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93% of tech funding goes to all-male founders

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Europe’s tech start-up scene has a problem: almost all of its funding is going toward men.

A new report from venture capital firm Atomico found 93 percent of the money invested into European tech start-ups in 2018 went to companies with all-male founding teams.

The report paints a bleak picture for female entrepreneurs in Europe with no progress in the data over the past five years.

“It’s clear that the European tech ecosystem has a challenge around diversity and inclusion,” Tom Wehmeier, partner and head of research at Atomico who authored the report, told CNBC last week.

Atomico’s report, which surveyed 5,000 founders, investors and tech sector employees across Europe, showed discrepancies in perception versus reality around gender discrimination. While nearly 90 percent of respondents said having a diverse team benefits company performance, nearly half of the women who responded said they had experienced discrimination while working in the European tech industry.

“I don’t know, to be honest, any friend of mine who is a founder or entrepreneur who is female who would say I never experienced this,” Tugce Bulut, founder and CEO of London-based market research start-up Streetbees, told CNBC on Thursday.

Bulut said she has experienced discrimination in a variety of forms, from inappropriate comments to dismissive behavior. She said part of the problem is that women are not encouraged to be as “pushy” as men from an early age, which can result in a lack of confidence and entrepreneurship.

“That has a snowball effect over years,” Bulut said.

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Starbucks ‘unlikely’ to be overtaken in China by Luckin in 2019: CEO

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A customer exits a Luckin Coffee outlet in Beijing, China, on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019.

Gilles Sabrie/Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A customer exits a Luckin Coffee outlet in Beijing, China, on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019.

“I think it’s unlikely,” said Johnson when asked if Luckin might overtake Starbucks in China by the end of 2019, pointing to the 18 percent growth in new Chinese stores the company racked up in the fourth quarter.

“Just this last quarter we entered 10 new cities in China,” he said, adding that each of those cites is larger than Los Angeles, the sprawling southern California metropolis with a population of around 4 million.

Luckin has said it is targeting a total of more than 4,500 stores in China by the end of 2019, which would take it past Starbucks, which has long dominated the Chinese coffee market and currently has over 3,600 stores in the country.

Many Luckin units are much smaller “points of presence” and not comparable to full-service Starbucks cafes, Johnson said.

Johnson, who replaced Howard Schultz as Starbucks chief executive in April 2017, said he expects the company to be able to repeat last quarter’s growth in China due to what he described as “a first-mover advantage” in the Asian giant.

“I think we will simply because much of that growth, it’s about building new stores,” he said, noting that Starbucks opens a new store every 15 hours on average in China.

Johnson added that “thus far” U.S-China trade tensions has not affected the company’s bottom line.

“We haven’t seen much impact,” he said.

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Princess Ubolratana running to become Thailand prime minister

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Current Prime Minister Prayut’s candidacy is seen as the real wild card because it’s not entirely clear what his intentions are. The military and monarchy in Thailand have always been closely aligned so the notion of a potential power struggle between the two seems unthinkable to most.

That’s why some experts believe Prayut may eventually bow out of the race.

“It’s possible to envision a scenario in which a grand coalition emerges with Prayut dropping out to support the princess as PM,” said Chambers. “He wouldn’t dare oppose her, nor would his party so he may have already communicated to the palace that he will be running to support her.”

Others also echoed the idea of the military supporting the princess.

“From a parliamentary standpoint, the military retains the upper hand because it controls the 250-seat upper house,” said Zawacki. “You need 376 parliamentary votes to win the premiership, which may not be possible for Pheu Thai and the Thai Raksa Chart Party, so some military-backed senators may have to shift their presumed allegiance from the military party Palang Pracharat to vote for Ubolratana.”

Prayut’s domestic popularity has recovered as of late, boosted in part by his administration legalizing medical marijuana last month. Based on a January survey by the National Institute of Development Administration, a Bangkok university, the former army general was the most popular choice among a range of candidates for prime minister — followed by Pheu Thai candidate Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan.

“All this makes for very interesting political theater, we’ll have to wait and see to see what Prayut does,” said Eyler.

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A bill to hobble OPEC is advancing in Congress

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Still, there are signs the fresh NOPEC push in Congress has unnerved OPEC. The group reportedly advised member countries against mentioning oil prices when discussing production policy. Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported the group is considering undertaking a campaign to influence U.S. perception of OPEC.

It comes as some members of OPEC are trying to extend the group’s two-year alliance with Russia and nine other producers. In 2016, the so-called OPEC+ coalition reached an historic agreement to cut production in order to drain a global crude glut and end a punishing oil price downturn.

On Thursday, Barclays said passage of NOPEC legislation could see the oil market return to a period of instability.

“Overall, we believe that if such legislation moved forward, it would threaten the sustainability of the OPEC and OPEC+ grouping, add more volatility to the market, and make the perceived floor under prices even more fragile,” Barclays head of commodities research Michael Cohen said in a research note.

The OPEC+ cuts that began in 2017 helped oil prices gradually recover to three-year highs around $70 a barrel by the start of last year. The rebound accelerated last spring as Trump prepared to restore sanctions on Iran, prompting OPEC+ to reverse course in June and hike output. But in December, the group agreed to once again cut output as oil prices crashed.

Despite his public criticisms, Trump has found OPEC useful at times. The president publicly lobbied the group to use its control over about a third of the world’s oil supply to drive down oil prices. He thanked Saudi Arabia after the kingdom surged output by nearly 1 million barrels a day between June and November.

But Trump has not tweeted about OPEC since the Saudi leadership in Riyadh defied him and pushed through new output cuts in December.

Meanwhile, the Saudis made clear at the time they felt ambushed by Trump’s decision to allow several of Iran’s biggest customers to continue importing oil from the Islamic Republic.

That is a view shared by some oil executives.

“The prospect of Iranian sanctions coming back and Iranian oil coming off the market really started to push prices up, and of course when we had the waivers issued by the U.S. government at the same time as OPEC began to produce more, we had excess supply on the market and you saw prices come off,” Chevron CEO and Chairman Michael Wirth told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Friday.

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