Top international headlines: Social, cloud and big tech in the spotlight this week

Big tech under fire in China, while Trump aims his ire at social tech, and more.

Staff shortages in Britain reach levels not seen since the late 1990s. Meanwhile, US and Chinese tech companies hog the spotlight this week, with Beijing cracking down on the sector and former US president Donald Trump taking legal action after being barred from social media. Meanwhile, the Pentagon goes back to the drawing board for its cloud-computing contract requirements and electronics maker Samsung is set for a massive increase in profit.

Tech giants in sell-off spin
China’s technology giants have wiped out a combined $831 billion (R1.1986 billion) since their February peaks, and Beijing’s expanding crackdown on the sector is fuelling investor concern that the sell-off is far from over.

Authorities this week issued a sweeping warning to the nation’s biggest companies, vowing to tighten oversight of data security and overseas listings just days after Didi Global’s contentious decision to go public in the US, reports Bloomberg. That has put further selling pressure on China’s biggest technology names including Tencent and Alibaba, among others.

Britain faces worst staff shortages since 1997
Britain’s employers are struggling with the worst staff shortages since the late 1990s, amid the rush to reopen from lockdown and a sharp drop in overseas workers due to Covid-19 and Brexit, reports the Guardian.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation and the accountancy firm KPMG said the number of available workers had plunged in June at the fastest rate since 1997.

Recruitment firms are reporting hiring challenges across several sectors of the economy, notably in transport and logistics, hospitality, manufacturing and construction.

Pentagon retraces its steps on cloud-computing contract
The Pentagon scrapped a $10 billion (R144 billion) cloud-computing contract awarded in 2019 to Microsoft Corp. after several years of wrangling between the government and some of the biggest US tech companies over the deal.

Instead, the Pentagon announced plans for a “multi-vendor” Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure project and said it “intends to seek proposals from a limited number of sources, namely Microsoft and Amazon Web Services” – the only two companies it deems capable of meeting its requirements. It said other vendors will be considered if they can show they meet the contract terms, reports Bloomberg.

Trump takes on social media giants
Former US president Donald Trump has filed a class action lawsuit against tech giants Google, Twitter and Facebook, which also targets the CEOs of the three companies, claiming that he is the victim of censorship, according to BBC News.

Trump was suspended from his social accounts in January over public safety concerns in the wake of the Capitol riots, led by his supporters.

Samsung expects massive profit rise
Tech giant Samsung Electronics has said it expects its quarterly profit to rise by 53 percent amid a global chip shortage, reports BBC News.

The world's biggest memory-chip and smartphone maker forecast operating profit of $11 billion (R158 billion) for the three months to the end of June, with strong demand for memory chips offsetting weaker sales of devices due to the shortage of components.

At the start of the pandemic, the South Korean company saw a slump in sales of phones and TVs. However, the demand for electronics has surged as the pandemic continues and work and play moved online. As a result, chip makers have struggled to keep up with demand.