Where Mantras Trump Medicine, Vaccines Are a ‘Violation’

The Baduy, an Indigenous group in Indonesia, believe that vaccinations are impure, and unnecessary, and that their beliefs protect them. To skeptics, they note their Covid death toll: zero.

#baduy, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #indigenous-people, #indonesia, #java-indonesia, #religion-and-belief, #vaccination-and-immunization

Documenta Was a Whole Vibe. Then a Scandal Killed the Buzz.

Accusations that an image was antisemitic broke the mood at a daring festival of experiments. This year’s Documenta deserves a closer look, our critic says.

#anti-semitism, #art, #documenta-gmbh, #indonesia, #kassel-germany, #ruangrupa-art-collective, #taring-padi-art-collective

A Radical Collective Takes Over One of the World’s Biggest Art Shows

Ruangrupa, an Indonesian group of collaborators, turns social experiences into art. How will they leave their mark on Documenta, which unfolds over 100 days?

#architecture, #art, #documenta-gmbh, #germany, #indonesia, #ruangrupa-art-collective, #sculpture

Export Bans on Malaysian Chicken and Indian Wheat Prompt Fears

Restricted so far in the name of domestic food security: Indian wheat, Malaysian chicken and Indonesian cooking oil. Experts warn of unwanted consequences.

#agriculture-and-farming, #far-east-south-and-southeast-asia-and-pacific-areas, #food, #food-insecurity, #indonesia, #international-trade-and-world-market, #malaysia, #protectionism-trade, #shortages, #singapore, #supply-chain

Deforestation Is High, Despite COP26 Promises

Brazil had the largest share of tree loss last year, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo and Bolivia. Indonesia showed improvement.

#amazon-jungle, #brazil, #forests-and-forestry, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #indonesia, #world-resources-institute

In Asia, Coronavirus Rules Fall Away, With a Big Caveat

Daily life in the region was once regulated by a snarl of virus restrictions. That is changing fast — except in mainland China, which is still rolling out lockdowns.

#ardern-jacinda, #china, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #far-east-south-and-southeast-asia-and-pacific-areas, #hong-kong, #india, #indonesia, #south-korea, #thailand

Looking Back on a Colonial Struggle, a Museum Stirs New Disputes

At the Netherlands’ national museum, describing the events in which Indonesia threw off Dutch colonial rule was never going to be easy.

#colonization, #dibbits-taco, #indonesia, #netherlands, #rijksmuseum, #sukarno-1901-70

‘Expedition Content’ Review: Anthropological Maneuvers in the Dark

An engrossing documentary looks back at a 1961 expedition to New Guinea and the creation of the landmark ethnographic film that resulted.

#archaeology-and-anthropology, #dead-birds-movie, #documentary-films-and-programs, #expedition-content-movie, #gardner-robert-1925-2014, #indigenous-people, #indonesia, #karel-ernst, #kusumaryati-veronika, #new-guinea, #rockefeller-michael-c

Indonesia Accepts Stranded Refugee Boat After Vowing to Turn It Away

The boat was being towed ashore with more than 100 Rohingya refugees on board. Indonesia initially said it would turn the vessel away, but relented under pressure from rights groups.

#aceh-province-indonesia, #bangladesh, #human-rights-and-human-rights-violations, #human-trafficking, #indonesia, #malaysia, #myanmar, #refugees-and-displaced-persons, #rescues, #rohingya-ethnic-group, #united-nations, #united-nations-high-commission-for-refugees

Blinken, in Indonesia, Stresses Soft Power to Counter China

The U.S. secretary of state seeks to make the case that the United States is a better bet as a partner than China, even if it’s not spending so lavishly in the region.

#assn-of-southeast-asian-nations, #blinken-antony-j, #china, #indonesia, #infrastructure-public-works, #international-relations, #international-trade-and-world-market, #southeast-asia

In U.S.-China Competition, Indonesia Is Key

If the real goal of strategic competition with China is to ensure a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” America can’t rely on a few fast friends who share its worldview.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #indonesia, #joko-widodo, #united-states-international-relations

Upik Lawanga, Indonesian Militant, Is Sentenced to Life in Prison

A court said Upik Lawanga made bombs for an attack that killed 22 people at a market. He is a member of a terrorist group that bombed churches, hotels and a Bali nightclub in the 2000s.

#al-qaeda, #bali-indonesia, #indonesia, #jemaah-islamiyah, #terrorism

Photos From Indonesia Volcano: Death Toll Rises

About 17 people were still missing as rescuers searched for survivors buried under volcanic ash.

#deaths-fatalities, #indonesia, #java-indonesia, #volcanoes

At Least One Dead as Indonesia’s Mount Semeru Erupts

Dozens more suffered burns as lava flowed from the eruption of Mount Semeru, on the island of Java.

#airlines-and-airplanes, #evacuations-and-evacuees, #indonesia, #java-indonesia, #volcanoes

At Least One Dead as Volcano Erupts in Indonesia, Spewing Ash Cloud

Dozens more suffered burns as lava flowed from the eruption of Mount Semeru, on the island of Java.

#airlines-and-airplanes, #evacuations-and-evacuees, #indonesia, #java-indonesia, #volcanoes

‘Call Me Dog Tag Man’: Pacific Island Is Full of War Relics and Human Remains

More than 75 years after the Battle of Biak ended, collectors are still finding remnants of the fight, and U.S. authorities are hoping to bring closure to families of soldiers still missing.

#biak-indonesia, #collectors-and-collections, #defense-and-military-forces, #defense-pow-mia-accounting-agency, #indonesia, #macarthur-douglas, #new-guinea, #united-states-army, #united-states-defense-and-military-forces, #world-war-ii-1939-45

Will Indonesia Edge Its Way into the Space Race?

An Indigenous clan fears it will lose its place in the world as the government pursues a quest to open a spaceport and lure the billionaire SpaceX founder Elon Musk.

#indigenous-people, #indonesia, #joko-widodo, #land-use-policies, #politics-and-government, #rocket-science-and-propulsion, #satellites, #space-and-astronomy, #space-exploration-technologies-corp

Back in Chicago, Woman Is Charged in Killing of Mother on Indonesian Vacation

Heather L. Mack, 26, had already served more than six years in prison in Indonesia for the 2014 killing of her mother, whose body was found in a suitcase at a Bali resort.

#americans-abroad, #bali-indonesia, #chicago-ill, #heather-l-mack, #illinois, #indonesia, #justice-department, #knox-amanda, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #ohare-international-airport-chicago-ill, #prisons-and-prisoners, #sheila-von-wiese

Covid Trash Isn’t Always Dangerous. Not Everyone Got the Memo.

Overblown fears that the coronavirus could be transmitted through surfaces have created a stigma around handling nonhazardous trash, experts say. Some recyclable waste has been junked or burned.

#bangladesh, #brazil, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #hypodermic-needles-and-syringes, #indonesia, #recycling-of-waste-materials, #third-world-and-developing-countries, #uganda, #vaccination-and-immunization, #waste-materials-and-disposal

Gogoro will go public on Nasdaq after $2.35B SPAC deal

Gogoro is going public. The company, which is best known for its electric Smartscooters and swappable battery infrastructure, announced today it will list on Nasdaq through a merger with Poema Global, a SPAC affiliated with Princeville Capital. The deal sets Gogoro’s enterprise valuation at $2.35 billion and is targeted to close in the first quarter of 2022. The combined company will be known as Gogoro Inc and trade under the symbol GGR.

Assuming no redemptions, Gogoro anticipates making $550 million in proceeds, including an oversubscribed PIPE (private investment in public equity) of over $250 million and $345 million held in trust by Poema Global. Investors in the PIPE include strategic partners like Hon Hai (Foxconn) Technology Group and GoTo, the Indonesian tech giant created through the merger of Gojek and Tokopedia, and new and existing investors like Generation Investment Management, Taiwan’s National Development Fund, Temasek and Dr. Samuel Yin of Ruentex Group, Gogoro’s founding investor.

The capital will be used on Gogoro’s expansion in China, India and Southeast Asia and further development of its tech ecosystem.

Founded ten years ago in Taiwan, Gogoro’s technology includes smart swappable batteries and their charging infrastructure and cloud software that monitors the condition and performance of vehicles and batteries. Apart from its own brands, including Smartscooters and Eeyo electric bikes, Gogoro also makes its platform available through its Powered by Gogoro Network (PBGN) program, which enables partners to create vehicles that use Gogoro’s batteries and swapping stations.

Gogoro’s SPAC deal comes a few months after it announced major partnerships in China and India. In China, it is working with Yadea and DCJ to build a battery-swapping network, and in India, Hero MotoCorp, one of the world’s largest two-wheel vehicle makers, will launch scooters based on Gogoro’s tech. It also has deals with manufacturers like Yamaha, Suzuki, AeonMotor, PGO and CMC eMOVING.

