Author Archives: Tan Peng Peng


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Image result for copy funny picture

Throughout business history, we have seen plenty of companies copying successful business models to their own country. Why do some succeed, and some don’t?

Even Harvard Business Review touts that when you can’t innovate, you should copy. However, copying business models is not that simple. Copying wholesale almost guarantees a failure, especially if you are up against an established seller. Ultimately, the bigger businesses will simply gain more market share and render you obsolete, or even buy your business out and making it an unsustainable source of income for yourself.

1. Market your Unique Selling Point (USP) differently
Let’s talk about GroupOn. It is effectively a lead generation business. Same as Yellow Pages (classified advertising) or Google AdWords. Why didn’t they do the same thing? Because GroupOn marketed and integrated into the existing system (Google) differently. Instead of marketing to businesses and making them pay upfront without knowing how much leads will be generated (i.e. how many consumers will click on the ad), GroupOn markets to consumers and allows them to pay for only the specific service/product that they are willing to pay for, at a very steep discount.

2. Define your Pivoting Points
As with my previous posts, I constantly talk about taxi hailing. Companies like Didi, Grab or Bolt have evidently copied Uber’s taxi model. But, it is not sustainable and is expected to continue making losses. However, we have seen Didi and Grab becoming unicorns (fastest growing startups, valued at billions). What’s the difference? They diversified. For example, Grab is diversifying into GrabFinancials (banking), GrabDelivery (logistics), GrabFood (payment) and more.

So, if you’re copying another business model, copy smart!

– Is there an idea you like from another country, and want to implement in your country? What is it?
– Assuming this main idea does not work out, what is your pivoting point? How did you position yourself in the market? How can you expand forward?

Uber: A Taxi Company, or a Technology Company?

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Uber, the revolutionary technology company that widely popularized the concept of sharing economy, has once again been denied its license in London. According to Telegraph, a reputable news source, London is one of the group’s ‘fab five’ cities that account for around a quarter of global revenues. This indeed takes a huge toll on Uber, particularly when it is rumored that they are intending to go public.

This brings a huge concern over Uber. Is it a truly a technology company, or is it a taxi company?  In my previous post, we explored WeWork’s claim on being a technological company, even though they’re obviously a real estate company. In this case, Uber claims itself as a technology company, whereby they do not adhere by the regulations of most transport authority worldwide. For example, in Singapore, taxi drivers are required to obtain a provisional license, which includes a test, before one can be issued a taxi license. When Uber and Grab (which bought out Uber in 2018) came into Singapore, this regulation was bypassed, effectively allowing anyone, so as long they have a car, to provide taxi service via the Uber app. To counter this, Singapore’s Transport Authority took a preemptive approach and implemented a law early this year that requires all Uber and Grab drivers to possess a provisional license in order to be legally allowed on the street. Uber escaped this slaughterhouse as it was bought out by Grab.

Bringing parallel to this case, we see a roughly different situation. Unlike Singapore, London’s transport authority and Uber has failed to come to an agreement. Instead of adopting a collaborative approach, Uber went in hard-headed, opposing the transport authority and insist to weaver their way through legal means. This was the second time that Uber’s license has been revoked. In mid-2018, the company’s license was regranted, and the authority was closely monitoring its situation. However, it was observed that Uber has once again failed to comply with the authority’s guideline.

Personally, I believe that Uber should be treated as the same level of a Taxi company. Essentially, they are providing the same service, with a different pricing system. Uber’s entry into the market has effectively degraded the culture of black cab in London, which is also known as the icon of London. This also creates an unrestricted competition pool where there is a mismatch of supply and demand. One of the transport authority’s main responsibility is to ensure a fair match of supply demand, which will then create a favorable price for the customer, as well as maintaining a reasonable income for the drivers. With such entry, it clearly disrupt the industry as a whole, and the need for regulation is essential.

But what do you think?

  • Is Uber a taxi company, or a technology company? Considering they are branching out to other wings (e.g. 2020’s UberAIR which will provide short flights using VTOL aircraft, Uber Works which matches Temporary workers with potential jobs and employers), there are many arguments that can easily state the opposite too!
  • Or do you think there are any other business opportunities Uber can tap on to better ground themselves as a technology company?
  • What do you think about Uber?

Slikovni rezultat za technology


WeWork: From IPO to Bankruptcy

London Icons: The Black Cab

[Uber, Snapchat, WeWork] Is the Tech Bubble Bursting?

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Tech companies are in flux: many high-profile tech companies are announcing either a job cut or impending bankruptcy.

  1. Last I posted, it was about WeWork’s IPO to bankruptcy announcement.
  2. And just this week alone, we witnessed yet another high profiled tech startup announced a job cut. A London ed tech startup boasting to teach STEM via cloud computing is laying employees off, again.
  3. Uber lost over $5.2 billion (yes, BILLION) in a single quarter alone (tapping into the US$22 billion raised from investors). Lyft is doing something similar.
  4. Snap Inc (owner of Snapchat) is also rapidly running out of funds (despite its US$24 billion listing in 2017).

