318: Facebook Ad clicks are down 20%, here’s why (DLA6)

Podcast highlights:

  • 06:17 Simon breaks down the figures of ad clicks on Facebook. Despite having a larger population, the median number of ad clicks for Indonesia was lesser compared to Singapore.
  • 26:05 Simon explains why ROI on Facebook is determined by what we have set as an objective. He further elaborates that ROI cannot be measured in terms of reach, engagement, likes and shares.
  • 45:02 Graham and Simon hypothesize about the different factors that can contribute to the 20% global decline of the Facebook ad clicks. Simon also shares how the World Cup has played a small part in this decline as it takes up a significant chunk of the free time that people spend on different platforms.

313: Edith Yeung on investment and future of blockchain (Ashley Talks 21)

Podcast highlights:

  • 14:58 You are investing a lot in China while many of your colleagues in the San Francisco area do not. How does this usually work? — Each investor has a different style in terms how they want to attract companies. It tends to be easier if you’re vertically focused on a particular market, for example blockchain. If you are a founder, it’s necessary to find the people who are vertically focused on the products or markets you are interested in. You should know when you reach out who you want to be contacting regarding potential investments.
  • 24:24 Turning now to the topic of blockchain, what is your vision of the future of blockchain? — Multiple parts to this answer. Excited because it represents a change in how we think about the ownership of data. From a technology side, it’s changed how people think about a lot of relationships. Obviously distributed ledger technology is not new, but what is new is the idea of tokenization. It helps creators and investors get the capital and resources they need right from the start. China and the Chinese government have been very supportive of blockchain as a technology. What they haven’t been supportive of is all the cryptocurrency exchanges and initial coin offerings (ICOs). China is just a huge market that basically any company focused on establishing themselves there will have enough to attract investment.
  • 44:25 Let’s talk about women for a bit. How did it feel to be a female developer working in this space? — First of all, we should encourage everyone, not just women to have a basic understanding of coding. This is going to be a building block for so many things in the future. Even if you don’t end up being the person writing the code, you will be able to have meaningful conversations with people who do. In China, have met so many great women CEOs and investors. The important thing is to know what you’re talking about. It’s not about being a woman, it’s about being good at what you do.

Podcast notes:

  • NOTE: This podcast contains explicit language
  • 00:05 Welcome Edith Yeung, Partner at 500 Startups, to Ashley Talks with host Ashley Galina Dudarenok.
  • 00:40 Tell us about your journey. How have you ended up in San Francisco Bay investing in so many global startups? — Born and raised in Hong Kong. Came to the US at age 16 as an exchange student. Stayed with an American family in the Midwest. Have been in the US for over 20 years and started career as a developer building risk-management systems. Started own entrepreneur group in San Francisco using Meetup, which turned into a sort of media conference business. Through this met a partner from mainland China who developed Dolphin Browser on Android. This experience led to wanting to do more with investments and startups, and so here we are.
  • 07:14 What are the biggest differences between managing an investment fund versus just investing by yourself? — As an angel investor, the thinking was why not invest some of your own money to help a company get off the ground. When managing a fund, however, the entire thought process is how do we maximize the return for our investors. As a fund manager, it’s necessary to have true conviction your decisions will make a return.
  • 14:58 You are investing a lot in China while many of your colleagues in the San Francisco area do not. How does this usually work? — Each investor has a different style in terms how they want to attract companies. It tends to be easier if you’re vertically focused on a particular market, for example blockchain. If you are a founder, it’s necessary to find the people who are vertically focused on the products or markets you are interested in. You should know when you reach out who you want to be contacting regarding potential investments.
  • 18:38 What are the companies you’ve invested in that you’ve liked the most or been most impressed with? Have you had any failures? — So many. Really, there have been so many. Very much enjoyed meeting Prerna Gupta who is founder and CEO at HOOKED, which is the number one reading app in the US for millennials. As an early-stage investor, it’s important to be open-minded about products and services people haven’t seen before. You can’t try to invest in the next Instagram, this just won’t work. As a fund manager, if you see a great investment and miss out, that is a failure. When you see something you believe in, you just have to go for it.
  • 24:24 Turning now to the topic of blockchain, what is your vision of the future of blockchain? — Multiple parts to this answer. Excited because it represents a change in how we think about the ownership of data. From a technology side, it’s changed how people think about a lot of relationships. Obviously distributed ledger technology is not new, but what is new is the idea of tokenization. It helps creators and investors get the capital and resources they need right from the start. China and the Chinese government have been very supportive of blockchain as a technology. What they haven’t been supportive of is all the cryptocurrency exchanges and initial coin offerings (ICOs). China is just a huge market that basically any company focused on establishing themselves there will have enough to attract investment.
  • 34:19 Do you have a favorite startup coming out of China now? — Again there are so many. If you think about content production companies, right now the power is in finding a way to produce and personalize content online. One exciting company in this space is Castbox. They are very impressive. Another company is Agora. They are doing basically video chat as a service. This is more back end, but it is gaining in popularity.
  • 44:25 Let’s talk about women for a bit. How did it feel to be a female developer working in this space? — First of all, we should encourage everyone, not just women to have a basic understanding of coding. This is going to be a building block for so many things in the future. Even if you don’t end up being the person writing the code, you will be able to have meaningful conversations with people who do. In China, have met so many great women CEOs and investors. The important thing is to know what you’re talking about. It’s not about being a woman, it’s about being good at what you do.
  • 50:52 Moving forward will you continue focusing on China? Will you continue focusing on any specific technologies? — Focusing on early-stage blockchain-related projects. This will be the focus for the next three to six months. If you’re working in this space, get in touch. It’s doesn’t matter if you’re focused on China or not. The number one quality to seek in a founder is to never take “no” for an answer.

