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Bill Gates Is Once Again the Richest Person in the World


This time it’s official.

Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates overtook Amazon.com Inc.’s Jeff Bezos as the world’s richest person on Friday, reclaiming the top ranking for the first time in more than two years.

Gates may have been helped in part by the Pentagon’s surprise decision announced Oct. 25 to award a $10 billion cloud-computing contract to Microsoft over Amazon. Shares of Microsoft have since climbed 4%, giving Gates a $110 billion fortune, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Amazon’s stock is down about 2% since the announcement, putting Bezos’s net worth at $108.7 billion.

Gates, 64, had briefly topped Bezos, 55, on an intraday basis last month after Amazon posted its first profit drop in two years, but shares of the world’s biggest online retailer pared the decline. The index, which tracks the wealth of the richest 500 people, is updated each trading day after U.S. markets close. Europe’s richest person, Bernard Arnault, is third with $102.7 billion.

Microsoft has surged 48% this year, boosting the value of Gates’s 1% stake. The rest of his wealth is derived from share sales and investments made over the years by his family office, Cascade.

Bezos would be far richer if he and MacKenzie Bezos hadn’t divorced. The pair announced their split in January, with MacKenzie, 49, receiving a quarter of their Amazon holdings in July. Her net worth dipped to $35 billion on Friday. Gates, on the other hand, may have never relinquished the top spot were it not for his philanthropy. He has donated more than $35 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation since 1994.

Gates recently shared his thoughts on the wealth tax that’s been proposed by some Democratic presidential candidates, including Elizabeth Warren, saying he’s already paid more than $10 billion in taxes.

“If I’d had to pay $20 billion, it’s fine,” he said. But “when you say I should pay $100 billion, then I’m starting to do a little math about what I have left over.”

As of today, that would be $10 billion.

More must-read stories from Fortune:

—Bill Gates went back to his high school and talked about the secrets to success
—Can Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon get the storied bank to grow again?
The maker of White Claw is now a multibillionaire
2020 tax brackets are out. What is your rate?
—The stock market has hit 19 new highs in 2019 alone. Why?

Follow Fortune on Flipboard to stay up-to-date on the latest news and analysis.



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Uber Chief Compares Murder Of Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi To ‘Mistakes’ Of Driverless Cars


The chief executive of Uber has performed a hasty U-turn after publicly remarking that the grisly murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was simply a “mistake.”

Dara Khosrowshahi was appearing on Axios on HBO when he referenced the killing of Khashoggi, who entered the Saudi consulate in Turkey in October 2018 and never emerged.

A UN report said Saudi Arabia bore responsibility for the killing and that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s role should be investigated.

Referring to the government of Saudi Arabia, Khosrowshahi said: “I think that the government said that they made a mistake. Listen, it’s a serious mistake. We’ve made mistakes too, right?”

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi 



Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi 

“With self-driving and we stopped driving, and we’re recovering from that mistake. So I think that people make mistakes and it doesn’t mean that they can never be forgiven. I think they’ve taken it seriously.”

Khosrowshahi is thought to have been referring to an incident in 2018 where one of Uber’s self-driving test vehicles struck and killed a female pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona.

A Turkish police officer walks past a picture of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, near the Saudi Arabia consulate in I



A Turkish police officer walks past a picture of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, near the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, where he was killed just over a year ago 

The Saudi consulate in Istanbul where the journalist was killed had been bugged and Turkish intelligence recorded the planning and the execution. Prince Mohammed later told “60 Minutes” that Khashoggi’s killing was a “heinous crime” and that he took “full responsibility for the killing.”

According to a statement posted on Axios on Monday, Khosrowshahi later appeared to regret his remarks, stating: “I said something in the moment that I do not believe. When it comes to Jamal Khashoggi, his murder was reprehensible and should not be forgotten or excused.”  

Saudi Arabia is Uber’s fifth-largest shareholder.





