Weekend Roundup

PakWired News Weekend Roundup – Episode 2

Hello everyone! We’ve compiled a fresh list of top tech and startup stories from the week that passed. So sit back, relax and have a good read!

Period Covered: October 24 (Saturday) to October 30 (Friday)

1. Pakistan-Origin Tech Company ‘Inov8’ Scores $100 Million Valuation

Summary: A Pakistani-origin tech company Inov8, headquartered in Dubai (UAE), was recently valued at $108 million following an equity injection worth $5.4 million from Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE’s Minister of Culture, Youth and Social Development.

Inov8 has been a market leader in mobile cash-payment solutions. Its client list in Pakistan includes all the telecom operator ( Zong, Telenor, Warid, Ufone and Mobilink) and renowned banks such as Meezan Bank, Askari Bank and JS Bank. With this renewed valuation, Inov8 plans to expand its operations in African and the Middle Eastern markets.

The company was founded by cousins Bashir Sheikh and Hasnain Sheikh who are alums of the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Click here for more.

2. PlanX To Hold Another ‘Demo Day’ in November

Summary: It’s startup season again! If you’re a group of tech entrepreneurs short of funds and want to pitch your ideas to some of the biggest names in IT in the hopes of getting angel investments, Plan X is just your godsend.

Last year’s Demo Day witnessed over 100 startups showcasing their ideas/products to more than 500 visitors. Participants in this year’s edition (to be held on 11 November) will also get the benefit of meeting the industry’s leading mentors for professional guidance and motivation. As most of you might know, PlanX is an evolutionary successor to the successful Plan 9 launched by the Punjab Information Technology Board. Dozens of innovative geniuses started in their incubation project and now run successful companies.

Click here to register as a startup (closing date 7 November) or click here if you’d like to register as a visitor.

To the interested people out there, we might consider giving your project some coverage if you *cough cough* let us in on some of your ideas *cough cough*

3. Say Goodbye To Those Annoying Candy Crush Requests!

Summary: We honestly thought this news was a joke. Many of the PakWired crew members were rubbing their eyes in disbelief, “Yeah yeah…whatever…must be a hoax”.

We can confirm it isn’t.

During a Q/A Session after his landmark address in India, someone asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg a million dollar question:

“I don’t want any more invitations to Candy Crush. How can I stop it?”

God bless whoever wrote this because Zuckerberg didn’t ignore this question. In fact, he reiterated how he considers users’ priority his own. The statement reflects a growing awareness in the Facebook community about protection from unwanted spam and annoying notifications. The social media giant takes its user experience very seriously.

The good news is, it’s not just Candy Crush but all those other XYZ apps/games which send you those pesky alerts. Come let us pray for the noble soul who relieved us of this nuisance!

4. LINE Messenger App ‘In Big Trouble’

Summary: The company which operates the free call/messaging app ‘LINE’ has said that it’s going on a downhill. Reportedly, the app has 212 million monthly active users and it has only managed to increase 10 million users in the past six months. Compare this with an addition of 100 million monthly active users (almost 10 times more) for WhatsApp in the past five months alone and it’s easy to understand why the team at LINE is feeling uncomfortable.

The other “not good” news for LINE is that its user base is getting increasingly reliant on Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia. The company certainly wouldn’t want to transform into a service limited to Southeast Asians countries.

On a lighter note, we at PakWired believe that the infamous Waqar Zaka is responsible for “the decLINE of LINE” (damn, that rhymes! lol). Seriously, the guy who tries to brag on just about everything couldn’t even get 100k followers on his LINE profile, despite several appeals and regular hype. Poor Waqar. And we feel more bad for LINE!

5. Uber Set To Launch In Pakistan

Summary: Uber is a world-renowned international private transport company providing on-call services at the push of a button. The company was noticed publishing senior-level vacancies in Lahore which obviously means it has plans to officially set foot in Pakistan. The vacancies seek a General Manager, Marketing Manager and Operations & Logistics Manager.

