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Some news: WE MOVED TO INDIA!

2016 08 08 indiatweet

More on this in future posts, but…A and I moved to India! I’m penning this post from New Delhi, our new home after two and a half years in Singapore.

Above is a Tweet I posted sharing the news. Below is the Newley Notes missive in which I explain a bit more.

I’m very excited about this new adventure. Expect more posts on India, tech, and life in the world’s second-most-populous nation.


Hi friends,

Thanks for reading Newley’s Notes, a weekly (most of the time) newsletter in which I share my WSJ stories, posts from my blog, and various interesting links.

This is a special edition: it’s the first one I’m penning from New Delhi, our new home!

Anasuya and I moved here from Singapore about a week and a half ago — hence the weeks-long Newley’s Notes absence — and are settling in well so far.

I’ll be working out of the WSJ bureau here in the capital of the world’s second-most-populous country. I’m so, so excited to be in this vibrant, dynamic nation, and to be able to focus more on tech developments here. And having family and friends nearby is a huge bonus.

It’s an exciting time for India, a country of 1.3 billion where people are increasingly coming online for the first time, many on low-cost smartphones.

How is technology changing their lives? Is it improving them? What are some of the world’s biggest tech firms — Facebook, Google, Amazon, Uber — doing to win here? How are local startups innovating? These are questions I hope to answer in my stories.

On to this week’s edition.

What I wrote in The WSJ

Grab, an Uber Rival in Southeast Asia, Is Set to Raise $1 Billion

The story, which I wrote with two exceptional colleagues in Hong Kong, begins:

As Uber Technologies Inc. turns away from China, a competitor is raising funds to cement its dominance in Southeast Asia and fend off the tech titan based in San Francisco.

Uber’s decision to sell its China business to Didi Chuxing Technology Co. is giving Singapore-based Grab renewed confidence it can take on Uber and win on its home turf. Grab says it has captured much of Southeast Asia’s ride-hailing market with more than half of private-car rides in the region.

Valued at $1.6 billion in its previous funding round, Grab is planning to raise about $1 billion in fresh capital from investors including Didi and Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp.,a person familiar with the situation said Wednesday. The first chunk of that fundraising, a $600 million dose, is expected to be completed this week, the person said.

How Uber Plans to Avoid Getting Didi-ed in India

The story begins:

Uber is upping its game in India following its retreat from China.

The San Francisco ride-hailing company earlier this week gave up its costly battle for users in China, selling its business there to homegrown rival Didi Chuxing Technology Co…

What I wrote at Newley.com

Three additions to my “book notes” series of posts, in which I share notes from my readings.

Book Notes — ‘Never Eat Alone,’ by Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz

Brief recap: A popular book about the power of networking. I didn’t find it revelatory, but appreciate the central theme, which is common sense: that you should help friends just to help them, not because you expect something in return. In other words, as the author writes, networking can be a huge advantage – but don’t keep score.

Book Notes — ‘Deep Work,’ by Cal Newport

Brief recap: Newport, an assistant professor of computer science at Georgetown University, argues that knowledge workers must devote themselves entirely to the most sophisticated and valuable contributions they can make – they must concentrate on what he calls “deep work.” Common sense, yes, but the book provides some compelling insights and plenty of practical tips. Highly recommended.

Book Notes — ‘Den of Thieves,’ by James B. Stewart

Brief recap: An absolute classic. Pulitzer-prize winning Jim Stewart tells, though in-depth reporting and riveting storytelling, the story of the insider trading scandals that rocked Wall Street in the 1980s.

5 items that are worth your time this week:

1) Nice Cargo Shorts! You’re Sleeping on the Sofa

A lighthearted WSJ story out of New York that blew up online — we’re talking 83,000 Facebook shares and 600 comments. The nut graf:

Relationships around the country are being tested by cargo shorts, loosely cut shorts with large pockets sewn onto the sides. Men who love them say they’re comfortable and practical for summer. Detractors​ say they’ve been out of style for years, deriding them as bulky, uncool and just flat-out ugly.

2) After you’ve read that, check out this hilarious Vice piece, in which the author unpacks the WSJ story.

3) When LBJ Ordered Pants From the White House

Speaking of clothing, this is not new, but new to me. Visit the link and scroll down to the hear the remarkble audio of a phone call Lyndon Johnson made to the Haggar clothing company in Dallas in 1964. Audio is possibly NSFW, given graphic anatomical descriptions — not to mention audible burping.

4) America Seen From Abroad: Arrogant, Nice, Tech-Savvy, Free

I love this. The AP asked people all over the world for their impressions of Americans.

