Category Archives: Cloud Computing

Alibaba raising stake in Cainiao to majority, investing $15 billion to grow logistics

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is raising its stake in logistics affiliate Cainiao Smart Logistics Network Ltd to 51 percent from 47 percent by investing 5.3 billion yuan ($ 801.21 million), Alibaba said on Tuesday.

Alibaba also said in a statement it will invest another 100 billion yuan ($ 15.12 billion) in the next five years to expand its global logistics network.

The additional investment will be used in research and development of Cainiao’s logistics data technology, and smart warehousing and smart delivery development, among other things, it said.

Alibaba co-founded Cainiao in 2013, with partners including department store owner Intime Group, conglomerate Fosun Group and a few logistics companies.

Reporting by Kane Wu; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Mike's Hard Lemonade: Measuring Digital That Drives Retail Sales

It’s refreshing when the head of marketing for a Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) brand opens up and shares his insights on best practices around tracking and measuring the impact of digital marketing that drive in-store sales. For years, this has been a challenge as the ecosystem between retailers, data providers and manufacturers has been relatively immature.

This summer, I had the opportunity to speak with Sanjiv Gajiwala, VP of Marketing at Mike’s Hard Lemonade and I asked him about how he had effectively streamlined his company’s ability to directly measure the effectiveness of their digital marketing efforts. In addition to this article, you’re welcome to watch the full interview on YouTube.

Matching Facebook Ads to Credit Card Purchase Data

“We work with Oracle and their data provider, Datalogix which actually looks at our Facebook ads and the users that are exposed to those Facebook ads and connects that back to their credit card and purchase behavior,” says Gajiwala. “Datalogix has a way of matching users to their actual purchasing and what we’ve really been able to learn from that has been incredible.”

Gajiwala explains that Datalogix fits within Mike’s Hard Lemonade’s social listening ecosystem. “We’re looking at brand health and what people are saying, but it helps us complete the picture with their purchase behavior,” he says.

Key Learning From This Purchase Behavior Data Layer

“We’ve learned some really incredible things,” says Gajiwala, “People who are exposed to our [Facebook] ads that are Mike’s users are spending 5% more. And 84% of people exposed to Facebook ads on Mike’s definitely would or are very interested in purchase Mike’s after seeing the ad or our content we’re promoting. You start to see that both of these numbers start to synch up, which helps validate what we’re seeing in the soft data versus through the register data.”

Digging in a bit further, Gajiwala acknowledges that this work with Datalogix does not allow Mike’s Hard Lemonade to segment by individual retail store since the data provided is driven by credit card purchases. “Instead of looking at [individual] retailers, we are able to look at the segments of our consumers between heavy, medium and light users and understand what kind of content and what kind of behaviors we can expect from that different type of consumer.”

Breaking Down Geographical Relevance

As Mike’s Hard Lemonade is sold nationally, I asked Gajiwala about how they review the geographical relevance of the sales data driven by their digital marketing efforts. “Datalogix and Oracle are doing the mashination including geographic and penetration data,” he said, with the understanding that some of these insights are a combination of Facebook geographic data and credit card transactional data.

This gives Mike’s Hard Lemonade an additional layer of insights that help with better understanding purchase habits by consumer segmentation (i.e. heavy to light) overlaid with geographical penetration insights to help with better understanding geographical flavor profile preferences and where marketing budgets are best spent on a local geographical level.

Insights Leading to Incremental Investments in Social Strategy

“Through this work we uncovered that there were a whole group of people that, profile-wise, were like our Mike’s heavy users that we weren’t reaching,” Gajiwala said. “They were heavy [Flavored Malt Beverage] users, but they weren’t really engaging with Mike’s. That lead to an incremental investment in our social strategy.”

This allowed Mike’s Hard Lemonade to then track back to see if they are getting the same sort of lift from this new target of previously ignored heavy non-Mike’s users and determine if the incremental investment is performing in a similar fashion to their core marketing investments.

“Our prospecting and our farming strategies are both different on social but just as measurable,” Gajiwala said. That is to say, with a relatively small team, everyone at Mike’s Hard Lemonade is accountable to the data.

