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Showing posts from October, 2015

Publishers v. Platforms: eBooks and other Digital Content

E-books and other digital content still remain the battleground for large tech companies and publishers. Currently the IPR owners and consumers are losing out. Publishers are having to follow the lead of the digital platforms  It's publishers v. platforms.
Times of India reports that Apple Inc has asked the US Supreme Court to overturn an appellate court decision that found the iPad maker conspired with five publishers to increase e-book prices. Apple asked the high court to review a June ruling that favored the US Department of Justice, and found the company liable for engaging in a conspiracy that violated federal antitrust laws. If upheld, the decision would also force Apple to pay consumers $450 million under a 2014 settlement with 33 state attorneys general and consumers that was contingent on the company's civil liability being upheld. Apple in its petition said the June decision by the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York contradicted Supreme Court precedent and…

Partnerships matter for E-commerce Startups

With news that Paytm is partnering with insurance companies for payment, it shows the importance to e-commerce startups of creating good partnerships to build their businesses. Paytm is successful in part due to its ability to create partnerships that help it grow. Aggregators grow due to their ability to partner quickly with others.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Where Angels Fear to Tread: India's Startup Ecosystem

More angels needed in India. 
Times of India reports that Unlike the west, India does not have enough number of angel investors who can fuel the growth of the country's thriving startup ecosystem, industry body Nasscom has said. "For a successful start-up ecosystem there is need for enough angel investors who can support the budding entrepreneurs from early stage. But this is not happening in India and there is a serious lack of it," Nasscom vice president Rajat Tandon told PTI.
"High net-worth individuals and corporate executives among others should come forward and participate in this growth story," he said. A recent report by Nasscom had said that India ranks third among global startup ecosystems with more than 4,200 new-age companies. Tandon said, "The case is very different in countries like the US. People are just waiting to invest in some good companies. We should also have something like that." "Mainly, investors (in India) are afraid be…

Investment Without the Exit: Funding Change

Investment without an exit?

The lyrics of the song Hotel California come to mind here: "You can check-out any time you like, But you can never leave!" 
Times of India reports that a new kind of angel network has taken root to funnel capital into creative projects like films and documentaries, providing an alternate asset class to high net worth individuals. Mumbai-based Idyabooster, founded in 2013, has a network of 40 members who come together to look at projects that span the gamut of feature films, TV series, documentaries, music videos, theatre and live events.
"We are a network that wants to invest in all forms of digital content," said co-founder Nandini Mansinghka. A former investment banker, she helped set up the firm after having worked at the telecom, media and technology vertical at JP Morgan. For investors, this is different from startup investing as there is no concept of an 'exit' here. Typically, investors exit a company and encash their ret…

Big Data coming to India

Big Data is coming to India.
Times of India reports that action is heating up in India with the world's top names like Oracle, Microsoft and Amazon queuing up to open data centres here. NTT Communications, the world's largest data centre company and a unit of the $112-billion Japanese giant, NTT, also has mega plans in the country. 
What are the factors driving the Indian data centre space? Data centres are an important part of infrastructure. Several sectors are spurring growth, for instance, e-commerce. Also, a new set of banks is coming to play while the existing ones are becoming more aware of disaster recovery, resulting in them approaching data centres.
What challenges do you see? Securing reliable access to electricity is the biggest challenge. Other than Mumbai, power supply is a challenge in Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi and Noida where we have our data centres. It is also an opportunity as people are unwilling to invest in fuel and generators to maintain their own data …

Disputes over Digital Content: Google's Search Goes On

Disputes over digital content still persist with Google - see Is Google exempt from copyright laws?
Times of India reports that German publishers and Google have failed to resolve a row over whether or not the web search leader should pay the publishers to display their articles online, raising the prospect of a lengthy court battle.
The German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA) said on Tuesday arbitration proceedings between the publishers and Google had failed as they both objected to a settlement proposal put forward by the body's arbitration board.
At issue is the demand of publishers including Axel Springer, Germany's biggest newspaper publisher, that Google and other search engines pay to display their content. The publishers' case centres on an ancillary copyright law, or "Leistungsschutzrecht," in force since August 2013.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Indian IT firms start bench pressing for the digital wave

