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McDonald's Just Did Something So Stunningly Strange That It'll Make You Wonder What's Coming Next

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

If there’s one thing McDonald’s wants you to think right now, it’s that it isn’t, you know, McDonald’s.

Not the old McDonald’s, that is.

Not the old, slightly worn, very predictable McDonald’s where the ice-cream machines rarely seemed to work.

The burger chain is trying all sorts of peculiar things to change its image.

It’s using, gasp, fresh beef. Or even no beef at all in its McVegan Burger.

But its latest foray into the unknown has a rather charming air about it.

McDonald’s, you see, is venturing into the area of, well, pretentiousness. 

You might think it unlikely or even a touch potty when I tell you that this is an ad campaign promoting the Big Mac x Bacon Limited Edition Collaboration in Canada.

But take a look and see if you find it refreshingly winning.

Here’s the Big Mac holding up a mirror to society, which, some might say, it’s been doing for a long time. 

And here it is celebrating its sheer greatness.

And then there’s the sense of exalted meaning that courses through every bite of a pickle-filled Big Mac. 

What about the sense of existential harmony that pervades your Big Mac-eating experience?

Perhaps these ads feel faintly silly.

For me, however, they show a certain courage and a willingness to shake previous negativity and rise to something slightly better. Or, at least, different.

There’s actually nothing special about this alleged collaboration at all. Anyone can ask for bacon to be added to their Big Mac.

But the attempts at wit offer a little confidence.

What’s most important for McDonald’s now — if it wants customers to reassess what they feel about a brand that’s being constantly challenged by fresher, younger competitors — is to revamp its products to create a true sense of surprise.

The problem, of course, is that McDonald’s is a huge company. 

Making the winds of change blow across the whole McDonald’s world will take a lot of doing. 

And a serious injection of, um, greatness. 

Amazon Studios Taps NBC Entertainment’s Jennifer Salke to Succeed Roy Price

Amazon has named a new head for its television and film production unit nearly four months after the departure of former studio head Roy Price amid sexual harassment allegations.

To fill that role, Amazon has tapped NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke, who will now report to Jeff Blackburn, Amazon’s senior vice president of business development and digital entertainment. Salke, who joined Comcast-owned NBC in 2011, helped the network revamp its TV lineup in recent years with popular series such as the critically-acclaimed drama This Is Us and the singing competition The Voice. In a statement on Friday, Amazon’s Blackburn said that Salke has “built an impeccable reputation as a big leader who emphasizes creativity, collaboration, and teamwork.”

Amazon did not say exactly when Salke would start her new position, but she will be taking over for Amazon Studios COO Albert Cheng, who has served as interim head of the studio since Price was forced out in October over accusations that he sexually harassed producer Isa Hackett. Price had overseen Amazon’s entry into the streaming entertainment market, helping to build it’s Hollywood arm into a competitor of traditional film studios as well as rival streamers like Netflix, with Amazon Studios spending roughly $4.5 billion annually on original programming. Price oversaw Amazon’s acquisition of award-winning TV series such as Transparent as well as independent films like Manchester by the Sea, which won the studio its first-ever Academy Awards last year.

Price resigned in October, the same month that several allegations against Harvey Weinstein led to the Hollywood mogul’s ouster from The Weinstein Company. Those allegations against Weinstein kicked off a wave of backlash against sexual misconduct by powerful men in Hollywood and helped lead to the “Me Too” movement and the Time’s Up campaign against harassment in the entertainment industry.

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Immediately after Price’s departure, Amazon had already been rumored to be dead-set on hiring a female replacement, with potential candidates reportedly including Salke as well as Paramount TV president Amy Powell, Fox TV Group chairman Dana Walden, and A+E Networks CEO Nancy Dubuc, among others.

In her own statement, Salke said that she is “incredibly excited” about heading up Amazon Studios. “In the studio’s relatively short existence they have innovated, disrupted, and created characters that are already an indelible part of pop-culture,” she said. “I am both honored and emboldened by the opportunity to lead this extraordinary business.”

In addition to Price’s departure last fall, a handful of other TV and film executives have left Amazon in recent months, including former original TV series head Joe Lewis. The studio had faced criticism over the past year for failing to deliver a breakout hit TV series, with Price and his fellow executives even reportedly passing on popular and critically-acclaimed series like The Handmaid’s Tale and Big Little Lies, which went on to rack up awards for rivals Hulu and HBO, respectively.