With these partnerships in place, “we really now need to take our company to the next level,” founder and chief executive officer Horace Luke told TechCrunch. Gogoro decided to go the SPAC route because “you can talk a lot deeper about what the business opportunity is, what the structure is, what the partnerships are, so you can properly value a company rather than a quick roadshow. Given our business plans, it gives us a great opportunity to focus on the expansion,” he said.

One of the reasons Gogoro decided to work with Poema is because “their thesis is quite aligned with ours,” said Bruce Aitken, Gogoro’s chief financial officer. “They have, for example, a sustainability fund, so our passion for green and sustainability merges well with that.”

Gogoro says that in less than five years, it has accumulated more than $1 billion in revenue and more than 400,000 subscribers for its battery swapping infrastructure. The company will launch its China pilot program in Hangzhou in the fourth-quarter of this year, followed by about six more cities next year. In India, Hero MotoCorp is currently developing its first Gogoro-powered vehicle and will begin deploying its battery-swapping infrastructure in New Delhi in 2022.

“We see the demand in China as a lot bigger than we first anticipated, so that’s all good news for us, and that’s one of the fundamental reasons why we need to go public because we need to raise the capital and resources needed for us to actually contribute in a big way to these markets,” said Luke.

When asked if Gogoro is planning to strike a similar partnership with GoTo to expand into Southeast Asia, Luke said the “important thing is to recognize that Southeast Asia is the third-largest market outside of China and India for two-wheelers. Gogoro has always had the vision to go after these big markets. GoTo, being a great success in Indonesia, their investment in Gogoro will start conversations, but there isn’t anything to announce at this point other than that they’re joining the PIPE.”

In a press statement, Poema Global CEO Homer Sun said, “We believe the technology differentiation Gogoro has developed in combination with the world-class partnerships it has forged will drive significant growth opportunities in the two largest two-wheeler markets in the world. We are committed with working alongside Gogoro’s outstanding management team to support its geographic expansion plans and its transition to a Nasdaq-listed company.”

 

#asia, #batteries, #china, #fundings-exits, #gogoro, #india, #indonesia, #mobility, #poema-global, #scooters, #southeast-asia, #spac, #startups, #taiwan, #tc, #transportation

Indonesian fintech Xendit is now a unicorn, with $150M in fresh funding led by Tiger Global

There’s a new entrant in Southeast Asia’s growing list of unicorns. Jakarta-based Xendit, best known for its digital payment infrastructure but also focused on other financial products, announced today it has raised $150 million in Series C funding, bumping its valuation to $1 billion. The round was led by Tiger Global Management, with participation from returning investors Accel, Amasia and Goat Capital, the venture firm co-founded by former Y Combinator partner Justin Kan (in 2015, Xendit became the first Indonesian startup to participate in the accelerator program).

Accel led Xendit’s $64.6 million Series B, announced just six months ago. This new round brings its total funding so far to $238 million. The company was founded in 2015 by chief executive officer Moses Lu and chief operating officer Tessa Wijaya.

At the end of last year, Xendit expanded into the Philippines, and says it is now one of the biggest payment players in the country. In July, it announced a strategic investment in legacy online payments platform Dragonpay.

Xendit decided to raise again because to fuel expansion into other countries, Wijaya told TechCrunch. “Our core focus at the moment for this new fundraise is to further regionalize and to expand our product suite in regions where we are at or will expand into.” The company also plans to launch value-added services.

Wijaya said that Xendit has experienced more than 200% year-over-year increase in total payments volume, and now has a total payment volume (TPV) of $9 billion processed per annum.

Before COVID-19, many of Xendit’s customers were in the travel industry, and it was hit hard by the pandemic. But since then, it’s expanded its scope.

“One big segment are SMEs. By August, there were 10,000 SME sign-ups on our platform alone. The other one is expanding out to fintech companies—for example, there’s been a big uptick in Indonesia, especially accounting platforms. We’ve also expanded to traditional enterprises, like telecom companies, who focused on having retail outlets in shopping malls. Suddenly the malls are closed, so we’ve been able to sign some of the bigger retail outlet groups in the market as well.”

The company’s clients range in size from SMEs to some of the region’s largest tech players, including Traveloka, Wise, Wish and Grab. Digital payments in most Southeast Asian markets are extremely fragmented, with consumers using everything from digital wallets, buy-now-pay-later services and virtual accounts to traditional debit and credit cards.

Xendit’s solutions let businesses accept payments from many of these methods through three integration options. These include live URLs that sellers can message to a customer for payment; web and mobile checkouts that work with e-commerce platform plug-ins; and APIs.

Though it is best known as a payment infrastructure provider, referring to itself as “a Stripe alternative build for Indonesia and Southeast Asia” on its website, Xendit is also working on other services. “In Southeast Asia, you can’t just focus on one thing, you can’t just focus on payments,” said Wijaya. “You want to focus on being this platform for every merchant to get onboard, and to never leave whenever they transact digitally.”

For example, Xendit is experimenting with working capital loans for merchants, and also exploring credit card issuing with partners, since credit card penetration is still very low in Indonesia and the Philippines. “For merchants to come online, they don’t just need payments, they need to be able to do things like subscribe to Shopify or subscribe to Google Suite, to be able to support being digital-first.”

Xendit’s expansion strategy into new markets, like Malaysia and Vietnam, will rely on solving problems that are unique to each market. For example, Wijaya said disbursements, including marketplace refunds, were difficult in Indonesia, so Xendit focused on fixing that. In the Philippines, on the other hand, “the real problem was accepting money,” so Xendit developed direct debit with Grab.

“I think the formula we had in the Philippines, which is hiring a lot of local people who understand the market rather than telling them what to do, has really worked for us, and that is how we’re going to continue our expansion plan,” she said.

Some of Xendit’s competitors in its current markets include Midtrans in Indonesia, which was acquired by Gojek in 2017, and PayMongo in the Philippines, which is backed by Stripe.

Xendit’s edge is combining a global approach with its intense focus on localization, Wijaya said. “One of our investors sent a survey to some potential customers, big merchants, and they said what they like about Xendit is because we have a full commitment to being on the ground. We’re not like players where expanding into one market means a sales team, and that’s it. When we expand somewhere, we really mean we’re going to expand. We’re going to hire partnership people, a customer success team there. We’re going to hire a whole team on the ground.”

In a press statement, Tiger Global Management partner Alex Cook said, “Xendit’s digital payments infrastructure, built specifically for Southeast Asia, is quickly becoming the standard for financial operations in the region. By providing a reliable and secure payment gateway, Xendit has created an on-ramp to the digital economy for businesses across the region.”

#asia, #fintech, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #payments-infrastructure, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc, #the-philippines, #tiger-global, #xendit

Indonesia-based Rey Assurance launches its holistic approach to insurance with $1M in funding

Rey Assurance co-founders Bobby Siagian and Evan Tanotogono

Rey Assurance co-founders Bobby Siagian and Evan Tanotogono

Health insurance is the kind of thing people usually only think about only when they need it. Otherwise, their policies are just paperwork in their files or cards in their wallet. Indonesian insurtech Rey Assurance is taking a new approach. Once someone becomes a member, they also get access to a platform of health services, including AI-based self-assessment tools, 24/7 telemedicine consultations for no added fee and pharmacy deliveries. The startup is launching out of stealth today, having already raised $1 million in pre-seed funding from the Trans-Pacific Technology Fund (TPTF). 

Rey was founded this year by Evan Tanotogono, former head of digital channel at Sequis, one of Indonesia largest insurers, and Bobby Siagian, who held lead engineering roles at companies including Tokopedia and Sea Group. They are joined by insurance industry veteran David Nugrho as their chief business officer. 

They created Rey to address the low penetration of life and health insurance in Indonesia. “When you look at the root causes and pain points, you are looking at problems that are systemic here,” Tanotogono said. These include low awareness, expensive distribution channels like agents and telemarketing, high premiums and complicated policies.

“People feel like the product is really complex, the process is difficult and they don’t get the best value for the money. It’s been that way for many, many years,” he told TechCrunch. “We believe that we cannot just go into the market and digitize part of the value chain.”

Plans start from about $4 USD per month and are available for individual or groups, like families, and small businesses. Rey’s wellness ecosystem was created to give customers more value for their money, and help differentiate it from other companies in Indonesia’s growing insurtech industry. Some other startups that have recently raised funding include Lifepal, PasarPolis and Qoala.

“Right now, if you look at insurance in Indonesia, if the premium is high, maybe 80% or 90% of that is used for the distribution channel. Now if we optimize something for digital distribution, then we can reduce the price and use the rest for the wellness features,” Tanotogono added. 

