Newley's Notes

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

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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!



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