TSMC invests in new capacity despite forecasts chip demand will ease

Fabrication plant

Enlarge / TSMC Fab 16. (credit: TSMC)

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company plans to raise its capital expenditure by almost a third this year as the world’s largest contract chipmaker defies analyst warnings of softening demand for technology gadgets.

TSMC expects capital expenditure to reach $44 billion this year, a 32 percent increase from the $30 billion spent in 2021 and triple the amount in 2019, the company said on Thursday.

The push underscores the outsized role semiconductors are coming to play in goods far beyond classical electronics products, from cars to factory equipment. It also reflects TSMC’s dominance of global chip manufacturing.

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#chips, #supply-chain, #taiwan, #tech, #tsmc

Japan Approves Major Hike in Military Spending, With Taiwan in Mind

The budget increase, the biggest in decades, comes as officials warn that tensions over Taiwan could pull Japan into a conflict between the United States and China.

#defense-and-military-forces, #japan, #taiwan, #territorial-disputes

A Soup That Tastes Like Being Home for the Holidays

When the architect Michael Chen couldn’t travel to be with his family last Christmas, he learned to make one of his mother’s recipes himself.

#beef, #chen-michael-k, #cooking-and-cookbooks, #food, #meat, #recipes, #soups, #spices, #taiwan

The Island Paradise Near the Front Line of Tensions Over Taiwan

New missile batteries planned for the Japanese island of Ishigaki reflect a drastic shift in Japan’s views on China.

#china, #defense-and-military-forces, #international-relations, #japan, #taiwan, #united-states

Nai-Ni Chen, Whose Dances Merged East and West, Dies at 62

Ms. Chen, who founded the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company in 1988, died while swimming in Hawaii, where she was vacationing.

#chen-nai-ni-1959-2021, #dancing, #deaths-obituaries, #nai-ni-chen-dance-company, #taiwan

Taiwan Loses Nicaragua as Ally as Tensions With China Rise

The nation switched diplomatic allegiance to Beijing, leaving 13 nations and the Vatican still recognizing Taiwan as a sovereign nation.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #china, #nicaragua, #ortega-daniel, #taiwan, #tsai-ing-wen, #united-states-international-relations

U.S.-China Relations: What to Know

The Biden administration has called managing America’s relationship with Beijing “the biggest geopolitical test of the 21st century.”

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #china, #commerce-department, #communist-party-of-china, #forced-labor, #international-trade-and-world-market, #kerry-john, #tai-katherine-1974, #taiwan, #uighurs-chinese-ethnic-group, #united-states, #united-states-international-relations, #united-states-politics-and-government, #wang-yi, #xi-jinping

Biden and Xi to Meet Amid Economic and Military Tensions

U.S. officials said the virtual summit on Monday was intended to reassure both sides that misunderstandings would not lead to unintended clashes.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #china, #cyberwarfare-and-defense, #defense-and-military-forces, #global-warming, #south-china-sea, #taiwan, #territorial-disputes, #united-states-international-relations, #united-states-politics-and-government, #xi-jinping

How Republicans Can Replay the Reagan Era

How 2021’s echoes of the 1970s are making politics easy for Republicans.

#abortion, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #clinton-bill, #cold-war-era, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #democratic-party, #inflation-economics, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #nineteen-hundred-seventies, #oxford-conn, #reagan-ronald-wilson, #republican-party, #taiwan, #united-states, #united-states-politics-and-government

Europe, Taiwan Inch Closer as Distrust of Beijing Grows

Talks between European lawmakers and Taiwanese officials point to Europe’s increasing willingness to strengthen relations, despite Beijing’s threats.

#china, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #defense-and-military-forces, #europe, #european-council, #european-parliament, #european-union, #international-trade-and-world-market, #taiwan, #tsai-ing-wen, #united-states-international-relations, #xi-jinping

In U.S.-China Competition, Taiwan’s Voice Must Be Heeded

Many outsiders are weighing in on what should be done about and on behalf of Taiwan. Few, though, are listening to what Taiwan is saying.

#australia, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #canberra-australia, #china, #cnn, #defense-and-military-forces, #house-of-representatives, #international-relations, #international-trade-and-world-market, #news-and-news-media, #politics-and-government, #polls-and-public-opinion, #secession-and-independence-movements, #senate, #taipei-taiwan, #taiwan, #tsai-ing-wen, #united-nations, #united-states, #united-states-international-relations, #united-states-politics-and-government, #washington-dc, #world-health-organization, #xi-jinping

America’s Crumbling Global Position

Joe Biden needs a new national security team now.

#afghanistan-war-2001, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #cyberwarfare-and-defense, #defense-and-military-forces, #iran, #russia, #taiwan, #united-states-international-relations, #united-states-politics-and-government

Biden Said the U.S. Would Protect Taiwan. But It’s Not That Clear-Cut.

After the president’s remarks at a CNN event, the White House quickly declared that the American policy of “strategic ambiguity” over the island’s defense had not changed.

#china, #defense-and-military-forces, #taiwan, #united-states-international-relations, #united-states-politics-and-government

China’s Bullying Is Becoming a Danger to the World and Itself

Does Xi understand the cost of the distrust he’s fostering at home and abroad?

