashion” here.

  • <4: Australia is on track to become the first country to stamp out the incidence of preventable cervical cancer, according to a new study published in The Lancet. The country is set to meet the threshold of four or fewer cases of cervical cancer per 100,000 women each year by 2028. One reason could be Australia’s extensive HPV vaccination program, first rolled out to girls in 2007 and since expanded to reach high vaccination coverage for both men and women. Next week, we’re diving into the future of women’s health, from recent funding and regulatory developments in the sector to emerging technologies bringing personalized healthcare solutions to women. Sign up for the briefing here.
  • 70: Apple is adding 70 new emojis in its OS 12.1 update. Among them: a llama, a saltshaker, a curly-haired emoji, a bagel that looks unlike a real New York bagel, and red gift envelopes. In addition to the thousands of emojis already available, Apple is working with Unicode Consortium to add more disability-themed emoji to the keyboard sometime in 2019.

  • $15/hr: Amazon announced it will raise the minimum wage of all its US employees to $15 an hour — more than double the federal minimum wage of $7.25. However, the trade-off seems to be that workers will no longer receive monthly bonuses and stock awards. The new rate goes into effect November 1st.
  • $1473/ml: On Wednesday, a bottle of Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 single malt whiskey sold for a record $1,105,000. At 750 milliliters, that shakes out to roughly $1,473 per ml. The whiskey is one of the rarest in the world, with only 24 bottles ever produced.
One more thing...

The town of Aitoliko, Greece is covered in spider webs

Arachnologist Maria Chatzaki says the sheetlike webs house thousands of spiders of the Tetragnatha genus, which are only around 0.7 inches in size.

There's a very simple explanation behind the phenomenon: gnats. The tiny bugs thrive in Aitoliko's warm temperatures — and they happen to be the spiders' favorite snack.
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