Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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Thoughts on India

In October I took my first trip to India. It was absolutely amazing and I came back incredibly excited about how the world is changing. I wrote down a few observations (which I also Tweeted) that I thought I would share here:

  • Driving and crossing streets is amazing: Seems to work against all odds. What seems like chaos is actually reasonably well organized.
  • In a country of 1 billion+ even smaller locales (<1 million) take on city dynamics (local small shops > large chains, heavy traffic).
  • Anecdotally, the smartphone penetration was much lower than I would have thought. Most people haven’t upgraded yet.
  • When I asked why not more smartphones, most people said data services weren’t there. (Slow 3G/no 4G)
  • Really interesting mix of optimism and pessimism. Optimism for growth and world status, pessimism for government and infrastructure.

While I’m on the topic of India, I ran across the interesting article on Uber’s success there. India is Uber’s second biggest market, but it’s currently having a bit of a headache there due to laws around storing credit card numbers. From the article:

India has stringent rules on recurring payments using credit cards: For a “card not present” transaction, as in most online or in-app payments, the RBI requires a mandatory two-step authentication system, with a verification code that is sent to a customer via text message or email. The customer then enters the code to finish the transaction.

I bring this up mostly because these sort of country-specific regulations never really occur to us as we imagine how businesses will scale. It’s not to say Uber won’t get over this (they’re already working with a payment provider to get around the issue), but it does present interesting realities to global scaling that aren’t often discussed.

December 1, 2014