SoftBank Doubles Down on Indian Grocery Venture


That’s the headline on my newest story, an exclusive out yesterday. It begins:

NEW DELHI–SoftBank Group Corp. is doubling down on its bet on an Indian grocery-delivery startup, in the global investor’s latest foray in the world’s largest untapped tech market.

Grofers India Pvt. said Wednesday that it received just over $200 million in a funding round led by the Vision Fund, which SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son is using to invest in cutting-edge technologies. Tiger Global Management and Sequoia Capital, two other prominent tech investors, also participated in the round, said Grofers, which is based in Gurgaon, India.

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India Investigates Google for Suspected Android Abuse

google india

That’s the headline on my most recent story, out Friday, which I wrote with my colleague Rajesh Roy.

It begins:

India’s antitrust watchdog is investigating whether Alphabet Inc.’s Google used its Android platform to block rivals, New Delhi’s latest move to try to tamp down American tech behemoths.

The investigation launched by the Competition Commission of India resembles a case last year in which the European Union fined Google $4.87 billion for what it said was abuse of its dominant Android mobile operating system to boost its own business, according to an Indian government official with knowledge of the matter.

The case is another example of antitrust authorities in many parts of the world taking cues from the EU, which has been investigating Google for nearly a decade.

“We have consulted the EU and the U.S. on the matter, and decided to move forward with the investigation as primary scrutiny suggests abuse by Google,” said the official, who declined to be identified.

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Newley’s Notes 176: Uber IPO Fizzles; Co-Founder Slams Zuckerberg; Soccer Insanity; Singing Dogs

soccer field

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

⚽ So, let’s get right to it. Here’s a question your grandkids may well ask you: Where were you when you watched Liverpool stage their crazy comeback, scoring four goals against Barcelona and advancing to the Champions League final? (The totally bonkers highlights are on YouTube here.)

Or what about, the next day, when Tottenham came from three goals down in the second half to beat Ajax and join Liverpool? (The even crazier highlights are here.)

I mean: Are you kidding me?

Either one of these fight-backs could have been moments of the decade, much less the year, for the tournament. It was insane to see them back-to-back.

🏆 Next, Liverpool and Spurs square off in an all-English final in three weeks, on Saturday, June 1. I would normally say the final can’t hope to live up to the semis’ excitement, but this year, you never know…

Meanwhile, in just a few hours the final games of this year’s English Premier League season kick off, with Manchester City just needing to win their final game to beat Liverpool to the title.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

📉 1) Uber’s High-Profile IPO Upsets With Weak Debut [WSJ]

“Only eight of the 53 U.S.-listed companies that were worth at least $10 billion when they went public declined on their first day, according to Dealogic, whose data goes back to 1991. The drop is a blemish for the San Francisco-based company, which staged one of the most anticipated IPOs ever.

▶ 2) It’s Time to Break Up Facebook, by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes.

“Mark is a good, kind person. But I’m angry that his focus on growth led him to sacrifice security and civility for clicks.”

💬 3) Amazon Flunks Children’s Privacy, Advocacy Groups Charge [NY Times]

“Among other things, the complaint said that Amazon had failed to obtain verified consent from parents before collecting their children’s voice recordings and had kept such records unnecessarily after extracting the data to respond to children.”

😮 4) About One Million Species Face Risk of Extinction, U.N. Report Says [WSJ]

“We’re doing a lot of damage in biodiversity. This damage is working against us.”

😑 5) Google’s new emphasis: privacy [Axios]

“The move is, of course, timely: In the wake of scandals and data spills, all Big Tech is talking privacy, even if individual companies have very different agendas. And Google is the company that basically invented the monetization of user information…

🎵 6) NPR’s ‘Morning Edition’ Changes Its Tune After 40 Years [NY Times]

“It’s not a decision that we took on lightly…We wanted to freshen the music and get it ready for what we hope will be another 50 years. It just felt like it was time.”

📖 7) How the Hell Has Danielle Steel Managed to Write 179 Books? [Glamour]

“There’s a sign in Danielle Steel’s office that reads, ‘There are no miracles. There is only discipline.’”

👕 8) A Houston high school has implemented a dress code – for parents [CNN]

“Principal Carlotta Outley Brown wrote in a letter earlier this month to parents that they cannot enter school grounds while wearing pajamas or revealing clothing.

💫 9) 88 Important Truths I’ve Learned About Life [Raptitude]

“Here are 88 things I’ve discovered about life, the world, and its inhabitants by this point in my short time on earth.”

📹 🐶 10) The most WHOLESOME TikTok you’ll ever see [Twitter: @Disappointing]

“So, this is my uncle’s dog. And, uh, he plays the piano and sings.”

💡 Quote of the week:

“The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.” –William James

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👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,

Newley’s Notes 175: Sri Lanka Bombings

2019 05 05srilanka

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

Apologies for my absence these past two weeks.

On Easter Sunday, when NN was last due to go out, news emerged about the horrific bombings at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka that killed more than 250 people. I was soon on a plane from New Delhi to Colombo.

I spent a good chunk of time in the capital and in the coastal city of Batticaloa. It was a heartbreaking story, but I’m proud of the work my WSJ colleagues and I did to document the events and get at the truth of what happened.

This week’s NN, then, will not be the typically wide ranging compendium of disparate links, but will focus mainly on the stories I wrote from Sri Lanka, along with a couple of other items you may have missed.

Here goes, in chronological order:

1) With my colleague Jon Emont: Sri Lanka Blocks Social Media Amid Bomb Attacks [WSJ]

“As Sri Lankan authorities scrambled amid a wave of deadly bombings across the country on Easter morning, among their first responses was to block social media, including Facebook and the popular messaging service WhatsApp.”