One of my favorites:

— “America? Uhh, that’s a huge country. Burgers, the American dream, choppers, … Elvis, cowboys. We dream of America and they dream about Europe. But one thing for sure, they cannot make beer.” — Knut Braaten, 43, handyman, Oslo, Norway.

5) App of the week: Prisma, which turns “every photo into art.” It’s like Instagram, but it makes your pics way cooler.

Have a great week, and let me know what’s new in your world.

@Newley

P.S. If someone forwarded you this email, you can subscribe here.

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In This Week’s Newley’s Notes: Grab v. Uber; Why England Lose; Illiberalism on the Rise; Amazonian Book Nerds; Awesome Fireworks Packaging

The latest edition of my email newsletter has gone out to subscribers. It’s pasted in below.

To get these weekly dispatches delivered to your inbox, sign up here. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief — and few people unsubscribe!


Hi friends,

Thanks for reading Newley’s Notes, a weekly* newsletter in which I share my WSJ stories, posts from my blog, and various interesting links.

*Okay, make that mostly weekly! I have been traveling and generally busy in recent weeks, and thus have missed sending these missives out on occasion. But I shall endeavor to do better.

What I wrote in The Wall Street Journal

Uber Rival Grab Gains Ground in Southeast Asia – a look at how Singapore-based Grab, an Uber competitor operating in six Southeast Asian countries, is doing in its battle with the U.S. behemoth. The story begins:

SINGAPORE—Uber Technologies Inc. is locked in major tussles with local rivals in China and India, but a homegrown upstart is also grabbing an advantage in the race for another Asia prize.

A startup called Grab is winning ride-hailing turf in Southeast Asia—home to 600 million people, almost double the population of the U.S. The startup serves more cities in the region than Uber and, according to mobile-app analytics firm App Annie, is beating the world’s most valuable startup in the race for users here.

Click through for a graphic and photos. There’s also a video online here; you may recognize the narrator’s voice.

Indian Internet Startups Face Money Crunch – The story begins:

Investors’ enthusiasm for Indian startups continues to wane.

Private-equity and venture-capital funds raised by Internet companies in the world’s second-most-populous country fell 56% to $528 million in the three months ended June 30.

That is a sharp drop from the $1.19 billion raised in the previous quarter and $1.3 billion a year earlier, according to a research report from Jefferies India.

What I wrote at Newley.com

Why You Shouldn’t be Surprised When England Lose – I posted this item a few hours before they kicked off against Iceland…and promptly lost. From the post:

Here’s why you shouldn’t be surprised that the England national team aren’t more successful than they are.

Are you ready?

Here it is:

They’re actually not a global footballing power.

(Between the loss and Brexit, “This has been the worst week to be English since the Second World War,” as one Briton told The WSJ.)

5 items that are worth your time this week:

1) Speaking of which, Englishman John Micklethwait, editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, reflects on Brexit:

The great sweep of economic history is a series of “rises” and “falls”—from the fall of Rome to the rise of China. The intriguing episodes that spark the “what ifs” of history come lower down—when a medium-size power suddenly reverses an inevitable-seeming trajectory. That’s what Britain did under Margaret Thatcher and her successors: a crumbling country unexpectedly overturning years of genteel decline to become Europe’s most cosmopolitan liberal entrepôt. My fear is this revival ended on June 23, 2016.

2) Meanwhile, Sohrab Ahmari’s recent “Illiberalism: The Worldwide Crisis” – written, as it happens, before Brexit even occurred – is worth a read. It begins:

According to the bland conventional wisdom, Americans frustrated by the failure of the establishment to address issues like immigration and economic inequality have turned to an unlikely pair of political outsiders, a New York developer-turned-reality-TV-star and a Vermont socialist, to set things right. This account is true as far as it goes, but it is also hopelessly parochial and inadequate to the scope of the changes afoot. Trumpism (and Bernie Sanders-ism) are but the American symptoms of a global phenomenon: the astonishing rise of illiberal movements of the far right and far left.

3) Amazon is said to be run by super-smart analytic types who live and die by spreadsheets. But here’s a look at a decidedly right-brained group within the tech titan: the Amazon Book Reviewers team.

4) “The History of Urbanization, 3700 BC – 2000 AD” is a video charting, in just over three minutes, the rise of global cities through the millennia. Very cool.

5) This amazing collection of photos of Fourth of July fireworks packaging makes me miss America so much.

Have a great week!

@Newley

P.S. If someone forwarded you this email, you can subscribe here.

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In This Weeks’s Newley’s Notes: Stand-Up Desk Benefits; ‘Brexit’ Explainer; ‘Blade Runner’ Typography; the Business of Guns

The latest edition of my email newsletter has gone out to subscribers. It’s pasted in below.