Indian IT firms start bench pressing for the digital wave.
Economic Times reports that Indian IT firms are beginning to rebuild part of their bench as they look to prepare for a digital wave that is seeing smaller deal sizes, making it harder to grow at the same pace and profitability during the technologies transition. 
For years, IT companies have been cutting down on bench to boost operational efficiency and get a margin boost. But as they need to train people for digital operations, some companies are bringing the bench back. "We will need a little bit of a bench for digital," TK Kurien, chief executive of Wipro, has said. It plans to train 10,000 on digital technologies next month. 
Even Tata Consultancy Services, the largest player in the Indian IT services industry, said it was raising its hiring target to 75,000 for the year, and hoped to exceed its goal of training 100,000 employees on digital technologies in FY16.
Indian IT companies have big plans to boost in-hou…

Clouds gathering over India: Cloud Services

Clouds gathering over India
Times of India reports that public cloud services revenue in India is forecast to touch $731 million by the end of 2015, growing more than 31% over last year, research firm Gartner said. High rates of spending on cloud services in India to continue through 2019 when the market is expected to reach $1.9 billion, Gartner said in a statement.
The revenues, which stood at $555 million in 2014, are expected to be driven by high growth rates in key market segments like cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS), cloud management and security services and software as a service (SaaS), it added. Gartner forecast spending on IaaS to total $100 million in 2015, an increase of 25% over last year. Spending on cloud management/security will grow 36.6% to $82 million, and SaaS will grow 33.4% to $302 million this year, Gartner added. "The forecast for cloud services vary based on local factors, including supply and demand within the local markets, country-specific ec…

New Trend Online that's Offline: Apps working offline

With news that Apple is being sued for its WiFi Assist feature on its iPhones it's good to allow apps to be able to work offline.
Times of India reports that at a time when most startups in India are switching to a mobile-first model, a clutch of firms in Silicon Valley and India have moved on to the next stage — an offline-first strategy. Offline first refers to a mobile application-development strategy where the app's most crucial features work even when Internet connectivity is lost. Poor Internet connectivity plagues all geographies, be it metropolitan cities or remote areas. While urban centres suffer from network congestion, remote towns at times get no signal at all, especially in developing nations in Africa and Asia.
"It's becoming a big trend in Silicon Valley, not just in the emerging economies," said Wayne Carter, chief architect of mobile at US-based Couchbase, whose product helps developers design mobile apps that work with or without an Internet c…

UP Potential: Is it UP, UP and away for Uttar Pradesh?

Is it UP, UP and away for Uttar Pradesh? UP is in the news usually with bad press. Can Akhilesh turn it around?
Economic Times reports that it has the population of Germany, France and UK combined, is roughly half the size of Spain, but has poverty levels that could bracket it with any sub-Saharan African nation. Whenever it makes it to national frontpages, it is almost always for caste violence, communal tension, or as we saw last month, the barbaric lynching of a 58-year-old man by a mob accusing him of cow slaughter. But Akhilesh Yadav's Uttar Pradesh (UP) still believes it has what it takes to be the next Asian miracle. 
That dream — and the 42-year-old chief minister's claims — might elicit a patronising smile from the bulge-bracket crowd of Mumbai and New Delhi, but look closer, UP has a lot going for itself. The compound annual growth rate of Uttar Pradesh in the last three years has been higher than the national growth rate. As per the World Bank's Ease of Doing B…

Transparency in 'See Through' Rules: Private Equity in India

Modi government tampering at the edges to attract private equity investors. More needs to be done.
Economic Times reports that the Indian government is set to ease a few pre-set conditions for offshore fund managers to allow private equity investors to shift base to India without attracting a tax on capital gains by relaxing safe harbour rules, people familiar with the matter said. 
The government is likely to allow a 'see through' so that the 10 per cent limit on individual investors does not apply to special purpose vehicles and relax the arm's-length condition that allows only third party fund managers to rekindle investor interest in the scheme as it has failed to attract a single fund manager even eight months after announcing what is known as safe harbour rules, people in the know said. 
After finance minister Arun Jaitley had announced the outlines of safe harbour norms during his budget speech in February, the government had come out with some 15 conditions that t…

Fragmented Future Vision of Digital Devices

Tech companies are gambling on what devices people will be using to interact with the digital world and the future is up for grabs.
Times of India reports that close your eyes and imagine it's five years from now. Now, check your pockets and your desk. Which devices are you using? It's very likely you have a smartphone. But is your second device an iPad-like tablet or a more traditional PC? Or perhaps you have a laptop-tablet hybrid, like Microsoft's Surface? Or maybe you don't own a second device, because your phone is powerful enough. Or you might have everything, because that's how you roll in our hypothetical future.
Okay, open your eyes and get back to the present. If you had any trouble choosing, you have a taste of the dilemmas facing Apple, Google and Microsoft, the three players waging an epic battle for the future of computing. Technology now allows for lots of powerful, compelling computing devices in a wide range of sizes and shapes. Just about everyon…

Battle for Digital Data between US and EU.

