DiDi partners with SoftBank in Japan for platform services for taxi industry, launches open new …

A key element in DiDi’s strategy is building a smart transportation ecosystem to capture future opportunities, with global expansion through alliances with regional partners. Source: DiDi. Click to enlarge.

From its founding as a taxi-hailing business, DiDi has been building up a world-leading one-stop transportation platform since 2012. The company continues to apply its big data capabilities to increase taxi drivers’ work efficiency and income. With 2 million taxi drivers connected to the app, DiDi is now the world’s leading online platform for taxi-hailing. In 2017, taxi drivers completed 1.1 billion rides on DiDi. DiDi is also working closely with taxi companies to help them build intelligent IT and driver management systems. Currently DiDi has established partnerships with about 500 taxi operators in China.

Separately, in Beijing, DiDi launched its car-sharing platform. DiDi is partnering with automakers, new energy transportation infrastructure operators and after-sales service providers to build an open new energy car-sharing system. The network of strategic partners includes 12 top automakers including BAIC BJEV, BYD, Chang’an Automobile Group, Chery Automobile Group, Dongfeng Passenger Vehicle, First Auto Works, Geely Auto, Hawtai Motor, JAC Motors, KIA Motors, Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, and Zotye Auto.

According to a study by GM Insights, the global car-sharing market is expected to grow 34% annually from 2017 to 2024, while the annual growth rate in China will exceed 40%. The first generation of large-scale, new energy car-sharing platforms are expected to materialize in core emerging countries such as China.

DiDi hopes to leverage on its AI strengths and national network to empower the entire automotive industry chain. The company’s data analytics capabilities enable smarter network management based on dynamic understanding of user distribution and attributes. Under the partnership, DiDi will open its platform to automakers’ own sharing services. The platform will introduce to individuals and corporate partners not only diversified models from automakers, but also auto-related finance and insurance services.

In addition to automakers, DiDi will also work closely with other car-sharing services, rental companies, infrastructure operators and after-sales service providers. As of August 2017, DiDi—which acquired Uber China in 2016—had built investment and technology partnerships with seven leading rideshare companies of the world, including Lyft, Grab, Ola, Uber, 99, Taxify and Careem.

DiDi believes the new program will reduce cost and enhance efficiency for the entire industry chain by integrating resources from cars, capital, parking spaces, charging points and refueling stations, to auto-maintenance and repair services in a new, open ecosystem of collaboration.


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Cyberwarfare is taking to the skies, aboard drones

Uber uses a master algorithm to determine how much money its drivers make—and women are ending up with less.

The gap: In a study released today of over 1.8 million drivers on the platform, women were found to earn $1.24 per hour less than men. Women also earned $130 less per week on average, in part because they tend to drive fewer hours.

The cause: The study, which was carried out by researchers at Stanford and Uber and has not undergone peer review, attributed the difference in pay to fact that male Uber drivers:

—Are more likely to drive in higher-paying locations

—Drive faster

—Take on trips with shorter distances to the rider

—Chose to drive longer trips

All of these are variables in the formula Uber uses to calculate driver wages, and the study showed they all tilted in men’s favor (the study claims men earn $21.28 an hour, on average). Women also have higher turnover on the platform, and more experienced drivers tend to get higher pay.

Though it wasn’t covered in the study, one reason women may avoid higher-paying areas is that they don’t feel safe—they may opt not to drive late at night in certain places, for instance, or stay away from neighborhoods that are considered dangerous.

Closing the gap: The study shows there’s a persistent disparity in pay by gender, and Uber may have a hard time fixing it. Stanford economist Rebecca Diamond, one of the paper’s coauthors, says the researchers considered recommending taking speed out of the equation, for example. But as she says, “both riders and drivers would prefer to arrive at the destination sooner.”

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Didi is using its new AI Brain to crack the toughest puzzle—our cities

Didi is becoming big in big data and, according to latest announcements, their new project is set to change how cities look at mobility. The Chinese ride-hailing giant has just launched the “Didi Smart Transportation Brain,” a solution that brings data from government and other partners to develop a city traffic management powered by AI and cloud technology.

