The value of Crazy Rich Asians and we tackle another Mailbag

Kevin McSpadden
The value of Crazy Rich Asians and we tackle another Mailbag

Can Silicon Valley startups raise in Singapore? Plus, who will be the Lakers’ starting five?

As someone who writes for a living, Crazy Rich Asians has prompted the type of dialogue that I hold in immense esteem.

Every day I am reading about an entirely new perspective or idea I had not heard before — so much so that, except for this article — I have largely punted on the topic because I don’t really know what I think about the whole thing.

Whether it is issues of representation, cultural identity or Hollywood’s role in society, nearly every argument has been thoughtful, respectful and intriguing. Honestly, the only argument I don’t buy is the “can we stop talking about this?” hot take.

We talk about these issues all of the time, every day. The difference is these are conversations usually take place around the Kopi table, or a quick look around before expressing a true opinion during a makan adventure.

Crazy Rich Asians has provided an avenue to discuss these topics in public. Because the conversation was not sparked by a major controversy, people can highlight problems, points of pride or personal issues without touching into an traumatic event.

When issues of race — like the conversation surrounding urban policing in America — are touched off by a tragedy, the argument becomes a fever-pitch and it gets very ugly, very quickly. Although, I will add that just because the debate is nasty, it doesn’t make it less valuable.

At the end of the day, this is a movie. We all like movies and they do play an important role in society, but nobody died and this will not change the lives of audience goers.

That means we can talk about sensitive issues in public and write nice essays about what this movie says about pan-Asianism.

I am lucky enough to have many friends that are Asian, Asian-American and not Asian. I hear a lot of different view points every day, but nobody can hear everything.

Allowing these conversations to happen in public provides people with an avenue to learn about life experiences that are not their own. We get so consumed in our day-to-day lives that we often forget that our Asia is an entirely different universe than our neighbour’s Asia.

Crazy Rich Asians has created a platform whereby people can share their version of Asia. While we may not agree with one another, at least we can better understand ourselves.

Also Read: Hi-tech quality control startup wins She Loves Tech Singapore pitch

Now to some mailbag questions. If you are reading this article and would like to participate in the next version, send me an email at kevin@e27.co . Don’t worry, my email is already a disaster so passing it out here is just dumping a bucket of water into the ocean.

Mailbag!

Can Bay Area/Silicon Valley startups raise money in Singapore?

In short: yes, of course. But let’s get into it a little bit.

I recently met with a Founder who had raised hundreds of millions of dollars in another Asian city. When I meet people like this, I like to ask how the ecosystem is developing. He responded by saying he doesn’t really view investment that way and called finance “fluid”.

He pointed to China and said a person from Chengdu is not going to restrict themselves to the city to raise money, so why should anyone stay within their own ecosystem?

If an entrepreneur from San Francisco is willing to get on a plane and fly to Singapore, that person have a high hurdle to clear, but it’s not impossible.

That being said, as an American, I feel confident saying that we have a particular strength that can also be a huge weakness. Typically, American companies are terrible at localising (except, weirdly, McDonald’s, which is great at it).

Uber is a fantastic example. They ran across the world shoving square pegs into round holes and it worked; until it didn’t.

Because they never localised, regional players were able to integrate solutions to problems that were unique to that region (Grab’s ability to onboard the taxi industry comes to mind). Eventually, the local players were able to catch up and, in the case of Grab, surpass Uber.

So yes, an American company can raise money in Singapore, but entrepreneurs will need to have a clear plan for how that money will be used to improve their company in the context of Southeast Asia.

What is the future of tech media in SEA?

I would imagine this question was prompted by our report about layoffs at Tech In Asia. Honestly, I do not think that particular event has much to do with the tech media landscape as a whole.

To me, tech media in Southeast Asia has never been better. Five years ago, there were essentially two players, Tech In Asia and e27. Now, I can think of half-a-dozen alternatives without any research (Vulcan Post, DealStreetAsia, KR-Asia, DigitalNewsAsia, DailySocial and Techsauce).

Furthermore, as startups continue to become more important to economies, governments and society writ large, the mainstream media will inevitably become competition.

This is all a good thing, but it doesn’t mean tech media is guaranteed to succeed.

Media in general is a tough business, but everyone who got into the game understands the reality. There are a lot of very talented people in the industry making half as much money as they would elsewhere, Much like teaching, if you get into journalism to get rich you are never going to succeed.

Who’s winning NBA Rookie of the Year and why is it Luka Doncic?

It is not going to be Luka Doncic (the third overall pick who was traded to the Dallas Mavericks).

Rick Carlisle won’t allow it to happen.

Doncic is being groomed to be the face of the franchise, which means every time he makes a mistake he will get benched. Carlisle has the long game in his head and he needs Doncic to be an All-Star in 2022, so that means tough love in 2018-2019.

Also, the Mavs are going to be excruciatingly terrible this year so I think he will suffer as the league slowly tunes out of Dallas.

If I were going to bet, I would put my money on Mo Bamba of the Orlando Magic. I think sophemore sensation Jonathan Issac will make the biggest jump in the NBA this year, which will mean a lot of alley oops and put-back buckets for Bamba.

Is there a ‘social good’ point to entrepreneurship, or is it always going to boil down to money-making?

To me, the most important ‘social good’ for entrepreneurship is job creation — which is not minimising how important that is. I think job creation is the most important step to solving our world’s most pressing problems. It is only with personal and financial stability can someone start to think about improving their surroundings.

In my last mailbag, I expressed a viewpoint that most of the meaningful change in society comes from community engagement and neighbourhood initiatives.

If a company gets involved in these types of activities, then yes, they have created a “social good” point to entrepreneurship.

The narrative I do not buy is that technology is the magic bullet to fix problems. More than most industries, technologists believe they are making the world a better place, which, if they are a decent person, they are, but no more so than anyone else.

Anecdotally, all of the organisations that are truly making a difference have been focussed on bringing a community together to solve a local problem. Then, when we zoom out, all of these thousands of community-builders add up to a better world.

Who will be the Lakers new starting 5?

What it will be:

Lonzo Ball
Kyle Kouzma
Brandon Ingram
LeBron James
Ivica Zubac

Also Read: Exclusive: Vietnamese VC firm Startup Viet Partners debuts with US$5M fund

What it should be:

Rajon Rondo
Brandon Ingram
Kyle Kouzma
Josh Hart
LeBron James

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Well it’s obvious right? He was reacting the calls of pain from his fellow chicken after Link was using his sword to test the invincibility of said chickens.

In the land of Zelda, if a chicken shrieks more than four or five times, it requires an immediate rallying of the brotherhood to destroy Link and teach him a lesson about chickens.

In this particular case, it meant the chicken had to cross the road.

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

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