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Billionaire Huawei founder defiant in face of existential threat

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Huawei Technologies Co. founder Ren Zhengfei struck a defiant tone in the face of US sanctions that threaten his company’s very survival.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television, the billionaire founder of China’s largest technology company conceded that Trump administration export curbs will cut into a two-year lead Huawei had painstakingly built over rivals like Ericsson AB and Nokia Oyj. But the company will either ramp up its own chip supply or find alternatives to keep its edge in smartphones and 5G.

The US on May 17 blacklisted Huawei — which it accuses of aiding Beijing in espionage — and cut it off from the US software and components it needs to make its products. The ban hamstrings the world’s largest provider of networking gear and No. 2 smartphone vendor, just as it was preparing to vault to the forefront of global technology. It’s rocking chipmakers from America to Europe as the global supply chain comes under threat. The ban could also disrupt the rollout of 5G wireless globally, undermining a standard that’s touted as the foundation of everything from autonomous cars to robot surgery.

Ren maintained Huawei had the capability to devise its own solutions — given time. It’s been designing its own chips for years, which it now uses in many of its own smartphones. It’s even developing its own operating software to run phones and servers. The CEO however deflected questions about how quickly Huawei can ramp up those internal replacement endeavors. Failure could dent the fast-growing consumer business and even kill emergent efforts such as cloud servers.

“That depends on how fast our repairmen are able to fix the plane,” said Ren, who appeared at ease in a white jacket over a pink shirt, making light of questions about his company’s plight. “No matter what materials they use, be it metal, cloth or paper, the aim is to keep the plane in the sky.”

Ren has gone from recluse to media maven in the span of months as he fights to save the $100 billion company he founded. The 74-year-old billionaire emerged from virtual seclusion after the arrest of eldest daughter and Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou as part of a broader probe of Huawei. He’s since become a central figure in a US-Chinese conflict that’s potentially the most important episode to shape world affairs since the collapse of the Soviet Union. As Ren said in January, when the world’s biggest economies battle for dominion, nothing in their way will survive. His company is a “sesame seed” between twin great powers, he said.

“This may bring one of China’s national champions to its knees,’’ said Chris Lane, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. “If China shut down all the Apple plants, the US would get very upset. This is a similar kind of move.”

Ren has had much to deal with of late. His company finds itself increasingly under fire, besieged by a US effort to get key allies to ban its equipment. The US assault helped crystallize fears about Huawei’s growing clout in areas from wireless infrastructure and semiconductors to consumer gadgets.

Then came the blacklist. Huawei appears to have anticipated this possibility since at least mid-2018, when similar sanctions threatened to sink rival ZTE Corp. Huawei’s said to have stockpiled enough chips and other vital components to keep its business running at least three months.

“We have made some really good chips,” said Ren, a legendary figure in his home country thanks to the way he built Huawei from scratch into a global powerhouse. “Being able to grow in the toughest battle environment, that just reflects how great we are.”

Last week, Trump said Huawei could become part of a US-Chinese trade deal, stirring speculation it was a bargaining chip in sensitive negotiations. But Ren said he wasn’t a politician. “It’s a big joke,” he scoffed. “How are we related to China-US trade?”

If Trump calls, “I will ignore him, then to whom can he negotiate with? If he calls me, I may not answer. But he doesn’t have my number.”

In fact, Ren pulled no punches in going after a man he labeled “a great president” just months prior. “I see his tweets and think it’s laughable because they’re self-contradictory,” he quipped. “How did he become a master of the art of the deal?”

Beijing itself isn’t without options. Some speculate China might retaliate against the ban of Huawei — which may widen to include some of its most promising AI firms — by in turn barring America’s largest corporations from its own markets. Apple Inc. could relinquish nearly a third of its profit if China banned its products, Goldman Sachs analysts estimate.

Ren said he would object to any such move against his American rival.

“That will not happen, first of all. And second of all, if that happens, I’ll be the first to protest,” Ren said in the interview. “Apple is my teacher, it’s in the lead. As a student, why go against my teacher? Never.”

