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HONG KONG (Reuters) – China’s biggest social network and gaming firm Tencent Holdings, which last week reported forecast-beating quarterly results, is close to making Malaysia the first foreign country to roll out its WeChat ecosystem, an executive told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: Tencent’s booth is pictured at the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) 2017 in Beijing, China April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo
If you’re using a messaging app in China, chances are it’s owned by Tencent – a leading provider of web-based services in China that owns WeChat, as well as a whole host of social media platforms, entertainment subsidiaries and payment services. With an increasing amount of global brand awareness, the time had come for Tencent to expand its corporate typographic voice in line with its ambitions. The company approached Monotype to design a bespoke typeface, based on its existing logo, that could convey its vision of “innovation, responsibility and enablement”.

Tencent has made a “breakthrough” in gaining an e-payment license in Malaysia for local transactions, and plans a launch early next year, senior vice president S.Y. Lau said in an interview.

The move pits Shenzhen-based Tencent against rival Alibaba Group as they scramble for new growth opportunities outside China. Tencent this week became the first Asian firm to enter the club of companies worth more than $500 billion, and on Tuesday surpassed Facebook in market value.

“Malaysia is actually quite large in the sense that we have 20 million WeChat users, huge potential, and the market is quite warm towards internet products from China,” Lau said.

Southeast Asia, home to more than 600 million people and some of the world’s fastest-growing economies, has been a key battleground for China’s tech titans fighting for deals. Ethnic Chinese make up more than a fifth of Malaysia’s population.

WeChat Pay and Alibaba’s Alipay, which dominate China’s digital payment market, have sought to expand their global footprint, although that push has so far been limited to payment services for Chinese outbound tourists. They can scan-and-pay for purchases in 34 countries or regions via Alipay and 13 via WeChat Pay, according to the companies.

Alipay’s parent company Ant Financial has joint ventures in seven markets for local digital payments services, which operate independently under the partnerships’ brand names.

Alibaba is looking to build a global payment system, while Tencent is more interested in generating traffic for WeChat – two different strategies, some bankers and investors say.

WeChat has more users, but Alipay’s aggregate transaction volume is higher, according to JP Morgan’s John Hall, though other investors note that WeChat Pay can also process large transactions if it’s used on e-commerce platforms.

GLOBAL EXPANSION

One challenge for Tencent, say analysts, is that its success in China cannot be easily exported to other markets.

Tencent is “not in a hurry” to speed up its overseas expansion or increase the monetization rate of its digital assets, Lau said.

“We walk our own path at our own pace … and, to be honest, there is really quite a lot to do in China,” he said.

WeChat, which has ballooned from a messaging app to an all-in-one platform with 980 million monthly active users, could be the “killer product” to spearhead expansion abroad, Lau said, as its embedded payment function draws more services.

WeChat, with an open platform of mini-programs, was a key revenue contributor for Tencent in the third quarter. Social and other advertising revenue rose 63 percent, while payment and cloud helped “other business” post a 143 percent jump

“Honour of Kings”, Tencent’s top-grossing battle game that led an 84 percent increase in quarterly smartphone gaming revenue, also owes its success to the network help of WeChat, and is expected to find it tougher to crack Western markets, analysts say.

Tencent this month delayed the launch of the game’s U.S. edition, “Arena of Valor”, to next year to “further polish additional gameplay and social features”.

After games and social media, most of Tencent’s other businesses are in digital content, including Spotify equivalent Tencent Music and YouTube equivalent Tencent Video, which also makes its own dramas.

CULTURE CHALLENGE

Lau said the ultimate aim was to export culture from China to the rest of the world, rather than the other way round, which he acknowledged was challenging.

“What we’re aiming to create is ‘super IPs’ (intellectual property) that leverage our different businesses from upstream to downstream,” Lau said, citing Disneyland and the James Bond movies as successful practices in the West.

A big business for Tencent’s recently listed publishing arm, China Literature, is to sell its popular novels and have them turned into dramas and video games by Tencent’s other business lines.

