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Showing posts from November, 2016

Flipping Executives at Flipkart

Flipkart's SVP (engineering) Peeyush Ranjan, who was the chief technology officer at the company till a few months back, has resigned, adding to the list of top-level exits that have hit the e-tailer since last year, reports Times of India. Ranjan, a former Google executive, joined the e-commerce major in May last year along with another Googler, chief product officer Punit Soni, who also has quit the Bengaluru-based online retailer. Both these high-profile Silicon Valley hires were reportedly drawing $1 million in cash and stock options.
SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Year of the Hack

2016 has been the year where we have seen regular news of computer systems being hacked. Whether its government systems, email accounts, political parties, banks, transport systems to name a few.

Its no surprise that cybersecurity is high on the agenda. for governments and corporates with investments on the rise for security technology and expertise.
SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Cybersecurity Startups get Funding

Cybersecurity startups are flavor of the month for investors.

When Vishal Gupta started Seclore, an enterprise security company in 2010, investors and customers were apprehensive, reports Economic Times. There was till then no established model of an Indian software provider in the cybersecurity space. “We had trouble establishing trust“ Gupta recalls.
Today, Gupta says, the environment has dramatically changed. Out of the 29 funded startups in the cybersecurity space, 12 have raised funding in 2015 and 2016, according to startup analytics firm Tracxn. Some 27 new companies came up in this space in the same period.
Much of this is driven by large-scale data breaches across sectors. “Even five years ago, security used to be a sub-function of IT. It wasn't something which would get reported in the top management. Now, information security is becoming a boardroom topic. When you lose information, it is not just about embarrassment anymore. You lose money, customers, and even lives. …

Opportunity amid the Chaos: Demonetisation, Disruption and Digital India

News that the Andhra Pradesh government is planning to distribute free mobile phones to enable economically-backward people to undertake cashless transactions in the wake of Demonetisation, suggests there is opportunity amid the chaos.
With recent news that Airtel, Idea and other telcos have been granted payment bank licences to, in effect, become bankers and compete with the established banks, with the spike in digital payment, e-wallets subscribers and more interest in e-commerce and m-commerce, Demonetisation is proving to be a major disruptor in India with opportunities available.

People are having to look for alternatives to cash in India. Demonetisation is proving to be a shot in the arm for Digital India and a major disruptor in India.
SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

AI finds its way in Translation

Using AI to translate between multiple languages.
Google has introduced a newly updated machine-learning based system for its translator service - Google Translate. Announced via an official post on its Research blog, the company has updated its Google Neural Machine Translation (GNMT) tool with the addition of 'Zero-Shot Translation'. According to Google, GNMT allows it to provide 'an end-to-end learning framework that learns from millions of examples' and significantly improves translation quality. But it's also quite a challenge for developers to add translation support for more than 100 languages.
After the Zero-Shot Translation update, Google will be able to perform translations between languages without the presence of a similar pairing instance in the past. 'In Google's Multilingual Neural Machine Translation System: Enabling Zero-Shot Translation, we address this challenge by extending our previous GNMT system, allowing for a single system to trans…

Micro funds fill a niche in India's startup ecosystem

Micro funds fill a niche in India's startup ecosystem.
Delhi-based small fund Quarizon is in the last leg of closing its second round of capital raise of Rs 20 crore to give startups a fillip to their humble beginnings, reports Times of India. Quarizon has just finished deploying its first fund of Rs 12 crore across eight startups in need for seed investments. The funding squeeze in the tip of the startup pyramid this year, may have slowed sentiment at the bottom too, but a new wave of investors, such as Quarizon, are slowly rising to fill the gaps. According to data from Venture Intelligence, Q3 2016 has seen a dip in early-stage investments with a mere 27 deals worth $22 million as against $33 million raised by early-stage startups in Q2. It is this problem that is being inadvertently addressed by the wave of small or micro funds such as Quarizon. The funds, with a corpus of anything between Rs 15 crore to Rs 100 crore, typically look at investments ranging from Rs 75 lakh-1.2 …

App Development, Enhancement and Marketing from Users

As users find different ways of using an app, whether its WhatsApp or Uber, the app provider adds new features to allow users to take the app in the direction the users want. Whether its groups on WhatsApp that allow users to promote their businesses to others or Uber getting into event-related travel.

