tv Best of Bloomberg Technology Bloomberg December 24, 2016 11:00am-12:01pm EST
first, to our lead, europe is challenging apple with its $13 billion tax bill. the fight between apple, ireland, and the commission has been building. margrethe vestager, the european competition commissioner explains why this fight will be a long one. margrethe: we will continue to disagree on this decision. also because we have different legal traditions. i have learned that in the u.s. that it is the order of the day for a business negotiate tax rates with the state where it is situated, and we have had the prohibition to do that since 1958, so you have a clash of understanding. caroline: we discussed the latest developments with the
david rosenblum he spent years at the treasury department covering international tax law. also, david kirkpatrick and bloomberg editor at large cory johnson. >> explaine the history of this tax regime and the different pieces of apple, and which pieces should be considered irish, were considered irish, and which are. there are two ways to look at the news of the day. one is whether this backwards looking thing might bode differently for the future of apple in other countries as a relates to tax in the eu and ireland. it is a long tease, but gets into how apple is to claim certain parts of their business were not in ireland even though money did pass through ireland,
and that is what is at stake here. what business was irish and deserves to be taxed in ireland. >> let's go to david rosenblum. give us a sense of apple claiming they were selectively targeted by the eu here. do you think they have a case? >> yes, they have something of a case. it is true the investigations have focused to some extent on u.s. companies. on the other hand, it is probably true that u.s. companies have led the world in aggressive tax planning, so i don't find it particularly surprising. >> david kirkpatrick, weigh in and give us a sense of your reading of the tea leaves. there is potential tax warfare between the u.s. and europe? >> it is a confusing situation
of where i think apple has been extremely aggressive in how they structure themselves when they face these tax jurisdictions is an interesting question, and whether it is appropriate, whether they should be fine tuning their own structure when they are simply trying to do business around the world. it is legal in the united states at least. it's turning out that may not legal in europe. where these companies have to have a positive carrying of the flag around the world, we might consider whether it is to our benefit. >> surely for many the shareholder would say it is the company's obligation to prioritize profits. >> in the context of a donald trump presidency and we might have a big tax repatriation, you
have companies like intel, apple and others who have set this up to make the best of a bad situation. you wonder whether the repatriation holiday might not be such a big deal for them because they found another way to get around these laws. >> that is a key question for the next administration. there is much under discussion from a global perspective, the oecd was lining up to get all countries singing from the same hymn sheet. is that the way we can move forward, is that there is some sort of agreement? >> what is missing in the apple debate and it is an answer to your question, the oecd
necessarily reaches consensus at a high level of generality, and the issues come up at a factual level, so that applying these general concepts to the particular facts at hand is a real challenge. i don't think it is possible to reach international agreement on the kinds of issues we are talking about, and i might add that not withstanding the commission's decision, 130 pages, it is pretty slim on the actual facts of what happened. it has a great deal of history about the dispute, about the oecd, state aid, a lot of legalese and background that makes for tedious reading, but i was looking at it to find out what happened here, and boy, you look in vain to find out how it
was that one of these companies, asi, booked about half of apple's profits in 2015. the commission says apple had $54 billion in profits in 2015, and asi booked somewhere south of $25 billion. >> i thought it was fascinating reading for that same reason. they did not lay it out chapter and verse, but there was so much great detail and interesting to see they could sign so much profit to that particular region when obviously they have a global business and it was not all happening on ireland. >> what is the broader expectation? who wins out in this particular argument and what does it mean for amazon, starbucks, ikea, other companies being analyzed by the european commission? >> in a rational world, and unfortunately we don't live in a rational world, that in a
rational world, apple wins in the dispute with the commission because the commission is advocating assigning all of this excess profit to the branches that apple had in ireland, and frankly the branches that apple had in ireland had nothing to do with most of this money, so the commission is looking at the world from two very different perspectives. the commission sees these individual companies, asi booking $25 billion, and we see a branch in ireland and there is no real head office here, therefore all the profits should go to ireland. the united states sees it differently. we see asi as a branch, not a separate corporation. it is a part of the top-tier company which has branches all over the world, so from a u.s. tax analysis of this, it is a
much more complicated situation than the commission sees, and that is because of profound differences in the way we look at tax laws. i think you will find similar structures of other high-tech companies in other countries, and the all pose similar questions. >> we will hear from the blackberry ceo john chen as they boost forecasts with a new focus. that is next. facebook takes on fake news, but will it work? we head to italy later this hour. this is bloomberg. ♪
