Category Archives: Tech

Google CEO’s Advice to Ambitious Students: Loosen Up

2017 01 06google

That’s the gist of my story yesterday, which began:

Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai has some straightforward life advice for students at his alma mater: loosen up and have some fun.

The India-born Mr. Pichai, speaking Thursday at the elite Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur outside Kolkata, told university students who asked how they could emulate his success to pursue their passions, take risks, and be creative.

That is unconventional advice in a country where parents often pressure their children from a young age to study hard so they can secure steady employment.

“Academics is important but it is not as important as it’s made out to be,” Mr. Pichai said, adding that during his time studying metallurgical engineering at the school more than two decades ago he stayed up late, slept through the occasional class — and may even have earned a C in one course.

“I worked hard but we did have our share of fun as well,” he said.

And:

Near the end of his hour-long town hall, an earnest student asked Mr. Pichai for advice on how he could make the most of his four years on campus. Mr. Pichai’s response was simple: “I wouldn’t overthink it.”

Previously: Google’s Newest India Focus: Connecting Small Businesses.

Google’s Newest India Focus: Connecting Small Businesses

2017 01 05india

That’s the subject of my latest WSJ story, which begins:

NEW DELHI— Alphabet Inc.’s Google is ramping up its efforts to get India’s small businesses online, the latest step in its quest to win new users in the populous nation.

Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai said on Wednesday that the Mountain View, Calif., company will launch later this year a tool that allows owners of small businesses that are now offline to create mobile-friendly websites for free. Google says nearly three quarters of the country’s 51 million small businesses currently lack a web presence.

India will be the first country to get access to the feature, which will then be rolled out to other nations.

“India shapes how we develop products in so many ways, big and small,” the India-born Mr. Pichai told a conference of entrepreneurs here. He said the company has added more staff locally and executives have been spending more time in the South Asian nation.

As I’ve noted before, India holds huge potential for Google — and other big U.S. tech firms, like Uber and Amazon — because it is home to more than 1.2 billion people, most of whom have yet to get online for the first time.

How to Send a Paperless Post Greeting Card *Later*

2016 12 29paperlesspost

TLDR: enter the name and email address and click the “add recipient” button. Then the option to send the card later will appear below.

I recently sent an online greeting card via Paperless Post.

For such a popular service, I was surprised to find myself temporarily confounded by part of the process.

After configuring the card, I wanted to set it up to send the next day.

The solution was pretty easy to figure out with some Googling, but I wanted to share it here in case others encounter similar problems.

Here’s what you have to do:

  1. First, after entering the recipient’s name and email address, click the box on the right that says “add recipient.”

    In the image above, that’s the grey box on the top right. (Maybe I was in a rush, but this wasn’t especially apparent to me. I entered the name and address, and then all I saw below was an option to send the card immediately.)

  2. Then an option appears below that says “schedule sending.” That allows you to pick the time and day and set it up for sending.

Again, maybe I was just in a hurry. But my solution would be to change the website’s setup so the “schedule sending” option visible from the very outset.

I wonder how many people abort sending, or search out another service, when it looks like the only option is to send the card straight away, perhaps as a service you have to pay for.

Scoop with a Colleague: Apple Is Discussing Manufacturing in India, Government Officials Say

Apple

The story, which ran Tues., begins:

NEW DELHI— Apple Inc. is discussing with the Indian government the possibility of manufacturing its products in the country, according to two senior government officials, as the company seeks to expand its sales and presence in the South Asian nation.

In a letter to the government last month, the Cupertino, Calif., firm outlined its plans and sought financial incentives to move ahead, the officials told The Wall Street Journal. Senior Trade Ministry authorities in recent weeks met to discuss the matter.

An Apple spokeswoman didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Making goods such as iPhones locally would allow Apple to open its own stores in India, helping build its brand in a country where it has less than a 5% slice of a booming smartphone market.

Our piece was followed by Reuters and picked up by many outlets:

AppleindiaTM

As I wrote on Facebook, subscribe to The WSJ to get such news before anyone else!

