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Magazine circulation has been declining in the United States, due in part to a phenomenon called ‘mobile blinders’, where consumers ignore magazine racks at the supermarket because they’re too busy looking at their phones.
This trend underscores the archaic nature of the magazine industry, which is essentially a giant marketing funnel for the products that show up in its pages, be it in fashion, technology, or sports.
Fashion magazines like Vogue, in particular, have enjoyed a vaulted status as tastemakers for millions of women around the world due to their close ties to industry elites. Yet even it isn’t immune to the digital evolution: Vogue publisher Condé Nast has lost USD 500M between 2007 to 2009, leaving the company reeling and figuring out ways to evolve along with changing reader behavior.
In Asia, a combination of tech-related events are converging that may eventually threaten the dominance of fashion magazines. The process of discovering, choosing, and buying fashion goods is being made more efficient by an ecosystem of online services, each fulfilling different but complementary needs for their customers. Read more
Few men can score a date with the sexiest woman in the Philippines, which made me a very lucky bloke indeed. A few months ago, I was on my way to Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore to interview Maria Ressa, an accomplished journalist, counter-terrorism expert, and co-founder of Rappler, an exciting, young online news organization from the Philippines.
Of course, I didn’t know about her hottest woman alive label then. But that did not make me any less nervous: Maria’s accomplishments far outsize her petite stature. A Princeton University graduate and Fulbright Fellow, she worked at CNN for almost two decades, serving as the bureau chief in Manila and then Jakarta. She then became the news and current affairs chief at ABS-CBN, Philippines’ largest television network.
She possesses a deep understanding of terrorist networks, having authored two books on the subject. Her latest work, From Bin Laden to Facebook: 10 Days of Abduction, 10 Years of Terrorism, narrates the gripping story of how she led the crisis team that resolved the kidnapping of her news crew who were en route to interview the leader of Abu Sayyaf, a militant Islamist group from Southern Philippines.
Now, she’s on to her next adventure: Starting a new media company that is reimagining journalism. Read more
While traditional media in the United States have been reeling from the digital media revolution, registering millions in losses, shutdowns, and layoffs, their counterparts in Southeast Asia have been insulated from its devastating effects.
But maybe not for long.
Well aware that the window to adapt is fast closing, the region’s big media are finally getting more serious about investing in technology. Take this recent piece of news as an example: Scoop, a popular digital newsstand in Indonesia, has raised SGD 3M (USD 2.4M) in Series B funding from Kompas Gramedia, the country’s largest media conglomerate.
It’s certainly a good result for Scoop, which previously raised SGD 1M in Series A funding, hinting at a substantial increase in valuation for the company. The service currently has 210k monthly active users, with 90 percent coming from Indonesia.
Willson Cuaca, CEO of Apps Foundry, the company behind Scoop, says that this is the first non-controlling minority stake the media giant has taken in a foreign entity (App Foundry is based in Singapore). Prior to this, Kompas has either been developing its own products or acquiring other companies.
This significant development is no isolated incident. Read more
Scoop, a top digital newsstand app from Indonesia, is expanding to India, Singapore, Malaysia, and Philippines. It has launched localized iOS apps in those countries, adding titles from publishers India Today Group, SPH Magazines from Singapore, and The Philippine Star Group of Publications. Read more
Imgembed (pronounced ‘image-embed’), which has big ambitions to change the way stock photography is paid for and used online, has launched at SXSW 2013. According to Alex Goh, founder of Imgembed, the platform will soon have about 200,000 images and 60,000 image creators from 190 countries from The Creative Finder.
Previously, Imgembed’s image embedding technology — which allows professionals to protect their images online and track where the images are being used — was available only to the community of The Creative Finder, a site where ‘finders’ meet creatives for networking, collaboration and inspiration. Imgembed and The Creative Finder are started by the same Singapore-based team. Read more
e27, a Singapore-based tech blog and startup events organizer, announced today that it has secured USD 613K in funding from B Dash Ventures in Japan, Pinehurst Advisors from Taiwan, Thailand’s Ardent Capital, Dan Neary from Singapore, as well as other angel investors, whose names are undisclosed.
