Internet Power Balance Shift to Asia

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The WSJ had a nice piece breaking down the mega internet companies of the world — of course US leads the pack but Asian companies aren’t doing so shabby either. China is of course leading the ‘Asia’ pack due to sheer population volume. Seriously, file that under no shit Sherlock.

But there were some fun factoids:

  • 45% of the world’s nearly 3 billion internet users are in Asia
  • WeChat (owned by Tencent) has about 440m users
  • Tencent’s profit margin in the second quarter was 32%, compared with 27% at Facebook and 21% at Google.
  • Tencent’s stock-market value is $148 billion, compared with Facebook’s $194 billion.
  • LINE (Japanese messaging app) had revenue of $323 million, 16 times the estimated revenue of WhatsApp.

…separately, it’s really funny how ‘tech journalists’ don’t seem to understand the products they are writing about. This particular author, said WeChat is WhatsApp’s rival. No. No. No. I can not say this enough times: they are two very different products. WhatsApp is a communication utility – a tool. WeChat is a full fledged platform, an ecosystem.

The author also calls LINE stickers ‘cutesy emoticons’ — which further highlights the lack of understanding of mobile behavior in Asia even after NYT wrote about it!! (Pretty embarrassing).

Oh well. I guess that’s why there is a need for someone like me or Jon Russell of TNW to pipe on about tech in Asia.

Only a few reasons I love emerging markets

During conversations with one of my favorite VCs and separately, with one of my favorite tech bloggers, I’m just going to leave here — more like a note to self — before I forget. Old age, the struggle is real.

Binu

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Which reminded me of Frontline SMS

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Opera still has 300M MUAs. Opera Mini (the mobile browser)
– Indian users of the Opera Mini mobile browsers used 75% less mobile data in the first half of the year
– is compatible with over 3,000 mobile devices, dumb phones and smartphones
– works on basic Java to the latest Android and iOS platforms

Wow – who knew. It’s such a perfect browser for emerging nations where cost and access are barriers source

Google APAC has WiFi enabled rickshaws to help people go online

And last but not least, random thought: I wish I was passionate about logistics. So much money and room for disruption there. Imagine “between x and y is z” (where x, y = time and z = service ex: delivery, internet, cable, food, etc) ) is non existent. Time is precise. Ex: parcels will be dropped off and service rendered at exact times. The reason is an algo that calculates most cost efficient delivery radius in a way that’s never been done before. Combine that with a notification app like Yo, that’s a billion dollar business right there. And I believe the solution will come out of Asia.

*Pardon the lazy post

Why Aren’t More Tech Journalists Talking About This? #Apple

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…this was my stance after the Apple announcements of iPhone 6, 6+, and the watch but all jokes aside, there is good reason Apple is the most valuable brand on the planet and simply “mind-blowing“.

Personally, the Watch does nothing for me. I would never own one. The app screen (points below)

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triggers my trypophobia (yes, trypophobia is real) and the design is just outdated — totally 80s.

However, what Apple did with the watch, as well as all the iPhones after the 4, is create a problem then solved the problem for us. First world problem-ing in the highest order. Or in scientific terms: they tap into the last triangle of Maslo’s Hierarchy of Needs, by making us need things we didn’t know we needed.

This deep understanding of human behavior and finding ways to hook people with design and hardware is something very few companies can achieve. Apple consistently creates problems then seamlessly and elegantly solves them for us — truly, one of the most innovative companies of our time.

People say now, things like “why do we need payments on our wrists, when we can do them on our phones?” Or, “why would we need payments on our phones and wrists?” I say, just wait – people will start getting lazier because they’ll adopt to the convenience of phone functionalities on body parts (wearables) and soon, it’ll be the norm.

Think about it: everything about technology is creating and solving more convenient ways of living. Telephones, email, computers, laptops, mobile phones, smartphones, tablets… and the next: wearables.

