An Excellent New Post-Apocalypic Thriller: ‘Snowpiercer’

Snowpiercer” — a 2013 sci-fi film, directed by South Korean Bong Joon-ho, about people stuck aboard a train circling a frozen-over earth — is just as good as Kottke says.

Embedded above and on YouTube here: the trailer.

More from Grantland here.

If, like me, you enjoy post-apocalyptic thrillers, you should most certainly watch it.

My Q&A with Twitter’s VP of Emerging Markets, Shailesh Rao

2014 07 21shailesh

It’s online here and in the print edition of today’s Wall Street Journal Asia.

It begins:

Shailesh Rao has one of the most important jobs at Twitter Inc.: overseeing the company’s revenue in emerging markets.

Eight months after the messaging service’s initial public offering, the San Francisco-based company is betting that populous countries in Latin America, Asia and elsewhere can help it stem slowing user growth in the U.S. and boost sales.

Twitter’s revenue, most of which comes from advertising, more than doubled in the first quarter to $250.5 million. But the company, which was founded in 2006, has yet to make a profit. Some 78% of Twitter’s more than 255 million users are located outside the U.S., but the company derives just 28% of its revenue internationally.

Mr. Rao is trying to change that. The 42-year-old joined Twitter in 2012 after seven years at Internet search giant Google Inc., where he ran the company’s Asia display advertising business.

In an interview at Twitter’s offices in Singapore, Mr. Rao, who was born in Toronto and grew up in Pittsburgh, discussed the company’s goals for growth, how double-majoring in history and economics helps him on the job, and why yoga makes him a better manager.

Me on WSJ Live Talking about Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

Online here and embedded above is a video segment I did with my WSJ colleague Ramy Inocencio earlier today.

I’m here in Kuala Lumpur helping with our coverage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which crashed Thursday in the east Ukraine region of Donetsk — just a few months after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went missing.

For updates, keep an eye on our home page, our streaming updates page, and follow me on Twitter.

Stay tuned.

A Warning for Southeast Asia’s Brick-and-Mortar Retailers

I wrote a recent WSJ Digits story about how e-commerce in Southeast Asia is set to boom, according to a UBS report:

Message for Southeast Asia’s brick-and-mortar retailers: E-commerce companies could soon be eating your lunch.

That’s according to a recent study by UBS , which showed the region’s consumers are already flocking to e-commerce sites at the expense of traditional retailers’ platforms.

Internet penetration in the populous region is higher than many assume, and will soon skyrocket thanks to the increasing use of low-cost smartphones and the availability of mobile Web connections, according UBS’s head of research and strategy in Thailand, Raymond Maguire, who authored the report.

Satya Nadella: ‘We live in a mobile-first and cloud-first world’

What’s Microsoft’s role in a world that is less and less PC-based and increasingly mobile-focused?

Chief Excutive Satya Nadella last week sent a long email to his charges that provided some hints:

A snippet:

We live in a mobile-first and cloud-first world. Computing is ubiquitous and experiences span devices and exhibit ambient intelligence. Billions of sensors, screens and devices – in conference rooms, living rooms, cities, cars, phones, PCs – are forming a vast network and streams of data that simply disappear into the background of our lives. This computing power will digitize nearly everything around us and will derive insights from all of the data being generated by interactions among people and between people and machines. We are moving from a world where computing power was scarce to a place where it now is almost limitless, and where the true scarce commodity is increasingly human attention.

From my colleague Shira Ovide’s story:

Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Satya Nadella, after five months on the job, signaled Thursday he won’t quickly reshape what Microsoft does, but is likely to cut the number of people doing it.

In a more than 3,000-word email to employees, Mr. Nadella said Microsoft needed to “rediscover our soul,” and he pointedly defined Microsoft’s mission not as delivering long-standing software products such as Windows or Office, but broadly as developing technology to help people live better lives and businesses run more efficiently.

The missive from Mr. Nadella, the third CEO in Microsoft’s 39-year history following Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, didn’t shed much light on how his Microsoft would look and act differently than the company of his predecessors. Mr. Nadella’s statements suggest he wants to inject urgency and speed without taking Microsoft in a new direction.

Must-Follow World Cup Pundits: Men in Blazers

If you’re not following them already — and if, as I’m assuming, you love everything about the World Cup and the U.S. team — be sure to follow Roger Bennett and Michael Davies, a.k.a. Men in Blazers.