TPTF managing partner Glenn Kline told TechCrunch that Rey’s founding team was “really the driver” for its investment. “We felt these people really know where the pain points are and they understand clearly how not to try to change the legacy system, but create a whole new platform from the very beginning, where the core value proposition is an integrated solution that is simple and hassle-free.” 

Instead of doing the underwriting themselves, Rey works with insurance partners to design proprietary policies. The goal is to have an onboarding process that is completely online and only takes about five minutes, and a mostly cashless claim and reimbursement system through Rey’s payment cards. If its payment card can’t be used at healthcare provider, claims can be submitted by uploading receipt photos to the app. 

Tanotogono said this is much faster than traditional insurance providers, which can take up to 14 working days to reimburse a claim, and made possible with Rey’s proprietary claim adjudication technology. 

Rey’s wellness ecosystem currently covers primary care services, including chats and video calls with medical providers. In the future, it plans to add specialists to the platforms.

Customers can also link their health wearables for incentives. For example, if they hit certain step or activity goals, they get rewards like discounts or shopping vouchers. Rey’s long-term plan is to link wearables more deeply to its insurance policies, using data to personalize policies and premiums.

#asia, #fundings-exits, #health-insurance, #indonesia, #insurance, #insurtech, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc

Milkweed Butterflies Are More Murderous Than They Look

This behavior by the fluttering insects was so unusual that scientists had to invent a new word to describe it.

#butterflies-and-moths, #caterpillars, #ecology-journal, #indonesia, #insects, #research, #wildlife-sanctuaries-and-nature-reserves, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

Komodo Dragons Are Now Endangered and ‘Moving Toward Extinction’

A top conservation organization updated the status of the fierce giant lizards on its Red List of threatened species.

#conservation-of-resources, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #flores-indonesia, #global-warming, #indonesia, #international-union-for-conservation-of-nature, #komodo-dragons-lizards, #reptiles, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

Prison Fire in Indonesia Kills at Least 41 People

The blaze at the facility west of Jakarta highlighted the problems of the country’s overburdened correctional system.

#accidents-and-safety, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #deaths-fatalities, #fires-and-firefighters, #human-rights-and-human-rights-violations, #indonesia, #jakarta-indonesia, #prisons-and-prisoners, #tangerang-indonesia

Indonesia-focused Intudo Ventures closes $115M third fund

Intudo Ventures, the “Indonesia-only” investment firm, announced today it has closed its third fund, totaling $115 million. Called Intudo Ventures Fund III, it was raised in less than three months and oversubscribed.

Fund III’s limited partners include Black Kite Investments, the family office of Singaporean businessman Koh Bon Hwee; Wasson Enterprises, the family office of former Walgreens Boots Alliance chief executive officer Greg Wasson; and PIDC, the investment arm of Taiwan-based retail conglomerate Uni-President Enterprises Corp. Other LPs include more than 30 Indonesian families and their conglomerates; over 20 leading global funds and managing partners; and more than 10 founders of tech unicorns.

Intudo founding partners Patrick Yip and Eddy Chan launched the firm in June 2017 as the first Indonesia-only venture capital firm, with a debut fund of $10 million. At first, many people were dubious that a country-specific fund focused on early-stage Indonesian companies would take off, especially since Yip and Chan wanted to build a small portfolio and work closely with startups.

Then in 2019, Intudo closed its $50 million second fund with LPs including Founders Fund, which Chan said helped validate its mission. Portfolio companies from its first two funds include Pintu, TaniHub Group and Gredu.

At the beginning, “when we said we were going to raise $10 million, we got laughed out of the room by many managers, but four years into it, we’re running roughly $200 million dollars,” he told TechCrunch. “It shows that for the right markets, hyperlocal is the way to go.”

 

For its third fund, Intudo intends to invest in about 12 to 14 startups, in sectors like agriculture, B2B and enterprise, education, finance and insurance, healthcare and logistics. Initial check sizes will range from $1 million to $10 million. Leading early-stage and Series A rounds will continue to be Intudo’s core focus, but it also plans to invest in Series B and C rounds for companies from its first two funds.

Unlike many funds that have a handful of anchor investors, all of Intudo’s limited partners are capped at 10% of the total fund size so it can maintain its independent investment thesis and ensure all LPs are treated equally.

“I think 10% is a nice number, where it signals to the founder that we are doing what’s best for their company and not for one special interest group,” said Chan.

The firm will look for companies with competitive moats, like strong intellectual property or deep tech. It also looks for companies that operate in heavily-regulated sectors that are difficult for competitors to enter.

Chan pointed to crypto-exchange Pintu as a good example of Intudo’s investment thesis.

“Everyone was like, you invested in this because it’s trendy, but you have to understand that we met the founder when Bitcoin had dropped down to $6,000. When we gave him the term sheet, six months later in March 2019, Bitcoin was at $3,000,” he said. “The moral of the story is we knew the founder was legit and we were able to pick up all the best talent because you can’t go to a lot of major unicorns to work on crypto.”

Many of Intudo’s portfolio founders are pulkam kampung, or Indonesians who have studied and worked overseas, but returned to launch companies, and it runs a program called Pulkam S.E.A. Turtle Fellowship to mentor aspiring founders. One-third of the deals from Intudo’s first two funds were sourced from universities and the tech community in the United States.

Intudo works closely with founders after signing checks. For example, all of its companies have made a commercial deal sourced through the firm’s network before receiving an investment. Its country-specific approach is also an advantage during the pandemic, because Intudo can continue to hold in-person meetings with founders on an almost weekly basis.

“The founder community has obviously gone through a tough time this year and last year due to COVID,” said Yip. “A lot of these founders needed to make course adjustments and corrections to their business plans. I think our role as an in-market, involved investor has been even more enhanced. A lot of the companies that have gone under, they did not have an in-country partner from the get-go.”

He added, “I think our involved approach and having a concentrated portfolio is something that is appreciated by the founder community as well, so that’s definitely something we intend to rinse and repeat going into Fund III.”

07

#fundings-exits, #indonesia, #intudo, #intudo-ventures, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc, #venture-capital

Driven by live streams, consumer spending in social apps to hit $17.2B in 2025

The live streaming boom is driving a significant uptick in the creator economy, as a new forecast estimates consumers will spend $6.78 billion in social apps in 2021. That figure will grow to $17.2 billion annually by 2025, according to data from mobile data firm App Annie, which notes the upward trend represents a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29%. By that point, the lifetime total spend in social apps will reach $78 billion, the firm reports.

Image Credits: App Annie

Initially, much of the livestream economy was based on one-off purchases like sticker packs, but today, consumers are gifting content creators directly during their live streams. Some of these donations can be incredibly high, at times. Twitch streamer ExoticChaotic was gifted $75,000 during a live session on Fortnite, which was one of the largest ever donations on the game streaming social network. Meanwhile, App Annie notes another platform, Bigo Live, is enabling broadcasters to earn up to $24,000 per month through their live streams.

Apps that offer live streaming as a prominent feature are also those that are driving the majority of today’s social app spending, the report says. In the first half of this year, $3 out every $4 spend in the top 25 social apps came from apps that offered live streams, for example.

Image Credits: App Annie

During the first half of 2021, the U.S. become the top market for consumer spending inside social apps with 1.7x the spend of the next largest market, Japan, and representing 30% of the market by spend. China, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea followed to round out the top 5.

Image Credits: App Annie

While both creators and the platforms are financially benefitting from the live streaming economy, the platforms are benefitting in other ways beyond their commissions on in-app purchases. Live streams are helping to drive demand for these social apps and they help to boost other key engagement metrics, like time spent in app.

One top app that’s significantly gaining here is TikTok.

Last year, TikTok surpassed YouTube in the U.S. and the U.K. in terms of the average monthly time spent per user. It often continues to lead in the former market, and more decisively leads in the latter.

Image Credits: App Annie

Image Credits: App Annie

In other markets, like South Korea and Japan, TikTok is making strides, but YouTube still leads by a wide margin. (In South Korea, YouTube leads by 2.5x, in fact.)

Image Credits: App Annie

Beyond just TikTok, consumers spent 740 billion hours in social apps in the first half of the year, which is equal to 44% of the time spent on mobile globally. Time spent in these apps has continued to trend upwards over the years, with growth that’s up 30% in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period in 2018.

Today, the apps that enable live streaming are outpacing those that focus on chat, photo or video. This is why companies like Instagram are now announcing dramatic shifts in focus, like how they’re “no longer a photo sharing app.” They know they need to more fully shift to video or they will be left behind.

The total time spent in the top five social apps that have an emphasis on live streaming are now set to surpass half a trillion hours on Android phones alone this year, not including China. That’s a three-year CAGR of 25% versus just 15% for apps in the Chat and Photo & Video categories, App Annie noted.