What the Brain is solving is not just traffic jams, it’s a huge city-sized puzzle. The project has been in development for around a year now, piloting in over 20 Chinese cities. It’s a multidisciplinary endeavor: it includes analyzing data from video cameras, sensors and GPS signals from Didi’s cars, installing intelligent traffic lights, working with local traffic police and city planners.

“The transportation industry is still nascent in terms of data analytics and what we are trying to do is be the frontrunner with DiDi’s network, dataset, infrastructure and technologies to push the frontier for transportation,” Liu Xidi, the head of Public Transportation Division at Didi Chuxing told TechNode during Didi’s Intelligent Transportation Summit in Beijing held on Thursday.

DiDi’s Intelligent Transportation Summit was held on January 25, 2018 in Beijing. (Image credit: Didi Chuxing)

Didi Chuxing claims it is the largest connected network in the world. The number of drivers that worked on their platform in 2017 was over 21 million, according to DiDi’s Senior Vice President Zhang Wensong who talked with TechNode. This huge number is transforming Didi into a different animal than its global competitor Uber and it’s not just implementing AI and big data to optimize their ride-hailing or solve traffic jams. Didi is now a total mobility company covering every aspect of mobility, from infrastructure to vehicles to humans.

Solving city traffic like Google’s AlphaGo

“Usually when we are compared to Uber we mostly pay attention to our technology and our product and we think Didi is a big data and a technology company. Our platform and our technology are probably most advanced in the world,” says Zhang. According to him, the complexity of the dispatching system makes the algorithms behind it extremely sophisticated, much more complicated than what Google’s AI software AlphaGo faces during Go games.

Zhang is a data man. A former CTO and Vice President of Alibaba Cloud Computing he knows his way around numbers and explains the problem that Didi faces in a numerical way:

Passenger A orders a ride and the system dispatches a driver. A millisecond later passenger B pops up and he is located much closer to the driver than passenger A. If the driver were to pick up passenger A instead of passenger B that wouldn’t be an optimized solution: time has been wasted. That’s why the system puts the two passengers in a queue and matches them with drivers that are closer to them.

The problem is that this solution remains the optimal one for a very short time: 2 seconds. After that, another passenger may place an order, in a couple of more seconds the fourth one, and so on. The system has to adapt within 2 seconds.

Traffic dynamics of 400 cities in 24 hours painted with DiDi’s big data. (Image credit: Didi Chuxing)

“This is just an optimized solution for 2 seconds but it’s not an optimized solution for 4 seconds or one minute so we need to anticipate the future,” Zhang explained. “Since we know each day has 86,400 seconds, if we divide it in 2 seconds there are 43,200 steps and we know Go is only 19 multiplied by 19 or 361 steps that’s why our problem is 100 times more complicated than Go.”

The AlphaGo comparison also translates to managing city traffic, according to Didi. The AI program was successful because it analyzed each and every game of Go in the history, including the most complicated ones. Didi is analyzing some of the world’s most complicated cities—China’s cities. Unlike urban centers in developed countries like the US that tend to be well-planned out, cities like Beijing or Manila are often chaotic.

More importantly for Didi’s ride-hailing service, passenger and driver needs are different in China than the US for instance where car ownership is more prevalent. This means DiDi can develop services that cater better to environments more similar to China which is the majority of the world. Cracking some of the messiest cases in China both in ride-hailing services and in smart traffic management means that they will have something valuable to offer during their global expansion.

A new product for globalization?

Previously unknown outside China, Didi has been making headway in their globalization goal. After abandoning its US project by turning over their business to Lyft, the company has invested in Brazilian ride-hailing startup 99. It has partnered with several other ride-hailing companies, including Grab in Southeast Asia, Ola in India and Taxify, which has a presence in Europe, Africa, and other regions.

“For smart transportation, we have actually talked to various government entities to tell them what we are trying to do, what we’re doing now and how far we’ve gone,” says Liu. “Most of them are very excited because congestion is not an Asian problem, it’s a global problem, especially in all the major cities—developed and developing.”

