Europe’s next techlash, the Estonia of Africa, America’s fastest dog

Margrethe Vestager

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Here’s what you need to know

Burger King’s India IPO was royally good. Shares more than doubled on the first day of trading.

PornHub took down all unverified videos. After Visa and Mastercard barred use of their cards on the site last week following reports of rampant child pornography, Pornhub removed a majority of its content.

An employee group is among those bidding for Air India. For sale since 2017, the airline also has an offer from the Tata Group.

South Korea outlawed sending propaganda leaflets into North Korea. Activists condemned the ban, which the government hopes will improve relations between the two countries.

Protesting Indian farmers held a hunger strike. As many as 40 farmer leaders participated in the strike as demonstrations against new agriculture laws continued for a 19th day.

France is investigating Carlos Ghosn for possible tax evasion. Authorities have reportedly seized €13 million ($16 million) in assets from the former Nissan and Renault chair and his wife.

Japan’s space probe may have returned asteroid particles. The samples brought back by the Hayabusa2 last week appear to match the color of the Ryugu asteroid it visited.

What to watch for

Margrethe Vestager
Margrethe Vestager
Image: Courtesy of the European Commission

The European Union is gearing up for a new wave of antitrust lawsuits. Today, the bloc will formally propose the Digital Markets Act, which will give regulators new firepower to go after Big Tech companies for anticompetitive practices. Companies that break these rules would face escalating fines and the threat that regulators will break up their businesses.

So far, however, fines have failed to meaningfully change the way the world’s biggest digital platforms operate—and Europe’s anti-monopoly czar Margrethe Vestager has said that breakups are a “nuclear option” of last resort. Real, structural changes will probably come out of US courts, which will soon hear new cases against Facebook and Google.

Charting Walmart’s international reshuffle

Walmart may be the world’s largest retailer, but its international growth is stalled. Between 2015 and 2020, while US sales rose steadily, Walmart’s international sales actually shrank. To fix that, the retailer has its eyes on four markets in particular: Mexico, India, China, and Canada.

Other countries are getting cut. Since October, Walmart has offloaded assets in the UK and Japan, while completely giving up on Argentina. “The opportunity that we have in India is enormous,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon explained during a recent presentation to Morgan Stanley. “Contrast that with the opportunity in Argentina. It makes sense that we would spread our energy over a place that’s got tremendous upside.”

A chart showing Walmart store counts in select international market, with Mexico leading by far.

The Estonia of Africa?

To remain competitive in an increasingly integrated Europe, Estonia is focused on developing technology-driven government services, like e-Residency, which allows entrepreneurs to easily form a company in the country no matter where in the world they reside. With Africa’s economy set to become a lot more connected under the African Continental Free Trade Area, Jeffrey Mason, a researcher at the Charter Cities Institute, looks at which countries on the continent are best positioned to follow Estonia’s lead:

🇷🇼 Rwanda has already developed a world-class online business registration system, which could easily be adapted to administer an e-Resident program.

🇲🇺 Mauritius ranks among the best countries in the world when it comes to ease of starting a business and is a leading international financial hub for Africa.

🇬🇭 Ghana is one of Africa’s economic growth hotspots, and is generally considered well-governed and politically free.

✦ Consider an e-Residency, er, membership at Quartz. Try it free for seven days.

Surprising discoveries

Kevin from The Office (US) is Cameo’s top 2020 earner. Actor Brian Baumgartner raked in more than $1 million on the platform.

Faster and fluffier than Usain Bolt. America’s fastest dog is a four-year-old rescue from Maryland. 

England has discovered 47,000 new artifacts this year. Whoever buried this small trove of 16th-century gold coins probably doesn’t need them now

Scientists found 20 new species in the Andes. Say hello to the Lilliputian frog, Bolivian flag snake, and mountain fer-de-lance viper.

New species are more likely to crop up in less biodiverse areas. These evolutionary hotspots tend to be inhospitable, so new species also die out faster.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, backyard archaeological finds, and new patriotic species to Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our iOS app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Nicolás Rivero, Marc Bain, Jordan Lebeau, Liz Webber, and Susan Howson.