OneTrust raises $200M at a $1.3B valuation to help organizations navigate online privacy rules

GDPR, and the newer California Consumer Privacy Act, have given a legal bite to ongoing developments in online privacy and data protection: it’s always good practice for companies with an online presence to take measures to safeguard people’s data, but now failing to do so can land them in some serious hot water.

Now — to underscore the urgency and demand in the market — one of the bigger companies helping organizations navigate those rules is announcing a huge round of the funding. OneTrust, which builds tools to help companies navigate data protection and privacy policies both internally and with its customers, has raised $200 million in a Series A round of funding led by Insight that values the company at $1.3 billion.

It’s an outsized round for a Series A, being made at an equally outsized valuation — especially considering that the company is only three years old — but that’s because, according to CEO Kabir Barday, of the wide-ranging nature of the issue, and OneTrust’s early moves and subsequent pole position in tackling it.

“We’re talking about an operational overhaul in a company’s practices,” Barday said in an interview. “That requires the right technology and reach to be able to deliver that at a low cost.” Notably, he said that OneTrust wasn’t actually in search of funding — it’s already revenue generating and could have grown off its own balance sheet — although he noted that having the capitalization and backing sends a signal to the market and in particular to larger organizations of its stability and staying power.

Currently, OneTrust has around 3,000 customers across 100 countries (and 1,000 employees), and the plan will be to continue to expand its reach geographically and to more businesses. Funding will also go towards the company’s technology: it already has 50 patents filed and another 50 applications in progress securing its own IP in the area of privacy protection.

OneTrust offers technology and services covering three different aspects of data protection and privacy management.

Its Privacy Management Software helps an organization manage how they collect data as well as generate compliance reports in line with how a site is working relative to different jurisdictions. Then there is the famous (or infamous) service that lets internet users set their preferences for how they want their data to be handled on different sites. The third is a larger database and risk management platform that assesses how various third-party services (for example advertising providers) work on a site and where they might pose data protection risks.

These are all provided either as a cloud-based software as a service, or an on-premises solution, depending on the customer in question.

The startup also has an interesting backstory that sheds some light on how it was founded and how it identified the gap in the market relatively early.

Alan Dabbiere, who is the co-chairman of OneTrust, had been the chairman of Airwatch — the mobile device management company acquired by VMware in 2014 (Airwatch’s CEO and founder, John Marshall, is OneTrust’s other co-chairman). In an interview, he told me that it was when they at Airwatch — where Barday had worked across consulting, integration, engineering and product management — that they began to see just how a smartphone “could be a quagmire of information.”

“We could capture apps that an employee was using so that we could show them to IT to mitigate security risks,” he said, “but that actually presented a big privacy issue. If you have dyslexia or if you use a dating app, you’ve now shown things to IT that you shouldn’t have.”

He admitted that in the first version of the software, “we weren’t even thinking about whether that was inappropriate, but then we quickly realised that we needed to be thinking about privacy.”

Dabbiere said that it was Barday who first brought that sensibility to light, and “that is something that we have evolved from.” After that, and after the VMware sale, it seemed a no-brainer that he and Marshall would come on to help the new startup grow.

Airwatch made a relatively quick exit, I pointed out. His response: the plan is to stay the course at OneTrust, with a lot more room for expansion in this market. He describes the issues of data protection and privacy as “death by 1,000 cuts.” I guess when you think about it from an enterprising point of view, that essentially presents 1,000 business opportunities.

Indeed, there is obvious growth potential to expand not just its funnel of customers, but to add in more services, such as proactive detection of malware that might leak customers’ data (such as in the recently-fined breach at British Airways), as well as tools to help stop that once identified.

While there are a million other companies also looking to fix those problems today, what’s interesting is the point from which OneTrust is starting: by providing tools to organizations simply to help them operate in the current regulatory climate as good citizens of the online world.

This is what caught Insight’s eye with this investment.

“OneTrust has truly established themselves as leaders in this space in a very short timeframe, and are quickly becoming for privacy professionals what Salesforce became for salespeople,” said Richard Wells of Insight. “They offer such a vast range of modules and tools to help customers keep their businesses compliant with varying regulatory laws, and the tailwinds around GDPR and the upcoming CCPA make this an opportune time for growth. Their leadership team is unparalleled in their ambition and has proven their ability to convert those ambitions into reality.”