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Alibaba prices Hong Kong listing, looks to raise up to $13.8 billion


Alibaba announced pricing of shares for its upcoming secondary listing in Hong Kong in which it could raise up to $13.8 billion.

The Chinese e-commerce giant will issue 500 million new ordinary shares plus 75 million “greenshoe” options. These give the underwriting banks the ability to sell more shares than the original amount set.

Of those 500 million shares, 12.5 million will be reserved for retail investors. Alibaba has the option to increase the portion available for retail investors to 50 million shares or 10% of the total offering.

The company said those retail shares will be priced at no more than 188 Hong Kong dollars (about $24.01).

However, the remaining shares for institution investors, could be priced higher than that.

The Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd. headquarters stand illuminated at night ahead of the annual November 11 Singles’ Day online shopping event in Hangzhou, China, on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019.

Qilai Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

At 188 Hong Kong dollars a share, the total amount raised will be around $13.8 billion if the greenshoe option is exercised.

Alibaba will set the final offer price by Nov. 20 Hong Kong time “by taking into consideration, among other factors, the closing price of the ADSs on the NYSE on or before the last trading date and investor demand during the marketing process.”

ADS refers to the company’s U.S. listed American Depositary Shares.

Alibaba’s Hong Kong shares are expected to begin trading on Nov. 26.

Alibaba “plans to use the proceeds from the offering for the implementation of its strategies of driving user growth and engagement, empowering businesses to facilitate digital transformation, and continuing to innovate and invest for the long term.”

The company has continued to invest in areas from food delivery to its fast-growing cloud computing business, which is seen as a crucial part of its future.

When the Hangzhou, China-based firm went public in 2014, it chose New York over Hong Kong because the latter would not allow dual class stock. These are shares which give different voting rights. But since then, the Hong Kong stock exchange has reformed its rules to allow dual class share structures.

“When Alibaba Group went public in 2014 , we missed out on Hong Kong with regret. Hong Kong is one of the world’s most important financial centers,” Daniel Zhang, CEO and chairman of Alibaba said in a letter to investors.

“Over the last few years, there have been many encouraging reforms in Hong Kong’s capital market. During this time of ongoing change, we continue to believe that the future of Hong Kong remains bright. We hope we can contribute, in our small way, and participate in the future of Hong Kong.”

Alibaba’s Hong Kong listing would make it the biggest fundraising of the year, ahead of Uber which raised over $8 billion in May. It would also be a huge boost for the Hong Kong market which has seen business slow amid the ongoing pro-democracy protests, which have escalated in the past few days.

Alibaba said New York will remain its primary listing venue. It’s U.S. listing is still the biggest IPO in history raising $25 billion.

CICC and Credit Suisse are the joint sponsors and joint global coordinators for the proposed offering. Citigroup, J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley are also acting as joint global coordinators .



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Most Executives Fear Their Companies Will Fail If They Don’t Adopt A.I.


Artificial intelligence is so important for business success, executives said in a new survey, that most of them fear their companies will fail without it.

Seventy-five percent of executives “believe they risk going out of business in 5 years if they don’t scale AI,” according to a report released Thursday by consulting firm Accenture.

Athena Reilly, a managing director at Accenture who co-authored the report, said the findings show that there’s a “a sense of urgency at the top” about artificial intelligence. If a business ignores the technology, competitors who have mastered it are more likely to gain a big advantage.

Additionally, 76% of respondents said they are struggling to widely adopt A.I. in their businesses.

Reilly explained that such troubles are often the result of failing to properly manage corporate data. For machine-learning projects to succeed, businesses must be able to identify what data is most important to them, and then correctly clean and sort that information so it can be put to use.

“This is a big Achilles heel,” Reilly said.

Accenture’s report was based on a survey of 1,500 C-suite executives worldwide, from industries including banking, energy, life sciences, and travel.

In certain cases, corporate data management problems have ballooned to the point where some executives feel overwhelmed, and they use those problems “as an excuse” to avoid A.I. entirely, according to Reilly, telling themselves, “’I have bad data, therefore I can’t do things like A.I.’”

