Digital strike
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What were the notable tech trends from Q2?
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Morning Brew July 06, 2020

Emerging Tech Brew


Good morning. Shakespeare is said to have written King Lear while in quarantine, as the joke goes. Isaac Newton spent his time in quarantine developing a theory of universal gravitation, among other things. 

During lockdown, Brew writers were thinking about trends. The daily Brew recapped H1 2020. In today’s top story, I’ve broken down seven prominent Q2 trends to watch. 

In today’s edition: 

 Q2 in review
 Taking down EncroChat
 India app ban, seven days later

Ryan Duffy


Seven Trends from Q2 for You

Boston Dynamics Spot Robot for construction and dangerous worksites

Francis Scialabba

As we’ve heard ad nauseam, the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated pre-existing tech trends. Today I’ll be unpacking the changes most likely to stick around post-pandemic. 

COVID-19 speeds up automation. Execs from Boston Dynamics and Brain Corp. told the Brew in Q2 that they’ve seen surges in demand for robots that can do dull, dirty, and dangerous tasks. A new dominant use case has emerged for robots: cleaning/disinfecting stores, airports, hospitals, and subway systems. 

Officials cut red tape. U.S. agencies have been quick to dispense waivers and emergency approvals in highly regulated product categories...such as the U.S.’ largest drone delivery service and an automated resuscitator device. Some U.S. states waived in-state licensing requirements for health care providers, which enables telemedicine. Speaking of which...

Healthcare gets partially digitized. The telemedicine adoption curve was pushed up by years. Telehealth visits could top 1 billion this year, per Forrester, which initially expected just 36 million for 2020. Also on the health-away-from-the-hospital front, researchers are trialing wearables to detect COVID-like symptoms. 

Physical retail shifts online. This is Retail Brew’s Halie LeSavage’s beat, but rising e-commerce sales are still worth mentioning here. Just as malls are being replaced by online fulfillment centers, more cloud kitchens and mini-warehouses are popping up across cities with the rise of food/grocery delivery.

Splinternet and decoupling aren’t just memes. France, Australia, India, the EU, and the U.S. have drawn up plans to reshore tech manufacturing and prevent foreign acquisitions (the M&Nay measures are mainly aimed at China). Washington continues to up the pressure on Huawei, and India banned TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps. 

Americans finally embrace cashless payments. U.S. consumers say they’re much more likely to use contactless payments going forward. 

  • Related side note: China is piloting its digital yuan, while Facebook pared down the ambition of its Libra launch plan.  

Surveillance and biometrics get more controversial. Earlier this year, more surveillance in public life (via thermal cameras and biometric entry) seemed all but inevitable. But Americans are skeptical of surveillance measures for containing COVID-19. That skepticism is unlikely to fade, with mounting backlash against facial recognition and biased algorithms. 

+ What’d I miss? Reply and let me know.



Busting an Encrypted Criminal Chatroom

Locked phone

Francis Scialabba

Late last week, European law enforcement officials announced that they’ve busted an online crime ring and taken hundreds of alleged criminals into custody. Motherboard has the full story on the operation. 

The digital key to the bust: Hacking into EncroChat, a supposedly secure encrypted chat app, and scanning through a hundred million messages. EncroChat has bespoke technology that involves dedicated hardware, a custom OS, and exclusive servers. But European officials still compromised the app.

  • The U.K. said the encrypted takedown was its “broadest and deepest” operation, with 746 arrests to date, $67 million, 77 firearms, and over two metric tons of drugs seized. 

Taking this Transatlantic

End-to-end encrypted messaging is the source of on-again, off-again battle between Big Tech and D.C. The FBI wants tech companies to build a back door into their products. Tech companies say no. For good reason, they’re worried about backdoor access being abused and potential cybersecurity issues.

Big picture: Breaking into encrypted services more mainstream than EncroChat would likely generate more controversy.



