Category Archives: Philippines

More struggle, less hustle

I have been on a digital detox and in a 5 day yoga program. Been killing me but I have slowly seen some progress over 5 days which is pretty amazing for me. I think it is the concentration of daily sessions plus workshops to dissect one pose and with a pro showing you how to fix it. Hopefully I can take some of this back with me and keep it going.

One thing thing dawned on me though, normally I will watch people in a class and marvel at their pose and feel a tad bit deflated over the looks of my poses. Reminding me I am new to this, 16 months in to my yoga, and that I have so far to go. However, once we had the workshops that focused on fixing people’s poses I was amazed that many of the people who look like they are doing the pose right are not actually struggling. For those not into yoga, the idea is that each pose should push your own body and should hurt just a little. Not in a painful I am breaking something kind of way but in a simple personal struggle sort of way.

If you are not feeling it just a little, you probably are not doing it right.

Once the master had fixed everyone’s poses you could see that many of the people looked much different and were groaning a lot more. He corrected the pose so that everyone was back to their own personal struggle. I actually realised that my poses look not so great but that I am feeling it and slowly I am getting the pose right. It’s all about being in the pose and struggling – something no one may see but you certainly will feel.

I like to think that the startup world needs to do this a little more. I see the hustle all the time, the press releases, the vanity metrics, the blog posts and the showing up to speak at every event. Not saying this is not useful stuff or part of the journey but at the same time the startup needs to correct their poses and focus inward a bit more. Most of the important stuff the folks around you can’t see. There is also no point in promoting it.

It’s the struggle to fix the funnel, find ways to increase productivity, figure out how to get your employees to communicate better, better the right metrics and fine tune product/market fit. These things are not easy but as you look back over the years you will feel the incremental improvements and realize these are the things that need the most attention.

One more session before heading home…

Finally met up with Josh

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.

Thoughts on OTT

Update to the post::

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.

    – As OTT takes off some of the big players will try to work around Netflix and other services to go direct. One good read on this :: http://bgr.com/2015/11/05/netflix-streaming-time-warner/

    – 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.

VOD – here come Asia!

We all know VOD is big. Just check Netflix for reference. I pretty much never watch actual TV or cable – except for the news.

Normally I am watching HOOQ, HBO Now, or Netflix. Plus a lot of iTunes video.

Given all that it is no wonder that global VOD growth is gonna keep growing.

What is exciting is the Asia numbers:

The VOD market in Asia Pacific Excluding Japan (APEJ) is expanding at a robust pace and by 2020, the market is expected to reach $80.5 billion.

How do you like them apples?

Good times.

Apple to offer carrier billing?

So now I get it. Must say that the tech in Asia headline is quite misleading.

This article explains it better :: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/435673/scitech/technology/smart-allows-purchases-from-apple-itunes-app-store-using-load

Th carrier is creating a virtual credit card via the user’s phone account. So apple sees a credit card still but user doesn’t have one.

Brilliant idea. More carriers should do this.

That being said – apple needs to step up their game. Biggest win for android is being able to modify the payment model.

My old post ::

This is the biggest news in tech if so!

https://www.techinasia.com/smart-communications-philippines-direct-billing-app-store-itunes/

Lost the plot, off the rails – extraction needed!

From time to time I write about something other than tech because for a period in my life, possibly a very early mid life crisis, I decided to abandon tech to just exist. I had no real plan but to travel some, hang out and learn a language. I sold my house, moved from Hong Kong and ended up in the pub business in Bangkok. I have regrets and will always question my choices but I also have some solid real life experiences that I always call upon and a very healthy appreciation for the tech life, friends and of course family. I know I am spoiled.

That being said, standing on the other side of the bar in places like Bangkok would afford me a view of humanity that not a lot of people talk about openly. We would see it a mile away – some normal dude living the high life in Asia seemingly unaware that they were getting sucked in too deep. The alcohol, the drugs, the corruption, and yes the girls.

These people would miss work, miss meetings and some would even start a double life without their families knowing about it. I know of very successful people who have two families and have even imported their second family to their home country. Just nutty stuff. Situations that before my time in Asia I didn’t even know existed. I was too naive to be honest.

Sometimes the right people in that someone’s life, who had gone off the rails, would step in forcibly try to extract their friend or family from the lifestyle in hopes of getting them back home.

I would hear stories like this all over Asia – believe me it wasn’t just Bangkok. Many times it was in places where someone was making a lot of money and just didn’t realize what was happening to them. Funny enough I recall that more than a few of these folks were in finance and some were also in tech. Usually males of course.

Given the circumstances an extraction was needed and many times it worked but other times the lost soul didn’t want saving. They continued on with their new life.

Other times you would hear of a suicide or someone getting killed. Or even just dying from something strange.

I won’t wager an opinion on any of this except to say that this story coming out about Rurik Jutting sounds very believable. An extraction was needed – too bad there was no one around him to pull it off.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/hongkong/11218391/Rurik-Jutting-A-lonely-world-of-sex-drugs-and-money.html