Showing posts from June, 2016

How to invest in a globalised world where anti-globalisation forces are on the rise?

How to invest in a globalised world where anti-globalisation forces are on the rise? This is the challenge that Brexit has thrown up for tech firms and investors around the world. 
As tech firms increasingly look internationally for expansion and technology increasingly allows globalisation, tech investors are facing challenging times ahead. Startups are facing tougher times ahead
SJP @DigitalAsian

VCs searching the world for ideas, disruptive ideas

VCs searching the world for ideas, disruptive ideas.
Economic Times reports that Wipro Ventures, the $100-million venture capital arm of India's third largest outsourcing firm Wipro, plans to bet big on mature, disruptive ideas from some of the world's best startup ecosystems such as the Silicon Valley and Israel, at a time when the company is starting to tap a large number of startups simultaneously through investments in VC firms. Wipro Ventures' team recently even spent a few weeks in Tel Aviv, where they met dozens of startups and venture capital firms with portfolios of early-stage ventures focusing on enterprise technology and areas such as cybersecurity.  
In an exclusive interview with ET earlier in June, Venu Pemmaraju and Biplab Adhya who jointly spearhead Wipro Ventures said that the venture capital arm wants to focus on startups that are capable of solving "complex enterprise problems."  "We did spend some time in Israel a few weeks back, and we…

Share and share alike, except in Startups: Liquidation Preferences for VCs

Startup founders beware. Agreements with VCs are full of terms and conditions that benefit them when a startup valuation is not doing as well as expected. Liquidation preference are preferred shares that VCs get that when they invest in a startup that give them preference over the shares of the founders and management team. These preferred shares behave like equity if the startup valuation is rising but if the acquisition value is below a threshold amount, then these shares can act like debt on the startup and its founders. So, in certain cases, when the acquisition prices are lower than expected, all the sale proceeds go to the venture capitalists and nothing is left for the founders. 
See CNBC article

SJP @DigitalAsian

Communicating Content

Communicating content is what the digital platforms and the digital content producers want.
Times of India reports that in a bid to provide seamless digital content to its users, domestic smartphone maker Micromax on Monday announced its partnership with Eros International's digital platform Eros Now. "Micromax has been working towards building its services portfolio to offer convenience and exceptional digital experience to its consumers. With this partnership, the Eros Now app will be pre-installed into Micromax's latest smartphones," the company said in a statement.
Eros Now will leverage Micromax's presence of over 150,000 retail outlets to distribute its content. "With this partnership, we will expand our ability to provide entertainment on-the-go, anywhere and anytime to Micromax's new acquisition of 3.5 million users every month and also their existing base of more than 30 million connected users," said Rishika Lulla Singh, CEO, Eros Digital…

What Becomes of the Aggregated?

Taxi aggregators like Ola and Uber are expanding in India. But what of those taxi drivers that they aggregate?
Stories from the taxi drivers suggest that they did well in the early days when there were fewer of them around who were working through the likes of Uber and Ola. But as their numbers increased their income has slowly decreased.
Economic Times publishes an article on the experiences of these taxi drivers
SJP @DigitalAsian

Providing location context to communications is a way forward for Twitter

Providing location context to communications is a way forward for Twitter.
Times of India reports that micro-blogging website Twitter has rolled out a new feature that will let users see tweets from a specific place, like a business, sports stadium or music festival, a media report said. Foursquare, a search and discovery service mobile app, is powering precise place identification for this new Twitter feature. In exchange, Foursquare gets prominent branding, links back and the ability to improve its own database, technology website reported on Saturday.
The new location feature is available to all iOS users and will go on other platforms later. "We're excited about this integration which has been getting deeper over time. Location can provide important context for any moment, and our location intelligence is best-in-class. We're proud to support Twitter in the US, Canada, Brazil and many other geographies. Stay tuned for more to come,"…

PE funds hiring execution-level talent in India

PE funds are hiring execution-level talent in India.
Economic Times reports that as global and domestic private equity funds step up their India presence in the second lap of their journey in the country, they are beefing up their teams with junior-level talent to help them source and execute deals better. And the funds are paying these young undergraduates and graduates from top Indian and global institutes, in the age group of 23-28, anywhere between Rs 35 and Rs 80 lakh, say headhunters and industry experts. 
There have been more than two dozen people in that age group who have been hired across funds in the past 12-18 months. Barings Private Equity Asia hired Rohit Agarwal in March this year, Advent International hired analysts Deepanshu Agarwal in 2016 and Aamir Zeb in 2015, Blackstone hired Nikhil Goyal and Sabah Farheen, and Vedant Saboo as analysts in 2015, to name a few. 
With half the talent in these funds at the vice president, director and partner levels, they have become…