At the heart of Trump’s campaign is suspicion that Huawei aids Beijing in espionage while spearheading China’s ambitions to become a technology superpower. It’s been accused for years of stealing intellectual property in lawsuits filed by American companies from Cisco Systems Inc. and Motorola Inc. to T-Mobile US Inc. Critics say such theft helped Huawei vault into the upper echelons of technology — but Ren laughed off that premise.

“I stole the American technologies from tomorrow. The US doesn’t even have those technologies,” he said. “We are ahead of the US If we were behind, there would be no need for Trump to strenuously attack us.”

Ren’s easy demeanor belies the way he’s consistently shunned attention. The army engineer-turned-entrepreneur has this year turned in a command performance in the public spotlight, particularly for someone who’s rarely spoken to foreign media since he created Huawei. The re-emergence of the reclusive CEO — who before January last spoke with foreign media in 2015 — underscores the depth of the attacks on Huawei, the largest symbol of China’s growing technological might. Ren again waved off speculation his company is in any way beholden to the Communist Party, though he’s declared his loyalty ultimately lies with the country’s ruling body.

US lawmakers aren’t convinced. That’s why the US Commerce Department cut off the flow of American technology — from chips to software and everything in-between.

An iconic figure in Chinese business circles, the billionaire remains a uniquely placed voice in a conflict that will help define the global landscape. Ren, who says he survived the chaos of the Cultural Revolution thanks in part to his much sought-after expertise in high-precision tools, remains a big believer that Huawei’s technology will win the day.

His company today generates more sales than internet giants Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. combined. In 2018, Huawei overtook Apple in smartphone sales, a triumph that burnished his tech credentials. His quotes adorn the walls of the food court at Huawei’s sprawling campus on the outskirts of the southern metropolis of Shenzhen, and employees still speak of him in reverent tones. The company’s 2018 report shows he has a 1.14% stake, giving him a net worth of $2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Ren, who survived Mao Zedong’s great famine to found Huawei in 1987 with 21,000 yuan, said Huawei will do whatever it takes to survive. It will ignore the noise while doing its business the best it can. Meanwhile, the pressure is bound to take a toll. At one point during the interview, Ren’s unflappable demeanor cracked — if only for a minute.

“The US has never bought products from us,” he said, bristling. “Even if the US wants to buy our products in the future, I may not sell to them. There’s no need for a negotiation.”

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Swiggy Instamart figures, Mumbaikars ordered 570 times more condoms in the last one year

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Customers are also ordering medical-related things through online shopping platforms. In metros like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi, and Bangalore, people are buying goods online in large numbers. People living in metro cities including Bengaluru, Delhi, and Mumbai ordered an average of 6 million eggs in the last year.

These days people are doing online shopping fiercely in the country. Through Grocery Service Platforms, the goods of need are easily reaching people’s homes. From vegetables to medicines, just a few clicks on the smartphone are reaching people’s doorsteps. According to a survey, Swiggy Instamart has provided service to more than 9 million users between June 2021 and June 2022. In metros like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi, and Bangalore, people are buying goods online in large numbers.

Healthcare products orders

Customers are also ordering medical-related things through online shopping platforms. According to a survey, Mumbaikars have ordered 570 times more condoms in the last 12 months. At the same time, in 2021, Instamart received orders for about two million sanitary napkins, menstrual cups, and tampons. Apart from this, a lot of orders have also been received for grocery items.

56 lakh packets of noodles ordered

According to the survey, between April and June last year, there was a 42 percent increase in the demand for ice cream in these metro cities. It was also learned that most of the orders were placed after 10 pm. In metro cities, people have ordered 5.6 million packets of instant noodles. In Hyderabad, users ordered around 27,000 bottles of fresh juice during the summer months.

