NN146: India Mobile Money Momentum — New iPhones? — Psychedelic Temple — Dog Punks Lions

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Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes.

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💰 As as I’ve mentioned here – and written about in stories – there’s growing interest these days in India’s burgeoning internet economy. From e-commerce to ride-sharing to mobile devices, global tech companies are hustling for a piece of the action as people get online for the first time, and as customers already accessing the web spend more and more money online.

One particularly promising sector is mobile payments. Few people in India have credit or debit cards, but lots of people have smartphones. After Prime Minister Modi took the largest domination notes out of circulation in Nov. 2016 and a cash crunch ensued, masses of citizens flocked to a mobile wallet called Paytm for their everyday transactions.

This week mobile payments were in the news again: Berkshire Hathaway – yes, the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffet’s, firm – is investing in Paytm, joining the ranks of Asian tech titans who have already done so, like Alibaba and SoftBank.

Meanwhile Google also rolled out some new features for its mobile payments app in India. Keep reading for more…

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

📱 1) By me and a colleague: Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Invests in India Mobile-Payments Firm [WSJ].

📈 2) Also by me: Mobile Money Heats Up in India as Google Doubles Down [WSJ] – The lede: “Alphabet Inc.’s Google is raising its mobile-payments game in India with new functions and services as global players race to woo the nation’s legions of consumers who are skipping credit cards and transacting on smartphones instead.”

🔍 3) Meanwhile, an important story by my WSJ colleagues Doug MacMillan, Sarah Krouse and Keach Hagey: Yahoo, Bucking Industry, Scans Emails for Data to Sell Advertisers [WSJ] – Yahoo’s owner “has been pitching a service to advertisers that analyzes more than 200 million Yahoo Mail inboxes and the rich user data they contain…”

🍎 4) Apple announces next iPhone event for September 12: ‘Gather round’ [9to5Mac] – Look out for “three new flagship iPhones and a redesigned Apple Watch,” Zac Hall says, in addition to new iPad Pros and possibly details on a new wireless charging mat.

🎹 5) Music-related story of the week: Show Tunes [Real Life] – In the age of social media and streaming, “The business model for music doesn’t require a must-have album, then, but rather a week-to-week narrative within the music world to justify a monthly subscription,” writes David Turner. (Editor’s note: I find this all so tiresome. I’ll keep listening to decades-old vinyl, as pretentious as that sounds!)

🛐 6) Crazy art/architecture story of the week: In upstate New York, a DMT-inspired psychedelic temple rises [Architect’s Newspaper] – The story contains this utterly amazing sentence, among many others:

“Selecting a point on their 40-acre plot that aligns with the solar plexus of a projected goddess, ‘the kabbalistic sephirot of justice,’’ CoSM has begun converting a former carriage house into a three-level, 12,000-square-foot concrete structure replete with modern amenities, including an ADA-compliant elevator.”

🔭 7) Mind-blowing photo of the week: Hubble Observes Energetic Lightshow at Saturn’s North Pole [European Space Agency] – Click through to see the “fluttering auroras.” Astounding.

😴 8) #ProTip of the week: How to Fall Asleep in 120 Seconds [Medium] – It can be done, Sharon Ackman writes, with these steps developed by the U.S. Navy Pre-Flight School.

🔥 9) College soccer golazo of the week, featuring my old team: Khattab’s OT Goal Gives No. 8 Emory Men’s Soccer 5–4 Win over No.14 W&L in Instant Classic [EmoryAthletics] – Click through for a video.

💪 10) Brave canine of the week: Dog chasing lions [YouTube] – As the saying goes: It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,
Newley

Two Years Ago, India Lacked Fast, Cheap Internet—One Billionaire Changed All That

That’s the headline on my latest story, a page one piece out yesterday and online here. It begins:

MUMBAI—India’s richest man is catapulting hundreds of millions of poor people straight into the mobile internet age.

Mukesh Ambani, head of Reliance Industries, one of India’s largest conglomerates, has shelled out $35 billion of the company’s money to blanket the South Asian nation with its first all-4G network. By offering free calls and data for pennies, the telecom latecomer has upended the industry, setting off a cheap internet tsunami that is opening the market of 1.3 billion people to global tech and retailing titans.

The unknown factor: Can Reliance reap profits itself after unleashing a cutthroat price war? Analysts say the company’s ultimate plan, after connecting the masses, is to use the platform to sell content, financial services and advertising. It could also recoup its massive investment in the years to come by charging for high-speed broadband to consumers’ homes and connections for various businesses, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Click through to read the rest.

