Alibaba

China's Alibaba on Wednesday launched the Tmall Genie, its take on a smart speaker along the lines of Amazon's Echo. The speaker is launching in beta form for roughly $75 (499 Chinese Yuan).

Alibaba joins Google and Apple in entering the category, though Apple's HomePod isn't due out until the end of this year. Samsung is also said to be working on its own device, though it has struggled to get its Bixby voice assistant working well enough for English-speaking users.

Why it matters: A lot of tech giants are betting that voice assistants and the devices they can control are one of the next frontiers of computing.

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WHO head: There will be no return to the "old normal" in near future

World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned Monday that "there will be no return to the 'old normal' for the foreseeable future," but that there is a "roadmap" for struggling countries to get the virus under control.

Why it matters: A record 230,000 new cases of COVID-19 were reported to the WHO on Sunday, as total infections approach 13 million worldwide.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 12,970,605 — Total deaths: 570,220 — Total recoveries — 7,154,492Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 3,327,388— Total deaths: 135,295 — Total recoveries: 1,006,326 — Total tested: 40,282,176Map.
  3. Public health: WHO head: There will be no return to the "old normal" for the foreseeable future.
  4. Politics: Mick Mulvaney: "We still have a testing problem in this country."
  5. World: Hong Kong Disneyland closing due to surge.
2 hours ago - Health

SPACs are the new IPOs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Churchill Capital Corp. III has agreed to acquire health-cost management services provider MultiPlan at an initial enterprise value of $11 billion, as such deals continue to proliferate as alternatives to IPOs.

Why it matters: This is the largest special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) merger, and it also includes the largest private investment in public equity (PIPE) associated with a SPAC. Existing MultiPlan owners like Hellman & Friedman and General Atlantic will roll over more than 75% of their collective stake and own over 60% of the public company.