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India

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

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🇮🇳 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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👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,
Newley

Categories
India Journalism Tech

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.

Categories
India Journalism

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.

Categories
Journalism Tech

Walmart Bets $15 Billion on an E-Commerce Passage to India

Walmart filpkart

That’s the headline of a story just out today with my colleagues Eric Bellman and Corinne Abrams: It begins:

NEW DELHI—The famously frugal and focused Walmart Inc. is betting $15 billion on a much different kind of company: a sprawling Indian e-commerce startup that has burned through mountains of cash to try to conquer the country’s online shopping market.

The deal for a roughly 75% stake in Flipkart Group is set to be announced as early as this week.

If the union works, it could provide India’s leading online seller needed funds and traditional retailing expertise, while Walmart would be well-positioned for e-commerce in the world’s second-most-populous nation.

“I would not have bet on a deal converging between Walmart and Flipkart, primarily because of the culture difference,” said Kashyap Deorah, a veteran internet entrepreneur and author of “The Golden Tap,” a 2015 book detailing the history of Indian tech startups.

“Walmart is an extensively positive margin driven culture, and Flipkart has consistently been a gross margin negative business,” he said. The deal shows “Walmart considers India as a long-term strategic market,” he said.

Click through to read the rest.

Categories
India Journalism Tech

Walmart Looks to Scale Back in U.K. and Brazil, With an Eye on India

walmart

That’s the headline of a story just out with my colleagues Sarah Nassauer and Luciana Magalhães: It begins:

The world’s biggest retailer has concluded it can’t take on the whole world by itself.

Walmart Inc. is in discussions to give up control over hundreds of stores in the U.K. and Brazil, two big markets where it has struggled for years, according to people familiar with the talks. At the same time, it is preparing to pour billions of dollars into an Indian e-commerce startup to crack a promising market that has long eluded the U.S. giant.

After spending decades building stores around the globe and taking on local players, Walmart is forming joint ventures in competitive markets and focusing investments in areas executives think will provide growth to a company with $500 billion in annual sales. The strategy shift comes as Walmart works to fend off Amazon.com Inc. and a growing crop of discount grocers in the U.S. and abroad.

And more on India:

At the same time, Walmart in advanced discussions to buy a majority stake in Flipkart Group, a homegrown startup that has become India’s largest e-commerce company. The deal isn’t yet complete and could fall apart, said a person familiar with the Flipkart discussions. Flipkart said it was valued at $11.6 billion in a funding round last year.

Click through to read the rest.

Categories
India Journalism Tech

By Me Yesterday: Microsoft, eBay, Tencent Pour $1.4 Billion into India’s Flipkart

The story begins:

NEW DELHI—Indian e-commerce startup Flipkart Group has raised $1.4 billion from Microsoft Corp., eBay Inc. and Tencent Holdings Ltd., taking a hit to its valuation to raise the cash it needs to defend its home market from Amazon.com Inc.

Flipkart, which was started in 2007 by two former Amazon employees, said Monday that the new investment values the Bangalore company at $11.6 billion. That allows Flipkart to retain its title as India’s most valuable startup but is still a step down from the $15 billion valuation it received during fundraising in 2015.

“This is a landmark deal for Flipkart and for India,” Flipkart founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal said in the statement, calling it the company’s biggest fundraising round ever.

Flipkart said Chinese internet firm Tencent led the round, but a Flipkart spokeswoman declined to provide a breakdown of investments by company.

Separately, eBay said on Monday that it was selling its Indian business to Flipkart and was making a $500 million cash investment in the startup for an equity stake.

Categories
India Tech

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