Image Credits: App Annie

Thanks to growth in India, the Asia-Pacific region now accounts for 60% of the time spent in social apps. As India’s growth in this area increased over the past 3.5 years, it shrunk the gap between itself and China from 115% in 2018 to just 7% in the first half of this year.

Social app downloads are also continuing to grow, due to the growth in live streaming.

To date, consumers have downloaded social apps 74 billion times and that demand remains strong, with 4.7 billion downloads in the first half of 2021 alone — up 50% year-over-year. In the first half of the year, Asia was the largest region region for social app downloads, accounting for 60% of the market.

This is largely due to India, the top market by a factor of 5x, which surpassed the U.S. back in 2018. India is followed by the U.S., Indonesia, Brazil and China, in terms of downloads.

Image Credits: App Annie

The shift towards live streaming and video has also impacted what sort of apps consumers are interested in downloading, not just the number of downloads.

A chart that show the top global apps from 2012 to the present highlights Facebook’s slipping grip. While its apps (Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and Facebook) have dominated the top spots over the years in various positions, TikTok popped into the number one position last year, and continues to maintain that ranking in 2021.

Further down the chart, other apps that aid in video editing have also overtaken others that had been more focused on photos or chat.

Image Credits: App Annie

Video apps like YouTube (#1), TikTok (#2) Tencent Video (#4), Bigo Live (#5), Twitch (#6), and others also now rank at the top of the global charts by consumer spending in the first half of 2021.

But YouTube (#1) still dominates in time spent compared with TikTok (#5), and others from Facebook — the company holds the next three spots for Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, respectively.

This could explain why TikTok is now exploring the idea of allowing users to upload even longer videos, by increasing the limit from 3 minutes to 5, for instance.

In addition, because of live streaming’s ability to drive growth in terms of time spent, it’s also likely the reason why TikTok has been heavily investing in new features for its TikTok LIVE platform, including things like events, support for co-hosts, Q&As and more, and why it made the “LIVE” button a more prominent feature in its app and user experience.

App Annie’s report also digs into the impact live streaming has had on specific platforms, like Twitch and Bigo Live, the former which doubled its monthly active user base from the pre-pandemic era, and the latter which saw $314.2 million in consumer spend during H1 2021.

“The ability of social media users to communicate with each other using live video – or watch others’ live broadcasts – has not only maintained the growth of a social media app market, but contributed to its exponential growth in engagement metrics like time spent, that might otherwise have saturated some time ago,” wrote App Annie’s Head of Insights, Lexi Sydow, when announcing the new report.

The full report is available here.

#android, #app-annie, #apps, #asia, #asia-pacific, #bigo-live, #brazil, #china, #computing, #facebook, #head, #india, #indonesia, #instagram, #japan, #media, #messenger, #mobile, #mobile-applications, #mobile-software, #operating-systems, #saudi-arabia, #social, #social-media, #software, #south-korea, #tiktok, #twitch, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #video, #video-hosting, #youtube

Financial comparison “super app” Jeff raises $1.5M seed extension

Financial services, especially those for people who don’t have access to traditional bank accounts or lines of credit, are proliferating in Southeast Asia. Jeff App wants to give consumers a “super app” where they can compare many financial products and apply for them using the startup’s proprietary data-scoring models. For service providers, Jeff serves as a distribution channel, helping them find and retain customers. The startup announced today it has raised a seed extension of $1.5 million, led by J12 Ventures. Other participants included iSeed Ventures and Toy Ventures, and returning investors EstBAN, Startup Wise Guys and other angels.

The funding brings Jeff’s total raised to about $2.5 million. It announced a $1 million seed round back in March. Founder and chief executive officer Tom Niparts told TechCrunch that Jeff had a net profitable second quarter and wasn’t planning on raising again, but investors were interested because of its strong growth since the beginning of the year. The startup claims that since the end of January, its users have tripled to 700,000, who compared a total of four million products over the past six months.

Founded in 2019, the startup is operational in Vietnam and has applied for a license to launch in Indonesia. It also plans to enter the Philippines in the third quarter. Part of the funding will be used to increase Jeff’s team from about 15 people now to more than 40 employees for its offices in Latvia and Southeast Asia.

Before launching Jeff, Niparts was CEO of Spain for Digital Finance International, a fintech company that is part of the Finstar Financial Group. During that time, Niparts saw that in many Southeast Asian countries, people struggled to get loans not because of their credit history or income, but because they simply didn’t have enough personal financial data. Jeff was created to develop alternative data scoring models for financial services.

Niparts said Jeff’s goal is to become a main distribution channel for financial services in Southeast Asia and the top place for consumers to compare products and apply for them.

One of the reasons Jeff enjoyed strong growth during the first half of this year was by honing its user acquisition strategy in Vietnam. At first, it relied on global channels for user acquisition, like Google and Facebook ads, but now its top acquisition channel is through partnering with local affiliates, including bloggers and social media influencers who have grown considerable followings with educational content about finances.

“What we were surprised about is that in Europe, for instance, TikTok would never work for financial services, but in Vietnam we saw that it is a pretty amazing channel,” said Niparts.

While one of Jeff’s main features is loan comparison, the company has started expanding its offerings because most people only borrow money once in a while.

To create incentives to return to Jeff, instead of offloading the app once they secure a loan, Jeff is also offering coupons, like Shopee discounts and planning to launch telecom top-ups with cashback offers and a user referral functionality. It is also working on neobank and mobile wallet comparisons, payment functionalities, installment financing, services for micro-to small-sized merchants and a data science model to increase conversions for providers.

#alternative-credit-scoring, #asia, #financial-aggregator, #financial-services, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #jeff, #jeff-app, #loan-comparisons, #philippines, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc, #vietnam

Bangkok-based insurtech Sunday banks $45M Series B from investors like Tencent

Sunday, an insurtech startup based in Bangkok, announced it has raised a $45 million Series B. Investors include Tencent, SCB 10X, Vertex Growth, Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia & India, Quona Capital, Aflac Ventures and Z Venture Capital. The company says the round was oversubscribed, and that it doubled its revenue growth in 2020.

Founded in 2017, Sunday describes itself as a “full-stack” insurtech, which means it handles everything from underwriting to distribution of its policies. Its products currently include motor and travel insurance policies that can be purchased online, and Sunday Health for Business, a healthcare coverage program for employers. Sunday also offers subscription-based smartphone plans through partners.

The company uses AI and machine learning-based technology underwrite its motor insurance and employee health benefits products, and says its data models also allow it to automate pricing and scale its underwriting process for complex risks. Sunday says it currently serves 1.6 million customers.

The new funding will be used to expand in Indonesia and develop new distribution channels, including insurance agents and SMEs.

Insurance penetration is still relatively low in many Southeast Asian markets, including Indonesia, but the industry is gaining traction thanks to increasing consumer awareness. The COVID-19 pandemic also drove interest in financial planning, including investment and insurance, especially health coverage.

Other insurtech startups in Indonesia that have recently raised funding include Lifepal, PasarPolis, Qoala and Fuse.

In a statement, Sunday co-founder and chief executive officer Cindy Kuo said, “Awareness for health insurance will continue to increase and we believe more consumers would be open to shop for insurance online. We plan to expand our platform architecture to offer retail insurance to our health members and partners while we continue to grow our portfolio in Thailand and Indonesia.”

#asia, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #insurance, #insurtech, #southeast-asia, #startups, #sunday, #tc, #thailand

Satellites Spot Oceans Aglow With Trillions of Organisms

A new generation of detectors let scientists identify a dozen large episodes of bioluminescence, one a hundred times larger than Manhattan — and that’s the smallest.

#bioluminescence, #fish-and-other-marine-life, #indian-ocean, #indonesia, #light, #marine-biology, #microbiology, #oceans-and-seas, #research, #scientific-reports-journal, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

UK names John Edwards as its choice for next data protection chief as gov’t eyes watering down privacy standards

The UK government has named the person it wants to take over as its chief data protection watchdog, with sitting commissioner Elizabeth Denham overdue to vacate the post: The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) today said its preferred replacement is New Zealand’s privacy commissioner, John Edwards.

Edwards, who has a legal background, has spent more than seven years heading up the Office of the Privacy Commissioner In New Zealand — in addition to other roles with public bodies in his home country.

He is perhaps best known to the wider world for his verbose Twitter presence and for taking a public dislike to Facebook: In the wake of the 2018 Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal Edwards publicly announced that he was deleting his account with the social media — accusing Facebook of not complying with the country’s privacy laws.

An anti-‘Big Tech’ stance aligns with the UK government’s agenda to tame the tech giants as it works to bring in safety-focused legislation for digital platforms and reforms of competition rules that take account of platform power.