changes thanks to new technology. fiat chrysler announced the production of 100 minivans that will join the waymo vehicle fleet. meantime, a new study reveals a large amount of motorists shut down self driving technology in their car. according to hyundai, half turn off emergency brakes and lane the parts or warnings. drivers don't fully trust the technology. nevertheless, blackberry is opening a research center for self driving cars. speaking of blackberry, the company boosted 2017 earnings outlook and posted an adjusted profit margin of 70%, its highest ever. we caught up with john chen in ontario and asked him whether these margins are sustainable. >> a normal growing software
company could deftly do better than 70%, yes. it will take us a while to get there, but it could do it. >> how about the software revenue growth? you said that will be 30% this year. 30% growth for next fiscal year as well? >> know, something like 10% or 15% this year. >> it is renowned that angela merkel has used the blackberry, the belief in the security the blackberry offers. how in this time of cyber security threats and concerns -- >> i guess in a certain way the answer is yes. the answer has to be yes. i see a lot of discussion, people try to get their arms around security and cyber
security. mobility is one of the biggest vulnerability points. there is a lot of conversation and we feel comfortable on where we sit with customers. >> you are announcing just yesterday in your research center, the focus on automation and driverless vehicles. this is a really crowded space. you are up against apple, not to mention the automakers. how do fight within this competitive space? >> i don't fight with them at all. first of all, we announced a transaction or an agreement with ford motor company, writing software to help them build the next-generation car. i will let them tell you what the next-generation car is, but
we are helping them to do that. they are using our software. this is just an example of what the autonomous driving innovation center will focus on. all the automakers will be our customers, our partners. all the tier ones like lg, panasonic, samsung, they will be our partners. we are very proud of the relationship with them. we are not setting this up to compete with the automakers, to compete with tier ones. in fact, we are embracing an open standard. we want to build the foundation so cars can be put safely on the road. >> automation is something that we have been discussing, but not long ago, we saw another
announcement from blackberry, a licensing deal. you are letting the chinese partner build the hardware. how much of the relationships under threat with president-elect to donald trump? are you cautiously optimistic or concerned about the direction of u.s.-china relations? >> that is a very complex question. let's start with technology. where the majority of all the security -- so there is no truth that if i build my phone in china by a chinese partner that my phone will not be more secure or less secure, whatever the right english is. our security is paramount. we control all the software and the security software associated with it. we also have an office that manages all of these devices in canada.
we don't have any interest in outsourcing those things. the net of all that is i would not be concerned about security. as related to what the united states government policy is and where the trade issue is going to go, nobody really knows the answer to it. i heard an earlier guest talk about putting a tariff on developing countries. i assume the guest is referring to china and the currency manipulation situation. or at least being accused of that, all that discussion going on with the president-elect. i assume that cooler heads is going to prevail and we won't get into a trade war. >> would you work with the trump
administration like you did with bush? >> absolutely. like everybody said, he is the president now, he will be. anything to help the country, we definitely will. >> that was blackberry ceo john chen. coming up, facebook rolling out its third-party fact checking system to combat fake news. we will speak with the director of international fact checking. and coming to a pub near you, the world's first beer brewed with the help of artificial intelligence. can machines really brew a better beer? this is bloomberg. ♪
he explained why he attended the meeting saying, "we engage when we agree, and we engage when we disagree. i think it is important to do that because you don't change things just by yelling." facebook's outlook on fake news has evolved. the company turned to third-party fact checkers to flag false stories, but is it enough? we discussed facebook's new strategy. >> it has through its network develop a code of principles for nonpartisan independent fact checkers. when facebook decided in order to be a third-party fact checker on the network, as a minimum condition, you will have had to sign on to our principles. >> facebook is the arbiter of
who is a third-party fact checker? >> correct. depending on this code of principles which requires transparency -- >> many people signed up to the international fact checking network have been pushing for mark zuckerberg and facebook to take these steps. are the steps announced enough? >> we are in the early days. i hope you don't think i am dodging the question, but the reality is we have will have to wait a few weeks to see how this works out. there has been a lot of pressure for facebook to do something. we need to see how this works out in practice. we think it is a welcome choice, but it may not be effective. >> in terms of where it could initially be tackling stories that are obviously false, but
