Newley

April 27, 2017

Facebook released a new statistic at a press conference here in New Delhi yesterday. They now have 184 million monthly active users in  India. 

That’s about 30% higher than the 142 million they said they had at the end of 2015. India remains their second biggest market after ths U.S. — and there’s plenty more room to grow as million more get online. 

Scoop Mon. With Colleagues: Indonesia’s Go-Jek in Talks to Raise $1 Billion

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The exclusive, with my WSJ colleagues P.R. Venkat and Kane Wu, begins:

Go-Jek, the Indonesian motorcycle-hailing startup backed by KKR & Co., Warburg Pincus LLC and others, is in talks with investors to raise $1 billion, people familiar with the process said.

The new money would give the Jakarta company added power to battle rivals Uber Technologies Inc. and Singapore’s Grab for a lead in Southeast Asia’s largest economy. The company is seeking the new money to expand, with the first round of bids due by the end of this month, one of the people said.

Beijing’s China International Capital Corp. and Zurich-based Credit Suisse Group AG are among the banks assisting in raising funds, according to people familiar with the matter. Representatives for Go-Jek didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The cash injection would give Go-Jek a pre-money valuation of about $2 billion, the people said. A pre-money valuation refers to the value of a startup before fresh funds are included. Go-Jek raised around $550 million in August at an undisclosed valuation.

This would be more money for one of Southeast Asia’s hottest startups. And more competition for Uber and Grab in the region.

Newley’s Notes 88: Flipkart’s Boost, the “Platform Press,” Why Facebook is Bad for You

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Edition 88 of my email newsletter, Newley’s Notes, went out to my 128 subscribers yesterday.

You can read it here.

To subscribe, simply enter your email address at this link. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief, and few people unsubscribe.

By the way, a programming note: I’m trying out a new-ish email newsletter platform called Revue. They offer some cool features, and make assembling the dispatches a bit easier than my old provider, TinyLetter. Stay tuned for more on that front.

By Me Yesterday: Microsoft, eBay, Tencent Pour $1.4 Billion into India’s Flipkart

The story begins:

NEW DELHI—Indian e-commerce startup Flipkart Group has raised $1.4 billion from Microsoft Corp., eBay Inc. and Tencent Holdings Ltd., taking a hit to its valuation to raise the cash it needs to defend its home market from Amazon.com Inc.

Flipkart, which was started in 2007 by two former Amazon employees, said Monday that the new investment values the Bangalore company at $11.6 billion. That allows Flipkart to retain its title as India’s most valuable startup but is still a step down from the $15 billion valuation it received during fundraising in 2015.

“This is a landmark deal for Flipkart and for India,” Flipkart founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal said in the statement, calling it the company’s biggest fundraising round ever.

Flipkart said Chinese internet firm Tencent led the round, but a Flipkart spokeswoman declined to provide a breakdown of investments by company.

Separately, eBay said on Monday that it was selling its Indian business to Flipkart and was making a $500 million cash investment in the startup for an equity stake.

Newley’s Notes 87: China vs. U.S. in India; Apple’s iPhone Plans; RIP Ashley :(

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Edition 87 of my email newsletter, Newley’s Notes, went out to subscribers Thursday.

To get these weekly dispatches delivered to your inbox before I post them, enter your email address here. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief, and few people unsubscribe.


Hi friends, thanks for reading Newley’s Notes.

Sorry to begin with some sad news, but even though it’s been a few weeks, it’s still top of mind…

WHAT I WROTE AT NEWLEY.COM

Ashley, 2008–2017 – Our beloved dog Ashley, whom we adopted in Bangkok in 2009, died last month. A and I are still recovering. We really miss her.

In the post linked to above, I shared the story of her sudden illness and posted some of my favorite photos from our nearly eight years with her. I still can’t believe she’s gone.

But: Onward and upward.

WHAT I WROTE IN THE WSJ:

Twitter Launches Leaner Service Aimed at India – The story begins:

Twitter Inc. launched a new version of its service in India tailored for users with slow and unreliable internet connections, hoping to encourage expansion in the South Asian market as growth stalls at home.

TLDR: Twitter wants to gain new users in emerging markets like India, where web connections are often patchy.

Amazon and Facebook Hit Unexpected Obstacle in India: China – A story about how Chinese tech firms like Alibaba and Tencent are backing Indian startups, which are themselves challenging U.S. tech titans.

Apple to Start Making iPhones in India Over Next Two Months – A scoop with my colleague Rajesh Roy that begins:

Apple Inc. will soon start assembling iPhones in India for the first time, say government officials familiar with its plans, boosting the company’s chances of gaining a foothold in the fast-growing market.

Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron Corp. will likely start making iPhone 6 and 6S models here in the next four-to-six weeks at its plant in Bangalore, said an official of the southern state of Karnataka where the tech hub is located. It will add Apple’s cheapest iPhone model, the SE, to its assembly line in about three months, the official said.

