Tech news: Stanford Uni students who founded delivery firm become billionaires – live updates – The Telegraph


Stanford University students who set up their own food delivery start-up seven years ago are set to become billionaires, as DoorDash joins the New York Stock Exchange.

Tony Xu, Andy Fang and Stanley Tang, who founded DoorDash after visiting a Palo Alto macaroon shop whilst at university, will each see their fortunes balloon to around $1.4bn and $1.5bn as the company joins the public markets. 

DoorDash will be worth around $38bn at the offering price, significantly higher than the $16bn it was valued at in June. Sequoia and SoftBank’s Vision Fund are also set to receive a boost from the float, one in a string expected in the coming days in what has become a red-hot market.

Elsewhere, the UK struck a cybersecurity deal with FireEye just weeks before foreign state hackers gained access to its powerful digital weaponry.

FireEye, which has made its name by tracking government-sponsored cyber-attacks, last night revealed that «a nation with top-tier offensive capabilities» had made off with its «red team» hacking tools, used to probe and test clients’ defences.

Follow for live updates below. 

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China ‘uses predictive policing system to flag Muslim population’

China is «using a big data program to flag members of its Turkic Muslim population for possible detention», Morgan Meaker writes. 

On Wednesday,
Human Rights Watch said it had come into possession of a leaked list of over 2,000 detainees from Aksu prefecture in China’s northern Xinjiang region.

According to the organisation, the list showed how China was
using a predictive policing system called the Integrated Joint Operations Platform to flag people who could be sent to “political education” camps in Xinjiang.

«Mrs T», for example, had been flagged by the system’s algorithms because she had «links to sensitive countries» and had received four calls from a foreign number in March 2017. 

Human Rights Watch was able to find out that number belonged to Mrs T’s sister who lived abroad. 

“The Aksu List provides further insights into how China’s brutal repression of Xinjiang’s Turkic Muslims is being turbocharged by technology,” said Maya Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch. 

«‘Predictive policing’ platforms are really just a pseudo-scientific fig leaf for the Chinese government to justify vast
repression of Turkic Muslims,” added Wang.


DoorDash founders to become billionaires



The three founders of food delivery start-up DoorDash are set to become billionaires as the company lists on the New York Stock Exchange today.

Tony Xu, Andy Fang and Stanley Tang, all Stanford University students, founded the company seven years ago. It is now set to be worth around $38bn based off the target IPO price. 

DoorDash, which is similar to Deliveroo and UberEats, may not be a well-known name in the UK, but in the US, growth has only accelerated during the pandemic, with sales up at $1.9bn for the nine months to the end of September, compared to $587m the same period a year earlier.

Based on the IPO price, all three of the founders own stakes worth between $1.4bn and $1.5bn, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index.


Google snaps up British start-up designing data warehouses

Google has swooped on Dataform, a British start-up working to help companies glean insights from their data pools.

The start-up will be part of Google Cloud, the US firm’s cloud division, it announced on Wednesday, with Dataform saying the team had decided that, with Google, they could «achieve something bigger than we could separately».

Dataform has decribed itself as a company which designs data warehouses, essentially helping companies navigate their huge sources of data. News of the takeover was first reported by TechCrunch.

It comes a day after the UK signalled it would be taking a tougher stance on takeovers of British start-ups by US giants, with the CMA suggesting a new technology regulator be handed powers to automatically investigate all deals in the space.

Speaking to the Telegraph yesterday, Andrea Coscelli said: «Historically, it has been easy for very large companies to have carte blanche.

«What we’re essentially saying here is that doesn’t seem right.»

Last year, Google’s ex-finance chief told the Telegraph that British start-ups should rebuff US takeover offers. Read more about that here. 


Ex-Google boss throws support behind British fund turning students into VCs

Eric Schmidt

Eric Schmidt


Eric Schmidt, the former chief executive of Google, has backed a British venture capital firm turning students into start-up investors. 

Schmidt Futures, the philanthropic initiative co-founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, has provided grant funding to the Creator Fund, which launched in February with the ambition of training students to become VCs to invest in their peers.