Founded in 2006, e27 — which stands for Entrepreneurs 27, with the number representing the median age for startup founders worldwide — focuses on reporting tech startup news, technology trends, and personalities in the ecosystem. It is also known for running Echelon, an annual tech startup conference held in Singapore. Other events that the company organizes include Echelon Ignite, a conference for younger startup ecosystems, and Founders Drinks, a monthly meetup around Asia.
With the investment, e27 will focus on broadening its operations in Southeast Asia, exploring more partnerships and joint ventures, growing its editorial team, and expanding the Echelon brand to more Asian cities.
This is its second round of investment; it closed the first round in early 2012 with 8Capita. The company was profitable last year, achieving a 20 percent year-on-year increase in revenue generated from a mix of events, advertising, and consultancy.
While events is the main revenue driver, the company foresees more income coming through advertising and content partnerships. It recently also relaunched 27x.co, essentially a database of startups and investors that’s very similar to CrunchBase.
Indonesia’s Scoop, a mobile newsstand app, announced today that it has signed an exclusive deal with Gramedia Book Publishing Group that will see over 10,000 local books and novels from the publisher make its way into SCOOP’s web store, which has also just launched.
The collection adds to Scoop’s existing cache of 9,000 books, magazines, and newspapers. Gramedia is a prolific book publisher in Indonesia that pumps out over 50,000 local books a year, with a tenth of them being new entries.
Users can now proceed to the web store to make purchases. Their items can then be shared with up to five devices, all of which will require the Scoop mobile app to view the book or magazine. The web store is offering discounts of up to 91 percent and will throw in a free second-year subscription for every annual subscription made to a title.
Already a leading digital publisher in Indonesia, Scoop’s new web store can eventually increase its reach in Indonesia and beyond since purchasing on the web is easier than doing so on a smartphone with its limited screen real estate.
TechinAsia, a website that covers technology and startups in Asia, has received a second round of funding, led by Russia-based Simile Venture Partners. East Ventures, which invested in the first seed round in March 2011, also participated. The terms of the investment were not disclosed.
Founded in July 2009 as Penn Olson, the site has undergone quite a bit of changes since then. It rebranded to become TechinAsia last year, and its team now consists of 11 members from Japan, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, and the US. Read more
Ookbee, a mobile e-book marketplace, has announced that it will launch Ookbee Live, a Flipboard-like app, either in December or January. The Thai startup made mentio of it at the Global Brain Alliance Forum in Tokyo on 7 December.
Flipboard is a popular mobile app that lets users curate their social media feeds and turns them into a readable, magazine-like format.
During its presentation, Ookbee also revealed some numbers about its publishing platform:
- 88% market share in e-books in Thailand, making it the country’s top e-book store.
- 2.55M users currently, and its apps have been downloaded 3.27M times
- A gain of 3,930 users every day for the past 30 days.
- 6M books delivered
- Top 5 grossing app on Thai App Store every day for 400 days.
Ookbee has partnered with Thailand’s largest telco AIS and the country’s leading bookstore B2S. It also received an investment of USD2M from Shin Corporation at a USD8M valuation, and was reportedly growing at 5,000 users a day.
They have a combined collection of 600 regional magazine titles and daily newspapers. They reach over 4 million devices, and deliver over 6 million digital publications a year.
Now imagine what would happen if Ookbee of Thailand and SCOOP of Indonesia partner up. That’s exactly what they did, announcing couple of days ago a strategic tie-up in a press release.
Both are already impressive in their home countries. Ookbee has partnered with Thailand’s largest telco AIS and the country’s leading bookstore B2S. It also received an investment of USD2M from Shin Corporation at a USD8M valuation, and was reportedly growing at 5,000 users a day. Read more