Exclusive: China regulator requests pause in new game applications to clear backlog – sources

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s top content regulator has asked local authorities to stop submitting requests to monetize new video games while it processes a backlog of applications built up after a lengthy pause last year, three people with knowledge of the matter said.

FILE PHOTO: A man plays a computer game at an internet cafe in Beijing,China May 9, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

The General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP) issued the notice this week, the people said, indicating the impact on gaming stocks of the nine-month hiatus could continue and dulling hopes raised by the recent resumption of approvals.

The regulator’s notice has not previously been reported.

Shares of industry leader Tencent Holdings Ltd, which were up 2.2 percent in morning trading, pared back gains to trade about 1 percent higher after the Reuters report was published. Shares of smaller players also slid.

China stopped approving the monetization of new titles last March amid a regulatory body reshuffle triggered by growing criticism of games being violent and addictive, as well as concern over the increase in myopia among young people.

Gaming firms such as Tencent – China’s most valuable listed company – were able to continue filing applications, building up a backlog. They could also distribute new titles but were unable to earn any income from them, such as through in-game purchases.

The regulator resumed processing applications in December, with industry insiders estimating at least 5,000 games await approval. In China, game companies file applications to local authorities which in turn submit them to the regulator.

“The regulator asked local authorities to stop submitting applications because there is too much of a backlog for it to deal with at the moment,” said one of the people, whose company was informed about the matter by its local authority.

Game companies will still be able to file applications but they will no longer be passed on to the Beijing regulator while it deals with applications already in hand, said a second person.

The people declined to be identified as they were not authorized to speak with media on the matter.

GAPP and the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of China, which oversees GAPP, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The approval freeze dragged down shares in Tencent and wiped billions of dollars off its market value. Among titles for which Tencent is awaiting a license to monetize is “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Mobile”, which industry insiders estimate could generate annual revenue of up to $1 billion.

The freeze has also hit many smaller companies that rely on a number of game releases each year.

The regulator approved 1,982 domestic and foreign online games during January-March last year before the freeze, government data showed. It approved 9,651 domestic and foreign online games in all of 2017.

It has approved 538 games since December.

Reporting by Pei Li in BEIJING and Brenda Goh in SHANGHAI; Editing by Christopher Cushing

Qualcomm urges U.S. regulators to reverse course and ban some iPhones

(Reuters) – Qualcomm Inc is urging U.S. trade regulators to reverse a judge’s ruling and ban the import of some Apple Inc iPhones in a long-running patent fight between the two companies.

FILE PHOTO: A Qualcomm sign is seen during the China International Import Expo (CIIE), at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai, China November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

Qualcomm is seeking the ban in hopes of dealing Apple a blow before the two begin a major trial in mid-April in San Diego over Qualcomm’s patent licensing practices. Qualcomm has sought to apply pressure to Apple with smaller legal challenges ahead of that trial and has won partial iPhone sales bans in China and Germany against Apple, forcing the iPhone maker to ship only phones with Qualcomm chips to some markets.

Any possible ban on iPhone imports to the United States could be short-lived because Apple last week for the first time disclosed that it has found a software fix to avoid infringing on one of Qualcomm’s patents. Apple asked regulators to give it as much as six months to prove that the fix works.

Qualcomm brought a case against Apple at the U.S International Trade Commission in 2017 alleging that some iPhones violated Qualcomm patents to help smart phones run well without draining their batteries. Qualcomm asked for an import ban on some older iPhone models containing Intel Corp chips.

In September, Thomas Pender, an administrative law judge at the ITC, found that Apple violated one of the patents in the case but declined to issue a ban. Pender reasoned that imposing a ban on Intel-chipped iPhones would hand Qualcomm an effective monopoly on the U.S. market for modem chips, which connect smart phones to wireless data networks.

Pender’s ruling said that preserving competition in the modem chip market was in the public interest as speedier 5G networks come online in the next few years.

Cases where the ITC finds patent violations but does not ban the import of products are rare. In December, the full ITC said it would review Pender’s decision and decide whether to uphold or reverse it by late March.

In filings that became public late last week ahead of the full commission’s decision, Apple for the first time said that it had developed a software fix to avoid running afoul of Qualcomm’s patent. Apple said it did not discover the fix until after the trial and that it implemented the new software “last fall.”

But Apple said that it would need six months to verify that the fix will satisfy regulators and to sell its existing inventory. Apple asked the full commission to delay any possible import ban by that long if the commission reverses the judge’s decisions.