None other than Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos reportedly said last year that he wants Amazon’s studio to develop a global TV hit on the scale of HBO’s Game of Thrones. As such, Amazon reportedly agreed to pay a whopping $250 million to land the global television rights to the classic The Lord of the Rings fantasy novel series, with plans to produce a “multi-season” TV series based on the books for Prime subscribers and the potential for additional spin-off series. Meanwhile, just this week, Amazon was reported to be developing a new TV series featuring the Conan the Barbarian character once portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger on the big screen.

Capacity alone won't assure good cloud performance

Many people believe that workloads in the cloud always perform better because public clouds have access to an almost unlimited amount of resources. Although you can provision the resources you need—and even use serverless computing so the allocation of resources is done for you—the fact is that having the right amount of resources is only half the battle.

To get good cloud performance means you have to be proactive in testing for performance, not be reactive and wait for an issue to arrive in production. After all, performance depends on much more than raw capacity.

I strongly encourage testing. If you’re using devops to build and deploy your cloud application workloads, your testing for security, stability, and so on are typically done withcontinuous testing tools as part of the devops process.

But what about performance testing?

Truth be told, performance testing is often an afterthought that typically comes up only when there is a performance problem that the users see and report. Moreover, performance usually becomes an issue when the user loads surpass a certain level, which can be anywhere from 5,000 to 100,0000 concurrent sessions, depending on the application. So you discover a problem only when you’re got high usage. At which point you can’t escape the blame.

An emerging best practice is to build in performance testing into your devops or cloud migration process. This means adding performance tests to the testing mix and look at how the application workload and connected database deals with loads well beyond what you would expect.      

This means looking for a performance testing tool that is compatible with your application, the other devops tools you have, and the target cloud platform where the application is to be deployed. Of course, a “cool tool” itself is not the complete answer; you need testing engineers to design the right set of testing processes in the first place.      

Ironically, although devops itself ( as both a process and tool set) is all about being proactive in terms of testing, most devops processes that I’ve seen don’t do much performance testing, if any at all.     

Withouth that testing, you can’t answer the question “When will my cloud workload hit the performance wall?” Instead, your users find out for you, and you may discover it’s time to look for a new job.         

Apple and Cisco Team Up on Cybersecurity Insurance

Apple and Cisco are now offering insurance policies to companies to protect them financially against cyber attacks.

The insurance policies are part of a broader package that also includes corporate security reviews. As part of the package, professional services firm Aon will perform security consulting for companies, while insurance firm Allianz will provide discounted cyber security insurance coverage as long as the customers use certain Apple devices and Cisco security products.

“We’re thrilled that insurance industry leaders recognize that Apple (aapl) products provide superior cyber protection, and that we have the opportunity to help make enhanced cyber insurance more accessible to our customers,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement.

Cook and Cisco (csco) CEO Chuck Robbins said in June that the two companies were exploring a joint-insurance policy program for corporate customers that use their two products, but they didn’t reveal their insurance company partners at the time.

The move highlights Apple’s desire to become a big business technology provider that sells its flagship iPhones, iPad, and Mac computers to corporate offices.

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Apple formed a partnership with Cisco in 2015 in which the two companies share engineering teams that make their respective technologies more compatible with each other. At the time, the two companies were working to make Cisco’s networking and video and web conferencing services work better with Apple’s iOS and MacOS devices, but it appears they have since expanded it to include Cisco’s security services.

In August, insurance giant American Insurance Group said it would start selling cyber security insurance plans to U.S. consumers who fear that their sensitive data like social security or credit card numbers could get exposed to hackers online.

Clarification: This article was updated to make clearer that Cisco and Apple are not directly selling insurance.

Seattle finds Facebook in violation of city campaign finance law

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Seattle’s election authority said on Monday that Facebook Inc is in violation of a city law that requires disclosure of who buys election ads, the first attempt of its kind to regulate U.S. political ads on the internet.

Facebook must disclose details about spending in last year’s Seattle city elections or face penalties, Wayne Barnett, executive director of the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, said in a statement.