the more misleading articles potentially that come across social media and catch wildfire, do you think that will he able to be blunted to some extent? will we see those sort of misleading stories pushed down? >> it is important in the first totages,nd facebook and a third-party fact checkers are aware of this, that concentration be on the 100%, totally fabricated stories. the pope endorsed donald trump, those stories are the ones that did really well by the social network this year, and those are the start of where the fact checking can have an effect. when we start going into the grayscale and the half-truths, they are more complicated and there are other platforms to do that. i am convinced this experiment could have a beneficial impact if it weeds out the totally fake
stories. >> how important is this as we enter 2017, the u.s. election, germany, france, the netherlands, a wide range of political events happening next year, how is the institute preparing itself? >> i would add in the election this year and the brexit campaign and in ity, in these campaigns we have seen totally fake stories do well on social media. it was not the case that the ballot box was stuffed and there was votes found, this is a problem of international scope and it is believed that facebook is looking to roll this out internationally. the international fact checking network has members from across the world, and they are all eager and keen to see this rolled out cautiously and carefully, but in other markets beyond the united states. >> that was the director of th institute fact checking network. the world's first beer root with the help of artificial
intelligence is on sale in the u.k., four beers, each recipe based on customer feedback through a mobile app. we went to find out if machines the world's first beer root with the help of artificial intelligence is on sale in the u.k., four beers, each recipe based on customer feedback through a mobile app. we went to find out if machines can really brew a great beer. ♪ >> how you like your beer? hoppy, bitter, dark? could it be that computers can find the perfect recipe? >> about how can you stated more constructively, and we thought they are right in front of us. >> his epiphany led him and his
friend to develop an algorithm that turns customer feedback into a better beer. a website printed on the back of the bottles directed drinkers to a survey that asks them questions about their taste preferences. the artificial intelligence comes next. >> that data goes into our reinforcement learning algorithm, automated brewing intelligence, then the algorithm takes all this information and then comes up with a recipe and gives the brewer a recipe. >> enter the very human brewer who acts as a last line of defense if the artificial intelligence goes rogue. >> most of the time it is bang on. some of it is just not possible, and that is where you still have that human aspect to it. >> humans brew the beer and drink it too.
kind of like seawater with cranberry. if you use an algorithm, when it come out tasting middle of the road? >> i like it the more i drink it. >> customer feedback, it can be fickle, but the technology points to a future of tailoring products to the people who use them. >> in the future, the same technique will be used for other products. the one i really like his perfume. >> in the not-too-distant future, you will be able to give your feedback on just about anything, for what that is worth. >> still ahead, unicorn valuation, will we keep seeing valuation skyrocket in 2017? we will hear from one investor
caroline: welcome back to the "best of bloomberg technology". i am caroline hyde. , some believedown uber and snap's value is fair, and others warn of a bubble. we spoke about just that. take a listen. believe and agree that we are at the highest level of fund formation and company formation, and at the highest level of innovation and disruption, and that will continue going forward. a lot of these companies will
not be able to be funded going forward, but there will be a subsection of them that will create interesting things that change the way we work and operate. emily: a lot of companies have delayed going public, valuations have soared, a rise in so-called unicorns out there. how do you feel about that? >> our belief is there should be fewer instances of unicorns out there because the majority of the m&a happens under $1 billion and few companies are going public. if a company expects to be a unicorn there better be a high , probability they can go public given the business model. otherwise, when growth moderates which happens to every business eventually and they are not profitable, they won't be able to go public and their valuations will get crushed. as we look at the past few years, there has been more of a focus on optimizing valuation, so we hope that changes going forward. emily: that said, you guys are
in a number of venture capital funds, and they have a lot of unicorns in their portfolio. does that concern you? >> if you look at the top 10 vc firms they have had the opportunity to invest in these iconic elite companies. whether that is , pinterest, airbnb, bloomberg, lift so for those managers and for those companies, and there is a market for those companies to go public, but for the broader venture community, we believe that m&a is the most likely outcome for those portfolio companies. emily: andreessen horowitz is one fund that made a big splash, although there has been some controversy about how their returns have been so far. do you have any concerns there about the performance of andreessen horowitz? >> we don't have any specific concerns. we see the number.