Tencent this month announced a plan involving 10 billion yuan ($1.51 billion) of investment to boost its creative content ecosystem, though it gave no time frame for the investment.

Company president Martin Lau – no relation to S.Y. – said on an earnings call last week that Tencent would keep investing in digital content, especially online video, to draw more time from more paying customers.

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Overseas acquisitions will remain a key way of enhancing Tencent’s global access and competitiveness, S.Y. Lau said.

Independent technology analyst Richard Windsor said Tencent’s 2016 acquisition of Supercell gave it a strong position in gaming, while the move to buy a stake in social media firm Snapchat is another piece in the jigsaw.

“It increasingly looks as if Tencent is embarking on a circumnavigation of the digital life pie in order to build an ecosystem to challenge the Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook dominance of consumer digital services,” he said, noting it’s at a “super early stage” in that process.

Tencent will likely seek more overseas acquisitions, Windsor added, which, beyond being expensive, could challenge Tencent in integrating all its digital assets at home and abroad.

Tencent has struggled to monetize its dominance over the Chinese digital life, he said, adding that’s why he sees more upside in Tencent’s market valuation, and prefers it to Alibaba.

Henry Sapiecha

Major purchase: Facebook is buying messenger app WhatsApp for $21 billion. Photo: AP

MICROSOFT WHATS APPlogos image www.socialselect.net

Facebook has agreed to acquire mobile-messaging app WhatsApp for as much as $US19 billion ($21 billion) in cash and stock, seeking to expand its reach among users on mobile devices.

The deal includes $US12 billion in stock, $US4 billion in cash and $US3 billion in restricted shares, Facebook said in a statement on Wednesday in the US (Thursday morning AEDT).

WhatsApp has more than 450 million members, with 1 million users being added daily, said.

“WhatsApp is on a path to connect 1 billion people,” Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said. “The services that reach that milestone are all incredibly valuable.”

The purchase would be the biggest internet deal since Time Warner’s $US124 billion merger with AOL in 2001.

“They seem to have made a pretty strong statement with this acquisition – that they are willing to broaden their portfolio of apps and not just put all of their eggs in one basket” said Debra Aho Williamson, an analyst at EMarketer. “Facebook has come to the realisation that it needs a portfolio of apps to reach people with different use cases, different demographics, or different ways of communicating.”

Facebook, which acquired photo-sharing service Instagram for about $US700 million in 2012, is counting on applications beyond its main social network to reach more users on smartphones and tablets. WhatsApp competes with Snapchat, which rebuffed a $3.2 billion offer from Facebook last year, as well as services from Twitter and Kik.

“Facebook is clearly taking out one of its main competitors,” said Paul Sweeney, a Bloomberg Industries analyst. “They are buying 450 million loyal users and an extraordinary growth story, but at a staggering cost.”

California-based WhatsApp, which is popular in Europe and Australia, lets users send messages on mobile devices on different operating systems including Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android, Microsoft’s Windows Phone and BlackBerry.

Unlike traditional text messages, which consumers pay for through their mobile plans, WhatsApp is free for the first year, and then costs 99 cents a year after that. It also competes with China’s WeChat, South Korea’s KakaoTalk, and Japan’s Line, as well as Facebook’s own app, Facebook Messenger. Facebook’s Instagram also launched its own messaging feature – Instagram Direct – late last year.

“They just took out their primary threat and they recognise that overnight it makes them the leader in the mobile messaging space,” said Jim Patterson, CEO of Cotap, a messaging service for businesses. “It was clearly the first mobile app other than Facebook that was going to get to 1 billion users.”

WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum co-founded the company with Brian Acton in 2009 after almost a decade as an engineer at Yahoo. Venture capital firm Sequoia Capital invested $US8 million in WhatsApp in 2011.

While Facebook has touted its progress adding more advertising revenue on mobile devices, Koum has been strict about keeping ads out of WhatsApp.

