Skype founder Zennström calls for a new look at unicorns

Niklas Zennström

The Atomico founder sees excellent opportunities for German start-ups.

(Foto: action press)

Hamburg Niklas Zennström is a veteran of the European unicorn scene. As early as 2005, the Swede sold the Skype video conferencing service to Ebay for around three billion dollars. He is now an investor himself with the London start-up financier Atomico – and calls for the bar to be raised for the unicorn label. Because the valuation of one billion euros, which the public looks at, is no longer rare in Germany either.

The German ecosystem, which is settling in, helps, says Zennström. However, he calls for more cooperation between companies, start-ups and investors in the German tech hubs. He also describes in an interview how the German investor Frank Thelen helped him to make a promising investment.

Read the entire interview here:

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Corona pandemic: China’s draconian entry restrictions burden German companies

Companies have great problems sending employees to China. If they are allowed to enter, adverse quarantine measures are prescribed. The restrictions are tightened. .

Reorganization threatens global prosperity

Containerhafen in Hamburg

In the corona crisis, some politicians called for greater independence of the European economy from foreign competitors. But that could be expensive.

(Photo: dpa)

Düsseldorf At the height of the vaccine dispute with the British-Swedish pharmaceutical manufacturer Astra-Zeneca, the EU Commission remembered the tried and tested instruments of protectionism. Anyone who wants to export vaccines against Covid-19 from the EU to other countries must in future inform the Brussels authorities about their plans as part of an export control.

With export controls, the EU wants to ensure that vaccines produced in Europe are not supplied to other countries first. It responded to Astra-Zeneca’s announcement that it would deliver less vaccine to the EU than initially planned.

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Joe Biden’s climate turnaround opens a new front against China

Joe Biden

The US President is taking a new course in climate policy.

(Photo: AFP)

Peking, Washington, New York When Barack Obama and China’s head of state and party Xi Jinping appeared in Beijing in the fall of 2014, they surprised the world. Both sides agreed on a reduction in greenhouse gases. “We are the largest industrialized nations, so we have a special responsibility to combat climate change,” said the then US President Obama. The alliance gave other countries confidence that a U-turn can be achieved and paved the way for the 2015 Paris Climate Pact.

A lot has happened since then, but both countries are still the front runners when it comes to pollution – China emits 27 percent of global CO2 emissions, the USA follows with 13 percent.

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Europe is putting its values ​​to the test in relation to China

Game theory is the scientific discipline of strategic interaction, which makes it possible to better understand the strategies of actors, for example in an economic or political context, and to derive recommendations for action from them. It is therefore an essential skill of game theorists to be able to abstract from details and see the larger context, the “big picture”.

I am convinced that we in Germany and Europe have lost this ability – especially with regard to America and the global power competition that continues to rage between the USA and China even after the end of the Trump era.

It all began in 2017 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, a few days after Donald Trump’s inauguration. China’s President Xi Jinping was hailed as the savior of free trade because, contrary to Trump’s messages, his rhetoric sounded very trade-friendly.

In fact, at this point in time and afterwards, foreign companies complained about the lack of protection of intellectual property in China and the need to cooperate with Chinese companies when entering the market. The Trump administration, which no longer wanted to accept this asymmetrical world trade, was the bad guy.

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Four years later, just in time for Joe Biden’s inauguration, Xi Jinping is once again the star guest of the virtual business forum. Once again, host Karl Schwab rolls out the red carpet for him, but this time not literally, and again Xi skillfully plays the verbal and political keyboard. Despite the obvious breach of all agreements in Hong Kong, he continues to speak of international law, multilateralism and the opening of his own markets.

It’s just cynical. From a European perspective, however, this public perception is so important because the USA, even under Biden, sees the People’s Republic of China as the greatest threat to the western social order and its prosperity. This is where Republicans and Democrats in the United States are not that different.

At least Europe is no longer seen by the Biden administration as an adversary, but is to be won as an ally for a global alliance against China – but an ally from whom an appropriate contribution is also required to push back Chinese dominance.

China’s strategic move

While the transatlantic relationship cooled noticeably over the course of the Trump administration, China used the time to draw closer to Europe. Once again, the political strategists in Beijing have used a power vacuum, as they did with the “New Silk Road” project.

A few weeks after Biden’s election, but before he took office, China signed an investment agreement with the EU – a development that annoys the Americans, because it may bind the EU much closer to China, thus further decoupling Europe from the USA Ahead.

The meaning, purpose and morals of such an agreement with the authoritarian state remain open. Ultimately, the investment agreement and the coordinated trade policy with regard to China that the USA is pushing will be the ultimate test for Europe: Does Europe really want to tackle the major problems such as climate change and fair trade together with the USA, or does it prefer to maintain its almost defiant independence alongside the two superpowers and depending on the situation looking for bilateral solutions?

If the EU actually strives for a coordinated trade policy with the Biden administration, then it needs a strategy in order not to be the loser in the end, but possibly even to get significantly more from a joint action with the USA against China than the investment agreement today promises.