He added that while this is a big round for a Series A it’s because it is something of an outlier — not a mark of how Series A rounds will go soon.

“Investors will always be interested in and keen to partner with companies that are providing real solutions, are already established and are led by a strong group of entrepreneurs,” he said in an interview. “This is a company that has the expertise to help solve for what could be one of the greatest challenges of the next decade. That’s the company investors want to partner with and grow, regardless of fund timing.”

The future of car ownership: Cars-as-a-service

Car shoppers now have several new options to avoid long-term debt and commitments. Automakers and startups alike are increasingly offering services that give buyers new opportunities and greater flexibility around owning and using vehicles.

Cars-as-a-Service

In the first part of this feature, we explored the different startups attempting to change car buying. But not everyone wants to buy a car. After all, a vehicle traditionally loses its value at a dramatic rate.

Some startups are attempting to reinvent car ownership rather than car buying.

Don’t buy, lease

My favorite car blog Jalopnik said it best: “Cars Sales Could Be Heading Straight Into the Toilet.” Citing a Bloomberg report, the site explains automakers may have had the worst first half for new-vehicle retail sales since 2013. Car sales are tanking, but people still need cars.

Companies like Fair are offering new types of leases combining a traditional auto financing option with modern conveniences. Even car makers are looking at different ways to move vehicles from dealer lots.

Fair was founded in 2016 by an all-star team made up of automotive, retail and banking executives including Scott Painter, former founder and CEO of TrueCar.

Researchers developed a sensing system to constantly track the performance of workers

Researchers have come up with a mobile-sensing system that can track and rate the performance of workers by combining a smartphone, fitness bracelets and a custom app.

The mobile-sensing system, as the researchers call it, is able to classify high and low performers. The team used the system to track 750 U.S. workers for one year. The system was able to tell the difference between high performers and low performers with 80% accuracy.

The aim, the researchers say, is to give employees insight into physical, emotional and behavioral well-being. But that constant flow of data also has a downside, and if abused, can put employees under constant surveillance by the companies they work for.

The researchers, including Dartmouth University computer science professor Andrew Campbell, whose earlier work on a student monitoring app provided the underlying technology for this system, see this as a positive gateway to improving worker productivity.

“This is a radically new approach to evaluating workplace performance using passive sensing data from phones and wearables,” said Campbell. “Mobile sensing and machine learning might be the key to unlocking the best from every employee.”

The researchers argue that the technology can provide a more objective measure of performance than self-evaluations and interviews, which they say can be unreliable.

The mobile-sensing system developed by the researchers has three distinct pieces. A smartphone tracks physical activity, location, phone use and ambient light. The fitness tracker monitors heart functions, sleep, stress and body measurements like weight and calorie consumption. Meanwhile, location beacons placed in the home and office provide information on time at work and breaks from the desk.

From here, cloud-based machine learning algorithms are used to classify workers by performance level.

The study found that higher performers typically had lower rates of phone usage, had longer periods of deep sleep and were more physically active.

Privacy experts and labor advocates have long raised concerns about the practice of tracking employees. That hasn’t stopped companies from incentivizing employees to wear fitness tracks in exchange for savings on insurance or other benefits. Startups have popped up to offer even more ways to track employees.

For instance, WeWork acquired in February Euclid, a data platform that tracks the identity and behavior of people in the physical world. Shiva Rajaraman, WeWork’s chief product officer, told TechCrunch at the time that the Euclid platform and its team will become integrated into a software analytics package that WeWork plans to sell to companies that aren’t renting WeWork space but want to WeWork-ify their own offices.

Meanwhile, the team of researchers suggests that while its system of continuous monitoring via wearables and other devices is not yet available, it could be coming in the next few years. It’s unclear if the team is making a calculated guess or if there are designs to try and launch this system as a product.

The team, led by Dartmouth University, included researchers from University of Notre Dame, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Washington, University of Colorado Boulder, University of California, Irvine, Ohio State University, University of Texas at Austin and Carnegie Mellon University .

A paper describing the study will be published in the Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile Wearable and Ubiquitous Technology.

