I always get asked as I have transitioned to VC from a product guy, how I feel about VC life. I think most folks are surprised when I tell them it is all good but managing my time is hard. Why? It is easy to get busy with all the stuff we do. Meeting companies, helping portfolio companies, fund management stuff, meeting LP’s and just spending enough time with your own team helping each other improve our craft.
I am not complaining but just highlighting that if I am not careful – I can easily fill up my day and then wonder where my time went.
Regardless, I still feel it is important to meet new people. Recently I was contacted to provide a referral for a former employee of mine. The person asking for the referral also requested a coffee to chat more. I have made time for these coffees and used my trusty admin Evie, Evie is well trained and knows that coffee meetings are 45 mins at a specific location I like, had it all set up in a few emails.
Yesterday I had that coffee. I am glad I did.
I actually got to meet the guy who helped lead the acquistion of Path and who ran the transitional Path engineering team. There were lots of interesting things I learned but not all I can share. Some small tidbits – the transition team was mostly all Koreans who moved to Jakarta, they all eventually moved back, there is one Indonesian engineer still working on Path, and Path is basically dying a slow death.
We enjoyed our chat given my Yahoo/Koprol experience and it reminded me that the “culture of busy” will keep these fun meetings from happening.
I will be doing a panel on :: Indonesia, Poised for Growth! Will it deliver?
I obviously have my hunches about it. I mean, not trying to boast, but I kind of helped to kick off the scene when Yahoo bought Koprol. Of course that didn’t go according to plan but it still was a huge milestone in SEA region and was a big shot in the arm in the Indonesian scene.
I didn’t get to attend the TIA conference but was able to catch up with lots of folks who were in town and went to a nice event by Sequoia.
Say what you will about our current times but Singapore is absolutely hopping right now and is the center of the startup universe for SEA region and India. Love it. So fortunate to be here at this time.
I have many Twitter friends that I sometimes get to meet and Josh would be one of those. We finally got to hang out and chat a bit.
As a writer, he of course decided to spring this on the Internet after we chatted.
Good stuff. As I always tell people – OTT in emerging markets is really just kicking off and has a long ways to go. I wouldn’t profess to know where it all might land, but it’s a crazy hot space regardless.
One comment – that last little quote by iFlix – we all know 1 million is just registered users. Paying subs will be some marginal single digit percentage point of that total number. As I always say – release real stats or none at all.
Good chatting with you Josh – I guess we will keep up the Twitter DM dialogue going till we meet again.
I said as much in my list below – get ready for the VPN to stop working when it comes to gaming Netflix content libraries.
First, let me start off with a shameless plug for a podcast I was a guest of:
Now that we got that out of the way we can continue on. Also – my shameless plus is so we make this AA’s #1 podcast to ensure I get invited back. 😉
Let me disclose that I work at hooq.tv and used to work at spuul.com . I do have some sense of this world I am talking about. I don’t have a crystal ball and I also think that in the emerging markets it will take years to declare a winner. Years I say!
That being said I think it is important to note some things for the pedestrians:
– In many markets, say Taxis or car booking services, I can agree with the winner take all or winner take most, especially in the USA or China. FYI Om covered this topic well here :: http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/in-silicon-valley-now-its-almost-always-winner-takes-all. However in large regional area or emerging markets I am not sure if it is true and it also has to be that pricing almost equalizes. In the case of this specific subject if we are talking about Netflix dominating in India I struggle to see how a company that charges 3x its emerging markets brethren can own the market. Maybe it will own the high end but how would it own the market that does not pay that much for entertainment?
– Let no one kid you. None of these players are currently fighting over a paid customer base – we are all fighting to convert a pirate over to a paying subscriber. That will take years and there are plenty of pirates to share at this moment.
– Local content is a big deal and no one player owns it all nor can sell it all to one OTT player. Also many of the local content players are building or have built their own OTT services.
– There can never be just one service for all. Take me for example. I share my mom’s Netflix account but I buy my own HBO account. I value HBO way more than Netflix and nothing they did last week changed that equation for me.
– Payment models in the emerging markets are hard. For Netflix it very well could be that the only customer they care about has a credit card. That still lives 100’s of millions of customers for companies like HOOQ who think there are others way to take money from users.
– Not only are payment models hard but so are subscription types. Is a monthly recurring subscription going to work in the emerging markets? For some folks it might. For others maybe weekly subscriptions is better? Maybe a subscription tied to a data balance makes more sense. No one knows yet.
– Content rights are super hard. I love seeing all the people baffled as to why they log into Netflix Singapore and it doesn’t look like the USA catalog. Netflix didn’t buy all the rights for Singapore because they know it is a small market. It may not be worth it and chances are some of it is not available. Also, Netflix being a capitalist, sold some of their shows to services in Singapore already so they can’t just take it back. Over time as they grow they will fix this but again Netflix could never own everything you want to see.
– The all powerful VPN. Currently lots of folks are signing up for Netflix Singapore and then using a VPN or anonymous IP to get the USA catalog. All good but keep in mind they way content rights work. They are bought and sold for a region – they are not tied to what credit card you use. Lots of folks talk about Apple TV or iTunes as the model where I can use my use a credit card to buy a show. And I can watch it in Singapore but note I am paying US prices so the content guys don’t care. Apple is not a subscription service and notice it they planned on doing this with TV and backed down. Netflix is getting away with murder right now. Pay Singapore prices but watch a USA catalog. At some point the content owners may ask Netflix to enforce geo specific rule or to simply not support VPN usage. Most content owners ask companies like HOOQ to try to block VPN’s or similar tools. As global content streaming takes off, I expect this to be an ongoing discussion.
– To summarize I would like to say this is going to take time to all play out. As I like to remind my team regularly – it’s a marathon – not a sprint.
I’ll add to this is if I think I missed something.
I chatted a little about Yahoo and Koprol. How Yahoo totally blew it and this closing of Indonesia R&D was the signal for the slow, ever continuing downfall of Yahoo.
At the same time the Koprol deal kicked off the SEA deal making phase and created a group of techies that are slowly infiltrating the region working for startups or startung them. Or hanging at the mall.
I won’t try and list names. You all know who you are.