Taxi-hailing app Uber has partnered WedMeGood, a wedding planning website, to offer mobility solutions for wedding-related travel in 12 Indian cities, report Times of India. UberWEDDINGS will be live till February 2017 and will provide convenient, hassle-free and cashless mobility solution to users in New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Chennai, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Ludhiana, Pune, Udaipur and Lucknow, Uber India said in a statement.
Apart from India, Uber offers UberWEDDINGS in Washington DC, San Francisco, New York, Boston and LA as well. "Weddings in India are typically an elaborate affair, often spanning month-long planning and week-long celebrations involving…

Chinese Investments in Indian Startups

Boycott China messages may have become routine on WhatsApp in India, reports Times of India. But in the startup world, India and China are drawing closer. Chinese companies and funds have become big investors in Indian startups, and they are becoming particularly useful now as US funds slow down. Beijing Miteno Communication Technology, a Chinese tech conglomerate, made this year's biggest acquisition in the technology startup space - the $900 million buyout of Media.net, a subsidiary of Mumbai-based Directi founded by brothers Bhavin and Divyank Turakhia.
E-commerce giant Alibaba has made large investments in Paytm and Snapdeal. Didi Chuxing, the equivalent of Uber in China, has invested in Ola. Internet giant Tencent recently led a $175-million fun ding in messaging app Hike. Prior to that, it led a $90-million f round in healthcare solutions firm Practo, and, through its joint venture with South Africa's Naspers, invested in online travel firm Ibibo Group.
Cheetah Mobile, …

Danger, Selfie Ahead

Next time you're at the Taj Mahal, find yourself standing on a precarious cliff or see an approaching train, maybe just enjoy the moment rather than trying to capture the perfect selfie, reports Times of India. These are just three of the ways that 76 selfie-takers in India have lost their lives, according to a study published by US-based Carnegie Mellon University and Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology Delhi.
In the quest for the coolest selfie, more people have died in India in the past two years than the total number of selfie-related deaths in the rest of the world, according to the study titled "Me, Myself and My Killfie: Characterizing and Preventing Selfie Deaths". Using special search techniques to trawl the internet and social media, the researchers identified 127 confirmed selfie deaths since March 2014. They blamed people's desire for more "likes" and comments on social media for driving increasingly risky selfie-taking. "(The…

Maximising ad revenue, digital content and pivoting

Maximising ad revenue, digital content and pivoting for the future

Mobile is best known for Android apps like Clean Master, CM security, Piano Tiles and live-streaming apps like Live.me, reports Times of India. At the sidelines of the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) held in Bengaluru, Morden Chen, General Manager of Cheetah Mobile Asia Pacific Business spoke to ETtech about privacy issues, their unique ad-monetisation platform, push towards Video and news content and how Robotics is the future for the mobile ad company.
Edited excerpts: Reports sight that Cheetah mobile manipulates android users through deceptive advertising on its apps... We are a company which makes utility apps which people use daily to boost their phones through cache cleaning apps, battery saver or making beautiful wallpapers. These are universal features that almost every mobile user needs. This helped us get a huge user base. Making utility apps in the android mobile space helped us scale over the years…

India's migration to digital is well under way

India's migration to digital is well under way with demonetisation, UPI, Aadhar card and now with major corporations investing heavily in IoT and IIoT.

Reliance Industries and GE has announced a global partnership to built digital solutions for $25 billion worth industrial internet of things (IIoT) business, reports Times of India. "RIL and GE will work together to build out joint applications on GE's Predix platform," said a joint statement. "The first-of-its-kind partnership marks the coming together of two of the world's largest industrial conglomerates to provide Industrial IoT solutions to customers in oil and gas, fertilizer, power, healthcare, telecom and other industries," it said.
IoT products are connected to internet and can be operated from any part of the world using data connectivity like remote locking of car, controlling function of CCTV, water and electric meter reading using mobiles. "The presence of ubiquitous high bandwidth con…

Other Uses for Blockchain

Accenture patents editing system for Blockchain technology, this puts in doubt the main feature of Blockchain technology which is said to be its immutability, by a system that will allow data processed and stored using the technology to be edited. How will this impact use of Blockchain?