Apple is struggling to boost sales in India, and making its smartphones here would help bring down the cost of the devices here.

Uber Rival Grab Hits the Road in Myanmar – Grab, a ride-sharing startup focused on Southeast Asia, has launched in Myanmar.

5 ITEMS THAT ARE WORTH YOUR TIME THIS WEEK:

1) Care about the communal good? Stop trudging up escalators. Research suggests that the system, often used in public transportation, in which riders stand on one side while others walk on the other actually creates congestion and slows things down for everyone. We’d all be better off just standing two-abreast and riding up together in one group, it seems.

2) Why are Japan’s white-gloved rail system staff always pointing at stuff? The answer, according to an interesting explainer at Atlas Obscura, has to do with ritualized safety checks:

Known in Japanese as shisa kanko, pointing-and-calling works on the principle of associating one’s tasks with physical movements and vocalizations to prevent errors by “raising the consciousness levels of workers”—according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Japan. Rather than rely on a worker’s eyes or habit alone, each step in a given task is reinforced physically and audibly to ensure the step is both complete and accurate.

3) Musical find of the week: Radiooooo.com, where you can explore popular music by world geography and decade. E. P. Licursi has the back story on this “hit tune time machine” in The New Yorker.

4) “Which Tech CEO Would Make the Best Supervillain?” Zuck? Elon Musk? Travis Kalanick? Jeff Bezos? Larry Page? Bill Gates? Peter Thiel? Click here to read more and decide for yourself.

5) Wondering how to quit social media? Here’s a round-up of several new books to help you unplug and explore the world around you. Among the titles: “Solitude: In Pursuit of a Singular Life in a Crowded World,” “The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit,” and “The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative.”

What’d I miss? Send me links, rants, raves, juicy news scoops and anything else! My email: n@newley.com

Thanks for reading.

Love,

Newley

Newley’s Notes 86: Alexander’s FML Day; The Wonders of Aging; On Owning Music; Tears as Signals

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Edition 86 of my email newsletter, Newley’s Notes, went out to subscribers Saturday.

To get these weekly dispatches delivered to your inbox before I post them, enter your email address here. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief, and few people unsubscribe.


Hi friends, thanks for reading Newley’s Notes.

After some cool winter months, the weather here in New Delhi has started to warm up.

Lows have been in the low-to-mid 60s Fahrenheit, with highs in the mid-80s (that’s about mid-teens to high 20s Celsius). Think: a long sleeve shirt in the morning and evenings, but enough heat to produce a tiny sweat on the brow in the afternoon.

One the one hand, it’s nice to not have to bundle up quite so much, but on the other hand, the days are starting to get toasty, hinting at the sweltering summer months ahead.

In case you can’t tell, after nearly a decade in tropical Southeast Asia, I am still enjoying the novelty of seasons here in India!

On to this week’s NN.

5 ITEMS THAT ARE WORTH YOUR TIME THIS WEEK:

1) Alexander’s day from hell, updated for the digital age. I love this humorous, updated New Yorker take on the classic 1972 children’s book, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” which begins:

I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and woke up with gum in my hair, so I Googled “how to get gum out of hair” and found a video but it had a thirty-second pre-roll spot and that made me mad so I went to tweet about it but Twitter was down. FML.

And later:

When we met my dad at Starbucks he said I couldn’t play with his laptop but I forgot. He also said don’t fool around with his phone but I think I FaceTimed Australia. My dad sighed and published a short piece on Medium about the challenges of raising kids in the digital age.

(Thanks for the tip, Miles B.!)

2) You should buy your music, not stream it. So argues Ted Gioia in an essay called “Why Music Ownership Matters.” Art “that can be embodied in a physical object generates more economic value than art than merely exists as an intangible,” he says.

Side note: I am interested in starting a vinyl record collection primarily because in a world of digital music, I miss a physical connection to my favorite artists.

3) What purpose does crying serve? A thought-provoking essay by Kevin Simler, who writes that tears have to do with dominance, submission, and friendship:

All of these observations support our initial bias toward studying tears as a behavior rather than a symptom. In particular, they’re a social behavior, something we evolved to do because of their effects on the people around us. In the language of biology, then: Tears are a signal.

4) Old age should be celebrated, not feared. Ninety-four-year old Harry Leslie Smith, writing in The Guardian, says:

I have been living on borrowed time since my birth in Barnsley all those years ago: I survived both the depression and the second world war. Even in advanced old age, because I walked free of those two events, I feel like a man who beat all the odds in a high-stakes casino. It’s why I’ve embraced each season of my life with both joy and wonderment because I know our time on Earth is a brief interlude between nonexistence.

