Meet Vonvon, the ‘mysterious’ South Korean company behind that ‘Most Used Words on Facebook’ app

Vonvon's wordcloud has gone viral.

As of this moment, more than 17.6 million English speakers on Facebook have clicked on an app called: “What are your most used words on Facebook?” Though for short, most people have been referring to it simply as “wordcloud.”

These wordclouds began clogging my Facebook feed last week, when the English-language version of the app was released. But even as most people joyfully clicked right through all the screens asking for access to their Facebook data without a second thought, some folks paused and wondered about the privacy risks.

The Comparitech blog called it a “privacy nightmare” after analyzing all the data the app required. Engadget wondered about Vonvon.me, the “mysterious company” behind it.


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Well, if Vonvon is mysterious, or hiding, it’s doing so in plain sight. Curious about these issues myself, I sent an email to an address on the site, and almost immediately received a response from chief executive and founder Jonghwa Kim.

Kim was more than happy to jump on the phone and chat about the company he founded earlier this year.

Vonvon CEO Jonghwa Kim

Above: Vonvon CEO Jonghwa Kim

This is Kim’s third startup. His first, Wingbus, a travel blogging site, was acquired in 2009 for an undisclosed sum. In 2010, he co-founded Dailypick, a social e-commerce site that was sold later that year for about $9 million.

Now he’s back, with Vonvon, which focuses on creating viral content for Facebook and other social media platforms. The company raised $3 million in venture capital earlier this year in a round led by Altos Ventures of Menlo Park.

Kim has heard the criticism about his company’s privacy practices. But despite a somewhat vaguely worded privacy policy on its website, Kim insisted that the company absolutely does not sell or share anyone’s private information with third parties.

The Comparitech story notes that to use the app, users must share their personal info such as age and birthday, along with their friend list, entire timeline, photos, hometown and likes. But Kim said there is little the company can do with this information.

“There are some false rumors that we are trying to capture people’s information so we can sell it to third parties,” he said. “We don’t really get any meaningful information when people uses our apps. And when they share it on their walls, it really doesn’t have much information about them.”

Instead, Kim said, the apps are harmless fun for most users at little risk.

“People look at it as something fun,” he said. “Most people just try to have a good time with it.”

To a certain degree, he’s write. The app’s viral success is just that latest sign that while people often fret about privacy, their actions seem to demonstrate little regard or care toward maintaining it.

Certainly, lot’s of people in my feed seem to be amused by the results, and share them happily. Sometimes, they even mock themselves for turning over their personal info despite not knowing the first thing about the company.

The overall mission of Vonvon, according to Kim, is to “create fun, interactive content that people can share on Facebook.” They started originally with quizzes, though the company wanted to evolve beyond that, to make the amount of time users had to input information even shorter.

The English-language version of the wordcloud app was released just last week, and around the world already has more than 20 million users. Kim expects it to soon top 50 million, making it one of the company’s bigger hits, but not its biggest.

That title goes to an app called “Who is your soul mate?” That app tapped into the Facebook API to calculate your interactions with others on the platform. It was used by more than 100 million people, with the biggest source of users coming from Brazil.

Vonvon typically starts its quizzes or other content in Asian countries and Latin America before making English-language versions. The company has more than 40 editors who create and translate the various quizzes.

So if the company isn’t making money off your data, as it claims, how does it generate revenue?

When you log into the app, it shows a display ad. And in South Korea, the company has started developing branded quizzes with corporate partners. And Kim said the company is still exploring other possibilities.

But so far, he’s been happy with some of the explosive results and the handful of hits the company has launched in its first few months. “We’ve been very lucky this year,” he said.

 










Another Round Of Disrupt London Hackathon Tickets Is Now Available, And Introducing Our MCs

Did you miss out on the first few waves of tickets to the Hackathon at Disrupt London 2015? Don’t fret. There’s another round of tickets just been released. To score your spot at the best Hackathon in London, just head over to our ticketing page to sign up. But definitely do so quickly, as previous batches of tickets have sold out pretty quickly, and there’s a very good… Read More

Windows 10 Enterprise Adoption Will Soar …

Gartner is predicting the swift and broad enterprise adoption of Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system, thanks in part to pent-up demand for tablets. This is following similar patterns by Windows XP and Windows 7. Microsoft's launch of its latest operating system, Windows 10 , is on course to set records, with IT research firm Gartner predicting enterprise migration of the new OS will be the fastest yet for the software giant.