Vertical market networks, effective startup names, Libra, Carbon, and Sidewalk Labs

The next service marketplace wave: Vertical market networks

B2B service marketplaces (think translation as a service) are an extraordinarily lucrative startup category. But despite the incredible potential of these platforms to generate outsized returns, many fail. Why?

Ivan Smolnikov, the CEO and founder of translation service startup Smartcat, investigates why certain marketplaces seem to grow while others stall. His conclusion is that unlocking value for both sides of the marketplace is much more challenging than it appears, and the most successful, next-generation marketplaces are going to come from highly networked, efficient platforms for complex projects targeting specific verticals.

Smolnikov then gives a step-by-step guide to optimizing marketplace growth.

One reason is that several service providers must often work together to complete a single job for a buyer, requiring a complex workflow from end to end. As a result, it’s difficult for marketplaces to not only mediate service delivery but also make it significantly more efficient for buyers and suppliers. If both the buyer and suppliers don’t see a significant efficiency gain other than being initially matched, why would they continue using the marketplace?

What startup names are most effective?

Perhaps the first step in building a company is just figuring out what to call it. Adam Zelcer, who founded Adboy, explores some tactics on how to optimize a startup’s name.

Huawei says two-thirds of 5G networks outside China now use its gear

As 5G networks begin rolling out and commercializing around the world, telecoms vendors are rushing to get a headstart. Huawei equipment is now behind two-thirds of the commercially launched 5G networks outside China, said president of Huawei’s carrier business group Ryan Ding on Tuesday at an industry conference.

Huawei, the world’s largest maker of telecoms gear, has nabbed 50 commercial 5G contracts outside its home base from countries including South Korea, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Finland and more. In all, the Shenzhen-based firm has shipped more than 150,000 base stations, according to Ding.

It’s worth noting that network carriers can work with more than one providers to deploy different parts of their 5G base stations. Huawei offers what it calls an end-to-end network solution or a full system of hardware, but whether a carrier plans to buy from multiple suppliers is contingent on their needs and local regulations, a Huawei spokesperson told TechCrunch.

In China, for instance, both Ericsson and Nokia have secured 5G contracts from state-run carrier China Mobile (although Nokia’s Chinese entity, a joint venture with Alcatel-Lucent Shanghai Bell, is directly controlled by China’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission).

Huawei’s handsome number of deals came despite the U.S’s ongoing effort to lobby its allies against using its equipment. In May, the Trump administration put Huawei on a trade blacklist over concerns around the firm’s spying capabilities, a move that has effectively banned U.S. companies from doing businesses with the Shenzhen-based giant.

Huawei’s overall share in the U.S. telecoms market has so far been negligible, but many rural carriers have long depended on its high-performing, cost-saving hardware. That might soon end as the U.S. pressures small-town network operators to quit buying from Huawei, Reuters reported this week.

To appease potential clients, Huawei has gone around the world offering no-backdoors pacts to local governments of the U.K. and most recently India.

Huawei is in a neck and neck fight with rivals Nokia and Ericsson. In early June, Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri said in an interview with Bloomberg that the firm had won “two-thirds of the time” in bidding contracts against Ericcson and competed “quite favorably with Huawei.” Nokia at the time landed 42 5G contracts, while Huawei numbered 40 and Ericsson scored 19.

Huawei’s challenges go well beyond the realm of its carrier business. Its fast-growing smartphone unit is also getting the heat as the U.S. ban threatens to cut it off from Alphabet, whose Android operating system is used in Huawei phone, as well as a range of big chip suppliers.

Huawei CEO and founder Ren Zhengfei noted that trade restrictions may compromise the firm’s output in the short term. Total revenues are expected to dip $30 billion below estimates over the next two years, and overseas smartphone shipment faces a 40% plunge. Ren, however, is bullish that the firm’s sales would bounce back after a temporary period of adjustment while it works towards self-dependence by developing its own OS, chips and other core technologies.

Xiaomi’s new Mi CC brand will develop ‘trendy’ smartphones for young people

Huawei may be on the ropes as it battles sanctions from the U.S. government, but fellow Chinese smartphone rival Xiaomi is in expansion mode with the launch of a new brand that’s aimed at winning friends (and sales) among the young and fashionable.

“Mi CC” is the newest brand from Xiaomi. Unveiled on Friday, the phone-maker said it stands for “camera+camera” in reference to its dual-camera feature, but that apparently also segues into “a variety of meanings including chic, cool, colorful and creative.”