If confirmed in the role — the DCMS committee has to approve Edwards’ appointment; plus there’s a ceremonial nod needed from the Queen — he will be joining the regulatory body at a crucial moment as digital minister Oliver Dowden has signalled the beginnings of a planned divergence from the European Union’s data protection regime, post-Brexit, by Boris Johnson’s government.

Dial back the clock five years and prior digital minister, Matt Hancock, was defending the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as a “decent piece of legislation” — and suggesting to parliament that there would be little room for the UK to diverge in data protection post-Brexit.

But Hancock is now out of government (aptly enough after a data leak showed him breaching social distancing rules by kissing his aide inside a government building), and the government mood music around data has changed key to something far more brash — with sitting digital minister Dowden framing unfettered (i.e. deregulated) data-mining as “a great opportunity” for the post-Brexit UK.

For months, now, ministers have been eyeing how to rework the UK’s current (legascy) EU-based data protection framework — to, essentially, reduce user rights in favor of soundbites heavy on claims of slashing ‘red tape’ and turbocharging data-driven ‘innovation’. Of course the government isn’t saying the quiet part out loud; its press releases talk about using “the power of data to drive growth and create jobs while keeping high data protection standards”. But those standards are being reframed as a fig leaf to enable a new era of data capture and sharing by default.

Dowden has said that the emergency data-sharing which was waived through during the pandemic — when the government used the pressing public health emergency to justify handing NHS data to a raft of tech giantsshould be the ‘new normal’ for a post-Brexit UK. So, tl;dr, get used to living in a regulatory crisis.

A special taskforce, which was commissioned by the prime minister to investigate how the UK could reshape its data policies outside the EU, also issued a report this summer — in which it recommended scrapping some elements of the UK’s GDPR altogether — branding the regime “prescriptive and inflexible”; and advocating for changes to “free up data for innovation and in the public interest”, as it put it, including pushing for revisions related to AI and “growth sectors”.

The government is now preparing to reveal how it intends to act on its appetite to ‘reform’ (read: reduce) domestic privacy standards — with proposals for overhauling the data protection regime incoming next month.

Speaking to the Telegraph for a paywalled article published yesterday, Dowden trailed one change that he said he wants to make which appears to target consent requirements — with the minister suggesting the government will remove the legal requirement to gain consent to, for example, track and profile website visitors — all the while framing it as a pro-consumer move; a way to do away with “endless” cookie banners.

Only cookies that pose a ‘high risk’ to privacy would still require consent notices, per the report — whatever that means.

“There’s an awful lot of needless bureaucracy and box ticking and actually we should be looking at how we can focus on protecting people’s privacy but in as light a touch way as possible,” the digital minister also told the Telegraph.

The draft of this Great British ‘light touch’ data protection framework will emerge next month, so all the detail is still to be set out. But the overarching point is that the government intends to redefine UK citizens’ privacy rights, using meaningless soundbites — with Dowden touting a plan for “common sense” privacy rules — to cover up the fact that it intends to reduce the UK’s currently world class privacy standards and replace them with worse protections for data.

If you live in the UK, how much privacy and data protection you get will depend upon how much ‘innovation’ ministers want to ‘turbocharge’ today — so, yes, be afraid.

It will then fall to Edwards — once/if approved in post as head of the ICO — to nod any deregulation through in his capacity as the post-Brexit information commissioner.

We can speculate that the government hopes to slip through the devilish detail of how it will torch citizens’ privacy rights behind flashy, distraction rhetoric about ‘taking action against Big Tech’. But time will tell.

Data protection experts are already warning of a regulatory stooge.

While the Telegraph suggests Edwards is seen by government as an ideal candidate to ensure the ICO takes a “more open and transparent and collaborative approach” in its future dealings with business.

In a particularly eyebrow raising detail, the newspaper goes on to report that government is exploring the idea of requiring the ICO to carry out “economic impact assessments” — to, in the words of Dowden, ensure that “it understands what the cost is on business” before introducing new guidance or codes of practice.

All too soon, UK citizens may find that — in the ‘sunny post-Brexit uplands’ — they are afforded exactly as much privacy as the market deems acceptable to give them. And that Brexit actually means watching your fundamental rights being traded away.

In a statement responding to Edwards’ nomination, Denham, the outgoing information commissioner, appeared to offer some lightly coded words of warning for government, writing [emphasis ours]: “Data driven innovation stands to bring enormous benefits to the UK economy and to our society, but the digital opportunity before us today will only be realised where people continue to trust their data will be used fairly and transparently, both here in the UK and when shared overseas.”

The lurking iceberg for government is of course that if wades in and rips up a carefully balanced, gold standard privacy regime on a soundbite-centric whim — replacing a pan-European standard with ‘anything goes’ rules of its/the market’s choosing — it’s setting the UK up for a post-Brexit future of domestic data misuse scandals.

You only have to look at the dire parade of data breaches over in the US to glimpse what’s coming down the pipe if data protection standards are allowed to slip. The government publicly bashing the private sector for adhering to lax standards it deregulated could soon be the new ‘get popcorn’ moment for UK policy watchers…

UK citizens will surely soon learn of unfair and unethical uses of their data under the ‘light touch’ data protection regime — i.e. when they read about it in the newspaper.

Such an approach will indeed be setting the country on a path where mistrust of digital services becomes the new normal. And that of course will be horrible for digital business over the longer run. But Dowden appears to lack even a surface understanding of Internet basics.

The UK is also of course setting itself on a direct collision course with the EU if it goes ahead and lowers data protection standards.

This is because its current data adequacy deal with the bloc — which allows for EU citizens’ data to continue flowing freely to the UK — was granted only on the basis that the UK was, at the time it was inked, still aligned with the GDPR. So Dowden’s rush to rip up protections for people’s data presents a clear risk to the “significant safeguards” needed to maintain EU adequacy. Meaning the deal could topple.

Back in June, when the Commission signed off on the UK’s adequacy deal, it clearly warned that “if anything changes on the UK side, we will intervene”.

Add to that, the adequacy deal is also the first with a baked in sunset clause — meaning it will automatically expire in four years. So even if the Commission avoids taking proactive action over slipping privacy standards in the UK there is a hard deadline — in 2025 — when the EU’s executive will be bound to look again in detail at exactly what Dowden & Co. have wrought. And it probably won’t be pretty.

The longer term UK ‘plan’ (if we can put it that way) appears to be to replace domestic economic reliance on EU data flows — by seeking out other jurisdictions that may be friendly to a privacy-light regime governing what can be done with people’s information.

Hence — also today — DCMS trumpeted an intention to secure what it billed as “new multi-billion pound global data partnerships” — saying it will prioritize striking ‘data adequacy’ “partnerships” with the US, Australia, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, and the Dubai International Finance Centre and Colombia.

Future partnerships with India, Brazil, Kenya and Indonesia will also be prioritized, it added — with the government department cheerfully glossing over the fact it’s UK citizens’ own privacy that is being deprioritized here.

“Estimates suggest there is as much as £11 billion worth of trade that goes unrealised around the world due to barriers associated with data transfers,” DCMS writes in an ebullient press release.

As it stands, the EU is of course the UK’s largest trading partner. And statistics from the House of Commons library on the UK’s trade with the EU — which you won’t find cited in the DCMS release — underline quite how tiny this potential Brexit ‘data bonanza’ is, given that UK exports to the EU stood at £294 billion in 2019 (43% of all UK exports).

So even the government’s ‘economic’ case to water down citizens’ privacy rights looks to be puffed up with the same kind of misleadingly vacuous nonsense as ministers’ reframing of a post-Brexit UK as ‘Global Britain’.

Everyone hates cookies banners, sure, but that’s a case for strengthening not weakening people’s privacy — for making non-tracking the default setting online and outlawing manipulative dark patterns so that Internet users don’t constantly have to affirm they want their information protected. Instead the UK may be poised to get rid of annoying cookie consent ‘friction’ by allowing a free for all on citizens’ data.

 

#artificial-intelligence, #australia, #brazil, #colombia, #data-mining, #data-protection, #data-security, #digital-rights, #elizabeth-denham, #europe, #european-union, #facebook, #gdpr, #general-data-protection-regulation, #human-rights, #india, #indonesia, #john-edwards, #kenya, #korea, #matt-hancock, #new-zealand, #nhs, #oliver-dowden, #privacy, #singapore, #social-issues, #social-media, #uk-government, #united-kingdom, #united-states

What an Adult Tricycle Says About the World’s Bottleneck Problems

Catrike is struggling to deliver its recumbent bikes because supply chain problems have caused a part shortage. The snags may get worse before they get better.