The penalties could be up to $5,000 per advertising buy, Barnett said, adding that he would discuss next steps this week with Seattle’s city attorney.

It was not immediately clear how Facebook would respond if penalized. Facebook said in a statement it had sent the commission some data.

“Facebook is a strong supporter of transparency in political advertising. In response to a request from the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission we were able to provide relevant information,” said Will Castleberry, a Facebook vice president.

Barnett said Facebook’s response “doesn’t come close to meeting their public obligation.” The company provided partial spending numbers, but not copies of ads or data about whom they targeted.

The unregulated nature of U.S. online political ads drew attention last year after Facebook said Russians using fake names bought ads on the social network to try to sway voters ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Moscow denies trying to meddle in the election.

Buying online election ads requires little more than a credit card. Federal law does not currently force online ad sellers such as Facebook or Alphabet Inc’s Google and YouTube to disclose the identity of the buyers.

Legislation is pending to extend federal rules governing political advertising on television and radio to also cover internet ads, and tech firms have announced plans to voluntarily disclose some data.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in September that his company would “create a new standard for transparency in online political ads.”

At the center of the Seattle dispute is a 1977 law that requires companies that sell election advertising, such as radio stations, to maintain public books showing the names of who bought ads, the payments and the “exact nature and extent of the advertising services rendered.”

The law went unenforced against tech companies until a local newspaper, The Stranger, published a story in December in the wake of the Russia allegations asking why.

Seattle sent letters to Facebook and Google asking them to provide data. The sides have been in talks, and last month Facebook employees met in person with commission staff.

“We gave Facebook ample time to comply with the law,” Barnett said.

Google has asked for more time to comply, and that request is pending, Barnett said.

Legal experts said they were unaware of any similar regulation attempts by other U.S. localities or states.

“Given the negative publicity around Facebook’s failure to provide adequate transparency in the 2016 elections, I would be surprised if they tried to challenge this law,” said Brendan Fischer of the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit that favors campaign finance regulation.

Reporting by David Ingram; Editing by Leslie Adler and James Dalgleish

Exclusive: Broadcom to raise Qualcomm bid in push for talks, sources say

(Reuters) – Broadcom Ltd (AVGO.O) plans to unveil a new approximately $120 billion offer for Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) on Monday, aiming to ratchet up pressure on its U.S. semiconductor peer to engage in negotiations, people familiar with the matter said on Sunday.

The move comes ahead of a Qualcomm shareholder meeting scheduled for March 6, when Broadcom is seeking to replace Qualcomm’s board of directors by nominating its own slate for election.

Broadcom is scheduled to meet with its advisers later on Sunday to finalize an offer that values Qualcomm between $80 and $82 per share, two of the sources said. Broadcom’s previous $70 per share offer consisted of $60 per share in cash and $10 per share in stock.

Broadcom also plans to offer Qualcomm a higher-than-usual breakup fee in the event regulators thwart the deal, according to the sources. Typically, such break-up fees equate to approximately 3 percent to 4 percent of a deal’s size.

The sources cautioned that Broadcom Chief Executive Officer Hock Tan may decide to significantly change the terms at the last minute.

The sources asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. Broadcom and Qualcomm did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

FILE PHOTO: A sign on the Qualcomm campus is seen, as chip maker Broadcom Ltd announced an unsolicited bid to buy peer Qualcomm Inc for $103 billion, in San Diego, California, U.S. November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

Broadcom has said it is very confident a deal can be completed within 12 months of signing an agreement. Qualcomm counters that the regulatory review processes required around the world would take more than 18 months and be fraught with risks.

Qualcomm provides chips to mobile carrier networks to deliver broadband and data, making it an attractive acquisition target for Broadcom, which hopes to expand its offerings in so-called 5G wireless technology.

Qualcomm has argued to its shareholders that Broadcom’s hostile bid is aimed at acquiring the company on the cheap.

Qualcomm reported quarterly profit and revenues last week that beat analysts’ expectations as demand surged for its chips used in smartphones and cars. However, its forecast was below estimates due to tepid mobile phone sales in China.

Qualcomm is engaged in a patent infringement dispute with Apple Inc (AAPL.O). Qualcomm has said the litigation is necessary in order to defend is licensing programs.