The block has since been lifted, but reflected, as we wrote, the “growing concerns in many parts of the world about the spread of false information and hate speech on social media and the use of online platforms to incite or exacerbate tensions.”

👂➡ Note: I later discussed the story with Kim Gittleson on The WSJ’s What’s News podcast.

2) With my colleague Eric Bellman: ‘Everyone Has Lost Someone’—Sri Lankan Church Bombing’s Wrenching Toll [WSJ]

“A parishioner was leading a prayer of thanksgiving to wrap up Easter Sunday services when a tall, slim young man ran into St. Sebastian’s Church from a side door.

Eric and I focused on one of the hardest hit churches, speaking with victims’ families and others from the community to tell the story of what happened that day.

3) Another piece with my colleague Eric Bellman: Sri Lankans Adapt to Social-Media Shutdown as Government Holds the Line [WSJ]

“While some citizens said they welcomed the restrictions, others said they had found workarounds.”

4) A story with my colleagues Ben Otto and Niharkia Mandhana: Islamist Preacher Died in Sri Lanka Attack [WSJ]

“Authorities confirmed that a radical preacher who inspired a series of Easter bombings died during the attack, but security forces pursued Islamist militants into Friday evening, engaging in fierce firefights in the area from which he hailed.”

5) Sri Lankan Islamist Called for Violence on Facebook Before Easter Attacks [WSJ]

“Facebook declined to comment on when, or how many, of Hashim’s Facebook postings it has removed nor did the company say when it initiated the 24-hour monitoring in local languages. Facebook deleted the videos still visible Tuesday after the Journal inquired about them.

Meanwhile, an item unrelated to Sri Lanka:

6) In NN 174 I shared the story I wrote about anti-vaccine misinformation on WhatsApp in India. Not long after it ran I joined CBS News’s Anne-Marie Green and Vladimir Duthiers to talk about the situation. The video clip is online here.

Thanks, as ever, for reading. Normal programming will resume next week.

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(Image via Sri Lanka Wikipedia page.)

WhatsApp Users Spread Antivaccine Rumors in India

2019 04 15 whatsapp vaccine india

That’s the headline on my latest story, out Saturday. It begins:

Antivaccine misinformation, some of it from social media posts in the West, is spreading in India on WhatsApp, undermining efforts to root out measles and rubella in a country where tens of thousands of people are struck by the diseases each year.

Click through to read the rest.

Newley’s Notes 173: False News on WhatsApp – YouTube Under Fire – Rap Grandmas – Puppy Waves

2019 04 10 india

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

🚨 Elections here in India, the world’s largest democracy, begin Thursday. They run in several stages through May 19.

I had several stories – some election-related, some not – out last week.

First, those related to elections.

📰 Online and on Monday’s WSJ front page:

Fake News Runs Wild on WhatsApp as India Elections Loom.

The lede:

In India, viral fake news is lighting up Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp messaging app as the world’s biggest democracy prepares for national elections in the coming weeks.

Efforts by WhatsApp and the government to stop the spread of misinformation are having little effect, according to fact-checking groups and analysts.

Then two more:

Meanwhile, a couple of other stories I wrote with colleagues:

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

📹 1) YouTube Executives Ignored Warnings, Letting Toxic Videos Run Rampant [Bloomberg]

“The company spent years chasing one business goal above others: ‘Engagement,’’ a measure of the views, time spent and interactions with online videos. Conversations with over twenty people who work at, or recently left, YouTube reveal a corporate leadership unable or unwilling to act on these internal alarms for fear of throttling engagement. ”

⚠ 2) Old, Online, And Fed On Lies: How An Aging Population Will Reshape The Internet [Buzzfeed News]

“Older people play an outsized role in civic life. They also are more likely to be online targets for misinformation and hyperpartisan rhetoric.”

👂 3) Amazon Is Making a Rival to Apple’s AirPods as Its First Alexa Wearable [Bloomberg]

“The Seattle-based e-commerce giant is readying earbuds with built-in Alexa access for as early as the second half of this year, according to people with knowledge of the plans.”

⭐ 4) The Most Hyped Technology of Every Year From 2000–2018 [Visual Capitalist]

“Today’s graphic is a retrospective look at which trends scaled the summit of the Hype Cycle each year since 2000.”

📚 5) They Had it Coming [The Atlantic]

“Thirty years ago, having tapped out of a Ph.D. program, I moved to Los Angeles (long story) and got hired at the top boys’ school in the city, which would soon become co-educational. For the first four years, I taught English. Best job I’ve ever had. For the next three, I was a college counselor. Worst job I’ve ever had.

🔫 6) Reflections on The Sopranos [Econlib/Bryan Caplan]

“Here are the top social science insights I take away. (minor spoilers)”

🚢 7) Building the Largest Ship In the World, South Korea [Alastair Philip Wiper]

“Apart from a couple of guys finishing some last-minute paint jobs, I pretty much had the whole ship to myself. ”

🎤 8) A New Role for Madhur Jaffrey: Rap Grandma [NY Times]

“In the video, which debuted Monday online, the character describes herself as ‘85 years gold’ and ‘the best damn Nani that you ever done seen,’ among other assertions too colorful for this newspaper.”

⚾ 9) A dinosaur tried to throw the first pitch at a Rangers game, but it did not go well [MLB] (Thanks, PB)

“It’s hard to make a pitch when you have tiny arms.”

🐶 10) Say Hi to the people [Reddit] (Thanks, Anasuya)

💡 Quote of the week:

"The meaning of life is to give life meaning.” – Viktor Frankl

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👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,