IBM and Walmart are to be part of a joint effort to track movement of Chinese food products with Blockchain to try to prevent food contamination. So not just financial transactions being tracked but products also.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Changing search rankings for fake news

Alphabet Inc's Google said on Monday it is working on a policy change to prevent websites that misrepresent content from using its AdSense advertising network, a move aimed at halting the spread of "fake news" and other types of misinformation on the internet, reports Times of India. The shift comes as Google, Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc face a backlash over the role they played in the U.S. presidential election by allowing the spread of false and often malicious information that might have swayed voters toward Republican candidate Donald Trump.
The issue has provoked a fierce debate within Facebook especially, with Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg insisting twice in recent days that the site had no role in influencing the election. Google's move does not address the issue of fake news or hoaxes appearing in Google search results. That happened in the last few days, when a search for 'final election count' for a time took users to a fake news story saying Tr…

Social Media Before and During Live Events

Twitter still seems to be the preferred social media platform for users in major live events like elections and, therefore, for advertisers.
Facebook has also been in the news over alleged fake news items that were supposed to have helped Trump get elected. Facebook seems to be the preferred platform for comments and news for the time leading up to live events.
Twitter said it was able to deliver more viewers than promised to advertisers on a US election night livestream, good news for the microblogging site as it tries to ward off growing competition for ad dollars from Snapchat and Instagram, reports Times of India. Twitter partnered with BuzzFeed to host an election night broadcast on Tuesday and attracted major advertisers, including Paramount Pictures, Amazon.com Inc's (AMZN.O) "Man in the High Castle," Activision Blizzard Inc's (ATVI.O) "Call of Duty," Johnnie Walker and Izod.
San Francisco-based Twitter declined to say how much it charged brands to …

Indian Language Software needed for SMEs

Christopher Richard wants to be the Tata Consultancy Services for small-and-medium businesses in India, but he wants public cloud companies like Microsoft and Amazon to pay him for it, reports Economic Times. Richard's company - G7CR - offers SMEs customised software hosted on the Microsoft's Azure public cloud but does not charge them for the development costs. The SMEs just pay for the cost of using Microsoft's services, typically less than Rs 5,000 a month.
"Because I am a registered cloud service provider with Microsoft, you typically get about 15% of all the cloud spends you bring in. So that is my margin. Then are also other incentives that they have like sometimes there is a 20% cash back, though those are not constant," Richard told ET. G7CR's business model is not yet common in the software technology sector. Indian IT services companies typically only sell application development services to large players. SMEs typically have to buy off-the-shelf s…

Preparing for AI

With the major tech firms and startups investing in AI research and with the larger tech firms buying up AI companies like there's no tomorrow (see AI M and A), AI will clearly have a huge impact on jobs and services.

Investors believe it is "inevitable" that artificial intelligence (AI) will destroy millions of jobs and that governments are unprepared for such an impact, according to a survey published on Thursday, reports Times of India. Artificial Intelligence, or the process by which computers or robots take on tasks that need human intelligence, is one of the key themes of this week's Web Summit in Lisbon. The poll among 224 venture capitalists (VCs) attending the conference showed 53% believed AI would destroy millions of jobs and 93% saw governments as unprepared for this.
The survey also found that 83% of the investors canvassed expect Britain's exit from the European Union to damage Europe's economy and 77% believe it will damage British startups. L…

Rumours spread fast on social media and messaging apps

Rumours abound about the security features of the new currency notes in India.
The all-new Rs 2,000 currency notes hitting the market today are rumoured to be quite hi-tech, reports Times of India. Wonder what all technologies they are supposed to be embedded with GPS, nano-chip and camera, so claim the numerous messages doing rounds on WhatsApp. The high-value Rs 2,000 note with GPS nano-chip embedded is supposed to track the notes' location. The messages claim that the signal reflector in these chips share the precise location of the note. It is said to be so strong that it can be tracked even if the notes are kept 100 meters below the ground. Here's one of the WhatsApp message circulating:
Why RBI is issuing these 2000 Rupees Notes The Rs 2,000 currency is designed keeping in mind to eradicate the black money issues using state of the art indigenous nano technology, every Rs. 2,000 currency note is embedded with a NGC (Nano GPS Chip).
The unique feature of the NGC is it do…