In a filing late on Friday, Qualcomm argued that Apple’s disclosure of a fix undermined the reasoning in Pender’s decision and that the Intel-chipped phones should be banned while Apple deploys its fix.

“Pender recommended against a remedy on the assumption that the (Qualcomm) patent would preclude Apple from using Intel as a supplier for many years and that no redesign was feasible,” Qualcomm wrote. “Apple now admits—more than seven months after the hearing—that the alleged harm is entirely avoidable.”

Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

American Airlines Just Suffered a Huge Embarrassment. But Is It Really the Airline's Fault?

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Frequent business flyers can be an insipid, self-regarding bunch.

They watch the masses troop to the back of the plane, sip on their champagne and smugly pat themselves on the back for their evident superiority.

Airlines pander to them, of course. They want their money on a repeat basis. 

Sometimes, though, you have to wonder what goes through fine minds of so-called Elites.

Last weekend saw the release of a video — posted to Twitter by travel blogger Jamie Larounis — that starrred four female American Airlines Flight Attendants.

They were in slightly more alluring Flight Attendant attire than that normally seen on board.

And they were performing a skit in which they fawned all over a First Class passenger. 

You know, um, sexily.

The organizers of this, oh, entertainment, reportedly were some Executive Platinum and Concierge Key customers. Yes, American’s most important passengers.

It was held at a private venue and was supposed to raise money for charity.

Some might be less than charitable on seeing that the performance featured a large American Airlines logo in the background.

It’s not clear who took this liberty, but American did offer a few items for auction at this event.

I feel fairly sure its brand image wasn’t one of them.

Perhaps this was all good clean, humorous insider fun for these privileged types.

The part, however, that may have caused a little more consternation was when the four female Flight Attendants began to dance — with alleged sexy intent — around a First Class passenger.

To heighten the steamy effect, they sang Big Spender.

Yes, of course a Flight Attendant ends up sitting on the customer’s lap. You needed to ask?

The song was first performed in 1966.

And goodness me, this skit wouldn’t have looked out of place then.

These days, however, it might reek to many of bilge-brained sexism.

The fawning Flight Attendants are, reports say, real Dallas-based American Airlines Flight Attendants.

Which led the The Association of Professional Flight Attendants — representing American’s Flight Attendants — to demand an investigation.

There was the suspicion, you see, that the airline had some involvement in all this.

The Transport Workers Union — which also represents many American Airlines employees — saw the invisible hand of American’s management in the show. It claims this is all part of the airline’s strategy: 

Destroy blue collar America and expose air travelers to potential disaster by fixing AA planes on foreign soil, while simultaneously sexualizing and degrading their own flight attendants.

Naturally, I contacted American to ask for its view. It offered me the contents of a memo it sent on Sunday to all its staff. It read, in part: 

This was not an American Airlines event. We did not have any say about the content of the event, nor did we preview any of the agenda. Additionally, we were particularly upset to see our logo on the screen as the skit was performed.

Well, indeed. American also said: “We are as upset as many of you are with the video.”

It didn’t, at least in this memo, specifically rail against its manifest sexism. (Its utter lack of actual humor might have deserved a mention, too.)

Larounis, at American’s request, removed the video. Sadly, thanks to the internet’s cloying immediacy, it soon proliferated far and wide.

Many will hiss and tut at those who performed in this abject display.

Somehow, though, I can’t help but consider those who laughed and applauded. 

Flying regularly in First Class may have its privileges. 

I wasn’t aware that permission to be a sad, myopic, dunderheaded Neaderthal was one of them. 

Influencer Marketing Has Become a Massive Waste

Hulu decided to do something clever. It hired celebrity influencers–NBA stars Damian Lillard, Joel Embiid, and Giannis Antetokounmpo–and put them into a series of commercials it called “Hulu Sellouts.” The whole point was to promote the streaming service while making it absolutely clear that the participation of the athletes was all about the money.

Influencers have become all the rage in marketing. However, if you’re interested in effective marketing, you still should wonder yourself why. Often influencer campaigns fall flat. Many of them rent their audiences, as branded content strategist Lena Katz showed when she turned an uncooked potato into a figure with a following in two weeks. Payless Shoes actually was clever and trolled a whole bunch of fashion influencers. Shortly before announcing that it was going out of business. Well, at least it was a last hurrah.