Qualcomm is also trying to clinch an acquisition of its own, proposing to buy NXP Semiconductors NV (NXPI.O) for $38 billion. The deal was approved by European Union antitrust regulators last month, and only China has yet to approve it. Qualcomm expects the government’s blessing later this month.

The NXP deal still faces an uncertain future as some of its shareholders, including activist hedge fund Elliott Management Corp, have asked Qualcomm to raise its offer. Qualcomm is expected to make a decision later this month.

Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Additional reporting by Liana B. Baker in San Francisco; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

Apple Sets Records With Its Best iPhone Ever

If there’s anything that can be said of Apple, it’s that it knows how to make money—even if things don’t appear to be going well.

Apple this week posted a record quarterly profit of $20 billion, thanks in no small part to iPhone revenue jumping 13%. However, Apple’s iPhone unit sales fell year-over-year due to what some analysts have said was sluggish demand for the iPhone X.

Profit aside, that hasn’t stopped people from finding things to complain about. This week, there were reports about why the iPhone X was a mistake for Apple and others about internal Apple meetings about delaying work on new iOS features to improve its mobile operating system’s security and stability. Even Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak couldn’t resistant taking a jab at the company.

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Here’s a look back at the biggest Apple news from the past week:

This is Fortune’s latest weekly roundup of the biggest Apple news. Here’s last week’s roundup.

  1. Apple on Thursday announced that it had $88.3 billion in revenue during the holiday quarter and a $20 billion profit, or $3.89 per share. Both were records. But Apple also worried Wall Street by issuing revenue guidance for the current quarter of $60 billion and $62 billion—far below an average analyst consensus of $65.4 billion. Many analysts believe Apple’s sales forecast is a reflection of slumping demand for the iPhone; shipments for the device dropped 1% year-over-year during the holiday quarter. The earnings also prompted Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi to downgrade Apple from “outperform” to “market perform.”
  2. Apple may have changed its plans for this year’s iOS release. According to a report, Apple software chief Craig Federighi last week shelved plans to add new features to this year’s iOS 12 update and instead focused his team on improving the security and reliability of the mobile operating system. The new updates aside from the security and stability updates will likely come to iOS in 2019.
  3. The U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission have launched an investigation into a software update Apple released last year that throttled iPhone performance. The agencies are investigating whether Apple violated securities laws in its initial disclosure about the update, which slows the processing performance of iPhones when their batteries start to malfunction.
  4. Apple quickly responded to the investigations this week, saying that it has “never—and would never” introduce software updates that would artificially degrade the iPhone user experience. Apple said that the update was not designed to “shorten the life of any Apple product” and get customers to upgrade to a new handset. Instead, the feature is intended to protect iPhones and keep them working when the battery starts to malfunction.
  5. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak said recently that he’s generally pleased with Apple’s iPhone X. But his biggest complaint about it centers on the device’s power button and all the functions that can be handled from it, including toggling the device on and off, taking screen shots, or making mobile payments via Apple Pay.

One more thing…There’s been some iPhone X hate making the rounds online lately. In a commentary this week, I discussed why the iPhone X is not only a great smartphone, but also the best iPhone Apple has ever released. Check it out.

The Sound of a Cyber Bubble Popping

The cryptocurrency market is in a meltdown. Bitcoin prices are down nearly 60% from their December highs, and major banks are cutting off credit card access to crypto exchanges—no surprise in the wake of a mania that saw everyone and their dog sharing hot crypto tips.

Meanwhile, the cyber-security industry is experiencing its own bubble bursting, albeit in much less dramatic fashion. As Reuters reported last month, investors are at last acknowledging the obvious: There are too many VC-bloated start-ups chasing too few clients, while unicorns are morphing into zombies struggling to find an IPO or other exit.

This situation may explain a recent flurry of press releases from cyber firms like Tenable, Cylance and Duo. The releases tout revenue growth and appear intended to assure anyone who will listen that “hey, we’re surviving the cyber shake-out just fine thank you very much.”

It’s hard to say for now which firms will be left standing at the end of 2018 but, for now, it’s clear the peak of the cyber-boom, when VCs would shower money on any company with blinky lights, is over. The investor uncertainty, though, is just one part of the cyber story. There’s also the more important question of whether all these companies have helped harden the country against hacking, and the answer appears to be yes.