Branded Conversations in Messaging Apps

Monetising free messaging apps

Soon, if you've used Facebook's standalone messaging app to communicate with a company or comment on a thread, any brands linked to either activity will have the opportunity to target you with advertising messages, reports Times of India. Though Sponsored Messages are not a new feature, until now, they have been the preserve of a select few organizations that have been testing the waters. 
However, at the Web Summit in Lisbon on Tuesday, the world's biggest social network confirmed that the platform behind the service is being opened to potentially all advertisers as a way of reaching consumers. Facebook has also pledged to put controls in place to stop potential inbox spam. Firms won't be able to "cold call," there will have to be an existing link between a brand or product and a Facebook Messenger user. The service could take months to roll out.
SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

eBooks and other Digital Content May Get Boost in India

eBooks and other digital in India may get a boost with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's clampdown on black money with the withdrawal overnight from circulation the old Rs.500 and Rs.1000 notes. Opportunity amid the chaos for authors and publishers of eBooks.
The move will force more people to use more electronic payments, especially if the Indian government limits the circulation of new Rs.500 and Rs.2000 notes. Perhaps more of the unbanked will get bank accounts now.
Electronic payment providers are expected to do well out of this move.
SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Hyderabad Angel Investors Set Up Network Abroad

Hyderabad Angels plans to set up a chapter in the USA with 20 members scattered across east and west coasts, a move that chairman Daggubati Suresh Babu said will help the first angel network from the city to start an overseas chapter, get leads, and close deals in the US, reports Times of India. The US chapter is expected to be functional in the next two months, Daggubati said. "This will make our deal flow better and also increase our member size," he said.
This comes on the heels of Hyderabad's startup stakeholders taking special interest in building a bridge between the Indian and American startup ecosystems. Telangana-backed incubator T-Hub, in partnership with Uber and TiE Silicon Valley, recently launched an initiative to connect Indian startups with global markets and help bring global startups to India. Similarly, Hyderabad-based early-stage venture capital firm Endiya Partners has brought in a member from Silicon Valley to help it close some international deals…

Sharing and Communicating with Images: Future of Messaging Apps and Ads

Communicating ideas and content is changing with the apps that are available. This will change how advertisers spend their budgets.

For the past couple of years, Facebook has done nothing significant about its Snapchat problem, reports Times of India. Sure, Mark Zuckerberg and co have tried to clone parts of Snapchat with failed apps like Slingshot. But Facebook has never really thrown its full weight behind taking Snapchat head on.

Until now. During Facebook's quarterly earnings call this past week, Zuckerberg explained that Facebook now sees the camera as the future of how people share and communicate. "In most social apps today, a text box is still the default way we share," he said. "Soon, we believe a camera will be the main way that we share." While he didn't name Snapchat specifically on the call, make no mistake: Facebook's full attack on Snapchat has begun.
As my colleague Biz Carson has explained, Snapchat (or Snap Inc) recently simplified it…

Ideas Ministry India

The New Ministry of Ideas India.
Imagine this: You are headed with your family to the New Delhi railway station, reports Economic Times. En route you receive a text intimating you that your train to Varanasi will leave in an hour. Before that the Indian Railways (IR), clearly in no mood to ignore an opportunity for revenue generation, has slipped in a sponsored message. It’s short and sweet, so you don’t mind the intrusion. Your spouse meantime reminds you to hunt down a porter once you reach the station. You grin, whisk out the mobile again and zoom into an app that allows you to book a porter. The spouse is suitably impressed. You chortle again, with a you-ain’t-seen-nothing-yet look on your face.
You reach the station, hasten to your coupe, and the first thing the kids do is switch on the television — presto, on the screen is IR’s own entertainment channel and its own version of the children’s programme Thomas and Friends. The kids are wonderstruck. Why shouldn’t IR, which ferries…

