Google to pour $550m into in a strategic partnership

Tech in Asia reported that Google is investing $550m into in a strategic partnership.

Most of Google’s services are still banned in China, but the US tech behemoth is trickling into that market in various other ways. Today, it announced that it’s pouring US$550 million into ecommerce powerhouse as part of a “strategic partnership” between the two.

Under the deal, Google and JD plan to jointly develop a range of online shopping solutions in regions outside China – specifically, Southeast Asia, the US, and Europe. JD will start selling products through the Google Shopping platform, an aggregator for ecommerce sites based on product search.

It is a tough battle against Alibaba for JD in both the domestic and international markets, that’s why it partners with Tencent in China to compete against Jack Ma’s ecommerce behemoth. Logical move to team up with Google in the international market. For Google, it’s a way to get a foot into the world’s largest market that it has no access to.

RSS curation and sharing

TechCrunch reported that RSS is undead.

Another enormous challenge is discovery and curation. How exactly do you find good RSS feeds? Once you have found them, how do you group and prune them over time to maximize signal? Curation is one of the biggest on-boarding challenges of social networks like Twitter and Reddit, which has prevented both from reaching the stratospheric numbers of Facebook. The cold start problem with RSS is perhaps its greatest failing today, although could potentially be solved by better RSS reader software without protocol changes.

Rather than letting platforms or reader apps handle the curation and feed discovery, I believe the feeds would do better with manual curation. Bloggers are most likely heavy consumers of RSS feeds. Have them share their a feed list for a particular topic, kind of like how Twitter lists are.

Their readers would then be able to see where they get their inspiration, information, and influencers. The list is kind of an evolution of the blog roll. It could be a list of links or a downloadable OPML file to easily help beginners populate their reader apps.

WeChat impresses with social impact

TechNode reported on WeChat’s impressive social impact.

  • WeChat-driven information consumption reached RMB 209. 7 billion
  • WeChat accounted for 34% of the total data traffic of users
  • WeChat drove RMB 333.9 billion traditional consumption, covering travel, food, shopping, tourism, etc.
  • WeChat contributed the employment of 20.3 million persons in 2017, more than twice the 2014 figure
  • The number of stores accepting WeChat Payment in Japan was multiplied by 35 in 2017

Of note are the following:

WeChat-driven consumption in traditional sectors of the economy has also been rising exponentially, rising 22.2% in 2017 to 333.9 billion RMB.

More importantly, it is so easy to set a regular donation through your WeChat Pay, as showed by 40.3% users who donate to charity via WeChat.

WeChat launches new JD shopping function

TechNode reported that WeChat launched new shopping function for shopping on with just a few clicks.

WeChat has launched a new shopping function that lets people shop on with just a few taps. Now simply by entering consumer product related keywords into the search box at the top of the WeChat homepage or the search function in the “Discover” tab, top search results popping up are product pages

Not surprising. JD is facing stiff competition from Tmall and Pinduoduo.

Great to be able to do this within the WeChat app. I enjoy using the Shenzhen Metro and Bus micro apps within WeChat because I don’t need to download an app for these services. And they seamlessly work with WeChat Pay. Very low friction and highly practical.

China’s tech firms are adapting to an increasingly IP sensitive environment

TechNode reported that China’s tech firms are adapting to an increasingly IP sensitive environment.

Data shows that these supporting policies have incentivized Chinese companies to create and file for IP. Chinese companies filed more than 1 million patent applications in 2015, more than one third of the total number of patents filed globally. Now China is the world’s #1 patent and trademark country, filing more than the US and Japan.


In addition to a complete legal system, several macro-level measures are boosting the change. The Chinese government has reshaped its judicial system to increase the damages awarded via Chinese courts, which in turn adds an incentive for companies to file lawsuits in China.

While it remains hard to enforce patents in China, it is still important to have because the patents can be used as proof of IP ownership. These can be used to block shipments of copies and to get patent infringers kicked out of trade shows.

3Clicks to solve the problems with freelancing platforms

e27 reported on freelance platform 3Clicks.

What caught my eye is the unfortunate name of the company. This is a textbook example of how not to name a company.

Notice that they are branding it as 3Clicks with a capital C. This makes it less obvious but they can’t hide the fact that the URL would mostly be typed in lowercase:

Authorities weren’t down with a biohacker who inserted a travel card chip into his hand

Mashable reported that authorities weren’t down with a biohacker who inserted a travel card chip into his hand.

Australian man Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow (yes, that’s his real name), 33, has been in a legal dispute with public transport authorities over not having a ticket.

That name got me.

Copying Apple is following the trends

Digital Trends reported that Android Phone Makers Embracing the Notch.

“Some people will say it’s copying Apple, but we cannot get away from what users want,” Marcel Campos, head of global marketing operations at Asus, suggested in a pre-briefing. “You have to follow the trends.”

It’s like saying that some people will say it is copying when you refer to your classmate’s answers for an assignment or an examination.

Spring Festival data shows just how much Chinese love their smartphones

TechNode reported that Spring Festival data shows just how much Chinese love their smartphones..

For Chinese people, Spring Festival is all about seeing family and celebrating the new year, but it’s also the optimal time for using screens. Have you ever been on a train for 20+ hours? In China you’ll find, from little kids to 60-year-olds, everyone is using their smartphones. Surely, to kill time, content is king in China.

During the Spring Festival, from February 15th to 21st, the number of app users in three segments—mobile games, photo app, and mobile video app—increased significantly, according to QuestMobile’s “2018 Spring Festival Entertainment Insights Report,” Chinese media CSDN is reporting.

The report pointed out that Chinese people have both online and offline ways to enjoy Spring Festival. Online was mobile games and video; offline was watching movies.

Apps also run campaigns, contests, and other events during this period to draw users to use the app.

Top 20 apps that showed the biggest DAU increase during the Spring Festival included: Mini World that showed whopping 116% increase in DAU, Douyin short video (78%), Honour of Kings (76%), Faceu (69%), and Wuta Cam (64%).

The article got the figures wrong though. The daily active users count in the chart is in ten thousands (万 wàn). So the following figures are missing four zeros at the back.

  1. Kuaishou (快手) users opened the app 161,929 times on February 16th, and Douyin (抖音) users opened the app 134,253 times on February 14th.

  2. Faceu recorded the most DAU with 2,892 DAU at its peak, followed by Meitu Xiuxiu’s DAU of 2,622.

A bike-sharing startup just quit France after the ‘mass destruction’ of its fleet

Digital Trends reported that bike-sharing startup Gobee just quit France after the mass destruction of its fleet.

Its decision to exit Paris comes just over a month after it ended operations in the French cities of Lille and Reims, and also the Belgian capital, Brussels, where Gobee said up to 90 percent of its bikes had been stolen or damaged. The company no longer has any schemes operating in Europe.

What does a society require in order for people to have a greater sense of communal goodwill?

When I was back in Singapore last December, I saw many bikes that were randomly abandoned without consideration for pedestrians and road users. Individuals were more concerned about their own convenience than the next person who would use the bike.

It is a stark contrast to what I see in Shenzhen where the bikes are parked in an orderly manner at designated areas. Sure, there were the odd bikes that were stopped elsewhere but these were also parked at where people would leave their electric bikes, so they weren’t a nuisance to other road users.

In a blog post (translated), Gobee said that destroying the bikes had apparently become “the new hobby of individuals, mostly minors, encouraged by content widely distributed and shared on social networks.”

This case in France is more drastic because the bikes were removed from the public pool by selfish individuals, either for personal use or by damaging the bikes.

Do you witness similar incidents for bike sharing where you live? Or are people there more civic-minded?