#alibaba-group-holding-ltd, #china, #computer-chips, #international-trade-and-world-market, #ma-jack, #taiwan, #taiwan-semiconductor-manufacturing-company-ltd, #xi-jinping

Taiwan Couple Are Suspected of Negligent Homicide in Building Fire

Prosecutors accused a woman of leaving a burning incense coil unattended in the building in Kaohsiung. Her partner was accused of failing to remind her to douse the coil before leaving.

#deaths-fatalities, #fires-and-firefighters, #taiwan

A Last-Chance ‘Ghost Building’ in Taiwan Becomes a Death Trap for Many

“I had no choice but to live here,” said one resident who survived a blaze that killed 46 of her neighbors and raised questions about lax safety standards.

#deaths-fatalities, #fires-and-firefighters, #squatters, #taiwan

Why American Industrial Policy Should Be Global

Why an entirely domestic industrial policy may actually backfire.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #china, #european-union, #international-trade-and-world-market, #protective-clothing-and-gear, #taiwan, #united-states, #united-states-economy, #united-states-politics-and-government

‘It Was a Sea of Flames’: At Least 46 Killed in Taiwan Apartment Fire

Dozens more were injured after a blaze broke out at a 13-story building in the southern port city of Kaohsiung.

#deaths-fatalities, #fires-and-firefighters, #taiwan

Amid U.S.-China Chill, Harvard Moves a Top Language Program to Taiwan

A university spokesman said the move had long been planned. The program’s director said the decision was based on a perceived lack of friendliness on the part of the host institution.

#beijing-china, #china, #chinese-language, #harvard-university, #international-relations, #politics-and-government, #taipei-taiwan, #taiwan, #united-states

U.S. and China Enter Dangerous Territory Over Taiwan

The self-ruled island has moved to the heart of deepening discord and rivalry between the two superpowers, with the potential to ignite military conflagration and reshape the regional order.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #china, #defense-and-military-forces, #international-relations, #military-aircraft, #politics-and-government, #taiwan, #united-states-international-relations, #united-states-politics-and-government, #xi-jinping

In a Surge of Military Flights, China Tests and Warns Taiwan

For two straight days, Beijing sent a record number of planes near the island, Taiwan said, a display of strength that underscored Chinese demands for unification.

#china, #defense-and-military-forces, #military-aircraft, #peoples-liberation-army-china, #taiwan

Lithuania vs. China: A Baltic Minnow Defies a Rising Superpower

Lithuania has enraged China by advising officials to scrap Chinese phones that it says contain censorship software, while cozying up to Taiwan and quitting a Chinese-led regional forum.

#cellular-telephones, #censorship, #china, #communist-party-of-china, #european-union, #international-relations, #international-trade-and-world-market, #lithuania, #politics-and-government, #taiwan

What AUKUS Means for U.S.-China Great Power Competition

As experts hail the AUKUS agreement, the Biden administration should ensure it does not reflect a self-defeating concept of great power competition.

#arms-control-and-limitation-and-disarmament, #australia, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #china, #defense-and-military-forces, #defense-department, #embargoes-and-sanctions, #far-east-south-and-southeast-asia-and-pacific-areas, #federation-of-american-scientists, #france, #great-britain, #india, #international-relations, #japan, #north-atlantic-treaty-organization, #nuclear-weapons, #paris-france, #politics-and-government, #south-korea, #submarines-and-submersibles, #taiwan, #tools, #united-states, #united-states-defense-and-military-forces, #united-states-international-relations, #united-states-politics-and-government, #uranium, #victoria-university-of-wellington

Gogoro will go public on Nasdaq after $2.35B SPAC deal

Gogoro is going public. The company, which is best known for its electric Smartscooters and swappable battery infrastructure, announced today it will list on Nasdaq through a merger with Poema Global, a SPAC affiliated with Princeville Capital. The deal sets Gogoro’s enterprise valuation at $2.35 billion and is targeted to close in the first quarter of 2022. The combined company will be known as Gogoro Inc and trade under the symbol GGR.

Assuming no redemptions, Gogoro anticipates making $550 million in proceeds, including an oversubscribed PIPE (private investment in public equity) of over $250 million and $345 million held in trust by Poema Global. Investors in the PIPE include strategic partners like Hon Hai (Foxconn) Technology Group and GoTo, the Indonesian tech giant created through the merger of Gojek and Tokopedia, and new and existing investors like Generation Investment Management, Taiwan’s National Development Fund, Temasek and Dr. Samuel Yin of Ruentex Group, Gogoro’s founding investor.

The capital will be used on Gogoro’s expansion in China, India and Southeast Asia and further development of its tech ecosystem.

Founded ten years ago in Taiwan, Gogoro’s technology includes smart swappable batteries and their charging infrastructure and cloud software that monitors the condition and performance of vehicles and batteries. Apart from its own brands, including Smartscooters and Eeyo electric bikes, Gogoro also makes its platform available through its Powered by Gogoro Network (PBGN) program, which enables partners to create vehicles that use Gogoro’s batteries and swapping stations.

Gogoro’s SPAC deal comes a few months after it announced major partnerships in China and India. In China, it is working with Yadea and DCJ to build a battery-swapping network, and in India, Hero MotoCorp, one of the world’s largest two-wheel vehicle makers, will launch scooters based on Gogoro’s tech. It also has deals with manufacturers like Yamaha, Suzuki, AeonMotor, PGO and CMC eMOVING.