304: Jan Smejkal aka Your China Guy (Cross Border Kyle KYL9)

Podcast highlights:

  • 04:45 What has Jan seen happen with the “community” in China specific to Startup Grind which grew from 3 or 4 chapters to 25? How did he develop that community?
  • 10:00 Where does Jan see the Shenzhen community today? What does he see happening in that community around startups and entrepreneurship? What’s the pulse?
  • 26:45 Where is China going? With the venture markets and startups taking off, where is this situation going?

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 Welcome Jan Smejkal aka Your China Guy to Cross Border Kyle with host Kyle Ellicott
  • 01:25 What is Jan aka Your China Guy up to?
  • 02:45 Jan works with Startup Grind. How many chapters does it have now?
  • 04:45 What has Jan seen happen with the “community” in China specific to Startup Grind which grew from 3 or 4 chapters to 25? How did he develop that community?
  • 10:00 Where does Jan see the Shenzhen community today? What does he see happening in that community around startups and entrepreneurship? What’s the pulse?
  • 15:45 A quick sidestory of Kyle in Shenzhen
  • 24:25 How did Jan come up with the name Your China Guy?
  • 26:45 Where is China going? With the venture markets and startups taking off, where is this situation going?
  • 31:10 Kyle advises you should give China a chance
  • 38:00 The number of people traveling in and out of San Francisco alone globally is huge but there’s a lot more activity happening in China
  • 40:25 Jan’s top 3 pieces of advice for first timers landing in China
  • 45:45 Jan’s favourite travel hack
  • 47:00 Who is Jan’s favourite China unicorn?
  • 48:00 Where can someone find more about Startup Grind in China? Go to startupgrind.com/
  • 50:50 Find Jan on twitter.com/yourchinaguy or contact him through email at [email protected]

293: The Growth of Entrepreneurship in Asia (Digital Lives Asia DLA5)

Podcast highlights:

  • 14:30 Simon: it’s interesting to consider how what you see defines the reality you believe in. An exposure to other entrepreneurs early in your life likely gives you the confidence you can do something similar. Digital has changed this so much because we are no longer confined to just looking at the people around us. You can see fascinating stories all over the social media platforms today. Graham: digital then is a great leveler, isn’t it? Look at how women in China can see people around them using these digital platforms. They no longer see the model entrepreneur as someone who is older and male.
  • 39:05 Simon: when it comes to scaling a business, it’s really striking to see the barriers women face in getting access to funding. Graham: in some ways this isn’t surprising given investors tend to back what they know, and what they know is men being successful in business. The challenge in Asia is generational. It will take a generation of entrepreneurs who exit with success and decide to go back in to fund the next crop of people. These will be the investors more likely to back women or non-traditional founders.
  • 44:55 Simon: the theme emerging from our conversation today is there is definitely an energy around entrepreneurship in Asia. A lot of this is just waiting to be activated. What we need to do is find out how to create the cultures to allow this energy to flourish. Graham: it seems the best thing we can do is to tell people’s stories. Help people access inspiration.