Voice calls through apps dent the revenues of telecom operators

Voice calls through apps dent the revenues of telecom operators.
Times of India reports that Over 100 million voice calls are made every day on messaging app WhatsApp. The company announced this in a blog post. "For more than a year, people have used WhatsApp Calling to talk with friends and family around the world. It's a great way to stay in touch, especially when connecting with people in other countries, or when messages alone won't do. Today, more than 100 million voice calls are made every day on WhatsApp - that's over 1,100 calls a second! We're humbled that so many people have found this feature useful, and we're committed to making it even better in the months to come," said the Facebook-owned WhatsApp in the post.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Messaging platforms face tougher scrutiny

Messaging platforms face tougher scrutiny.
Times of India reports that India's Supreme Court will hear next Wednesday a petition seeking a ban on WhatsApp on the ground that the messaging platform's end-to-end encryption gives terrorists a means of communication that is impossible to intercept.
Filed by Sudhir Yadav, a Haryana-based right-to-information (RTI) activist, the petition said WhatsApp has from April started to enable its every message with 256-bit encryption that cannot be broken into.
"Even if WhatsApp was asked to break through an individual's message to hand over the data to the government, it too would fail as it does not have the decryption keys either," Yadav said in his petition.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Low tech solution to high tech problem

Low tech solution to high tech problem.
Times of India reports that Facebook-owned picture sharing network Instagram recently touched 500 million monthly active users. To celebrate the feat, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared a fun picture. In the picture, Zuckerberg is holding what appears to be a wooden frame in the background is his laptop. But it seems, he revealed more than he intended to.
As Twitter user Chris Olsen pointed out on the micro-blogging website, Zuckerberg covers the webcam of his laptop with a tape. Take a closer look at the picture and it appears that his laptop's microphone is taped as well.
SJP @DigitalAsian

ShareYaar: App to Post and Discover Events, Functions, Exhibitions Near You

ShareYaar App to Post and Discover Events, Functions, Exhibitions Near You 

Are you interested finding out about events, functions or exhibitions going on around you? Do you want to share or advertise your own event? Here we present a great App for you - ShareYaar - that allows you to post and seek information regarding various events happening and yet to happen near you. You can filter the events by your center of interest. 
Accessing information about the events is made much easier. Events spanning different domains related to education, technology, art, entertainment, culture and many more can be found here. Details such as theme, dates, timings, venue, entry fee, speakers and important guests can can be seen and shown. With this app you won't miss any kind of event happening in your town/city. 
You can tell your friends and family about any event by sending them a message from this App. So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and install this App. Start discovering, exploring and…

Aggregating traders and trading strategies via social trading platforms to take on the hedge funds

Aggregating traders and trading strategies via social trading platforms to take on the hedge funds.
CNBC reports "Imagine you knew a friend of a friend who kept bragging about the killing they were making trading. You don't know where they were investing, all you know is that they are doing really well. But imagine if you could invest directly into that person's strategy and also make money like them. This is the premise of so-called "social trading" platforms that have been on the rise aiming to shake up the hedge fund industry.
Darwinex is one of the latest entrants in the space. The company allows traders to sign up and people can buy into their strategy. The trader's trades and strategy are wrapped into a "Darwin". Users can buy a Darwin which means that any money they invest will be traded exactly how the trader would do it. "There are traders who are better than your bank and financial advisor but you can't invest in any of them. We…

E-commerce firms offer offline assistance to shoppers to lure them online

Offering offline assistance to shoppers may be a way for e-tailers to lure customers online.
Times of India reports that Amazon India is expanding its offline presence in the country as it looks to further localise its offering and bring on board customers who are still reluctant to shop online. The e-tailer has tied up with Vodafone India, the country's second-largest telecom operator by customers, to provide a touch-and-feel experience of smartphones like One-Plus 3, which sell exclusively on the platform.
Amazon India and Vodafone have started pilots of this service in Bengaluru, across 40 stores owned by the telecom major. The tie up with Vodafone follows the expansion of Amazon's assisted shopping programme, called Udaan, to over 1,000 outlets in tier-II and tier-III cities across the country.
While Vodafone declined to comment to an emailed query, an Amazon India spokesperson confirmed the development. As part of the tie-up, each Vodafone store now has a display case wi…

VCs competing with Crowdfunders

VC firm, Draper Esprit recently listed on the London Stock Exchange, raising over $140 million and thereby allowing retail investors to invest in tech startups. Shares were issued at 300 pence and reached 312 pence in early on. 
The idea, says Draper Esprit, is to allow retail investors into tech startups. Crowdfunders have been gaining ground and allow retail investors to get in at the early stage for fast-growing startups. However, later stage rounds have been shut for these investors, and Draper Esprit wants to change this.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Which Smartphones Catch your Eye?