With these partnerships in place, “we really now need to take our company to the next level,” founder and chief executive officer Horace Luke told TechCrunch. Gogoro decided to go the SPAC route because “you can talk a lot deeper about what the business opportunity is, what the structure is, what the partnerships are, so you can properly value a company rather than a quick roadshow. Given our business plans, it gives us a great opportunity to focus on the expansion,” he said.

One of the reasons Gogoro decided to work with Poema is because “their thesis is quite aligned with ours,” said Bruce Aitken, Gogoro’s chief financial officer. “They have, for example, a sustainability fund, so our passion for green and sustainability merges well with that.”

Gogoro says that in less than five years, it has accumulated more than $1 billion in revenue and more than 400,000 subscribers for its battery swapping infrastructure. The company will launch its China pilot program in Hangzhou in the fourth-quarter of this year, followed by about six more cities next year. In India, Hero MotoCorp is currently developing its first Gogoro-powered vehicle and will begin deploying its battery-swapping infrastructure in New Delhi in 2022.

“We see the demand in China as a lot bigger than we first anticipated, so that’s all good news for us, and that’s one of the fundamental reasons why we need to go public because we need to raise the capital and resources needed for us to actually contribute in a big way to these markets,” said Luke.

When asked if Gogoro is planning to strike a similar partnership with GoTo to expand into Southeast Asia, Luke said the “important thing is to recognize that Southeast Asia is the third-largest market outside of China and India for two-wheelers. Gogoro has always had the vision to go after these big markets. GoTo, being a great success in Indonesia, their investment in Gogoro will start conversations, but there isn’t anything to announce at this point other than that they’re joining the PIPE.”

In a press statement, Poema Global CEO Homer Sun said, “We believe the technology differentiation Gogoro has developed in combination with the world-class partnerships it has forged will drive significant growth opportunities in the two largest two-wheeler markets in the world. We are committed with working alongside Gogoro’s outstanding management team to support its geographic expansion plans and its transition to a Nasdaq-listed company.”


#asia, #batteries, #china, #fundings-exits, #gogoro, #india, #indonesia, #mobility, #poema-global, #scooters, #southeast-asia, #spac, #startups, #taiwan, #tc, #transportation

How Afghanistan Changed China’s Taiwan Calculus

There are many reasons to fear a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. But the American pullout isn’t one of them.

#afghanistan, #afghanistan-war-2001, #china, #communist-party-of-china, #taiwan, #united-states-defense-and-military-forces, #united-states-international-relations, #xinjiang-china

What an Adult Tricycle Says About the World’s Bottleneck Problems

Catrike is struggling to deliver its recumbent bikes because supply chain problems have caused a part shortage. The snags may get worse before they get better.

#bicycles-and-bicycling, #china, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #factories-and-manufacturing, #federal-reserve-system, #florida, #indonesia, #inflation-economics, #orlando-fla, #prices-fares-fees-and-rates, #ships-and-shipping, #taiwan, #united-states-economy

Blockchain startup XREX gets $17M to make cross-border trade faster

Blockchain startup co-founders Winston Hsiao and Wayne Huang in front of the company's logo

XREX co-founders Winston Hsiao and Wayne Huang

A substantial portion of the world’s trade is done in United States dollars, creating problems for businesses in countries with a dollar shortage. Blockchain startup XREX was launched to help cross-border businesses in emerging markets perform faster transactions with products like a payment escrow service and crypto-fiat exchange platform.

The Taipei-headquartered company announced today it has raised $17 million in pre-Series A funding led by CDIB Capital Group. The oversubscribed round also included participation from SBI Investment (a subsidiary of SBI Holdings), Global Founders Capital, ThreeD Capital, E.Sun Venture Capital, Systex Corporation, MetaPlanet Holdings, AppWorks, BlackMarble, New Economy Ventures and Seraph Group. XREX’s last funding was a $7 million seed round in 2019.

Part of the new round will be use to apply for financial licenses in Singapore, Hong Kong and South Africa, and partner with banks and financial institutions, like payment gateways.

“We specifically wanted to build a regulatory-friendly cap table,” XREX co-founder and chief executive officer Wayne Huang told TechCrunch. “It’s really hard for a startup like us to raise from banks and public companies, but as you can see, this round we deliberately to do that and we were successful.”

Huang sold his previous startup, anti-malware SaaS developer Armorize Technologies, to Proofpoint in 2013. Armorize analyzed source code to find vulnerabilities, and many of its clients were developers in Bangalore and Chennai, so Huang spent a lot of time traveling there.

“We ran into all sorts of cross-border money transfer issues. It seemed almost unstoppable,” Huang said. “Growing up in the U.S. and then in Taiwan, we were not exposed to those issues. So that planted a seed, and then when Satoshi [Nakamoto] published the bitcoin white paper, of course that was a big thing for all cybersecurity experts.”

He began thinking of how blockchain can support financial inclusion in emerging markets like India. The idea came to fruition Huang teamed up with XREX co-founder Winston Hsiao, the founder of BTCEx-TW, one of Taiwan’s first bitcoin exchanges. Hsiao grew up in India and founded Verico International, exporting Taiwan-manufactured semiconductors and electronics to other countries, so he was also familiar with cross-border trade issues.