Adopting A.I. is not as simple as a company merely creating a chatbot or using natural language processing to parse business contracts in order to present workers with the most important information. Although these projects may have some value, they are so broad that they may fail to significantly impact the overall business. In fact, they may not deliver value at all, Reilly said.

Successful A.I. projects “need to be grounded in a business problem” with clear goals and metrics, she said. For instance, a company may want to use the technology to be more successful in collecting payments from clients. The company could set a specific goal—improving collections by a specified percent—and then use a particular statistical or A.I. technique to help achieve that goal. 

“That’s grounded in a business problem, versus let’s adopt a technology,” Reilly said.

Sign up here for Eye on A.I., Fortune’s weekly newsletter on developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning.



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Uber Chief Compares Murder Of Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi To ‘Mistakes’ Of Driverless Cars


The chief executive of Uber has performed a hasty U-turn after publicly remarking that the grisly murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was simply a “mistake.”

Dara Khosrowshahi was appearing on Axios on HBO when he referenced the killing of Khashoggi, who entered the Saudi consulate in Turkey in October 2018 and never emerged.

A UN report said Saudi Arabia bore responsibility for the killing and that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s role should be investigated.

Referring to the government of Saudi Arabia, Khosrowshahi said: “I think that the government said that they made a mistake. Listen, it’s a serious mistake. We’ve made mistakes too, right?”

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi 



Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi 

“With self-driving and we stopped driving, and we’re recovering from that mistake. So I think that people make mistakes and it doesn’t mean that they can never be forgiven. I think they’ve taken it seriously.”

Khosrowshahi is thought to have been referring to an incident in 2018 where one of Uber’s self-driving test vehicles struck and killed a female pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona.

A Turkish police officer walks past a picture of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, near the Saudi Arabia consulate in I



A Turkish police officer walks past a picture of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, near the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, where he was killed just over a year ago 

The Saudi consulate in Istanbul where the journalist was killed had been bugged and Turkish intelligence recorded the planning and the execution. Prince Mohammed later told “60 Minutes” that Khashoggi’s killing was a “heinous crime” and that he took “full responsibility for the killing.”

According to a statement posted on Axios on Monday, Khosrowshahi later appeared to regret his remarks, stating: “I said something in the moment that I do not believe. When it comes to Jamal Khashoggi, his murder was reprehensible and should not be forgotten or excused.”  

Saudi Arabia is Uber’s fifth-largest shareholder.





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TJX, Ross, Burlington benefit from ‘losers in the mall’


CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Friday highlighted one segment in the retail industry he believes will work well in a portfolio whether the economy is slowing or thriving.

The off-price retailers of TJX Companies, Ross Stores and Burlington Stores satisfy both consumers looking for bargain deals and real estate investment trusts, or REITs, looking to lease space to brands with a track record of drawing shoppers into stores, the “Mad Money” host said.

“Something like TJX or Ross Stores has got a treasure hunt atmosphere, where you can search for incredible, unmatched deals,” he said. “That’s why shoppers keep coming back. When TJX or Burlington or Ross generates more traffic, that benefits their neighbors in the same shopping center. They are all the winners from the roadkill losers in the mall.”

Shares of each of the discount retailers are beating the S&P 500‘s roughly 23% gains year to date. TJX, the parent of TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods, has risen more than 32% to $59.23 through Friday’s close. Ross, the owner of Ross Dress for Less and DD’s Discounts, has surged more than 34% to $11.82, while Burlington has posted a more than 24% gain to $202.75 in that same period.

The off-price chains, who buy excess inventory from department stores to sell at value prices, have a business model that is counter cyclical and allows their stores to sell products consistently in a slowing economy, Cramer said.

REITs such as Brixmor Property Group, Regency Centers and Kimco Realty count most of these brands among their top tenants, the host pointed out. In a time when more and more brick-and-mortar businesses are closing stores and shrinking their footprints, TJX, Ross and Burlington have plans to expand.