Xiaomi unveils Redmi Note 3, Mi Pad 2, and Mi Air Purifier 2 — but no sign of Mi 5 flagship

Redmi Note 3

Chinese smartphone upstart Xiaomi today unveiled three new budget devices — a smartphone, tablet, and air purifier (yes, Xiaomi makes air purifiers). All three are updates to existing lines.

And, in a telling note, the company called it the “perfect ending to the year.”

That means it’s unlikely to launch the much-anticipated Mi 5 flagship smartphone, which was originally slated for a 2015 release but has since been delayed by Qualcomm supply issues (it’s expected to run on a Snapdragon 820).


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Customers don’t just get irritated when you screw up cross-channel personalization. They jump ship. Find out how to save your bacon on this free research-based webinar with Insight’s Andrew Jones.

That disappointing news aside (we’ve pinged Xiaomi for further comment on that), let’s dive straight into today’s new announcements.

First up is the all-metal $140 Redmi Note 3, notable for being Xiaomi’s first smartphone with a fingerprint scanner (Xiaomi claims it unlocks in 0.3 seconds) — useful now that Google has rolled out fingerprint authentication for purchases in the Google Play store.

Here are the full specs (available from 27 November in mainland China — though release dates outside China for all three devices do not yet appear to have been shared):

  • Full metal body (gold, silver, dark grey)
  • Fingerprint sensor (unlocks in 0.3 seconds)
  • 4000 mAh battery that supports 5V/2A fast charging (can charge up to 50 percent in one hour)
  • Flagship MTK Helio X10 processor: Octa-core 64-bit Cortex-A53 architecture (2GB/3GB dual-channel LP DDR 3RAM with 16GB/32GB internal storage)
  • 13MP rear camera with PDAF and two-toneflash
  • 5MP front camera
  • 5.5-inch Full HD display (fully laminated)
  • Thin and light (8.65mm at its thickest point, weighs 164g)
  • Ships with MIUI 7
Redmi Note 3

Above: Redmi Note 3

Redmi Note 3

Above: Redmi Note 3

Redmi Note 3

Above: Redmi Note 3

Redmi Note 3

Above: Redmi Note 3

Next up is the $150 Mi Pad 2 (available from 27 November in mainland China), which also ships with a Windows 10 option available from late December:

  • Full metal body (dark grey or champagne gold), 322g 200.4 x 132.6 x 6.95mm (38g lighter and 18 percent thinner than first-generation Mi Pad)
  • Intel Atom processor with Quad-core X5-Z8500 2.24GHz and Intel HD graphics
  • 2GB DDR3 RAM with 16GB  or 64GB internal storage
  • 7.9-inch IPS display (2048 x 1536 resolution at 326 PPI)
  • 8MP rear camera (f/2.0) with 1080p video recording
  • 5MP front camera with 75-degree wide angle lens
  • 6190mAh battery with 5V/2A fast charging
  • 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1
  • USB Type-C port
  • MIUI 7 (Android 5.1) or Windows 10
Mi Pad 2

Above: Mi Pad 2

Mi Pad 2

Above: Mi Pad 2

Mi Pad 2

Above: Mi Pad 2

Mi Pad 2

Above: Mi Pad 2

Mi Pad 2

Above: Mi Pad 2

Mi Pad 2

Above: Mi Pad 2

And finally the $110 Mi Air Purifier 2 (available from 27 November in mainland China):

  • Standard filter is priced at $25, enhanced filter costs about $27
  • 40 percent smaller body than original Mi Air Purifier (520mm tall, down from 735mm), with base area smaller than A4 sheet
  • Effectively cleans air in a 23 meter-squared room in just 10 minutes
  • Quieter than first generation: as low as 30db in night mode, and 58 percent more power efficient
  • Filters out 99.7% of PM 2.5 particles
Mi Air Purifier 2

Above: Mi Air Purifier 2

Mi Air Purifier 2

Above: Mi Air Purifier 2

Mi Air Purifier 2

Above: Mi Air Purifier 2

Mi Air Purifier 2

Above: Mi Air Purifier 2

Mi Air Purifier 2

Above: Mi Air Purifier 2

Mi Air Purifier 2

Above: Mi Air Purifier 2

Mi Air Purifier 2

Above: Mi Air Purifier 2

Mi Air Purifier 2

Above: Mi Air Purifier 2

Mi Air Purifier 2

Above: Mi Air Purifier 2

Mi Air Purifier 2

Above: Mi Air Purifier 2

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Xiaomi unveils Redmi Note 3, Mi Pad 2, and Mi Air Purifier 2 — but no sign of Mi 5 flagship

Redmi Note 3

Chinese smartphone upstart Xiaomi today unveiled three new budget devices — a smartphone, tablet, and air purifier (yes, Xiaomi makes air purifiers). All three are updates to existing lines.

