My new favorite Twitter bot is @LegoSpaceBot, which every couple of hours tweets “Lego Space stuff from the Classic and System eras.”
I had several of these sets a kid. Like the 1986 Lunar Scout shown above.
Edition 87 of my email newsletter, Newley’s Notes, went out to subscribers Thursday.
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Hi friends, thanks for reading Newley’s Notes.
Sorry to begin with some sad news, but even though it’s been a few weeks, it’s still top of mind…
WHAT I WROTE AT NEWLEY.COM
– Ashley, 2008–2017 – Our beloved dog Ashley, whom we adopted in Bangkok in 2009, died last month. A and I are still recovering. We really miss her.
In the post linked to above, I shared the story of her sudden illness and posted some of my favorite photos from our nearly eight years with her. I still can’t believe she’s gone.
But: Onward and upward.
WHAT I WROTE IN THE WSJ:
– Twitter Launches Leaner Service Aimed at India – The story begins:
Twitter Inc. launched a new version of its service in India tailored for users with slow and unreliable internet connections, hoping to encourage expansion in the South Asian market as growth stalls at home.
TLDR: Twitter wants to gain new users in emerging markets like India, where web connections are often patchy.
– Amazon and Facebook Hit Unexpected Obstacle in India: China – A story about how Chinese tech firms like Alibaba and Tencent are backing Indian startups, which are themselves challenging U.S. tech titans.
– Apple to Start Making iPhones in India Over Next Two Months – A scoop with my colleague Rajesh Roy that begins:
Apple Inc. will soon start assembling iPhones in India for the first time, say government officials familiar with its plans, boosting the company’s chances of gaining a foothold in the fast-growing market.
Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron Corp. will likely start making iPhone 6 and 6S models here in the next four-to-six weeks at its plant in Bangalore, said an official of the southern state of Karnataka where the tech hub is located. It will add Apple’s cheapest iPhone model, the SE, to its assembly line in about three months, the official said.
Apple is struggling to boost sales in India, and making its smartphones here would help bring down the cost of the devices here.
– Uber Rival Grab Hits the Road in Myanmar – Grab, a ride-sharing startup focused on Southeast Asia, has launched in Myanmar.
5 ITEMS THAT ARE WORTH YOUR TIME THIS WEEK:
1) Care about the communal good? Stop trudging up escalators. Research suggests that the system, often used in public transportation, in which riders stand on one side while others walk on the other actually creates congestion and slows things down for everyone. We’d all be better off just standing two-abreast and riding up together in one group, it seems.
2) Why are Japan’s white-gloved rail system staff always pointing at stuff? The answer, according to an interesting explainer at Atlas Obscura, has to do with ritualized safety checks:
Known in Japanese as shisa kanko, pointing-and-calling works on the principle of associating one’s tasks with physical movements and vocalizations to prevent errors by “raising the consciousness levels of workers”—according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Japan. Rather than rely on a worker’s eyes or habit alone, each step in a given task is reinforced physically and audibly to ensure the step is both complete and accurate.
3) Musical find of the week: Radiooooo.com, where you can explore popular music by world geography and decade. E. P. Licursi has the back story on this “hit tune time machine” in The New Yorker.
4) “Which Tech CEO Would Make the Best Supervillain?” Zuck? Elon Musk? Travis Kalanick? Jeff Bezos? Larry Page? Bill Gates? Peter Thiel? Click here to read more and decide for yourself.
5) Wondering how to quit social media? Here’s a round-up of several new books to help you unplug and explore the world around you. Among the titles: “Solitude: In Pursuit of a Singular Life in a Crowded World,” “The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit,” and “The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative.”
What’d I miss? Send me links, rants, raves, juicy news scoops and anything else! My email: email@example.com
Thanks for reading.
Twitter Inc. is now bigger than its rival Facebook — in Japan, at least.