Jamie Macfarlane, founder and CEO of the fund, said the pandemic and shift to remote learning had meant a growing number of students and academics had more time to focus on other projects, such as launching their own start-ups. 


Carole Baskin, KFC recipes and WAP among most searched terms in 2020

Google has today released its ‘2020 UK Year in Search’ results, showing the top trending topics on the site over the past 12 months.

In a year in which many people’s lives have been taken over by Covid-19, it is unsurprising that many of the most popular searches centre around the pandemic.

Coronavirus featured in three of the top ten trends on the site, with users searching for «coronavirus», «coronavirus symptoms» and «coronavirus update».

But the virus wasn’t the only popular topic this year. With millions across the UK staying inside, Britons flocked to Google to search for how to recreate their favourite recipes – KFC, Wagamama katsu curry and Ikea meatballs among the most popular.

Netflix shows such as Tiger King also dominated the trending lists this year, with Google users searching for Carol Baskin and Joe Exotic. 

And whilst some people used the site to find out how they would be affected during the pandemic, asking Google what «furlough» meant and what «tier» they would be in, others took to the search engine to find out what WAP meant, following the popularity of the Cardi B song. 


Don’t seek injunction on Facebook’s encryption plans, privacy experts say

Privacy advocates have warned the Government against blocking Facebook’s plans to provide end-to-end encryption across its messaging apps, saying such a move would «signal to the world that the UK no longer respects personal privacy and security».

Open Rights Group executive director Jim Killock said encryption was «a vital tool to help people protect their personal messages».

«People are entitled to their privacy… There are legitimate concerns about investigating crime, but the Government should not facilitate crime by making personal security harder.” 

The comments come after a Sky News report claimed that the Government could use a legal power to prevent Facebook rolling out an encryption protocol to its other services outside WhatsApp. 

Should this legal instrument be used by officials, Facebook could have to water down its encryption plans for apps such as Messenger so that it was able to hand over conversations in response to a warrant.


Exclusive: Just Eat turns away from gig economy by recruiting 1,000 riders

Just Eat Takeaway, the FTSE 100 food delivery company, is to create 1,000 rider jobs in London as it expands its business and steers away from the «gig» economy model, writes Matthew Field. 

The riders will be offered full time pay, via an agency, and various benefits such as p ensions, holidays and paternity leave.

Andrew Kenny, Just Eat’s UK managing director, said in parts of Europe the “winds of change” were to move away from a freelance-led model.

He said: “In the UK, the incumbent model is primarily a contractor model. For us this makes couriers an integral part of our offering. It is a big step forward.”


Why it may just be a matter of time before a repeat of WannaCry

When news emerged on Tuesday evening that FireEye, a leading American cybersecurity business, had seen its hacking tools stolen by cyber criminals, experts immediately feared the worst, writes James Cook. 

«Companies were able to recover from seeing their computers locked for days during WannaCry in 2017, but a similar attack in 2020 on businesses and organisations already struggling to recover from the pandemic could be catastrophic.

«Many government agencies are developing and stockpiling hacking tools, but there seems to be little consideration on what to do if they are stolen or backfire.»

The threat is becoming increasingly apparent. After all, a growing number of companies have been accused of launching government-based hacking attacks in recent years.


Breaking: Britain signed $1m deal with FireEye weeks before Russia-linked cyber attack

The UK struck a million dollar deal with FireEye in October, the Telegraph has discovered, coming just weeks before the US cybersecurity company fell victim to suspected Russian hackers.

As my colleague Margi Murphy reports:

FireEye, a Silicon Valley cyber firm, inked a £865,500 year-long deal with the Ministry of Defence in October, to supply the department with a “threat intelligence feed”.

 warned on Tuesday that “a nation with top-tier offensive capabilities” had stolen its bespoke digital hacking software.  CEO Kevin Mandia warned the hackers had been attempting to make off with sensitive details on its Government clients and operations.

He said, whilst there was “no evidence” the attackers accessed its sensitive government work, they had been attempting steal FireEye’s so-called “red team” hacking tools.

This software is used by companies like FireEye to probe defences for government and corporate clients – effectively a suit of the latest digital weaponry.


