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Showing posts from August, 2015

Internet Real Estate Brokers: Reputation of Your Digital Name

Times of India reports that there's a downside to the relative freedom and lack of gatekeepers on the Internet, including that anyone can buy a web address that ends in ".com." Online scammers can pay $10 for an address that looks like that of your bank, your favourite clothier, or your auto dealer and create a site that looks like the original to trick you into buying phoney merchandise or revealing your login and password. Every day, almost 1,000 Americans file some kind of identity-theft complaint, and about 750 report being scammed by an impostor.
That's why hundreds of businesses, from Google to Wal-Mart, have paid $185,000 to apply for the rights to web domains that read, say, .google or .walmart. Companies buying these eponymous top level domains from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) - the non-profit that runs distribution of domain names under the oversight of the US department of commerce - will in theory be able to strictly l…

Currency of Disruption: Digital Currency

Economic Times reports that regulators are wary of it, calling it a crypto currency, but the Winkelvoss twins believe it's the future. It was the favourite mode of payment on the notorious Silk Road, whose founder got thrown in jail, and a big cache of it did get stolen from the Mt Gox currency exchange. But Bitcoin is gaining converts — even in India, where there are many regular users.
"In the present situation, when there is so much of volatility in the equity and real estate markets, Bitcoins have become one of my most reliable investment destinations," said Ahmedabad based Himanshu Sisodia, who's chief operating officer at hospitality company Greenleaves Management. "Moreover, with the Digital India initiative, money is bound to become virtual." He loves the ease with which it can be moved around. Bitcoins can be bought and sold online and remitted abroad with a single click on a smartphone. And there's no need to pay any fees to a bank or other o…

Who Needs Enemies in Mumbai - Mumbai Photos

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Copyright CooperJal Ltd 2015 All rights reserved
SJP @DigitalAsian

The Indians are Coming: Indian Tech in the Valley

A bunch of young, second-generation Indian immigrants is building some of the hottest tech companies in Silicon Valley reports the Times of India. While first generation immigrants tended to focus on enterprise tech, this new set of founders, given their longer and closer connect with the market, is creating consumer-facing ventures.
Over the years, India-born executives have snagged the top most tech jobs in the US, the latest being Sundar Pichai, who became CEO of Google. The Chennai-born Pichai and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella are among at least a dozen such talented Indians who left their home country as students in the 80s and 90s and today helm some of tech's most powerful companies. There's however another influential group emerging in Silicon Valley with a strong India connection. These are not executives but young entrepreneurs behind some of the most talked about tech startups globally.
Data analytics firm Mixpanel, food delivery startup Sprig, express delivery ventu…

Banking Sector Down in Valley of Disruption

Times of India reports that in his annual letter to shareholders in April, JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon warned of a wave of disruption in the traditional banking sector originating from startup hubs such as Silicon Valley. "Silicon Valley is coming," he warned. Thinking alike, SBI made a trip to Bengaluru and sat in the front rows of a startup session listening to how disruptive technologies and fledgling ventures are making their presence felt in the financial services industry. 
"We were surprised to see how these people are developing/working on technologies to solve some of the problems we didn't even know existed," SBI CIO Mrutyunjay Mahapatra told ET. Traditional, stodgy lenders for long have dominated the financial services space and controlled most aspects of lending, payments and investments. With the emergence of new-age fintech startups and the advent of mobile and Internet banking, tech-savvy consumers have been presented with alternatives for f…

Onion Mania in India: E-commerce to the Rescue

There is onion mania in India as onion prices go through the roof. Onion prices are causing grave concern at the highest levels of government in India. Onion prices have become a sort of barometer of the Indian economy. Commodity brokers are now checking the onion rate as well as the gold rate :)
Indian e-commerce firms have come to the rescue by allowing consumers to buy at least small quantities of onions at reasonable prices online.
Just as the Dutch had Tulip Mania, will India have Onion Mania?

SJP@DigitalAsian

Private Equity Getting More Private in India

For some time there has been talk that Indian e-commerce firms are over-valued and that the bubble will burst. Perhaps a squeeze in later stage funding may be a signs that the Indian startup ecosystem is cooling slightly.

Times of India reports that even as Indian e-commerce Unicorns like Flipkart and Snapdeal have struggled to shore up their valuations this year, the euphoria around early-stage investing has remained intact -- so far.