60 lakh eggs ordered

The demand for eggs has increased manifold in the last two years. People living in metro cities including Bengaluru, Delhi, and Mumbai ordered an average of 6 million eggs in the last year. According to the report, customers from Bangalore and Hyderabad ordered the maximum number of eggs for breakfast. At the same time, people of Mumbai, Jaipur, and Coimbatore have ordered the maximum number of eggs online at the time of dinner.

Demand for dairy products

There has been a huge jump in orders for both tea and coffee. According to the report, there has been an increase of 2,000 percent in its demand. At the same time, 3 crore orders of milk have come for milk. People from Bangalore and Mumbai have placed more orders in the morning. Regular milk, full cream milk and toned milk are the most ordered dairy products.

Ordering fruits and vegetables

Orders for 62,000 tonnes of fruits and vegetables have been received in the last year. With 12,000 orders, Bengaluru tops the list of organic product buyers. At the same time, Hyderabad and Bangalore together have ordered more than 290 tonnes of green chilies in 12 months. Over 2 lakh orders have been received for bathroom cleaners, scrub pads, drain cleaners, and more in the last year.

Source: Aajtak

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Zepto, 10-minute grocery delivery app, raises $100 million

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Only five months subsequent to dispatching, 10-minute basic food item conveyance application Zepto on Tuesday reported it has raised $100 million driven by Y Combinator, taking its valuation to $570 million.

Other than the raise money, Zepto has been developing staggeringly rapidly and is significantly increasing its client base consistently.

In the course of recent months, Zepto has extended past Mumbai by dispatching in Bengaluru, Delhi, Gurgaon, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Pune (Kolkata to follow), the organization said in an assertion.

“Financial backers are reliably deciding to back Zepto due to our top tier execution. This is giving us extraordinary energy – we’re developing at an amazing rate, clients are adoring the item experience, our center unit financial matters are solid, and we have one of the most outstanding startup groups in India today,” said Aadit Palicha, Co-Founder and CEO.

The Series C raising money round saw support from new and existing financial backers, including Glade Brook, Nexus, Breyer Capital, Lachy Groom, Global Founders Capital, Contrary Capital, and that’s just the beginning.

The round came 45 days later the organization reported its $60 million raise money in November.

Conveying food in a short time is a game-changing encounter for clients in the nation, and a few players are presently joining the race.

“We are eager to twofold down and lead this round in Zepto. They initially dispatched with an alternate model, quickly turned to speedy trade in August 2021, and are presently adding 100,000 new clients consistently, 60% of the ladies,” said Anu Hariharan from Y Combinator.

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One stuck box of fertilizer shows the global supply chain crisis

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Somewhere in the world’s busiest port of Shanghai, a container of fertilizer sits among tens of thousands of boxes, waiting for a ride to the U.S. It’s been on the dock for months, trapped by typhoons and Covid outbreaks that have worsened major congestion in the global supply-chain network.

While the fertilizer has been stranded there since May, the port is just one stop on the long journey from central China to the U.S. Midwest. Delays have stretched a delivery that ordinarily would take weeks to more than half a year. And that time frame will keep expanding, as the goods have barely started the roughly 15,000 kilometer (9,300 mile) trek.

This is the tale of one humble shipment and its arduous journey across the world. While some of the barriers keeping it from its final destination may be specific to this particular case, the journey is emblematic of the inertia that has gripped global trade during the pandemic.

From the U.S. to Sudan to China, container boxes have been lying at ports, railyards and in warehouses as the pandemic rages on. In an industry with 25 million containers and some 6,000 ships hauling them, it’s easy to see disruptions as one big headache confined to the shipping world. But each container that’s delayed is economic activity that’s restrained, heaping costs one box at a time on consumers and making it more challenging to put corn on consumers’ tables or deliver presents for the holidays.

It’s also a lesson in the ripple effects across global supply chains, showing the limits of diversification as all networks are still closely connected with China.

“All roads lead back to China, and that has a major effect across the entire supply chain,” said Dawn Tiura, head of U.S.-based Sourcing Industry Group. “Congestion at one port or factory has far-reaching implications for neighboring facilities, which trickles out across the world.”

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