A Psychedelic Temple for the Ages

I’m not quite sure how I missed this story by Drew Zeiba in The Architect’s Newspaper in June. It begins:

Tucked away on a tree-studded, 40-acre plot just a quarter mile from the Hudson River, one of New York’s most unusual construction projects is underway. The Chapel of Sacred Mirrors (CoSM)—a transdenominational church and registered nonprofit—has been constructing the Entheon: “A place to discover god within.”

The piece, which has many images of the construction, such as the one above, continues:

As with the foundation of the Greys’ relationship and their church, psychedelics and entactogens play a central role in the eccentric design of the Entheon. It was, in fact, a (then legal) shared MDMA experience that showed the Greys they should not sell their work, but rather build a chapel to share it with a “worldwide love tribe.”

But by far the most amazing sentence is this:

Selecting a point on their 40-acre plot that aligns with the solar plexus of a projected goddess, “the kabbalistic sephirot of justice,” CoSM has begun converting a former carriage house into a three-level, 12,000-square-foot concrete structure replete with modern amenities, including an ADA-compliant elevator.

Remarkable. Here’s more on the CoSM church and the Entheon itself.

Reading the story, I couldn’t help but think: It seems like this would an extraordinarily frightening place to visit while under the influence of psychoactive substances.

Headline of the Day: ‘Goats prefer happy people’

That’s from Phys.org. The lede:

Goats can differentiate between human facial expressions and prefer to interact with happy people, according to a new study led by scientists at Queen Mary University of London.

And:

The study, which provides the first evidence of how goats read human emotional expressions, implies that the ability of animals to perceive human facial cues is not limited to those with a long history of domestication as companions, such as dogs and horses.

Intersting. And intuitive. Everyone/thing appreciates a good smile! 🙂

Mobile Money Heats Up in India as Google Doubles Down

That’s the headline of my most recent story, which came out yesterday. It begins:

NEW DELHI–Alphabet Inc.’s Google is raising its mobile-payments game in India with new functions and services as global players race to woo the nation’s legions of consumers who are skipping credit cards and transacting on smartphones instead.

A day after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. said it had invested in the parent company of India’s largest digital-payments firm, called Paytm, Google said it is expanding its mobile money service in the South Asian nation. It is partnering with several local banks to offer consumer loans from within its app in the coming weeks, aiming to assist users seeking cash to cover expenses such as school fees.

Google is also expanding its tie-ups to more online merchants as well as to physical retail shops such as India’s ubiquitous mom and pop stores.

Click through to read the rest.

NN 144: Elon’s Amazing Interview; the New Facebook; Goats on the Lam

The latest edition of my email newsletter went out last week. Subscribe to receive it before it’s posted here.


Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes.
So, apropos of nothing: I saw something (especially) funny while in traffic here in Delhi today.

Hint 1: It was a passenger vehicle full of animals.

Hint 2: These particular creatures have been in the news in the U.S. this week.

Hint 3: They are almost as awesome as llamas.

Give up? Click here to see my pics.

And now, baaaack to our originally scheduled newsletter (#sorrynotsorry)…

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

⚡ 1) Elon Musk Details ‘Excruciating’ Personal Toll of Tesla Turmoil [New York Times] – An astounding interview. I pointed out in a Newley.com post what I see as the most remarkable passages.

🇷🇺 2) Russian Hackers Target Conservative Groups in Widening Cyberattacks [WSJ] – Just out from my colleagues Dustin Volz and Robert McMillan: “Russian hackers linked to the 2016 election cyberattacks on the Democratic Party are widening their targeting for the coming midterms to include the U.S. Senate and well-connected conservative groups, according to new research from Microsoft…”

📱3) Modern Horror Films are Finding Their Scares in Dead Phone Batteries [The Verge] – Tasha Robinson on the “new standard trope.”

✈️ 4) How TripAdvisor changed travel [The Guardian] – “Over its two decades in business,” Linda Kinstler writes, “TripAdvisor has turned an initial investment of $3m into a $7bn business by figuring out how to provide a service that no other tech company has quite mastered: constantly updated information about every imaginable element of travel, courtesy of an ever-growing army of contributors who provide their services for free.”

