Exclusive: TikTok Rival Triller Explores Deal to Go Public – Sources | Top News

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By Joshua Franklin and Echo Wang

(Reuters) – Triller Inc, a budding competitor to popular short-video app TikTok, is in discussions with blank-check acquisition companies about a merger which would take the U.S. social media company public, according to people familiar with the matter.

The deal would come as Triller seeks to capitalize on TikTok’s woes. U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has ordered TikTok’s Chinese parent ByteDance to divest the app, citing concerns that the data of U.S. citizens could be accessible to China’s Communist Party government. TikTok has sued the U.S. government to stave off a ban from U.S. app stores while deal negotiations continue.

Triller, which was launched in 2015 and only has a fraction of the 100 million users that TikTok boasts in the United States, has said it hopes that the uncertainty over its rival’s future will drive more influencers and users to its platform.

Triller is working with investment bank Farvahar Partners as it negotiates a potential deal with a so-called special purpose acquisition companies (SPAC), the sources said. A SPAC is a shell company that raises money in an initial public offering (IPO) to merge with a privately held company which then becomes publicly traded as a result.

Triller’s SPAC negotiations are happening alongside discussions with investors about a private fundraising round, led by investment bank UBS Group AG

, in which the Los Angeles-based company is seeking to raise around $250 million, the sources said.

Triller has so far secured around $100 million in that round at a $1.25 billion valuation, according to the sources. It is deliberating whether to proceed with the private fundraising or opt for the deal with a SPAC, one of the sources added.

The sources cautioned that no deal is certain and asked not to be identified because

Exclusive: Google faces new antitrust case in India over abuse in smart TVs market – sources

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google is facing a new antitrust case in India in which the U.S. tech giant is alleged to have abused its Android operating system’s position in the smart television market, a source and two lawyers involved in the case told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: A man stands in front of a screen during a Google event in New Delhi, India September 27, 2016. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/File Photo

The case is Google’s fourth major antitrust challenge in India, one of its key markets where it is currently facing public criticism from local startups for enforcing certain policies and company charges they contend hurt their growth.

It also comes as Google faces new antitrust challenges in the United States, and a potential antitrust probe in China that is set to look into how it allegedly uses its dominance of its Android mobile operating system to stifle competition. Google has denied any wrongdoing.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has since June been looking into allegations that Google engages in anti-competitive practices by creating barriers for firms wanting to use or develop modified versions of Android for smart TVs, such as Amazon Fire TV’s operating system, according to the source, who has direct knowledge of the case.

The case has been filed by two Indian antitrust lawyers, Kshitiz Arya and Purushottam Anand. They both confirmed the case filing against Google for alleged abuse in the smart television market, but declined to comment further.

The source said the CCI had directed Google to submit its written responses to the allegations and that the company has sought more time.

A Google spokesman declined comment, since the case with the antitrust body was pending. Amazon and the CCI did not respond to requests for comment.

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Queen stresses need for trusted news sources during Covid crisis

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The Queen has issued a message of support to the British newspaper industry, praising traditional media outlets.

The monarch said that “having trusted, reliable sources of information, particularly at a time when there are so many sources competing for our attention, is vital”.



Elizabeth II wearing a pink hat: Photograph: John Stillwell/AFP/Getty Images


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: John Stillwell/AFP/Getty Images


In a letter to the News Media Association, the industry organisation that represents all major national and local newspaper publishers, the Queen said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has once again demonstrated what an important public service the established news media provides, both nationally and regionally.

“The efforts of the news media to support communities throughout the United Kingdom during the pandemic have been invaluable – whether through fundraising, encouraging volunteering, or providing a lifeline for the elderly and vulnerable to the outside world.”

The statement was issued to coincide with the launch of the News Media Association’s Journalism Matters campaign, which is designed to shore up public and government support for established news outlets.

The Queen’s intervention was accompanied by an article from the organisation’s chairman, Henry Faure Walker, in which he railed against US tech companies taking advertising income that used to go to newspapers.

He said: “For too long, Google and Facebook have had a free pass at using our journalism on their platforms making huge profits, whilst contributing comparatively nothing back into the industry.”

Last week Google pledged to pay $1bn to licence content from news publishers around the world over the next three years, although this remains a fraction of the amount that the global newspaper industry has lost in advertising revenue over the last two decades.

Faure Walker, the chief executive of the financially struggling local newspaper group Newsquest, also called for further state intervention to prop up newspaper groups, on top of the

Paytm, other Indian startups vow to fight ‘big daddy’ Google’s clout: sources

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Dozens of India’s technology startups, chafing at Google’s local dominance of key apps, are banding together to consider ways to challenge the U.S. tech giant, including by lodging complaints with the government and courts, executives told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past the sign of “Google for India”, the company’s annual technology event in New Delhi, India, September 19, 2019. REUTERS/Sankalp Phartiyal/File Photo

Although Google, owned by Alphabet Inc GOOGL.O, has worked closely with India’s booming startup sector and is ramping up its investments, it has recently angered many tech companies with what they say are unfair practices.

Setting the stage for a potential showdown, entrepreneurs held two video conferences this week to strategise, three executives told Reuters.

“It’s definitely going to be a bitter fight,” said Dinesh Agarwal, CEO of e-commerce firm IndiaMART INMR.NS. “Google will lose this battle. It’s just a matter of time.”

He said executives have discussed forming a new startup association aimed chiefly at lodging protests with the Indian government and courts against the Silicon Valley company.

Nearly 99% of the smartphones of India’s half a billion users run on Google’s Android mobile operating system. Some Indian startups say that allows Google to exert excessive control over the types of apps and other services they can offer, an allegation the company denies.

The uproar began last month when Google removed popular payments app Paytm from its Play Store, citing policy violations. This led to a sharp rebuke from the Indian firm’s founder, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, whose app returned to the Google platform a few hours later, after Paytm made certain changes.

In a video call on Tuesday, Sharma called Google the “big daddy” that controls the “oxygen supply of (app) distribution” on Android phones, according to an attendee.

E. coli engineered to grow on CO2 and formic acid as sole carbon sources — ScienceDaily

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Most biorefinery processes have relied on the use of biomass as a raw material for the production of chemicals and materials. Even though the use of CO2 as a carbon source in biorefineries is desirable, it has not been possible to make common microbial strains such as E. coli grow on CO2.

Now, a metabolic engineering research group at KAIST has developed a strategy to grow an E. coli strain to higher cell density solely on CO2 and formic acid. Formic acid is a one carbon carboxylic acid, and can be easily produced from CO2 using a variety of methods. Since it is easier to store and transport than CO2, formic acid can be considered a good liquid-form alternative of CO2.

With support from the C1 Gas Refinery R&D Center and the Ministry of Science and ICT, a research team led by Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee stepped up their work to develop an engineered E. coli strain capable of growing up to 11-fold higher cell density than those previously reported, using CO2 and formic acid as sole carbon sources. This work was published in Nature Microbiology on Sept. 28.

Despite the recent reports by several research groups on the development of E. coli strains capable of growing on CO2 and formic acid, the maximum cell growth remained too low (optical density of around 1) and thus the production of chemicals from CO2 and formic acid has been far from realized.

The team previously reported the reconstruction of the tetrahydrofolate cycle and reverse glycine cleavage pathway to construct an engineered E. coli strain that can sustain growth on CO2 and formic acid. To further enhance the growth, the research team introduced the previously designed synthetic CO2