Jottings: Will Twitter Be Next?
With news of its $26.2-billion sale to Microsoft taking the world by surprise, Microsoft’s own stock fell 2.6 per cent while LinkedIn’s rose 48 per cent
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With news of its $26.2-billion sale to Microsoft taking the world by surprise, Microsoft’s own stock fell 2.6 per cent while LinkedIn’s rose 48 per cent. Amidst this, Twitter’s stock went up 6 per cent. Nothing has spiked the figure for the micro-blogging service in recent times as much as the news of the sale of LinkedIn. The instant question on everyone’s mind was whether Twitter would be next. And most believe it could well be. In fact, it’s also predicted that many smaller social networks will be looking to be picked up as they struggle with revenue and user growth. Facebook is beginning to integrate so many features and services within its platform, that other networks, none of which have half as many users, have to accept being marginalised. All are experiencing slower growth and crushed stocks. For Twitter, things have not improved even after a change of CEO. Could Google be interested in buying Twitter? Google already incorporates Twitter results in its search. Few of the tech giants really need Twitter. News organisations may not have the means. A Chinese company is not being ruled out.
— Mala Bhargava
The Global Nutrition Report 2016 reminds us that we live in an unequal world, where 2 billion of the 7 billion on earth, suffer from micronutrient malnutrition. The annual study is somewhat of a report card on nutrition levels around the world. India — whose economy the International Monetary Fund has certified to be on full throttle, growing at more than 7 per cent annually — is “off course with progress” on global nutrition targets, except six states in India.“The state nutrition missions of India are an example of where laudable commitment has not, to date, been fully backed up with targets,” the report says. In India, the phenomenon is usually recognised as the bubbly of political largesse that quickly goes flat.
— Madhumita Chakraborty
Bracing For Chinese Invasion
Amazon chief Jeff Bezos has taken an aggressive stance on India by increasing the company’s total investment in the country by $3 billion totalling $5 billion. Reason: it now not only has to compete with local rivals Flipkart and Snapdeal but also with Chinese Internet conglomerate Alibaba which is all set to further intensify the e-commerce battle in India. Paytm, in which Alibaba owns a majority stake, is reportedly putting in concrete plans to spin off its marketplace business in India, which will allow Alibaba to organically expand in India. Alibaba already owns about 5 per cent in Snapdeal. Media reports suggest that it is in talks with Indian logistics startups Delhivery and Xpressbees Logistics in an attempt to complete the triangle of businesses in e-commerce, logistics and payments. Amazon will indeed have an intense battle with Alibaba. The Chinese are here!
— Ayushman Baruah
Giving Wings To Connectivity
Twenty months after the first draft of the New Civil Aviation Policy 2016 (NCAP 2016) was unveiled and eight months after the second was put up for discussion and feedback, the government has finally cleared it. It proposes to take flying to the masses through a slew of policy initiatives and fiscal and monetary support. The key focus of NCAP 2016 is on affordability, connectivity and ease of doing business. The stress is on connecting the unconnected regions of India through the regional connectivity scheme, thereby boosting tourism which in turn will help create jobs and stimulate the economy especially in tier 2 and -3 cities. For the industry and its sub-sectors such as cargo, helicopters, general aviation and Make in India, etc., NCAP 2016 will provide a fillip with liberalised operational norms and tax breaks. It will also help domestic airlines fly abroad as the 5/20 rule has been replaced with 0/20. “This effectively translates to 3/20 (three years/20-aircraft fleet) as it will take at least 3-4 years to have a 20-aircraft fleet,” says Amber Dubey, partner and head, Aerospace and Defence, KPMG India. Dubey terms NCAP a “herculean task” for civil aviation secretary R. N. Chaubey who had to bring all stakeholders together, many of whom had conflicting interests. Good job indeed!
— Ashish Sinha
Bad News For Startups
With the burgeoning e-commerce sector coming under the ambit of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) law, startups operating in this area are in for a jolt. While the move is aimed at resolving various tax issues these ventures face in different states, it comes at a time when the sector is going through a rough phase due to dwindling funds and increased losses. After raising capital in hordes last year from private and venture capital investors, several startups have failed to scale up their businesses to the next level. As per the model GST draft, tax will be levied on all online purchases at the first point of transaction. While the reform will bring in indirect taxes to create one national market, questions arise on the definition of ‘goods’ and ‘services’ at a time when online companies are grappling with another complex tax framework that includes VAT / CST, excise, and / or service taxes. All in all, it may throw up certain challenges for the new economy sector!
— Paramita Chatterjee
No Photo Zone
India has thumbed its nose at Google for trying to map its streets and tourist destinations, hills and rivers and landscapes as part of the company’s Street View project. A categorical no from the Ministry of Home Affairs has put paid to any plan to integrate 360-degree panorama photographs into Google Maps. According to Twitter polls, the largest chunk of respondents don’t care one way or the other, though an almost equal percentage feel sorry that they will not be able to see Indian destinations in surround photographs. It is quite possible that such photography will be disallowed for other companies including those working on virtual reality content and services to promote tourism, create educational material, etc.
The overwhelming concern here is, of course security. Pakistani American terrorist David Coleman Hadley’s use of photography in the 23/11 terrorist attack in Mumbai is still starkly remembered. Sadly, anyone with a phone can not only shoot 360-degree photographs even in prohibited areas but also use video streaming to relay the live picture to someone else. The threats remain undiminished.
— Mala Bhargava