India’s savings crisis24 September 2019.Household savings in India have been in a tailspin over the past five years, hitting a nearly two-decade low. The household savings rate stood at 17.2% of gross domestic product in 2017-18; that’s only marginally up from 17.1% in 2016-17, which was the lowest since 1996-97, and the savings rate has dropped in almost every year since 2011-12, when it was 23.6% of GDP. Why does this matter? The domestic […]
Oversize #5: Alibaba Cloud at a crossroads in India16 July 2020.While the Alibaba Group is recognized as a force in e-commerce, the company’s cloud computing business isn’t talked about much outside of mainland China. Alibaba Cloud was the world’s third largest and the Asia-Pacific’s largest infrastructure as a service, or IaaS, provider by revenue in 2019 (Gartner, April 2020). IaaS is what is commonly referred to as public cloud—compute, storage, networking, etc. that you can use to run your own […]
Hero MotoCorp is losing in slow motion18 May 2020.On the face of it, Hero Motocorp’s well-oiled business machinery doesn’t look as if it is missing a beat. It sells nearly 2 million more two-wheelers of all sorts every year than its nearest local competitor, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India Pvt. Ltd. It’s easily the leader in motorcycles, which account for two-thirds of the total two-wheeler market. The company makes over Rs 3,000 crore a year in profit, has Rs 4,000 crore in cash and liquid holdings and much more in reserves, and is debt-free. It’s also got the best return on capital employed of any Indian two-wheeler company.
Under the surface, however, the company is in a constant state of churn, which may be what prompted chairman and CEO Pawan Munjal to lay his cards on the table at a meeting with dealers and analysts in February, preempting any negative feedback. Since September 2018, Hero MotoCorp has seen a series of senior management exits. The chief technology officer, Markus Braunsperger, quit after his five-year contract expired in July last year, while the sales head, Sanjay Bhan, resigned in November. The company has seen four sales heads in five years. Two other senior members from the top 10 also left in the past year and several others were re-assigned roles.
Hero’s performance over the past five years or so has also broadly left analysts unimpressed. The company has struggled with a reputation for a lack of technical capability, despite embarking on a big transformation project in 2016, with the Rs 850 crore R&D project setup in Jaipur coming a year later. The idea was to move into the new fast-growing areas of the market—scooters, premium motorcycles and exports—that the company had hitherto ignored. Its efforts have borne little fruit. Hero’s scooter market share has fallen to single digits and its products have had teething technology issues.
Ten years after it broke off its decades-long partnership with Honda, Munjal’s strategy seems to be stuck in time. Sign in to read more.
Facebook’s vague payments launch and UPI’s global ambitions14 November 2019.Facebook just announced the launch of a new payments feature a couple of days ago in the US—Facebook Pay. It’s essentially a rebranding and consolidation of existing in-app payments on Facebook and Instagram (for shopping, donations, etc.) and a peer-to-peer transfer option in Messenger. To begin with, Facebook Pay will let users send and receive money, and also pay for things, on Facebook and Messenger in the US, with more […]
Ashish K. Mishra
Social media surveillance and Mission 202021 November 2019.Things with WhatsApp surveillance in particular and social media in general are taking a fairly dystopian turn in India. Here’s from Bloomberg: India’s government said on Tuesday it’s “empowered” to intercept, monitor and decrypt digital information in the public interest as long as its agencies follow the law. Laws allowed federal and state governments to intercept ‘any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource’, G. Kishan Reddy, […]