Stop the Slip-Ups: How To Fight Data Breaches


By 2022, businesses are expected to spend $134 billion on security software, hardware, and services (up from $103 billion in 2019). And yet, data breaches persist.

Organizations continue to slip up on the basics, which costs them big. But there are ways for companies to fight back.

For instance, phishing is still one of the leading causes of data breaches. That’s why ongoing security awareness training for employees is so important. It can turn everyone in the organization into a vigilant and informed data protector. 

Companies must also be aware of third-party risks, which can be just as devastating as data breaches in an organization's own systems. A recent Ponemom Institute survey found that 61% of CISOs in the U.S. had experienced a third-party data breach. 

Continue reading to find out 7 of the most common organizational mistakes that companies make that lead to data breaches, and advice on how to avoid them


Seven Days Later

Roposo app screenshots from Apple App Store

Roposo/App Store

It’s been a week since India announced it was banning TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps. India’s top tech minister called the move a “digital strike” against China, per Reuters. 

Domestic apps are racking up downloads. The makers of Indian short-form video app Roposo told Reuters their user base surged by 22 million in the two days after TikTok was banned. The company, which has 200 employees, expects Roposo to cross 100 million downloads in a matter of days. 

  • Another TikTok rival: The Chingari app has racked up more than 10 million downloads in the three weeks since it launched, The Indian Express reports. 

The emerging tech tie-in

U.S. Big Tech companies are investing in Indian firms, while the U.S. government has suspended H-1B and other employment-based visas for the rest of 2020. These developments, coupled with the “digital strike,” may usher in an era of homegrown innovation in India. 



A shirt coming out of a computer in a virtual pop up

Francis Scialabba

Stat: U.S. consumers will spend $710 billion online this year, per eMarketer data cited by the FT. That represents an 18% leap—and a 14.5% share of U.S. retail. 

Quote: “If it’s difficult through visas and Brexit laws that are going to come out, we certainly now know we can do it [hire] without having to transfer anyone...It’s a big relief.”—Frank Sagnier, CEO of Codemasters Group Holdings, to Bloomberg. Some U.K. tech companies plan to source remote talent overseas while keeping exec hiring local.

Read: Fortune profiled Lee Fixel, a VC who invested early in Peloton and Flipkart.



Time is money a home security camera. If you can make IT decisions for your company—and if your company has between two and 2000 employees—Electric has a deal for you. You take a short meeting with them. Then they give you a super nice home security camera—for free. But why go with Electric? They're the IT solution that protects your company from security threats, enables remote work at half the cost, and provides full visibility into your IT infrastructure. And they give you a free home security camera. For the best IT and a free home security cameraget to know Electric.


  • Uber is buying Postmates for $2.65 billion. 
  • The U.K. will phase out Huawei in its 5G equipment as early as this year, Bloomberg reports. 
  • Indian ISPs (internet service providers) restored access to DuckDuckGo. The privacy-oriented search engine might have been an accidental casualty of the Chinese app ban. 
  • Velodyne, a startup that makes Lidar systems for vehicles, is going public via reverse merger with Graf, a special purpose acquisition company. 
  • Florida passed a DNA privacy law.
  • Tencent is launching a U.S. game studio, Reuters reports.
  • iCloud Keychain in iOS 14 will send users notifications about easy-to-guess passwords that may have leaked online.


Slow week...

Tuesday: Fortune Brainstorm Health runs virtually through Wednesday; Samsung Q2 earnings guidance

Thursday: 2020 World AI Conference runs virtually through Saturday; SEC hearing on Chinese stocks listed on American exchanges 

Friday: National Kitten Day and National Piña Colada Day (I really couldn’t find many events for this week)


For product recommendations: The Verge rounded up its favorite gadget and gizmos for summer 2020. 

For our “new normal”: Tech analyst Ben Evans updated his 2020 macro trends deck

For cyclists: The Tour de France is going virtual


Catch up on the top Emerging Tech Brew stories from the past few editions: 


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Written by Ryan Duffy

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