There is a battle going on over access to digital data between US and EU. US corporations are opposing further EU regulation over privacy and digital data access.
Times of India reports that as American tech giants extend their global reach, fears are growing on their side of the Atlantic over trade barriers some see as "digital protectionism." While China has long been a difficult market for US firms to navigate, tensions have been rising with the European Union on privacy, antitrust and other issues, impacting tech firms such as Google, Facebook and Uber.
In recent weeks, Europe's highest court struck down an agreement which allowed US firms to transfer personal data out of the region without running afoul of privacy rules. In parallel, Brussels is looking to create a new "digital single market" simplifying rules for operating across EU borders -- but which could also include new regulations for online "platforms." Some see this as a jab at US reta…

2 States: Different States of E-commerce Regulation

Some Indian states are making e-tailers and their customers life difficult.
Times of India reports that if you live in India's most populous state Uttar Pradesh and order a new smartphone from Flipkart, Snapdeal or Amazon, it most likely won't be delivered to your home. The three online marketplaces have virtually stopped delivering products exceeding Rs 5,000 in value to customers in UP and Uttarakhand, citing harassment by tax authorities over a form that buyers are required to furnish when purchasing goods from other states. Buyers have to file a VAT declaration, along with the registration number of the vehicle bringing the products, which has to be furnished by the deliverer. The tax authorities have upped the ante to ensure it is strictly followed and have even seized goods.
"Owing to these statutory restrictions imposed by the UP government, we do customer deliveries for shipments only up to Rs 5,000, which is for interstate shipments," a Flipkart spokesperso…

Digital Content and Things: Becoming an Internet Company

All major tech companies nowadays are diversifying into others areas to get digital content online and products that can be controlled from a single device for their customers.
Times of India reports that  leading Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is aiming for a future as an Internet company with the potential to cross swords with titans such as Alibaba. Xiaomi co-founder and chief executive Bin Lin on Wednesday shared a vision of a future that includes Segway-like self-balancing scooters and smartphones and a role for the company in e-commerce, digital movies and games.
"We'd rather be called an Internet company," Lin said during an on-stage interview at the WSJD Live technology conference on the Southern California coast. "We are really focusing on building out smartphones as the center of all these smart devices that are launched." Xiaomi smartphones can be used to control the company's recently introduced Ninebot mini scooter. China-based Ninebot, owned…

Doing deals with your competitors: Yahoo and Google

Yahoo seem to be following the 'keeping your friends close but your enemies closer' model of business, with its deal with Google. I just wonder if the rise in mobile ad blocking is going to impact Yahoo. Is Yahoo digitally drowning here?
Times of India reports that Yahoo Inc said it had signed a search advertising deal with Google Inc, providing a potential boost to Marissa Mayer's efforts to turn around the company, which also reported revenue and profit that fell short of market estimates. The deal with Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc, builds on an existing search partnership Microsoft Corp under which Yahoo gets a percentage of revenue from ads displayed on its sites.
Yahoo, whose shares were down 1.6% in after-hours trading, said the companies have agreed to delay implementation of the deal in the United States to allow the antitrust division of the Department of Justice to review it. Yahoo has been struggling to boost revenue from ad sales in the face of stiff competi…

India's Grey Market for Smartphones: Apple Pricing in India

It's not all black and white for smartphones in India.
Economic Times reports that for the first time, the grey market for a smartphone is buzzing even after the official launch in the country as cheaper prices of the device offered through unauthorised channels attract customers. 
Apple's latest iPhone 6s and 6s Plus phones are selling out fast in grey market hubs such as Mumbai's Heera Panna, New Delhi's Gaffar Market, Kolkata's Fancy Market and even on eBay, thanks to high official prices of the devices due to a taxation change and a softening rupee. 
Apple sells the new iPhones in India at prices that are as much as Rs 14,000-16,000 higher than in markets such as the US, the Middle East, Singapore and Hong Kong, from where the grey market models are mostly sourced. That gives grey market sellers in India sufficient cushion to aggressively price their models. 
SJP @DigitalAsian

