Fintech in Indonesia Is Just Getting Started

Today, there is a small but growing crop of tech startups taking aim at both consumer and small business financial services in Indonesia (one of which even participated in the latest Y Combinator batch). While fintech in the country of over 260 million people is still incredible nascent, investment deal activity in the space has picked up over the last two years and is on pace for a new high in 2017 at the current run rate.

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Thoughts on Citizen App

On a Friday in mid-April, I stayed late at the office with a few co-workers to finish a couple items and chat about plans for the upcoming long weekend. The mood was casual and relaxed, until we received a HipChat message from a fellow co-worker who had just left and was met by a big stampede near Penn Station.

It turns out that a false report of gunshots sent hordes of people running out of the station to hide behind garbage cans, dive behind cars, and rush into the nearby Macy’s at Herald Square. For a brief moment, we lacked any information about what was potentially a very dangerous situation unfolding around the corner.

In the short span of time before the confusion settled, we turned to Citizen, a mobile app that sends select alerts of incidents reported to 911 that are happening in your vicinity. 

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How Local Governments Buy Software From Startups

The software sales cycle in government has long been characterized as protracted and painful for startups. No wonder that, on a year-over-year basis, venture capital investment to startups selling into the public sector grew just 2% in 2016.
But attention on government technology startups seems to quietly be picking up. Four years ago, Joe Lonsdale and OpenGov’s Zac Bookman published a white paper highlighting the opportunity for startups in government titled “B2G: The Excitement Of An Old-Line Industry.” More recently, Niko Bonatsos of General Catalyst put forth some thoughts on funding the future of urbanization as well as some of the challenges for VC investors seeking out companies that want to sell to municipalities or local governments. And in January, Alex Pack of the AngelList deal team wrote that “government technology is the sector (he’s) most excited for in 2017.” 
Sentiment around the notorious sales cycle startups face has also seen some shifting perspectives. Nakul Mandan, a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, recently tweeted that government tech is one of three areas he wants to invest behind in 2017 in part because he’s “seeing sales cycles for local government software drop drastically.”
Curious to more thoroughly understand the relationship between startups and local government as buyers, I dug into the board notes of various transit agencies surrounding the purchase of public transit planning software from Remix, a San Francisco-based startup backed by Y Combinator. 

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Insurance Tech Innovation in China

Hoopla around insurance technology in the U.S. is heating up as startups look to re-imagine how insurance is bought, productized, and experienced across small commercial, life, personal property coverage, and more. Still, the insurance tech space as a whole is at an early stage and a host of exciting startup innovation either remains under wraps or is just now getting off the ground. 
Meanwhile, activity in China to date has proven to be incredibly dynamic. Familiar macro-conditions, such as 1.4 billion citizens, 700 million+ Internet users, and massive distribution effects driven by WeChat and Alipay are at play, but China also features a few factors ultimately leading to a more exciting environment for insurance innovation. 

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Kaggle: The Data Behind the Data Science Competitions

Since 2010, Kaggle has hosted (or is currently hosting) 225 public data science competitions. Companies that have posted their data for data miners and statisticians to dig into range from the Otto Group to Santander to Home Depot.

All of Kaggle's past and current public competitions (along with each competition's prize amount, number of teams and deadline) are available publicly, so I thought it would be interesting to look at some data behind the data science competitions. 

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Sizing Up AirBnB's Listings Growth

Just how fast has AirBnB grown on the supply side since its formal launch six years ago? 

I compiled public data around AirBnB's growth of cumulative total active listings over time. It took AirBnB 2.8 years to reach 120,000 active listings and another year to reach 300,000 active listings. In the first 10 months of 2015 alone, AirBnB total active listings have jumped to 1.8 million from 1 million in December 2014. Put another way, AirBnB has added 233% more listings in the past 5 months than it did in its first 2.8 years of existence.

All the public data used in this post is available here. Find me on Twitter @mlcwong.

Breaking Down eSports Tournament Earnings in 5 Charts

With the North America LCS Summer Finals this past weekend in Madison Square Garden, I thought it'd be interesting to get a more complete sense of where the money within global eSports tournaments is flowing. 

To that end, I put together some charts using, a 'community-driven competitive gaming resource based on freely available public information'. From the data, it's clear that Riot and Valve see much differently when it comes to business strategy around eSports tournaments.

Here's what I found.

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