As many as 85 early-stage startups have already raised series A rounds, up from 50 last year, according to Tracxn, which collects data on private companies. But that doesn't necessarily bode well for these companies as signs of a squeeze in follow-on rounds are already starting to surface. This may even pave the way for early consolidation in over-funded categories like food tech, online services marketplace, budget hotel aggregators and hyperlocal businesses.

In the past year, young Indian startups, some of which are not even incorporated as companies…

Indian Digital Dump: India a Dumping Ground for Smartphones?

It's India versus China on the 4G battleground reports Times of India. Chinese phone makers have taken a substantial lead in the Indian smartphone market for the high-speed devices, leaving homegrown brands muttering darkly about how their rivals are dumping the handsets in the country ahead of networks being rolled out. An executive at one of these rapidly growing Chinese companies rejected the accusation.
Local sellers are "having a tough time as the companies they have been sourcing from in China have themselves entered India," the person said. "They are having to look for new sources and thus have failed to catch the 4G bus so far." Indian companies say these devices may not even be properly enabled for the kind of 4G services being rolled out in the country. Chinese companies are treating India as a "dumping ground" for 4G phones that may not have Band 3 or the 1800MHz band, said Vikas Jain, co-founder of Micromax, India's No. 2 phone seller…

Delete Tweet: Digital History Altered

Digital history of politicians on social media becomes new battle ground.
Times of India reports that the Politwoops website that saves tweets deleted by politicians said Monday its operations have been closed down in the 30 countries where it was active after Twitter blocked its access to the social media site. "On Friday night, August 21, the Open State Foundation was informed by Twitter that it suspended... access to Diplotwoops and all remaining Politwoops sites in 30 countries," said the Open Foundation, which started Politwoops in the Netherlands in 2010.
Twitter switched off Politwoops in the United States in May and the Open Foundation voiced fears it may happen elsewhere. Twitter ended the US website's access to its API (application programme interface) which allowed it to see when a politician deleted a tweet, often an indicator they have changed their mind or realised a mistake. Since being formed at a so-called hackathon five years ago, the website that is a…

Digital Front-end and Logistics Backend: Uber Disruption

The digital marketplace is disrupting industries and labour practices. Take Uber for example. Uber could offer customers the music they wanted to be downloaded and played in taxis - they could even offer food  to passengers in the taxis which customers could order on their App - they could allow taxi drivers to transport goods or documents and not just people which customers could arrange via their App - customers could arrange their travel insurance through the App - and all these services could be paid for via a mobile payment system. 
Uber could get into so many different industries - music and entertainment, food and beverages, delivery services and financial services - competing with the likes of iTunes, Domino's Pizzas, DHL, Visa, etc - disrupting all these industries. You just need the digital, consumer-facing front-end and the logistics back-end which is what the digital marketplace is all about. 
In this respect Uber is no different from Amazon or Flipkart. These digital

Kerala Solar: Kochi Airport runs on Solar Power

Kochi Airport in Kerala, India becomes the world's first to be operated solely by solar power. Modi states that his government's goal is to increase solar in India more than 10 fold.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Global Talent Moving to Startups in India

Startups in India are attracting global talent. Global talent is leaving well paid, high-flying careers to join startups. Startups are fashionable.
Economic Times reports that It is not just the Unicorns (startups with billion-dollar-plus valuations), but a fair sprinkling of younger and smaller ventures are also attracting top global talent back to India. A bunch of senior executives is quitting high-flying careers abroad to join smaller startups such as Edureka, OYO Rooms, Urban Ladder, Faaso's and Housing.com in India. In June this year, Durgesh Kaushik quit as head of online marketing (Asia-Pacific) at Facebook and left Singapore to join Bangalore based startup Edureka as chief marketing officer. In the same month, Ajit Pandey, earlier with IBM in the UK, relocated to India to join Mumbai-based Loanstreet as chief technology officer.
In mid-August, Supriyo Roy, previously the lead, design and experience, at New York-based startup Spangle came on board at foodtech startup Faas…

Digital Technologies Juggernaut Unstoppable

Financial figures for Uber show that digital technologies are changing consumer habits. This digital juggernaut cannot be stopped. No matter how many protests there are against Uber or other digital firms, consumer will habits will change and industries will be disrupted, for good or bad.
Times of India reports that Uber Technologies' global bookings are projected to rise nearly threefold to $10.8 billion this year and reach $26.1 billion the next, according to a recent presentation for potential investors. The ride-hailing service, which operates in over 50 countries, keeps 20% of booking revenue, showed a confidential slideshow prepared by Chinese bankers with input from Uber, aimed at soliciting investment in a fund participating in Uber's Series F financing. Based on those figures, 2015 revenue would be roughly $2 billion, according to a calculation.

