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11 May 2018

Business

11 May 2018

Uber has unveiled plans for a flying taxi, while Google wants to do away with writing emails all together. Here is our rundown of the five most exciting ideas coming out of the business world this week:

Uber’s high-flying ambitions:

It appears Uber isn’t satisfied with dominating the world’s streets when it comes to the ride-hailing business. Now it wants to rule the skies as well. At its Elevate summit in LA this week, the Silicon Valley giant unveiled a pretty nifty mock-up of its UberAir flying taxi service, which it is developing with five aerospace companies. Test flights are slated to begin in 2020, with the help of the US government, to gather data on air traffic, avoiding collisions and generally how to manage airspace in what Uber hopes is the beginning of a new era in transportation. 

Banking on branding:

Nestle turned some heads this week when it announced it was shelling out over $7 billion just for the rights to sell Starbrucks brand coffee. But if there’s anything the Swiss food giant understands, it’s drinks - hot caffeinated ones more specifically. The deal means Nestle, which owns popular coffee brands like Nescafe and Nespresso, can sell Starbucks beans in its retail locations. The company views it as an opportunity take advantage of its global product distribution network with a popular product that will help to enlarge its footprint on the US market. “This transaction is a significant step for our coffee business, Nestle’s largest high-growth category,” said Nestle CEO Mark Schneider. “This is a great day for coffee lovers around the world."

Making Amazon nervous:

Walmart may be the world’s largest retailer, but it is still looking for any leg up it can get on the internet against its rival Amazon. This week it got just that with the news it was paying $16 billion for a 77 percent stake in India’s biggest online retailer, Flipkart. India, with a population of 1.25 billion people, is widely viewed as the next frontier for online shopping. “India is one of the most attractive retail markets in the world, given its size and growth rate, and our investment is an opportunity to partner with the company that is leading transformation of eCommerce in the market,” said Walmart CEO Doug McMillon.

No more pesky emails:

Google is trying to take the pain out of email writing with AI-driven technology that intends to write your messages for you. The new “Smart Compose” feature, unveiled this week at the annual Google I/O event for creators of Google-compatible products, scans emails for key text like dates and times, and provides users with sentences they can keep or delete, as well as options for greetings or sign-offs. The company also showcased other stress-reducing technology, including a Google Assistant than can call businesses to make appointments for you and augmented reality updates to its popular Maps app that help guide you to your destination. 

Intel flashes the cash:

Intel decided to double down on the startup world this week by doling out $72 million in funding for 12 startups. The new ventures include a deal with the world’s top basketball league, NBA, to develop technology related to the sports and entertainment industries, as well as several Chinese firms focusing on AI and cloud computing services. The computer processing giant’s investment arm, Intel Capital, said the latest additions to its portfolio bring its total investment so far this year to $115 million. “Whether through access to Intel technology, introductions to our worldwide partners or added engineering resources, we’re focused on driving new levels of success for our entrepreneurs,” said Intel Capital President Wendell Brooks.

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