Liu Xidi, Head of Public Transportation Division, Smart Transportation Department (l) and Zhang Wensong, Senior Vice President at Didi Chuxing (r) showcasing the complexities of the Didi Brain. (Image credit: TechNode)

However, Liu stresses that the smart transportation division is still in development even though it now has around 200 employees on board. “We are still young, one year old, we are still growing and it takes time.”

The division is now focusing their efforts on Chinese cities, working with local traffic authorities to implement their project and with ministry-level researchers to create standards and policies. They are developing a couple of product lines or units including smart traffic lights, monitoring systems, and optimizing public transportation. Didi has also announced on Friday the opening of its third research institute, the new AI Labs in Beijing which will be led by Prof. Ye Jieping, Vice President of Didi Chuxing.

Although no such plans have been announced, it is easy to imagine that Didi will eventually want to monetize its project abroad and this would be a smart investment. Despite all that impressive data and shiny AI algorithms, many governments are reluctant to welcome companies such as Didi, Uber, and Lyft in fears of destroying the local taxi industry and creating a monopoly. Didi’s big data, and sharing of that data, might be a way for Didi to open these markets and assuage those fears.


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Peculium: Artificial Intelligence Based System For Enhancing Cryptocurrency Investments

Peculium ICO Cryptocurrency Investment Prediction

Cryptocurrencies are the latest buzzword – everyone is talking about them. Many investors are suddenly finding the cryptocurrency markets a lucrative arena to make quick profits. Given that cryptocurrencies have shown five figure growth percentages – it has proven to be a strong ground for those looking for quick and strong returns on investments. However, the markets are extremely volatile. Peculium offers one solution to reduce the volatility of the markets.

What is Peculium?

Peculium is a platform which makes use of Artificial Intelligence and Big Data Analytics technologies to invest into cryptocurrencies which are bound to make profits. The platform predicts the movement of the cryptocurrencies based on the existing trends. The platform analyzes data from the past and makes decisions based on the trends it observes.

Cryptocurrency markets are unlike any other markets. While most markets that involve financial transactions work on some basic rules of economics, cryptocurrencies are quite different. The cryptocurrency markets do not tightly abide to the rules of economics – which is what makes it difficult to ‘predict’ them. However, Peculium does exactly that. It predicts the movements of the markets!

How Does Peculium Predict The Growth?

Peculium predicts whether a cryptocurrency’s price would rise or fall by analyzing a lot of data. It analyzes the data from the currency’s past as well as from other currencies. It looks for patterns similar to one that the particular currency is going through. Based on various such patterns and trends in the graph – the Peculium platform determines if the currency is going to rise or fall.

This process involves the use of AIEVE Artificial Intelligence as well as complex algorithms that constitute to big data analysis. Based on these results, the system determines how various currencies are going to move ahead. Such a process is practically impossible to be carried out manually and at such a large scale!

More details on Peculium can be observed in the video below:

The Peculium ICO: Your Chance to Join The Revolution

The Peculium ICO is your chance to get a hold of the PCL cryptocurrency tokens. These cryptocurrency tokens are the only means to make or transfer payments over the Peculium network. The ICO is currently underway and the last day to take part in it is Wednesday 24th of January. If you invest in the ICO before the last date, you get an additional bonus of another 10%.

More details on Peculium can be availed at www.peculium.io


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Celeb Cryptocurrency Fave Centra Hit With Class-Action Lawsuit








Centra, a startup that raised over $30 million this year through an ICO promoted by celebrities, has been hit with a class-action lawsuit.

According to Fortune, the suit alleges that Centra’s founders made multiple deceptive statements and sold an unregistered security.

The suit, filed in U.S. district court in Florida, seeks repayment of the Centra investments of primary plaintiff Jacob Zowie Thomas Rensel and other investors.

From July to October of this year, investors traded cryptocurrency – such as bitcoin, Ether and Litecoin – for a new cryptocurrency to be created by Centra, who claimed it would also create a debit card that allowed cryptocurrency to be spent through established credit card networks.