Hulu is making fun of the whole influencer approach and trying to let the audience feel like insiders who get joke. It’s quite similar to the RXBar ad last summer, when it hired Ice-T for one of its commercials. The actor and rapper says, “It’s one of those commercials with a rapper–you can’t even remember his name–comes out and says something dumb about an RXBar.”

There are two reasons for the direction that Hulu and RXBar took. On is the need to be clear on advertising regulations. The Federal Trade Commission says that if someone takes money to promote a product, they must explicitly say so in some manner. As Hulu vice president for content marketing Ryan Crosby told the Wall Street Journal, “Everyone is looking at what’s happening in social promotions. You’re not fooling anyone when you do these ads.”

The other aspect is advertising as postmodernist statement, rather than postmodernist literature looking at an ad. It’s an eyewink, letting consumers know that you know that they know what’s really going on. If they give it that much thought.

There really isn’t anything new about using “influencers” or making inside statements about their use. The pairing of recognizable names and brand promotion goes back a long way. Technically, you could say that pottery and china designer and manufacturer Josiah Wedgwood used royal warrants as endorsements, promoting his products as used by English royalty. In the late nineteenth century, companies employed trade cars featuring the brand and an image of a sports or entertainment figure. Tobacco companies made heavy use of name endorsers in the early twentieth century.

There’s also nothing new about using endorsements with tongue planted in cheek. This was a common device used in the 1930s and 1940s on radio. Promotional messages were inserted into the middle of a comedy show, receiving the same insider view treatment that some marketers use today.

With the drive to using influencers and then finding new and clever ways to distinguish their brands from others, marketers have forgotten a lesson that’s been underscored time and again. Whether you call them celebrities or influencers, it’s not clear that celebrity or influencer ads necessarily .

The celebrity and brand connection can work, like when Meghan Markle wears a piece of clothing and then there’s a run on the item. But that seems more an organic event.

In ads, often it’s the celebrity or influencer, not the product, that’s remembered. Ad industry giant David Ogilvy wrote about this years ago:

Viewers have a way of remembering the celebrity while forgetting the product. I did not know this when I paid Eleanor Roosevelt $35,000 to make a commercial for margarine. She reported that her mail was equally divided. “One-half was sad because I had damaged my reputation. The other half was happy because I had damaged my reputation. Not one of my proudest memories.

Although there aren’t a lot of public studies that have compared use of celebrities to sales, there have been some that looked at various measures of ad effectiveness on television. Celebrity ads tended to perform at most equal to the average ad, and often worse.

Even if some influencer campaigns have worked, it seems like next to none compared to the vast number of supposed influencers taking money to promote things.And what happens when one of them ends up with bad personal publicity that is now tied to your brand?

Although not all influencer marketing is all worthless, success depends on the particular person, the actual connection they have with an audience, and the appropriateness of the context to the brand. Amazon has its own group of influencers that reportedly work via affiliation links for percentages of sales, which means at least Amazon can track the effectiveness.

But if your marketing team or client show a keen interest in using an influencer as an automatic win, maybe it’s time to go back to a brainstorming session and see what other ideas everyone can come up with instead.

Germany to extend electric company car tax incentives: paper

FILE PHOTO: German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz attends a media briefing during his visit to Beijing, China, January 17, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

BERLIN (Reuters) – German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz plans to extend tax incentives for electric company cars, he told a newspaper on Saturday, the government’s latest attempt to boost demand for clean vehicles.

Germany is trying to increase electric car sales in the wake of a diesel emissions cheating scandal that has engulfed its auto industry in the last three years.

“Half of all cars sold in Germany are company cars,” Scholz told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

“So I have decided that we will not end tax support for electric cars and plug-in hybrid company cars in 2021 but extend them maybe over the whole decade,” he said, adding that would help improve air quality and meet climate goals.

He added, however, that the rules for plug-in hybrids would be tightened, so that only cars that can travel on electric power further than they do today would be eligible.

Since January, drivers of electric company cars which they also use for private journeys pay less tax than they would for a vehicle with a combustion engine.

Government subsidy schemes have helped boost sales but even with rising demand, electric cars made up only 1 percent of new car registrations last year, according to the KBA motor vehicle authority.

The government has acknowledged it will miss its target of having 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2020 by two years.

Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Gareth Jones

It Might Be Time to Stop Assuming Hotels Are the Best Option for Business Travel

I travel about 75,000 miles a year for business, yet I can’t remember the last time I stayed in a hotel. That may surprise many business travelers, but to me, it’s a relief. I suffered through years of expensive boutiquesor cookie cutter chains, uncomfortable mattresses and terrible breakfasts. Finally I gave up on hotels altogether, and I’ve never looked back.

For several years now, Airbnb has been the secret weaponto my business travel success. There’s an amazing variety of locations, types of lodging, and hosts. I’ve found wonderful places and fascinating people I never would have if I’d stayed in hotels.

1. Feels More Like Home

One of the biggest complaints about business travel is that you don’t have your stuff. It may sound silly, but the stuff and the people are what turns a house into a home. And if you can’t have the people while you’re traveling, at least you can have things more like your own stuff at home. Hotels can be so sterile – or worse yet, unsterile!

2. Cheaper than Hotels

I’ve saved a ton of moneyusing Airbnb instead of hotels. This is especially true for me because I’m willing to stay in a privatebedroom in a shared unit. Even if I weren’t into sharing, Airbnb-ing a fully private unit is often a huge savings over even a modest hotel. Don’t forget to consider a whole house rental for group business travel. It may be closer quarters with your colleagues than you’re used to, but think of it as bonding time. Everyone could still get their own bedroom, and you can save using group transportation and food options.

3. Healthier Eating

In the last 2 years, I’ve lost – and successfully kept off– 54 pounds. One of the benefits of Airbnb is that many units provide a fully functional kitchen, often including staples like salt, pepper, and olive oil. All I had to do was take a quick trip to the grocery store. Then instead of eating bad take out or overindulging at a restaurant, I could cook exactly what I wanted at exactly the calorie count I could afford. No more temptation for midnight room service. It saves calories and money – and you can multiply the savings by making your own lunch, too.

4. Often More Convenient

Business travel can be unpredictable, and often doesn’t leave flexibility for changingdates. So what can you do if you have to go visit a client at the same time as the World Taxidermy & Fish Carving Championships, and every hotel room in Springfield, Illinois, is booked? Airbnb to the rescue. Just like hotels, Airbnb prices go up with demand, but I’ve never had a problemfinding an Airbnb that worked. Sometimes the Airbnb is considerably more convenient to where I need to spend time. I also often save money on parking by avoiding expensive hotel garages.

5. Opens Opportunities – and Eyes

One of the most fun and powerful reasons to use Airbnb is the amazing experience it can provide. While others are isolated in boring hotelsfilled with other businesspeople, you’ll be living among the local people. The hosts can share a great deal about the local way of life, which may be helpful in dealing with your client. The fellow guests, if you have them, often have wonderful stories to tell. For this and all the above reasons, Airbnb makes travel easier and more accessible, which means you can experience even more of this world!

7 Reasons To Start Your Own Company in Your 20s

The traditional narrative for entrepreneurs is a step-by-step process that generally looks something like this:

  1. Get a degree
  2. Get a job
  3. Build a network
  4. Save some “seed capital”
  5. Start your business

The assumption is that you’ll be ready to launch your startup in your 30s or 40s. Or maybe your 50s because, well…, kids.

Now, I don’t want to burst any happy bubbles for those of you who are already treading the traditional pathway, but that traditional narrative no longer makes much sense because over the past two decades, big corporations, big academia, and big corporatist government have rigged the business world so that the longer you wait to start your own company, the less likely you are to be successful. 

Because of this, young entrepreneurs (Millennials and Gen-Zers) should launch their startups immediately rather than waiting until they’ve got a degree and some experience. Here’s why:

1. College has become increasingly irrelevant.

If you already know you’re going to be an entrepreneurs, college is a waste of time. Business colleges are so out of touch that very few teach sales skills–the most important business skill for any entrepreneur. B-schools are also notorious repositories of wannabee entrepreneurs spouting clouds of fluffy biz-blab. Furthermore, colleges are always a decade behind the real world in technical skills and technology. Example: almost all computer animation college programs lack even a single class on real-time animation, the most important new technology in that industry.

2. College has become absurdly expensive.

How many thousands of times have you read about recent college graduates who can’t get a decent job in their field but are nonetheless saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in student debt? By contrast, how many times have you heard successful entrepreneurs say: “wow, I’m sure glad I graduated from college…”? Like never, right? Look, if you’re going to spend yourself $50,000 into debt, do you want to end up with a useless, but largely symbolic degree? Or do you want to own a business that cost $50,000 to start?