The end goal of that marketing bumf is a target customer that Xiaomi describes as “the global young generation.”

Essentially, what Xiaomi is doing here is breaking out a dedicated set of phones for those who care more about aesthetics than performance. To date, the company has built its brand on developing phones that are as good — well, nearly as good — as top smartphone rivals but at a fraction of the cost. The result of that is that a lot of marketing focus is on the technical details, even though Xiaomi has been lauded for some attractive designs, and CC adjusts that balance to target a different kind of audience.

Since Xiaomi has a history of bringing innovation into affordable devices, CC is one to watch out for.

Xiaomi’s CC teaser image doesn’t give much away, apart from the logo

The new division is the result of Xiaomi’s acquisition of the smartphone business belonging to Meitu, a selfie app maker.

Xiaomi bought the business last November to go after new demographics and build on the work of Meitu, which had sold just over 3.5 million after getting into the smartphone business in 2013. Those numbers weren’t enough to justify the continuation of Meitu’s phone business but, evidently, Xiaomi saw promise in that segment. Meitu retains a similarly positive outlook on the fashionable audience and it has a lot to gain financially from the success of CC, too.

Terms of the acquisition deal mean that Meitu will take 10 percent of all profits, with a minimum guaranteed fee of $10 million per year. Big sales could be significant for Meitu, which reported revenue of $406 million in 2018. Notably, two-thirds of that income was from phone sales but Meitu’s smartphone revenue dropped by 51 percent year-on-year. Hence, Xiaomi has come to the rescue with its know-how.

There’s no word on exactly what Mi CC devices will look like or where they will be sold, but Xiaomi is already trumpeting its differentiation.

“Mi CC is created by one of the youngest product teams in Xiaomi, among which half are art majors and are dedicated to creating a trendy design for young consumers,” it wrote in an announcement.

Gavin Thomas plays with a Mi CC phone in a teaser that the brand posted to its Weibo account

The first look is a teaser that features Gavin Thomas — an eight-year-old who went viral in China for his ability to speak Mandarin — but the phone itself is kept hidden in the video thanks to well-placed stickers.

As you’d expect from Meitu, there’s a lot of emphasis on selfies, stickers and other graphics.

Xiaomi has had success with brands, some of which include Redmi — its big-selling budget division — Poco, its ‘performance’-focused division, its gaming brand Shark, which looks much like Razer’s phones.

Outside of mobile, the company develops and sells a range of smart home products, many of which are licensed from third-party partners.

Canada’s True North conference is not your typical tech event

From the venue and the flashy event website, Waterloo, Ontario’s True North conference (in its second year) doesn’t seem all that distinct from a laundry list of other major tech events that take place each year across North America. But from the moment its main stage programming kicked off on the first day, it was clear this wasn’t your typical gathering place for the tech industry faithful.

The main stage track kicked off with Communitech CEO Iain Klugman. The event is produced by Communitech, an entrepreneurial support and resource organization founded in 1997 to foster the Waterloo region’s technology industry. Communitech sprung out of BlackBerry and the University of Waterloo and the world-class innovation community that surrounds both.

Klugman, a former communications executive and current board member at a number of Communitech-fostered startups and academic institutions, sounded a cautionary and urgent note that continued throughout the day.

Tech conferences, in general, tend to dwell on optimism and enthusiasm, with brief forays into dark alleys of negative consequences. Not this one.

Communitech CEO Iain Klugman speaking at True North 2019 in Waterloo.

Klugman’s talk touched on opportunity, but it was the opportunity to discuss among a group of peers with influence in the technology industry how they should undertake together “to set things right.” Last year’s event had a similar outcome, resulting in the ‘Tech for Good Declaration,’ which True North describes as “the Canadian tech industry’s living document” and includes a number of principles designed to help guide technology development with community good in mind.

Rather than changing focus for year two, True North’s organizers seem to have doubled down: Klugman’s opening talk included references to surveillance capitalism and breaches of trust, and included this cheerful analogy: “Technology is like fuel. It can warm our homes or it can burn them to the ground, so we decide which one it will do.”

As a whole, the event is about the “tough choices” faced by the collective “we” of the tech industry, according to Klugman.