The suit goes on to allege that Centra made multiple false claims, including that it had signed an agreement with Visa toward creation of the planned card – but The New York Timesreported in late October that Centra had no such agreement with Visa or Mastercard.

That same report revealed that Centra’s founders had no experience in cryptocurrency engineering, or with the credit card business. Some had even previously been accused of business fraud and financial negligence, and faced perjury charges in a drunk driving case. Other people initially listed as founders of the project were apparently fictional.

Floyd Mayweather, Jr. was one of the celebrities endorsing Centra during the ICO. Centra claimed that the boxer’s endorsement of their project was ongoing, but a spokesman for Mayweather said his endorsement was a one-off deal, paid for in cash.

DNA SNAP Week of Nov 27 – Dec 1

Exciting yet unsettling times because of disruption

These are exciting yet unsettling times we live in. Ridesharing companies (they are not startups anymore) Uber and Grab started out with the noble intentions of helping cab drivers earn a better living and for private individuals to augment their income. But now Uber has ordered 24,000 autonomous cars and I guarantee you it is not about helping its existing drivers meet overwhelming demand.

The million ringgit question Grab drivers in Southeast Asia will be asking is, “When will Grab do the same?” It is not a question of “will they”.

And we keep hearing about how because of increasing digitization of business and the increasing scale the four horsemen of our times – Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple – competition is business is being reshaped where you will, sorry, I meant, “are” already facing competition from non-traditional players.

At the recent What’s Next: The Business Impact of Disruptive Technology conference, we had the chief strategy officer of the leading bank in the country and Southeast Asia, Maybank, tell us that what keep’s him awake at night is not competition from other banks but from the tech players who come with scale, technology and data.

And by the way, wechat just started offering payment services to its users who visit Malaysia. How soon before they offer it to their Malaysian users as well?

And by the way, the four (digital) horsemen of our times now have to make space for a fifth in the form of Jack Ma and his Alibaba. And no doubt to be followed by Tencent and Baidu as well.

Meanwhile something else that is more unsettling than it is exciting is the looming dislocation about to hit the job market courtesy of the umbrella term Industry4.0 / 4th Industrial Revolution. And the Malaysian government is very concerned about the possible impact. So concerned is it that, surprising for me, it is taking the lead in pushing industry and business to face up to this and to be prepared.

One would think private enterprise would be well aware of any trends that could potentially disrupt their business and adapt to it. But the Malaysian government has clearly decided that the business community here is not taking this coming disruption seriously enough and has started pushing them to prioritize dealing with the opportunities and threats from this.

One of the frontline agencies pushing awareness and preparation is the Human Resource Development Fund (HRDF) the agency tasked with upskilling and reskilling the nation. There was a strong big data and analytics focus during its annual conference last week, where I also moderated a panel with three HR directors who shared how they were using data and analytics in their roles while urging the 2,500 attendees to start seeing data and analytics as a key tool to be used by them.

Its chief development officer, Wan Yon Shahima Wan Othman, expressed concern that industry and the work force were not ready for the changes the disruptions a whole host of technologies are causing as part of Industry4.0.

She urged employers to look at upskilling and multiskilling workers to equip them to go beyond their job scope when the need arises.

It was exciting for me to be part of the conference and witness how the machinery of government is moving and pushing industry to adapt today, not tomorrow to the disruptions happening around us and to capture opportunity from the change that is coming. Who would have figured that.

With that, I wish you a restful weekend and a productive week ahead.

For more technology news and the latest updates, follow us on Facebook,Twitter or LinkedIn.


Google, Microsoft alum Theo Vassilakis joins Grab as CTO

SINGAPORE: Ride-hailing company Grab announced on Wednesday (Oct 25) it has appointed an alumni from Google and Microsoft to be its chief technology officer (CTO), even as it expands on its research and development capabilities.