💬 5) College chat app pulls a page from Facebook [Axios] – Kia Kokalitcheva on a messaging app called Islands that’s big on college campuses in the U.S. “We launched Islands and our thesis was the group chats are the new social network,” the company’s founder says. (Note: I think he’s right about this. Who needs Facebook when you have WhatsApp groups?)

👂6) The future is ear: Why “hearables” are finally tech’s next big thing – Apple, Amazon and Google are all “working on products that combine the utility of the hearing aid with the entertainment value of a pair of high-end headphones,” reports Peter Burrows.

🚀 7) Tech-related #longread of the week: Virgin Galactic’s Rocket Man [New Yorker] – Nicholas Schmidle on the “ace pilot risking his life to fulfill Richard Branson’s billion-dollar quest to make commercial space travel a reality.”

🌭 8) Fun, useless link of the week: Buns.life is a website that allows you to…“put words between buns.”

⚽ 9) Soccer video of the week: Wayne Rooney’s Incredible World class tackle and Assist vs Orlando City [YouTube]. Honorable mention: trailer for Kaiser: The Greatest Footballer to Never Play Football [YouTube].

🐶 10) Adorable dog video of the week: Kirk, a female Border Collie, watching herself win the 2017 Purina Pro Challenge [Twitter].

If you like this newsletter, please forward it to a friend. If you received this from a pal, you can sign up here.

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,
Newley

Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Invests in India Mobile-Payments Firm

That’s the headline of my most recent story, which came out yesterday. It begins:

NEW DELHI—-Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is getting into the mobile-payments business.

The Omaha, Neb., conglomerate said Monday it invested in One97 Communications Ltd., the parent company of Paytm. The Noida, India-based company is India’s largest mobile-payments firm. It makes a popular smartphone app that can be used to pay for everything from movie tickets to auto-rickshaw rides.

Mr. Buffett’s assistant Debbie Bosanek said that Mr. Buffett wasn’t involved in the deal. She didn’t immediately confirm the size of the investment. Berkshire was in talks to invest 20 billion to 25 billion rupees ($285 million to $357 million), according to a person familiar with the matter.

Paytm, which says it has more than 300 million users, saw its usage skyrocket in 2016 when India’s government nullified its largest-denomination notes, a bid to root out tax evasion and corruption that triggered a cash shortage.

Click through to read the rest.

Animal Crackers, Redesigned for 2018

File under: Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes…(Turn and face the strange).

The lede of this New York Times story by Matthew Haag:

After 116 years of captivity, animal crackers have been freed from their cages.

It was a symbolic victory for animal rights activists, notably People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which had argued that the immediately recognizable yellow-and-red boxes by Nabisco portrayed a cruel bygone era when traveling circuses transported exotic wildlife in confinement.

The new boxes are expected to arrive in stores this week. They show a zebra, an elephant, a lion, a giraffe and a gorilla roaming free side-by-side in a natural habitat, a sweeping savanna with trees in the distance.

And here’s what the old packaging looked like:

As the great David Bowie once sang (emphasis mine):

I still don’t know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets
Every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet

Link: Michael Cohen Deals a Blow to His Former Boss

The WSJ‘s Gerald Seib, who knows a thing or two about DC, on yesterday’s stunning events (snips from the piece, with my emphasis):

Yet the contours of the story Mr. Cohen obliquely referred to—payoffs to two young women who alleged extramarital affairs with Mr. Trump—aren’t hard to understand. Some in Mr. Trump’s orbit had long worried that his exposure on that front, legally and politically, could well turn out to be higher than his exposure to the Russian collusion charge. On Tuesday, at least, that appeared to be true.

Politically, the results now will be twofold. Republicans in Congress will have to decide whether the Manafort and Cohen court proceedings affect their willingness to protect the president. Odds are they won’t, at least for now.

Yet the Cohen charge now figures to be wrapped into whatever report Mr. Mueller prepares at the end of his investigation, at which point the question will become whether prosecutors have uncovered any actions that could result in impeachment.

And at that point, Democrats hope they will have taken control of Congress and will be in position to make the decision. Ironically, Mr. Trump was in West Virginia trying to ensure that Democratic takeover doesn’t happen.

New Delhi Snapshot: Goats in a Passenger Van

The things you see in New Delhi traffic. Never a dull moment 🙂 🐐

Previous Delhi/goat-related goodness:

  • Delhi Snapshot: Goat Eating a Paratha (Sept. 2016)
  • Delhi Snapshot: Family of Four — Plus a Goat — on a Motorbike (June 2018)