True North’s official keynote perfectly took the baton from the intro, as New York Times columnist and longtime political commentator Thomas Friedman took the stage. Friedman, a somewhat controversial figure owing to some of his past political stances, launched into a talk informed by his most recent book, Thank You for Being Late, and talked about what we’re seeing now in human history as a moment of intersection of three different forces accelerating in a ‘nonlinear manner’ all at once, including technological development outpacing humanity’s ability to adapt to those changes.

NYT columnist and author Thomas Friedman at True North 2019 in Waterloo.

Friedman’s talk ended with him positing that humans spend most of their time today in the essentially “god-less” realm of “cyberspace,” a realm “where we’re all connected but no one’s in charge,” while at the same time we’ve achieved better than ever ability to act with god-like power to control and manipulate our environment. He chided the essential disconnect of powerful forces that act with supreme mastery over technology but no grounding in sociopolitical understanding (specifically naming Mark Zuckerberg) and those who have the inverse problem (the U.S. Congress, in Friedman’s view).

Overall, Friedman’s views are grounded in what he describes as a place of optimism. But the takeaway is more that humanity is currently at a state where it’s overwhelmed on a number of fronts and out of its depth in terms of having a capacity to cope.

In the afternoon, Robert Mazur (longtime undercover agent and the subject of biopic The Infiltrator) discussed his experience tracking down and prosecuting money launderers operating more or less with the blessing of large financial institutions, precisely because their systems were designed around incentive systems that encouraged them but didn’t have protections in place to prevent bad actors from taking advantage. Mazur further elaborated that current telecom industry structure actually makes it even easier than ever to launder large sums relatively unchecked. In essence, it was a warning to be mindful of how the products you build can be exploited by the most malicious actors.

Former Information and Privacy Commissioner for Ontario and creator of the concept of ‘Privacy by Design’ Ann Cavoukian came next, decrying the current state of data “centralized in huge honeypots of information,” including Google (her example).

Former Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian.

This centralization, she noted is a huge risk in terms of presenting opportunities for tracking, misuse, leaks and more. It’s “taking away our agency as individuals,” she said, and the solution is moving to true decentralization of data.

“Privacy […] is freedom, and is about you making decisions relating to your personal information; not the state, not corporations – you,” she said. “It’s not about secrecy, it’s about control [and] privacy is a necessary condition for societal wellbeing.”

Cavoukian wrapped her talk by noting the sheer volume of privacy breaches that have leaked consumer information to date, and about the importance of encryption in keeping this safe. Overall, her talk was a blueprint for tech companies looking to incorporate data privacy and good stewardship into the DNA of their products from day one.

Kelsey Leonard, Tribal Co-Lead on the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body of the U.S. National Ocean Council, provided a talk on the implications of digital rights and the continued digital divide as it pertains to Indigenous communities globally. Leonard pointed out that Indigenous nations in North America are the least connected in the world, something she noted continues to ongoing colonialism, and even can potentially contribute to “ongoing genocide of Indigenous peoples.”

Kelsey Leonard, advocate for Indigenous Data Governance and Sovereignty, speaks at True North 2019 in Waterloo.

Indigenous people are also systematically disenfranchised from data ownership and data control, by virtue of their being left out of advanced STEM education and formalized degrees, she said. Leonard also noted that platforms contain reinforcement of what she calls “digital colonialism,” in that Indigenous names are often flagged as fake by algorithms designed to enforce real name policies, and Indigenous languages are often mistranslated (specifically as Estonian, she said).

This worsens existing Indigenous language and culture erasure. Leonard said a language is lost every two weeks on average, according to recent research. What’s required then is to add protection measures specific to digital platforms to help counter this institutional digital colonization and enforce Indigenous Sovereign Data.

To close day one, Recode founder and legendary Silicon Valley reporter Kara Swisher summarized a lot of her recent work as a New York Times columnist. Basically, that means she called on the industry to stop messing around and start fixing stuff.

Kara Swisher speaks at the True North 2019 conference in Waterloo, Ontario.

Swisher said we’re coming to a “reckoning” for tech in terms of media coverage, and the overwhelmingly positive coverage it’s received over the past many years. She emphasized that we’re only at the beginning of the impact technology will have on society, and laid out a number of current areas of innovation and investment that will continue to upset societal norms, including autonomous driving, artificial intelligence and more.