To get these weekly dispatches delivered to your inbox, sign up here. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief — and few people unsubscribe!


Hi friends,

Thanks for reading Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter in which I share my WSJ stories, posts from my blog, and various interesting links.

What I wrote in The Wall Street Journal

India Relaxes Foreign Direct Investment Rules. This is big news for Apple, which may now be able to open its own stores in the country.

What I wrote at Newley.com

IPhone 6 Touchscreen Problems? You’re Not Alone – I’ve encountered a beguiling problem. It is driving me nuts. Have you experienced something like this? Lemme know.

5 items that are worth your time this week:

1) Stand-up desks are supposed to be healthier than ones at which you sit. But a recent study shows another benefit: greater productivity. That’s probably because standing makes workers more active and thus more comfortable, so they concentrate better.

2) Everything you always wanted to know about “Brexit” – the potential exit of Britain from the EU, set for a vote on Thurs. – but were afraid to ask:

– The New York Times has an explainer.

– The argument for leaving, as articulated by The Telegraph, is:

Once we have left and are no longer subject to the free movement of labour, popular worries about immigration will become a matter for the British government and for Parliament. This does not mean there will be no immigration; quite the contrary. People will be welcome to come and work in the country and visitors and tourists will flock here as they always have.

But we will control our own borders; we will let in who we want to come and contribute to our economy. And if the country does not like the way the Government is conducting its immigration policy then it can turf it out. As things stand, there is nothing that can be done.

And the argument for remaining, by The Economist:

The liberal Leavers are peddling an illusion. On contact with the reality of Brexit, their plans will fall apart. If Britain leaves the EU, it is likely to end up poorer, less open and less innovative. Far from reclaiming its global outlook, it will become less influential and more parochial. And without Britain, all of Europe would be worse off.

Start with the economy. Even those voting Leave accept that there will be short-term damage… More important, Britain is unlikely to thrive in the longer run either. Almost half of its exports go to Europe. Access to the single market is vital for the City and to attract foreign direct investment. Yet to maintain that access, Britain will have to observe EU regulations, contribute to the budget and accept the free movement of people—the very things that Leave says it must avoid. To pretend otherwise is to mislead.

(Thanks to Jake for the last two links.)

3) The New York Times has a disturbing look at thousands of people suffering psychotic symptoms who have banded together online, claiming they are victims of a vast conspiracy. Isn’t the internet awesome?

4) This painstakingly researched piece on the typography in “Blade Runner,” one of my favorite movies, is exceptional.

There is even an examination of newspaper fonts in the movie. Headline: “FARMING THE OCEANS, THE MOON AND ANTARCTICA.” Dek: “World Wide Computer Linkup Planned.”

5) Post-Orlando #longread of the week: “Making a Killing: The business and politics of selling guns,” by The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos.

Have a great week!

@Newley

P.S. If someone forwarded you this email, you can subscribe here.

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In This Week’s Newley’s Notes: Tech Stories from HK; Asian Godfathers; Ode to Trustafarians; Aging Goalkeepers; King Tut’s Meteoritic Dagger

The latest edition of my email newsletter has gone out to subscribers. It’s pasted in below.

To get these weekly dispatches delivered to your inbox, sign up here. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief — and few people unsubscribe!


Hi friends,

Thanks for reading Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter where I share my WSJ stories, posts from my blog, and various interesting links.

What I wrote in The Wall Street Journal

Singapore’s Grab App Can Now Hail Lyft Cars in U.S.:

The latest step in a global ride-sharing alliance between rivals of Uber Technologies Inc. went into effect Thursday, allowing users of a popular Southeast Asia-focused transportation app to begin making car bookings via Lyft Inc. in the U.S.

I also spent Thurs. and Fri. in Hong Kong attending The WSJ’s Converge tech conference. In addition to posing for creepy pics with humanoid robots, I wrote some stories. To wit:

Microsoft Not Building Driverless Car But Wants to Help With Tech:

Microsoft Corp. isn’t building its own self-driving car, but is bullish on helping others with related technology, a senior executive said.

Southeast Asia Startup Scene Is Sunny, Investors Say:

Venture capitalists and investors attending the Converge technology conference in Hong Kong on Friday expressed optimism about the future of startups in Southeast Asia, despite significant challenges.

What I wrote at Newley.com

Book Notes — ‘Asian Godfathers,’ by Joe Studwell – Probably the best book I’ve ever read on Southeast Asia. Highly recommended.

5 items that are worth your time this week:

1) An interesting thread on Quora sure to appeal to productivity nerdz: “What is the most powerful tip you’ve gained from reading a self-help book?”

