5 things you should know about tech today

- October 11, 2019 3 MIN READ


Welcome to Friday. Enjoy the weekend.


1. US retail giant Walmart employs 50,000 software engineers

Stop knocking on Atlassian’s door and try David Jones if you’re looking for a tech job. Business Insider reveals that Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer with more than 11,000 stores globally and 2.2 million employees, is also pushing into AI and machine learning with help from 1,500 data scientists and 50,000 software engineers and it’s looking for plenty more, including a data scientist to focus on voice-activated shopping apps. An astonishing 100,000 machine learning or AI-based projects are currently underway, including AI-powered cameras to monitor for theft.


2. India has a new tech unicorn

Udaan is an Indian B2B e-commerce platform – the subcontinent’s Alibaba – and is now worth US$2.3-2.7 billion following a US$585 million Series D raise.

TechCrunch reports the funds are to get neighborhood stores, chemists and other small businesses online through its marketplace.

Tencent, Altimeter, Footpath Ventures, Hillhouse, GGV Capital  and Citi Ventures tipped in, alongside existing investors Lightspeed Venture Partners and DST Global to back the startup founded in 2016.

Udaan’s marketplace connects small retailers with wholesalers and traders and spans lifestyle, electronics, home and kitchen, staples and toys, fruits and vegetables. More here


3. The man responsible for $500 hair dryers says EVs are not commercially viable.

UK industrial designer Sir James Dyson, of $1000 vacuum cleaner and $500 blow-dryer fame, is walking away from his AU$4.6 billion, four-yeardream to build an electric vehicle.

The Dyson CEO told employees overnight that can’t see a way to make the Singapore-based EV project “commercially viable”. It was due to hit streets in 2021, a year behind the original schedule.

More than 500 staff were involved in developing the car in the UK and the billionaire boss, who’s preparing to move the Dyson HQ to Singapore, said roles in the consumer goods division will be offered.

Dyson said he’d tried to find a buyer for the project, but “unfortunately, been unsuccessful so far” and thus “the Dyson board has therefore taken the very difficult decision to propose the closure of our automotive project”.

Singapore’s Straits Times reports that Dyson will use the tech developed in the EV development, including solid state battery manufacture, sensing technologies, vision systems, robotics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, in other projects.


4. Here’s why you shouldn’t waste your money on Apple’s AirPods

Vice says AirPods a “tragedy” of disposable wealth. With the batteries starting to die on 2016 and 2017 editions of Apple AirPods The Washington Post’s tech writer Geoffrey A. Fowler had a look at what makes them tick and found they bad for you, both financially and environmentally, with the battery impossible to replace, so you end up spending another $150-$250 on replacements. More on the problem here.


5. Two new hires for fintech startup Zip

Sydney fintech Zip Co Ltd has built out its leadership team with two key hires. Veteran challenger brand exec Steve Brennen Uber’s recently departed Director of Marketing APAC, is joining the buy now pay later credit lender as Chief Customer Officer. The rideshare giant announced earlier this week ex-Google spruiker Lucinda Barlow was taking charge of the APAC marketing team.

Meanwhile Patrick Collins, San Francisco-based Moovweb’s former SVP Product and Engineering will become Zip’s Chief Product Officer. Collins was a founding technical member of the former Fairfax Digital, responsible for online products such as Domain.

The new appointments come as Zip acquires global instalment technology platform, PartPay Ltd and SME lender Spotcap to build out the company’s global presence to New Zealand, the UK and US, and South Africa.