XREX Crypto Services give merchants, especially those in countries with low U.S. dollar liquidity, tools to conduct trade in digital fiat currencies. “They have to get quick access to the U.S. dollar and be able to pay it out quick enough for them to secure important commodities that they want to import, and that’s the problem we want to solve,” said Huang.

To use the platform, merchants and their customers sign up for XREX’s wallet, which includes a commercial escrow service called Bitcheck. Huang said it is similar to having a standby letter of credit from a commercial bank, because buyers can use it to guarantee they will be able to make payments. Bitcheck uses digital currencies like USDT and USDC, stablecoins that are pegged to the U.S. dollar.

Merchants pay stablecoin to suppliers and XREX escrows the funds until the supplier provides proof of shipment, at which point it moves the payment to them. XREX’s crypto-fiat exchange allows users to convert USDT and USDC to U.S. dollars, which they can also withdraw and deposit through the platform.

Part of XREX’s funding will be used to expand its fiat currency platform, though Huang said it doesn’t plan to add too many cryptocurrencies “because we’re not built for crypto traders, we’re built for businesses and brand really matters to them. Brand and compliance, so whatever the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency says is a good stablecoin is what they’re going to use.”

Some of XREX’s partners include compliance and anti-money laundering providers like CipherTrace, Sum&Substance and TRISA. Part of XREX’s funding will be used to expand its security and compliance features, including Public Profiles, which are mandatory for customers, and user Reputation Index to increase transparency.

In a statement about the funding, CDIB Capital Innovation Fund head Ryan Kuo said, “CDIB was an early investor in XREX. After witnessing the company’s fast revenue growth and their commitment to compliance, we were determined to double our investment and lead this strategic round.”

#asia, #blockchain, #fintech, #fundings-exits, #payments, #stablecoin, #startups, #taiwan, #tc

Apple launches a new iOS app, ‘Siri Speech Study,’ to gather feedback for Siri improvements

Apple recently began a research study designed to collect speech data from study participants. Earlier this month, the company launched a new iOS app called “Siri Speech Study” on the App Store, which allows participants who have opted in to share their voice requests and other feedback with Apple. The app is available in a number of worldwide markets but does not register on the App Store’s charts, including under the “Utilities” category where it’s published.

According to data from Sensor Tower, the iOS app first launched on August 9 and was updated to a new version on August 18. It’s currently available in the U.S., Canada, Germany, France, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and Taiwan — an indication of the study’s global reach. However, the app will not appear when searching the App Store by keyword or when browsing through the list of Apple’s published apps.

The Siri Speech Study app itself offers little information about the study’s specific goals, nor does it explain how someone could become a participant. Instead, it only provides a link to a fairly standard license agreement and a screen where a participant would enter their ID number to get started.

Reached for comment, Apple told TechCrunch the app is only being used for Siri product improvements, by offering a way for participants to share feedback directly with Apple. The company also explained people have to be invited to the study — there’s not a way for consumers to sign up to join.

Image Credits: App Store screenshot

The app is only one of many ways Apple is working to improve Siri.

In the past, Apple had tried to learn more about Siri’s mistakes by sending some small portion of consumers’ voice recordings to contractors for manual grading and review. But a whistleblower alerted media outlet The Guardian that the process had allowed them to listen in on confidential details at times. Apple shortly thereafter made manual review an opt-in process and brought audio grading in-house. This type of consumer data collection continues, but has a different aim that what a research study would involve.

Unlike this broader, more generalized data collection, a focus group-like study allows Apple to better understand Siri’s mistakes because it combines the collected data with human feedback. With the Siri Speech Study app, participants provide explicit feedback on per request basis, Apple said. For instance, if Siri misheard a question, users could explain what they were trying to ask. If Siri was triggered when the user hadn’t said “Hey Siri,” that could be noted. Or if Siri on HomePod misidentified the speaker in a multi-person household, the participant could note that, too.

Another differentiator is that none of the participants’ data is being automatically shared with Apple. Rather, users can see a list of the Siri requests they’ve made and then select which to send to Apple with their feedback. Apple also noted no user information is collected or used in the app, except the data directly provided by participants.

WWDC 2021 on device privacy

Image Credits: Apple WWDC 2021

Apple understands that an intelligent virtual assistant that understands you is a competitive advantage.

This year, the company scooped up ex-Google A.I. scientist Samy Bengio to help make Siri a stronger rival to Google Assistant, whose advanced capabilities are often a key selling point for Android devices. In the home, meanwhile, Alexa-powered smart speakers are dominating the U.S. market and compete with Google in the global landscape, outside China. Apple’s HomePod has a long way to go to catch up.

But despite the rapid progress in voice-based computing in recent years, virtual assistants can still have a hard time understanding certain types of speech. Earlier this year, for example, Apple said it would use a bank of audio clips from podcasts where users had stuttered to help it improve its understanding of this kind of speech pattern. Assistants can also stumble when there are multiple devices in a home that are listening for voice commands from across several rooms. And assistants can mess up when trying to differentiate between different family members’ voices or when trying to understand a child’s voice.

In other words, there are still many avenues a speech study could pursue over time, even if these aren’t its current focus.