Apple and Google Fragmenting the Digital World: App and Web

Divergence in the Digital World. Are Apple and Google going in different directions? Startups are having to spend time and resources developing both App and web delivery for their customers
Times of India reports that Apple wants mobile devices to be filled with apps. Google supports a world where people browse the web for most things. Now websites are increasingly caught in the middle of those competing visions. Consider The Atavist Magazine, an online publication run by Evan Ratliff. To attract the broadest audience possible, Ratliff said he felt pressure to do everything twice: Once for the web and once for the magazine's app. But maintaining a website and getting readers for it while also building an audience of iPhone users with an app, took time — too much time, Ratliff said. So last month, The Atavist shut down its app and decided to publish only on the web.
"Getting someone to download an app is way harder than targeting them and sending them stories through social m…

Fake Reviews Targeted by Online Portals

Counterfeit reviews are being targeted by online marketplaces now.
BBC News reports "Amazon is taking legal action against more than 1,000 people it says have posted fake reviews on its website. The US online retail giant has filed a lawsuit in Seattle, Washington. It says its brand reputation is being damaged by "false, misleading and inauthentic" reviews paid for by sellers seeking to improve the appeal of their products. It comes after Amazon sued a number of websites in April for selling fake reviews. Amazon says the 1,114 defendants, termed "John Does" as the company does not yet know their real names, offer a false review service for as little as $5 (£3.24) on the website Fiverr.com, with most promising five-star reviews for a seller's products. "While small in number, these reviews can significantly undermine the trust that consumers and the vast majority of sellers and manufacturers place in Amazon, which in turn tarnishes Amazon's brand,…

Beer and Startups: Troubling Brewing for Big Corporates?

Are consumers shunning the big corporate companies for the products and services of smaller startups in many industries from beer to tech startups? Just as tech startups are disrupting various industries, it appears smaller startups in the beer and beverages market are disrupting the bigger megabrews.
The Guardian reports that "Craft beers have taken off in the US and are increasingly popular in Britain, challenging the traditional big players ... The setting for the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) annual awards dinner last week could not have been less like a traditional British boozer. Leading industry figures headed instead to the Royal Garden Hotel next to London’s Kensington Palace, where each course was carefully paired with a suitable beer, including chocolate lager and plum porter. The event reflected the changing culture of beer in Britain. The focus was clearly on local and craft brewers, whose dramatic growth has taken the industry by surprise. Award winners i…

End of SoBo, Rise of Bandra?

With news that the Bombay High Court is looking at land at BKC, is this the slow demise of SoBo?
The Bombay High Court will in several years probably move to purpose built premises in BKC and that will leave only the Bombay Stock Exchange in SoBo. What else will remain unless SoBo is redeveloped?

Maximum City is slowly moving North.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Modi wants Open India

Modi wants to open up India's data. Can he overcome vested interests in doing this?
Economic Times reports that the Indian government is devising ways to ramp up online dissemination of data and make more data available to public for free, an effort that is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Digital India initiative. 
The ministry of statistics and programme implementation is in the process of drafting an agenda note in which it has differentiated between data that can and cannot be shared on its website, officials said. It is planning to make the "sharable data" available to everyone for free, in contrast to the current practice of charging a nominal fee for accessing data at the unit level, they said. 
At present, the government charges fees for providing data from the national sample surveys, Annual Survey of Industries and the economic census. This goes against the spirit of the open data policy, officials said. 

SJP @DigitalAsian

Is Google Exempt from Copyright Laws?

Google riding roughshod over IPR?
BBC News reports "Google can continue to scan millions of books for an online library without violating copyright laws, the US court of appeal ruled on Friday. The court rejected claims from a group of authors that Google Books violated their intellectual property rights. Judges sided with an earlier ruling that the digital library was "fair use" and provided a public service. Authors Guild executive director Mary Rasenberger said the decision was disappointing. The Authors Guild and some individual writers filed the lawsuit in 2005, claiming the project infringed on copyright protection and authors' ability to make money from their work. Google Books is a project to scan and digitise millions of books to allow users to search and read excerpts from them. Judge Pierre Leval wrote: "Google's division of the page into tiny snippets is designed to show the searcher just enough context surrounding the searched term to help her…