By Me and a Colleague Yesterday: Morgan Stanley Fund Cuts Valuation of its Flipkart Holding

The story begins:

MUMBAI—A Morgan Stanley investment fund has reduced the valuation of its holding in Flipkart Internet Pvt. by 38%, as India’s leading e-commerce firm faces increased competition from U.S. rival Amazon.com Inc. and others.

In a U.S. regulatory filing this week, the Morgan Stanley Select Dimensions Investment Series fund said for the quarter ended Sept. 30, it held 1,969 Flipkart shares, which it valued at $102,644, or $52.13 a share.

For the preceding quarter, the fund—part of Morgan Stanley Investment Management, the company’s asset management division—reported the same number of shares in the startup, but valued them at $165,967, or $84.29 a share

In a statement, a Flipkart spokeswoman said the Morgan Stanley fund’s markdown was a “purely theoretical exercise” that is “not based on any real transactions.”

Related posts/stories:

By Me on Friday: How Amazon Has Taken India by Storm

Video: Me on Facebook Live Talking about Our Recent Amazon Story

By Me Yesterday: India’s Paytm Sees Surge in Usage After Demonetization

The story begins:

Indian online payment firm Paytm says it has added 8 million new users in the two weeks since the government announced the replacement of the country’s highest-denomination bank notes.

In a bid to root out corruption, counterfeit money and tax evasion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Nov. 8 announced the replacement of notes worth 500 rupees ($7.30) and 1,000 rupees ($14.60). That move has resulted in a cash shortage, with scores of people lining up outside ATMs and banks to deposit their cash, exchange old notes or withdraw new bills.

The inconvenience has also pushed people to sign up for digital wallets.

“This is the golden age of investment in digital payments in India,” Vijay Shekhar Sharma, chief executive of Paytm parent company One97 Communications, said at a news conference in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Patym, which is backed by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., makes a popular mobile app that can be used to pay for everything from auto-rickshaw rides to groceries.

The Noida, India-based firm is adding about 500,000 new users daily following Mr. Modi’s announcement, according to Mr. Sharma. It added 100,000 a day last month.

Click through to read the rest.

By Me Yesterday: What Trump Said About Working Visas to the U.S.

The story begins:

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Monday said his administration will scrutinize what he called “abuses” of visas amid speculation that he intends to restrict the flow of skilled workers into his country.

In a two-minute video posted on YouTube, Mr. Trump for the first time since the Nov. 8 election articulated to the public what he plans to do during his first 100 days in office.

“On immigration,” Mr. Trump said, “I will direct the Department of Labor to investigate all abuses of visa programs that undercut the American worker.”

He also said he would take action on trade, energy policies and more.

My previous stories on Trump and immigration are here and here.

By Me on Friday: How Amazon Has Taken India by Storm

The story begins:

NEW DELHI– Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos, perturbed by his company’s failure to capture much of the massive Chinese market, had a pointed message for executives in India during a visit in 2014: Don’t let that happen here.

Do what it takes to succeed and don’t worry about the cost, Mr. Bezos said, according to a person who was present.

Amazon, which dominates online selling in the U.S. but so far has gained little traction in developing countries, has since invested billions of dollars to build a logistics network spanning India to reel in shoppers.

The result: the company rapidly became India’s No. 2 e-commerce player and moved within striking distance of local rival Flipkart Internet Pvt., according to some estimates. Indeed, Mr. Bezos last month declared Amazon was on top in a market it largely had ignored until recent years, though he didn’t say by which measure.

“We are winning in India,” Mr. Bezos said at a conference in San Francisco, arguing that Amazon has pulled past Flipkart to become “the leader in India now.”

Amazon’s attempts to push into developing markets—marked by difficult logistics and significant cultural differences in shoppers’ expectations—reflect the e-commerce giant’s search for new routes to growth as it saturates the U.S. market. Countries such as China and India promise rapidly growing populations with steep rates of online shopping adoption as technology becomes more accessible.

Click through for a video, narrated by yours truly.