That Apple is running a Siri speech study isn’t necessarily new. The company has historically run evaluations and studies like this in some form. But it’s less common to find Apple’s studies published directly on the App Store.

Though Apple could have published the app through the enterprise distribution process to keep it more under wraps, it chose to use its public marketplace. This more closely follows the App Store’s rules, as the research study is not an internally-facing app meant only for Apple employees.

Still, it’s not likely consumers will stumble across the app and be confused — the Siri Speech Study app is hidden from discovery. You have to have the app’s direct link to find it. (Good thing we’re nosy!)

#android, #app-store, #apple, #apple-inc, #apps, #artificial-intelligence, #assistant, #bank, #canada, #france, #germany, #google, #google-assistant, #google-now, #homekit, #homepod, #india, #ireland, #italy, #itunes, #japan, #mexico, #new-zealand, #sensor-tower, #siri, #smart-speaker, #software, #speaker, #taiwan, #the-guardian, #united-states, #virtual-assistant

AppWorks closes third fund with $150M for Taiwan and Southeast Asia startups

AppWorks, the Taipei-based venture capital firm focused on Taiwan and Southeast Asia, announced today it has closed its oversubscribed third fund, raising $150 million. AppWorks Fund III’s limited partners include Taiwan Mobile, Axiom Asia Private Capital, Fubon Life, TransGlobe Life, Hongtai Group, Wistron, Cathay Life, Phison Electronics and Taiwan’s National Development Fund. Many of these LPs also participated in AppWorks’ $50 million second fund in 2014.

AppWorks’ total assets under management (AUM) is now $212 million. As part of Fund III’s close, AppWorks is recruiting new investment associates and analysts, especially ones who will focus on sourcing deals throughout Southeast Asia.

Jamie Lin, the firm’s chairman and founding partner, told TechCrunch that Fund III had an initial target of $100 million, but surpassed it because of the strong performance of AppWorks’ second fund.

Fund II’s portfolio includes Lalamove and 91APP, and at the end of July 2021, its total value to paid-in (TVPI), or the return multiple net of fees, reached 3.3x. By comparison, the top quartile of global VC and private equity funds launched around the same time have a TVPI of 2.4x, according to data from Cambridge Associates. Fund II also achieved internal rate of return (IRR) of 34.7%, compared to 26.1% for the other funds.

Founded in 2009, AppWorks started its accelerator program before launching a $11 million debut fund in 2012. AppWorks’ ecosystem now includes 414 active startups that have collectively raised $4.3 billion, and have an aggregate valuation of $17.4 billion. Over the next 10 years, AppWorks’ goal is to increase that to 1,000 active startups with a collective value of more than $100 billion.

Lin said AppWorks has a strong incoming pipeline because many startups in its ecosystem, including ones run by accelerator alumni and its mentor network of about 100 seasoned entrepreneurs, have reached product-market fit, are scalable and need to raise funding to accelerate growth.

Fund III is earmarked for a portfolio of about 40 startups, split evenly between investments starting at $2 million in Series A to Series C rounds, and seed-stage investments. Seed-stage checks can range in size from about $50,000 to $200,000, depending on a startup’s needs. Part of the fund’s capital will also go toward AppWorks’ current portfolio companies as they reach maturation.

AppWorks’ three main investment themes are Southeast Asia, blockchain and artificial intelligence.

Lin said that many of AppWorks accelerator graduates over the past three to five years are from Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and, increasingly, Indonesia and the Philippines. (AppWorks also serves as an LP in about 15 seed funds across Southeast Asia, which helped it maintain strong deal flow despite pandemic travel restrictions).

AppWorks’ current blockchain investments include Dapper Labs, Animoca Brands and Splinterlands. Lin is especially keen on NFTs and their “ability to bridge the physical world and digital world,” plus blockchain’s potential to change how people game (for example, the play-to-earn model Splinterlands is known for).

Investing in a mix of seed- and growth-stage deals means Fund III’s schedule will be more evenly spread out. The approach is “better for LPs, but also mostly comes from our philosophy of putting founders front and center,” Lin said. “A lot of our accelerator alumni startups are by first-time founders, so they need help all the way from seed stage. Many of our mentors have already raised seed or Series A rounds, and they come to us when they need someone to lead a Series B of $10, $15 or $20 million. It stems from our particular deal flow, since we’re mainly supporting our alumni founders and mentors, so we have two very different types of deal flows.”

Fund III has already backed AppWorks accelerator alumni like Pickone, WeMo Scooter, Omnichat, XREX, Blocto, SoopahGenius and Docosan. Investments from its mentor network include Carousell, Dapper Labs, Tiki, Dcard, Yummy Corp and Animoca Brands.


#appworks, #fund, #fundings-exits, #southeast-asia, #startups, #taiwan, #tc, #venture-capital

Is Taiwan Next?

In Taipei, young people like Nancy Tao Chen Ying watched as the Hong Kong protests were brutally extinguished. Now they wonder what’s in their future.