TJX has told investors it has its eyes set on growing from 4,400 to 6,100 locations in the long run. Ross, with less than 1,800 stores, has ambitions of reaching 3,000, and Burlington wants to add 300 more to its roughly 700 locations.

In August, Cramer noted that TJX, Ross and Burlington are names that can compete alongside the online-shopping experience.

“Of course, the off-price chains work when times are good, too. This is a fabulous economy for the consumer, and all three of these stocks are on fire,” Cramer said. “But the fact that they’d benefit from a slowdown means their landlords can sleep soundly at night. They don’t need to worry about TJX … Ross or Burlington going under the next time we have a recession.”

With TJX shares trading for 21 times earnings, Ross going for 22 times earnings and Burlington at 24 times, Cramer suggested that investors add these stocks to their shopping lists.

“That’s a bargain when you consider the earnings growth they have,” he said.

Each of the companies is scheduled to report quarterly earnings in coming weeks.

Disclosure: Cramer’s charitable trust owns shares of Burlington.

Disclaimer

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Cheetah Mobile’s Robots May Soon Be at a Karaoke Bar Near You


Since Fu Sheng founded China’s Cheetah Mobile in 2010, he and his company have always had a sink or swim philosophy. Sometimes literally.

At Fortune’s Global Tech Forum in Guangzhou on Thursday, Fu told the story of being two years into running his company and insisting on jumping in a pool during a company getaway—even though he couldn’t swim.

“My staff was opposed to the move and wanted to higher professional synchronized swimmers for the event, but I told them I would swim for free,” Fu said.

The CEO wanted to show his company that swimming is much like anything else, where you need to move slowly to start. “Like in robotics, we had opposition from many people when we launched our business,” Fu said. “But the question now is how to give up your fear. To make good moves, it’s better to put your fear aside.”

Such fearlessness may be at the root of how Fu and Cheetah Mobile have been successful in areas as diverse as mobile entertainment and gaming, to creating utility smartphone apps, and now in creating A.I.-driven robots. From the outset, the company focused on overseas expansion, and the company claims that over 70% of its over half a billion monthly users are outside of China.

For Fu, achieving success in such a wide variety
of areas has meant trying to overcome notions that Chinese companies do not
innovate.

“I questioned why there is such a large gap
in innovation in China,” Fu said, about the starting of his company. “I think
innovation means you are willing to do things that others don’t dare.”

Lately, this type of innovative thinking
has translated to Cheetah being a world leader in bringing “modern technology
to improve service-based robots.”

On Thursday, Fu mentioned that his company
has been focused on developing robots to help operate karaoke businesses, which
are massively popular in China. The robots, Fu says, can do everything from match
you to your reservation through facial recognition, guide you to your karaoke room,
and set you up to start singing.

Karaoke rooms, hotels, banks, and courts are just some of the places where Cheetah’s service robots have been deployed. Yet Fu doesn’t want the novelty of the robots to be the only reason people use them.

“If it has two arms, a screen, and can move, you will always have buyers, but a good product goes beyond a current users’ expectations or needs,” Fu said. “If robots can live together with human beings, our lives will be improved.”

More must-read stories from Fortune:

—How 5G will transform the electric vehicle industry
—These brain specialists built ear pods to boost workplace productivity
—Is the future of healthcare in China?
—Why 5G won’t spell the end for network storage
—Adding A.I. to gene sequencing can help detect cancer early
Catch up with Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily digest on the business of tech.



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Boeing Chairman Says CEO Won’t Get Bonus Following Plane Crashes



Boeing’s new chairman gave embattled CEO Dennis Muilenburg a vote of confidence Tuesday and said the chief executive is giving up any bonus this year.

David Calhoun said the Boeing board believes Muilenburg “has done everything right” and is positioning the Chicago company to return the 737 Max to service after two accidents killed 346 people.

A flight-control system called MCAS pushed the nose of both planes down before crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. Boeing, which kept any explanation of MCAS out of pilot manuals, is now revamping the system to make it easier for pilots to override.