And, in a telling note, the company called it the “perfect ending to the year.”

That means it’s unlikely to launch the much-anticipated Mi 5 flagship smartphone, which was originally slated for a 2015 release but has since been delayed by Qualcomm supply issues (it’s expected to run on a Snapdragon 820).


From VentureBeat
Customers don’t just get irritated when you screw up cross-channel personalization. They jump ship. Find out how to save your bacon on this free research-based webinar with Insight’s Andrew Jones.

That disappointing news aside (we’ve pinged Xiaomi for further comment on that), let’s dive straight into today’s new announcements.

First up is the all-metal $140 Redmi Note 3, notable for being Xiaomi’s first smartphone with a fingerprint scanner (Xiaomi claims it unlocks in 0.3 seconds) — useful now that Google has rolled out fingerprint authentication for purchases in the Google Play store.

Here are the full specs (available from 27 November in mainland China — though release dates outside China for all three devices do not yet appear to have been shared):

  • Full metal body (gold, silver, dark grey)
  • Fingerprint sensor (unlocks in 0.3 seconds)
  • 4000 mAh battery that supports 5V/2A fast charging (can charge up to 50 percent in one hour)
  • Flagship MTK Helio X10 processor: Octa-core 64-bit Cortex-A53 architecture (2GB/3GB dual-channel LP DDR 3RAM with 16GB/32GB internal storage)
  • 13MP rear camera with PDAF and two-toneflash
  • 5MP front camera
  • 5.5-inch Full HD display (fully laminated)
  • Thin and light (8.65mm at its thickest point, weighs 164g)
  • Ships with MIUI 7
Redmi Note 3

Above: Redmi Note 3

Redmi Note 3

Above: Redmi Note 3

Redmi Note 3

Above: Redmi Note 3

Redmi Note 3

Above: Redmi Note 3

Next up is the $150 Mi Pad 2 (available from 27 November in mainland China), which also ships with a Windows 10 option available from late December:

  • Full metal body (dark grey or champagne gold), 322g 200.4 x 132.6 x 6.95mm (38g lighter and 18 percent thinner than first-generation Mi Pad)
  • Intel Atom processor with Quad-core X5-Z8500 2.24GHz and Intel HD graphics
  • 2GB DDR3 RAM with 16GB  or 64GB internal storage
  • 7.9-inch IPS display (2048 x 1536 resolution at 326 PPI)
  • 8MP rear camera (f/2.0) with 1080p video recording
  • 5MP front camera with 75-degree wide angle lens
  • 6190mAh battery with 5V/2A fast charging
  • 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1
  • USB Type-C port
  • MIUI 7 (Android 5.1) or Windows 10
Mi Pad 2

Above: Mi Pad 2

Mi Pad 2

Above: Mi Pad 2

Mi Pad 2

Above: Mi Pad 2

Mi Pad 2

Above: Mi Pad 2

Mi Pad 2

Above: Mi Pad 2

Mi Pad 2

Above: Mi Pad 2

And finally the $110 Mi Air Purifier 2 (available from 27 November in mainland China):

  • Standard filter is priced at $25, enhanced filter costs about $27
  • 40 percent smaller body than original Mi Air Purifier (520mm tall, down from 735mm), with base area smaller than A4 sheet
  • Effectively cleans air in a 23 meter-squared room in just 10 minutes
  • Quieter than first generation: as low as 30db in night mode, and 58 percent more power efficient
  • Filters out 99.7% of PM 2.5 particles
Mi Air Purifier 2

Above: Mi Air Purifier 2

Mi Air Purifier 2

Above: Mi Air Purifier 2

Mi Air Purifier 2

Above: Mi Air Purifier 2

Mi Air Purifier 2

Above: Mi Air Purifier 2

Mi Air Purifier 2

Above: Mi Air Purifier 2

Mi Air Purifier 2

Above: Mi Air Purifier 2

Mi Air Purifier 2

Above: Mi Air Purifier 2

Mi Air Purifier 2

Above: Mi Air Purifier 2

Mi Air Purifier 2

Above: Mi Air Purifier 2

Mi Air Purifier 2

Above: Mi Air Purifier 2

More information:

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If Lunch Kaki can’t bring people together over lunch in Southeast Asia, its founder will drive for Uber

Melvin Tiff, founder and COO of Lunch Kaki

The founder of bootstrapped Singapore-based social meetup app Lunch Kaki is willing to put everything on the line to turn his startup idea into a regional player — even if it means driving for Uber to make a few extra bucks.