SJP @DigitalAsian

E-commerce Portals Giving Brand New Lease of Life

The e-commerce marketplaces are giving a brand new lease of life to old brands and to e-tailers. Unlike their bricks-and-mortar counterparts, such as Wal-Mart and Tesco, who make it very difficult to get your goods into their stores, these digital marketplaces are currently going out of their way to attract sellers online.

Times of India reports that for the past eight years, Sanjay Kumar has run his online lifestyle product store out of Gurgaon. Every day, his team packs and ships apparel, jewellery, home decorations, and games -- but his products reach customers sitting not out of Tier 1 or Tier 2 cities, but in the US, UK, France, Germany, and Canada. "Our products are Indian products, but those that attract western audiences. There are many Indians now who have set up the same business," said Kumar, who now ships 500-600 orders a day during off-season, 85% outside India's borders. 
For merchants like Kumar, selling Indian products in less competitive markets bring h…

See You Later, Aggregator: Aggravated by Aggregators

Aggregator e-commerce firms are proliferating. From flights, hotels, taxis, insurance etc., so many products and services can be aggregated. It’s become a common business idea now. Aggregating may lower the money earned by those offering the products or services such as taxi drivers. Consumers may benefit. There has been a lot of opposition to companies like Uber. Aggregators are commoditising services and labour.

SJP @DigitalAsian

Idea Disruption: Indians in the Valley

Disruptive ideas usually become billion dollar firms. In India also, disruptive ideas are needed that disrupt vested interests, for start-ups to succeed and India to transform into a more progressive economy. Idea disruption is what India needs.

Times of India reports that in current Silicon Valley parlance, Nutanix is a Unicorn. This term refers not to the mythical beast but a private company that has a valuation of more than $1 billion. Nutanix, set up in 2009, looked so promising to investors that it was valued at $1 billion in January 2014 and again at $2 billion in August 2014, as it raised $241 million in two successive rounds. It is now seen as one of Silicon Valley's most promising companies, and is reportedly preparing for an IPO. 
Nutanix is a data centre company, seeking to converge servers, storage and virtualization into a single platform. Dheeraj Pandey, one of its founders, likens its business model to that of Apple. "Apple focused on a few killer apps," …

10X Disruption: Digital Jargon

Times of India reports that when disruption lurks around every corner, it's not good enough to just be better than the best. The benchmark, and the buzzword is 10X, or being 10 times better than the rest. The idea is all the rage in Silicon Valley, and is applied as a prefix, especially for hyper-achievement among engineers.  
The idea of 10X  The simple, yet powerful, idea is to think big. And deliver big. By having stretch goals, it pushes people and organisations to real levels of excellence that would not have been even contemplated if just beating the competition was the goal. Is it catching on in India? We are seeing a definite stirring of interest, including chatter on social media. Pune-based data analytics firm 64 squares has made it clear that it is looking for a 10X developer on jobs portal hasjob.com. Any takers?

SJP @DigitalAsian

Mobile Payments: Allowing Ideas to Disrupt

With Modi's drive to get more banking services to the population, banks and startups are getting in on digital payments. With the government pushing for the up take of he Aadhaar card, mobile payment systems could be linked to this for the many millions hat still don't have bank accounts or access to regulated financial services, the so-called unbanked. The situation is in flux at the moment with so many systems and technologies which are vying for dominance in the mobile payment and mobile wallet market. It is a matter of waiting and watching to see which ones come out on top.
There can be a real digital revolution in India if the government allows entrepreneurs with good ideas to disrupt vested interests in the financial services industry. India will have its own Google, Facebook or Amazon only if it allows good ideas to disrupt existing industries and interests. Mobile payments could be India's latest cash cow.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Startup India: Going beyond Slogans

Narendra Modi Loves his slogans. His latest is Startup India. Along with Make in India, Digital India and Skill India among others, he has created a buzz around the economy but his efforts to progress on this front are being hampered by vested interests.
One area where Modi has had a very quick impact is on India's international relations. With his many foreign trips, including his up coming trip to the UAE, Modi has been able to improve India's international reach and to inspire the Indian diaspora wherever he goes.
Modi has to now show he is more than just slogans and that his government is not simply a slogan sarkar.