Koum said in a statement on the company’s website that WhatsApp will remain autonomous and operate independently.

“WhatsApp’s extremely high user engagement and rapid growth are driven by the simple, powerful and instantaneous messaging capabilities we provide,” he said. “We’re excited and honoured to partner with Mark and Facebook as we continue to bring our product to more people around the world.

“There would have been no partnership between our two companies if we had to compromise on the core principles that will always define our company, our vision and our product.”

Facebook also confirmed in a blog post that WhatsApp will continue to operate independently and retain its own brand.

“WhatsApp will remain autonomous and operate independently. You can continue to enjoy the service for a nominal fee. You can continue to use WhatsApp no matter where in the world you are, or what smartphone you’re using. And you can still count on absolutely no ads interrupting your communication. There would have been no partnership between our two companies if we had to compromise on the core principles that will always define our company, our vision and our product.

Zuckerberg first reached out to Koum in early 2012, when the two met for coffee at a German bakery in Los Altos, California, and ended up talking for more than two hours, according to a source with knowledge of the matter. They have since met frequently, going to dinner and on hikes, said the source, who asked not to be named because the process isn’t being discussed publicly.

Koum went to Zuckerberg’s house in Palo Alto for dinner on February 9, and the conversation became more serious. The two talked about how they could work together more closely on Zuckerberg’s Internet.org initiative for connecting the world on mobile devices, and the conversation evolved into acquisition talks in the next 10 days, with Zuckerberg suggesting Koum join Facebook’s board. On Valentine’s Day, Koum came by Zuckerberg’s house with chocolate-covered strawberries that the two shared as they hammered out pricing points, the source said.

The deal is the largest ever for Facebook, and prices WhatsApp at more than half of Twitter’s market value. Facebook shares fell as much as 5.7 per cent to $US64.18 in extended trading after the acquisition was announced. They rose 1.1 per cent to $US68.06 at the close in New York.

Henry Sapiecha

black diamonds on white line

DAVID KARP’S TUMBLR SELLS TO YAHOO FOR $1.1B

Five years ago, tech prodigy David Karp was determined that the business he founded in his mother’s small New York apartment would not be absorbed by a multinational firm.

“We would really rather not be gobbled up by a big media company,” then 21-year-old Karp, the creator of the blogging platform Tumblr, said in an interview with the New York Observer.

I’m always so surprised when people fill their homes up with stuff 

But what if someone was throwing $US1.1 billion cash at you?

Tumblr CEO David Karp.

Tumblr CEO David Karp.

Karp, 26, now looks set to become the latest tech billionaire with reports that Yahoo’s board has approved a deal to purchase Tumblr for

$US1.1 billion in cash.

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It’s a mind-boggling amount of money for anyone, let alone a once socially awkward teenager who dropped out of high school at the age of 15.

Remarkably it was Karp’s mother, teacher Barbara Ackerman, who suggested her son drop out of high school at the age of 15 so he could be home-schooled and continue an internship at an animation production company, Frederator Studios.

Yahoo! are expected to pay $US1.1 billion for Tumblr.

Yahoo is expected to pay $US1.1 billion for Tumblr. Photo: AFP

Karp’s mother recognised that, while her son was not particularly engaged with his classes or his fellow students, he seemed to thrive at the internship where he could talk easily with the company’s coders and engineers.

It was a passion he had developed early, teaching himself how to code HTML at the age of 11.

Karp’s mother told the New York Times that she could feel the sense of relief through her hand on her son’s shoulder when she floated the idea to him.

Soon his career was taking off.

When an entrepreneur named John Maloney sought technical help with his start-up, UrbanBaby.com, a Frederator employee recommended Karp.

The project had to be done in a couple of days, but Karp did it in four hours. At the age of 16, Karp was made UrbanBaby’s head of product, and he was given some equity in the company.

The following year Karp moved to Tokyo, where he lived for five months on his own.

It was there that he cooled on the idea of making robots, and instead decided to become an entrepreneur.

He told The Guardian that initially he would lie about his age when dealing with clients.

