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Alibaba’s Daniel Zhang to Succeed Jack Ma as Chairman in 2019

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Sep 10 : Alibaba’s Executive Chairman Jack Ma will step down in September 2019 and hand over the reins to Chief Executive Daniel Zhang, the Chinese e-commerce giant said on Monday.

Ma, who co-founded the company almost 20 years ago which now is the world’s biggest e-commerce behemoths, said in a letter to his employees that “transition demonstrates that Alibaba has stepped up from a company that relies on individuals, to one built on a culture of talent development”.

Ma, who was a school teacher in China’s small town of Hangzhou where Alibaba is headquartered and now one of the richest men in the world, will get to back to education, the billionaire said in a letter to his employees.

On the company’s 20th anniversary on September 10, 2019, Zhang will take charge as the new chairman.

The development comes days after his imminent retirement in a report by the New York Times, juked by the company.

“Ma will continue as the executive chairman of the company over the next 12 months to ensure a smooth transition to Zhang,” a statement from the firm said.

Ma’s net worth is $36.6 billion.

Zhang, who was earlier the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Taobao, an online shopping portal owned by the Alibaba Group, was appointed the CEO of the group in 2015. He has been with the company since 2007.

The co-founder of the company, Ma, will however, remain as a board member of the Alibaba Group until the annual shareholder meet in 2020, which marks the 21st anniversary of the e-commerce and tech conglomerate.

“While remaining as executive chairman in the next 12 months, I will work closely with Daniel (Zhang) to ensure smooth transition,” Ma said in a letter to the shareholders and employees on the occasion of the company’s 19th anniversary on Monday.

The transition demonstrates that Alibaba has stepped up from a company that relies on individuals, to one built on a culture of talent development, Ma’s letter addressed to the company’s 86,000 employees said.

Ma, who turned 54, will remain a lifetime partner in the Alibaba Partnership and is a member of its partnership committee, the statement added.

The Alibaba Partnership has 36 partners, who are the senior management of Alibaba Group or its affiliates, including movie-making firm Alibaba Pictures, cloud computing firm Alibaba Cloud, financial services firm Ant Financial among others.

Founded in 1999, Alibaba stands among one of the largest companies in the world.

“I want to return to education, which excites me with so much blessing because this is what I love to do. The world is big, and I am still young, so I want to try new things,” the Chinese business icon’s letter added.

The group’s e-tail portals Alibaba.com, Taobao, Tmall and AliExpress together clock billions of dollars of sales each year.

As per its statement, the company’s revenue was $39.9 billion for fiscal 2017-18.

During the company’s annual global shopping festival held on November 11 last year, the firm made a whopping $25 billion worth sales in a 24-hour period across its e-commerce platforms.

Apart from its online shopping portals, Alibaba also offers electronic payment services and cloud computing services.

Alibaba’s Jack Ma to retire next year, Daniel Zhang to succeed

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Hyundai bets on diesel models, launches Tucson SUV

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Chennai, July 14 : The second largest car maker in India Hyundai Motor India Ltd while continuing to bet on diesel powered vehicles is also looking at faster demand recovery from tier 2/3 cities, said a senior official on Tuesday.

Hyundai Motor also launched its new premium sports utility vehicle (SUV) Tucson for the Indian market.

Speaking to reporters, Tarun Garg, Director (Sales, Marketing and Service) said the timing of Tucson’s launch is right as there are over five lakh Creta buyers in the country who are looking for an upgrade to a premium SUV.

The new Tucson’s starting price is about Rs 22 lakh.

“With over 6.5 million customers worldwide, Tucson is one of the best-selling SUV’s across the world,” S.S. Kim, Managing Director and CEO told reporters.

He said the model was unveiled at the Auto Expo 2020.

Garg said the booking for diesel engine models are growing and the demand is across the country and more so from tier 2/3 cities.

He said when the fuel prices go up, buyers will look at fuel economy and diesel engines are fuel efficient.

According to Garg, Hyundai Motor has got over 45,000 bookings for its SUV Creta model and 56 per cent of that are for diesel engine variant.

Similarly, one third of the booking for Venue and Verna are for diesel models, Garg said.

