Welcome to Tuesday all.
We hope you had a great International Women’s Day yesterday. Keep an eye out for our continued coverage of the issue of women in tech this week and don’t forget to tune in for the Startup Daily show on Ausbiz.com.au every weekday, 2-2.45pm. Watch online, download the ausbiz app or via 7Plus.
US investigates Chinese Microsoft hack
The Biden administration is setting up a task force to look into the massive hack of Microsoft’s Exchange product, which the company said last week came from a state-backed Chinese entity.
CNN reports that a White House official said the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency had issued an emergency directive over the matter, which is still considered an active threat, and they are “undertaking a whole of government response to assess and address the impact”.
An estimated 30,000 customers in the US were hit by the hack and 250,000 worldwide, with the numbers expected to increase. The hack has been underway since January.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki warned last week that “everyone running these servers — government, private sector, academia — needs to act now to patch them.”
Square buys Tidal
Jack Dorsey’s side hustle, Square, is taking a majority stake in Jay Z’s (aka Shawn Carter) music and entertainment platform, Tidal. Square expects to pay US$297 million (A$390m) in a mix of cash and stock, for what they’re calling “a significant majority ownership” alongside the existing artist shareholders. Tidal will operate independently within Square, alongside the Seller and Cash App ecosystems.
Carter said in announcing the deal that: “Jack and I have had many discussions about Tidal’s endless possibilities that have made me even more inspired about its future. This shared vision makes me even more excited to join the Square board.”
Tidal has a catalogue of more than 70 million songs and 250,000 videos, with listeners in more than 56 countries and relationships with more than 100 labels and distributors.
WeLab’s $99m raise
Asian fintech WeLab has raised US$75 million (A$99m) in a series C led by Germany’s Allianz Group as part of a strategic partnership with plans to develop and distribute digital investment and insurance solutions.
WeLab has now raised more than US$600 million since its launch in 2013.
WeLab Bank and Allianz Global Investors plan to collaborate on digital wealth management and financial services, making WeLab Bank will be the first digital bank to deploy this wealthtech advisory technology in Asia.
The fintech currently operates multiple online financial services in Hong Kong, Mainland China, and Indonesia including digital banking and consumer finance businesses, with close to 50 million individual users and over 600 enterprise customers.
WeLend is Hong Kong’s largest pure online lending platform, while its Indonesian mobile lending platform is Maucash.
India wants to jail social media staff
The Indian government, trying to quell growing protests by farmers using social media to organise, is threatening to jail employees at Facebook WhatsApp and Twitter unless they hand over user data.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the threats came in direct response to a reluctance by the tech behemoths to comply with data and takedown requests from the government, including access to encrypted WhatsApp data.
Twitter has been suspending accounts belonging to journalists and activists covering the protests, and has suspended up to 500 accounts at the request of the government.
Indian farmers started holding massive protests, some of which turned violent after the government changed farming laws to allow farmers to sell to private buyers, rather than the government, which set a floor price. The government then responded by cutting the internet to farmers.
Mastt raises $2.2m
Construction technology startup Mastt has raised $2.2m for overseas expansion.
The round was co-led by global investment firms Artesian and Significant Capital Ventures, followed by Investible, Aconex founders Rob Phillpot and Leigh Jasper, and former Lendlease CIO, Bob Hennessy.
Mastt is a capital project technology subscription software platform that serves as a nerve centre for project owners managing complex programs and portfolios of construction projects. Mastt is heavily supported by Microsoft and took part in their international Scale-Up program.
Tweet of the Day:
I think a variant on this has happened to us all. I was talking about ponderosa pine fire history. Some guy kept interrupting me to tell me what really happened in the forests. I asked him where he got his info. Yep: Langston's Forest Dreams.
— Dr. Nancy Langston (@nelangst) February 15, 2021