A week after quarterly earnings fueled investors’ concerns that Twitter’s user growth has stalled, the company for the first time Thursday broke out its user numbers for a country outside the U.S., saying it had 35 million monthly active users in the world’s third-largest economy as of the end of last year.
Facebook, a major competitor for advertising dollars, had 25 million monthly active users in Japan as of the end of 2015, a Facebook spokeswoman said Thursday.
Twitter’s user base has long been compared to Facebook’s, which is much larger globally. Twitter last week said 320 million users signed into the platform at least once a month in the fourth quarter, the same as in the previous three months. Facebook, by comparison, said it had 1.59 billion monthly active users as of the end of last year, up 3% from the previous three months.
It was the first time Twitter’s closely watched user growth flatlined from the previous three-month period. More troubling: the number of users in the U.S. fell to 65 million from 66 million.
Click through to read the rest.
The story, which ran on Thursday, began:
Twitter Inc. plans to double its staff in Singapore over the next two years as it seeks to lure new users and advertisers in Asia, an executive said.
Shailesh Rao, Twitter’s vice president for Asia Pacific, the Americas and emerging markets, told The Wall Street Journal in an interview Wednesday that the company will hire more than 100 new staff in Singapore, doubling its current workforce of about 80 employees. Twitter opened a small office in Singapore in 2013 and in recent weeks has moved to a larger space, which has now become the company’s Asia-Pacific headquarters.
“We need more capabilities and more people doing what they’re doing already,” in jobs such as sales, marketing, finance and more, Mr. Rao said.
Twitter is focusing on fast-growing Asian countries like India and Indonesia as it seeks to attract new users and advertising dollars, analysts say. The company, which derives most of its revenue from advertising, is looking for a boost from such emerging markets as user growth levels off in developed markets like the U.S. and the U.K.
Meanwhile, the big story on Friday was that Chief Executive Dick Costolo is stepping down. Here are the first few grafs of my colleague Yoree Koh’s story:
Dick Costolo is stepping down as Twitter Inc.’s chief executive after five years, as Wall Street began losing faith in him and the social-media company’s future growth.
The move puts a spotlight back on co-founder and Chairman Jack Dorsey, who will serve as interim CEO while he remains chief executive of payments startup Square Inc. Mr. Dorsey was Twitter’s first CEO from May 2007 to October 2008.
Twitter said it would be looking both inside and outside the company for a new chief.
Stay tuned for more.
UPDATE: Embedded above and online here: a video I recorded with WSJ Live about the story.
Global technology firms are pitching in on earthquake rescue efforts in Nepal with services such as free calls to and from the country to functions that track survivors and relay the news to worried relatives and friends overseas.
Search giant Google Inc. on Saturday launched its Person Finder service, which allows users to post and search for information about missing friends and loved ones. The feature, which Google created in response to the destructive 2010 earthquake in Haiti, showed it was tracking 5,100 records as of early Monday afternoon Asia time.
Facebook Inc. activated Safety Check, which allows users in areas affected by the earthquake to select a notification alerting friends on the social network that they are OK.
“When disasters happen, people need to know their loved ones are safe,” Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg wrote Saturday in a post on his Facebook page, referring to the feature developed last year. “It’s moments like this that being able to connect really matters.” The post was shared more than 41,000 times and received more than 263,000 likes.
Twitter Inc. agreed to buy India-based mobile marketing startup ZipDial for an undisclosed sum in its first acquisition in Asia, as it seeks to tap more offline users in fast-growing emerging markets.
Countries like India, Indonesia and Brazil are key to Twitter as it tries to attract new users and advertising dollars, analysts say. Emerging markets are increasingly becoming an important part of Twitter’s growth strategy as it peaks in developed markets such as the U.S. and the U.K. In the three months ended September, Twitter reached 284 million monthly active users, about 77% of whom came from outside the U.S.