With the Apple Watch, Apple is now giving us 1) predicted text so we don’t have to type. 2) a way to transact without the extra effort of pulling out our phones. 3) a new type of push-pull notification system in a way that no other product or software does.

Which to me, is the most exciting part of the Apple announcement – all personal thoughts about style aside. It’s a bit peculiar to me how a lot more people aren’t excited about that vs the new and shiny hardware.

Someone Disrupt Japan Please

I randomly watch this Call Me Maybe Chatroulette video when I recall it, because it never fails to make me laugh.

Today I needed to escape from all the Apple news and was happily watching it, dancing away, and noticed on the recommendation side tab, another Call Me Maybe parody from a super popular Japanese pop idol, Rola.

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That’s Rola – she’s cute, pretty, and super funny. I’m a fan. So I clicked on the video of her lip synching to ‘Call Me Maybe’ and laughed out loud. Universal Music Japan (her label I guess), put the video up. I mean, it’s a lip synching video, what the hell, why couldn’t she put it up herself?

There are so many other ‘Call Me Maybe’ lip synching renditions by famous people like the Bieber+Selena Gomez+Ashley Tinsdale or the one by The Roots and Fallon — uploaded on YouTube not by their labels.

Japanese companies strong hold content so much, there are close to zero streaming services. Almost the entire population has no idea what Spotify, Netflix, or Hulu are. It’s really quite sad.

Looking forward to the day all this changes. Perhaps in another 10-15 years LOL
Oh, Japan.

 

The Internet Never Forgets

The first week of Sept. 2014, I will always remember as the week a lot of people I value and cherish came to Japan for Startup Asia, Tokyo. The conference was wonderful and I cannot say enough nice things about everyone at Tech in Asia and the people they attracted.

So please don’t get take this the wrong way.

The following post has nothing to do with Startup Asia, Tech in Asia, the people who attended the conference, nor my friends and colleagues. This post does, however, has everything to do with an attendee I unfortunately met.

He was introduced as a friend of a friend and during the first few seconds of our conversation my gut told me something was a bit off about this guy. And so I was short with him and didn’t really engage. Little did I know, my intuition was correct.

This guy introduced himself as Ken Charles, but lo and behold: I found out his real name was Ken Hoinsky. He is known as the “Reddit Pick-up Artist” and wrote a book on how to pick up women.

He was under fire on the internet for certain things he wrote on Reddit and passages from the book.
Ex:

It’s easy enough to believe that Hoinsky did not set out to write a how-to guide on forcing women into sex, but his political and cultural blindspots enabled him to publish advice that instructs men to “continue to try to escalate physically until she makes it genuinely clear that it’s not happening” (defined by Hoinsky as shouting “STOP,” or “GET AWAY FROM ME”) without an ounce of critical self-reflection.

And his project was banned from Kickstarter.

Whatever this guy’s deal is or was, I don’t really care, as I plan to never interact with him again. Lesson here, is that you can change your name. Change locations. Change jobs. But always remember: THE INTERNET NEVER FORGETS.

Always think before posting stuff online.

Why You Should Care About Unconscious Bias

Nikesh Arora ex-Google exec, now Softbank Internet and Media CEO / vice chairman of the overall company tweeted he is looking for “ivy leaguers with US / Japan experience”. Why did he specify ivy leaguers? Does he realize he is biased?

Or, what about when we see someone in the US, who is using a smartphone other than an iPhone. What are your initial thoughts? It’s okay, be honest. You’re not alone. I’ve heard many girlfriends say things like “I’d never date someone with an Android phone.”

We automatically assume things about people born and raised in certain cities, countries, regions, etc. And judge people by how they look or present themselves to the world. We don’t do it on purpose but we are all guilty of some sort of bias and judgment.

But imagine if you unknowingly carry those thoughts into the workplace. Do you choose to do better work with colleagues you already have an unconscious bias towards? Or what if you are a hiring manager; are you confident your choices aren’t driven by bias?