What Gets Measured, Gets Managed

The bottom line here is that with the addition of the Datalogix reporting, Mike’s Hard Lemonade is finding new opportunities that it had previously ignored while, at the same time, seeing the direct impact on retail sales from its digital marketing efforts. This is the growing trend at retail. With a growing number of options to track and measure marketing impact, your ability to interpret data gives you a competitive edge. The most effective content and social media ads will receive increased and even incremental budget to ensure brand health and continued sales growth at retail.

For more on this topic, see these two related articles: What It Takes to Exceed Shopper Expectations and Empower Retail Employees and Not All Retailers are Contracting. Here’s the Secret From One That’s expanding.

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This Time It Matters: Why Apple Is Falling

Preface
Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) is dropping hard after its event to announce the new series of hardware, in particular the new iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X as well as the Apple Watch 3.

It’s Different This Time
Normally when Apple stock dives on lukewarm product reviews we stand firmly in our position that the stock market reaction is over blown. Our simple thesis for that response is to look at demand, which is hypnotically strong, every time. That is not the case this time.

A New Risk is Not Obvious But is Enormous
Apple announced a more complicated lineup of iPhones this time around. It introduced the iPhone 8 series which is an upgrade to the iPhone 7, and then it announced the highly anticipated iPhone X (pronounced iPhone Ten).

Then the company made the iPhone 8 available this month, but pushed delivery of iPhone X to early November, which pre-orders stating in late October. That has created a risk.

It turns out that Apple hyped the iPhone X so much, and poured so much new technology into it, that it has left the demand for iPhone 8 lackluster in Apple terms. Here’s what we mean.

If you go to the Apple Store, and try to purchase an iPhone 8, the wait time is essentially 1-3 days for the smaller memory version. Here is an image:

That is for the iPhone 8, in Los Angeles, on Verizon’s (NYSE:VZ) network. The other networks are essentially the same. A normal wait time for a new iPhone release is usually several weeks, let’s say 2-4 depending on where you are in the world.

There are also reports that in store lines are much smaller than before, with one report pinpointing Sydney Australia, where only 30 people were camped out for the new release. Reports from China are similar.

Here are links to two stories:

Turnout for iPhone 8 Launch in Australia “Bleak” as Customers Hold Out for Upcoming iPhone X
The iPhone 8 launch in Sydney saw “a bleak turnout,” reports Reuters, with fewer than 30 people lining up outside of the Sydney Apple Store on George Street. In past years, hundreds of people have lined up for new iPhones on release day.

Apple Falls After Analyst Report Indicates Weak iPhone 8 Demand
Consumers pre-ordered about 1.5 million handsets on Chinese retail website JD.com in the first three days, compared with about 3.5 million for the comparable period of iPhone 7 orders.

Tim Cook just said he “couldn’t be happier” with the iPhone release (and Apple Watch 3). While sales are lower than prior models, there is one reason, a big reason, that he may actually be telling the truth.

Is There a Plan?
One of the headlines that surfaced from the Apple Event was that the iPhone X was very expensive, starting at $ 999 and climbing to $ 1,200 based on the configuration.

It’s possible, maybe even likely, that Apple decided to release the iPhone 8 for less to make it appear that it was not forcing Apple loyalists to buy a far more expensive phone by offering a reduced priced new model (iPhone 8).

In fact, it does appear that even in the bearish analyst notes, each tends to comment on the fact that demand reduction for the iPhone 8 is simply a reflection of the outsized demand for the iPhone X.

If that’s true, then Apple will have an average selling price significantly higher than in prior times, and if demand is in fact to the point where Apple also sells more units, then that would bring a windfall of profits larger than any company has ever seen in one quarter. If that sound overly bullish, it’s just the choice of words — Apple already has the largest earnings ever in one quarter, so this would be a breaking of its own record — also known more simply as, “growth.”

Back to Risk
While there is a rather bullish narrative to wrap around this odd iPhone selection, there is also, in earnest this time, a reasonable bearish thesis.

