FieldHouse at Events: Quartz's The Next Billion

Earlier this week I managed to take some time out and attend Quartz’s The Next Billion event in London. The Quartz Daily Newsletter is pretty much the first thing I read every morning, and it’s usually what I recommend to people who ask me for essential reading material. So, The Next Billion event was something I was looking forward to, especially given the line up of speakers and just how many of the talks are relevant to the work a lot of our clients at FieldHouse are doing.


I won’t go through the entire day’s events but there were some key highlights for me, around some really interesting topics.


The missing billion...


We’ve been working with a major car manufacturer recently, talking about the variety of ways people get from A to B, and part of these conversations have revolved around the sharing economy and how the next generation coming through puts less importance on owning things like cars and are happy to share them with people. Something they’d never share though is their phone…..or so we thought.


While in developed markets, not sharing your device may be the norm, I was amazed to learn from Jason Mander of Global WebIndex, that 40% of people in Brazil and Vietnam say that they share their device with other people. While the focus of the day was on The Next Billion coming online, Jason’s talk was on ‘the missing billion’, those people that use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to disguise where they’re connecting.


There were some great stats in Jason’s talk, including:

  •  In the US, there are nine times as many IP addresses as there are internet users!
  • 49% of Internet users in Ireland said they used a VPN to access Netflix versus 37% of users in the UK.
  • 46% of Internet users in Vietnam said they used a private browser in the last month….Just to clarify, almost half of Vietnam’s internet users disguise their connections.


There are currently hundreds of millions of people being incorrectly geo-located, which is why there’s often a big skew to numbers in the US and Jason warned that people should be wary of charts showing such domination. VPNs are getting more and more popular and that’s only going to continue as people who are desperate for content, turn to them simply because of distributor territorial licensing agreements aren’t servicing their need. Many of these people are paying for VPN services, so it’s not that they won’t pay for content, it’s just that the publisher and distributors aren’t looking at models to service them.


The Uberfication of the world


Uber’s been fairly prolific in terms of setting up in new markets and a visualization was thrown up on screen to demonstrate just how rapidly Uber has hit new markets. The company is always held up as an example of just how to disrupt markets and already investors are tired of hearing “we’re Uber for X”. In the last two years Uber has matched the number of US cities it’s opened up in with just as many international operations opening.

The red dots are international operations launched, the blue dots are US city operations launched by Ube

The red dots are international operations launched, the blue dots are US city operations launched by Ube


There were some interesting sound bites from the talk with Jambu Palaniappan (@jpalaniappan), GM Middle East and Africa at Uber, admitting that the pace of change in the market is so rapid that nothing is really sacred.  The sheer number of international markets it’s launched in over the last two years means that the company has had to stay fluid and adapt to how each territory navigates. In some countries for instance, there are roads that don’t have names and therefore POI (points of interest) navigation is essential. Palaniappan also talked about the need to be more dynamic in terms of matching supply and demand in emerging markets to enable greater efficiency of getting people from A to B and ensuring it’s built and run for local people, not just for travelling westerners.


It’s hard to sum up the entire day, but what’s clear from every discussion and presentation is that the world is changing. There’s more and more people coming online, sometimes those people in emerging markets using Facebook, don’t even realise they’re using the internet. Privacy has become a global issue with the number of users disguising their IP. Content sharing has exploded in popularity, but people in different regions share different content for completely different regions and that quick internet speeds allow for greater consumption of video online, but those with a slower speed are more often than not more creators than consumers – the world is getting involved.


There were loads of really interesting talks throughout the day and I’d urge you to go and seek them out. Just to make it easy for you, you can find videos of all the talks from Quartz The Next Billion London from the live stream here.