#china, #demonstrations-protests-and-riots, #hong-kong, #hong-kong-protests-2019, #human-rights-and-human-rights-violations, #politics-and-government, #taiwan, #trump-donald-j, #tsai-ing-wen, #united-states-international-relations, #xi-jinping

After entering Japan, Coupang continues its international expansion with Taiwan

One of Coupang's delivery drivers on a scooter in Taipei, Taiwan

A Coupang delivery driver in Taipei City

One month after entering Japan, its first international market, Coupang has launched in Taiwan. The South Korean e-commerce giant began offering its service in Taipei City’s Zhongshan neighborhood, allowing people there to order items through its app for on-demand delivery between 8AM to 11PM, charging a delivery fee of 19 NTD (about 68 cents USD).

Coupang is testing its service and will assess different models for its delivery infrastructure in Taiwan. The selection of items is similar to what’s available in Japan–customers can buy food, beverages, daily necessities and pet supplies. In Taipei, Coupang’s most direct competition is currently Uber Eats and Foodpanda, which deliver from some retailers, including drugstores, as well as restaurants. A key difference is that Coupang is currently fulfilling orders directly, instead of sending couriers to stores or restaurants.

As it expands into more product categories, it will also compete with e-commerce platforms like Momo and PChome, which both offer 24-hour deliveries. In South Korea, Coupang’s e-commerce platform offers millions of products. Its other services include Rocket Fresh for perishable groceries and Coupang Eats for meals.

Coupang held a successful initial public offering in March on the New York Stock Exchange. Founded in 2010, Coupang has become the e-commerce market leader in South Korea and also developed an international reputation for “out-Amazoning Amazon” with the speed of its deliveries and dollar retention rate (or how often customers return and spend money).

Coupang invested heavily in its own logistics infrastructure when it launched a decade ago, but now also partners with third-party providers in South Korea. It remains to be seen what kind of fulfillment model it will decide on in Japan and Taiwan. The company hasn’t announced what its next market is, but it has been hiring in Singapore for lead operations, retail and logistics roles.

#asia, #coupang, #ecommerce, #on-demand, #taiwan, #tc

Taiwan Accuses China of Blocking Access to BioNTech Vaccines

The two sides have traded accusations about whether political motivations are keeping the Taiwanese people from receiving immunizations amid the island’s first major Covid-19 outbreak.

#biontech-se, #chen-shih-chung, #china, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #germany, #international-relations, #pfizer-inc, #shanghai-fosun-pharmaceutical-group, #shortages, #taiwan, #vaccination-and-immunization

Asia Struggles to Cast Off the Pandemic Despite its Early Lead

While the United States edges toward normalcy, countries like Japan, South Korea and Australia are still facing months of uncertainty and isolation as their vaccination campaigns just start to gain steam.

#australia, #china, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #disease-rates, #japan, #quarantines, #shortages, #south-korea, #taiwan, #thailand, #vaccination-and-immunization

Why Asia, the Pandemic Champion, Remains Miles Away From the Finish Line

While the United States edges toward normalcy, countries like Japan, South Korea and Australia are still facing months of uncertainty and isolation as their vaccination campaigns just start to gain steam.

#australia, #china, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #disease-rates, #japan, #quarantines, #shortages, #south-korea, #taiwan, #thailand, #vaccination-and-immunization

Film or Real Life?

Sometimes a place is more than just a place; it can be a scene. Even the blankest backdrops, like a parking lot or a sun-baked freeway, can shimmer with cinematic potential. Four photographers showed us the movie moments that they found all over.

#amsterdam-netherlands, #bottoms-september-dawn, #hague-netherlands, #los-angeles-calif, #michaels-jake-photographer, #movies, #photography, #taiwan, #tulsa-okla, #van-rij-sarah, #xu-an-rong

Taiwan Drought: Residents Pray for Rain and Scramble to Save Water

Some of the island’s lakes and reservoirs have nearly run dry. And water restrictions have forced many residents to modify how they shower, wash dishes and flush.

#bathrooms-and-toilets, #drought, #rain, #reservoirs, #shortages, #sun-moon-lake-taiwan, #taichung, #taiwan, #typhoons, #water, #weather

John Cena Apologizes to China for Calling Taiwan a Country

Mr. Cena, a star of the newest “Fast and Furious” movie, posted a video apology in Mandarin, saying, “I’m really sorry. You have to understand that I love and respect China.”

#cena-john, #china, #f9-the-fast-saga-movie, #hong-kong, #movies, #national-basketball-assn, #politics-and-government, #taiwan, #territorial-disputes

Taiwan Was a Covid Haven for Performers. Then Cases Flared.

One of the few places where performances continued steadily for much of the pandemic has had to shut down theaters just as they are reopening elsewhere.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #culture-arts, #dancing, #disease-rates, #music, #opera, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #quarantines, #shutdowns-institutional, #taipei-taiwan, #taiwan, #theater

Taipei-based computer vision startup eYs3D gets $7M Series A

eYs3D Microelectronics, a fabless design house that focuses on end-to-end software and hardware systems for computer vision technology, has raised a $7 million Series A. Participants included ARM IoT Capital, WI Harper and Marubun Corporation, who will each serve as strategic investors.

Based in Taipei, Taiwan, eYs3D was spun out of Etron, a fabless IC and system-in-package (SiP) design firm, in 2016. It will use its new funding to build its embedded chip business in new markets. The company’s technology, including integrated circuits, 3D sensors, camera modules and AI-based software, have a wide range of applications, such as robotics, touchless controls, autonomous vehicles and smart retail. eYs3D’s products have been used in the Facebook Oculus Rift S and Valve Index virtual reality headsets, and Techman Robots.