Apple won’t be delivering its iPhone X until well into November, and if demand is very strong, it might not even be able to deliver before the holiday season in the United States. And while, certainly, if all of those sales simply occur later in the year (or early 2018), then that’s fine, but to consider that a foregone conclusion is a step we are not willing to take with blind faith.

Some consumers, perhaps many consumers, will not wait. And while Apple loyalists may stick around for a later date, the all-important “Android switchers” (those smartphone Android owners that switch to Apple) may not — and that is a real risk and worthy of a stock drop, until proven otherwise.

Apple’s market share in the United States is jumping as Android loses market share — an under reported but critical phenomenon. On January 11th, 2017, 9TO5Mac wrote iPhone market share grows 6.4% in USA, takes share from Android in most markets.

Apple gained 9.1% in the UK, mostly at the expense of Windows phones.

The iPhone grew its market share in Australia, France, Italy, Japan, Spain, the UK and USA, with Android seeing its own share drop in all of these countries bar Italy, where its growth was less than half that of iOS.

Those are Android switchers and Apple may have just put that group, or at least that trend, in serious jeopardy.

Now What?
We believe the iPhone X is going to be a knock-down drag-out mega hit, and the elevated price will make it yet an even larger success. But, the risk that Apple took, as of right now, is hurting the company both with iPhone 8 sales, and potentially, with Android switchers. And that is not a false narrative — it is accurate.

That risk means the stock should drop, and is dropping.

But, we’re not done yet. What we did not show you, and is easily missed unless you are really looking, is how hard Apple is focusing consumers on the iPhone X over the iPhone 8 — in our opinion.

I recorded a 45 second video arriving on the Apple Store and looking at iPhones. I have turned to video to allow you to make your own decision, as opposed to snapshots, which are too selective and an be used to weave any narrative the author likes.

When you watch this video (below), decide for yourself if you feel that Apple is purposefully pointing people to the iPhone X over the iPhone 8. Here we go:

That’s hardly headline grabbing footage, but we found it noteworthy.

Apple Watch 3
There have been some pretty poor reviews of the Apple Watch 3 surrounding its LTE connectivity and its battery life. This is one of those times where the reviews are meaningless. Demand is strong and that’s all that matters.

Here is a snapshot from the Apple Store for that product:

We see the Watch becoming a runaway success as people learn to use that wearable device as a standalone product — leaving the phone at home on runs, meetings, swims, hikes, and whatever other times such a convenience could be desired.

Conclusion
We maintain our Top Pick status on Apple, but have certainly tempered our bullishness with an undeniable new risk. It might work out very well, but, it might not, and that is a new risk to Apple stock.

The author is long shares of Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL).

Thanks for reading, friends.

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Disclosure: I am/we are long AAPL.

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There’s Already a Petition to Save Uber in London

Following the blockbuster news on Friday that Uber would lose its operating license in London, fans of the ride-hailing company signed on to a petition to Mayor Sadiq Khan to keep the service in the city.

A petition on Change.org says that the decision by Transport for London, the city’s transportation authority, satisfied a small number of people” while putting “more than 40,000 licensed drivers out of work” and depriving a “convenient and affordable form of transport” to millions of Londoners.

Tom Elvidge, general manager of Uber in London, initially appeared as the petition’s creator, but a change Friday afternoon switched the author to “Uber London.” Uber did not immediately return Fortune’s request for comment on the authenticity and origin of the petition, but its language mirrors a statement Elvidge issued after the TfL decision.

By 3 p.m. BST on Friday the petition had received nearly 70,000 signatures, at one point gaining more than 25,000 in a 20-minute span.

Read More: Uber Just Lost Its License in London

The TfL announced earlier in the day that it had decided to effectively ban Uber in London after determining that the company “is not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator license.” The company’s current license expires at the end of September.

In making its decision, the authority that regulates London’s taxis cited Uber’s inadequate screening and background checks of drivers, its “approach to how medical certificates are obtained,” and the use of its controversial “Greyball” software that blocks regulators from gaining full access to the app. The TfL also—rather damningly—questioned Uber’s “approach to reporting serious criminal offenses” by its drivers—an issue raised in an extensive submission by the Metropolitan Police.