The Singapore-based company said it has appointed Mr Theo Vassilakis as its CTO, who will set the strategic direction for its technology team. This comes as it invests in expanding its R&D, such as doubling the number of R&D centres from three to six in 2017, and planning to add close to 1,000 such jobs across these centres by end 2018.

Grab had lost its vice president of engineering Arul Kumaravel, who was heading up its technology initiatives, this year due to personal reasons, according to a report by TechCrunch in August.

“Theo’s fantastic track record as an engineering leader, entrepreneur and teacher at global technology companies makes him an invaluable addition to our executive team. With our platform generating 10 terabytes of data per day and doubling that number every quarter, we’re happy we can bring on board Theo’s deep expertise in scaling machine learning and engineering systems,” said Mr Anthony Tan, Group CEO and co-founder of Grab.

Mr Tan added that the new CTO will oversee Grab’s transport and payments platforms, lead the growth of its services and support the further development of machine learning, AI, data science and infrastructure scaling capabilities.

Mr Vassilakis was previously a partner, architect and development manager for Microsoft’s platform-as-a-service Azure as well as a principal engineer and engineering director at Google. He also founded and was CEO at Metanautix, a big data analytics start-up that was bought by Microsoft in 2015, the press release said.


The Top 10 Most Valuable Unicorns

The Top 10 Most Valuable Unicorns

The United States is home to the most unicorn companies in the world, with over 100 such companies, according to a new report by HowMuch.

The term unicorn, used to describe a private company valued at at least $1 billion, was thrust into the spotlight after Uber became the ultimate unicorn as it took over the venture capital world.

Top 10 Most Valuable Unicorns

1. Uber ($68 billion): U.S.

Created in 2009 to lower transportation costs through crowdsourcing, Uber has become the ultimate unicorn despite its rocky history. The company has recently stated it will hit the public market in the next 12–18 months.

Related Link: How Is Go-Jek Different Than Uber?

2. Didi Chuxing ($50 billion): China

Dubbed the Uber of China, Didi Chuxing scaled Uber’s revolutionary services to over 20 million rides daily.

3. Xiaomi ($46 billion): China

Xiaomi is a software and electronics producer founded in 2010. Maker of smartphones and laptops and creator of some of world’s most popular apps, Xiaomi has quickly become one of the most successful private companies of all time.

4. AirBnB ($29.3 billion): U.S.

The platform has changed the hospitality industry forever. Founded in 2007 as a small bed and breakfast, AirBnB has since scaled worldwide to over 65,000 cities. The company saw 80-percent revenue growth from 2015 to 2016.

5. SpaceX ($21.2 billion): U.S.

The world’s largest privately owned aerospace technology and space travel company. Elon Musk-founded SpaceX became the first private company to launch a spacecraft into orbit and recover it. SpaceX looks to lead the aspiration Mars Colonization and Lunar tourism.

6. Palantir Technologies ($20 billion): U.S.

Founded in 2004, Palantir has become the backbone of data analysis for counter-terrorism, cyber warfare and financial institutions. Just don’t expect an IPO anytime soon.

7. WeWork ($20 billion): U.S.

While telecommuting has grown 115 percent since 2005, working from home can get lonely sometimes. WeWork was founded to provide shared workspaces and currently operates in 16 different countries. WeWork provides physical and virtual workspaces, employee benefits and social events for location independent workers around the world.

8. Lu.com ($18.5 billion): China

Lu.com is an online finance marketplace which started as a peer-to-peer lending platform. Since 2011 it has service over $2.5 billion peer-to-peer loans.

9. China Internet Plus Holding ($18 billion): China

Formed after a merger of two successful competitors, Meituan and Dianping, the company has becoming one of the world’s leaders in online-to-offline services including restaurant bookings and event ticketing.

10. Pinterest ($12.3 billion): U.S.

Founded in 2009, the visual discovery social media platform serves as a catalogue of ideas for hobbyists, business and marketers. CEO Ben Silbermann is looking to keep his highly engaged social media company private for as long as possible.

Related Link: Tomorrow In History: The Strange And Very Surreal Summer Of 2017

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