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3 reasons Southeast Asia is a great place for developers

It used to be that Silicon Valley was the only place to grow a high-powered career in tech. But that’s no longer true.

These days, developers have options outside of that narrow strip of land between San Francisco and San Jose. In the past 10 years, the international tech scene has grown to the point that developers can find a home in Tel Aviv, Toronto, Amsterdam, or Berlin — all burgeoning tech hubs. However, if a developer wants interesting work, there’s another place to look: Southeast Asia.

A diverse region bordered by China to the north and India to the west, Southeast Asia is home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies, including Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. Mobile phone penetration in the region is already at 110 percent, and Internet penetration, though still low, grew by more than 10 percent in 2016. All this has given rise to a thriving tech startup ecosystem. But job opportunity isn’t the only reason developers should start looking east. Here are some others:

1. You’ll be working on some of the world’s most innovative mobile apps.

There was a time when Western technological innovation set the standard for the world, but others have caught up – and even surged ahead. The New York Times noted a year ago that mobile-first Asian economies are now leading the way in the development of innovative new mobile apps.

What makes Southeast Asia mobile-first? The region’s relatively low level of economic development made a PC revolution unrealistic, so it has leapfrogged into mobile technology. An affordable Android smartphone was usually the first “computer” most people had. As a result, developers and designers here have been thinking deeply about mobile compared to their desktop-focused counterparts in the West.

And unlike in the U.S., where startups can be highly specialized, the tech sector’s relative youth means successful apps in Southeast Asia use one slice of market share to expand swiftly into adjacent spaces. For example, Garena, one of Southeast Asia’s newest unicorns, started out as a games platform but has since expanded into mobile payments and social commerce. My company, Grab, is working on a mobile payments system to complement its ride-sharing app. This rapid expansion gives talented developers unprecedented opportunity to shape many different products and features within one company and build up a wide array of competencies.

2. Your work will have a strong social impact.

We all crave meaning in our lives and work. Many engineers didn’t get into their line of work for the paycheck; they got…

A Map of the Ships Buried Under San Francisco

The San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park made a map of where the ships are buried under the city. Yes, that’s strange. It’s notably strange that they know where the ships are, and that there are enough of them to warrant a map, but the real question is why are there ships buried underneath San Francisco? The story goes back to the Gold Rush of 1848. Many ships carried people to San Francisco, but there wasn’t much cargo to carry out, and an empty boat makes no money. Contributing to the problem were the sailors who contracted gold fever just like the passengers. Some boats were abandoned,…

Lyft Aims at a Self-Driving Future With More Partnerships

SAN FRANCISCO — Uber is spending millions of dollars to make self-driving cars on its ride-hailing network a reality. Now Lyft, one of Uber’s biggest competitors, is striking a series of partnerships to do the same.

Lyft on Tuesday announced an agreement with nuTonomy, a self-driving car start-up, that will eventually bring thousands of nuTonomy’s autonomous vehicles to Lyft’s ride-hailing network. The partnership will initially focus on research and development related to the customer experience of summoning an autonomous vehicle, Lyft said.

“Our ultimate responsibility is to bring the best autonomous vehicles to Lyft’s millions of passengers,” Logan Green, Lyft’s chief executive, said in an interview. “And since it’s very early in the development life cycle of autonomous vehicles, we’ll explore many partnerships to learn with and from partners to help figure out what passengers want.”

The agreement is part of Lyft’s broader move into autonomous car-sharing. Mr. Green has long postulated that the future of transportation will be less focused on private car ownership.

But Lyft is behind others in making inroads into that…

How Uber and Waymo Ended Up Rivals in the Race for Driverless Cars

SAN FRANCISCO — At a technology conference in mid-2014, the Google co-founder Sergey Brin presented the company’s first prototype for a self-driving car. Watching in the audience was Travis Kalanick, chief executive of Uber, the ride-hailing start-up.

Mr. Brin’s presentation in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. — including a video of a compact two-seater autonomously doing laps around a parking lot — jolted Mr. Kalanick, according to two people who spoke with him. Google, the search giant — long considered an Uber ally — seemed to be turning on him. And even as Uber was a growing force to be reckoned with, it was lacking in self-driving car technology, an important field of study that might affect the future of transportation.

So Mr. Kalanick spent much of 2015 raiding Google’s engineering corps. To learn about the technology, he struck up a friendship with Anthony Levandowski, a top autonomous vehicle engineer at “G-co,” Mr. Kalanick’s pet name for Google.

The two men often spoke for hours about the future of driving, meeting at the Ferry Building in San Francisco and walking five miles to the Golden Gate Bridge, according to two people familiar with the executives, who asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The friendship developed into a partnership. Mr. Levandowski left Google last year to form Otto, a self-driving trucking start-up. Uber acquired it months later for nearly $700 million. Mr. Kalanick subsequently appointed Mr. Levandowski to run Uber’s autonomous vehicle research.

That relationship has since set off a legal morass, with Google’s self-driving vehicle business — now called Waymo — accusing Mr. Levandowski of creating Otto as a front to steal trade secrets from Google, then using the findings with Uber’s driverless cars. On Monday, a federal judge in San Francisco barred Mr. Levandowski from working on a crucial component of Uber’s self-driving car technology for the duration of the case.