Which smartphones catch your eye?
Times of India reports that scientists, including one of Indian-origin, have developed a new artificial intelligence (AI) software that can turn any smartphone into an eye-tracking device. Eye-tracking technology - which can determine where in a visual scene people are directing their gaze - has been widely used in psychological experiments and marketing research, but the required pricey hardware has kept it from finding consumer applications.
In addition to making existing applications of eye-tracking technology more accessible, the system developed by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and University of Georgia may enable new computer interfaces or help detect signs of incipient neurological disease or mental illness.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Sharing Information and Investors with the Enemy: Uber and Didi

Sleeping with the enemy: Didi and Uber
Times of India reports that ride-hailing companies Uber and Didi have brought many new dimensions to the startup industry, such as making billion-dollar-plus funding rounds routine. Now, they have added another to the list: sharing big investors who are backing both companies, even though they are fierce rivals.
Uber, the leading ride service in the United States and much of the world, and Didi Chuxing, which claims 87% of the Chinese market for private vehicle ride-hailing, now share at least four investors: asset manager BlackRock, Chinese investment manager Hillhouse Capital Group, hedge fund Tiger Global and insurer China Life, according to investment records and sources familiar with the deals.
"It's very unusual to allow the same parties to invest and get information rights of sworn mortal enemies," said Max Wolff, chief economist at Manhattan Venture Partners. "But then again, it's also not common to raise $14 billi…

Getting in on the Conversation: Messaging Technology

Microsoft gets in on the conversation.
Times of India reports that technology giant Microsoft has acquired a messaging-app founded by an Indian as the US-based software firm aims to strengthen its position in the emerging era of combining the power of human language with advanced machine intelligence. Microsoft acquired California-based Wand Labs, a startup which builds messaging technology for apps, founded in 2013 by IIT-Delhi alumnus Vishal Sharma who was previously the vice president, products at Google. The terms of the acquisition were not made public.
"This acquisition accelerates our vision and strategy for 'Conversation as a Platform' which (India-born CEO of Microsoft) Satya Nadella introduced at our Build 2016 conference," Corporate vice president, Information Platform Group at Microsoft David Ku said in a statement yesterday.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Satya and Jeff get Linked: Microsoft Goes Social

Microsoft plans to drive sales of its products and services through social media.

Times of India reports that Microsoft today announced that it is acquiring LinkedIn for $196 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at $26.2 billion, inclusive of LinkedIn's net cash. Jeff Weiner will remain CEO of LinkedIn, and he will report directly to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. "The LinkedIn team has grown a fantastic business centered on connecting the world's professionals. Together we can accelerate the growth of LinkedIn, as well as Microsoft Office 365 and Dynamics as we seek to empower every person and organization on the planet," said Nadella.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Getting Sirious: Chat Bot Battleground

Chat Bots are becoming a key battleground for tech firms.
Times of India reports that Apple's Siri made a big splash when the wisecracking digital assistant debuted on the iPhone five years ago. But as other tech giants jockey to build intelligent ``chat bots'' and voice-controlled home systems capable of more challenging AI feats, Siri at times no longer seems cutting edge.
On Monday, Apple is expected to demonstrate an upgrade to Siri's smarts as it kicks off its annual software conference. It's a potentially momentous time for the company; sales of its flagship iPhone are slowing, and AI is emerging as a key tech battleground. Apple, Google, Facebook and others are racing to create digital services that consumers will find indispensable for shopping, chatting, controlling other appliances and simply getting through their daily lives.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Mobile and Modular: The Way Forward?

Smartphone and smart watch makers are going modular providing add-on attachments for various extra functionality. Will users like carrying various add-ons with them?
Times of India reports that modular phones aren't yet a thing, per se, but that doesn't mean underdog (i.e. not Apple or Samsung) smartphone-makers aren't trying their darnedest to put them on the radar. First it was LG with its hit-and-miss G5, and now Motorola (Lenovo) with the Moto Z and its snap-on, Ashton Kutcher-approved "Moto Mods." If our hands-on time is any indication, this could be the first modular approach that really matters.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Incentivising the move away from websites to apps

Incentivising the move away from websites to apps.
Times of India reports that in a major shake-up, technology giants Google and Apple have reportedly been testing a new revenue sharing model for developers that would give them more money when users subscribe to a service via their apps. "Instead of keeping 70% of all revenue generated from subscriptions, publishers will be able to keep 85% of revenue once a subscriber has been paying for a year," a report on technology website Re-Code said on Thursday.
However, there's one big difference between the announcements of both the companies. For Apple developers, the split will only be given after a consumer has been subscribing to a service for more than a year. But unlike Apple, instead of requiring developers to rope in a subscriber for 12 months before offering the better split, Google will release the money right away.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Will the tronc Trounce the Competition?