Regarding media specifically, Swisher noted that she marked a significant shift when Buzzfeed started A/B testing to amplify and extend the attention-capture possible around specific “news” items, citing the famous Katy Perry Left Shark incident of 2015. This, combined with our “continuous partial attention,” which is tied to our inability to totally disengage from your smartphone anymore, are combining to have effects on how we think and work in the world, Swisher said.

She added that, today, many of her new big concerns are around AI, and that “everything that can be digitized will be digitized.” Not only that, she continued, but “almost everything can be,” which will be massively disruptive to peoples’ lives, with effects including a future where most people will have a very high number of different jobs over the course of their lives, requiring continuous education and retraining. “We have to think really hard about what good AI is and what problematic AI is,” she said.

Thompson Reuters Foundation CEO Antonio Zappulla discussed using technology to help fight human trafficking at True North 2019 in Waterloo.

Across other stages, too, the themes of technology’s dangers and how to avert it prevailed across programming. Take Some Risk founder Duane Brown gave a talk on opting out of the always-connected lifestyle and becoming “digitally exhausted”; MedStack founder and CEO Balaji Gopalan talked about the risks inherent in dealing with private patient data in healthcare; other topics included sustainable energy for Africa, using big data to counter human trafficking and ensuring we steer away from encouraging consumerization in this generation of connected kids.

The event’s central theme was the deceptively simple (and frankly over-uttered) phrase “tech for good,” but the programming and content revealed a level of sophistication and sincerity on the topic that exceeds the low bar often found in tech industry marketing materials and staged events. Overall, it felt introspective, contrite and contemplative – a self-reflection from a community genuine about shoring up its ethical shortcomings. In other words, refreshing.

Huawei says US ban will cost it $30B in lost revenue

Following a string of trade restrictions from the U.S., China’s telecoms equipment and smartphone maker Huawei expects its revenues to drop $30 billion below forecast over the next two years, founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei said Monday during a panel discussion at the company’s Shenzhen headquarters.

Huawei’s production will slow down in the next two years while revenues will hover around $100 billion this and next year, according to the executive. The firm’s overseas smartphone shipment is tipped to drop 40%, he said, confirming an earlier report from Bloomberg.

That said, Ren assured that Huawei’s output will be “rejuvenated” by the year 2021 after a period of adjustment.

Huawei’s challenges are multifaceted as the U.S. “entity list” bars it from procuring from American chip makers and using certain Android services among a list of other restrictions. In response, the Chinese behemoth recently announced it has been preparing for years its own backup chips and an alternative smartphone operating system.

“We didn’t expect the U.S. to attack Huawei with such intense and determined effort. We are not only banned from providing targeted components but also from joining a lot of international organizations, collaborating with many universities, using anything with American components or even connecting to networks that use American parts,” said Ren at the panel.

The founder said these adverse circumstances, though greater than what he expected, would not prevent the company from making strides. “We are like a damaged plane that protected only its heart and fuel tank but not its appendages. Huawei needs to be tested by making accommodation and through time. We will grow stronger as we make this step.”

huawei

“Heroes in any times go through great challenges,” reads a placard left on a table at a Huawei campus cafe, featuring the image of a damaged World War II aircraft. / Photo: TechCrunch

That image of the beaten aircraft holding out during hard times is sticking to employees’ minds through little motivational placards distributed across the Huawei campus. TechCrunch was among a small group of journalists who spoke to Huawei staff about the current U.S.-China situation, and many of them shared Ren’s upbeat, resilient attitude.

“I’m very confident about the current situation,” said an employee who has been working at Huawei for five years and who couldn’t reveal his name as he wasn’t authorized to speak to the press. “And my confidence stems from the way our boss understands and anticipates the future.”

More collaboration

74-year-old Ren had kept a quiet profile ever since founding Huawei, but he has recently appeared more in front of media as his company is thrown under growing scrutiny from the west. That includes efforts like the Monday panel, which was dubbed “A Coffee with Ren” and known to be Ren’s first such fireside chat.

Speaking alongside George Gilder, an American writer and speaker on technology, and Nicholas Negroponte, co-founder of the MIT Media Lab, Ren said he believed in a more collaborative and open economy, which can result in greater mutual gains between countries.