“Dennis didn’t create this problem, but from the beginning he knew that MCAS should and could be done better, and he has led a program to rewrite MCAS to alleviate all of those conditions that ultimately beset two unfortunate crews and the families and victims,” Calhoun said on CNBC.

Last week, several members of Congress challenged Muilenburg to resign or at least give up pay. Muilenburg’s compensation last year was worth $23.4 million, including a $13.1 million bonus and $7.3 million in stock awards. Stock awards from previous years that vested in 2018 pushed Muilenburg’s haul to just over $30 million.

Calhoun said Muilenburg called him Saturday and volunteered to forgo a bonus this year and any stock awards until all Max jets, including those sitting in Boeing lots, are flying — a process Calhoun said could take at least a year.

Boeing has said recently that it expects the Federal Aviation Administration to approve its changes to the Max before year-end. Those changes include new retraining material for pilots and tying MCAS to a second air-direction sensor at all times so that a single sensor failure won’t push the nose down, as happened before both crashes.

Muilenburg has conceded, however, that fixing MCAS has taken far longer than Boeing expected. U.S. airlines aren’t planning on using the plane until at least January or February, and it could take longer in other parts of the world, where regulators want to conduct their own reviews of Boeing’s work.

Boeing is under investigation by the Justice Department and Congress. Muilenburg testified last week before two congressional committees, and lawmakers questioned him closely about messages in which a Boeing test pilot seemed to raise concerns about MCAS and said he “unknowingly” lied to regulators, and a production manager said speeding up the Max assembly line raised safety issues.

“Mr. Muilenburg’s answers to our questions were consistent with a culture of concealment and opaqueness and reflected the immense pressure exerted on Boeing employees during the development and production of the 737 Max,” Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., chairman of the House Transportation Committee and Rick Larsen, D-Wash., chairman of the aviation subcommittee, said in a letter to colleagues Monday.

Boeing has reported that the Max grounding will cost it at least $9 billion in extra production spending and compensation for airlines that have canceled thousands of flights.

Boeing Co. fired the head of its commercial airplanes division last month, a move that was seen as a reaction to production problems with several planes, not just the Max. Muilenburg, who became CEO in July 2015, was stripped last month of the chairman’s title.

The board gave that job to Calhoun, a senior executive at the private equity firm Blackstone who previously led General Electric’s jet-engine business and was reported to be in the running for Boeing CEO more than a decade ago.





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Chipotle staged a comeback. Here’s how it will keep the growth going


Brian Niccol, CEO of Chipotle Mexican Grill

Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Chipotle Mexican Grill‘s stock is one of the top performers on the S&P 500 so far this year as investors continue to applaud the chain’s comeback under CEO Brian Niccol.

The stock, which has a market value of $20.9 billion, is up 74% this year, as of Monday’s close. Shares are trading down less than 1% on Tuesday.

Before coming to Chipotle, Niccol was chief executive of Yum Brands’ Taco Bell. He took the helm of Chipotle after its founder, Steve Ells, stepped down as CEO as the chain struggled to move on from food safety issues that sickened hundreds of its customers.

Analysts now believe that Chipotle’s foodborne illness woes are firmly in the past. Niccol’s strategy has focused on luring back customers with a loyalty program, more convenient ways to get its burrito bowls and new additions to Chipotle’s limited menu.

In October, the chain reported quarterly same-store sales growth of 11%, its biggest jump in more than two years. Delivery and its pricey carne asada helped boost sales.

To keep growing sales, Chipotle is working on even more new menu items, like quesadillas and salads.

The company is also expanding its U.S. footprint, and many of those new stores will have a “Chipotlane” — drive-thru lanes just for picking up digital orders. Outside of the United States, Chipotle has a limited presence, but that could change. Niccol said on the company’s most recent earnings call that the company could accelerate expansion in Canada, if that business improves.