Uber is popular in Singapore, but then so is Lunch Kaki. With just $85,000 in angel funding to date, the social app launched in November last year and has already clocked up close to 3,000 monthly active users.

That’s based on more than 15,000 downloads across iOS and Android with just one developer, and founder Melvin Tiff holding down a full-time job at an ecommerce payments gateway company in Singapore.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 12.58.23

Prior to starting Lunch Kaki, Tiff was a stock broker and relationship manager at United Overseas Bank (UOB) in Singapore. But after a very brief spell at Credit Suisse, he ended up ditching a more-than eight year banking career to work in the ecommerce payments space, where he remains today.

But turning his baby Lunch Kaki into a full-time opportunity remains his real dream. The app continues to do well on both Android and iOS, and he recently rolled out group lunches whereby six people get the chance to meet up for food and make new friends.

Most of his users are in Singapore, Malaysia (where “kaki” means buddy), and Indonesia, though he’d like to expand into new markets like Taiwan. He also insists Lunch Kaki is not a dating app, and despite its very modest financial backing to date it’s managed to outperform some venture capital-backed players in the region (it’s racked up more downloads than VC-backed Noonwoon, for example).

Lunch Kaki trending on Google Play (Android)

Above: Lunch Kaki trending on Google Play (Android)

The way Lunch Kaki works is simple: browsing users in your area and sending the ones you like a lunch request. You can also send them a coffee or cake, though this is like a “poke” with cute and addictive on-screen animations (which do great with users in Asia) than a request. Once a lunch request is accepted, the two users move into a chat from where they can organise a time and location to grab lunch.

Tiff says the app is now seeing close to 20,000 lunch requests per month, with about 20 percent of those converting into chats. He says the final numbers that make it to an actual meeting are hard to know, because it’s still organised within a chat environment. But then a dating apps like Tinder work the same way.


From VentureBeat
Customers don’t just get irritated when you screw up cross-channel personalization. They jump ship. Find out how to save your bacon on this free research-based webinar with Insight’s Andrew Jones.

Monetization remains a hurdle. So far, Tiff has rolled out a premium model for $2.99 per month that allows users to double their requests to 20 a day, specify their preferred location (Tinder also offers this for premium users) so if you’re not in a country you can still search and contact users there, and enjoy unlimited searches (free users only get 10 searches per day).

Local restaurants in Singapore, such as The Soup Spoon, are currently placing adverts on Lunch Kaki in return for 10-20 percent discounts for the app’s users if they choose to grab lunch there. Tiff would like to further build out a viable monetization model by exploring bigger opportunities with restaurants and cafes as the app gains more users. He also has some other ideas, but they’re still early

melvin-tiff-lunch-kakiIn general, though, Lunch Kaki needs to move away from small angel funding and start getting serious about growth and scaling. To do that, it wants to raise up to $350,000 in a venture capital seed round, enabling it to spend more on development, marketing, expansion, hiring, and hey — maybe Tiff will even be able to cut himself a pay cheque for the first time.

Whether he manages to raise that round before he has to start driving for Uber part time, who knows. A good founder will do whatever it takes, and I think Tiff has some serious fire in him that won’t see him give up without a fight. Uber would also win, because they’d be getting a damn cool new driver.

But I don’t see him having to take the Uber option. What Lunch Kaki has achieved on a shoestring budget in the 12 months since launch with a single developer is impressive. I expect it will continue to do well, and investors could do a lot worse than checking it out.










Apple Pay reportedly launching in China by February

apple-pay

Apple plans to launch its mobile payments service, Apple Pay, in China as early as February, according to multiple reports. The first rumours appear to have been sparked by Dow Jones sources cited in a tweet by CNBC, with The Wall Street Journal since following with its own report.

While the initial tweet was thin on details, the WSJ says that Apple “has struck deals recently with China’s big four state-run banks… [that] will allow potential Apple Pay users to link the service with their local bank accounts.”

However, some regulatory hurdles are expected to remain. Currently, the mobile payments space in China is dominated by Tencent’s Tenpay (used on popular messaging app WeChat) and ecommerce giant Alibaba’s Alipay.

Quartz reported at the beginning of October that Apple was ramping up hiring in its push to bring Apple Pay to China. Meanwhile, Apple’s newly created subsidiary in the Shanghai free-trade zone is believed to be part of that wider push to enter the lucrative payments space in the country.

It’s hard to tell these days wether the U.S. or China is the more important market to Apple. A few signs are pointing towards a slow but sure shift to the latter. I expect we’ll have more solid details on a China launch for Apple Pay before February arrives.

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