3. College doesn’t impress recruiters anyway.

Let’s suppose you want to start your own business but you’re banking on your college degree as a backup plan… as in “I’ll give this startup my best shot but if I fail I can get use my degree to get a job.” Well, IMHO, if you’re thinking that way, you’re setting yourself up to fail as an entrepreneur, but whatever. Let’s suppose it’s a reasonable plan. Hate to tell you, but recruiters are far more impressed by an effort to start your own company than whatever cookie-cutter degree you managed to eke out of the college system. Even fancy Ivy League degrees don’t have much cachet any longer.

4. Employers hire contractors not employees.

According to a recent study conducted by Allison & Taylor Reference Checking, “the current growth of freelancing is estimated to be three times faster than that of the traditional workforce, with approximately 47% of working millennials now working in some freelance capacity.  At the current growth rate, the majority of the U.S. workforce will freelance by 2027.” Freelance positions lack benefits and pay less, thus making it more difficult to put aside the money you’ll need to start your business. Can you spell “dead end street,” boys and girls?

5. Employers legally limit your options.

You may think you’re gaining valuable experience and contacts that you can use to launch your own business, but chances are that your employee agreement or “work for hire” agreement vastly limits your ability to use whatever you’ve learned. You might launch your business and find yourself at the short end of a lawsuit, from a company that can afford an entire staff of lawyers to make sure you’re properly crushed.

6. Resumes don’t impress investors.

Investors don’t give a rodent’s posterior about your college experience. They also don’t value your work experience much more than that, unless what you were doing was directly relevant to building and running the company you’re envisioning. Investors want people who’ve successfully started their own businesses or, at the very least, somebody who’s gained the valuable experience of starting a business that didn’t pan out.

7. Exuberance is a limited resource.

You may think all those long hours and hard work working for somebody else is preparing you for the long hours and hard work you’ll need to make your startup successful. But you’d think wrong. Their plan is to burn through your youthful energy and enthusiasm until you’re an empty husk. Even if you keep your spirits up and your body in tip-top shape while they try to suck you dry, as you get older, you will INEVITABLY find it more difficult to summon extra oomph. Far better to expend your youthful exuberance making your own business a success, rather than lining someone else’s pockets, right?.

Tesla rolls out 'sentry mode' safety feature

FILE PHOTO: A Tesla logo is seen at a groundbreaking ceremony of Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory in Shanghai, China January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

(Reuters) – Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc on Wednesday launched a safety feature called “sentry mode” for its electric cars, as it attempts to make its vehicles more attractive to buyers.

The feature will be compatible with U.S. Model 3 vehicles, followed by Model S and Model X vehicles that were manufactured after August 2017, the electric carmaker said.

When enabled, the “sentry mode” monitors the environment around an unattended car and uses the vehicle’s external cameras to detect potential threats, according to Tesla’s blog here

A minimal threat will be detected if anyone leans on the car, triggering a message on the touchscreen and warning that its cameras are recording.

For a more severe threat, like someone breaking a window, the mode activates the car alarm, increases the brightness of the center display, plays loud music and alerts owners on their Tesla mobile app.

The United States had 773,139 motor vehicles stolen in 2017 – the highest since 2009, according to data from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. here

Last week, Tesla lowered the price of its Model 3 sedan for the second time this year to make its cars more affordable for U.S. buyers. The Palo Alto, California-based company has been cutting costs as it looks to turn in profit this year.

Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

Cities Spurned By Amazon for HQ2 Renew Courtship After Winning New York Has Second Thoughts

As Amazon faces political obstacles in building a huge office in New York City, cities that were once candidates for the campus are courting the tech giant once again.

Cities including Miami, Chicago, and Newark, NJ have all recently talked to Amazon, brushing off their earlier rejections in hopes of landing thousands of jobs. Then Denver and Dallas said they never stopped speaking with Amazon.

Since announcing plans to build a new “second headquarters” in New York City three months ago, Amazon has encountered intense blowback. New York politicians are balking at a plan to hand over huge financial incentives to one of the biggest companies in the world while local residents complain about the impact of thousands of new workers on an already expensive and crowded neighborhood.

The opposition has Amazon second-guessing its move into the city, according to media reports, opening the door to former candidates to dust off their old proposals.

Last year, Amazon last year received 238 bids for the new headquarters, which originally was planned for one city. Candidate cities made big offers—like Maryland’s $8.5 billion incentive package—in hopes of landing the giant.

