Tech Roundup, Feb. 7, 2020 | NASA looks to Brazil for its weather data

. Feb 07, 2020
NASA weather Photo: Andrey VP/Shutterstock

You’re reading The Brazilian Report‘s weekly tech roundup, a digest of the most important news on technology and innovation in Brazil. This week’s topics: NASA to use a Brazilian-led weather model. Facebook moves to stimulate STEM professionals in Brazil. The success of Locaweb’s IPO.

NASA adopts Brazilian weather forecast model

The U.S. space agency NASA has replaced its weather forecast system NASA Geos with one created by a team led by Brazilian physicist Saulo Freitas, of the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe). It took three years for the system to be developed—and it earned Mr. Freitas NASA’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal.

What interested NASA. Mr. Freitas’ system analyzes cloud formation, water drops, and rain itself, being 10 to 30 percent more accurate than its counterparts, especially for short-term forecasts.

Why it matters. It will be useful for agriculture, helping to plan the planting and harvesting of crops, as well as preventing environmental disasters in urban centers. 

No interest. There is reportedly no date for the system to be adopted in Brazil. Under the Jair Bolsonaro administration, Inpe has been kicked into touch, with the president challenging the reliability of the data generated by the institute, after it reported a steep increase in deforestation rates last year.

Facebook to increase tech-training goals in Brazil 

Tech giant Facebook intends to educate 50,000 Brazilian youngsters in programming courses in 2020, nearly doubling the number of people that have attended their courses at São Paulo education hub Estação Hack over the past two years. 

To achieve this goal, they will focus on online courses and training for teachers, according to Eduardo Lopes, Estação Hack’s director, speaking to newspaper Estadão.

Expanding possibilities. The social media company currently accelerates 10 startups in Estação Hack each term, and hopes to increase this to 15. They also aim to bring more companies from outside São Paulo to their hub, where they are offered mentorship in association with startup accelerator Artemisia. Since 2018, 40 companies have been included in the project. 

Why it matters? Brazil has a large deficit of Science, Tech, Engineering, and Mathematics professionals, with 2 million graduates in STEM careers. In India, there are 22.7 million. Training initiatives in tech-related courses may help to narrow this gap and increase social inclusion. 

Diversity. According to Facebook, roughly 80 percent of the students that took part in Estação Hack training came from public schools and 35 percent are women. 

Locaweb goes public, bringing new blood to Brazilian markets 

Stocks of Locaweb, Brazil’s first website hosting company, registered an impressive 20-percent gain on its debut at the São Paulo stock exchange. The astonishing performance came after a highly-demanded initial public offering priced at the maximum level of BRL 17.25—which pushed the company’s valuation to BRL 2.15 billion. 

Returns. Locaweb raised BRL 1.04 billion from the IPO, but this total may reach BRL 1.4 billion with additional offers.

Why it matters? Tech companies have been notoriously absent from Brazil’s markets—mainly represented by Banco Inter (fintech), Linx (payments), Totvs (software), Positivo (hardware maker). Big-time players such as XP, Inc. or Stone Pagamentos have chosen Nasdaq, considering the higher valuations at reach from the American market. 

Locaweb’s debut is the first step to increase options for Brazilian investors in the website hosting segment.  

What’s next? Besides hosting websites, Locaweb has branched into e-commerce and cloud computing solutions and now has 350,500 clients. The BRL 1.04 billion raised in the IPO will give Locaweb the opportunity to continue growing through acquisitions, as said by its cofounder Gilberto Mautner. Locaweb reportedly has already reached 36 potential targets for negotiations.

Take note

5G. The National Telecoms Agency (Anatel) approved the invitation for bids for the auction of 5G frequencies in Brazil. The document will now be submitted to a 45-day period for public consultation—and a final vote by the agency—before being published. Government officials say the 5G spectrum auction could happen later in 2020, but it is more likely to be delayed until 2021. As we reported in our February 7 Daily Briefing, the longer Brazil waits, the worse the impacts are on the economy, such as productivity losses and impacts on tax revenue.

Super Bowl. On the back of the NFL’s increasing popularity in Brazil, Disney-owned sports channel ESPN—which holds the league’s broadcasting rights in Brazil—saw a 26-percent bump in its Super Bowl audience this year. Now, the company is aiming for “new, innovative assets,” instead of media formats to consolidate its brand strategy in Brazil, according to Disney’s local head of ad sales and partnerships, Giselle Ghinsberg. Her comments come months ahead of the expected debut of Disney+ in Brazil, and right after Anatel approved the merger of Warner Media and AT&T, owner of Sky TV in Brazil.

Innovation. Non-profit organization Dimensions Sciences announced a new USD 50,000 grant sponsored by JP Morgan Charitable Giving Fund to offer scholarships for international research exchanges between the U.S. and Brazil. The pilot program in Brazil will focus on doctoral and master’s graduate programs in all scientific disciplines and will be offered to “highly qualified students enrolled in high ranking schools with an international exchange program.”

Tragedy. Video-sharing app TikTok put the company’s image first before warning authorities about the suicide of a young Brazilian influencer, broadcasted on the platform nearly a year ago. A former employee told The Intercept Brasil it took ByteDance (TikTok’s parent company) more than one hour to remove the video, despite the 497 comments and 15 reports about its content. The company’s public relations team was immediately warned, but it took four hours until the Paraná state police were informed—by that time, the body had already been found by his family.[/restricted]

Natália Scalzaretto

Natália Scalzaretto has worked for companies such as Santander Brasil and Reuters, where she covered news ranging from commodities to technology. Most recently, she worked as an Editor for Trading News, the information division from the TradersClub investor community.

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