Ideas in India Need to be Carried Through: India's Startup Ecosystem

Narendra Modi has good ideas but the proper execution is lacking in India.
Economic Times Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ambitious bid to take India to the head of the global entrepreneurship league is likely to be backed by tax breaks, incubation centres and easier approval processes. This is part of a comprehensive to-do list that the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) is drawing up to help create a robust ecosystem in which entrepreneurship will flower, as envisaged by the Startup India, Stand Up India initiative Modi announced in this year's Independence Day address. 
An action plan is being drawn up based on inputs received from various ministries and departments, a senior government official told ET. "We want to bring the world's best practices to India," he said. "While banks can provide the debt, equity has to come from venture capital funds, angel investors. Many countries exempt them from tax to encourage startups, why can't we?" The sugge…

Empires in Decline: Walmart

Walmart has issued a profits warning and as a result its shares have dropped. This in part is due to competition from the likes of e-commerce firm Amazon. Established bricks and mortar firms are suffering despite e-commerce firms themselves getting into bricks and mortar. Walmart itself revolutionised retail in the US and is now suffering due to changing consumer behaviour and digital disruption. Walmart has to pivot fast just as Pepsi is attempting.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Searching for Original Online Video Content

Can YouTube's dominance of the video content market be broken? What you see is what you get in the video wars.
CNBC reports that "Google has played down the challenge posed to its YouTube business by Facebook's aggressive push into online video, with the U.S. search giant's U.K. head telling CNBC it is "comfortable" with its position when it comes to generating advertising revenue. Facebook has been making major moves in the video space to capture lucrative ad dollars. On Tuesday, the social networking giant announced it was testing a dedicated video feed where users can scroll through and discover new content. It also introduced a feature which lets celebrities live stream content onto the platform and announced a model where it is offering to split revenues gained from adverts sold around original content producers' videos. The Facebook move was designed to attract more original content creators -- the main contributing factor to YouTube's success…

Mind the Gaps: Remote Area Marketing in India

US tech majors such as Microsoft and Facebook are planning to provide Internet services to India's more remote areas. What's the market there for them that they plan to capture?
Times of India reports that telecom operators are up in arms against a Microsoft plan to take Internet to the country's far-flung villages by leveraging tiny gaps left unused between television broadcast frequencies. These companies aren't against the technology or Microsoft's entry into the space per se, industry executives said. Their problem is with the possibility of the US major getting free or exclusive access to this spectrum, called white spaces, which they said is a valuable national asset that telecom operators are also interested in.
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which represents companies such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, is set to shortly write to telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, telecom secretary Rakesh Garg and Telecom Regula…

Pepsi Pivot

News reports are coming in that PepsiCo Inc is working with a licensing partner to market a line of mobile phones and accessories in China in the next few months. 
Pepsi going from food and beverages to tech? Can Coca-Cola be far behind?
SJP @DigitalAsian

Retweet Brand

The behaviour of retweets and Twitter data is very valuable to marketers and their brands.
Times of India reports that a new study has revealed the best time for getting you more retweets. Researchers at the University of Maryland have demonstrated that an algorithm that takes into account the past activity of each of your followers and makes predictions about future tweeting can lead to more retweets than other commonly used methods, such as posting at peak traffic times. The Internet is full of advice about when to tweet to gain maximum exposure, but the new study subjects marketing folk wisdom to scientific scrutiny. Researcher William Rand, along with co-authors, examined the retweeting patterns of 15,000 Twitter followers during two separate five-week intervals in 2011 and 2012, from 6 am to 10 pm.
Retweets are especially valuable to marketers because they help to spread a brand's message beyond core followers. Most marketers are well aware there's a pattern to Twitter t…

The Tech Pivot

Tech firms are getting into businesses far removed from where they originally started off. Getting satellite firms, driverless cars, digital mobile payments, data storage, artificial intelligence, cloud computing to name but a few a few of the businesses entered by the likes of Google, Apple, Amazon, Flipkart, Facebook. Causing disruption along the way. These tech giants have become tech conglomerates. Microsoft, which caused disruption to IBM's business, is itself getting disrupted by startups. These tech giants are converging and becoming very much alike in terms of the services they offer consumers.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Bengaluru and Delhi for Unicorns in India

