Jul 18, 2017

Microsoft and Baidu partner on self-driving car tech

Alexander F. Yuan / AP

Chinese search giant Baidu announced Tuesday that it will be partnering with Microsoft's Azure cloud computing services division to offer software and infrastructure for autonomous vehicles to firms outside China. The partnership is one of more than 50 that Baidu, known as the Google of China, has launched to create an open-source software platform that car makers can use to create autonomous vehicles of their own.

Why is Baidu giving its software away for free? Baidu President Ya-Qin Zhang tells Axios that it's attempting to be "the Android of the autonomous car industry," alluding to Google's smartphone platform, which it gives away for free as a means for selling more advertising. Zhang says that by making much Baidu's software available for free, it hopes to become the default autonomous driving platform that will open opportunities for profit down the road.

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Private equity returns fell behind stocks over the past decade

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. private equity returns fell just below S&P 500 returns for the 10-year period ending last June, according to a report released Monday morning by Bain & Company.

Why it matters: Private equity markets itself as beating public markets over long-term time horizons, and usually providing an illiquidity premium to boot. These new performance figures not only dent such claims, but provide fresh ammunition to critics of public pension investment in private equity funds.

Why Apple may move to open iOS

Photo illustration: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Apple may finally allow iPhone owners to set email or browsing apps other than Apple's own as their preferred defaults, according to a Bloomberg report from last week.

The big picture: Customers have long clamored for the ability to choose their preferred apps, and now Apple, like other big tech companies, finds itself under increased scrutiny over anything perceived as anticompetitive.