The implications are set to reverberate far beyond the courtroom. Any setback for Uber will shake up the driverless car industry, which is locked in a bitter race to introduce and commercialize autonomous cars. Silicon Valley tech titans and Detroit automakers are making huge investments — bets that autonomous vehicle technology will usher in a new age of how people get around. For some companies, especially traditional carmakers, their very survival is at stake.

While Google has been developing autonomous vehicle technology for more than a decade, others have raced to catch up. General Motors, Ford, Apple, Tesla, Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes-Benz are among those that have jumped in. All are competing — and sometimes cooperating — for a slice of a new market expected to top $77 billion over the next two decades, according to a study from Boston Consulting Group.

Uber has been ahead of many others in publicly testing autonomous vehicles. Last year, the company began a pilot program of autonomous cars in Pittsburgh; it has also done testing in San Francisco and Tempe, Ariz.

That aggressiveness has spurred an intense rivalry with Waymo. Waymo’s legal pursuit of Uber and Mr. Levandowski is out of corporate character; Google has tended to refrain from suing former employees who move to competitors. Many at Google and Waymo are incensed at Mr. Levandowski and how he may have betrayed them for a rich payday, according to current and former employees.

That has pushed Waymo to strike back. Beyond suing Uber, Waymo said on Sunday it had teamed up with Lyft, a ride-hailing rival, on driverless car initiatives.

“This is a race where every single minute seems to…

LendingHome Sets Stage to Accelerate Next Phase of Business Growth

Gains Fannie Mae Seller, Servicer Approval to Expand Consumer Home Loans;

Hires Mortgage Industry Veteran Robert Stiles as Chief Financial Officer


LendingHome, the largest, fastest-growing mortgage marketplace lender, today announced two new business developments that will enable the company to take its business to the next level. LendingHome has gained Fannie Mae seller and servicer approval, which will allow LendingHome to expand its consumer home financing business and better serve its customers. Additionally, LendingHome named Robert Stiles, former CFO of Nationstar Mortgage, as its new Chief Financial Officer.

This Smart News Release features multimedia. View the full release here:

Robert Stiles, CFO of LendingHome (Photo: Business Wire)
Robert Stiles, CFO of LendingHome (Photo: Business Wire)

Fannie Mae Seller & Servicer

As one of the largest buyers of conforming home loans, Fannie Mae’s approval of LendingHome as a seller and servicer will enable the expansion of its home financing business and the delivery of better outcomes to its customers. By working directly with Fannie Mae, LendingHome can streamline its operations and offer better loan pricing to its customers. At the same time, LendingHome can retain the servicing of its customers in-house so that they can rely on LendingHome as their one trusted advisor throughout the life of their loan, benefitting from a true end-to-end mortgage experience.

“Passing Fannie Mae’s stringent approval guidelines is no small feat, especially for a young company that started lending only three years ago,” said Matt Humphrey, co-founder and CEO of LendingHome. “This is a testament to LendingHome’s financial strength, leading ground-up technology platform, and the quality of our processes from end-to-end.”

“LendingHome focuses on using technology innovation to create efficiencies and deliver…

Uber Engineer Barred From Work on Key Self-Driving Technology, Judge Says

SAN FRANCISCO — Uber sidestepped a full shutdown of its self-driving car efforts on Monday when a federal judge stopped short of issuing a temporary injunction against the ride-hailing company’s autonomous vehicle program.

But the court mandated that Anthony Levandowski, a star engineer leading Uber’s self-driving car program, must be restricted from working on a critical component of autonomous vehicle technology throughout the duration of the litigation, a setback that could hamper the company’s development efforts.

The decision came in a case that has underlined the increasingly bitter fight between Uber and Waymo, the self-driving car business that operates under Google’s parent company. Both companies have been striving to race ahead of each other in autonomous vehicles, which many consider to be the future of transportation. The outcome could affect who wins or loses in the technology, which has also drawn in other tech companies, automakers and start-ups.

The case began in February, when Waymo filed a lawsuit against Uber, accusing it of stealing trade secrets to develop self-driving cars. Waymo said the thief was Mr. Levandowski, a onetime star engineer at Google and a guru of autonomous vehicle technology, who joined Uber last year. Waymo asked the court to issue a temporary injunction that could have halted Uber’s self-driving program.

Over the past few months, both sides have traded barbs with one another and attempted various legal tactics to gain the upper hand. Waymo accused Mr. Levandowski of downloading thousands of documents and using the findings at Uber. Mr. Levandowski decided to plead the Fifth Amendment in the case, reserving the right against self-incrimination.

In his ruling on Monday, Judge William Alsup of Federal District Court in San Francisco, said, “Waymo L.L.C. has shown compelling evidence that its former star engineer, Anthony Levandowski, downloaded over 14,000 confidential files from Waymo immediately before leaving his employment there.”

He added, “Significantly, the evidence indicates that, during the acquisition, Uber likely knew or at least should have known that Levandowski had taken and retained possession of Waymo’s confidential files.”

Judge Alsup directed Uber to produce a timeline of the events leading up to Mr. Levandowski’s hiring, including all oral…

Interactive Map of San Francisco Matches Photos From the 1906 Earthquake to Modern Places

For modern San Franciscans, it can be hard to connect their dots between the city as they know it and the aftermath of the April 19, 1906 earthquake that took 3000 lives and changed the face of the metropolis forever. Now, a new project aims to visualize that devastating chapter in history in a way current residents can wrap their heads around.

This interactive map from the Western Neighborhoods Project plots thousands of photographs of the 1906 quake. Using resources like the…