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 DLA7 – Digital Lives Asia with Graham Brown and Simon Kemp
  • 01:00 Graham: Let’s start with the question of where is the most startup-friendly city in Asia today? What city has the best startup to overall population ratio? — Simon: The obvious answer seems like it would be somewhere in China. But this seems too obvious. Let’s say somewhere in Indonesia. Graham: Actually it is in China.
  • 02:37 Graham: The city with the most startups per head is Zhuhai, which is right next door to Hong Kong and Macao and part of the whole Pearl River Delta ecosystem. The level of startup activity in Zhuhai is 10 times higher than in the city with the highest level of startup activity in the US, Miami, Florida.
  • 05:45 Simon: In looking at entrepreneurship in Asia among millennials, Asia does not seem to be suffering the lack of people trying to create things. Graham: if you look at some of the data coming out of places like the US, you see entrepreneurship as a percentage of the overall population has slipped to something like 5%, which is down from the high a generation ago near 10.5%. The data suggest this generation is the least entrepreneurial generation in the US.
  • 08:55 Graham: thinking about why this is the case several things come to mind. First it’s a lot harder in the West to be an entrepreneur. Also people are generally comfortable, so there’s less of a drive to hustle. Simon: the data also show the burden of student debt in the US. It could also be the people with the drive to be entrepreneurs are finding other ways to scratch that itch so to speak. One way they’re doing this is through the gig economy.
  • 14:30 Simon: it’s interesting to consider how what you see defines the reality you believe in. An exposure to other entrepreneurs early in your life likely gives you the confidence you can do something similar. Digital has changed this so much because we are no longer confined to just looking at the people around us. You can see fascinating stories all over the social media platforms today. Graham: digital then is a great leveler, isn’t it? Look at how women in China can see people around them using these digital platforms. They no longer see the model entrepreneur as someone who is older and male.
  • 24:08 Graham: coming back to the subject of megacities in Asia. Looking back at the Zhuhai statistic we opened the show with, we see in Zhuhai there are 2,800 startups per 100,000 people while in Miami, the figure is 247 startups per 100,000. In Shenzhen, 16% of people there are engaged in entrepreneurship. The comparative figure in the United States is only 3.5%. Imagine living in a place where you’re surrounded by these stories all the time. This is what’s happening right now is Asia. There is this compounding effect where entrepreneurs are inspired by other entrepreneurs and want to go to places where a lot of them are.
  • 27:50 Simon: it’s worth unpacking this a bit. There are two side to entrepreneurship: the opportunity side and the necessity side. The businesses we are celebrating today are those on the opportunity side. This happens when people look at the world around them and spot an idea. Traveling around Asia you see so many more opportunities to improve people’s lives than you do when you travel in the West.
  • 32:28 Graham: look at some more facts here. In data from 2012, the highest ratio of male to female entrepreneurship is the UK. Twice as many men than women are entrepreneurs in the UK. In best ratio for gender parity in entrepreneurship is in developing markets in Asia. There are an equal number of male and female entrepreneurs in developing Asia. Simon: this really helps explain one reason to feel so optimistic when we look at these things. Of course there is still a long way to go in order to improve the chances of female entrepreneurs; but it is heartening to see the progress in Asia.
  • 39:05 Simon: when it comes to scaling a business, it’s really striking to see the barriers women face in getting access to funding. Graham: in some ways this isn’t surprising given investors tend to back what they know, and what they know is men being successful in business. The challenge in Asia is generational. It will take a generation of entrepreneurs who exit with success and decide to go back in to fund the next crop of people. These will be the investors more likely to back women or non-traditional founders.
  • 44:55 Simon: the theme emerging from our conversation today is there is definitely an energy around entrepreneurship in Asia. A lot of this is just waiting to be activated. What we need to do is find out how to create the cultures to allow this energy to flourish. Graham: it seems the best thing we can do is to tell people’s stories. Help people access inspiration.