SJP @DigitalAsian

Performance Enhancing Drugs for eSports

BBC News reports "A top video game tournament company has launched an anti-doping scheme, after a top player admitted taking a performance-enhancing drug. Kory Friesen, known as Semphis, said he had taken an ADHD medicine called Adderall at a tournament in March. The Electronic Sports League (ESL) said it would work with the World Anti-Doping Agency to create a "fair, feasible and conclusive" policy. One video game expert told the BBC doping was a "big problem". Competitive gaming, known as eSports, is a growing phenomenon."
I suppose gamers need their digital drugs.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Indians Go Digitally Mobile

Times of India reports that when it comes to adoption of mobile banking, India ranks number four worldwide, ahead of all the G7 countries but behind China, South Africa, South Korea and Singapore. The usage of mobile for banking is driven entirely by the youth with the average age of India's mobile banking customer being 30 — the lowest among banking customers worldwide.
After a sluggish first quarter, smartphone shipment in India grew 44% to 26.5 million units in the June quarter as vendors took to online retail to push sales, research firm IDC said. Also, the market is expected to continue to grow in double-digits over the next few years as people switch to smartphones and gradually upgrade to 4G-enabled phones. "By 2017, we expect India to overtake USA to be the second largest smartphone market globally," it said in a statement. 
Also Indians seem to be reaching the high echelons of the US tech business as with Microsoft and Google.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Speaking the Digital Language: Google's Alphabet

Business media reports that Google has restructured itself to create a parent company Alphabet Inc. Rebranding itself, Google keeps its apps, search, Android and YouTube. Newer businesses, like investment and research divisions, the "smart-home" unit Nest, and drones come under Alphabet.
This is Google's Alpha Bet - betting big on the Internet of things. Google is consolidating its grip on the digital world. But is it possible to copyright the word 'Alphabet'?

Do you speak digital? You'd better learn quick.
SJP @DigitalAsian

The Serious Money in Indian Startups: Background Checks on Entrepreneurs

Economic Times reports that Early stage investors such as Sequoia Capital, Kalaari Capital, Helion Venture Partners, Nexus Venture Partners and Accel Partners, among others, are increasingly running checks on the personal lives of entrepreneurs, wary of extravagant, reckless, raucous, even promiscuous behaviour, before funding them. 
They have approached a bunch of consultancies in the past one year to launch a personal due diligence on promoters of companies in which they were about to invest. Such exercises involve an element of stealth, but sources in these funds confirmed that such checks were carried out for most of the investments this past year and red flags were raised in a number of deals. The funds, however, declined official comment.
Consultancies such as Deloitte, KPMG, Kroll and Alvarez & Marsal, among others, which offer behavioural due diligence and forensic diligence, have seen a 20% rise in this business. 
The money is becoming more serious about investing in Ind…

SOBO still has its Cachet

Economic Times reports that records don't stand long in Mumbai's real-estate market. The latest to set a new mark is a sea-facing triplex penthouse in South Mumbai's Napean Sea Road locality with a Rs 202-crore deal, the biggest ever for a residential apartment in the country.
A prominent industrialist is buying the luxury pad with 17,000 sq ft of carpet area spread over the 20th, 21st and 22nd floors of a project, The Residence, being built by the Runwal Group. The penthouse offers views of the Arabian Sea and the Queen's Necklace and has 21 car-parking slots as part of the transaction.
"This is as good as a private bungalow in the most sought after locality of tony Napean Sea Road, which does not have too many of them available now and has made way for vertical developments. So for a family looking for that kind of lifestyle, options are limited," said one of the people. 
SOBO still remains a sought after location.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Converting to India's Digital God

Times of India reports that 3 weeks ago, all the 5,000 employees of Snapdeal, one of the big four diversified e-commerce companies in India, were asked to drop everything and experiment with its two-year-old app. They checked for bugs, tested ease of use, noted the time to complete transactions and compared the features with those of rival apps.
It was a concerted effort aimed at suggesting ways to improve the shopping experience on the app, which would go on for three hours, and result in an avalanche of feedback. A thousand engineers then worked 24 hours non-stop to overhaul the app — the first major upgrade since launch. The rebooted app, said Anand Chandrasekaran, chief product officer, Snapdeal, "is the lightest e-commerce app, stable (read, no crashes) and performs better." 
Conversions, industry jargon for downloads, of the app have since jumped 10 times, according to Chandrasekaran, whom Snapdeal recruited from Bharti Airtel in June.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Copper on the Digital Beat: Online Police Stations