The Europeans’ bargaining chip

The nucleus of a global alliance and coordinated trade policy would always be the cooperation between the EU and the USA. In this scenario, the investment agreement that has not yet been ratified would even be a valuable bargaining chip for Europeans. Because: The Biden administration knows very well that Europe cannot do without military support and trade relations with the USA for the foreseeable future.

It will therefore act vigorously to further bind the EU to America and to push it into a US-led alliance against China. The USA will therefore increasingly give Europe the choice between maintaining security and economic relations with America or strengthening Europe’s ties to China.

Should the EU (want to) make a clear commitment to the Americans and possibly still be ready to crush the investment agreement, then this would be the opportunity to demand sacrifices from the USA for joint action as well.

The alliance that the USA is striving for can and must be even larger than the United States plus Europe in order to be able to throw maximum weight into the balance in future negotiations with China. NAFTA, the EU and their closest allies account for almost 50 percent of global value added. It’s an incredibly powerful trading bloc.

Choice of extremes threatens

From a negotiating strategy perspective, I would recommend that the USA and Europe not seek a direct confrontation with China as a first step, but first force necessary allies besides the USA and Europe in the NAFTA area and Asia into an alliance. As a negotiator, I would suggest winning these countries sequentially, one after the other, for the common line vis-à-vis China.

Lukewarm strategies and appeals will not help much; China’s trade ties, especially with its neighbors, are too great for that. For example, China is currently circumventing the tariffs introduced by Trump by sending its products for final assembly to Vietnam or Thailand – actually very China-critical states – and thus increasing the dependence of these countries on China.

Given only the extreme choice of either going along with Western trade policy or being treated like China itself, some of these countries will join an alliance.

However, it is uncertain whether Europe will have the courage to side with the US in the global power competition and to abandon the strategy of a neutral middle ground between the superpowers. In Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy” it is loosely translated: “A special place in limbo is reserved for those lukewarms who remain neutral in times of crisis”. If we are unwilling to pay a price, we are worthless as allies and if we are unwilling to fight for our values, we will lose them anyway.

More: We have to learn from the Trump method, otherwise the four years were in vain.

Marcus Schreiber is a founding partner and Chief Executive Officer at TWS Partners. He has many years of experience in strategic purchasing and broad industry know-how. His focus is on strategic purchasing, applied industrial economics and market design. He also supports companies in applying game theory knowledge in complex awarding decisions.

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How good are the Chinese e-automakers?

E-Auto Market in China

Benefits from the positive attitude of Chinese consumers towards new technology – and less concern about personal data.

(Foto: Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Peking Nio boss William Li is modest. “I don’t know what happened,” he replies when asked about the high rating of the Chinese e-car manufacturer he founded. The company, which is traded as Tesla Chinas, currently has a market value of around 78 billion euros – and is therefore worth more than the German carmaker Daimler or BMW.

There is not much left, then Nio would have overtaken Volkswagen in terms of market capitalization. “We are still a small company,” says Nio founder Li (Chinese name: Li Bin), “these are very high expectations of us.”

Nio is not the only e-car manufacturer from the People’s Republic that the capital markets trust so much. The car manufacturer BYD, which has been established much longer than Nio, is more valuable than Daimler or BMW with around 84 billion euros on the stock exchange.

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How good are the Chinese e-automakers?

E-Auto Market in China

Benefits from the positive attitude of Chinese consumers towards new technology – and less concern about personal data.

(Foto: Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Peking Nio boss William Li is modest. “I don’t know what happened,” he replies when asked about the high rating of the Chinese e-car manufacturer he founded. The company, which is traded as Tesla Chinas, currently has a market value of around 78 billion euros – and is therefore worth more than the German carmaker Daimler or BMW.

There is not much left, then Nio would have overtaken Volkswagen in terms of market capitalization. “We are still a small company,” says Nio founder Li (Chinese name: Li Bin), “these are very high expectations of us.”

Nio is not the only e-car manufacturer from the People’s Republic that the capital markets trust so much. The car manufacturer BYD, which has been established much longer than Nio, is more valuable than Daimler or BMW with around 84 billion euros on the stock exchange.

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Corona pandemic: Biontech vaccine approved in Hong Kong

Lockdown in Hongkong

The first batch of roughly one million doses of the Biontech vaccine will arrive in February.

(Foto: action press)

Beijing, Düsseldorf The German vaccine manufacturer Biontech and its Chinese cooperation partner Fosun Pharma announced a milestone in the distribution of the company’s vaccine on Tuesday: The vaccine is approved in Hong Kong.

The first batch of around one million cans is expected to arrive in the second half of February, the Hong Kong government said. This is a great success for Biontech, but also for the cooperation between the companies. The cooperation with Fosun is the company’s first in Asia.

The mood at the joint press conference on Tuesday was correspondingly festive. “We have to join hands,” said Hui Aimin, president of global research and development and chief medical officer of Fosun Pharma. “We are very interested in making our vaccine available worldwide,” emphasized Biontech boss Ugur Sahin. So far, the vaccine has been approved in more than 45 countries.

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China’s head of state repeats old promises

Berlin, Beijing It was like something out of the textbook of multilateralism: Chinese President Xi Jinping used his speech at the virtual World Economic Forum (WEF) to use his country and especially the dictatorial leadership by himself and the Communist Party (KP) as guarantors and To represent promoters of international cooperation.