Bangalore-based ZipDial is known for its “missed call” marketing service, which allows consumers to dial a number for a company and hang up before connecting. The company in turn sends them free text messages containing advertisements and other content, like sports scores, without users incurring a charge.
A colleague and I also wrote this primer on ZipDial:
Twitter said Tuesday it is paying an undisclosed sum to acquire ZipDial, a Bangalore, India-based startup known for its success at “missed call” marketing.
Wait, what’s a missed call?
In India, many cost-conscious consumers use missed calls — they dial a number, let it ring, then hang up before connecting — to send a message, like “I’m running late,” to friends and family. A missed call is free, since callers are only charged when the other party answers.
What does ZipDial do?
ZipDial lets companies take advantage of this practice. The startup, which was founded in 2010 and has 56 employees, provides services that allow brands to advertise a number for “missed calls.”
For example, in one campaign for Colgate toothpaste, users could give a missed call to a special number shown on advertising banners in Mumbai, then receive a text message. Consumers would respond to that with their addresses, and then are sent a free sample of toothpaste.
ZipDial’s other clients have included the likes of Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Walt Disney and more.
Click through for more.
As I wrote here:
Twitter Inc. plans to open an office in Hong Kong early next year to serve greater China and tap advertising revenues from Chinese companies that are quickly expanding, an executive said.
Shailesh Rao, Twitter’s vice president for Asia Pacific, the Americas and emerging markets, told The Wall Street Journal in an interview that the office will mainly house sales staff, though he declined to say how many. The office is set to open in the first quarter of 2015.
“The real main focus of the office will be sales,” Mr. Rao said. “Building sales capability to work with agencies and advertisers domestically in Hong Kong and Taiwan and those Chinese advertisers looking to go global.”
Twitter has been blocked in China since 2009 due to government concerns it could be used to organize protests. Asked if plans for the Hong Kong office signaled Twitter’s eagerness to enter China should the government lift its restriction, Mr. Rao said, “We would love to have Twitter” reach people “everywhere in the world including China.” But, he added, “Unfortunately, we can’t. That’s not our choice. We don’t control that decision.”
Click through to read the whole thing.
The story was picked up by financial newswires, various news organizations and several tech blogs.
Twitter’s global head of revenue, Adam Bain, told me in an interview that the company will be opening an office in Jakarta in the next three to six months.
Our story today is online here.
As I wrote in the piece, the move underscores the importance of fast-growing, emerging markets for Twitter.
About 75% of the company’s 271 million monthly active users are outside the U.S. But Twitter derives a much smaller proportion of its revenue internationally.
Tapping markets like Indonesia — which has 240 million people, many of whom are under the age of 30 — will be crucial for Twitter’s future growth in users and advertising revenue.
Having an office in Jakarta will help Twitter work more closely with advertisers and marketers, Bain said.
Update: Embedded above and online here is video of a chat I had with WSJ Live’s Ramy Inocencio.
It’s online here and in the print edition of today’s Wall Street Journal Asia.
Shailesh Rao has one of the most important jobs at Twitter Inc.: overseeing the company’s revenue in emerging markets.
Eight months after the messaging service’s initial public offering, the San Francisco-based company is betting that populous countries in Latin America, Asia and elsewhere can help it stem slowing user growth in the U.S. and boost sales.
Twitter’s revenue, most of which comes from advertising, more than doubled in the first quarter to $250.5 million. But the company, which was founded in 2006, has yet to make a profit. Some 78% of Twitter’s more than 255 million users are located outside the U.S., but the company derives just 28% of its revenue internationally.
Mr. Rao is trying to change that. The 42-year-old joined Twitter in 2012 after seven years at Internet search giant Google Inc., where he ran the company’s Asia display advertising business.
In an interview at Twitter’s offices in Singapore, Mr. Rao, who was born in Toronto and grew up in Pittsburgh, discussed the company’s goals for growth, how double-majoring in history and economics helps him on the job, and why yoga makes him a better manager.