Times of India reports that China will set up 'online police stations' at key websites to strengthen Internet security amid escalating conflict with the US over allegations of hacking and cyberattacks, state-run media reported today. Online police, who are responsible for openly inspecting the operation of websites and enforcing laws governing online activities, should work hard to uncover and prevent various illegal acts online, Chen Zhimin, vice minister of the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) said yesterday.
It will still be a tough battle to fight online crimes, such as cyberattack, transmission of violent messages, fraud, identity theft and illegal conducts involving gambling and drugs which have become a prominent problem affecting national security and social stability, he said at a conference over security of major websites and online services.
'Dixon of Dock Green'  has come a long way.
SJP @DigitalAsian

All Manufacturers Becoming Digital Tech Companies

Times of India reports that BMW's new chief executive Harald Krueger plans to overhaul the carmaker's strategy to make it fit for the digital future of driving, he said on Tuesday. BMW teamed up with Germany's other two premium carmakers to buy Nokia's high-definition mapping business for 2.5 billion euros ($2.7 billion) this week to protect its access to key technology for connected and self-driving cars. 
Krueger, who took over in May, said the strategy the company adopted in 2007 that was designed to guide it until 2020 needed to be updated. He was speaking to analysts on a call to discuss second-quarter results. "Many trends have intensified or accelerated dramatically. Above all, digitisation and the associated technical possibilities are set to change the automobile and its fundamental role in our society," he said.
All manufacturers will now have to become digital tech companies also in this Internet of things age. And it looks like all major digital …

Privacy Assault and Battery: Tracking Mobile Users

Times of India reports that phone batteries are sending out information that could be used to identify their owners and track them around the internet, even if they have taken very careful privacy precautions, according to a paper by security researchers. A piece of software in HTML5 — the technology used to let people read sites on the web — tells websites how much battery is left in a users' phone, and is intended to allow websites to help preserve battery if phones are running low. But that same information can be used to identify phones as they move around the internet, allowing people to be tracked.
Websites and the scripts that run on them don't have to ask users' permission to see how much charge is left, so phones will respond to the request to say how much charge they have and how long it will take them to power back up. That information can then be used as a way of identifying the phones themselves, without their users ever knowing. A website could put those two…

3D Printing Drugs

BBC News reports "In a world first, the US Food and Drug Administration has given the go-ahead for a 3D-printed pill to be produced. The FDA has previously approved medical devices - including prosthetics - that have been 3D printed. The new drug, dubbed Spritam, was developed by Aprecia Pharmaceuticals to control seizures brought on by epilepsy. The company said that it planned to develop other medications using its 3D platform. Printing the drugs allows layers of medication to be packaged more tightly in precise dosages. A separate technology developed by the firm, known as ZipDose, makes high-dose medications easier to swallow. Printing the drug meant it could package up to 1,000 milligrams into individual tablets."
If given the technology and ingredients, patients might eventually be 3D printing their medicines at home. Or 3D printing illicit drugs.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Headless Man of Mumbai - Images of Mumbai

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Copyright CooperJal Ltd 2015 All rights reserved
SJP @DigitalAsian

Online Marketplaces Bring out the Seller in You

Economic Times reports that many career professionals are giving up cushy jobs and becoming sellers on online marketplaces, securing a soft landing into entrepreneurship and shaking up a staid business 
It wasn't very difficult for the former Cisco employee to figure how to push ahead of other sellers on Amazon. Sumanth Lingala had quit the US tech company to join his brother in selling gadgets online, and the biggest challenge before them was how to be discovered by buyers. On digital marketplaces such as Amazon and Flipkart, the way to deal with that is to somehow constantly feature at the top of sellers' lists for specific products. 
Online marketplaces give a relatively easy route to becoming an entrepreneur from your own home without having to find commercial premises.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Can there be Real Human Interaction in the Virtual World?

Immersive 3D Virtual Reality is being touted as the next big step forward in the digital world by some CEOs.
Already people are addicted to their smartphones. In the virtual world there will probably be less and less real face to face interaction between people.
SJP @DigitalAsian