285: Sudhanshu Tewari – Scaling a startup in Singapore

Podcast highlights:

  • 14:45 Recruiting and keeping talent in sales is very hard especially when you get beyond the entry level. Why would a company owner want to reward sales guys with iPads and things like that rather than just hard cash?
  • 24:15 When startup founders expand, they spend their time educating markets whether that be merchant partners or consumers, which is a huge risk – that’s a huge hidden cost that can sink a business. How does Rewardz do it?
  • 28:00 Often, the best salespeople aren’t very good at managing and the once who are good at managing aren’t very good salespeople. When Sudhanshu recruits and builds his company around that, what does he look for?

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 Welcome Sudhanshu Tewari to Asia Tech Podcast Stories
  • 00:25 What has happened with Rewardz? Did it continue to grow directly as Sudhanshu thought back then three years ago?
  • 05:55 As an entrepreneur, did Sudhanshu find dealing with large organisations like a hospital frustrating or did he change his mindset about it?
  • 08:50 When Sudhanshu was building his sales team, does he recruit salespeople on the basis of them already having connections within the industries he’s trying to get into?
  • 10:00 When going to these organisations, does he target the HR departments? Who would be buying Rewardz?
  • 14:45 Recruiting and keeping talent in sales is very hard especially when you get beyond the entry level. Why would a company owner want to reward sales guys with iPads and things like that rather than just hard cash?
  • 17:00 How did Sudhanshu work with the eyewear company? Did he build a relationship with the founder, the retail store owners or the head of sales? Also, what would be the problem the eyewear company has that Rewardz is solving for it? Why would the eyewear company need a solution like Rewardz?
  • 19:20 Sudhanshu talks about the growth of Rewardz in 11 countries
  • 21:50 What is the most effective use of Sudhanshu`s time to scope up partnerships in new markets? How does he go about in markets like Indonesia?
  • 24:15 When startup founders expand, they spend their time educating markets whether that be merchant partners or consumers, which is a huge risk – that’s a huge hidden cost that can sink a business. How does Rewardz do it?
  • 25:25 How does Sudhanshu manage the 11 markets that Rewardz is in? Does he consciously ring fence his time?
  • 28:00 Often, the best salespeople aren’t very good at managing and the once who are good at managing aren’t very good salespeople. When Sudhanshu recruits and builds his company around that, what does he look for?
  • 33:30 How many people does Sudhanshu have now at Rewardz?
  • 34:30 In Graham’s telecoms business, he spent too much time managing all the people in the business when he should have been getting out there evangelizing, marketing and selling. How does Sudhanshu consciously author himself to do these things to grow the business rather than get caught in the weeds of growing a business?
  • 37:50 Does Sudhanshu find it a challenge being honest when going to social media and talk about where he went wrong?
  • 39:45 The branding side was something that did not come naturally to Sudhanshu and his cofounders
  • 40:35 Does Sudhanshu plan to continue to go on this growth trajectory? Is he popping the corks or is he a bit more low-key when it comes to his daily wins?

283: Wei Qing Jen from Vybes (PitchDeck Asia)

Podcast highlights:

  • 00:45 Let’s talk about Vybes. What is it and what are you doing there? — Vybes is a platform for millions of influencers to sell goods and services they create directly to their followers. We are disrupting the influencer market in a big way, allowing influencers to bypass brands and sell directly to their followers.
  • 10:03 Are there people or products that work really well on this type of platform? — We launched in April, 2018 and we’re still learning. It’s possible though to identify two types of people for whom this works well: 1) people with very niche products, and 2) people who really have superfans that will just buy anything.
  • 30:42 As a marketer myself, I am interested in what you call the K-factor. Can you explain what this is? — The K-factor is how many additional users does a new user bring onto the platform? If each user brings on an additional user, the K-factor is 1. If you’re interested, you should look into this as there’s a lot of information out there. What we want to do is figure out how to use technology to incentivize people to use our platform without us having to pay for them.

