By Me Yesterday: Singapore’s Reviewing Airbnb-Related Regulations

The story begins:

Singapore is reviewing guidelines governing the kind of short-term rentals used by home sharing companies like Airbnb, underscoring the regulatory uncertainties the fast-growing startup faces as it expands abroad.

At question in wealthy, tightly controlled Singapore: Should home owners be allowed to rent out their residences for short periods of time, as Airbnb users typically do?

It’s a legal gray area that the San Francisco-based company — one of the world’s hottest startups, valued at $10 billion — has faced in various markets as it has expanded throughout Europe and Asia.

In Singapore, where Airbnb provides listings for hundreds of properties, the city-state’s Urban Redevelopment Authority, or URA, late last month began soliciting feedback from the public regarding existing regulations.

By Me Yesterday: Google Street View Comes to Bangladesh

It begins:

The newest country available on Google Street View: Bangladesh.

The tech titan on Thursday unveiled 360-degree panoramic images of streets around the teeming capital, Dhaka, the port city of Chittagong and dozens of other locations in the densely populated country sandwiched between India and Myanmar.

Bangladesh, home to some 150 million people, is the 65th nation for which the Google Maps feature is available.

By Me Yesterday: China’s Renren Invests in U.S. Startup FiscalNote

The story begins:

Renren has led a $10 million investment in a Washington, D.C.-based startup that uses big data to forecast legislation, the latest move by the Chinese social network to fund innovative companies that could further the company’s growth.

FiscalNote, founded in 2013, uses data-mining software and artificial intelligence to predict legislators’ votes and the success or failure of bills. Among its clients, the company says, are JP Morgan Chase, software firm VMWare, and ride sharing company Uber, which has faced some notable regulatory hurdles of late.

“I see them as a disruptive company because the space they’re going after is huge,” Renren Chief Executive Joe Chen told The Wall Street Journal. “I think just from a pure business point they’re going to be tremendous going forward,” he said.

By Me Today: Facebook Denies ‘Lizard Squad’ Hacking Claim

The story begins:

Facebook Inc. on Tuesday denied being the victim of a hacking attack and said its site and photo-sharing app Instagram had suffered an outage after it introduced a configuration change.

The disruption “was not the result of a third party attack but instead occurred after we introduced a change that affected our configuration systems,” a Facebook spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal. “We moved quickly to fix the problem, and both services are back to 100% for everyone.”

Highly Recommended: Art Stage Singapore

Yesterday A and I attended the final day of Art Stage Singapore, held at the Marina Bay Sands exhibition center.

It’s an art fair where galleries from all over the world display various works, with a focus on Asian contemporary art.

Here are a few of my Tweets from yesterday about pieces with technological* themes.

This just scratches the surface of some of the remarkable artwork we saw.

I’ll post more here, on my Instagram account, or on my Flickr photostream soon…

*Here’s more on steampunk.

By Me Yesterday: The World Leader in Mobile Facebook Access? Indonesia

My WSJ Digits post begins:

Indonesia leads the world in terms of the percentage of its Facebook users who access the social network on their mobile devices.

That’s according to research firm eMarketer, which said Thursday that some 92.4% of Facebook users in the country — 62.6 million people — tap into the social network via their phones at least once a month. That’s up from 88.1% last year and 77.7% in 2013.

Click through for more.

By Me Today: WhatsApp’s Now Available on a Web Browser

My post at WSJ Digits begins:

Users of the popular messaging app WhatsApp can now conduct their chats via a Web browser — with a few restrictions.

The Facebook-owned service with some 700 million monthly active users said in a blog post Wednesday that people can now link their mobile phones with a WhatsApp Web client, allowing them to write and read messages via their computers.

There are, however, a few limitations to the setup. First, those with iPhones are out of luck due to “Apple platform limitations,” WhatsApp says. The service works with Android, BlackBerry, Nokia S60 and Windows devices, but users need the latest version of WhatsApp.

To start, WhatsApp users can visit Web.WhatsApp.com via Google’s Chrome browser on their computers, where a QR code will appear.

Click through for instructions on how to set it up.

And, yes, an you’ll see an image of a WhatsApp conversation I had via a Web browser…with myself.

As I said on Facebook earlier: Anything in the name of journalism.

By Me Yesterday: Twitter Buys India-Based Startup ZipDial to Tap Emerging Markets

Our main story at WSJ.com begins:

Twitter Inc. agreed to buy India-based mobile marketing startup ZipDial for an undisclosed sum in its first acquisition in Asia, as it seeks to tap more offline users in fast-growing emerging markets.

Countries like India, Indonesia and Brazil are key to Twitter as it tries to attract new users and advertising dollars, analysts say. Emerging markets are increasingly becoming an important part of Twitter’s growth strategy as it peaks in developed markets such as the U.S. and the U.K. In the three months ended September, Twitter reached 284 million monthly active users, about 77% of whom came from outside the U.S.

Bangalore-based ZipDial is known for its “missed call” marketing service, which allows consumers to dial a number for a company and hang up before connecting. The company in turn sends them free text messages containing advertisements and other content, like sports scores, without users incurring a charge.

A colleague and I also wrote this primer on ZipDial:

Twitter said Tuesday it is paying an undisclosed sum to acquire ZipDial, a Bangalore, India-based startup known for its success at “missed call” marketing.

Wait, what’s a missed call?

In India, many cost-conscious consumers use missed calls — they dial a number, let it ring, then hang up before connecting — to send a message, like “I’m running late,” to friends and family. A missed call is free, since callers are only charged when the other party answers.

What does ZipDial do?

ZipDial lets companies take advantage of this practice. The startup, which was founded in 2010 and has 56 employees, provides services that allow brands to advertise a number for “missed calls.”

For example, in one campaign for Colgate toothpaste, users could give a missed call to a special number shown on advertising banners in Mumbai, then receive a text message. Consumers would respond to that with their addresses, and then are sent a free sample of toothpaste.

ZipDial’s other clients have included the likes of Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Walt Disney and more.

Click through for more.

My Q&A with Dan Neary, Facebook’s Asia-Pacific VP

It begins:

Dan Neary oversees Facebook Inc. ’s advertising operations across Asia-Pacific, a fast-growing region that is home to some of the social network’s biggest markets.

Nearly all of Facebook’s revenue—some $3.2 billion as of the third quarter—comes from fees companies pay to show users ads.

As the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company continues to add to its 1.35 billion monthly active users globally, many are coming from emerging Asian countries such as Indonesia and India.

Moreover, such users are accessing the platform not just on PCs, but increasingly on mobile devices, presenting new challenges and opportunities for Facebook and advertisers.

Mr. Neary, a 49-year-old Chicago native who began his career at Kellogg Co. before holding senior positions at Skype and eBay Inc., is tasked with ensuring the company continues to profit in an ever-changing technological environment.

In a recent interview at Facebook’s offices in Singapore, Mr. Neary discussed the shift to mobile, as well as what Facebook’s photo-sharing service Instagram and messaging app WhatsApp can contribute to the company.

Mr. Neary was cautious in addressing Founder and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg ’s October visit to China and possible expansion there, saying only that having access to the country’s 1.3 billion people is an important part of Facebook’s future growth plan.

Click through to read the whole thing.

You may recall that some of my similar interviews in the past — part of our “Boss Talk” series — include chats with BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen; Twitter’s vice president of Asia Pacific, the Americas and emerging markets, Shailesh Rao; and Evernote Chief Executive Phil Libin.