ARM, the microprocessor company, will integrate eYs3D’s chips into its CPU and NPUs. WI Harper, a cross-border investment firm with offices in Taipei, Beijing and San Francisco, will give eYs3D access to its international network of industrial partners. Marubun Corporation, a Japan-based company that distributes semiconductors and other electronic components, will open new distribution channels for eYs3D.

In a press statement, ARM IoT Capital chairman Peter Hsieh said, “As we look to the future, enhanced computer vision support plays a key role in ARM’s AI architecture and deployment. eYs3D’s innovative 3D computer vision capability can offer the market major benefits, and we are pleased to partner with the company and invest in the creation of more AI-capable vision processors.”

The new funding will also be used to expand eYs3D’s product development and launch a series of 3D computer vision modules. It will also work with new business partners to expand its platform and hire more talent.

eYs3D’s chief strategy officer James Wang told TechCrunch that the global chip shortage and Taiwan’s drought haven’t significantly impacted the company’s business or production plans, because it works with Etron as its integrated circuits manufacturing service.

“Etron Technology is one of the major accounts for the Taiwanese foundry sector and has strong relationships with the foundries, so eYs3D can receive products for its customers as required,” he said. “Meanwhile, eYs3D works closly with its major customers to schedule a just-in-time supply chain for their production pipelines.”

The company’s systems combine silicon design and algorithms to manage information collected from different sensor sources, including thermal, 3D and neural network perception. Its technology is capable of supporting visual simultaneous location and mapping (vSLAM), object feature depth recognition, and gesture-based commands.

Yang said eYs3D can provide end-to-end services, from integrated circuit design to ready-to-use products, and works closely with clients to determine what they need. For example, it offered its chip solution to an autonomous robot company for obstacle avoidance and people-tracing features.

“Since their expertise is in robotic motor controls and mechanicals, they needed a more complete solution for a design module for 3D sensing, as well as object and people recognition. We provided them with one of our 3D depth camera solutions and SDK along with middleware algorithm samples for their validation,” said Yang. “The customer took our design package and seamlessly integrated our 3D depth camera solution for proof-of-concept within a short period of time. Next, we helped them to retrofit the camera design to fit in their robot body prior to commercialization of the robot.”

#3d-sensor, #asia, #chips, #computer-vision, #eys3d, #fundings-exits, #integrated-circuits, #robotics, #startups, #taiwan, #tc, #virtual-reality

Risk of Nuclear War Over Taiwan in 1958 Said to Be Greater Than Publicly Known

The famed source of the Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellsberg, has made another unauthorized disclosure — and wants to be prosecuted for it.

#china, #classified-information-and-state-secrets, #cold-war-era, #defense-department, #eisenhower-dwight-david, #first-amendment-us-constitution, #nuclear-weapons, #pentagon-papers, #taiwan, #united-states-defense-and-military-forces, #united-states-international-relations, #united-states-politics-and-government

Taiwan Faces a Surge in New Covid-19 Infections

The island’s border controls had shielded it from the worst of the pandemic. But new variants and a slow vaccine rollout gave the virus an opening.

#academia-sinica, #astrazeneca-plc, #chen-shih-chung, #china-airlines, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-risks-and-safety-concerns, #moderna-inc, #taipei-taiwan, #taiwan, #vaccination-and-immunization

Semiconductor shortages continue to worsen, causing record order delays

Robotic arms assemble tiny electronic devices.

Enlarge / This machine is checking silicon wafers in a cleanroom lab—class 1 chip facilities must limit dust to 10 particles per cubic meter, 1/1000th the amount found in hospital operating theaters. (credit: Monty Rakusen via Getty Images)

Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Chris Rolland noted Tuesday that the wait time for all major semiconductor product categories is up considerably—from 16 weeks in March to 17 weeks in April. This represents the longest lead time—the elapsed time between placing an order and receiving products—that the industry has faced since 2017, when the firm began tracking this data.

Rolland said this lengthened lead time puts the industry in a “danger zone,” noting further that “elevated lead times often compel bad behavior [from] customers, including inventory accumulation, safety stock building, and double ordering.” In other words, major companies seeking VLSICs don’t behave very differently from consumers seeking toilet paper.

These shortages impact nearly all industries to some degree, with the heaviest impact falling on industries with long lead times of their own. In particular, the automotive sector is projecting $110 billion in lost sales this year due to factories sitting idle while waiting for components. Again mimicking last year’s pandemic-related toilet paper shortages, hoarding tends to make the gaps worse. As the lead times get longer, buyers become more likely to overorder and make supply chain problems worse.

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#chip-shortage, #drought, #taiwan, #tech, #tsmc

Taiwan Reports a Daily Record of 180 Cases

The self-governing island, which has had striking success with the virus, ramped up restrictions in Taipei after reporting 180 locally transmitted infections.

#china, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #internal-essential, #new-taipei-city-taiwan, #taipei-taiwan, #taiwan

Rolling Blackouts Hit Taiwan After Accident at Power Plant

Several cities, including the capital, Taipei, were affected by power outages after a grid failure in the southern city of Kaohsiung.

#electric-light-and-power, #kaohsiung-china, #power-failures-and-blackouts, #taiwan

Authentically American Red-Cooked Short Ribs, by Way of Taiwan

These family style beef short ribs were inspired by a cross-cultural Texas childhood.