they have delivered very good returns over the course of the firm's life partly because they have been able to invest in some of the elite companies, so we are bullish on them. when they entered the venture capital game, they changed the dynamic by offering recruiting, pr, and the sales pipeline by introducing strategics to companies. on a daily basis, they will bring fortune 500 companies to meet portfolio companies. for a number of them those introductions have become a significant portion of their sales pipeline. that is a game changer. we hear that over and over again. we have been very pleased. they have had great returns and invested in some iconic companies and are changing the way venture capitalists operate, and you're seeing other firms mimic these services. emily: i am curious how you decide which venture funds to invest in and how they compare. >> we invest in venture capital and growth equity, particularly technology and some health care.
when we look at venture capital firms, we are modeling five x plus funds. a number of our managers have delivered three x net funds to us with shorter timeline to liquidity and lower risk. for venture capital, we are looking for five x plus funds due to the longer timeline to liquidity and an increased risk. caroline: wells fargo is charging into the biggest asset management battleground, exchange traded funds. it is considering launching its first etf next year, but is it too little too late as competitors already have a leg up in the $4.1 trillion etf market? we caught up with dani burger and david kirkpatrick from new york. >> listen, this is a struggling time for active managers. they are seeing outflows and inflows are going into passive
investing, etf's, and specifically this new breed of etf's that wells fargo is looking at that is taking off. this is the hot new product. if wells fargo once to be part of the next generation of investing, this is something they will have to be in. frankly many are surprised that it has taken until this year, or the next three to six months to launch one of these products. >> they try to differentiate themselves. talk to us about the way in which they are trying to have a bit of -- here. >> these are quantitative-based etf's built around computer algorithms. you have smart beta that takes the idea of etf, but does not use market cap waiting. -- weighting. the cheapestlects stocks. from there, you go to multi factor, which takes those things and puts them together. instead of using just one
factor, they use a couple of these factors, so this is an idea whose time has come and this is where wells fargo is entering in. if you look at this chart assets , are growing, but not as much as smart beta market as a whole. goldman sachs has the lead here, and that will be their biggest competition, but they are hoping by getting into this front they can differentiate themselves from what is already out there. >> maybe a bit of a me-too coming from wells fargo. david, you like the fact that etf's are catching on, right? >> what i like is that to apply algorithmic approaches to tools ordinary investors can get access to, because these are the techniques confined historically to the highest net worth individuals, the biggest institutions, and this is a great way for ordinary people to invest in a much more sophisticated fashion, basically allowing the software to assemble packages of stocks that would not historically be assembled because with the software selecting from all
these different variables, it can do things in real time that are much more sophisticated, so it's not just an etf of grocery store companies, but companies that have gone up and down in certain conditions and other relations, and i think that is a great thing. >> to david's points i think , that is compelling for these companies. taking some of the best investors, warren buffett, they found you could break it down using algorithms, so people who would never have dreamed of having an investor like warren buffett working for them, they can buy these products and essentially get the same returns. >> so active and passive, the war continues. does it surprise you, david, this being the last tech for right into etf's? where do you stand on the whole process? fargoking about wells
they seem to have made a bunch , of mistakes in recent years in their larger business, so it is interesting that they would not have been in the advance of this kind of movement given that they are in the thick of the tech community out there. there is a lot of startups that certainly are pressuring companies like wells fargo, and i am glad they are finally responding. i think we will see a ton of innovation coming from tech when it comes to investing. caroline: coming up, twitch is taking on the heavyweights of video streaming. facebook and youtube. as the company looks beyond gaming we will catch up with the , ceo next. plus, sofi lays out the ipo timeline and what is in store for global expansion. this is bloomberg. ♪
part of a pledge to president-elect donald trump. the investment is expected to create 3000 jobs in the u.s. over the next four years. the satellite start up says it raised $1.2 billion from softbank and existing investors. another softbank investment was with marketplace lender social finance, better known as sofi. the company is now on the hunt for additional funds and needs to raise $500 million. founded back in 2011, the company was one of the fastest-growing online lenders. i cofounder sof and ceo mike cagney. take a listen. >> it was wonderful getting softbank support. essentially we are using the money for the balance sheet. one of the things we learned is the need to have a balance sheet, to generate from periods of market dislocation. we benefited from having that capital in 2016.