The two pundits, Brits who are long-time U.S. residents, combine in depth knowledge of the sport with an immigrant’s love for U.S. soccer.

They are especially well informed about the transformation in style and attitude that U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann has brought to the American side. (For more on that topic, see this WSJ interactive from earlier this month.)

Also, they are delightfully silly.

While I also follow The Guardian‘s World Cup Football Daily podcast and occasionally BBC 5 Live’s World Cup Daily, Rog and Davo, as they’re known, are so enjoyable because they’re lighthearted: They frequently weave in cultural references and inside jokes, and do not at all take themselves seriously.

Here are some of their recent podcasts.

You can also find their ongoing videos and other contributions on ESPN FC here.

They’re on Twitter at: @meninblazers.

Sample Tweet:

Embedded above and online here: their recent take on the U.S.-Germany game, and an audio podcast after the U.S.-Portugal match.

My Story on Messaging Apps in Southeast Asia

2014 06 25 messaging apps

The reason I have this special folder on my iPhone: I’ve been researching a story on messaging app makers battling for users here in Southeast Asia.

It ran in the WSJ Asia in print and online Friday.

The lede:

When Listri Samudra, an equity sales representative in the Indonesian city of Bandung, opens her smartphone to connect with her clients, she has three messaging apps to choose from.

She usually prefers BlackBerry Messenger, which remains highly popular in Indonesia, but also often uses WhatsApp—the company Facebook Inc. recently agreed to buy for $19 billion—or Line, a Japanese app that is rapidly gaining ground in the region.

The crowd of free messaging apps on Ms. Samudra’s phone illustrates why Southeast Asia is shaping up as an important battleground for messaging app makers. The region, in which no clear messaging leader has emerged, is critical, in part, because many of its roughly 600 million people have yet to upgrade from basic cellphones to smartphones.

Click through for a map of the region with estimates of which apps are most popular in countries like Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia.

10 Links

  1. Goat Parkour Is the Best Evidence Yet That Goats Are the New Cats — Slate
  2. The Disruption Machine: What the gospel of innovation gets wrong — Jill Lepore at The New Yorker
  3. Clayton Christensen Responds to New Yorker Takedown of ‘Disruptive Innovation’ — BloombergBusinessweek
  4. An Island-Hopping Southern Seafood CrawlWSJ
  5. The Case for Reparations — Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic
  6. What’s wrong with Soccernomics? — Daniel Altman
  7. The internet’s biggest companies are breaking themselves into small pieces — Quartz
  8. Print still matters, even if some would like to believe it shouldn’t — Ken Doctor at Nieman Journalism Lab
  9. Amazon’s Whale Strategy — Stratechery
  10. Video embedded above and on Vine here: “That ball!” — Robin van Persie’s goal for the Netherlands against Spain, via a pass from Daley Blind.

(Previous link round-ups are available via the links tag.)

On England and the World Cup

Snips from “A Soccer Empire, Deeply Confused,” David Winner‘s contribution to the New York Times‘s feature on the World Cup and national playing styles:

Soccer has long been a bastion of a peculiarly 19th-century conception of Englishness the nation seems reluctant to relinquish. The game was born during the era of empire when the country’s elite public schools adapted earlier forms of violent folk football for the purpose of education.

Typical rustic folk games involved hundreds of drunken men from rival villages rampaging through streets and fields, trying to drive, say, a casket of beer (the proto-ball) into the crypt of a church (the proto-goal). The schools distilled such testosterone-fuelled rituals into new formats involving smaller teams, sober boys and sodden leather balls. Codified by the Football Association and later disseminated to the world, this style of soccer was never the so-called beautiful game; the original purpose of educators was to instill manly and martial virtues into future imperial soldiers and administrators.

And:

Just as adapting to their diminished, post-imperial status in international affairs has been a struggle, so the English are taking a long time to abandon the fantasy that, having invented the game, they should still expect to win the World Cup.

The truth — as everyone elsewhere noticed long ago — is that the nation has only once gone further than the quarterfinals of a major tournament played abroad (it reached the semifinals in Italy in 1990).

English soccer confusion, delusion and cloying nostalgia have become tedious. The time for the national team to adopt a bit of modesty and modernity — and to move to embrace change — is long overdue.

Read the whole thing.

(Via Amy Lawrence.)