If we truly were in good times, why would there be such a drastic need to cut jobs, tap into reserve fundings, or even file for bankruptcy?

Image result for grab going down

Just earlier this month, Goldman Sach, an investment bank with a strong line of equity researchers, has issued a warning that the technology stocks are overvalued at the moment. We saw this happen in 2001 during the dot com burst and the 2007 prime mortgage, where equity researchers also hinted over valuation, but was largely ignored by the market.

Even in the links above, it was mentioned that the companies are still holding on, but with a condition: that the market still continues to believe in the value that they bring. So, when the market finally sees the discrepancy (as we did with WeWork’s potential IPO to bankruptcy – see my last post), will the tech bubble burst? Or do you think this is a time with some bad apples jumping onto the bandwagon of calling themselves “tech” companies but have nothing to substantiate themselves with?



WeWork: From IPO to Bankruptcy

More layoffs at pivoting London ed tech startup pi-top

Is a Bubble Forming in Tech Stocks?

WeWork: From IPO to Bankruptcy

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The article pointed out WeWork’s cash crunch as the catalyst of its impeding bankruptcy, but is this true? A once admired “Golden” company valued at US$$47 billion has fallen from grace, and the culprit is none other than Poor Management. This can be further classified into two branches, internal, and external.

Internal: Management staff (CEO, COO, CTO etc.)
External: Strategic/Financial investors

Golden parachute
Historically, we have witnessed countless golden parachutes that seem to contradict the management’s fiduciary duty towards their investors. The most notorious moments were observed in 2008, where the infamous financial crisis happened. For example, CEO Mack Whittle of South Carolina’s largest bank, South Financial Group, retired with a US$18 million severance package, while the bank was bailed out by the US government for US$347 million. In parallel to this situation, Neumann, CEO of WeWork, walked away with buyout package worth US$1.7 billion in share sales and loans as part of Softbank’s rescue deal, despite the company’s brink of destruction. With such measures in place, one could only wonder if the CEO has already foreseen that such event would happen.

Reactive and “try-hard” management
It is clear that WeWork operates on a reactive management philosophy. They typically only react when something “goes wrong”. For example, just last year, WeWork limited it’s free beer and wine policy (yes it is true, despite WeWork being a “work place”, they offer free beer and wine at certain locations), after realizing that this has backfired on their client’s productivity, as well as their cash flow. This initiative will limit the amount of beer per members to “four 12-ounce pours per beer in a single day”. This initiative was already questionable from the start, considering that alcoholism has been one of the leading factor for several anti-social behavior.

What do you think? Were there other reasons why WeWork’s renowned IPO was catastrophically reduced to a bankruptcy?

Golden parachute –
Golden parachute –

Money management (Beer) –
Beer anti social behavior –

E-Economy (Beyond the West): Its Benefits Beyond Itself

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Hello everyone,

Today, I will look at things from the perspective of a non-Westerner! Coming from Asia, I was shocked that even my international business classes focused primarily on companies from the West and neglected some up-and-coming countries which are most definitely revolutionising their industries and economy.

One prominent example is of course China, who has already beat the United States (China 129: US 121) in the number of companies featured on Fortune 500, or even in the number of unicorn start-ups (China 125: US 120). While it may have lagged in the past, China has a domestic size that consists of more than 1/7 of the total population on earth – which means it can model after successful companies and create an entire ecosystem that is entirely their own (as they already did by isolating US companies like Google, Whatsapp, Facebook, Apple Pay to make their own very successful Chinese equivalents: Baidu, WeChat, QQ, Alipay).

The e-economy has allowed China (and many other countries) to increasingly globalise their products beyond their domestic borders, and has brought about much economic prosperity. And of course, China is revolutionary in how they are projected to win the AI race – triumphing both US and Europe. But what is even more fascinating is the repercussions of the Chinese economy investing even in Africa!

Africa — the continent which is often overlooked in discussions about thriving technology — has Rwanda and is benefitting from a 7.5% GDP growth, along with being in line to be one of Africa’s major technology hubs! In 5 years, it achieved 4G coverage of over 95 percent. And with that foundation, start-ups have also been able to introduce a variety of projects – including implementing a cashless tap-and-go system for the Kigali bus system and offering wi-fi on public transportation! Rwanda has also partnered with China’s Alibaba to establish Africa’s first electronic world trade platform, which provides Rwandan enterprises with cloud computing and mobile payment services to enable local companies to sell their products and services outside of Rwanda.

I think it is absolutely heartening to know e-economy benefits beyond the company which is selling the product. With its interconnected networks, e-economy brings economic prosperity for possibly more than one country, helps propagate soft power for the country, changes people’s perceptions of the country, and elevates the citizens’ quality of lives!