>> is that why you're raising more money? >> in part because we are looking for additional partners. one of the biggest challenges we have is the balance sheet, in terms of where we price -- place production. in 2017, $16 million to $20 million in loans, and that's a lot of paper we have to place, so having deep relationships is a catalyst for the round. >> we're talking about how you started off with student loans, but moved into mortgages, life insurance. what other products will you bring online? >> today we are heavy on the credit side, mortgages, student loan refinancing. we started looking at the wealth management, but in 2017, one of the biggest solutions will be the deposit account and the credit card, allowing us to deliver a full service of solutions to our member base. so they don't need to go
anywhere else for what they need from a financial standpoint. >> interestingly, i come from europe where i was banking, in germany, the united kingdom, plenty of other startups. is this where the competition is? or is it coming from the banks? >> we see more competition from the banks. we are going after a rich target in terms of that 25 to 45-year-old customer target. that is important to the banks in terms of building those relationships. whether it is student loan financing, personal loans, mortgages, we are seeing more competition today and it's important to differentiate through our value proposition. >> value proposition, differentiation, you have all these products, how long until you take it to the fintech? talk to us about expansion. >> we have a path to the u.k. and broader asia, so it is
important to deliver into that market. it is the same value proposition. it is delivering speed, convenience, alignment, transparency, something that is missing in a lot of these markets. >> what you have done setting yourself apart is help to foster the careers of some of these students, entrepreneurs meet and greet, people come to your house to be given advice, how do you scale that and how much is it hurt by when you have things like lending club not doing so well in the press? does that hurt you from an investor and consumer point of view? >> we have 200,000 members. if they all came to my house, i would have a lot of trouble. we don't do that. we have had a lot of off-line events. we have 10% of our member base go to off-line events, career services, navigating salary negotiations, getting employed. the entrepreneur program where we help people start companies.
that areg events massively oversubscribed for our users. hopefully they can sell more household units. it is part of our differentiation, and we are finding that the community is beginning to support itself. people are setting up these events with our support. it's not a situation where everybody is coming to my house. back in the day. >> talk to me about the regulatory perspective. i'm looking at the united kingdom. looking at what is happening in peer-to-peer and crowdfunding, we are talking about the u.k. that is a forward thinking open regulatory environment. where do you see regulation changing here? >> we are optimistic about the regulatory environment. i think the occ is a step in the right direction. we can move away from the state regulation we have today to a unified national regulator. we hope that comes as the regulators become more familiar with the company and the people involved. >> ipo in 2017? >> i always get in trouble when
i say when the ipo is coming. we definitely want to go public. today we have the luxury of being profitable and to determine when we do that and will do it when it makes the most sense. caroline: sofi cofounder mike cagney there. twitch stepping into the video streaming goldmine rush. the amazon-owned video platform, is branching out its streaming offerings, taking on some heavy competition from facebook and youtube. we caught up with the twitch ceo and asked him about his expansion beyond video gaming. >> we are always going to be a video game centric culture at twitch, but we are super excited to expand the platform and welcome a broader array of creators to use the technology we built to become part of our community. >> you have about 2 million per month creators. how will this expand?
you will use the creators out there and expand their knowledge base, or it is attracting new people to the platform? >> we have been experimenting with the creative category on twitch for more than a year now. while there is a town of crossover, you do see lots of gaming creators also wanted to do art, comedy, wanting to be artistically creative. you also see new people coming in who have never created before and who now feel like this is a place for me, so it is a mix of both. there are slightly more people crossing over from the existing community than coming in. on the other hand we have a lot of people in the existing community. i think in the long run we will see a lot of new people creating, and that is our goal. we would like to get a lot of new people creating on the platform. >> is it marketing? the amazon platform?
