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Judge approves Faraday Future founder’s personal bankruptcy plan

Sharon Ross

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Judge approves Faraday Future founder’s personal bankruptcy plan

Seven months after he filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to deal with $3.6 billion in personal debt, the reorganization plan laid out by Jia Yueting — the tycoon founder of troubled EV startup Faraday Future — has been approved by a judge.

In overly simple terms, the majority of the many people and companies he owes money — largely thanks to the collapse of LeEco, the overly-leveraged tech conglomerate he built his fortune with in China — have agreed to swap their debt claims for pieces of Jia’s ownership stake in Faraday Future. They now only have a shot of being made whole if and when the struggling startup successfully completes a public listing on a major stock exchange.

Founded in 2014, Faraday Future has spent more than $1.7 billion (around $900 million of which was Jia’s) on its own and has yet to start manufacturing its first vehicle, a luxury SUV stuffed with screens known as the FF91. Instead, the startup is more famous for foibles linked to Jia’s penchant for bombast and his financial mismanagement — both of which News Brig have documented in recent years. And by its own admission the company needs $850 million in order to kickstart production of the FF91.

Jia repeatedly claimed in court that prolonged uncertainty about his personal debts would hold up any potential funding of Faraday Future, though no evidence was ever given of this. And since the idea all along has been to swap the the claims of those debt holders with stakes in the startup, he argued it was in their interest to approve his plan as quickly as possible. In December of last year, in fact, one of Jia’s lawyers told the court that Faraday Future did not have the “financial wherewithal” to make it another 60 days, according to a transcript. “Faraday will basically run out of cash,” the lawyer said at the time.

One former Faraday Future executive told News Brig last year they felt this was a “a gun to the head of the creditors. Lawyers for some of the companies Jia owes millions of dollars to made similar arguments in court that were ultimately unsuccessful.

Faraday Future has not run out of c ash yet, though, thanks to a series of loans from a restructuring firm that it’s been working with since early 2019. Faraday Future also recently said it received a $9 million loan as part of the government’s pandemic-related “Paycheck Protection Program.”

Jia’s creditors were left with few other options than to agree to his plan, because he doesn’t have nearly enough personal wealth to cover the $3.6 billion hole he dug for himself. While Jia did buy a few multimillion dollar coastal mansions and land in Los Angeles before he self-exiled himself to the US in 2017 (to avoid increased pressure from the Chinese government over his debts), he told the court he divested himself of the actual ownership of that property. Even if that’s true, their total value is only in the tens of millions of dollars.

Jia’s bank accounts are also relatively empty, according to the paperwork he submitted to the court. In fact, he turned to cash-strapped Faraday Future to fund his bankruptcy in the first place. Jia borrowed $2.7 million from one of Faraday Future’s holding companies to launch his bankruptcy in October of last year, and has since taken on another $6.4 million loan from that same entity to fund the process.

In a statement released Friday, Faraday Future says the approval of the plan “has removed the biggest hurdle in [the company’s] equity financing efforts.” Earlier this week, the company’s new CEO (and former BMW executive) Carsten Breitfeld said those funding efforts are “a bit delayed” because of the pandemic.

Sharon Ross has been phenomenal in the success of Report Door. She is the super dedicated types, always glued to her computer. She talks less, but when it comes to work, she is behind none. She is a tech geek and contributes to the technology section of Report Door.

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Indonesian startup Delman raises $1.6 million to help companies clean up data – Report Door

Sharon Ross

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Indonesian startup Delman raises $1.6 million to help companies clean up data – TechCrunch

Delman, a Jakarta-based data management startup, has raised $1.6 million in seed funding. The round was led by Intudo Ventures, with participation from Prasetia Dwidharma Ventures and Qlue Performa Indonesia, and will be used to establish a research and development center and hire software engineers and data scientists.

Delman was founded in 2018 by chief executive officer Surya Halim, chief product officer Raymond Christopher and chief technology officer Theo Budiyanto, who were classmates at the University of California, Berkeley. After graduation, they worked at tech companies in Silicon Valley, including Google and Splunk, before deciding to focus on the Indonesian market.