Uber says it plans to appeal the decision, and it will be able to operate in London during that lengthy process.

The charge.org petition says it will ask Khan to reverse the decision, but on Friday the London mayor backed the TfL.

Read More: HPE’s Meg Whitman Won’t Be Uber’s CEO. But She Could Be the First Female President

“Any operator of private hire services in London needs to play by the rules,” he said. “I fully support TfL’s decision—it would be wrong if TfL continued to license Uber if there is any way that this could pose a threat to Londoners’ safety and security,” he said.

The petition argues that Uber drivers are licensed by the TfL and have undergone the same “enhanced background checks” as their rival black cab drivers.

“This ban shows the world that London is far from being open and is closed to innovative companies, who bring choice to consumers and work opportunities to those who need them,” the petition says.

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Bain Again Appears to Be Toshiba’s Choice for Its $22 Billion Chip Unit

Japan’s embattled Toshiba (tosbf) has selected a group led by U.S. private equity firm Bain Capital to buy its prized memory chip unit, three people with knowledge of the talks said on Wednesday, a last-minute dramatic twist to a highly contentious auction.

But it’s unclear whether the decision by Toshiba’s board will mean the sale will now proceed smoothly, as rival suitor Western Digital (wdc) has initiated legal action, arguing no deal can be done without its consent due to its position as Toshiba’s joint venture chip partner.

The Bain-led offer for the world’s No. 2 producer of NAND semiconductors is worth some $ 22 billion, sources have said.

It has partnered with South Korea’s SK Hynix (hxscl) and brought in U.S. buyers of Toshiba chips such as Apple and Dell to bolster its bid. Kingston Technology and Seagate Technology are also part of the group.

The make-up of the consortium could spell trouble ahead, said Hideki Yasuda, an analyst at Ace Research Institute.

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Early Black Friday Shopping At Toys-R-Us In Times Square

“The large number of stakeholders could complicate decision-making and slow down key investment decisions,” he said, adding that the participation of Toshiba clients would also sap the ability of the chips business to negotiate competitively on pricing.

Bain’s win, first reported by Reuters, has been hard fought as wrangling went down to the wire and late on Tuesday the Western Digital-backed consortium, which includes KKR & Co (kkr), appeared to be in the lead, sources said.

But the California-based firm would not agree to limits to any future stake in the chip business that had been demanded by Toshiba, said one person briefed on the matter.

Sources declined to be identified as they were not authorized to speak about discussions on the sale.

Toshiba declined to comment. A representative for Bain was not immediately available for comment while SK Hynix declined to comment.

After a slew of revised bids and changing alliances among suitors, an agreement comes not a moment too soon for Toshiba. It has has been under pressure from its lenders to clinch a deal this month to ensure enough time for regulatory reviews so that it can finish the sale by the end of the financial year.

If it doesn’t, it won’t have the billions of dollars it needs to plug a huge hole in its finances caused by its now bankrupt U.S. nuclear unit Westinghouse, and could be delisted.

Even without that problem staring it in the face, the semiconductor business requires huge amounts of investment and Toshiba’s chip unit runs the danger of losing its competitive ability as rivals roll out big capital spending plans.

A representative for Western Digital was not immediately available for comment.

The U.S. firm has already taken the dispute to the International Court of Arbitration to prevent the sale and a source with knowledge of the matter has previously said it is prepared to seek an immediate court injunction should the deal not go its way.

The Bain-led group had at one stage been chosen as preferred bidder but those talks lapsed as Japan government investors who had been part of that consortium told Toshiba they were reluctant to close a deal in the face of legal challenges posed by Western Digital.

The Bain consortium has since revised the offer, aiming to get around that problem by inviting the state-backed investors—the Innovation Network Corp of Japan (INCJ) and the Development Bank of Japan—to invest in the business only after any arbitration with Western Digital is settled.

But sources familiar with the talks have said it remains unclear if INCJ will commit to joining the consortium even when the legal dispute is resolved, casting uncertainty over the whether Japanese government will be able to prevail in its desire to have the chip business mainly under domestic control.

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