2) “Why I Quit My Job to Travel the World”, by Joe Veix at The New Yorker, is an excellent send-up of “digital nomad” (or, perhaps more fittingly, “trustifarian”) culture. It opens:

On paper, my life seemed great. I had a dream job, a swanky apartment, and a loving girlfriend. But something was off. I couldn’t bear being chained to my desk in a stuffy office any longer. So I decided to quit and travel the world, bringing only my passport, a small backpack, and my enormous trust fund.

I also like:

As a citizen of the world, I rarely get lonely. Everywhere I go, I meet such diverse groups of people. In hostels, I’ve shared beers with friendly British and Australian twenty-somethings. In hotels, I’ve sipped wine with friendly British and Australian forty-somethings. We all became lifelong friends, despite the language barriers.

And:

Of course, this “no reservations” life style isn’t for everyone. In many ways, it’s harder than the old corporate grind. Many stores don’t accept my Centurion card. Sometimes it’s difficult to get even one bar of cell service, which makes Instagramming more gelato a real struggle.

3) The Onion has a nice take on the passing of The Greatest: “Dozens Of Social Issues Thankful They Never Had To Go Toe-To-Toe With Muhammad Ali.”

4) Video of the week: Mexcian club Pachuca’s 43-year-old (yes, 43-year-old!) goalkeeper, Oscar “El Conejo” Perez, pulls off a triple save against Monterrey in his side’s the Mexican league title-winning game. Did I mention he’s 43?

5) So, King Tut’s dagger was made out of a meteorite. Here’s the original paper.

Reader feedback

Remember Flyover Country, the app I mentioned last week that provides geographic details on the land you’re flying over? Reader Mechum P. writes to point out that it does, indeed, work outside the U.S. “Flyover Country works everywhere! but it can be slow to download your routes,” he says. Thanks for the feedback.

Have a great week!

@Newley

P.S. If someone forwarded you this email, you can subscribe here.

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In This Week’s Newley’s Notes: Alibaba in SE Asia; Social VC in Vietnam; ‘Pet Sounds’ Turns 50; Self-Elevating Chopsticks

The latest edition of my email newsletter has gone out to subscribers. It’s pasted in below.

To get these weekly dispatches delivered to your inbox, sign up here. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief — and few people unsubscribe!


Hi friends,

Thanks for reading Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter where I share my WSJ stories, posts from my blog, and various interesting links.

I haven’t been as good of late about sending these dispatches out every single week, mostly due to general busyness and travel. But I’m aiming to change that.

What I wrote in The Wall Street Journal:

Alibaba to Invest $1 Billion in E-Commerce Startup Lazada – A huge tech story here in Southeast Asia: The Chinese Web titan is making a big move for Lazada – a company may recall I profiled back in 2014 – in a bet on the growth of e-commerce here.

TLDR: Alibaba wants to expand and grow outside China, and Lazada is a leader in selling stuff online in a part of the world that is populous and primed for growth as more and more people get connected for the first time.

Vietnam: The Challenges of Investing in Social Good – A colleague and I put together this video about a San Francisco-based venture capital firm that’s funding startups in Vietnam. The goal: make money – and improve lives. (You may recognize the narrator’s voice.)

5 items that are worth your time this week:

1) “Trump Can’t Break the Republican Party”. That’s the title of a WSJ op-ed by political analyst and author Michael Barone, who puts The Donald’s rise – and coming fall? – into perspective:

Even if Donald Trump secures the Republican nomination and somehow overcomes current polls to be elected president, there will be few Trump clones among Republicans in Congress and in state and local office.

If he is nominated and defeated by a wide margin, he will not leave behind a Trumpist movement with the popular and intellectual depth of the conservative movement following Goldwater’s defeat 52 years ago—his legacy may be little more than an impulse toward opposition to trade agreements and legalization of illegal immigrants. If he is not nominated and tries to run as an independent, he will not have the support of as significant a third-party apparatus as Theodore Roosevelt did 104 years ago.

2) Here’s the trailer for “Swiss Army Man”, which appears to be a very…odd new film starring Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe. Dano looks to be stranded on a desert island, then encounters Radcliffe, whose body is effectively…a Swiss Army knife. I think?

3) Internet access is severely limited in Cuba, and many people turn to couriers who deliver pirated versions of movies, TV and music via USB drives. Their deliveries are known as “el paquete semanal,” or “the weekly package.” Not the first story to be written about this practice, but a pretty detailed account.

4) This week in eating implements innovation: “Gravity Chopsticks” are built so that when you set them down, the business ends are lifted up in the air, and don’t get dirty. There is also a video.

5) Various artists reflect on The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds,” which was released 50 years ago next month. It is one of my favorite albums of all time.

Have a great week!

@Newley