Newley's Notes

Newley’s Notes 127: Uber Quits SE Asia; Facebook Gets Unfriended; Smoldering T-Rexes


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Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, in which I share the best of what I write and the best of what I read.

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The big Asia tech news this week is that Uber is quitting Southeast Asia. First China, then Russia, and now it’s leaving another region. That thrusts India and Brazil — two of the biggest remaining emerging markets in which it’s fighting — into the spotlight.

Meanwhile Alibaba is pouring another couple billion bucks into the Amazon of Southeast Asia.

On to this week’s NN!

🚘 What I Wrote in The Wall Street Journal

Uber Sells Southeast Asia Business to Rival Grab — The story begins:

Uber Technologies Inc. said Monday it would relinquish its battle for Southeast Asia’s riders, selling its local operations in exchange for a minority stake in homegrown champion Grab Inc.

In exchange for its operations in Southeast Asia, Uber is gaining a 27.5% stake in Singapore-based Grab, which has more monthly active users across much of the region than Uber, according to app analytics firm App Annie.

Uber’s Latest Retreat Leaves Brazil, India as the Key Battlegrounds — The story, which I wrote with my colleague P.R. Venkat, begins:

Uber Technologies Inc. has pulled back from several emerging markets but it is determined to hold on in two of the world’s most populous: India and Brazil.

In both, Uber has its hands full. But the potential is enormous for any company that comes to dominate.

Alibaba Bets Another $2 Billion on Southeast Asia — The story, which I wrote with my colleague Liza Lin, begins:

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Executive Chairman Jack Ma is doubling down on Southeast Asia, investing another $2 billion in e-commerce subsidiary Lazada Group and naming trusted confidante Lucy Peng as its chief executive.

The investment announced Monday comes on top of the $2 billion the Chinese e-commerce giant has poured into Lazada since buying a majority stake in 2016.

Singapore-based Lazada operates online marketplaces in six Southeast Asian countries including Indonesia, selling everything from lipstick and car wax to instant coffee and smartphones.

Stay tuned for more on Uber, and Southeast Asia e-commerce.

📲 5 Cool Tech-ish Reads This Week

(Or in the case of some of these items this week, not so cool. But important…)

1. Trump + Data Firm + Facebook = Perfect Storm. The Cambridge Analytica story, as you no doubt noticed, has exploded into a huge issue for Facebook.

Let’s try to sum things up: A Channel 4 News undercover investigation of the data firm connected to Trump led to scrutiny of how an academic obtained Facebook user details.

My colleagues Deepa Seetharaman and Katherine Bindley put together a good Q&A explaining what the fuss is about.

Then Mark Zuckerberg was criticized for taking so long to respond to the crisis, and issuing what seemed like a lame apology.

Later, adding fuel to the fire, Ars Technica reported that Facebook’s Android app logs some users’ phone call and messaging information. As my colleague Robert McMillan wrote: “While Facebook says there was nothing improper in its call logging, it is the latest example of Facebook users coming to the realization they are sharing vast quantities of data with the company—wittingly or not—each time they agree to one of its privacy settings or feature requests.”

Then on Monday the Federal Trade Commission confirmed reports that it has “opened a non-public investigation into Facebook for its user privacy practices,” Axios’s Dan Primack wrote.

Facebook’s stock dropped 14% last week — the most in one week since 2012.

2. An Uber self-diving struck and killed a woman in Arizona. It’s unclear why the car didn’t stop. Police released video of the crash showing the “safety driver” looking down, not at the road. Here’a detailed analysis from technologist Brad Templeton on what might have gone wrong.

3. Longread of the week: “War of Words: Meet the Texan Trolling for Putin.” Sub-head of this Texas Monthly piece: “In 2014, Russell Bonner Bentley was a middle-aged arborist living in Austin. Now he’s a local celebrity in a war-torn region of Ukraine—and a foot soldier in Russia’s information war.”

4. Remember the game “Oregon Trail”? Target is now selling a $25 handheld version. I want one bad. Looks to be lovingly made, too: there’s a tiny floppy disk for a power button! Here’s a video review.

5. Just FYI: Iggy Pop has an Instagram account for his pet cockatoo.

🦖 Quote of the week

“We knew he had a temper, but today he blew his top.”

That’s from an AP story about a huge animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex that went up in flames at a theme park in Canon City, Colorado. Click through for a memorable image.

📹 1 Silly Thing

Hide the Pain Harold Visits Manchester, England. Video is here. More on Harold and his eponymous meme is here.

🤳 NN reader feedback of the week:

“That’s EXACTLY the kind of thing an influencer would say.”

That’s from my kid bro M, responding to my blog post about taking a break from the Instgram app, in which I said IG has been pestering me to re-join, despite not having an enormous following there. “And I’m not even a power user, much less an ‘influencer,'” I wrote. “I have several hundred followers, but less than a thousand.”

Point taken.

Fist bump from New Delhi,