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 PIT2 – The Pitch with Graham D. Brown and Wei Qing Jen from Vybes.
  • 00:45 Let’s talk about Vybes. What is it and what are you doing there? — Vybes is a platform for millions of influencers to sell goods and services they create directly to their followers. We are disrupting the influencer market in a big way, allowing influencers to bypass brands and sell directly to their followers.
  • 02:45 How can you replicate the successes of the leading influencers for the less well-known? — We are talking about people with more than 10,000 followers on Instagram. In the future we plan to look at other platforms. So we are already talking about people with a significant following, but who lack the team of professionals enjoyed by the most influential people in this space.
  • 05:25 What’s the barrier these people confront now? Why are they unable to monetize their influence? — Great question. My personal view is people don’t really understand their personal brand and what makes them different. Vybes helps by providing in part education and examples for people to follow. We also use technology to help by providing data analytics and helping people increase their following.
  • 07:50 In the same way Facebook has democratized advertising, you are democratizing the model for influencers. Is this a good characterization? — Absolutely yes, we are really trying to help our users not be bound to selling other people’s product but instead market their own, unique things. We are liberating both influencers and users.
  • 10:03 Are there people or products that work really well on this type of platform? — We launched in April, 2018 and we’re still learning. It’s possible though to identify two types of people for whom this works well: 1) people with very niche products, and 2) people who really have superfans that will just buy anything.
  • 15:00 Let’s talk a little bit about your background. Can you tell us a little about this? — Grew up in Singapore, went to the US for college. Did undergraduate work at Stanford and then went to Harvard for Graduate School. Lived in New York City after that before moving to China for six years; started first company there.
  • 18:40 With Vybes are you focused just on Singapore? — Right now because we’re based in Singapore, we’re focused there for the first launch. Once we test and make sure we’re happy we plan to expand into other markets.
  • 20:00 You could have set up in the United States and maybe that would have been easier for you. Can you tell us why you chose Singapore? — Personally it felt like the right time for me to come back. One thing to consider though is that because we are in the digital space, it almost doesn’t matter where we’re located.
  • 23:13 Can you talk about your funding and where you are in that process right now? — Last year we raised our seed round for almost a million dollars and we are likely to be raising another, larger round later this year. If you’re interested, reach out at [email protected].
  • 24:30 What is the purpose of this funding round for you? — We have two purposes: 1) to support our existing team, and 2) to prime the pump for growing the company.
  • 30:42 As a marketer myself, I am interested in what you call the K-factor. Can you explain what this is? — The K-factor is how many additional users does a new user bring onto the platform? If each user brings on an additional user, the K-factor is 1. If you’re interested, you should look into this as there’s a lot of information out there. What we want to do is figure out how to use technology to incentivize people to use our platform without us having to pay for them.

275: Bob Gallagher — Appsynth

Podcast highlights:

  • 04:18 Earlier this year, you picked up an award in Singapore. Tell us a little bit about that. — We picked up two awards from Campaign Asia-Pacific. Campaign Asia-Pacific is basically the de facto agency world magazine in the region. It was really good recognition for us. Now it’s onward and upwards!
  • 26:00 Do you see anything emerging in Thailand on the mobile front that will catch on in the rest of the world? — On the consumption side, Thailand is leading in terms of time spent on mobile. We’re talking 4-5 hours a day. There is also mobile payment via QR codes, which are very big here. We see the drive to a cashless society. These are things you would notice in Thailand, people scanning people’s QR codes and transferring money for products and services very easily.
  • 44:10 So now you’re 8 years into the story of Appsynth. Where do things go from here? — For us it’s a careful balancing act in terms of having the people we need versus having a situation where work dries up and we can no longer support the number of people we have. Maybe we could expand to 100 people, be we’ll have to see. We also want to look at growing regionally and also in Europe and the US. One effort we’ve engaged in is diversifying the nationalities of our employees. As we move forward we need to continue to figure out how to change our structure to support our growth.