“I was so silly – I tried to be very formal and put on a deep voice to clients over the phone so I didn’t have to meet them and give away how young I was,” he said.

“I lied about my age. I lied about the size of my team. I lied about my experience. I was so terribly embarrassed about it for so long. I should have just owned up.”

When he moved back to New York, Karp set up his own software consultancy company, Davidville.

But he soon became fascinated by a new short-form of blogging called a “tumblelog”.

Karp told the New York Observer that he “kept waiting” for one of the established blog platform players to set up a platform for tumblelogging and, when that didn’t happen, he did it himself.

Karp founded Tumblr in 2007 at age 21 from the bedroom of his mother’s apartment in New York.

Sometimes described as Twitter meets YouTube and WordPress, Tumblr lets its users curate pictures, videos and text in one place online. The site gained 75,000 users in the first fortnight.

Tumblr now says it has more than 108 million blogs, 50 billion postings in 12 languages and 175 employees.

The website ranking site Alexa lists Tumblr as number 32 in terms of global popularity, and this year Karp made the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in the media category.

But despite his success, Karp prefers not to live an opulent life.

He currently lives with his girlfriend Rachel Eakley, a chef and psychology graduate student, in a sparse apartment in Brooklyn.

“I don’t have any books. I don’t have many clothes,” Karp told Forbes. “I’m always so surprised when people fill their homes up with stuff.”

The deal, if confirmed, would be the largest for Yahoo since Marissa Mayer took over as chief executive last year and could help the struggling internet pioneer regain traction with younger internet users.

Neither Yahoo nor Tumblr has commented on the report.

But Mayer has scheduled a news conference in New York on Monday at which the company said it will unveil “something special”.
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Henry Sapiecha

 

YAHOO BUYS TUMBLR FOR $1.1BILLION

The board of Yahoo! has agreed to a deal to purchase the popular blogging platform Tumblr for $US1.1 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

Yahoo! did not immediately return AFP’s calls for confirmation, but CEO Marissa Mayer has scheduled a news conference in New York on Monday at which the company said it will unveil “something special.”

Reports last week said Yahoo! is eyeing the move to attract more users from the key 18- to 24-year-old age bracket, and that the Internet pioneer sees the fast-growing Tumblr as one of the “coolest” sites with young internet users

Yahoo! has been looking at a range of acquisitions since Mayer took over as chief executive last year and vowed to revive the company, which has faded in the face of competition from Google.

Founded in 2007 and headquartered in New York, Tumblr says it has more than 107 million blogs, 50 billion postings in 12 languages and 175 employees. The website ranking site Alexa lists Tumblr as number 32 in terms of global popularity.

If the acquisition takes place, it would be the biggest for Yahoo! under Mayer and come in the wake of other pricey deals for startups, such as Facebook’s acquisition of the photo app Instagram for stock worth $US1 billion at the time

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Henry Sapiecha

 

 

NEW TECH SUMMLY & THE YAHOO BUYOUT TO A 17YEAR OLD

Cloud 9 for the young Nick D’Aloisio techie

At just 17, former Perth and Melbourne resident Nick D’Aloisio is now one of the world’s youngest self-made multimillionaires, after tech giant Yahoo acquired his firm for a reported $28.7 million.

His technology Summly aims to change the way we read emails, news articles or any other text on our computers and smartphones by using algorithms to summarise text in under 400 characters.


I-Tech - Computer Hardware and Software Australia

I like shoes, I will buy a new pair of Nike trainers and I’ll probably get a new computer but at the moment I just want to save and bank it. I don’t have many living expenses.

Summly founder Nick D’Aloisio.

Yahoo did not disclose the terms of the deal, but The Wall Street Journal‘s AllThingsD blog said Yahoo would pay $US30 million ($28.7 million), mostly in cash, with 10 per cent in stock.

Nick D'Aloisio.
Summly founder Nick D’Aloisio, 17.