Xi called on the world community to respect international law and to stand up for the “common values ​​of peace, development, justice, democracy and freedom”. Turning to the US, he warned of a new cold war that would harm everyone involved.

Xi’s plea for free trade does not stand up to reality either. The second largest economy in the world has not fulfilled its promise to ensure open markets in its own country to this day.

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“China will continue to open up,” the president promised again and pledged to “protect” intellectual property worldwide. The US and other states have been accusing Beijing for years of tolerating technology theft by Chinese companies and hackers.

The praises of free trade contain many discordant notes

Xi’s speech was reminiscent of his appearance at the World Economic Forum in 2017, when he broke away from the then-elected US President Donald Trump with an almost passionate plea for free trade and globalization. However, Beijing has not corrected its nationalist course in economic and trade policy.

The government continues to support selected industries and companies with high subsidies and thus distorts international competition. In the investment protection agreement just concluded with the EU, Beijing only repeats a series of commitments that China made when it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, but never fully implemented.

Nevertheless, Xi’s appearance is of great geopolitical importance. With the new US President Joe Biden not attending this year’s WEF and preferring to deal with the pandemic at home, China’s strong man has the world stage of the forum almost to himself. It was the first time since Biden’s inauguration that China’s head of state and party addressed an international public in a speech.

It should not have been a coincidence that Xi began his hymn of praise for free trade on the very day when Biden in the USA issued a protectionist decree obliging the state authorities in the USA to buy preferably goods and services “made in USA” .

And something else came to the aid of Xi with his video message for the digital Davos: China was the only major economy in the world to record growth last year. The economy of the People’s Republic grew by 2.3 percent compared to 2019.

Beijing is relying on a new “dual circulation” strategy for the economic recovery, which is to be included in the five-year plan. This is to be adopted in March and then come into force. The focus of the strategy is on strengthening domestic consumption and the domestic economy as well as more independence from abroad.

Corona crisis far from over

According to a report released by the United Nations Trade and Development Organization on Monday, China overtook the US as the largest recipient of direct investment during the crisis. Last year, foreign investment in China rose four percent, while in the US it fell 49 percent year-on-year.

“The corona pandemic is far from over,” said Xi and called on the international community to continue fighting the virus together. This applies in particular to the production and distribution of vaccines.

According to the Chinese, the Middle Kingdom has already made its vaccines available to 150 countries. Economic cooperation is necessary in order to intensify efforts to counter the economic consequences of the pandemic. At least on this point, Xi and Biden should agree.

The Chinese also campaigned for respect for the diversity and diversity of social and economic systems. “There is no culture that is better than others,” said Xi, calling for peaceful coexistence. Rather, every system must be measured by whether it improves people’s lives.

There must be more international cooperation not only in the fight against the pandemic, but also in other global challenges such as climate change. Xi reiterated its commitment to significantly reduce China’s CO2 emissions by 2030. “The Paris Agreement must be respected,” he said. Other international institutions such as the World Health Organization and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should also play a greater role.

The Chinese government welcomed the change in the White House after initial reluctance. China hopes President Biden can rule the country successfully, said a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, noting that Biden has repeatedly emphasized “unity and healing,” which is also needed in current Sino-US relations.

Military tension with the US

In fact, observers do not expect US-China relations to improve significantly. A test case in particular will be China’s approach in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the South China Sea.

Beijing regards Taiwan as part of the People’s Republic of China and wants a “reunification” of the two territories. Taiwan never belonged to the People’s Republic of China, which was newly founded in 1949. In the past few months, fears have increased that Beijing might one day forcibly take the area.

Under Trump, the United States had turned more towards Taiwan. Beijing sent several fighter jets into Taiwan’s airspace on Sunday, prompting the new administration in Washington to reiterate its pledge of assistance to Taiwan.

There are also new tensions between Washington and Beijing in the South China Sea. A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Monday criticized the dispatch of a US aircraft carrier to the South China Sea as a “show of strength” threatening peace and stability in the region.

China’s reputation in the world fell rapidly over the past year, particularly in Europe and the United States. This was not only due to the role of the People’s Republic in the corona crisis, but also to the aggressive behavior of Chinese diplomats abroad.

More: World Economic Forum: It’s about the future of humanity – one comment

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Prosus shares offer these opportunities

View into the headquarters of Delivery Hero in Berlin

The Dax company is owned by Prosus to over 20 percent.

(Foto: © 2017 Bloomberg Finance LP)

Frankfurt What do the Chinese tech group Tencent, the Dax newcomer Delivery Hero, the Berlin used car start-up FCG, the Russian internet company Mail.ru and the Indian agricultural specialist DeHaat have in common? They all have the Prosus holding on board as a major investor.

The start at DeHaat has only been known for a few days. The volume is very manageable, with $ 30 million allocated to a group of investors led by Prosus. But the investment is typical of the Dutch holding company: They like to put their money in innovative tech companies in emerging countries. DeHaat networks around ten million Indian farmers with potential customers.

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