“The west was the first to bring up the concept of economic globalization. It’s the right move. But there will be big waves rising from the process, and we must handle them with correct rather than radical measures,” said Ren.

“It’s the U.S. that will suffer from any effort to decouple,” argued Gilder. “I believe that we have a wonder entrepreneurial energy, wonderful creativity and wonderful technology, but it’s always thrived with collaboration with other countries.”

“The U.S. is making a terrible mistake, first of all, picking on a company,” snapped Negroponte. “I come from a world where the interest isn’t so much about the trade, commerce or stock. We value knowledge and we want to build on the people before us. The only way this works is that people are open at the beginning… It’s not a competitive world in the early stages of science. [The world] benefits from collaboration.”

“This is an age for win-win games,” said one of the anonymous employees TechCrunch spoke to. He drew the example of network operator China Mobile, which recently announced to buy not just from Huawei but also from non-Chinese suppliers Nokia and Ericsson after it secured one of the first commercial licenses to deploy 5G networks in the country.

“I think the most important thing is that we focus on our work,” said Ocean Sun, who is tasked with integrating network services for Huawei clients. He argued that as employees, their job is to “be professional and provide the best solutions” to customers.

“I think the commercial war between China and the U.S. damages both,” suggested Zheng Xining, an engineer working on Huawei’s network services for Switzerland. “Donald Trump should think twice [about his decisions].”

Report: Huawei expects international smartphone shipments to plummet

A month after being placed on a trade blacklist by the Trump administration, Huawei is reportedly steadying itself for international shipments of its smartphones to decline by 40% to 60%. According to a report in Bloomberg, Huawei may end up pulling shipments of the Honor 20, its flagship phone for overseas markets, if sales are poor.

The U.S. Department of Commerce barred Huawei in May from purchasing parts from U.S. companies without prior approval from Washington, claiming that Huawei is a possible threat to national security. After the ban, Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei said the blacklist may slow the company’s growth, but “only slightly.”

But Bloomberg reports that the company is now steeling itself for international shipments to plummet, with Huawei sales and marketing manager internally forecasting a drop in shipment volumes between 40 million to 60 million smartphones. The Honor 20 will go on sale in parts of Europe, including France and the U.K., on June 21, but Huawei may stop shipments if it sells poorly.

In order to offset the anticipated decline in international shipments, Huawei wants to grab half of China’s smartphone market this year. According to Canalys, Huawei was the only company among China’s top five smartphone vendors to report growth as the rest of the market declined last year, achieving a 34% market share, but nonetheless it needs to ward off competition from Oppo and Vivo, which are both refreshing their product strategies in order to cover more consumer segments. Bloomberg reports that Huawei wants to increase shipments by spending more on marketing and expanding its distribution channels, but some executives have said its target is too high.

Meanwhile in the U.S., the trade blacklist is also impacting some of Huawei’s most important chip suppliers, including Qualcomm, Intel and Xilinx. Reuters reports that representatives from some companies have met with the Commerce Department to lift restrictions on parts for common devices that they say do not present security concerns, like smartphone chips.

Why is Andreessen Horowitz (and everyone else) investing in Latin America now?

Investments by U.S. venture capital firms into Latin America are skyrocketing and one of the firms leading the charge into deals is none other than Silicon Valley’s Andreessen Horowitz .

The firm that shook up Silicon Valley with potentially over-generous term sheets and valuations and an overarching thesis that “software is eating the world” has been reluctant to test its core belief… well… pretty much anywhere outside of the United States.

That was true until a few years ago when Andreessen began making investments in Latin America. It’s the only geography outside of the U.S. where the firm has committed significant capital and the pace of its investments is increasing.

Andreessen isn’t the only firm that’s making big bets in companies south of the American border. SoftBank has its $2 billion dollar investment fund, which launched earlier this year, to invest in Latin American deals as well. (Although the most recent SoftBank Innovation Fund investment in GymPass is likely an indicator that the fund, much like SoftBank’s “Vision” fund, has a pretty generous interpretation of what is and is not a Latin American deal.)

“We previously didn’t invest internationally, [because] we weren’t as well set up to help these companies,” says Angela Strange, a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz. “Part of the reason for why LatAm is proximity.”