#beef, #chinese-food-cuisine, #cooking-and-cookbooks, #recipes, #taiwan, #texas

Biden’s Taiwan Policy Is Truly, Deeply Reckless

If the administration continues on this path, it will increase the odds of a catastrophic war.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #china, #defense-and-military-forces, #military-bases-and-installations, #senate-committee-on-armed-services, #taiwan, #united-states-defense-and-military-forces, #united-states-international-relations

Chipmaker says it will ramp up production of older 28nm chips

A woman watches a mask—a part used in wafer conception—at a show room of the 12-inch United Microelectronics Corp (UMC) factory in Tainan, southern Taiwan.

Enlarge / A woman watches a mask—a part used in wafer conception—at a show room of the 12-inch United Microelectronics Corp (UMC) factory in Tainan, southern Taiwan. (credit: Sam Yeh | Getty)

United Microelectronics Corporation (UMC), the world’s fourth-largest contract chipmaker, is expanding its capacity to produce mature technology chips in exchange for financial guarantees, in response to the shortage gripping the global semiconductor supply chain.

UMC said it would add capacity for manufacturing 20,000 wafers a month at 28 nm, one of the process technology nodes worst-hit by the global chip shortage, at an existing fabrication plant, or “fab,” in Tainan.

The investment will drive up the company’s capital spending for this year by 53 percent to $2.3 billion, but it is made under a deal that commits several of UMC’s largest customers to pay deposits upfront and guarantee certain orders at a fixed price.

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#28nm, #biz-it, #chip-shortage, #cpus, #taiwan, #tech, #umc

Arc opens its remote career platform to all software developers

The COVID-19 pandemic threw remote work into the spotlight, but tech companies have hired in other locations for years to deal with talent shortages. Arc announced today it is opening its remote hiring platform to all software developers. Previously, Arc was open only to developers who passed its verification process. Developers can still get verified to stand out from other applicants, but Arc’s job database and search engine is now available to everyone.

Arc was launched two years ago by the team behind Codementor, an online education platform for software developers. Since then, Arc has been used by companies like Spotify, Hims, Hubspot and FiveStars for hiring. Its investors include TechStars, 500 Startups, WI Harper and Y Combinator.

“As proud as we are of impact we have made for developers, we really want to scale that impact, and that’s why we decided to create a much more open product experience,” founder and chief executive officer Weiting Liu told TechCrunch.

The new version of Arc centers around two features: its smart remote job search engine and developer community. Arc crawls job boards and other sites for its database and has so far aggregated 54,000 developer openings from 13,000 companies. Then its search engine removes some of the challenges associated with searching for remote work.

“For example, one common complaint is that a lot of jobs are remote, but U.S. only. Or it’s only remote until the end of the pandemic,” Liu said. “Our algorithm will do its best based on your circumstances. For example, if you are a developer based in Asia or in Eastern Europe, there are certain job opportunities that are unfortunately not applicable to you based on the time zones. So we filter all of those things, and also based on your experience and tech stacks, to recommend the most relevant jobs.”

Arc Community is a resource for software developers who are new to remote work or want to learn about work practices in other countries. For example, “they might have questions like, should my resume be in this format for a U.S.-based employer, or what are the types of tools used and cultural norms?” Liu said. “If someone is looking for a position with an American company, we will talk about common interview practices or even basic work practices like how many companies use Slack. That’s where the community comes in and we want to enable developers who have already been working remotely to share their experiences.”

Even though it is now optional, Arc still recommends its verification process. It typically takes about a week, and includes a coding challenge and behavioral and technical interviews with an Arc team member. Even if someone doesn’t pass, they get feedback about where they can improve and can reapply in six months. Verification and job searches are free, and Arc monetizes by charging employers for hires through its platform.

A screenshot showing steps from Arc's developer verification process

Steps from Arc’s developer verification process

In addition to its community, Arc recently launched a program called Elevate. Inspired by Liu’s experiences in Y Combinator and TechStars, Elevate is meant to be a “short-term talent accelerator” for developers who want to transition into remote work. Its first program included 13 developers from Latin America and future cohorts will range in size from 10 to 20 people. The program includes career preparation workshops, interview practice and live mentorship sessions with developers who work at GitLab, Zapier and Dialpad.

Arc is currently running a crowdfunding campaign, started after the SEC implemented its new equity crowdfunding regulations, and has raised about $950,000 so far.

“This is aligned with our vision, which is about democratizing access, so if we can make Arc a partially community-owned remote job platform, it will be extremely interesting because we aspire to become the world’s largest remote job site and if we can turn our community members into investors-slash-owners of the platform, it can help us realize our mission faster,” said Liu.

#arc, #asia, #codementor, #developers, #job-platform, #remote-work, #software-developers, #startups, #taiwan, #tc

Is There a War Coming Between China and the U.S.?

A new novel about 2034 has unnerving echoes of today’s headlines.

#2034-a-novel-of-the-next-world-war-book, #china, #computer-chips, #factories-and-manufacturing, #nationalism-theory-and-philosophy, #supercomputers, #taiwan, #taiwan-semiconductor-manufacturing-company-ltd, #united-states, #united-states-international-relations