Category Archives: Main

Prediction Discussions

Read this post recently :: http://www.businessinsider.sg/patrick-grove-7-predictions-southeast-asias-tech-scene-2017/

I like Patrick and we chat occasionaly so this is not a bashing post but just thinking about his predictions and my opinions on them.

1. Southeast Asia becomes a bigger internet market than America

I think if we are talking raw numbers then I guess so but when it comes to money spent and ease of payments I still think America is a bigger prize for an internet company but depends on the product. But yes, SEA is big and getting bigger. Fund place to be.

2. Funding will be harder to get (so conserve what you have)

I do not think I agree. I think funding is always hard but there is plenty of capital right now. What has changed to me is that the easy money may be coming to end and people who fund things wants to see real products, traction and ideas that can turn into real businesses. So the powerpoint insta startup days that get money before customers is probably over.

3. At least three companies will raise 9 figure rounds (USD100 million+)

I am guessing Patrick is speaking from first hand knowledge here and I think he may be right. Regardless the region will see more B,C, and D rounds which means bigger and bigger checks.

4. There will be another exit in excess of USD500 million

Agree. I think M&A activity will grow and possible an IPO here or there. That will be something to watch – Garena may be the first. Let’s all hope whoever gets out of the IPO gate does well since that will set the tone for everyone else.

5. The Year of China

Probably true but I think it not the same ways some imagine. I think China will continue to fund things, buy things, and be at the forefront of startup activity but I am not a beleiver that Chinese products will be able to get big outside of China. To be clear there are some Chinese companies such as MeiPai that have quietly built the world’s selfie and camera apps. Most users do not know it is Chinese and don’t care. In fact I think that strategy is devised by them but on the flipside if somone asks me will Alibaba win ecommerce in SEA or Amazon and I will tell you it is Amazon. Why? They just have a better stack and will appeal to more of the region’s sensibilities than Alibaba will. I will also add that I will vote for Amazon on the idea that until China opens up its markets to everyone for competition that I will choose the non-Chinese product. Going to be an epic battle for sure and good for the consumer.

6. There will be a widespread embrace of Fintech

In theory this should be true but I think the space is harder than people want to admit to. Banks are not wanting to be disrupted and they hold tremendous power. Regulations are not easy and many companies need to get regulatory approval prior to getting customers. On top of this any sort of regionality for most fintech products is quite difficult. In general I am bullish that there are lots of finance problems to solve but executing is harder than most people think.

7. Every week, a different startup will run out of money

Probably true. Why? Go back to number 2. Most startups should not have gotten the money in the first place and will have a hard time raising the money to keep going. Also many startups are realizing they don’t have a business or real revenue. These will fail. It’s okay. This happens.  It will be a nice cycle of housecleaning and will mean real startups can pick up the pieces, distressed assets and grab employees. All good.

You could do the same thing in SEA

This is a great read by Andrew and love following his work over the years :: http://andrewchen.co/10-years/

However you might have to fly around a bit more but you could do the same thing in SEA region. This is what I did when I started my gig at Yahoo. Just meet folks. No agenda. No transaction. Offer to help. Don’t ask for anything but mutual respect and be friendly.

Have also had tons of missed opportunities. Oh well.

And it helped me get to where I am today – an apprentice VC.

About that ego…

Been reading the new book :: Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t – super interesting.

One of the things I find fascinating is the discussion around the traits of those who have built great companies and pretty much in all cases Ego is not on the list or the wanting to be known as the person running the company versus letting the results speak.

So I am listening to this Gimlet startup podcast about the founder of American Apparel. This is part 4 but all of it been pretty good and best to listen to them all :: https://overcast.fm/+DHBqvB8A4 . So Dove has started three t-shirt companies at this point. First two went bankrupt whether he claims to be the one who caused it or not.

Now he is working on this third :: http://www.businessinsider.sg/american-apparel-founder-dov-charney-is-back-thats-los-angeles-2016-9/

The lines I am trying to draw is although this guy has been able to build a big business from scratch, they always fail – usually going bankrupt. When you listen to him speak on the podcast he has some amazing ideas and is also trying to local manufacturing. Dig it.