#bicycles-and-bicycling, #china, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #factories-and-manufacturing, #federal-reserve-system, #florida, #indonesia, #inflation-economics, #orlando-fla, #prices-fares-fees-and-rates, #ships-and-shipping, #taiwan, #united-states-economy

Indonesian D2C insurance marketplace Lifepal raises $9M Series A

Choosing an insurance policy is one of the most complicated financial decisions a person can make. Jakarta-based Lifepal wants to simplify the process for Indonesians with a marketplace that lets users compare policies from more than 50 providers, get help from licensed agents and file claims. The startup, which says it is the country’s largest direct-to-consumer insurance marketplace, announced today it has raised a $9 million Series A. The round was led by ProBatus Capital, a venture firm backed by Prudential Financial, with participation from Cathay Innovation and returning investors Insignia Venture Partners, ATM Capital and Hustle Fund.

Lifepal was founded in 2019 by former Lazada executives Giacomo Ficari and Nicolo Robba, along with Benny Fajarai and Reza Muhammed. The new funding brings its total raised to $12 million.

The marketplace’s partners currently offer about 300 policies for life, health, automotive, property and travel coverage. Ficari, who also co-founded neobank Aspire, told TechCrunch that Lifepal was created to make comparing, buying and claiming insurance as simple as shopping online.

“The same kind of experience a customer has today on a marketplace like Lazada—the convenience, all digital, fast delivery—we saw was lacking in insurance, which is still operating with offline, face-to-face agents like 20 to 30 years ago,” he said.

Indonesia’s insurance penetration rate is only about 3%, but the market is growing along with the country’s gross domestic product thanks to a larger middle-class. “We are really at a tipping point for GDP per capita and a lot of insurance carriers are focusing more on Indonesia,” said Ficari.

Other venture-backed insurtech startups tapping into this demand include Fuse, PasarPolis and Qoala. Both Qoala and PasarPolis focus on “micro-policies,” or inexpensive coverage for things like damaged devices. PasarPolis also partners with Gojek to offer health and accident insurance to drivers. Fuse, meanwhile, insurance specialists an online platform to run their businesses.

Lifepal takes a different approach because it doesn’t sell micro-policies, and its marketplace is for customers to purchase directly from providers, not through agents.
Based on Lifepal’s data, about 60% of its health and life insurance customers are buying coverage for the first time. On the other hand, many automotive insurance shoppers had policies before, but their coverage expired and they decided to shop online instead of going to an agent to get a new one.

Ficari said Lifepal’s target customers overlap with the investment apps that are gaining traction among Indonesia’s growing middle class (like Ajaib, Pluang and Pintu). Many of these apps provide educational content, since their customers are usually millennials investing for the first time, and Lifepal takes a similar approach. Its content side, called Lifepal Media, focuses on articles for people who are researching insurance policies and related topics like personal financial planning. The company says its site, including its blog, now has about 4 million monthly visitors, creating a funnel for its marketplace.

While one of Lifepal’s benefits is enabling people to compare policies on their own, many also rely on its customer support line, which is staffed by licensed insurance agents. In fact, Ficari said about 90% of its customers use it.

“What we realize is that insurance is complicated and it’s expensive,” said Ficari. “People want to take their time to think and they have a lot of questions, so we introduced good customer support.” He added Lifepal’s combination of enabling self-research while providing support is similar to the approach taken by PolicyBazaar in India, one of the country’s largest insurance aggregators.

To keep its business model scalable, Lifepal uses a recommendation engine that matches potential customers with policies and customer support representatives. It considers data points like budget (based on Lifepal’s research, its customers usually spend about 3% to 5% of their yearly income on insurance), age, gender, family composition and if they have purchased insurance before.

Lifepal’s investment from ProBatus will allow it to work with Assurance IQ, the insurance sales automation platform acquired by Prudential Financial two years ago.

In a statement, ProBatus Capital founder and managing partner Ramneek Gupta said Lifepal’s “three-pronged approach” (its educational content, online marketplace and live agents for customer support) has the “potential to change the way the Indonesian consumer buys insurance.”

Part of Lifepal’s funding will be used to build products to make it easier to claim policies. Upcoming products include Insurance Wallet, which will include an application process with support on how to claim a policy—for example, what car repair shop or hospital a customer should go to—and escalation if a claim is rejected. Another product, called Easy Claim, will automate the claim process.

“The goal is to stay end-to-end with the customer, from reading content, comparing policies, buying and then renewing and using them, so you really see people sticking around,” said Ficari.

Lifepal is Cathay Innovation’s third insurtech investment in the past 12 months. Investment director Rajive Keshup told TechCrunch in an email that it backed Lifepal because “the company grew phenomenally last year (12X) and is poised to beat its aggressive 2021 plan despite the proliferation of the COVID delta variant, accentuating the fact that Lifepal is very much on track to replicate the success of similar global models such as Assurance IQ (US) and PolicyBazaar (India).”

#asia, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #insurance, #insurtech, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc

Spotify expands its radio DJ-like format, Music + Talk, to global creators

Last fall, Spotify introduced a new format that combined spoken word commentary with music, allowing creators to reproduce the  radio-like experience of listening to a DJ or music journalist who shared their perspective on the tracks they would then play. Today, the company is making the format, which it calls “Music + Talk,” available to global creators through its podcasting software Anchor.

Creators who want to offer this sort of blended audio experience can now do so by using the new “Music” tool in Anchor, which provides access to Spotify’s full catalog of 70 million tracks that they can insert into their spoken-word audio programs. Spotify has said this new type of show will continue to compensate the artist when the track is streamed, the same as it would elsewhere on Spotify’s platform. In addition, users can also interact with the music content within the shows as they would otherwise — by liking the song, viewing more information about the track, saving the song, or sharing it, for example.

The shows themselves, meanwhile, will be available to both free and Premium Spotify listeners. Paying subscribers will hear the full tracks when listening to these shows, but free users will only hear a 30-second preview of the songs, due to licensing rights.

The format is somewhat reminiscent of Pandora’s Stories, which was also a combination of music and podcasting, introduced in 2019. However, in Pandora’s case, the focus had been on allowing artists to add their own commentary to music — like talking about the inspiration for a song — while Spotify is making it possible for anyone to annotate their favorite playlists with audio commentary.

Since launching last year, the product has been tweaked somewhat in response to user feedback, Spotify says. The shows now offer clearer visual distinction between the music and talk segments during an episode, and they include music previews on episode pages.

The ability to create Music + Talk shows was previously available in select markets ahead of this global rollout, including in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.

With the expansion, creators in a number of other major markets are now gaining access, including Japan, India, the Philippines, Indonesia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and Colombia. Alongside the expansion, Spotify’s catalog of Music + Talk original programs will also grow today, as new shows from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, India, Japan, and the Philippines will be added.

Spotify will also begin to more heavily market the feature with the launch of its own Spotify Original called “Music + Talk: Unlocked,” which will offer tips and ideas for creators interested in trying out the format.

#argentina, #artist, #australia, #brazil, #canada, #chile, #colombia, #france, #germany, #india, #indonesia, #ireland, #italy, #japan, #media, #mexico, #microsoft-windows, #netherlands, #new-zealand, #operating-systems, #pandora, #philippines, #podcast, #software, #spain, #spotify, #sweden, #united-kingdom, #united-states

RaRa Delivery gets $3.25M for its ambitious on-demand delivery plans in Indonesia

RaRa Delivery’s ambitious goal is to offer same-day deliveries in Indonesia without burning cash like many on-demand logistics providers. The company announced today it has raised $3.25 million in seed funding led by Sequoia Capital India’s Surge program and East Ventures. Other participants included 500 Startups, Angel Central, GK Plug and Play and angel investors Royston Tay and Yang Bin Kwok.

Launched in 2019, RaRa Delivery relies on a proprietary engine that batches orders and optimizes delivery routes based on data like real-time traffic information. It currently operates in Greater Jakarta and is getting ready to expand into five other Indonesian cities this year.

RaRa Delivery’s goal is to integrate with all major marketplaces in Indonesia, so sellers can offer it as a delivery option to customers. It also partners with brands, small e-commerce businesses and seller aggregators. Some notable clients include e-commerce platform Blibli, coffee delivery startup Kopi Kenangan, Grab Merchant, healthcare platform Alodokter and grocery store Sayurbox. RaRa Delivery says its daily order volume has grown 15 times over the past year, due in part to increased demand for grocery and medical supply deliveries during the pandemic.

Before launching RaRa Delivery, co-founder and chief executive officer Karan Bhardwaj worked at Unilever, managing its e-commerce supply chain in Southeast Asia and Australasia. During that time, he dealt with many kinds of distribution channels, including marketplaces, e-commerce aggregators and last-mile delivery providers.