Watch also: What the future holds for Taco Bell after ex-CEO Brian Niccol defected to Chipotle



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Uber Eats’ Hungry New Strategy: Dominate or Exit


Uber unveiled an aggressive strategy for its food delivery business: Become one of the top two players in cities where it operates or retreat from those areas within the next year and a half.

During the third quarter, Uber Eats missed Wall Street’s expectations for its gross bookings, or the money collected on the service before paying drivers or accounting for discounts.

Uber reported $3.66 billion in quarterly gross bookings for Eats versus the $3.96 billion that analysts had expected. Meanwhile, the loss for the unit, excluding certain expenses, grew 67% to $316 million from the third quarter of last year.

Overall, Uber lost $1.16 billion for the quarter on $3.8 billion in revenue, exceeding Wall Street’s already low expectations for the company. However, the miss on gross bookings for Eats coupled with smaller-than-expected growth in monthly active users spooked investors, sending Uber’s stock down more than 5% to $29.49 in after-hours trading.

But on Monday’s earnings call, Uber executives assured investors that they have a plan for Uber Eats. That plan, couched in financial speak, is to selectively retreat if the company can’t be among the top two in food delivery.

“Our commitment is to lean in if we think we can win … and if we think we can’t, be good stewards of capital,” said Nelson Chai, Uber’s chief financial officer.

Uber Eats has been one of the company’s fastest growing business units, bringing in $645 million in third quarter revenue, an 64% increase from the same quarter last year. For comparison, revenue from the company’s core ride-hailing business grew 21% over the same period to $2.9 billion. 

But the Eats business has faced increasing headwinds as competition from rivals like DoorDash and Grubhub intensifies, and food delivery services ramp up customer discounts and driver incentives. And now the entire on-demand food delivery industry is being challenged by economic realities.

Last week, after reporting a quarter that fell short of analysts’ expectations, Grubhub’s stock dropped more than 40% in after-hours trading. By Monday, the company’s share price had recovered slightly to $35.01, but was still down considerably.

“There is a clear change going on the market as seen by the Grubhub debacle last week,” said Dan Ives, analyst at Wedbush Securities. “Uber is being more strategic about this business going forward.”

Meanwhile, privately-owned DoorDash has yet to publicly disclose its financial results. The company is one of the best-funded players in the business, having raised more than $1.97 billion since its inception in 2013, according to PitchBook. The funding has allowed it to branch out into renting shared kitchen space for restaurant delivery and to scoop up smaller food delivery services like Caviar.

On Monday’s earnings call, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi advised investors against being distracted by heavily funded startups in food delivery and to focus more on players that can operate more efficiently.

“Many of the startups in the food category have been trying to use cheap capital to buy their way to growth,” he said. “But we’re seeing capital is getting expensive and can run dry.”

Uber executives bragged about Uber’s ability to cross promote its rides and Eats services to users across a big part of the globe—something that competitors can’t do because many of them have no ride-hailing business. It also thinks it can operate more efficiently because its drivers can shift between shuttling passengers and food with the click of a button.

This could translate into faster delivery times, said Tom White, analyst at D.A. Davidson. And Uber’s renewed focus on retreating from offering Eats in cities where it can’t win is a similar strategy to what the company has done before, White added.

“We’ve seen them do this in ridesharing,” White said. “They exited China, Russia … those were acknowledgements that they had doubts about their abilities to succeed there long term. They’re probably coming to those same realization in Eats.”

Uber also gave a loose goal of achieving a profit excluding certain expenses by 2021—following a similar statement from Lyft two weeks ago. But that doesn’t necessarily mean Uber Eats’ business will be profitable on an adjusted basis or even break even by then, executives said. 

More must-read stories from Fortune:

Uber’s business service ramps up in quest to attract more ‘sticky’ customers
The mobile price wars are on. Here’s how much you can save
—L.A. threatens to ban Uber-owned scooter service
China’s 5G network is ahead of schedule, on a spectrum the U.S. can’t match
—Europe is starting to declare its cloud independence
Catch up with Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily digest on the business of tech.



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