But when you listen closely to him during some of the conversations he will discuss how even when American Apparel was cranking he was upset that people did not know that he was behind it.

Boom. Ego. His desire to have a name seems to always interfere and lead to his downfall.

Silly.

Wonder what happens this time. 3rd time a charm?

Getting better at my craft

I like reading stuff like this since it often pokes me to try something new or just re-think how I get better at work. I enjoy working but I always feel like I can get better at it. Everything from time management, to improving my focus, cutting out the cruft and just working smarter.

This Jason Fried interview on lifehacker has a few nuggets :: http://lifehacker.com/im-jason-fried-ceo-of-basecamp-and-this-is-how-i-work-1790556608

I dig some of this:

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?

I don’t track to-dos. I have a small handful of things I know I need to do every day. If I can’t keep them in my head, I have too many things to do. Every day is a blank slate for what I need to do. If something I was supposed to get done yesterday didn’t get done yesterday, it’s not automatically on my mind for today. Today’s mind is a clear mind, not yesterday’s remnants.

And:

I’m a one-computer guy—a 12″ MacBook, so I can work from anywhere. Years ago I used multiple monitors and had multiple computers. Then I jettisoned multiple computers but kept the multiple monitor setup. And a few years ago I tossed out the second monitor and have been a single computer, single screen person since then. I go full screen on nearly every app. I also hide my dock. I don’t want anything pulling my attention away. When I’m curious I’ll look. Otherwise, I’m looking at what I want, not what someone else might want me to see.

I can’t stress this enough—protect your attention like you protect your friends, family, money, etc. It’s among the most valuable things you have.

I like the attention to focus – I need to improve on this a ton.

Have a few things I am going to try this year to shift my work modes and health.

  • more yoga and gym
  • eat less meals
  • use a paper notebook more for meetings
  • use a paper calendar for journaling time
  • use one computer (will write more about why the iPad is sub optimal for work)
  • gonna block more time for focus work
  • gonna read and write more

Much to do. 2016 in some global sense may have been shitty. Lots of cool, dead people. Trump and some sense of global chaos.

Personally – 2016 was pretty amazing for me.

New gig. Fucking love it.

New pad. It just feels better for me and my family to be out of the condo pressure cooker. I know it works for some but I like the space of a house.

Got married – yes. That was fun and excited about the future.

2017 is coming and there is much to do with family, work and life aspirations.

Be safe out there.

Observations…

The year is coming to an end and again it all feels like it has moved so fast. I think the more I age the faster time flies. Obviously having children accelerates the pace even more since so many milestones appear and disappear before my eyes with each passing day. Regardless, I am thankful for everything. 

Some of you may or may not know that on Dec 5, I married my wife. Although we have been legally married for some time – we have never had a proper ceremony. The week previous we transformed her parent’s backyard, invited lots of people and had two ceremonies plus a kickass party. Was a great time and I appreciate all the support from those who made it possible. 

And to my wife, thanks and this is just the beginning.

Currently on a plane headed to Jeju. Planning to enjoy driving around the island and even catching some snow.

The last few days we have been in Seoul. Eating, shopping, eating and touring. I had not been to Seoul in many years and as always going for a holiday means I enjoyed the place a lot more than when going for work. That is typical of most places but was fun to hang out and watch the place in action. 

Stuff I noticed:

– Every car is either a Kia, Hyundai or Chevy. Saw lots of Chevy’s but no Fords for the most part. Quite opposite from say Thailand where you see lots of Fords but not so many Chevy’s.

– Everyone carries a Samsung or LG phone and if not carrying a phone from the home country they are using an iPhone most of the time.

– Everywhere you go people are on their phones. Lots of folks walk around from train to street watching videos.

– Korean culture is consumed more than anything else it seems. Most people watching Korean stuff and even the movie theatres were only showing Korean stuff. It’s clear that Korean music and movies is more popular and also also become a clear export.

