Europe’s Plan to Tax Tech Giants Falters as U.S. Withdraws from Talks

European plans to levy stiff taxes on large tech firms has hit a roadblock as the U.S. withdrew from talks on the proposals.

“The United States has shocked Europe by pulling out of negotiations over an international digital tax and threatened to retaliate if the region moves ahead with plans on its own,” writes Silvia Amaro of CNBC. “A number of European countries were hoping to impose taxes on digital companies above a certain revenue threshold, which would hit mainly U.S. tech firms given their size.”

It’s not surprising that the U.S. would oppose taxes proposed by European governments. My hunch, however, is that similar proposals will resurface in the future.

Despite Turmoil, More IPOs on the Horizon

IPOs are staging a comeback. Several tech-driven firms have resurrected their plans to go public, apparently seeing opportunity to thrive in challenging times. The world is “stabilizing,” according to a CEO quoted in the article, and apparently the financial markets are interested.  

Lemonade, an insurance start-up valued at $2.1 billion, announced last week that it had confidentially filed to go public. DoubleDown Interactive, a mobile gaming company, also filed to go public this month,” writes Erin Griffith of the New York Times. “Some of the biggest Silicon Valley start-ups are taking steps toward an I.P.O., too. Airbnb, the home rental start-up valued at $31 billion, said it hadn’t ruled out going public this year. Palantir, a digital surveillance company valued at $20 billion, is preparing to file for an I.P.O. in the coming weeks, said a person briefed on the start-up’s plans, who declined to be named because the talks were private.”

From my perspective, this could be the beginning an excellent global trend. Let’s hope it continues.

Ford Ratchets Up Competition in Driver-Assist Systems Technology

Ford is accelerating its efforts to compete with Tesla and GM in the growing market for driver-assist systems and technologies.

Ford Motor’s answer to advanced driver-assist systems such as Tesla’s Autopilot and General Motors’ Super Cruise is launching as the automaker introduces important new or redesigned vehicles such as the all-electric Mustang Mach-E crossover,” writes Michael Wayland of CNBC. “The company’s new ‘Active Drive Assist’ will be part of the automaker’s ‘Co-Pilot360’ safety and convenience technologies. The hardware for the hands-free driving system will be available to order first on the Mach-E later this year, followed by other ‘select’ vehicles for the 2021 model year, Ford announced Thursday.”

$1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan Would Benefit Tech Industry

A plan in the works to rebuilt and add new infrastructure across the nation would also benefit the technology sector by earmarking funds for developing 5G wireless infrastructure.

“The Trump administration is preparing a nearly $1 trillion infrastructure proposal as part of its push to spur the world’s largest economy back to life, according to people familiar with the plan,” write Jenny Leonard and Josh Wingrove of Bloomberg News. “A preliminary version being prepared by the Department of Transportation would reserve most of the money for traditional infrastructure work, like roads and bridges, but would also set aside funds for 5G wireless infrastructure and rural broadband, the people said.”

Microsoft CISO Applies Real-World Lessons to Solving Cyber Security Challenges

Here’s an inspiring profile of Bret Arsenault, Microsoft’s chief information security officer. An avid skier and race car driver with a passion for tackling difficult tasks, Arsenault is leading the effort to make sure the company’s security strategies are effective in a work-at-home economy.

“This is his 30th year at Microsoft ... He's worked on all sides of its security efforts, mapping its early network security strategy, defending company assets and helping to build security products for Microsoft's customers,” writes Tom Krazit in Protocol. “Now, he's in the middle of what he thinks could be his most ambitious and influential project: paving the way for Microsoft employees, and perhaps eventually Microsoft customers, to ditch one of the weakest links in security, the password. At one point Arsenault envisioned this strategy taking years to put into place at Microsoft, but the company's work-from-home edict during the pandemic accelerated the work to a point where he thinks almost all of the company's 150,000 employees will be passwordless by early next year.”

I recommend reading the profile. It shows the value of looking at problems from multiple perspectives, and applying real-world lessons to highly complex challenges such as cyber security.