Based on recent conversations with ordinary executives, I’ve found cyber-literary has shot up. While hackers are still getting through (they always will), managers and general counsels are finally attuned to the threat and doing something about it.

This change is also trickling down to more humble enterprises. I met a company this week called CyberSight, which offers free and low-cost ransomware protection to the likes of small businesses and county governments, and many of them are actually implementing it. This is a welcome change from a year ago when too many companies blew off cyber defense as an exotic affair they didn’t need.

So let’s celebrate cyber victories where we can find them. Finally, returning to crypto, don’t forget it’s tax time—if you bought or sold, here’s a plain English Q&A to get you through. Have a great weekend.

Jeff John Roberts

@jeffjohnroberts

[email protected]

Welcome to the Cyber Saturday edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily tech newsletter. You may reach Robert Hackett via Twitter, Cryptocat, Jabber (see OTR fingerprint on my about.me), PGP encrypted email (see public key on my Keybase.io), Wickr, Signal, or however you (securely) prefer. Feedback welcome.

THREATS

Bye-bye little bots: Twitter users are losing tens of thousands of followers in the wake of a searing report about a “follower factory” that let people inflate their social media popularity with the help of bots, many of which were crafted by means of identity theft. A Twitter board member was among those who lost followers in the purge.

Apple and the FBI, it’s complicated: In the wake of a 2016 terrorist attack, media outlets (including Fortune) reported on bad blood between Apple and law enforcement over the iPhone maker’s encryption polices. Today, the two sides still don’t see eye-to-eye but are in many ways more friendly than you think.

Looming specter of Spectre: Sure enough, those scary Spectre and Meltdown viruses may be coming to a chip near you. Researchers have already found 130 malware samples that appear to have been built in order to exploit the worldwide chip vulnerabilities disclosed in January.

Netflix and Phish: When you have 118 million subscribers, many of them addicted to binge-watching, your service will be a popular target for scammers. A fake Netflix subscription email is making the rounds (again), threatening to cancel Netflix customers’ accounts if they don’t supply their credit card number. One guess what happens if you click.

Hey Hawaii, good call on canning that button pusher who kept confusing drills with real life. 

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ACCESS GRANTED

The robbery caper began in a Ruby Tuesday’s restaurant in Times Square, where Meza met his victim, who had earlier disclosed he was an early investor in Ethereum. The cryptocurrency was once worth pennies but last year soared to over $1,000.

— If you’re going to rob someone at gunpoint for their crypto-currency, for heaven’s sake, don’t transfer the funds to a popular exchange in your own name. Fortune obtained exclusive details about a crazy crypto heist in New York.

ONE MORE THING

Obligatory SuperBowl tidbit: Jeopardy host Alex Trebek chided his contestants over their complete and utter ignorance of football, a topic that regularly pops up in the weeks before the gig game. The show then trolled the players with a tweet, saying “Our contestants answered as many clues in this category as the @Browns had wins this season.”

Don't Waste Your Time Trying to Hire a 'Tom Brady.' Here's a Better Way to Build a Winning Team

By Mattson Newell (@MattsonNewell), Client Relationship Partner at Partners In Leadership and expert and author on Breakthrough Communications, Global Human Resources, and Talent Development.

It’s easy to look at the dynasty that the New England Patriots have built and fall into the trap of trying to hire a Tom Brady. That surely, once you have that superstar in place, it will lead to championships, glory, and bonuses for everyone.

Not everyone remembers that before Brady was the superstar he is today, the sixth-round draft pick who was in a battle to even make the team. From there he was coached and developed. He learned to seize opportunities as they presented themselves. As they say, leaders are made, not born. The same can be said for superstars, too.

Instead of throwing your resources into hiring a superstar for your business, here’s a better way to build a winning team.

1. Develop the right people

The development trap that many leaders fall into is looking for whoever has the best results in the company and then plugging them into a leadership position or development track.

When a very successful SVP of Sales left a Fortune 500 organization, who do you think they tabbed to replace him? That’s right, the person with the highest sales numbers the year before.

You can guess what happened next. The former sales superstar who was excellent at selling and working with clients, struggled in his new SVP role working internally and overseeing the sales team. Within six months he was out the door and the leader was again looking for a new SVP.