Originally launched as an end-to-end big data analytics provider, Delman shifted its focus to data preparation and management after talking to clients in Indonesia, said Halim. Many companies said they had budgeted for expensive data analytics solution, but then realized their data was not ready for analysis because it was spread across multiple formats. Delman’s mission is to make it easier for data engineers and scientists to do their jobs by cleaning up and preparing data.

Halim says many large companies in Indonesia typically spend up to $200,000 to clean and warehouse data, but Delman gives them a more cost-efficient and faster alternative.

“We have the capability to do analytics and data visualization for clients, but there are so many established companies that already do that, which is why we shifted our business model to something more niche and needed,” said Halim. “It also enables us to open our door to partner with everyone doing data analytics services.”

While newer companies and startups have cleaner datasets, Halim said many older Indonesian companies, especially ones with branches in multiple cities, often have large amounts of data spread across pen-and-paper ledgers, Excel spreadsheets and other software. The data may also have code, keywords and typos that need to be corrected.

“It’s easier for a new company, because everything is already standardized,” Halim said, “But if a company that was established in the 1970s wants to unify previous generations of data to integrate it into their system and keep notes on what customer behavior is like in order to compete with up-and-coming companies, then they need to have a data-driven policy.”

Delman is industry-agnostic and its clients range from large corporations and consulting firms to government agencies. Its customers have included PWC and Qlue. Halim said that the startup plans to expand into other Southeast Asian markets and expects that as COVID-19 changes the way people work, companies will want to invest more heavily in their IT infrastructure and make their databases easier to access outside of a central location.

In a press statement, Intudo Ventures founding partner Eddy Chan said, “By combining a highly localized approach with global technical expertise, Delman is providing Indonesian businesses with Indonesian-developed big data solutions, ultimately leading to better outcomes for end-users. Since meeting the Delman founding team in Silicon Valley in 2017, we have witnessed their growth as a management team, and are excited to continue to support them in their entrepreneurial journey ahead.”

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Qatar’s contact tracing app put over one million people’s info at risk

Sharon Ross

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Qatar’s contact tracing app put over one million people’s info at risk

Qatar’s app, called EHTERAZ, uses GPS and Bluetooth to track COVID-19 cases, and last week, authorities made it mandatory. According to Amnesty, people who don’t use the app could face up to three years in prison and a fine of QR 200,000 (about $55,000).

“This incident should act as a warning to governments around the world rushing out contact tracing apps that are too often poorly designed and lack privacy safeguards. If technology is to play an effective role in tackling the virus, people need to have confidence that contact tracing apps will protect their privacy and other human rights,” said Claudio Guarnieri, head of Amnesty International’s Security Lab.

For contact tracing apps like EHTERAZ to work, they need widespread adoption — Amnesty says mandating the apps is not the right approach. Security blunders like this one could discourage people from using the apps and undermine efforts to slow the spread of the virus.

Qatar’s misstep may encourage more countries to adopt the Apple-Google model. The “decentralized” API stores sensitive info in users’ phones, rather than a centralized server. It uses Bluetooth to exchange keys and it doesn’t gather location data. While the Apple-Google API can’t identify users, the apps that use the API may be able to. So security and privacy policies should be examined on an app-by-app basis. Hopefully incidents like this will remain rare.

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New Samurai Shodown collection will launch first for free on the Epic Games Store

Sharon Ross

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New Samurai Shodown collection will launch first for free on the Epic Games Store

A new collection of Samurai Shodown games is coming out in a couple of weeks, and it marks another notable exclusivity deal for the Epic Games Store. Samurai Shodown Neo Geo Collection will be released on Steam on June 18th and PS4 and Switch on June 28th for $39.99, but you’ll be able to get it first on the Epic Games Store on June 11th, and it’ll be completely free for a week.

Samurai Shodown Neo Geo Collection includes all six Neo Geo iterations of the classic fighting series, plus a completed version of Samurai Shodown V Perfect, an unreleased game that was supposed to be the final Neo Geo title. Each game has online modes and includes both the Japanese and English arcade versions. There’s also a “museum” featuring interviews, music, development documents, and more.

SNK announced this collection for Steam, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One in March last year, but there’s no longer any mention of the Xbox version on its website.

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