Tribune Publishing, the company that owns the Chicago Tribune and the LA Times, amongst others, will change its name to “tronc Inc.” The company said that tronc Inc would be “a content curation and monetization company focused on creating and distributing premium, verified content across all channels”. The name is short for Tribune Online Content. The company also announced the launch of “troncX”, which is an “online curation and monetization engine” which uses AI for “digital growth”.
Content curation and monetizaion engines are, in effect, what all major media companies are in the digital age.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Cowboys and Indians: E-commerce in India and China

E-commerce market differences between China and India.
Times of India reports that Amazon's founder & CEO Jeff Bezos has said India and China are completely different markets, contrary to the narrative prevalent in the Indian consumer Internet space. "In India, we gave our team all-round software engineers and I asked them to be fast-acting cowboys instead of calm clear-headed computer scientists, and they took those instructions and have done an amazing job," Bezos said during a chat at tech portal ReCode's code conference. The Seattle-based online retailer has been gaining ground as it fights a fierce battle with domestic e-commerce biggies like Flipkart and Snapdeal since it launched India operations almost three years ago.
Bezos said one of his biggest learnings, and a reason for good growth in India compared to China for the e-tailer has been much more localisation in the domestic market here compared to China. Most of localisations implemented in China wer…

Selling IPR for Market Share in China

Microsoft selling patents to Xiaomi is a major coup for the Chinese company. Microsoft is obviously trying hard to get a secure position in the Chinese mobile market.
Times of India reports that Microsoft Corp is selling about 1,500 of its patents to Chinese device maker Xiaomi , a rare departure for the US company and part of what the two companies say is the start of a long-term partnership. The deal, announced on Wednesday, also includes a patent cross-licensing arrangement and a commitment by Xiaomi to install copies of Microsoft software, including Office and Skype, on its phones and tablets.
Both companies declined to discuss financial terms of the deal. "This is a very big collaboration agreement between the two companies," Wang Xiang, senior vice president at Xiaomi, said by telephone ahead of the deal. Analysts said Xiaomi's ambitions to be a major player outside China were hampered by weak patent protection and a fear of a prolonged legal battle.
SJP @DigitalAs…

Fair Use Google: What's the Use of Copyright?

Oracle/Google copyright infringement case: Oracle claimed that Google’s reuse of packages of the Java application program interface (API) in Android for smartphones software infringed copyright. Oracle claimed intellectual property rights in the API. After the trial, the jury found that Google made a fair and non-infringing use of the API. 
Even in the Google litigation with The Author's Guild, the court found that Google had not infringed copyright but it was fair use - see Do Authors Still have Copyright in the Digital Age?
SJP @DigitalAsian

Testing your startup ideas in foreign markets

Testing your startup ideas in foreign markets. India should set up an environment where foreign startups can test their ideas along with domestic startups.
Times of India reports that for early startups looking to test out their technology ideas in the South East Asian markets , the first K-Startup Grand Challenge promises an invitation to accelerator programme Gangnam-style and more. "Over the last three to four years we have shifted focus to globalization and establishing an open ecosystem for the Korean startups.
With a population which is an early adapter of technology we want global startups to look at Korea as a testing bed for the launch of their product in South East Asian market," says Kyung Hwan Lee , executive director of National IT Industry Promotion Agency (NIPA) at Korea-India SW Cooperation Center.
He adds that the programme also looks at diversifying the startup ecosystem within the country where market leaders in the technology and on-demand space have bee…

When Startups End Down

Flipkart isn't the only firm to defer joining dates of students they hire. Funding for startups is drying up and investors are becoming more aggressive in their requirements from startups they invest in. Startups are having to defer joining of hires and reduce packages offered.
Times of India reports that after the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) shot off a letter objecting to Flipkart's move to defer the joining date of its graduates, students from other IIMs said they were similarly affected. And while IIM-A claimed that it expected a conference call with Flipkart to resolve the matter, India's largest e-tailer has denied any such move, adding to the ongoing placement imbroglio.
Flipkart, in its response to IIM-A, said it will not be able to increase the compensation of Rs 1.5 lakh per hire. Sources said some of the students were being given a salary of Rs 15-18 lakh per annum and a compensation of Rs 1.5 lakh was as good as unacceptable. Several of th…