Over the past few years, Bhardwaj watched customer expectations for deliveries change. Many are no longer satisfied with even next-day delivery. They want their orders delivered the same day, often within a few hours.

“A good experience over time becomes a need rather than a luxury,” said Bhardwaj. The United States has Amazon Prime, China has courier service SF Express and South Korea has Coupang, but “same-day delivery adoption has not reached its true potential in Indonesia because of the lack of the right supply solution, and that’s exactly what we are trying to crack.”

Bhardwaj added that people are willing to pay two to three times more for same-day delivery versus next day delivery, and even higher fees for deliveries within an hour.

But many traditional logistics players, with their hub-and-spoke distribution models, are not designed for on-demand deliveries, while on-demand providers have high operational costs because their drivers fulfill one order per trip.

“If a business has 10 orders, they are going to send 10 drivers and everyone is going to pick up one order,” said Bhardwaj. “They can do a three-hour delivery service, but there is no consolidation, no optimization, the cost per order is very high, there distance limits, weight limits and they don’t offer cash on delivery.”

RaRa Delivery’s real-time batching engine was created as a more scalable and sustainable alternative. The company’s driver fleet fulfills orders for many different types of businesses—food and beverage, grocery, healthcare and e-commerce—which all have different time requirements for their deliveries. For example, a restaurant needs deliveries to happen within an hour, but for grocery stores that timeframe can be three hours, and for e-commerce stores, up to eight hours.

Once orders are made, RaRa Delivery’s system groups them into batches, optimizing capacity, distance, time slots and driving routes based on real-time traffic data. A batch can have between two to 15 orders, and their composition is flexible. For example, some batches might entail a series of pick-ups followed by deliveries, while others might have pick-ups interspersed with deliveries, depending on what creates the most efficient route.

Bhardwaj said this increases how much RaRa Delivery’s drivers can earn because they perform multiple deliveries per trip, and reduce their downtime. Each RaRa Delivery batch takes about two to six hours to complete.

“In a normal on-demand scenario, a driver takes an order, finishes that order and waits for another order. That waiting time is what reduces the potential earnings of a driver,” he said.

RaRa Delivery also enables cash on delivery. Typically, when a delivery service offers COD, that means drivers need to go back to a hub to drop off the money. RaRa Delivery’s reconciliation product shows drivers how much cash to collect for each order. Once they are done, it generates a code that the driver can use a convenience store to deposit the cash, instead of a hub.

The startup’s plans for its seed funding include expanding its product ecosystem, which currently includes the batching engine, a seller portal, real-time order tracking, a chatbot for customers and the COD reconciliation.

It’s focused on Tier 1 cities in Indonesia for its initial rollout, before expanding into smaller cities and covering all of Indonesia within a couple of years. Then RaRa Delivery plans to expand into other countries. Bhardwaj said its batching engine is geography-agnostic, so it requires minimal localization for new markets.

 

#asia, #e-commerce, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #logistics, #on-demand, #on-demand-delivery, #rara-delivery, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc

Disney+ beats expectations to reach 116 million subscribers in Q3

Disney’s streaming service is seeing improved growth, after initially seeing slower numbers of subscriber additions in Q2 as COVID lockdowns and mask mandates came to an end. Today, Disney+ beat analyst expectations for subscriber growth in Disney’s blowout third quarter, reaching 116 million paid subscribers — above the 114.5 million Wall Street had expected — and up over 100% year-over-year.

Disney also topped expectations across the board, with $17.02 billion in revenue versus the $16.76 billion expected, and earnings per share of 80 cents, above analysts’ expectations of 55 cents. Even Disney Parks were back in business. 

The pandemic had thrown a wrench in forecasting growth metrics across a number of industries, streaming included. Although Disney+ has well-established itself as one of the few competitors capable of challenging Netflix in an increasingly crowded market, it has seen some ups and downs due to COVID impacts. In the earlier days of the pandemic, streaming was on the rise. This March, Disney+ passed 100 million subscribers after just 16 months of operation. At the time, Disney execs said the service was on track to meet its projections of 260 million subscribers by 2024.

But in Disney’s second-quarter earnings, the economy’s re-opening impacted Disney+ numbers, as people finally had more to do than just sit at home, and vaccinations become more widely available. Then, Disney+ only reached 103.6 million subscribers, when analysts were expecting 109.3 million, and the stock slipped as a result.

Disney wasn’t alone in feeling the impacts of COVID-induced lumpiness in subscriber additions. Netflix had also seen slower subscriber growth earlier in the year due to COVID and its far-reaching effects on things like production delays and release schedules.

But Netflix’s most recent quarter, where it once again topped subscriber estimates, had hinted that Disney+ may see a similar boost. Aiding in that growth was Disney+’s recent market expansions in Asia. Disney+ Hotstar arrived in Malaysia and Thailand in June after prior launches in India and Indonesia last year.

The Hotstar version of Disney+, however, led to lowered average monthly revenue per user (ARPU) in the quarter due to its lower price points. In Q3, ARPU declined from $4.62 to $4.16 due to a higher mix of Disney+ Hotstar subscribers compared with the prior-year quarter, Disney said.

Disney’s other streaming services, Hulu and ESPN+, didn’t see the same trend.

Hulu’s subscription video service jumped from $11.39 to $13.15 year-over-year and its Live TV service (+SVOD) grew from $68.11 to $84.09. ESPN+ also grew from $4.18 to $4.47.

Subscriber growth also increased across the services, with ESPN+ growing 75% year-over-year to reach 14.9 million customers and total Hulu subscribers growing 21% to reach 42.8 million.

“…Our direct-to-consumer business is performing very well, with a total of nearly 174 million subscriptions across Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu at the end of the quarter, and a host of new content coming to the platform,” noted Disney CEO Bob Chapek in a press release.

Across Disney’s direct-to-consumer business, revenues grew 57% to $4.3 billion and its operating loss declined from $0.6 billion to $0.3 billion, thanks to improved results from Hulu, including subscription growth and higher ad revenues.

These gains were offset by a higher loss at Disney+ attributed to programming, production, marketing and technology costs that were somewhat mitigated by increases in subscription revenues and success of the Disney+ Premier Access release of “Cruella.” (Disney’s fiscal quarter ended July 3, so the impacts of the massive haul that “Black Widow” saw following its U.S. opening — nor the resulting lawsuit from star Scarlett Johansson, for that matter — have yet to be included in these figures.)

#asia, #bob-chapek, #disney, #disney-plus, #e-commerce, #espn, #hotstar, #hulu, #india, #indonesia, #malaysia, #mass-media, #media, #netflix, #scarlett-johansson, #streaming-services, #thailand, #the-walt-disney-company

A close look at Singapore’s thriving startup ecosystem

Singapore is home to fewer than six million people, making it one of the smallest ASEAN countries, in terms of population. It is a young country as well — having gained independence in 1963 — and resides in a neighborhood with far larger economies, including China, Indonesia, and Vietnam. When the country first became independent, its mandate was to simply survive rather than thrive.

So how does a country evolve from a position of relative uncertainty, with comparatively few resources, to one that leads the ASEAN region in venture capital investment and has been home to 10 unicorns?

Countries around the world examine Singapore’s ecosystem from a distance, hoping to learn from, and emulate, its story. The World Bank Group recently published a report, The Evolution and State of Singapore’s Start-up Ecosystem, documenting the country’s experience in building its startup ecosystem and the challenges facing it.

This article presents an overview of the report’s key findings and offers a few key recommendations on what other countries can learn from Singapore’s experience, as well as what Singapore itself can do to maintain progress.

A glimpse into Singapore’s current startup ecosystem

As of 2019, Singapore had over $19 billion in PE and VC assets under management, more than twice that of neighboring Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand combined. In that same year, the country was home to an estimated 3,600 tech startups and nearly 200 different intermediary and supporting organizations (accelerators, co-working spaces, coding academies, etc.) – some which have a multinational presence, such as Blk71, whose Singapore headquarters has been referred to as “the world’s most tightly packed entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

While assessing the size and strength of startup ecosystems is an evolving method, Start-up Genome priced Singapore’s ecosystem at over $25 billion, five times the global median.

Arguably, the most eye-catching hallmark of this ecosystem is its population of current and former unicorns. Collectively, Singapore has been home to ten unicorns, three of which have offered an IPO (Nanofilm, Razer and Sea) and two of which have been acquired – one by giant Alibaba (Lazada) and one by Chinese streaming powerhouse YY (Bigo Live). The remaining five are Trax, Acronis, JustCo, PatSnap, and Grab – the ASEAN region’s largest unicorn to date.

 

The education sector is also prominent in Singapore’s ecosystem. Universities like the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) are deeply embedded into this ecosystem, helping with R&D commercialization linkages, incubation, talent/knowledge transfer, and other areas.