Ponder that for a second.

I’ve expressed on Twitter how I am thrilled to the toes Megan Smith is America’s new CTO. And it seems most of the tech community is too. General consensus is because she is a female. Or part of the LGBT community. Or both.

I am excited because I have followed her and what she has been doing for Google as an individual (if you’re interested, YouTube her talks from Google I/O or interviews on Google.org and Google [X] to see the many reasons why she is such an excellent leader and technologist — if you love tech from the core like me, it’s really, worth your time.)

One of my favorite clips I’ve seen of her, is about bias — conscious and unconscious bias — which I believe, is important for everyone to be cognizant of. Especially, if you are management level or higher.

This is the video, I’ve been tweeting a lot (with little to zero interest) but now that you’re here, watch:

http://youtu.be/XoAlcIbbpPU

I wish there were transcripts but some of my favorite soundbites – few are paraphrased:

“You hear venture capitalists talk about pattern matching when they are looking for the next young entrepreneur. But they are also pattern matching for things they have bias in, and not realizing they are doing that. So they might be more likely to fund a White or Asian man vs another (and she gets interrupted).”

“(Unconscious bias) is no one’s fault. It’s not like we are actively doing this. We all have it. It’s inherited. It’s systemic. What we have to do as an industry, is educate ourselves.”

“Diverse teams just make better products. Patents written with men and women on them, for example, are cited more. And the number of times a patent is cited, is a measure to know if a patent is better.”

“If you are applying for a role, a woman would only apply if they have 7 of the 10 characteristics required. Men would apply if they only have 3 of the 10. So as a manager, you just need to be conscious of that, look at all the candidates, and do a little more active work to make sure you’ve got the best pool.”

Google’s Diversity website also has a nice summary of what unconscious bias is:

The science of inclusion

Research shows that when we are more aware of our unconscious bias, we can make more objective decisions. In 2013, more than 20,000 Googlers (nearly half of our Googlers) engaged in workshops that focus on the science of how the brain works. This created a company-wide dialogue around how unconscious bias can affect perceptions of others, interactions with coworkers and clients, and the business overall. We hope our focus on making the unconscious conscious will not only foster a more inclusive workplace, but also make us a better company. Watch this video to find out more.

You can learn more about unconscious bias here, here, or here — or Google yourself.

We can do better. Let us be better.

The Magic of Silicon Valley

“The magic of Silicon Valley is the shared belief system that some will succeed. Carry the flame.” – Dave McClure

I wrote a guest post for The Next Web the other day and thought I’d share here, too. I love that quote by Dave McClure, who is such an inspiration to those outside of the Valley. He is one of, if not the only VC who actually takes the time to jump on a plane and show-up to tech ecosystems around the planet. His efforts are tireless and what he is doing for the global entrepreneurial community is something nobody can put a price on.

For those living in the US, it may be hard to picture, but a majority of the world is a bit behind when it comes to technology and startup cultures. Just imagine the way Silicon Valley was around 2005-06ish — the ripples of the second dot com boom were just forming. Facebook and Twitter were just starting out. Entrepreneurs were building products and webapps — software — because the smartphone penetration would come a year or two after that. There was activity, but the space wasn’t as crowded as it is today. VCs and founders, influential tech bloggers and reporters were more accessible… that’s how I see a lot of regions right now, in 2014.

APAC, especially Southeast Asia, is really exciting right now. And Dave McClure is ON IT. If you’ve never heard him talk abroad, you should YouTube it. He repeats over and over how Silicon Valley is a spirit. A confidence. A mindset.  A belief… and continues to motivate entrepreneurs around the globe. I really wish other high profile VCs took the time to do what he does, to. Not just for themselves (investing) but for technological advancement around the world.

Anyway. My TNW post is here: “Startup founders in Southeast Asia: it’s time to step up
The Red Herring also picked it up too: “Southeast Asia tech sees boost from emerging nations