“SUV lovers want much more than the fuel economy which diesel vehicles offer. It appears demand will stablilise at this level. There is also good demand for petrol models,” Garg added.

Queried about the pay cuts implemented by various companies and its impact on buyers scaling down their model preference Garg said he is not seeing any such trend.

According to him, buyers prefer to come to the showroom to take delivery of new cars even though Hyundai Motor offers to deliver the car at their door step.

Garg said it is not possible to predict the likely sales for 2020 as some states have Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

He said the company is watching the market behaviour on a monthly basis.

Garg said during June 2020, the company has reached 75 per cent of June 2019 demand figures, In July 2020 the car maker plans to touch 90 per cent of July 2019 levels.

On the availability of components as the company is planning to start third shift in its plant Garg said the localisation levels are very high and the dependence on components from China is very low.

According to Garg the company’s supply chain is ready to meet the demand for increased components as third shift production is soon to start.

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Make a WhatsApp voice or video call with Google Assistant

If you have set up the Google Assistant app on your Android device, you may directly invoke it by saying OK Google or Hey Google.

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New Delhi, July 12 : Google recently announced that Assistant would be able to make video and audio calls with WhatsApp.

This means that one can easily access WhatsApp and some of its options by triggering the Google Assistant from the home screen on your smartphone.

The voice calls commenced by Assistant were earlier used to place a network call for the user. While video calls could be set up via Hangouts or Duo only.

If you have set up the Google Assistant app on your Android device, you may directly invoke it by saying OK Google or Hey Google.

One may also wake up the assistant app using the dedicated key, if available or by long-pressing the Home button on your device.

When Google Assistant is open, use one of the two commands, “Make a WhatsApp call to [contact-name]” or “Call [contact-name] on WhatsApp and for video call just say “Make a WhatsApp video call to [contact-name]”.

To make things faster, one should add a nickname to the most frequently called contacts.

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Bill Gates warns ‘deadlier pandemic’ if vaccine goes to ‘highest bidders’

There are at least 21 vaccines currently under key trials, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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San Francisco, July 12 : Microsoft founder Bill Gates has warned about a deadlier pandemic if successful drugs or a COVID-19 vaccine, when developed, go first to the highest bidders and not reach the common people who need it the most.

Addressing a remote COVID-19 conference hosted by the International AIDS Society on Saturday, Gates said democratizing the vaccine must be the goal, reports CNBC.

“If we just let drugs and vaccines go to the highest bidder, instead of to the people and the places where they are most needed, we”ll have a longer, more unjust deadlier pandemic,” he said.

“We need leaders to make these hard decisions about distributing based on equity, not just on market-driven factors,” Gates added.

There are at least 21 vaccines currently under key trials, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The fear is that once the vaccine is developed, the rich and the powerful people would grab it first.

However, despite encouraging preliminary data coming from some research labs, a Covid-19 vaccine is nowhere near while new corona cases are mounting in several countries including in India.

No vaccines have yet started their large and critical Phase-III trials in the US.

WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan has said that AstraZeneca”s coronavirus vaccine candidate is currently the most advanced vaccine in terms of development.

AstraZeneca”s Covid-19 vaccine candidate, developed by researchers from the Oxford University, will likely provide protection against the disease for one year, the British drug maker”s CEO told Belgian radio station Bel RTL recently.

The vaccine developed at the Oxford Jenner Institute is currently on trial in the UK, where over 4,000 participants have enrolled and additional enrollment of 10,000 participants is planned for the clinical trial. The ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine has been licenced to AstraZeneca.

“Global cooperation, a resolve to invent the tools and get them out where they”re needed most is critical,” said Gates at the virtual event.

Gates in May said the vaccine development may take at least nine months to two years.

“Most of the drug candidates right now are nowhere near that powerful. They could save a lot of lives, but they aren”t enough to get us back to normal,” the Microsoft co-founder wrote in his GatesNotes blog.

In the absence of an “almost perfect drug to treat COVID-19”, it becomes imperative that every person on the planet gets vaccinated against coronavirus.

“Realistically, if we”re going to return to normal, we need to develop a safe, effective vaccine. We need to make billions of doses, we need to get them out to every part of the world, and we need all of this to happen as quickly as possible,” he said.

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