Bengaluru and Delhi appear to be the incubators for unicorns in India.
Times of India reports that India's unicorn capital is Bengaluru. The city has built on its impressive IT services legacy to emerge as the tech entrepreneurial hub of the nation by playing host to five of the eight homegrown unicorns - Flipkart, Ola, InMobi, Quikr and MuSigma. Other three unicorn Indian companies - e-tailer Snapdeal, restaurant discovery startup Zomato and mobile wallet startup Paytm - are based in New Delhi. 
Unicorn is a term popularized by venture investor Aileen Lee to describe startups valued at a $1 billion or more. CB Insights data shows 140 unicorns are listed globally, with cumulative valuations of $503 billion. 
E-commerce big player Flipkart, which raised nearly $2 billion in 2014, is at the top of the Indian pecking order valued at $15 billion, showed data from Wall Street Journal. Taxi-hailing startup Ola that moved its headquarters from Mumbai to Bengaluru is valued at $5 billion…

Attracting Goods and Services Providers to Online Platforms

Just as Flipkart, Amazon, Snapdeal and others are attracting sellers onto their marketplace, Ola is trying to attract drivers onto its platform. In some sense, Flipkart, Amazon etc could be considered as seller aggregators. Whatever the services or goods the marketplaces are offering, they are trying to attract as many providers of those goods or services onto their online platforms.
Times of India reports that cab aggregator Ola has entered into a partnership with Mahindra First Choice Services (MFCS) - a chain of multi-brand car workshops to offer discounted car maintenance services to driver-partners on its platform. As part of the agreements, all 79 pan-India workshops of Mahindra First Choice Services will offer repair services to Ola drivers at discounted rates. 
As part of the partnership, the company will offer two tailored packages for drivers registered on the Ola platform - Periodic Maintenance Package covering routine maintenance and services and a Cosmetic package for up…

E-commerce gets enterprising: Tech firms pivot and disrupt

The large multinational tech companies such as Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook are good at pivoting into different businesses. E-commerce firm, Amazon is getting into the enterprise market in a big way. They have the resources to invest in developing areas of technology and, thereby disrupt established firms.
CNBC reports "Long known for its ubiquitous website that sells everything, cheap, some of Amazon's biggest moves in recent years have largely been out of sight of everyday shoppers. The company is aggressively pushing into enterprise markets long dominated by companies not normally thought of as direct competitors — including Google, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP — like cloud computing and business intelligence. All of this was underscored by several product launches this past week at AWS re:Invent, including business intelligence tool QuickSight, and database engine Aurora. In going after the enterprise sector, CEO Jeff Bezos is targeting a giant opportunity. Baird…

Digital Diwali in India: Ensuring Delivery at Diwali

E-commerce firms in India have been preparing for several months to get ready for the Diwali season from which they get a big chunk of their income.
E-tailers are beefing up their logistics to try to cope with the huge increase in demand during the festive season in India. This is a busy and lucrative period for the logistics industry in India.
Online marketplaces try to ensure their customers get their goods on time without complaint. Last mile delivery is the crucial factor. 
SJP @DigitalAsian

Startups in the City

Each Indian city has its own flavour of startups: Delhi, Bengaluru and Chennai
Times of India reports that notable names in Chennai's product software world with combined revenues well over close to Rs 3,300 crore (half a billion dollars) and a few unicorns in the making are to gather at a hackers' meet on Wednesday to assert that Chennai is the place to be for enterprise coders.
The Silicon Valley may not have been built in a day, but in the case of Chennai startup founders believe they are already behind in positioning the city as a product software melting pot. Each city has its own flavour of startups: Bengaluru is where the e-commerce giants fashion their offers while the hub for food-startups is nestled in Delhi.
For Chennai, where Sridhar Vembu's Zoho spawned Freshdesk and ChargeBee, and an outcrop of ventures such as OrangeScape, the tag as the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) hub has not stuck as entrepreneurs here would have wanted. "In marketing, if you are ta…

Brand Localisation Across Digital Platforms

Getting localisation right for international brands is a tricky area for etailers to manage.
Economic Times reports that searching for 'joota' might not be the same as looking for shoes during your online shopping spree. The absence of localisation across different Internet based services and platforms has created a barrier which the players are trying to overcome for the next wave of customers.
Snapdeal started the push for localisation last year and after the pilot phase which lasted for a few months, the service was pulled for further tweaks. "From our learnings, we have seen that some of the brands do not like their names being translated into local languages, also there is a need for contextual translation," says Vikas Banga, vice president at Snapdeal. The company is currently working with multiple partners, including Indian Angel Network backed startup, Process9 for localisation of its web and app platforms.
SJP @DigitalAsian