Before the Yahoo deal, D’Aloisio received a collective $US1.5 million in investment funds from people including celebrities Ashton Kutcher and Stephen Fry and billionaire Li Ka-shing.

Speaking from his family home in London, where he has lived since leaving Australia when he was seven, D’Aloisio said he was excited about the deal with Yahoo, believing it would help assist in developing the Summly technology further and integrating it with Yahoo’s offerings.

His technology summarises text using algorithmic technologies, allowing for simplified dot point summaries of anything on the web such as search results. It has many uses and could even be used to summarise emails, social networking posts and product descriptions.

The Summly app.
The Summly app.

The deal with Yahoo will see his company’s iPhone app Summly shut down. D’Aloisio said the app had been downloaded almost 1 million times in the past five months and generated about 90 million summaries.

While active it received Apple’s Best Apps of 2012 award for Intuitive Touch and had a contract to display content from News Corp publications.
I-Tech - Computer Hardware and Software Australia

The purchase has led some in the media to question why Yahoo would want to acquire the technology. Technology news website Wired suggested it was so that Yahoo could be cool again.

The Summly app summarised news in under 400 words.
The Summly app summarised online news articles in under 400 characters.

“There’s no logical explanation for Yahoo’s reported $US30 million acquisition of Summly,” wrote Wired‘s Ryan Tate. “The team and technology are unexceptional and the app itself will be shut down. What Yahoo really gets for its big cheque is momentum and buzz. In other words, Yahoo bought Summly to appear cool again.”

D’Aloisio said it was “technically true” that he was now a millionaire after sealing the Yahoo deal, but added that he had no immediate plans to do anything with the money.

“Obviously the money is going to be in a fund and I’ll work with my parents to save it,’ he said. “I’m just focused now on working for Yahoo and kind of taking everything to the next level.

“I like shoes, I will buy a new pair of Nike trainers and I’ll probably get a new computer but at the moment I just want to save and bank it. I don’t have many living expenses,” he told the London Evening Standard.

D’Aloisio told Fairfax Media last year that he began his journey with computers when he was eight, using Apple’s movie making software iMovie before progressing to the more professional video software Final Cut Pro.

“I basically begged my parents for six months to get [an Apple] computer,” he said of his father, an investment banker, and his mother, a lawyer. “And when I finally got it, instead of using it for just watching videos or browsing the web, I kind of had an interest to create things.”

A lot of D’Aloisio’s coverage in the media has been positive, with some describing him as “telegenic” and a “wunderkind“. But the coverage wasn’t always so glowing.



In 2011 an app writer for technology website Gizmodo, Casey Chan, published D’Aloisio’s Trimit app (now Summly) as “worst app of the week” after D’Aloisio bombarded his office with emails.

“Over the course of a few days, D’Aloisio … barraged me with over a hundred emails about Trimit,” Chan said in a post entitled “How I made a 15-year-old app developer cry“.

“I saw him go from calm to excited to a nervous wreck …” (In comparison, Fairfax was sent six emails chasing up when last year’s article would be published.)

Asked for a response last year to the Gizmodo post, D’Aloisio said his actions occurred at a “very early stage of development”. “Obviously I’m still learning and really excited about everything that’s happened with Summly,” he said. “Dealing with the current media attention is something I’m unexpectedly going to have to get used to.”

In a statement, Yahoo said it was excited to share that it was acquiring Summly and that D’Aloisio and a team would join the technology giant “in the coming weeks”.

I-Tech - Computer Hardware and Software Australia

D’Aloisio will be based at Yahoo’s central London office.

“At the age of 15, Nick D’Aloisio created the Summly app at his home in London,” Yahoo said in its statement. “It started with an insight — that we live in a world of constant information and need new ways to simplify how we find the stories that are important to us, at a glance.”

Yahoo said most articles and web pages were formatted for browsing with mouse clicks and that “the ability to skim them on a phone or a tablet can be a real challenge — we want easier ways to identify what’s important to us”.