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 Welcome Bob Gallagher, Managing Director and Founder of Appsynth to ATP Stories with Graham Brown.
  • 00:40 You set up Appsynth in 2010, correct? — Yes, that’s correct. Coming up on 10 years in Thailand with 8 of those years running Appsynth. We have over 50 people working for us now and have seen a steady stream of growth in this regard.
  • 01:40 So your background was originally in music, wasn’t it? — Yep. Started working in mobile 12 years ago for a mobile music distributor and even before that running a record label. Came to Thailand first at age 18 and saw the potential in the markets there.
  • 04:18 Earlier this year, you picked up an award in Singapore. Tell us a little bit about that. — We picked up two awards from Campaign Asia-Pacific. Campaign Asia-Pacific is basically the de facto agency world magazine in the region. It was really good recognition for us. Now it’s onward and upwards!
  • 07:48 These awards must help in terms of recruitment. Can you talk a little about that? — We’ve probably hired a bit more than 15 recruits in the past year, which is a lot. The award adds to the prestige of working with a company like ours. While we’re growing, we’ve been focusing on things like company culture and creating an environment where people want to come but also then want to stay.
  • 10:35 When you look at other companies, who do you admire in terms of getting corporate culture correct? — There are many different role models in this regard. There’s no one way to run a business. But to name a few, there’s Spotify. Of course there are other inspirations from different fields. Just take a look at who are the best software teams in the world and how do they operate. One benefit we have in terms of hiring people is the ability to tell candidates they will be able to work on many different projects given that we’re not such a big company. We don’t have teams devoted just to narrow features or products.
  • 15:15 Can you describe a bit about how you capture the sort of software engineer who wants to go out and make a difference in the world? — This is really a reflection on how we go about business development and being selective in terms of who we work with and what sorts of things we take on. There’s a lot of work out there, but we need to find things that are exciting and are going to be used by millions of people. This gets people motivated.
  • 20:30 You’ve recently published some data about working in Thailand and the changes taking place there. Can you help us understand some of these trends? — We clearly see how hard people work in Thailand. Certainly in technology and knowledge work, people work very hard here. The pace of work has been increasing here and we expect this to continue.
  • 23:50 In Thailand you have a hard-working population, and a young population very connected on social media. What sorts of opportunities does this create for a company like Appsynth? — This is a point we like to highlight because Thailand really is at the forefront for mobile usage and mobile shopping. It’s not in places like the US, it’s here in Thailand.
  • 26:00 Do you see anything emerging in Thailand on the mobile front that will catch on in the rest of the world? — On the consumption side, Thailand is leading in terms of time spent on mobile. We’re talking 4-5 hours a day. There is also mobile payment via QR codes, which are very big here. We see the drive to a cashless society. These are things you would notice in Thailand, people scanning people’s QR codes and transferring money for products and services very easily.
  • 35:20 What sorts of other things are you experimenting with there in terms of mobile payments and money transfer? — The app we produced for 7-Eleven here in Thailand has a feature where parents can top up their children’s accounts and eliminate the need for those kids to carry cash. This helps parents better control where and how their kids can spend money too. Another feature you see is loyalty tracking, which can be used to offer discounts and enticements to consumers.
  • 36:45 Do you think Thailand will be a leader in terms of being a cashless society? — Yes, I think so. People have really embraced this new QR-based payment model. Maybe Thailand won’t be the first country to go cashless, but it will certainly be one of the first.
  • 37:45 What is the mobile music scene in Thailand right now? — People here obviously love music and mobile, and in fact Spotify as the big player in this space was actually a bit late to come to Thailand. There are other players here including well-established local labels who are getting into mobile music.
  • 39:50 Do you see a lot of Chinese investment coming into places like Thailand? Are there Chinese companies coming in and making big investments? — Yes, definitely. There’s pros and cons of course. We’ve seen some cases were Chinese investment comes in and ends up moving development jobs back to China where some Thai developers simply don’t want to move for whatever reason. This has opened up new talent avenues for the companies that remain. This is what happened, for example, at Lazada.
  • 44:10 So now you’re 8 years into the story of Appsynth. Where do things go from here? — For us it’s a careful balancing act in terms of having the people we need versus having a situation where work dries up and we can no longer support the number of people we have. Maybe we could expand to 100 people, be we’ll have to see. We also want to look at growing regionally and also in Europe and the US. One effort we’ve engaged in is diversifying the nationalities of our employees. As we move forward we need to continue to figure out how to change our structure to support our growth.