What's in Your Wallet: Unified Payment Interface

Having a unified payment interface in India will speed up use of mobile payments for goods and services. Mobile wallets or Pre-Paid instruments are gaining ground in India 
Economic Times reports that e-commerce companies are hopeful that the new payment facility being launched by the National Payments Corporation will help wean online shoppers off the cash-on-delivery system.
The new payment gateway, called unified payment interface (UPI), may be launched in the next two months and will make transactions through various modes such as credit cards, debit cards, net banking, digital wallets and prepaid cards interoperable and seamless, especially through mobile devices. In India, cash-on-delivery (CoD) accounts for almost two-thirds of online retailers' total transactions. Etailers are keen on reducing transactions completed through this mode as it is difficult for them to track the money collected on delivery of goods till it is deposited in the bank. 
Once UPI becomes operationa…

Secure Communications: Possibility or Pipe Dream?

Protecting corporate and government communications is the name of the game nowadays. Blackberry is slowly changing focus to become more of a software services company in communications and the Internet of Things. There is a big market for security software services.
Times of India reports that Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry's software arm Secusmart and Tata Power Strategic Engineering Division has announced a pact to jointly develop a secure mobile communications system. This high-end communication security solution is aimed at government departments.
"In the era of increasing incidents of espionage in State establishments and corporates with cybersecurity breaches and data theft, the envisaged association with BlackBerry will increase opportunities to accelerate innovation for high-end secure communication solutions," Tata Power SED CEO, Rahul Chaudhry said in a statement. Based in Germany, Secusmart develops and implements solutions for protecting businesses and…

Opposition to FDI in Indian E-commerce

Vested interests in India are trading blows over FDI in e-commerce.
Times of India reports that traders body CAIT has said it will strongly oppose FDI in e-commerce amid a report suggesting the government to review its position and allow foreign investment into B2C e-retail segment. "Any move to allow FDI in e-commerce will be opposed tooth and nail," Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said.
Rejecting the report, it said the recommendations appear to be vague and orchestrated to facilitate entry of multi-national companies and global e-commerce players not only in e-commerce but also in retail trade. It said the survey has failed to study the module of e-commerce players. 
Delhi-based think tank Pahle India Foundation in a report said that e-commerce has actually spurred the growth of Medium and Small Manufacturing Enterprises (MSMEs) and not disrupted the small retailers. "It is our recommendation that the government must review its current policy and allow FDI…

Battle for Voice Services Heats Up in India

Telecom operators have a tough battle on their hands now over voice services.
Times of India reports that Sistema Shyam Teleservices plans to launch a spate of Internet calling plans, becoming the first telecom operator to openly break ranks with peers by encouraging subscribers to make national and international long-distance calls using any OTT (over-the-top) voice services app, be it Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, Google Chat, Messenger or FaceTime. The move by the Indian unit of Russia's Sistema JSFC runs contrary to top mobile operators like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea, which have been battling OTT voice service providers who, they say, are eating into their voice business as OTT is cheaper for users.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Regional and Endangered Languages Content Online

ePublishing in regional and endangered languages is important and opportunities are available online.
Times of India reports that even as the government calls for promoting the use of local languages -- in the real world and online -- a dedicated group led by a language technology expert from Pakistan is working to help the non-English speaking population in India access web addresses in their local scripts.
The 22-member panel, which is working with the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), comprises professionals from the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology's Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), private sector companies like Tata Consultancy Services, and linguists and policy experts.
The panel is headed by eminent professor Udaya Narayana Singh, chair, Centre for Endangered Languages, Visva-Bharati University. It is being supported by ICANN's Sarmad Hussain who is based out of Pakistan, and has been helping develop int…

Investors prefer startup teams?

Do investors prefer startups with many cofounders?
Economic Times reports that too many cooks spoil the broth? Paavan Nanda, one of the seven cofounders of Zo Rooms, a Delhi-based online budget hotel aggregator, doesn't think so. In fact, he has his own version of this age-old adage. "Too many cooks make a rich and lavish buffet," says the 28-year old who looks after marketing at Zo Rooms. 
Nanda met three Zo's cofounders, Dharamveer Singh Chouhan, Akhil Malik and Tarun Tiwari, at IIM-Calcutta three years ago. While the other two members of the group, Abhishek Bhutra and Chetan Chauhan, were the undergrad batchmates of Chouhan, the last one, Siddharth Janghu, is Malik's college mate. That's how the friends started Zostel, India's first chain of hostels for backpackers, in 2013. 
So, when in January this year, the circle of seven started Zo Rooms, all that was needed to finalise its structure was a huddle among the friends. "We are Seven Samurai. And…