Former Google executive Marissa Mayer took over at Yahoo in July 2012 as part of efforts by the struggling internet search pioneer to reinvent itself.

D’Aloisio said he was excited to be working with Mayer.

“The thing that’s really exciting me about Yahoo is the fact that Marissa Mayer is now their CEO, who is a product person,” he said.

With AFP
CardioTech

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

SKYPE VIDEO AND FACEBOOK MARRIAGE

Facebook, the world’s largest social network, is stepping up competition with Google by teaming with Skype to offer free video calls.

Facebook also said it has more than 750 million users, up from 500 million, in an announcement today at an event in Palo Alto, California, where it is based. Microsoft, a long- time Facebook partner, is acquiring Skype in a $US8.5 billion deal expected to close later this year.

Video chats can help Facebook fend off competition from Google, which introduced a social network with that feature last week, and offer an alternative to Apple’s FaceTime for the iPhone. Chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg is using partnerships and media features to increase Facebook’s audience and avert user defections.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, left, watches a demonstration of the new Facebook video chat during a news conference at Facebook headquarters.Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, left, watches a demonstration of the new Facebook video chat during a news conference at Facebook headquarters. Photo: AFP

“You’re going to have more and more competition between Facebook and Google,” said Ben Schachter, an analyst at Macquarie Capital. “The two companies are going to be battling it out for some time to come.”

Facebook also unveiled a multi-person chat feature that lets several people hold online conversations at the same time.

‘Cool new scenarios’

Skype CEO Tony Bates, left, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hold a news conference at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California.Skype CEO Tony Bates, left, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hold a news conference at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California. Photo: Reuters

“We’re using the best technology that’s out there for doing video chat with the best social infrastructure that’s out there in order to create some really cool new scenarios,” Zuckerberg said during a presentation at the event.

Facebook began holding talks with Skype about offering web video calls on its social network in 2010, a person familiar with the discussions said earlier this year. An October update to Skype included voice calling between Facebook friends. Microsoft agreed to buy Skype in May.

“This is a really strategic long term deal between Skype and Facebook,” said Neil Stevens, vice president and general manager for consumer at Skype . “This isn’t just a one shot one deal implementation of a product. This is a long term relationship.”

Google’s new site, called Google+, includes Google’s maps and images, messages, comments and other content from selected groups of friends, as well as a video chat feature.

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, invested $US240 million in Facebook in 2007 and entered an agreement to sell ads on the social network.

Facebook is forging ties with other media and technology companies. It added Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to its board of directors in June and discussed incorporating more social features into the online video-streaming service. In March, Time Warner’s Warner Bros. studio announced plans to offer movie rentals on Facebook for $US3.

Facebook is valued at $US71 billion on SharesPost Inc., an exchange for shares of private companies.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


YouTube founders’

Delicious new venture

April 28, 2011 – 11:39AM

Yahoo! has sold Delicious to YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, who promised to continue and grow the popular social bookmarking site.

Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Hurley and Chen, who sold YouTube to Google for $US1.65 billion in 2006, said they planned to integrate Delicious with their new San Mateo, California-based internet company AVOS.

“We’re excited to work with this fantastic community and take Delicious to the next level,” AVOS chief executive Hurley said in a statement.

“We see a tremendous opportunity to simplify the way users save and share content they discover anywhere on the web,” Hurley said.

The YouTube co-founders said they would seek to use Delicious to “develop innovative features to help solve the problem of information overload.”

“We see this problem not just in the world of video, but also cutting across every information-intensive media type,” Chen said.

Yahoo! said it will continue to operate Delicious until July, when users will transitioned over to AVOS.

Yahoo! said the sale of Delicious was part of a product strategy that “involves shifting our investment with off-strategy products to put better focus on our core strengths and fund new innovation.”

“We believe this is the right move for the service, our users and our shareholders and look forward to watching the Delicious technology develop,” Yahoo! said.

Delicious, which has millions of users around the world, was launched in 2003 and bought by Yahoo! in 2005.

AFP   Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha