ecommerce/digital news & trend watching with a splash of attitude
Rover 024: Ta-ta, privacy
This bi-week, China's ecommerce takeoff has more than just Alibaba to thank, Elon Musk just can't stop incorporating, and privacy was overrated anyway. 
Jack Ma and his Alibaba machine seem to get the lion's share of the credit for China's ecommerce explosion—one that's causing commentators to turn to the East as a model for how the West could be doing ecommerce.

But there's more than the pack leader to thank for this growth.

There's the entrepreneurial women of WeChat. Women make up only 25 percent of all entrepreneurs in China but founded 55 percent of new online businesses in 2015—and many of them have done so with WeChat, a platform used to buy things by almost a third of its Chinese users last year.

There's this guy, Wang Wei. Formerly a deliveryman of illegal cross-border goods and now a multibillionaire and the fourth-richest man in China, Wei's company, SF Express, and its 80,000-strong staff have become the country's top courier.

And there's China's smaller cities, which are just getting started. Says DHL, "the e-commerce potential in these cities is huge, and still untapped."
How far off is the augmented-reality hipster monocle?
If you hadn't heard, now you have. Congress voted last week to overturn a regulation that would have required Internet service providers to seek consumers' permission before selling their data.

The Verge calls it like they see it: Congress has "betrayed you for chump change."

But is this just so much hoopla? The BBC claims the decision "likely won't change much at all for the average user in the US."

Others, though, worry that this is another step down a slippery slope that could see the erosion of other digital rights, and even net neutrality itself.

A particularly scary element has to do with the way this rule was overturned—that is, under a little-known provision called the Congressional Review Act—which means that no other law like it can ever be passed in the future.

That, if nothing else, should send chills.
Neuralink: Elon Musk wants to start another company to do some stuff with your brain
Remember, dear reader, back in Rover 018 when we said more and more companies were going to have to figure out how to brand themselves as a tech company of some kind?

Ready for exhibit B in that argument? (Exhibit A, as you'll recall, was Under Armour.)

According to Tristan Walker, CEO of Walker & Company Brands, in an interview at Recode's Code Conference, it's getting harder for new ecommerce companies to raise the cash they need to survive and grow.

Says Walker, "No one wants to fund a retail business."

Instead, as Walker has found, moving away from the idea of "retail" or "ecommerce"—and, yes, to "tech"—seems to be key to securing VC money these days.

He also points to an under-recognized factor that's making things even tighter for ecommerce up-and-comers—that the health & beauty vertical is the last bastion of solid profit margins, the one Amazon hasn't yet dominated.
Cool stuff we've been reading from around the cosmos
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