Lab-grown meat on the menu

This week, Singapore has approved the sale of cultured meat, opening the doors to what is seen as a cleaner, less cruel alternative for many.

Lab-grown meat uses cells from live animals, cultivates them and combines them other plant-based ingredients to produce alternatives.

Although not a vegetarian option, given it still uses foetal bovine serum, taken from blood in the foetus of animals, the process could help reduce the slaughter of animals worldwide.


Activist investors ready attack on tech companies

Technology will be among the most targeted sectors by activist investors next year, according to an annual report by Alvarez & Marsal out this morning.

The professional services firm predicted that 29 technology companies were now at risk from activist investors, who take stakes in firms and pressure companies into making changes, compared to 24 a year ago.

Healthcare and industrials are also expected to be prime targets for activist shareholders.

Malcolm McKenzie, from A&M, said: “Crunch time for some sectors is fast approaching. Surprisingly, even sectors deemed to be ‘COVID winners’ such as technology and healthcare are not immune from activist attention; they will in fact find themselves on the activist ‘most wanted’ lists for 2021.»

Recently, experts have said the conditions are ripe for shareholders to go on the attack, and already this year saw a surge in UK companies facing activist demands.


Russia behind FireEye attack?

FireEye last night stopped short of identifying the nation responsible for the hack on its systems, but reports claimed that the FBI had assigned the case to its Russia experts, in what many saw as a sign of who was the most likely culprit.

This is not the first time Russia has been linked to cyber-attacks.

However, this FireEye breach is said to be among the biggest known thefts of hacking tools since 2016, when cyberweapons were stolen from the US National Security Agency (NSA). One of these was later used in the WannaCry ransomware attack, which cost the NHS an estimated £92m.

The latest attack was described as «devastating» by Theresa Payton, a former White House chief information officer, who said it was similar to Russian agents «running off with the nuclear codes».


Musk’s move to Texas

Silicon Valley billionaire Elon Musk has confirmed he has moved from California to Texas, saying the state is home to «the two biggest things that I got going on right now».

SpaceX’s Starship development and «big new US factory for Tesla» are both based in Texas.  In an interview with the Wall Street Journal’s editor in chief Matt Murray, Musk said: «It wasn’t necessarily a great use of my time here (in California)».

Texas might potentially offer some tax reprieve for the world’s second richest man. It does not collect personal income tax while California has some of the highest state tax rates in the United States.

Musk has recently seen his wealth balloon as Tesla shares have risen more than six-fold this year. He owns around 18pc of the shares.


Internet companies urge EU against blanket take-down rules


 Matt Rourke

Twitter, Tumblr and Vimeo have this morning written to the EU, urging it against introducing sweeping rules on illegal and harmful content.

The companies warned that blanket regulations requiring them to remove content could hurt freedom of expression on their sites.

«By limiting policy options to a solely stay up-come down binary, we forgo promising alternatives that could better address the spread and impact of problematic content while safeguarding rights and the potential for smaller companies to compete,» the companies said.

The comments come ahead of the EU unveiling new rules next week over how technology companies should deal with dangerous content on their sites. It is thought the new Digital Services Act will require social media firms to take down illegal and harmful content as soon as they have been notified of it.


Agenda: Concerns spiral over ‘state-sponsored hack’

Good morning. Hackers have stolen dangerous digital weaponry from one of the world’s leading cybersecurity firms, causing ripples across the world.

Governments and companies are on high alert after FireEye said a nation with «top-tier offensive capabilities» had made off with its «red team» hacking tools.

Five things to start your day

1) Software company Snowflake overtakes IBM in value It comes just three months after it first floated on public markets.

2) Uber dropped plans to operate flying taxi journeys The company said it had sold its Elevate division to Joby Aviation, the second exit from a futuristic market in two days.

3) The e-commerce boom is fuelling rocketing demand for warehouse space There has been a 36pc rise in demand for space this year.

4) US authorities could file antitrust lawsuits against Facebook on Wednesday The Washington Post reports that America’s FTC will accuse the company of abusing its dominance.

5) US delivery company DoorDash priced its IPO at $102 a share It values the company at $39bn.

Coming up today

DoorDash IPO to value company at $39bn

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