And:

People should not look at their approaching golden years with dread or apprehension but as perhaps one of the most significant stages in their development as a human being, even during these turbulent times. For me, old age has been a renaissance despite the tragedies of losing my beloved wife and son. It’s why the greatest error anyone can make is to assume that, because an elderly person is in a wheelchair or speaks with quiet deliberation, they have nothing important to contribute to society. It is equally important to not say to yourself if you are in the bloom of youth: “I’d rather be dead than live like that.” As long as there is sentience and an ability to be loved and show love, there is purpose to existence.

5) Video: The BBC viral video family talks to The WSJ. I mentioned in last week’s NN that the viral video of Robert Kelly being interrupted by his kids during a BBC interview looked set to be an internet sensation. And boy was it ever.

In a hugely popular WSJ story, my colleague Alistair Gale caught up with the family at the center of it all, and the resultant video is well worth watching.

“She was in a hippity-hoppity mood that day because of the school party,” Mr. Kelly said of his daughter Marion, who famously sauntered into the room during his interview.

“He usually locks the door” during interviews, said his wife, Kim Jung-A. “It was chaos for me.”

Simply delightful.

What’d I miss? Send me links, rants, raves, juicy news scoops and anything else! My email: n@newley.com

Thanks for reading.

Love,
Newley

Ashley, 2008-2017

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This is a post I hoped I would never have to write.

Long-time readers will remember Ashley, our beloved Bangkok street dog, whom we adopted in 2009.

About two weeks ago, on March 7, Ashley died after a brief illness.

Above is a photo from the day we adopted her from an organization that rescued “soi dogs,” as they’re called, in Bangkok.

It’s one of our favorite images of Ashley, since it was such a happy day for us — and because we joke that Ashley looks like she’s laughing in the photo, having tricked her way into a “forever home” as a year-old dog at a time when other owners were snapping up much younger, often cuter puppies from the organzation that saved her.

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Here’s a recent pic of her, from before she got sick.

A and I are still trying to process the news and live with the reality of coming home to an empty house, no longer taking walks with her, and living without her constant companionship on the couch, in the den, in the kitchen and nearly everywhere in between.

She was by our side in Bangkok for five years, then with us in Singapore for two and a half years, and then here in Delhi with us since we moved here last summer.

We adopted her when she was about a year old, and she would have turned nine this August.

(You can read about her history in this post and this one, and here’s one I wrote on the fifth anniversary of adopting her.)

Ashley was no longer a puppy, of course, and she had started to slow down ever so slightly in recent months. While she had some health issues before we adopted her, she was a pretty robust dog, and we expected to have much more time with her. And that’s part of what makes saying goodbye so difficult.

She loved our house here in New Delhi, with our small yard and its many sights and sounds: birds to eye, squirrels to chase, fellow street dogs to romp with, cats to pester.

Ash developed a cough a month or so back, and a subsequent ultrasound revealed a large mass in her abdomen that we later learned was cancerous.

She underwent surgery not long afterwards, and the mass was removed, but she never rebounded fully, and she succumbed to multi-organ failure just a few days later. Fortunately we were with her during her final days and hours, patting her head, stroking her back, and just keeping her company.

She was so weak in her final days that she had to be carried everywhere, yet her puppy-like enthusiasm remained; just an hour before she died, even though she could barely sit up on her own, I took her leash down from a coat rack near the door and she wagged her tail vigorously, looking up at me with her big black eyes.

When she passed away, we had her cremated here in Delhi, and the very sympathetic workers at the facility gave us her ashes in a lovely urn. Now it sits, with her collar and a painting of her A gave me as a gift years ago, on our mantle. (See the photo at the bottom of this post.)

Rather than dwell on her sickness — really just a week or two of the nearly nine years she lived — we have been trying to focus on all the fun we had with her.

Here, to have them all in one place, are a bunch of my favorite photos of her. I’ve posted some of these before, but others are new.

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As a puppy, before we adopted her

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She was in really rough shape

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But was soon…

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…On her way to health

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How she looked when we adopted her

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On the way home, day one

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Taking a nap at home in Bangkok, not long after we adopted her

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A happy, high energy pup

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A favorite past time: hanging out on the balcony.

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At the beach in Thailand

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One funny thing: she liked the beach but hated getting near any kind of water

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Sand on the nose

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At home in Singapore

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On one of many long walks we took in the city-state

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On the couch and in my face, likely because I was eating a snack

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On a jaunt in Singapore

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At Singapore’s Bishan Park

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Looking quizzical

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“Can I please have some of that lamb you’re cooking?”

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If her morning walk was ever delayed, you might open your eyes to see this, with her unruly ear fur — tendrils, we called them — blowing in the air conditioning

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At home in Singapore

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On our balcony here in New Delhi

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On the bed

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After her surgery, wearing a T-shirt to protect the stitches

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RIP, Ashley

I really, really loved that little ball of fur.