Market Sentiment for Bitcoin

Bitcoin going the same way as the 500 Euro note?
Times of India reports that Australian businesses are turning their backs on bitcoin, as signs grow that the cryptocurrency's mainstream appeal is fading. Concerns about bitcoin's potential crime links mean many businesses have stopped accepting it, a trend accelerated by Australian banks' move last month to close the accounts of 13 of the country's 17 bitcoin exchanges. The development is a blow to hopes of bitcoin fans that the currency can play a significant role in everyday business transactions in developed economies, with Australia once seen as one of its most promising markets. It is estimated to hold 7 percent of the currency's $3.5 billion global value, a sizeable figure in a country of just 24 million people.
"We've got a squeaky clean reputation, and that's actually worth a lot more to us than dipping into this," said James Snodgrass, principal of Sydney's Forsyth Real Estate, which …

Recall Value and Ripple Effect: Brand Video Content

Times of India reports that video sharing site YouTube seems to provide a better platform to the brands in the online video realm than rival sites in terms of enhancing "recall value," a new study has found. Research from video content advertising firm Visible Measures found that brands enjoy a so-called "ripple" effect when they share a new video on YouTube that drives views of the brands' older videos -- something that does not happen when they share a new video on Facebook, Wall Street Journal reported.
As a result, videos on YouTube are watched by more people over an extended period of time, the study said. Visible Measures found that 45% of a brand's total views on YouTube are of new content and the remaining 55% are on previously uploaded videos to the brand's YouTube channel. In contrast, when brands upload a new video to Facebook, 95% of the brand's total views are of the new content rather than existing content.

SJP @DigitalAsian

Modi's Silicon Valley Deals: Net Neutrality

Has Modi done a deal with the digital devil?
Economic Times reports that after the initial euphoria over Narendra Modi’s Silicon Valley conquest subsides and the takeaways are counted, the question of Internet biggies playing a vital role in the making of ‘Digital India’ needs to be analysed with regard to India’s stand on net neutrality and the country’s laws. First, in spite of the rattle and hum of billions of dollars pouring into India from California, till now, only Qualcomm has said it would invest up to $150 million. Qualcomm, by the way, is one of the six partners of Facebook in its Internet.org venture.
And just a week back, New Delhi gave approval to a multi-billion dollar helicopter deal with Boeing. No doubt, India’s strategic heavy lift capability is severely impaired and the chopper gunships are getting old. But at a time when India faces an all-time low in its combat aircraft squadron strength, dithering on and scaling back the Rafale deal seems inconsistent with the p…

Optimists Earn Less on Twitter?

Optimism doesn't always pay on social media?
Times of India reports that your tweets can reveal more than you intend to as researchers have found that it is possible to know a Twitter user's income level simply by looking at the words that he or she uses to post messages. Analysing more than 10 million tweets from over 5,000 Twitter users, the researchers found that those who earn more tend to express more fear and anger on Twitter. Those who come across as optimists have a lower mean income, the study said.
Text from those in lower income brackets includes more swear words, whereas those in higher brackets more frequently discuss politics, corporations and the non-profit world, the researchers said. "Lower-income users or those of a lower socio-economic status use Twitter more as a communication means among themselves," said Nikolaos Aletras from University College London. "High-income people use it more to disseminate news, and they use it more professionally…

ESOP's Fables: Stock Option Valuations in E-commerce

The fabled valuations of ESOPs in Indian e-commerce are looking a little high now which has go a lot of people fretting.
Times of India reports that Suraj Kumar (name changed), a senior executive with one of the largest e-commerce companies, has spent sleepless nights with one thought: How will he encash his employee stock options (ESOPs), which contribute about 60% to his gross annual salary. As e-commerce valuations peak, senior executives in the industry are making a beeline to the offices of lawyers and human resource advisers to find ways to encash their ESOPs before valuations start melting.
"Top-level talent is watchful of the valuation story and is keeping tabs on where the industry is going," says GC Jayaprakash, executive director at RGF Executive Search. Last week, when Ontario Teachers' Pension Fund picked up a minority stake in Snapdeal's parent company, a lot of employees holding these stock options sold out along with an outgoing investor. In the last…