From something cool a 9-year old could code, mobile apps have become a knowledge and capital intensive game tangled up in global politics.

Photo by Roberto Cortese on Unsplash

In February 2009, media across the world carried reports of a “whiz-kid” — a 9-year old boy called Lim Ding Wen from Singapore who became the world’s youngest iPhone app developer.

He had created an app called Doodle Kids, which allowed users to draw with their fingers on the iPhone’s screen. It was downloaded over 4,000 times within two weeks.

Of course, it helped that his father was the CTO of a local tech firm and that the boy had been playing with computers since the age of two. By seven, he already knew six different programming languages.

Eight years…

I interviewed founder Matt McGuire on how he broke through rejections from VCs and pitched his way to success on the social app Clubhouse.

SafeStamp® team

They say resourcefulness and grit are two of the most important qualities for an entrepreneur, and no one I’ve met in recent years has embodied that better than Matt McGuire, founder of SafeStamp®.

Perhaps it’s his military training. Perhaps it’s his quietly confident nature. Whatever the reason may be, McGuire’s story of how he overcame his obstacles is something everyone can learn from.

You can’t fake it

McGuire is an American and a former analyst for elite military special operations. While deployed in Iraq, he noticed the amount of fake drugs circulating within the local economy.

This leads to a loss of about US$150–200…

Charging stations will be a huge business with stable, recurring income in the age of EVs, and Star Charge is positioning itself to be the leader in China.

Source: Star Charge website

Star Charge (星星充电) is a Changzhou-based integrated solution provider for electric vehicle (EV) charging. It focuses on charging technologies for automobile companies.

The company’s charging solutions for EVs include large parking lot-like charging centers and smaller individual charging stations in residential complexes. According to statistics from the China Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Promotion Alliance (EVCIPA), as at August 2020 China had a total of 1.38 million charging stations. Of these, 139,000 are operated by Star Charge, which puts it in second place with a market share of about 10%.

The company also claims to have over one million active private…

I spoke to CEO David Lucatch on their plans to create adoption of self-managed digital identities using blockchain and gamification.

Source: Liquid Avatar website

In the near future, we will all spend time as avatar online, exploring virtual reality spaces or playing games. And one startup is looking to build our digital identities for us early in the game.

Liquid Avatar, a company headquartered in Canada, has begun to build the base for a world of virtual personas and self-managed identities (aka self-sovereign identities or SSI) by making its offering attractive to a new generation that’s growing up on online games.

C2B — Turning the tables

Launched on February 18, 2021, on the Apple Store and Google Play, the Liquid Avatar app allows users to create virtual personas of…

Engineer Witono Halim shared with me his decade long journey building electric cars, motorcycles and e-scooters over coffee.

Copyright: MIMO Motor

When he was 10 years old, Witono Halim read about sustainability and renewable energy. He became quite passionate about climate change and vowed not to buy a car until he had succeeded in building his own electric car.

In 2009, Witono became part of a team in the National University of Singapore (NUS) that built an ECO city car. Over the next decade he would go on to be a part of teams that have built a prototype electric taxi, electric motorcycles, and electric scooters.

In 2016 he finally decided to go on his own, and founded MIMO Motor to…

Xin Su Shi’s Protein Lab series of plant-based faux beef products uses high protein content to help customers snack less and eat healthy.

Source: Xin Su Shi Tmall store

Xin Su Shi (新素食), which literally means “new vegetarian food”, is a plant-based meat company from Hangzhou, China. It specializes in selling plant protein products, specifically plant-based faux beef, to both businesses and retail clients.

The brand’s vision is to “make tasty food more healthy and the earth greener”. On Taobao (aka Tmall) it goes by the trademark name “Protein Lab”, or Dan Bai Xiao Miao (蛋白小喵), where it sells faux beef products.

Products sold online include plant-based beef sauce and plant-based beef jerky among others. On Taobao, the plant-based beef jerky is sold at ¥34.80 (US$5.38) for every 100…

Backed by notable angels and VCs, Chinese startup Bello’s AI driven recruitment solutions are attracting a slew of brand name clients.

Source: Bello website

Bello is a Shenzhen-based artificial intelligence (AI) driven human resources solutions provider. It specializes in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products for small and medium-sized companies, as well as designing systematic hiring plans for big companies.

Founded in 2016, Bello focuses on building human resource knowledge graphs and natural language understanding (NLU) technologies. For example, one of its services provides analysis of uploaded resumes using AI.

The company’s website says its software can analyze 25 English or Chinese resumes within one second. For job candidates’ school information, its software can detect keywords from their resumes and also provide background information of the schools.

Netizens expressed outrage and donated more than enough money to the website to pay the fine within five hours of the judgment.

Screenshot from Malaysiakini website

The issue of whether online platforms should be held responsible for user-generated content has long been debated in both legal and public forums. And now the Federal Court of Malaysia, the country’s highest judiciary body, has set a precedent to say ‘yes’.

In a landmark judgment where six out of seven judges on the panel ruled in favor of a guilty verdict, local independent news website Malaysiakini was found guilty of ‘contempt of court’ for five comments its readers had left on an article titled, “CJ orders all courts to be fully operational from July 1”.

Verdict or vendetta?

The article was published…

A new era for venture capital and social media is emerging with this social app, and users could get rich from it if they act now.

Screenshots from my Clubhouse app

It used to be that venture capital investors were the ‘behind-the-scenes’ money managers, quietly working their connections and influence to help startups grow their business.

Not anymore.

With the new social media app Clubhouse, they are moving from coaches on the bench to players on the field.

Money managers cum social media influencers

Beta launched in March 2020, Clubhouse had just 1,500 users in May 2020 but was valued at US$100 million after a US$10 million seed round led by one of the most respected venture capital firm in the world — Andreesen Horowitz (a16z). …

How differences in their content AI strategies affected the speed of growth for two of China’s biggest apps.

Photo by Hello I’m Nik 🎞 on Unsplash

China’s Kuaishou mobile app (known as ‘Kwai’ in the international market) started off in short form video sharing in November 2012. Douyin (the Chinese version of Tik Tok), was released in September 2016, almost four years later. But by early 2019, with about 250 million Daily Active Users (DAU), Douyin had already exceeded Kuaishou in user base.

How did Douyin overtake a four year head start in such a short time?

It owes in part to the differences in their overall business strategy — Kuaishou was often said to be more laid back and focused on product excellence; whereas Douyin…

Lance Ng

Investor | Entrepreneur | Thinker — Clubhouse @lanceng 🔗

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