Newley’s Notes 181: Google Maps Trouble; Slack’s IPO; MH370 Mystery; Dogs Practicing Yoga

2019 06 30HK

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

🇭🇰 I spent much of last week in Hong Kong, where we held our annual WSJ D.Live tech conference. It’s a gathering of tech executives, venture capital investors, startup founders, WSJ journalists, and more. (And yes, the event happened during the city’s massive protests, injecting an added element of excitement.)

In one on-stage event, I interviewed Guarav Gupta, chief operating officer of India’s Zomato. You may well have heard of it. It’s a popular platform for food delivery, food ratings, and more. We talked about the company’s push into smaller Indian cities, their expansion abroad, and even the potential for an IPO. You can watch the video here.

🆕 Separately, I had a scoop last week about a new private equity firm targeting Southeast Asia startups. The lede:

A new Southeast Asia-focused private-equity firm launched by a group of seasoned technology executives has hit the first close of its debut fund, the latest sign of investors’ growing enthusiasm for startups in the populous region.

Among the co-founders are Nick Nash, formerly group president of Singapore-based Sea, and Oliver Rippel, who was previously head of business-to-consumer e-commerce at Naspers.

On to this week’s NN.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

📍 1) Millions of Business Listings on Google Maps Are Fake—and Google Profits [WSJ]

“…Google still can’t seem to stop the proliferation of fictional business listings and aggressive con artists on its search engine. The scams are profitable for nearly everyone involved, Google included. Consumers and legitimate businesses end up the losers.”

📈 2) Slack Shares Jump in Trading Debut [WSJ]

“Slack Technologies Inc. surged in its trading debut on the New York Stock Exchange, the latest technology firm to jump into a hot initial-public-offering market.”

🖥️ 3) Bodies in Seats [The Verge]

“At Facebook’s worst-performing content moderation site in North America, one contractor has died, and others say they fear for their lives.”

🛩️ 4) The Drone Iran Shot Down Was a $220M Surveillance Monster [Wired]

“Global Hawks are massive surveillance platforms, in operation since 2001, with a wingspan of more than 130 feet and a maximum takeoff weight of more than 16 tons…”

📺 5) Samsung’s security reminder makes the case for not owning a Samsung smart TV [The Verge]

“‘Prevent malicious software attacks on your TV by scanning for viruses on your TV every few weeks,’ a (now deleted) tweet from the company’s US support account read alongside a video attachment that demonstrated the laborious process.”

❓ 6) A gripping longread: What Really Happened to Malaysia’s Missing Airplane [The Atlantic]

“In truth, a lot can now be known with certainty about the fate of MH370. First, the disappearance was an intentional act.”

🇨🇳 7) Liu Cixin’s War of the Worlds [New Yorker]

“A leading sci-fi writer takes stock of China’s global rise.”

🍜 8) A local’s guide to Bangkok [Washington Post]

“It’s the center of industry, finance, government, retail and education for all of Thailand, so everything comes together in fascinating, and often creative, ways.”

🐱 9) Cat filter accidentally used in Pakistani minister’s live press conference [BBC News – Thanks, PB!]

“Facebook users watching the video live commented on the gaffe, but Mr Yousafzai carried on unaware of his feline features.”

🧘 10) Army Dog Unit practices Yoga for #YogaDay2019 [India Ministry of Defense on Twitter]

💡 Quote of the week:

“Living is not thinking. Thought is formed and guided by objective reality outside us. Living is the constant adjustment of thought to life and life to thought in such a way that we are always growing, always experiencing new things in the old and old things in the new. Thus life is always new.” – Thomas Merton

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Newley’s Notes 180: Streaming Video Wars; Apple’s Privacy Push; YouTube Under Fire; Silly Dogs in Churches

2019 06 10landscape

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

🆕 My latest story, which came out Tuesday, is about the streaming video wars here in India.

🎥 The headline: Netflix and Amazon Trail a Local Video Rival in India That’s Now Disney-Owned. It begins:

To win in India, home to many of the world’s next billion internet users, Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. are copying the tactics of a video-streaming service built for the local market.

Hotstar dominates the Indian market. Launched four years ago by media conglomerate Star India as a mobile-first streaming platform for watching cricket, movies and TV, it now has 300 million monthly users – roughly 10% more than YouTube, India’s second-biggest video content platform. While only three million users pay for access, that is still more than Amazon has, and more than twice as many as Netflix. Walt Disney Co. now owns Hotstar.

Netflix and Amazon, shut out of China and facing stiff competition in the maturing U.S. market, are adopting the strategies that fueled Hotstar’s success – low prices that the average Indian viewer can afford and loads of local content in multiple Indian languages.

Click through to read the rest.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🔒 1) Apple Touts New Privacy Features Amid Scrutiny of Tech Giants [WSJ]

My colleague Tripp Mickle reports from Apple’s annual software developers’ conference:

“Apple Inc. sought to tout itself as a digital-privacy crusader with an anonymous login system and tools that prevent apps from tracking a user’s location, a push that is designed to further differentiate it from Google and Facebook Inc., which have built their fortunes on tracking user activity and behavior.”

🍎 Other new Apple stuff, via my colleague David Pierce:

  • There’s a new iPad OS
  • The iPad is getting copy-and-paste, and thumb drive capability
  • Mac is retiring the iTunes app
  • Apple Watch is getting an app store
  • There’s a new Mac Pro starting at…$6,000

🚫 2) YouTube just banned supremacist content, and thousands of channels are about to be removed [The Verge]

“YouTube is changing its community guidelines to ban videos promoting the superiority of any group as a justification for discrimination against others based on their age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status, the company said today. ”

🎙️ 3) Related: The Making of a YouTube Radical [New York Times]

“The radicalization of young men is driven by a complex stew of emotional, economic and political elements, many having nothing to do with social media. But critics and independent researchers say YouTube has inadvertently created a dangerous on-ramp to extremism by combining two things: a business model that rewards provocative videos with exposure and advertising dollars, and an algorithm that guides users down personalized paths meant to keep them glued to their screens.”

🌊 4) Towing an Iceberg: One Captain’s Plan to Bring Drinking Water to 4 Million People [Bloomberg Businessweek]

“Making use of his unusual skill set, he plans to harness and tow an enormous Antarctic iceberg to South Africa and convert it into municipal water.”

🌷 5) Post-it note war over flowers deemed ‘most middle-class argument ever’ [Metro]

“The row, which kicked off on a street in London, first began after someone left a note on a tree simply stating ‘please don’t pick my flowers’.”

📱 6) When Grown-Ups Get Caught in Teens’ AirDrop Crossfire [The Atlantic]

“As more teens get their own iPhones and a rising number of schools crack down on social media, AirDrop culture has gone mainstream – and more adults are getting caught in the crossfire.”

✂️ 7) The cutting-edge of cutting: How Japanese scissors have evolved [Nikkei Asian Review]

“Inside Tokyo stationery stores, scissors are undergoing a quiet evolution.”

🧵 8) Complete Knot List [Animated Knots]

“Follow along as ropes tie themselves, showing just the essential steps, so you can master a knot in no time.”

📻 9) Learning to Listen, in a Los Angeles Cafe Built for Vinyl [New York Times]

“Japanese-style listening bars, where D.J.’s spin carefully selected records for a hushed audience, are arriving in America.”

😂 10) Sometimes dogs just wanna play…at the most inappropriate times. [Instagram: dogsvideos1]

💡 Quote of the week:

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Netflix and Amazon Trail a Local Video Rival in India That’s Now Disney-Owned

2019 06 06 hotstar netflix amazon

That’s the headline on my most recent story, out Tuesday.

It begins:

NEW DELHI—To win in India, home to many of the world’s next billion internet users, Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. are copying the tactics of a video-streaming service built for the local market.

Hotstar dominates the Indian market. Launched four years ago by media conglomerate Star India as a mobile-first streaming platform for watching cricket, movies and TV, it now has 300 million monthly users—roughly 10% more than YouTube, India’s second-biggest video content platform. While only three million users pay for access, that is still more than Amazon has, and more than twice as many as Netflix. Walt Disney Co. now owns Hotstar.

Netflix and Amazon, shut out of China and facing stiff competition in the maturing U.S. market, are adopting the strategies that fueled Hotstar’s success—low prices that the average Indian viewer can afford and loads of local content in multiple Indian languages.

Netflix is churning out Indian-language dramas, love stories and thrillers and slashing its monthly rates. Amazon has signed up local stand-up comedians and backed a “Sex and the City” clone about a group of women in Mumbai that is broadcast in three Indian languages.

Click through to read the rest.

Newley’s Notes 179: DOJ eyes Google; UFO Sightings; Spelling Bee Champs; Terrific Tanukis

2019 06 02abstract

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

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🔍 1) Big scoop by my colleagues Brent Kendall and John McKinnon: Justice Department Is Preparing Antitrust Investigation of Google [WSJ]

“The Justice Department is gearing up for an antitrust investigation of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, a move that could present a major new layer of regulatory scrutiny for the search giant, according to people familiar with the matter.”

🛸 2) ‘Wow, What Is That?’ Navy Pilots Report Unexplained Flying Objects [NY Times]

“…the objects have gotten the attention of the Navy, which earlier this year sent out new classified guidance for how to report what the military calls unexplained aerial phenomena, or unidentified flying objects.”

🐝 3) The 2019 National Spelling Bee ended in an unprecedented 8-way tie [Vox] (Thanks, Mom!)

“Eight contestants exhausted the Spelling Bee’s dictionary over the course of an intense, three-hour final round.”

🥁 4) Is Lo-Fi House the First Genre of the Algorithm Age? [Vice]

“How YouTube’s related video algorithm helped shaped the strange rise of hazy acts like DJ Boring, DJ Seinfeld, and Ross From Friends.”

👓 5) Secret spectacles: The story of a migrant spy [BBC]

“…he intended to get himself smuggled on the desert migrant route to Europe, using a secret camera in his glasses to document the crimes of the smugglers.”

⚽ 6) How Football Leaks Is Exposing Corruption in European Soccer [New Yorker]

“While Rui Pinto sits in jail, his revelations are bringing down the sport’s most famous teams and players.”

✍️ 7) How to Get Every Email Returned [New York Times]

“In the course of doing research for a book on how people actually change their minds, and what gets them to say ‘yes’ rather than ‘no,’’ I was distressed to find that I knew much less about it than I thought I did.”

🍄 8) Repair Of Iconic ’60s Era Synthesizer Turns Into Long, Strange Trip For Engineer [KPIX5]

“He sprayed a cleaning solvent on it and started to push the dissolving crystal with his finger as he attempted to dislodge the residue and clean the area. About 45 minutes later, Curtis began to feel a little strange.”

🆒 9) A People Map of the US [The Pudding]

"…where city names are replaced by their most Wikipedia’ed resident: people born in, lived in, or connected to a place.

🦝 10) The Care and Keeping of Raccoon Dogs [The Atlantic] (Thanks, Anasuya!)

“Raccoon dogs, also called tanukis, look like supermodel raccoons with their lanky limbs, slender necks, and soulful eyes. But they’re actually wild canines, most closely related to foxes. ”

💡 Quote of the week:

“Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts.” – Edward R. Murrow

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Newley’s Notes 178: Tsu-NaMo; Fake Pelosi Vid; SF Blues; Beagle Puppies

abstract

🇮🇳 Well, it’s official: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is back.

In a big way.

Official results out Thursday showed he’s won a sweeping mandate for another five years.

🌊 “NaMOMENT,” “Yes! Prime Minister,” “Modi Tsunami,” “Modi Magic,” “Tsunamo.”

Those were among the newspaper front page headlines on Friday. I posted some photos of them here on Newley.com.

🤔 So, what does Modi’s reelection mean for U.S. firms, like Amazon and Walmart, that are pouring billions of dollars into India?

For my latest story, I spoke with several folks to answer that question. The lede:

U.S. technology firms recently facing pushback in India, the world’s biggest untapped digital economy, can expect more scrutiny following Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s resounding re-election, according to executives and analysts.

“Electorally there’s no gain in mollycoddling Amazon and Walmart,” one senior executive at a tech firm told me.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🔍 1) Facebook on fake Pelosi video: Being ‘false’ isn’t enough for removal [Politico]

“Facebook said Friday that a video doctored to depict House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slurring her words will remain on the social network because false information alone does not violate the site’s rules.”

🕵️ 2) In Baltimore and Beyond, a Stolen N.S.A. Tool Wreaks Havoc [NY Times]

“Since 2017, when the N.S.A. lost control of the tool, EternalBlue, it has been picked up by state hackers in North Korea, Russia and, more recently, China, to cut a path of destruction around the world, leaving billions of dollars in damage. But over the past year, the cyberweapon has boomeranged back and is now showing up in the N.S.A.’s own backyard.”

🔮 3) Amazon Is Working on a Device That Can Read Human Emotions [Bloomberg]

“Amazon.com Inc. is developing a voice-activated wearable device that can recognize human emotions. The wrist-worn gadget is described as a health and wellness product in internal documents reviewed by Bloomberg.”

🌁 4) How San Francisco Broke America’s Heart [Washington Post]

“Tech isn’t what everyone talks about in San Francisco. It’s money. Real estate, income inequality, $20 salads, the homeless, adult children unable to move out, non-tech workers unable to move in.”"

🎸 5) Sofar Sounds house concerts raises $25M, but bands get just $100 [TechCrunch]

“Tired of noisy music venues where you can hardly see the stage? Sofar Sounds puts on concerts in people’s living rooms where fans pay $15 to $30 to sit silently on the floor and truly listen.”

⛵ 6) ‘It could change everything’: coin found off northern Australia may be from pre–1400 Africa [The Guardian]

“…the most likely scenario is that the Portuguese, who looted Kilwa in 1505, went on to set foot on Australian shores, bringing the coins with them.”

🌏 7) What Changed My Mind About Climate Change? [The Bullwark]

“As Cato’s director of Natural Resource Studies (and later, as a senior fellow and eventually vice president), I maintained that, while climate change was real, the impacts would likely prove rather modest and that the cost of reducing greenhouse gas emissions would greatly exceed the benefits. I changed my mind about that, however, because (among other things) I changed my mind about risk management.

⚔️ 8) An illustrated guide to all 6,887 deaths in ‘Game of Thrones’ [Washington Post]

“And after eight seasons of continually rising body counts, we can definitively confirm — “Valar Morghulis” — all men must indeed die.”

📊 9) How Data (and Some Breathtaking Soccer) Brought Liverpool to the Cusp of Glory [NY Times Magazine]

“Analytics has famously influenced the tactics in professional baseball and basketball in recent years. Ultimately, it may have just as great an impact on soccer, which traditionally hasn’t relied on statistics to figure out much of anything.”

🐶 🤩 10) When food is life [Instagram video: doglover_s]

🐱 😂 BONUS LINK: UPDATE – FOUND CAT – NEED OWNERS ASAP!! [Craigslist]

💡 Quote of the week:

“What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you.” – Carl Sagan

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Modi’s Re-Election Means More Scrutiny for U.S. Tech Giants

2019 05 26modi tech

That’s the headline on my newest story, out Friday. It begins:

NEW DELHI – U.S. technology firms recently facing pushback in India, the world’s biggest untapped digital economy, can expect more scrutiny following Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s resounding re-election, according to executives and analysts.

They expect Mr. Modi’s government to continue tightening restrictions on American titans such as Amazon.com Inc., Walmart Inc. and Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp.

U.S. firms have been pouring billions of dollars into the country of 1.3 billion people in part because, unlike China, India has provided a level playing field for foreign firms at a time when hundreds of millions of people are getting online thanks to cheaper mobile data and smartphones.

Click through to read the rest.

Modi’s Big Win: Some Newspaper Front Pages Here in India

modi election front pages

more modi election front pages

“NaMoMENT,” “Yes! Prime Minister,” “Modi Tsunami,” “Modi Magic,” “Tsunamo.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (aka NaMo) is back. In a very big way.

Above are some newspaper front pages from Friday, after official results came out.

The lede and from a story by my colleagues Eric Bellman and Corinne Abrams:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India’s popular nationalist leader, won a sweeping mandate for a second five-year term, setting the stage for more economic reform of the fast-growing economy and more divisive social policies for his Hindu supporters.

India Antitrust Watchdog Sniffs Around E-Commerce Players

india_ecommerce_amazon_flipkart

That’s the headline on my newest story, a scoop out yesterday with my colleague Rajesh Roy.

The lede and first few grafs:

NEW DELHI–India’s antitrust watchdog is assessing the domestic e-commerce sector, a step that could have consequences for Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc.’s Flipkart, which dominate online sales in the country.

In a questionnaire dated May 17, the Competition Commission of India says it is seeking to understand the evolution of the e-commerce industry, the sector’s methods and strategies, business practices and “implications for competition,” according to a copy reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Ernst & Young is conducting the study, according to the 14-page document, which is marked confidential.

The questions cover the percentage of products sold by categories, inventory practices, how pricing decisions are made and total sales volume, among other subjects.

“What if tomorrow Amazon takes over Walmart-controlled Flipkart or vice versa? Wouldn’t there be a complete monopoly? This needs to be checked,” said an official at India’s Ministry of Corporate Affairs who declined to be named. The ministry oversees the Competition Commission.

A spokesman for the Competition Commission of India didn’t respond to a request for comment about the questionnaire Tuesday. Representatives in India for Ernst & Young, Amazon and Flipkart also didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Click through to read the rest.

Newley’s Notes 177: India Election Results; WhatsApp Hack; Joe Exotic; RIP Grumpy Cat

2019 05 19 abstract

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

🇮🇳 It’s a big week here in India: the country’s massive election, with 900 million eligible voters, comes to an end today (Sunday) after more than a month.

Exit polls should be available any hour now, with final results on Thursday. All eyes on are Prime Minister Modi, whose ruling BJP is fighting to maintain a majority in parliament five after his stunning rise to power.

🛍️ In other news, an exclusive from me out last Wednesday: India grocery delivery startup Grofers has raised a fresh $200 million from SoftBank. It’s the Japanese firm’s latest bet on India tech. You can find the story online here.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

⚠️ 1) WhatsApp voice calls used to inject Israeli spyware on phones [Financial Times]

“A vulnerability in the messaging app WhatsApp has allowed attackers to inject commercial Israeli spyware on to phones, the company and a spyware technology dealer said.”

➕ Bonus link: If you’re a WhatsApp user, here’s how to update the app.

🇨🇳 2) Trump Steps Up Assault on China’s Huawei [WSJ]

“President Trump on Wednesday said he signed an executive order that enables the U.S. to ban telecommunications network gear and services from ‘foreign adversaries.’”

💭 3) Snapchat’s new gender-changing filter provokes strong reactions [Axios]

“While some in the LGBTQ community have been critical of the filters as making a joke out of a serious matter, others say the filters have allowed them to explore themselves in the safety of a digital world.”

🎞️ 4) The Hulu/Disney/Comcast divorce, explained [Vox]

“The giant media companies are consolidating and getting bigger so they can take on the giant tech companies. The result for consumers: You’re going to need to work harder to find your favorite TV shows.”

🐅 5) Longread of the week: Joe Exotic: A Dark Journey Into the World of a Man Gone Wild [Texas Monthly. Hat tip: PB]

“If you think for one minute I was nuts before, I am the most dangerous exotic animal owner on this planet right now.”

🥾 6) Hikers Take to the Appalachian Trail to Escape the Real World. This Time, They Couldn’t [NY Times]

“…Word spread quickly last month after a disheveled 30-year-old man appeared on the trail in North Carolina, acting erratically and clad in a heavy winter coat and knit cap instead of the usual shorts and T-shirt.”

⚙️ 7) The Complete Guide to Deep Work [Doist]

“As information expands and shifts, keeping up involves learning hard things quickly and applying that knowledge to produce work that’s exceptional.”

📚 Related: my 2016 blog post with notes from Cal Newport’s book, “Deep Work.”

😿 8) Grumpy Cat, whose grumpiness brought joy to the internet, has died [The Verge]

“The cat, whose real name was Tardar Sauce, rose to fame after a Reddit post went viral in 2012, when she was just five months old. Grumpy Cat quickly became a meme…”

👑 9) The Real Reason Fans Hate the Last Season of Game of Thrones [Scientific American]

“In fact, the souring of Game of Thrones exposes a fundamental shortcoming of our storytelling culture in general: we don’t really know how to tell sociological stories.”

💕 🐶 10) A mighty conqueror vanquishing a disability. Kudos to the humans who made it possible. [Twitter: @sehnaoui]

💡 Quote of the week:

“Develop into a lifelong self-learner through voracious reading; cultivate curiosity and strive to become a little wiser every day.” – Charlie Munger

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