269: Pieter Franken – Safecast, Shinsei Bank, MIT & Monex Group

Podcast highlights:

  • 02:10 You came to Japan to work for Panasonic Corp in 1989. What was Japan like back then? — This was just after the real estate bubble started to burst. Prior to that Japan always felt like an endless party. In 1989 the hangover was starting. It was a special time. You find Japanese companies all have their own stories. They are not all the same.
  • 28:00 You were actually involved in the aftermath of what was the largest corporate failure in Japanese history. Tell us a little bit about that. — You’re talking about The Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan, which went bankrupt in 1998. I joined the bank that emerged from this in 2000, Shinsei Bank. My interests were in rebuilding the bank from a technical / operational standpoint. At that time, Japanese banking technology in services was lagging. We really started to innovate to make Shinsei Bank a leader in banking tech.
  • 43:23 When you look at FinTech innovation in Japan today, there seems to be a lot going on. How has this happened? Who is driving it? — First, it’s important to consider that FinTech is a very broad term, which at it’s core means bringing into the world of finance new digital technologies, new companies, and new innovative concepts. In Japan now there is a realization the central places for finance in Asia are in Singapore and Hong Kong, they are not in Tokyo. There’s a growing realization banks need to innovate more.

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 Welcome Pieter Franklin to Asia Tech Podcast Stories.
  • 02:10 You came to Japan to work for Panasonic Corp in 1989. What was Japan like back then? — This was just after the real estate bubble started to burst. Prior to that Japan always felt like an endless party. In 1989 the hangover was starting. It was a special time. You find Japanese companies all have their own stories. They are not all the same.
  • 06:43 How did it feel being a Westerner there at that time? — It was an eye-opening experience to see how things could be done differently. Companies could be organized in different ways. At that time, Japan was the cutting edge place for IT in the world.
  • 09:50 Let’s talk about Safecast. You helped found Safecast quite soon after the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami devastated parts of Japan in 2011. Tell us about that. — You can look back at photos of that time and the work we did at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. It was from that experience we saw the need for more transparency in these types of events. We found, for example, the measurements of dispersed radiation issued by authorities were deceptive at best. Our idea was to give people the ability to measure radiation on their own.
  • 18:18 When you look back, that earthquake was the [4th most powerful ever recorded – ed.]. Was there really anything that could have been done to prepare for it? — This is the fundamental question. My own view is that the consequences from a disaster like this are very very large, but the odds the disaster will happen are very very small. Those odds are not zero, however. The question for us is whether we should do something if the consequences when something goes wrong are very very big? What one observes is people are not good at understanding the dangers when the consequences could be this severe.
  • 22:50 Another area where this thinking seems relevant is in certain tech fields, like AI for example. When you look at these projects, do you worry about the implications of things going wrong? — Of course. We should worry about what might happen when things go wrong. So Facebook, electric cars, reusable rockets, these things have clear potential benefits; but we have seen how the same technology can be used as a weapon. That’s the dilemma of progress.
  • 28:00 You were actually involved in the aftermath of what was the largest corporate failure in Japanese history. Tell us a little bit about that. — You’re talking about The Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan, which went bankrupt in 1998. I joined the bank that emerged from this in 2000, Shinsei Bank. My interests were in rebuilding the bank from a technical / operational standpoint. At that time, Japanese banking technology in services was lagging. We really started to innovate to make Shinsei Bank a leader in banking tech.
  • 35:05 You talked about things you helped innovate, like 24-hour ATMs. To us here in 2018, these do not seem very significant; but back then they had a real impact. — Right. In Japan, ATMs were only open when the bank was open. Imagine if this were the case today. There were certain challenges to innovating in the banking sphere. For example, when the bank closes, you have to take all the cash and put it in the vault. When you open the bank, you have to take the money out of the vault. So we really had to bring a process engineering mindset to these design challenges.
  • 43:23 When you look at FinTech innovation in Japan today, there seems to be a lot going on. How has this happened? Who is driving it? — First, it’s important to consider that FinTech is a very broad term, which at it’s core means bringing into the world of finance new digital technologies, new companies, and new innovative concepts. In Japan now there is a realization the central places for finance in Asia are in Singapore and Hong Kong, they are not in Tokyo. There’s a growing realization banks need to innovate more.
  • 49:00 What is the regulatory environment like in Japan? — The government in Japan made the wise decision to put everyone with something to say about what happens in the financial world into one place. They call it the Financial Services Agency and this has helped bring clarity to the market. It has also allowed the government to be more nimble in regulation, especially as new technologies come online.
  • 52:45 Do you ever think about what drives you? — You have to think about this. For me it’s building things and the passion that comes from building new things. You have to find ways to build where you can take risks while not fundamentally endangering the company or markets if something goes wrong. This is the challenge.