Funding for Indian Startups: No slump just yet

Are fears of a slump in startup investments overplayed, asks Times of India. That seems to be the case as funding commitment - from investors to venture capital funds - has octupled to Rs 9,469 crore between October 2015 and September 2016 vis-a-vis Rs 984.81 crore in the corresponding months of the previous year, an ET analysis into Sebi data revealed. Venture capital funds (or VCFs) have managed to lock down investments worth Rs 7,296 crore in the second quarter of current fiscal alone, making it the best months for start-up fund raising. In terms of capital raised, VCFs have raised Rs 1,107 crore between October 2015 and September 2016 - marking a clear 75% jump from the previous year. Actual startup investments have more than doubled over the past one year to Rs 926 crore as against Rs 431 crore mobilized between October 2014 and September 2015, the Sebi data revealed.
"The general feeling is that there's a slowdown...but there's no slowdown at all. There's a ste…

Idea Intrapreneurs

Small and mid-sized companies are increasingly incubating startups within the organisation, once largely the domain of large technology enterprises, to access ideas that can give them a competitive edge, reports Times of India. This is also a much faster way to test an idea in a low-risk environment before deciding whether it's worth investing in and scaling up.
At the India headquarters of navigation company TomTom a couple of months ago, coinciding with the launch of its innovation centre, was the Pune Innovation Day where eight teams presented their ideas to Barbara Belpaire, general manager India, and Alain De Taeye, a member of the global board. "We want everyone in the organisation to come up with ideas and build a culture of innovation. Over the next six months, the winners will be CEOs of their project and will work on making it a reality," said Belpaire. 
The idea is to have them function as startups within the organisation, even as they continue their day jobs…

Idea Protection - Get a Divorce Lawyer?

Idea Protection - Get a Divorce Lawyer?
It’s well known that millennials prize experiences over possessions, but the latest trend in prenuptial agreements shows that this generation might also favour protecting what’s in their head over what’s in their wallet, reports Times of India. Nowadays it’s thoughts and ideas that couples want to protect in case of a breakup. Just over half of matrimonial attorneys saw an increase in millennials requesting prenups over the last three years, according to a survey of 1,600 lawyers conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. It’s not just millennials: Some 62% of those polled said clients of all ages are increasingly asking for prenups. But it’s a notable increase from how many 18- to 35year-olds were going for prenups a generation ago.
“Millennials are getting older and richer,” said Randall Kessler, a divorce lawyer in Atlanta. “Prenups used to be for money but now prenups do different things, like safeguarding intangible property…

Indian VCs looking for Smart Exits

That a grim market scenario has venture capital firms locking up their purses in 2016 is a fact unmatched, reports Times of India. But venture capital firms have turned their eye towards a global solution to return capital to their investors and deliver the best possible return they can, in times of distress. As many VC funds approach the end of their fund's life cycle, they are being forced to harvest returns or pay a price. In order to enable healthier and faster exits, investors are looking to create tie-ups or co-investing strategies with global investors.
Some are also looking to merge their portfolio companies with bigger global players to ensure fair returns. "We are working with global companies. We are working actively with foreign partners. We have to collectively create more exits," said Sanjay Nath, managing partner, Blume Ventures. The early-stage investment firm exited VoxPop Clothing in April this year, when US-based Bioworld Merchandising acquired the li…

eBooks and Education Set to Get a Makeover

Tech startups are tying up with brick-and-mortar publishing houses to use augmented and virtual reality to bring textbooks and lessons to life, reports Times of India. Ever sat through a class where the teacher droned on about the Great Barrier Reef, while you wished you could be transported to its colourful corals that are home to countless sea creatures? Or maybe drifted off into an imaginary spotting of a woolly mammoth during a geography class? Tech startups and publishing houses are tying up to attempt to bring such flights of fantasy into the classroom with augmented and virtual reality. Virtual reality (VR), or creating a virtual world that users can interact with, and augmented reality (AR) or the blending of the virtual and the real, are technologies that are transforming every sector from real estate and medicine to gaming and education.
The potential to change the ways students study is what has many startups and tech giants truly excited. Technology behemoth Google, for i…