Top producers do not always translate into our top leaders. When deciding who the right person is to develop as a leader in your organization, consider the whole person instead of just focusing on numbers and results.

2.  Develop the right plan

Many organizations only put a plan in place to develop their people when they find out a leader is headed out the door. Unfortunately, that is too late.

Succession planning and leadership development should be a constant, thriving, evolving part of your organization at all times, not just when a leader is leaving. It is important to put systems and processes in place to identify, develop, and build bench strength.

Jim Skinner, former CEO of McDonald’s, was known to tell managers: “Give me the names of two people who could succeed you.” This was one way he worked to manage succession planning.

3. Develop the right skills

In a survey conducted by Partners In Leadership, which involved more than 40,000 people from small start-ups to Fortune 50 organizations, over half of those surveyed said that their stated 2020 goal was either an aggressive stretch or a crazy stretch.

But stretch goals are attainable: the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl in 2014 even though they were only two years removed from going 7-9.

What is key is that your team has the skills necessary to achieve a stretch goal. If your current players don’t have what it takes to win, set them up for success by identifying what skills they need. Then provide the right learning opportunities to develop their talent for sustainable results.

By instilling an empowered, continuous learning culture, you’ll be able to maintain a motivated, performance-oriented workforce that isn’t afraid to stretch outside their comfort zone.

Creating Results and Shaping Change

True, it is much less expensive to develop your good people than to go out and try to hire the already-established superstars. But there are more benefits to developing employees than upfront cost-savings.

Employee research consistently shows that career development opportunities are a leading indicator of employee engagement. In a recent study on employee retention, the most important aspect of a company’s reward and recognition program was employee development opportunities.

Having worked with thousands of employees in high-potential programs over the years, we have seen the impact engaged employees have on their companies–both immediately and long after their development, as they move on to significant leadership roles in their organizations.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need to hire the next ‘Tom Brady.’ Instead, look for the current ‘Tom Brady(s)’ on your team and develop them. Who knows, they might turn out to be your next superstars!

Tencent-led group to invest $1.6 billion in menswear firm Heilan: sources

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Tencent Holdings Ltd is leading a deal to invest 10 billion yuan ($1.59 billion) in Chinese menswear group Heilan Home Co Ltd, upping a retail rivalry with fellow internet giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, sources with knowledge of the matter said.

China’s second-largest e-commerce company JD.com Inc and online clothing platform Vipshop Holdings Ltd will also be among the group that plans to acquire less than 10 percent of the company for 5 billion yuan, one source said.

Another 5 billion yuan would help set up an industrial investment fund to focus on deals that fit with Heilan’s business, the person said, requesting anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Heilan had a market value of about $8.13 billion as of Monday, when it halted shares from trading, pending deal announcements.

Tencent, JD.com and Vipshop declined to comment. A Heilan spokesman was not immediately available to comment.

The proposed deal, which could be announced as early as Friday, extends a recent push by Tencent, China’s biggest social network and gaming company, into bricks-and-mortar retail to further compete with Alibaba.

Heilan which has clothing brands such as HLA and SANCANAL, has been a long-time partner of Alibaba’s online marketplace Tmall.

But last month Tencent, which has a market capitalization of $563 billion, said it would invest 4.2 billion yuan for a stake in Yonghui Superstores. It is also looking to take a stake in the China business of French supermarket retailer Carrefour.

The recent moves reflect a wider, long-running stand-off between Tencent and Alibaba, which have made competing investments in areas as diverse as bike-sharing apps, food delivery and gaming.

JD.com, in which Tencent is a top-10 investor, traditionally leads against Alibaba in online retail sales of electronics and home appliance products, but lags behind in the fashion business.

Tencent and JD.com last month jointly made an $863 million investment in Vipshop, in a bid to tap the country’s young female shoppers and gain access to consumer and transaction data to help them compete with Alibaba’s online payment platform Alipay.

Jiangsu-based Heilan was set up by Zhou Jianping, one of the richest people in China’s fashion industry, in 1997. It runs more than 5,000 stores, mostly in China, and recorded 12.5 billion yuan in operating income in the first three quarters last year, its website showed.

Reporting by Julie Zhu; Editing by Stephen Coates