Although this is very big news, we have reasons not to be too enthusiastic about it. Just head on over to the Ridesharing Incidents website and see for yourself how Uber drivers have been knowingly involved in theft, rape and some have even accidentally killed their clients. With the absence of suitable laws in Pakistan, which agency will supervise the operations of the Uber network? Will the Ministry of Interior or provincial Home Departments separately take responsibility for passenger safety? Or will Uber be allowed to operate like those traditional radio cabs?

This is, after all, a US-based company and proper SOPs should be followed to ensure that we don’t hear of any disturbing news during its service.

So we suggest, let’s hold our horses until the picture gets more clear.

6. International Authority Declares Zameen.com Among Top 8 Property Portals

Summary: We’re proud to know that Zameen.com was declared among the top 8 property portals “to watch and learn from”. This honor was declared during the industry’s most prestigious annual Propert Portal Watch Conference held in the Dutch capital Amsterdam from October 7-9, 2015.

Zameen.com Co-CEO Imran Ali Khan delivered his company’s presentation which was praised by all the participants and attendees. The international observers rightly noted the sophistication and ease-of-use which has become the hallmark of the Zameen.com web portal.

Click here for more.

7. US Government Passes Controversial Cybersecurity Bill

Summary: In the first episode of PakWired News Weekend Roundup, we reported about the US Government’s desire to get access to user information and private data through the “Cybersecurity Information Sharing Agreement (CISA)”.

The bill has recently been passed by the US Senate with 74 votes in favor and just 21 votes in opposition (goes to show how much US Senators get under the influence of the infamous spooks). Anyways, to reiterate the implications of this “agreement”, tech companies in the US will be obliged to provide backdoor access to users’ private data to the intelligence agencies. Privacy isn’t so private after all. On the outset, the US administration claims it is for protection against cyber threats but we know well how ‘concerned’ they are about everyone in the world.

Greg Nojeim, senior counsel for The Centre for Democracy and Technology was quoted as saying that this latest move “is a huge step backwards for privacy rights in the United States”.

Click here for more.

8. TechInsider’s List of 100 Greatest Apps

Summary: Alex Heath at popular tech news website TechInsider recently compiled a list of what they believe are the 100 greatest apps developed so far.

Spoiler alert: Facebook Messenger is at # 1, followed by Facebook on # 2.

We’re sure many of you will disagree with the ranking in this list (many of our crew members did, one even said that WhatsApp should have been in first place).

Click here to browse through the list.

9. Pakistan’s ‘Tech City Incubator Project’ Gets Encouraging Response

Summary: The 39th Board of Director meeting of National ICT R&D Fund Company was held at the Ministry of IT & Telecommunications (MoITT) on 27 October. Ms Anusha Rahman, Minister of IT chaired the moot. Senior members from the ministry and National ICT R&D Fund company were present. The latter’s CEO Mr Asif Roomi delivered a comprehensive briefing to the members.

Since publishing ads inviting Expressions of Interest (EoIs) in the Tech-City Incubator project, 16 companies have reportedly given a very encouraging response. The initial figures are very welcoming and we hope to see the day when Pakistan will emerge as an ICT hub in South Asia. Let’s hope for the best!

Click here for more.

10. Ex-NSA Chief’s Cybersecurity Startup Gets More Than $30 Million In Funding

Summary: We’ll leave you with this ominous news straight from Washington: General (retd) Keith Alexander, ex-chief of the globally notorious US National Security Agency operates a private cybersecurity firm, IronNet Cybersecurity Inc.

IronNet has reportedly received $32.5 million as investment from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a venture capital firm. The firm claims its team members include “former heads of and top advisors to the National Security Agency, the National Counter terrorism Center, U.S. Cyber Command, Army Intelligence and more”. Are we witnessing the first culmination of a Pentagon-meets-Silicon Valley alliance? After all, isn’t it possible that Gen Alexander might be contracted for ‘special cyber projects’ by his former government employers?

Click here for more.

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