Today’s top tech news, August 27: Didi passenger murder results in crackdown

Kevin McSpadden
Today’s top tech news, August 27: Didi passenger murder results in crackdown

Also, Berkshire Hathaway has eyes on PayTm and CoAssets hits profitability

China plans to tighten ride-hailing governance after Didi Chuxing passenger was murdered — [Reuters]

China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said today the government will work to tighten oversight on the nation’s ride-hailing industry after a woman was raped and murdered by her Didi Chuxing driver over the weekend, according to Reuters.

The incident was the second time since May that a passenger has been killed. Didi Chuxing has suspended its carpooling service, named Hitch, after the murder.

The NDRC suggested it could use China’s social credit system on drivers. Besides suspending the Hitch service, Didi fired two executives.

A stalking complaint had been made against the perpetrator just days before this weekend’s crime took place.

Warren Buffet wants a slice of the Paytm pie — [The Economic Times]

Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate holdings company helmed by Warren Buffet, is in talks to invest anywhere from US$285-US$350 million into the Indian mobile payments company Paytm, according to The Economic Times.

If the investment goes through, it would be the first investment in India from Warren Buffet, the world’s third richest person.

The investment would reportedly value Paytm at US$10 billion and Berkshire Hathaway would join other big-name investors like Alibaba and SoftBank.

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Paytm is the market leader in India but faces competition from Phonepe (Flipkart), Tez (Google) and WhatsApp (Facebook).

CoAssets achieves first full-year profitability — [e27]

CoAssets, the Singaporean crowdfunding platform for real estate and SMEs, announced today it has achieved full-year profitability for the first time in the company’s history.

The stock, which typically hovers around AUD$0.14 (US$0.10) and AUD$0.15 (US$0.11), rose to AUD$0.18 (US$0.13) today.

The company’s revenue jumped by an immense 697 per cent year-on-year (from US$534,000 in 2017 to US$3.55 million in 2018).

As for other factors that contributed to the profitability, CoAssets points to an ability to cut operating costs by 14 per cent as well as ink new partnerships.

Hong Kong delivery startup Lalamove hit with sexual harassment claim — [TechNode]

Lalamove, the Hong Kong-based on-demand delivery startup raised US$100 million last year, is dealing with a sexual harassment claim after a delivery driver was accused of sending sexually aggressive messages via WeChat after the delivery, according to TechNode.

The driver convinced the woman to send the money via WeChat instead of using Lalamove by claiming he wanted to avoid the transaction fees. Once he had her WeChat account information, the driver began to send her sexually explicit messages and even said he would find her in-person.

China’s on-demand service industry is under the microscope after Didi Chuxing suspended its Hitch carpooling service after a passenger was murdered over the weekend.

Travelstop raises US$1.2 million seed fund — [e27]

Travestop, a Singaporean company that wants to help businesses automate travel expense reporting, has raised a US$1.2 million seed round from SeedPlus and an undisclosed US VC. A host of Angel Investors also participated in the round.

The company has an AI algorithm that makes booking travel more efficient by recommending the ideal flight.

“In the coming weeks, we’re planning to launch local language sites and native app for iOS,” said Travelstop Co-Founder and CEO Prashant Kirtane.

Tokopedia fires group of employees after Flash Sale scam — [Tech In Asia]

Indonesian e-commerce giant Tokopedia has fired tens of its employees for being involved in a Flash Sale fraud on August 24, Tech In Asia reported.

The Flash Sale programme was held on August 17 to celebrate the company’s ninth anniversary; the fraud is said to have made it impossible for customers to purchase discounted items fairly.

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Anonymous sources have declined to give exact details on the number of employees that are being fired, but they confirmed that some of them are of senior level.

A Tokopedia spokesperson said that the company gives zero tolerance for individuals that have violated customers’ trust and integrity.”

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