– Kakao Talk reigns supreme for chat and voice and I guess even the basics for social. The rest of the usage is games, Instagram and I guess some facebook but I saw more Instagram usage over Facebook. Was hard to tell but looks like Talk wins for Whatsapp. But gaming is huge – all sorts of genders from young to old constantly playing games.

– Coffee shops and cafes everywhere and lots of chains. Stoked to see Taco Bell but haven’t had any yet. The Food courts at famous malls are quit international – surprising amount of Mexican places as well. Haven’t had pizza yet but Italian food everywhere too. Food is everywhere which is great and I love that there is still some street food. We ate quite a few meals by grazing on the streets. Great seagfood as well. We have been eating a lot. 😉

– Like Japan English is not well spoken but feels slightly better than Japan for being able to ask people stuff. Fortunately the subway is easy to deal with and such a large system than one can pretty much get everywhere with the subway. Tack on the existence of easy airport buses and actual check in at the city center to make it super simple to get around and catch domestic flights. I find getting around super easy and we have hardly used a cab.

– Wifi is all over the place malls, cafes, some buses and generally great speeds with no connectivity issues. Could pretty much easily work remote here with little hassle. Guessing there is some amount of active co-work scene. There is even a spot in Jeju I will check out if I have the time.

All in all. Good times. Been unplugged quite a bit. I don’t miss social media much at all. I am sure America continues to drop into the Trump pit of hell but what can I do about it – so no point in trying to stay up on the news anyway. Ignorance is bliss.

Might have time to bang out a few more posts before the year end. At this point in time the blog, even with the new domain, has had a record year. I plant to try and keep writing more and explore my VC journey in blog form as much a possible.

Will Professor Galloway be right about Snap?

Check out this week’s Winners and Losers video :: https://www.l2inc.com/winners-losers-facebooks-roadkill/2016/blog

I myself I am not addicted to Snap but have played with it enough to see the potential. However I find it is not huge in Asia as compared to its dominance in America – which is why I think FB has a chance to keep chipping away at it given how huge FB is globally. I think the Spectacles are pretty cool and actually want a pair.

Mostly though I am writing this article to remind myself to check on on Prof to see if he is right. He is predicting that Snap will collapse in value in 2017. With Snap heading to an IPO – this is gonna be fun to watch.

However read this to see how people are trying to buy up Snap shares ahead of the IPO and you wonder if this is a frenzy or people lining up for the next FB stock story? :: https://www.theinformation.com/snapping-up-snap-ahead-of-ipo-proves-tough

Then there is this article :: http://fortune.com/2016/12/02/tech-snapchat-spectacles-ipo/ :

Snap’s second feat is its forthcoming IPO. In November the five-year-old company confidentially filed to go public, according to reports, defying conventional wisdom among highly valued startups. The latest generation of startup CEOs disdain the short-termism of quarterly earnings reports; they see going public as a necessary evil to be avoided as long as possible. But not Snap CEO Evan Spiegel. This year has seen the slowest IPO market since the 2008 financial crisis. Snap’s IPO will be the most talked-about debut since Alibaba went public in 2014.

I honestly don’t know how to predict what will happen. My guess is a massive IPO pop and they will use the stock to go on an acquisition spree to shore up all angles of their vision but I wonder if they can build the profits like FB can over time. I am doubtful.

Will be great to see the outcome and watch the Prof either celebrate or eat crow.

Congrats to my new home!

It is sometimes hard to fathom how much my career life has altered over the years. Restaurants, Banking IT, Legislative Data, Internet Sites, Middleware, Consumer Tech, Video Tech and now VC – apprentice VC at that.

For me joining Jungle, seedplus.com, was more an entrance to joining a firm in the making. Some people will refer to working at a fund but I tend to like the idea that I am working at a firm with many funds. It takes time to build a firm that will stand the test of time but you have to start somewhere. I am new to the journey at Jungle Ventures but super thankful to be here and super excited about the years to come.

Lots of articles today on the closing of Jungle II. At 100M this is 10x the size of Jungle I. Quite the story.

https://techcrunch.com/2016/11/30/jungle-ventures-100-million-fund-southeast-asia/

Stay tuned for more.