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Issue #6

Qatar opens $100M fund for startups, China’s new train may outpace plane, JPMorgan says AI reduces 90% of work, and more. 

News from February 29 - March 7, 2024

Qatar Opens $100M Fund For Startups

Qatar has launched the “Startup Qatar Investment Program” to support tech startups, backed by a Qatar Development Bank (QDB)-managed $100 million fund.

The program offers up to $500,000 for early-stage companies to establish a presence in Qatar and up to $5 million for growth-stage companies to expand. Additionally, the development bank highlighted that apart from financial support, it will provide portfolio startups access to markets and expertise. 

The program targets startups in over 15 sectors, including fintech, clean tech, agritech, B2B SaaS, health tech, marketplaces, proptech, AI & ML and robotics.

This move is part of Qatar's broader strategy to diversify its economy and increase its share in the MENA region’s venture capital market, currently dominated by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

CEO of Qatar Development Bank: “QDB is intensifying its efforts to position Qatar as a major hub for startups across various industries, particularly the tech sector due to its strategic importance. Through these efforts, we aim to attract and retain talents in various fields to support our entrepreneurship ecosystem, foster innovation and accelerate technology adoption across all domains in a bid to contribute to a sustainable and business-friendly economy.”


Africa Picks China Over Apple 

A Chinese phone company has surpassed Samsung and Apple in sales in Africa and the Middle East, an achievement that has helped cement Chinese dominance in the regions.

The company, Transsion, owns three brands that made up 48% of the smartphone market in Africa in 2023. The company originally made its mark by exclusively selling phones in the continent and now has expanded into Latin America, India, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia.

Transsion’s success is attributed to its affordable pricing as well as superior marketing and understanding consumer needs, such as making dual SIM card phones and camera phones better calibrated for darker skin tones.

No Transsion-owned brands sell their phones in mainland China. 


More People Are ‘Quiet Quitting’

Despite 50-year low unemployment rates, Americans are working fewer hours than they did before COVID. This trend, called “quiet quitting,” involves employees putting the minimum amount of effort into their work while still performing all required tasks.

A new report tracked 13 million hourly workers over four years, showing the average workweek in 2023 was the shortest in five years. Notably, workers in the top 25% income bracket (making $79,500 or above) saw the largest reduction in hours, yet many still saw income growth thanks to significant wage gains during the pandemic.

Analysts speculate the shift may be because of the disillusion with work many experienced during COVID, and the Great Resignation, when tens of millions of people quit their jobs and went into business for themselves.

“There’s never been more people working in America, and yet, individuals, on average, are working less,” the report concluded.


Bulletin Board

• China’s New Train May Outpace Plane. China’s new Hyperloop train has achieved a groundbreaking speed of 387 mph, aiming for 1,243 mph once commercialized – faster than the speed of sound. Using magnetic levitation technology to eliminate friction, it promises to reduce travel time between Wuhan and Beijing (approximately the same distance as Madrid and Luxembourg) from over four hours to just 30 minutes, revolutionizing domestic travel in China. (Source)

• Half Of All Architects Use AI. A survey by the Royal Institute of British Architects found that 41% of architects occasionally use AI in their projects, with 43% reporting efficiency improvements, particularly in administrative tasks and in reducing carbon footprints. Despite the optimism, concerns linger about job displacement and copyright issues, with 58% fearing AI could lead to imitation of their work. Royal Institute of British Architects president: “There’s no turning back … It’s the most disruptive tool of our time, and we cannot overstate its role in shaping the future of architecture.” (Source)

• JPMorgan: AI Reduces 90% Of Work. JPMorgan claims it has reduced manual work for its corporate customers by nearly 90% with its AI-powered cash flow management tool. Head of data and analytics at JPMorgan’s wholesale payments unit: “We are going to keep investing into this solution because we see that we’re starting to really crack this workflow. Cashflow forecasting is very complex and you need a lot of judgment. I’m a firm believer that component of machines enhanced by humans will not go away for a long time.” JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon has previously suggested AI could shorten workweeks to 3.5 days, saying during an interview: “Your children are going to live to 100 and not have cancer because of technology. And literally they’ll probably be working three-and-a-half days a week.” (Source)

• Saudi Makes Progress On Megacity. Saudi Arabia's The Line, part of the Neom giga-project, aims to construct a vertical city in a skyscraper for nine million residents over 105 miles, with a completion target for its first phase in 2030. A new video shows extensive earthworks in the desert, highlighting the significant groundwork underway, involving the movement of vast quantities of soil and water weekly. The Line is one of several initiatives part of Saudi Arabia’s Neom giga-project, which also includes a cuboid skyscraper large enough to hold 20 Empire State Buildings and a cliff-hanging arena. (Source)

• Apple Spent $10B On Apple Car. Apple invested over $10 billion in the Apple Car project since its inception in 2014, which was canceled this week after a decade of development challenges. Originally codenamed “Project Titan”, skepticism about its feasibility existed from the start, with some employees dubbing it “the Titanic disaster”. Discussions with Elon Musk about acquiring Tesla occurred in 2014, but Apple chose to pursue its own automotive venture. Leadership changes and unresolved issues in software and autonomous driving have led the remaining team to pivot their focus towards AI advancements. (Source)

Disclaimer: This blog offers insights into international business and global events for informational purposes only. It is not intended as investment or business advice. WeavePay is not liable for any decisions made based on the content provided.

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