>> we mostly focus on the product. we like to think the product should speak for itself and that we want to have a great product for creators that makes sharing the video, sharing your passions really fun, but the other thing we do is invest heavily in a team called partnerships twitch. their job is to find streamers, help them grow to the point where they can become a twitch partner, which would mean they have the opportunity to monetize their channel and get access to special events at twitch, so i think that we try to have a great product and then make sure we are in the community in -- evangelizing it. react toes amazon this? >> we work closely with amazon when we can find something awesome to do with them. the most prominent thing we have done with amazon is twitch prime. twitch prime is a
twitch-oriented part of amazon prime, comes with all the amazon prime benefits, but also twitch benefits. that is awesome for creators and helped to drive a lot of money into their pockets. it is good for our customers because amazon prime is a great product. the twitch add-ons have been really great. outside of gaming so far we are in the learning phase. i am absolutely positive that we will find amazing things to do with amazon, but we are still focused on growing that nascent community. >> the community you have already that has loved you for the gaming side of things, are they worried about the expansion? >> we really did worry when we started to expanding beyond gaming whether our community would embrace that or not, and the awesome thing is that they have. we recently ran a survey to ask people what you think about twitch adding non-gaming content? should we? will it be good for the platform? 70% of our creators either agreed or strongly agreed with
the statement, i think twitch adding more content than gaming will be good for me and good for the whole platform. >> still ahead, we take a look at which tech gadgets are sent to be the holiday winners this season. all episodes of bloomberg technology are now live streaming on twitter. 5:00 us out weekdays at p.m. in new york this is . bloomberg. ♪
-- gadgets are having a hard time gaining traction. gopro and fit bit have cautioned investors by lowering their holiday sales forecast. in september, fit bit rolled out two new devices. soon after, the company issued weak holiday sales guidance and the stock lost a third of its market value as a result. about 30% of people in the u.s., u.k., and australia no longer use the device. this is followed by gopro telling investors that it expects a lousy holiday season. recalling 2500 of its new drones. the ceo defended the product. >> there is a misconception that demand for gopro has been waning. i say misconception because sellthrough at retail has never been better. caroline: once darlings of wall
street, both fit bit and gopro are young hardware companies that have fallen short of their promise. now virtual assistants like amazon excellent and google home are jumping in to compete against smartphone personal assistants this holiday season. estimates 10 million to 12 million amazon echo and google home virtual assistants could sell during the holidays. it paints a rosy picture for the devices than what gopro or fitbit are offering. let's talk tech gadgets a little bit more for the holay season, with me now, first of all, which gadget should i get to solve all of my ills when i am at home? >> there are two options, the google home, then there is the amazon echo and the array of dot devices. it comes down to which you go -- ecosystem you are in. if you are on an iphone ecosystem, you can tap into
both. if you have an android phone, you probably want to get the home device from google because that can take advantage of some of the android functionality and the google ecosystem. >> if i was a bit of a gamer or even an artist, i was at the facebook party playing away with the vr. should i be getting into virtual reality? what can i purchase? >> vr is super early. the oculus rift has to be hooked up to a pc, and if you're not a big fan and just a consumer like you and i, i would not have one. i would not want a big pc. over time, they will shrink and you will be able to wear them and buy them off the shelf, but being a consumer, google has their own. that is smaller than the oculus rift. it is this fabric headset that is less than $100. you can connect it to the new pixel phone. that is where consumers will get a vr-ar experience.
i think over the next two or three years we will see more advanced equipment appear. apple is already working on their own ar, there is a lot to come. >> talking of apple, they are looking more at vr, the inside of cars, one key product you are writing about they have taken their eyes off the ball. >> the mac, we have a big story today. i'm sure you read it. there is a lot of detail in there that the mac is taking a back seat to other products. given that it is only 10% of apple revenue while the iphone and ipad combined for over 75% in this 2016 fiscal year, it makes some sense, but don't forget that mac users are a key group of people, professionals, creatives that rebounded apple
out of bankruptcy, so it is an important market and people should expect a company as rich as apple should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. they should be able to get a new iphone every year and new macs out the door, and people are taking notice. foro don't hold your breath an update to the macbook anytime soon. >> definitely not now. they just have the macbook pros in november, but they are planning upgrades, some new imacs, and faster versions of the macbook pro that just came out. caroline: that was mark berman of bloomberg technology. that does it for this edition of the "best of bloomberg technology". we will bring you the latest in tech throughout the week. tune in each day. tuesday, we will weigh in on
>> coming up on bloomberg best, the stories that shaped the year in business across asia. china's economy showed signs of stability even as growth sometimes seemed to sputter. >> i think we have a hard landing in the stock market already. >> the old economy drivers are back in action. it's the new drivers stalling. >> japan's leaders went back to the stimulus well again and again with mixed results. >> we have to continue our accommodative monetary policy. >> japan has become a test tube for the rest of the world. >> it was an eventful year for many asian companies.