TikTok may be Another Social Flash in the Pan Rather than the Competition Facebook Claims it is

Bottom Line: Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) has been using fast growing TikTok as an example of the competition it faces as antitrust scrutiny continues. According to Facebook, TikTok was downloaded more than 1 billion times and was installed more times than Facebook or Instagram in 2018. TikTok, which is owned by Chinese-based ByteDance, is a social app that lets users create and share short videos.

ByteDance reportedly spent nearly $1 billion advertising the app in 2018. TikTok may be hot, but the app is only a year old and faces the same staying power challenges that have caused other social apps like Vine and HQ Trivia to fade into obscurity.

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Slack Beefs up its Security Features Trying to Attract more Enterprises

Bottom Line: Data security is becoming a huge issue for companies as hacks and data leaks can have serious reputational, legal and monetary consequences. That’s why Slack (NYSE: WORK) is continuing to enhance the security features of it’s workplace communications and collaboration platform.

While end-to-end encryption isn’t offered by Slack as it could affect companies’ abilities to audit communications, a recent post on the company’s blog outlines some of the new and coming soon features that will let businesses better control how their employees access and use Slack.

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China is Leading the way in Education Artificial Intelligence

Bottom Line: Artificial intelligence technology has continued to spread itself throughout society and several companies in China have been rapidly expanding its use in education and learning. According to one estimate, spending on AI in education is estimated to reach $6 billion by 2025 and thanks to fewer privacy concerns China is expected to be one of the leaders in this space.

Chinese companies like Squirrel AI, with $1 billion valuations and over 1 million students have ambitions to reach U.S. and European markets within the next two years. While Squirrel is focused on adaptive learning that helps students prepare for standardized tests, another Chinese ed-tech company, Alo7, uses AI to teach creativity, leadership and other soft skills. While Alo7 doesn’t have ambitions beyond China, it has already served close to 15 million students and partnered with 1,500 institutions. While both companies use technology in combination with human teachers it’s clear given their success and scale that more and more of what our kids learn is going to be driven by algorithms.

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Apple and Goldman Sach’s New Apple Card is Looking to Shake up the Credit Card Market

Bottom Line: A ‘preview’ rollout of the new Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) credit card issued in partnership with Goldman Sachs began this week and the card is expected to be widely available in the U.S. by the end of the month. The card and the integration with Apple Wallet are trying to bring the Apple user experience touch to the staid world of credit cards.

Signup, payment, fees, rewards, and even the card itself have been simplified and streamlined. With no late, annual or international fees on the card and rewards that range from 1% cash back for regular transactions up to 3% for any Apple transaction that arrive on your account every day, the credit card is definitely differentiated.

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Intel’s Long Delayed 10th Gen Chips are Finally Shipping and Finally Stepping up its Graphic Game

Bottom Line: Based on a 10nm design which Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) had originally aimed to ship in late 2018, the chip-makers Ice Lake processors have finally started to ship with the CPU expected to be available in laptops by the end of the year.

The new generation of chips’ biggest advantage is in the integrated graphics performance that may finally allow thin and light laptops to keep up with the mid-tier gaming desktops and laptops. By some of the metrics the new chip delivers more than twice the graphics performance over previous generations. Shipments of the new processors are expected to drive sales growth at Intel in the second half of the year according to some analysts.

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Tech Investing Chart of the Week

A recent study from transportation consultancy Fehr & Peers sponsored by Uber (NYSE: UBER) and Lyft (NASDAQ: LYFT) provided some very interesting data in terms of the amount of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) the two ride-hailing companies are generating.

The study, which used data from Uber and Lyft, as well as government data looked at 6 different urban regions in the U.S. While the headline stat was that Uber and Lyft are responsible for between 1.9-12.8% of the miles traveled in the core of the regions studied, what we found most interesting is that between 39-47% of those miles are without passengers. As Uber and Lyft earnings this week will fail to highlight, the external costs of the convenience they provide to riders is hitting cities hard.

Uber and Lyft % of Miles Traveled by Phase of Trip

Source: Fehr & Peers

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