So, how did Singapore’s startup ecosystem come to be?

Numerous factors have contributed to building Singapore’s startup ecosystem, with government intervention and leadership being the dominant driving forces. The government has spent more than USD60 billion over the past several decades to enhance the country’s R&D infrastructure, create VC funds, and launch accelerators and other support organizations.

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What’s driving the global surge in retail media spending?

Most businesses by now are well versed with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic: Faltering offline sales, flexible work-from-anywhere options, fluctuating foot traffic with lockdown mandates and e-commerce becoming a channel many brands wished they had built infrastructure for earlier.

As a record number of consumers in Southeast Asia move from shopping malls to online platforms like Shopee, Lazada, Tiki and Tokopedia, the advertising dollars are naturally flowing in. Emerging markets are witnessing the advent of retail media right now.

Amazon paved the way in North America in 2018 by launching Amazon Advertising to become the first bid-and-buy marketplace. BCG now estimates retailers have a $100 billion business opportunity to capture, if they can keep up.

The money is where the consumer is

To understand why retailers will capture more ad spend, it’s important to evaluate what modern day marketing has become.

Is it bus stop advertisements? Bidding on Google keywords or a Clubhouse session? Or is it a viral TikTok video? As the world becomes more connected and the lines between offline and online blur even more, modern day marketing is a mix of all the channels tied to key performance metrics.

The main goal of marketing, no matter the medium, is to highlight a business or product to the right consumers to score a potential sale. And like most things, there is a bad, a good and a much better way of doing things.

E-commerce as an advertising channel is unique, because it encapsulates the entire consumer journey from start to finish, especially as marketplaces continue to steal the share of search from search engines.

Traditional marketing channels were primarily linear TV, radio and print, because the mediums were highly popular at the time. However, with the birth of the internet newer platforms emerged such as email, websites and streaming. Then came the rise of social media and apps that shook up the advertising landscape. But regardless of these shifts, there has always been one constant: The business went where the consumer was.

So when sources of traffic and revenue once again change, let’s say due to a pandemic, the marketing mix follows. In the next 12 months alone, many marketers are planning to decrease spending in cinema, print and out of home (OOH), while the majority will increase budgets in social and search, according to Nielsen.

The search for superior advertising channels

So which channels will benefit as money flows out of outdated buckets? A good indicator is ad revenue trends in mature markets like the U.S. While Google and Facebook remain the dominant advertising players, Amazon has eaten into the duopoly’s ad revenue pie in the U.S., growing its share from 7.8% to 10.3% in 2020 alone, according to eMarketer.

How? Because the most valuable advertising channel is the one that has the most measurable touch points with the consumer.

#amazon, #asia, #brand-management, #column, #covid-19, #ec-column, #ec-marketing-tech, #ecommerce, #facebook, #indonesia, #malaysia, #marketing, #media, #shopee, #singapore, #social, #southeast-asia, #thailand, #tiki, #tokopedia, #vietnam

Two months after its Series A, Pintu gets $35M in new funding led by Lightspeed

Just two months after its last funding announcement, Indonesian crypto assets platform Pintu has closed a $35 million Series A+. The new round was led by Lightspeed Ventures, with participation from returning investors like Alameda Ventures, Blockchain.com Ventures, Castle Island Ventures, Coinbase Ventures, Intudo Ventures and Pantera Capital.

Pintu’s previous funding, a $6 million Series A led by Pantera, Intudo and Coinbase Ventures, was announced in late May. Pintu is the latest investment app in Southeast Asia to quickly raise a much larger follow-on round as interest in retail investing grows. Other examples include Bibit, Ajaib and Syfe.

Andrew Adjiputro, Pintu’s chief operating officer, told TechCrunch that Pintu raised a Series A+, instead of a Series A extension or Series B, because its focus on product development and execution is still the same. “With the Coinbase IPO and a lot of new users onboarding, we think it’s the right time for us to raise a larger round to finance faster growth,” he said. “It’s good momentum for us to launch new products and grab the market.”

Pintu plans to use its Series A+ on “aggressive” hiring for all its teams and rolling out new features and products. During the first half of 2021, Pintu says app downloads grew by 3.5x through organic growth, while active traders on the platform increased by 4x.

The platform currently offers trades on 16 cryptocurrencies, with plans to add more coins, including NFT tokens.

Adjiputro said Coinbase’s successful initial public offering in April helped fuel interest in crypto trading, especially among first-time investors.

“They became curious and the bread and butter of our business is essentially education,” said Adjiputro. “We have a lot of education on our platform and it attracts this new breed of investors who want to learn more.”

While the rate of retail investment in Indonesia is still low, its growing quickly because of a confluence of factors, including people’s desire to diversify and increase their assets during the pandemic.

For many of Pintu’s users, the app was their first introduction to investing instead of stocks, Adjiputro said. The company recently surveyed current users, asking about the top five asset classes they are invested in. Crypto came in third after mutual funds and digital gold, and before stocks at number four.

The preference for crypto over stocks is echoed in figures released by the Indonesian Ministry of Trade, which showed that as of June 2021, there were over 6.6 million crypto investors in Indonesia, or about triple the 2.2 million public equity investors in the country.

Pintu is a licensed crypto broker under the Indonesian Commodity Futures Trading Regulatory Agency (BAPPEBTI). It has a low minimum investment rate of 11,000 IDR, or about 75 cents USD, making more attractive to new investors.

Timothius Martin, the company’s chief marketing officer, was a first-time investor when he started using Pintu. He told TechCrunch that the number one draw was accessibility. “It’s easy to start investing and also withdraw assets. In Indonesia, we are now at a stage where people have heard about crypto, about Bitcoin, are very interested and may already want to invest, but there are not many options that are easy enough for them to understand.”

Instead of encouraging users to make an investment when the open the app for the first time, Pintu presents them with educational materials. For example, one of its features is Pintu Academy, a collection of articles and videos. While Pintu’s target demographic is millennials, it’s also attracting older demographics, including people who have traded other assets, like stocks, but want to learn more about the fundamentals of crypto trading.

Adjiputro said Pintu’s focus on education is what differentiates from other Indonesian crypto platforms like Indodax and Tokocrypto.

The company is getting ready to launch new features, like Pintu Earn, a crypto asset account that lets users earn interest on a variety of crypto assets, and e-wallet integration for easier deposits and withdrawals.

It’s also deciding what coins to add next. “We’re very selective in terms of the coins we introduce, because this is a platform for first-time investors and beginners, so we want to protect them, not only in terms of our UI, but also the selection of coins we have,” Martin said.

Pintu’s criteria for new coins include ones that have a high market cap, meaning adoption is already relatively mainstream. It also looks at how long a coin has been around and its liquidity.

Pintu plans to focus on expanding in Indonesia before entering other Southeast Asian markets.

In a statement, Lightspeed partner Hemant Mohapatra said, “Lightspeed has invested in over 17 crypto and blockchain companies globally including FTX, Blockchain.com, Offchain Labs and more. We believe crypto is at an inflection point to become an important asset class globally, and will give rise to massive companies that will become regional leaders. Pintu has created the strongest market brand, best user experience and hands down one of the strongest teams we’ve ever come across in this market.”

 

#crypto, #crypto-trading, #cryptocurrency, #finance, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #investment-app, #pintu, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc

Indonesia-based grocery app HappyFresh reaps $65M led by Naver Financial and Gafina

HappyFresh, the on-demand grocery app based in Indonesia, announced today it has raised a $65 million Series D. The round was led by Naver Financial Corporation and Gafina B.V., with participation from STIC, LB and Mirae Asset Indonesia and Singapore. It also included returning investors Mirae-Asset Naver Asia Growth Fund and Z Venture Capital.

The company’s previous round of funding was a $20 million Series C announced in April 2019.

Founded in 2014, HappyFresh was the first Instacart-style grocery delivery service to launch in Southeast Asia. It expanded into five markets before shutting down its operations in Taiwan and the Philippines in 2016. It continues to operate in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

In a press release, HappyFresh said it “has been experiencing an unprecedented growth” over the past 18 months as customers turned to grocery deliveries during the pandemic, with traffic growing by 10x to 20x in its three countries.

In a statement, HappyFresh chief executive officer Guillem Segarra said, “We see a big shift in customers’ behavior; retention and frequency rates have significantly increased while the overall basket size has been consistently growing. We attribute this to a major shift in share of wallet from offline to online, which is here to stay.”

The new funding will be used to scale HappyFresh’s operations, including growing its fleet of drivers. The company also plans to add more payment methods, improve user experience and increase its assortment of items.

#asia, #fundings-exits, #grocery-delivery, #happyfresh, #indonesia, #malaysia, #on-demand-groceries, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc, #thailand