After going through the proposals, Amazon released a list of 20 finalists, which included Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, and Columbus, OH—though very few of these cities publicly disclosed the incentives attached to their bids.

Ultimately, Amazon decided to change course and name two winning cities, but with only 25,000 job each. In addition to New York City, the company chose Crystal City, VA.

And while many losing cities were disappointed about being passed over, a few now are taking advantage of the tension in New York for a second chance with Amazon.

Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker, who previously helped pitch Chicago, immediately jumped on the phone with Amazon.

“Governor Pritzker reached out to Amazon to make a full-throated pitch to attract these good-paying jobs to Illinois and assure them that they would have a strong partner in the governor’s office,” Jordan Abudayyeh, spokeswoman for the governor’s office, told Fortune in a statement.

Meanwhile, Newark, NJ contacted Amazon to let the company know the city and state still have incentive packages, approved before the city was rejected, waiting for Amazon. Officials hope the news will show Amazon that it can move in without any risk of second guessing.

Miami-Dade’s mayor Carlos Giménez told the Miami Herald that he’s ready to restart talks about bringing the Amazon to Miami or other South Florida sites that were included in an earlier joint bid. The mayor of Magic City, Fla., said he planned to reach out to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to pitch him directly, according to the Herald.

A representative of the Dallas Regional Chamber said during a panel that that organization “never hung up the phone with Amazon,” according to media reports. The chamber declined to comment on whether Dallas planned to approach the company directly.

But Dallas mayoral candidate Jason Villalba was vocal about the matter on Twitter, saying, “Dallas can win this bid!” Undoubtedly, he also was using the issue as a way to highlight his experience in economic development to voters.

Similarly, The Dallas Morning News took the opportunity to write an op-ed titled, “Dear Amazon, New York doesn’t want you; Dallas does.” Mind you, the Morning News’ former headquarters is one of the potential sites for Amazon’s headquarters that Dallas listed in its proposal—a financial consideration that the News failed to mention.

Google extends chip-making efforts to design hub Bengaluru

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google has hired more than a dozen microchip engineers in Bengaluru, India, in recent months and plans to rapidly add more, according to LinkedIn profiles, job postings and two industry executives, as the search firm expands its program to design the guts of its devices internally.

A woman walks past the logo of Google during an event in New Delhi, India, August 28, 2018. Picture taken August 28, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

The Bengaluru site, which has not been previously reported, makes Google the first among the handful of big internet platform companies developing their own chips to establish a team for those efforts in what has become a leading hub for semiconductor design over the last two decades.

Google declined to comment on the hires.

Jim McGregor, who follows the semiconductor industry for Tirias Research, said since most traditional chipmakers long have had large presences in Bengaluru, it made sense for the industry’s new players to start following to find experts.

“Everyone tries to keep things close to home when starting out, but when you reach a certain level of success you have to expand out,” McGregor said.

Since 2014, Google has designed computer server chips for its data centers and an image processing chip for its Pixel smartphones. Its aim is to create more powerful and efficient devices by customizing key components that traditionally came from firms such as Intel Corp.

Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft Corp, Apple Inc and Facebook Inc each have launched similar chip design efforts, which could help them cut costs, reduce reliance on vendors and keep pace in building attractive products.

In Bengaluru, Google has hired at least 16 engineering veterans and four talent recruiters for its “gChips” team from traditional chipmakers such as Intel, Qualcomm Inc, Broadcom Inc and Nvidia Corp, according to a review of LinkedIn profiles.

Rajat Bhargava describes himself on LinkedIn as Google’s “silicon site lead” in Bengaluru, saying he joined last May after a decade at Broadcom and a year at Intel.

His staff is likely working with Google’s existing chips team in Silicon Valley to fine-tune and test design ideas before shipping final ones off to manufacturers, said two industry executives familiar with Google’s plans. One executive said the team could grow to 80 people by year’s end.

Google had 13 job postings for roles related to chips in Bengaluru, according to a recent check of the company’s careers website.

Google sells smart speakers, routers and home security devices that all could benefit from chips that analyze voice commands and videos better and faster.

Microsoft and Facebook so far have concentrated chip-related hiring in the United States, according to current job postings. Amazon has an overseas presence in Tel Aviv.

Reporting by Paresh Dave; Additional reporting by Sonam Rai in Bengaluru; Editing by Greg Mitchell and Leslie Adler