255: Trends in Social Media, Facebook Advertising and Influence (Digital Lives Asia)

Podcast highlights:

  • 06:40 With all the recent focus on the “delete facebook” movement, what’s actually happening to Facebook data? Facebook users are up but teenagers are down
  • 35:00 What are the changes in the advertising landscape doing to shape traditional marketing demographics? We talk about Red Bull and why traditional social media demographics
  • 53:20 What can we learn about 18 year olds and their motivations on Facebook? We discuss social listening and how brands are missing a trick learning what their audience really care about

Podcast notes:

  • 00:00 Welcome to Digital Lives Asia #4 with Graham Brown and Simon Kemp. In this episode, Simon drops his latest data on global social media growth trends
  • 06:40 With all the recent focus on the “delete facebook” movement, what’s actually happening to Facebook data? Facebook users are up but teenagers are down
  • 17:20 What’s happening with Facebook advertising? Fan pages may be struggling to get attention but businesses have few alternatives to reach their consumers
  • 27:50 Who’s actually clicking these ads on Facebook? Some insight into Facebook ad campaigns and click behavior of Indonesians
  • 35:00 What are the changes in the advertising landscape doing to shape traditional marketing demographics? We talk about Red Bull and why traditional social media demographics
  • 47:40 Advertising is no longer a moniker of trust, so how do brands build trust? We discuss why giving away content and creating value is key to building trust and winning attention
  • 53:20 What can we learn about 18 year olds and their motivations on Facebook? We discuss social listening and how brands are missing a trick learning what their audience really care about
  • 56:00 We discuss differences in empathy with Uber and Grab in Southeast Asia

254: String Nguyen (Ashley Talks ASH12)

Podcast highlights:

  • 01:00 Starting out on Meerkat, how did String Nguyen build content and community around her video content and eventually get 20,000 followers on Linkedin?
  • 13:10 Growing your Linkedin followers to 20,000+ . There’s a 30,000 limit on Linkedin followers, how do you get around it? How do you win a Linkedin “top voice” award? It’s all about community and growth.
  • 44:30 Why did String delete SnapChat? What’s the problem with SnapChat for content creators? How does the ROI of SnapChat compare with Linkedin?

Podcast notes:

  • 00:00 ASH12 – Ashley Talks with Ashley Galina Dudarenok and String Nguyen
  • 01:00 Starting out on Meerkat, how did String Nguyen build content and community around her video content and eventually get 20,000 followers on Linkedin?
  • 05:00 How do videos convert compared to other platforms? Before you get to conversion, you should build brand awareness? Is it okay to publish informal personal content on Linkedin or does it have to be slick and professional?
  • 08:45 In video content creation, it’s tortoise vs the hare. Personal branding is a marathon not a sprint. It’s a full time job that you have to commit to for the long term
  • 13:10 Growing your Linkedin followers to 20,000+ . There’s a 30,000 limit on Linkedin followers, how do you get around it? How do you win a Linkedin “top voice” award? It’s all about community and growth.
  • 14:10 An insight about String’s entrepreneurship and her journey. Where did it come from?
  • 19:00 How do you become good at communication and ask great questions in videos and podcasts?
  • 21:00 String’s thoughts on Blockchain and ICOs, including who she follows on Twitter
  • 30:00 How do education systems shape our thinking processes and entrepreneurship long term?
  • 31:40 What are String’s thought on Asia, innovation and entrepreneurship?
  • 39:00 Why did String double down on video? What does it mean for SEO? What about sponsored video content?
  • 44:30 Why did String delete SnapChat? What’s the problem with SnapChat for content creators? How does the ROI of SnapChat compare with Linkedin?
  • 52:00 Live Streaming and the future of Video. Ashley and String discuss Live Streaming in Asia, its impact on social media, micro influencers and new retail.