Pinterest opens Singapore office

Pinterest opens Singapore office

After continued growth in the Asia-Pacific market, American company Pinterest have opened a new office in Singapore. This complements their existing Asian office in Tokyo, Japan, which was opened in 2013. Pinterest's head office is located in San Francisco, but with millions of people using their services, it was important to them to locate staff within their Southeast Asia market. The office in Singapore, headed by Ayumi Nakajima, will manage their work in Southeast Asia, namely Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore, and India, two areas with huge amounts of recent growth.

Pinterest's product is a social media platform available on the web and on mobile applications, which enables users to ‘pin' - save and organise images from the internet. Aiming to create a ‘catalogue of ideas' and to provide users with lifestyle inspiration, the company has been a huge hit and has users all over the globe. In particular, their market in Asia-Pacific has more than doubled since 2018, with more than seven million different ‘pins' each day from the region alone. In particular, the company's data show that users in Singapore, India, Indonesia and the Philippines are fans of travel, fashion, food and home decor, and the company noted that ‘Durian recipes' and ‘Indonesian holidays' were two of the top growers in search terms in Singapore during the past year.

The company wants to provide a more localized experience for users, and this is why it decided to open offices globally, so that they can best understand the needs of each market. Nakajima will head a small team of Singaporean talent, currently of less than 10 employees, that will primarily build relationships with local brands and publishers. In the future, the office is set to grow, with more local talent to join the team. Already, the team has been working with local influential brands like Vogue India and Tastemade and Femina Magazine in Indonesia, and this list of local publishers is due to grow even longer in the years to come.

In 2018, Pinterest launched a partnership with MasakTV in Indonesia, with a six-week TV campaign taking place at the end of festival Ramadan, encouraging viewers to use Pinterest to save recipes for inspiration for breaking their fast. This campaign increased the viewership of MasakTV by more than 50% during the time it was running, showing just how powerful advertising on the platform can be for brands, particularly those who want to attract a female millennial and Generation Z audience. Pinterest generates revenue from the advertisements featured on the platform, and so their new base in Southeast Asia will allow them to best tailor these to their user-base. In recent years, Pinterest have also been adding local languages to their service, with language options including Hindi being rolled out on the platform in 2014, localising their product for the Indian market and others internationally.

This new move comes around three months after Pinterest debuted at the New York Stock Exchange, one of the latest tech companies to open its shares up to the public nine years after being founded in 2010. In the first quarter since it opened itself up as a public company, shares dropped by 19%, due to sales guidance and adjusted loss per share running short. In 2018, the company reported revenue of US$756 million, but with losses of US$63 million. However, with its carefully calculated decisions in 2019, this may be set to recover. International growth is one of the top priorities of the company. The office's lead, country manager for India and Southeast Asia, Ayumi Nakajima, has achieved much since she joined Pinterest in 2015, working from their Tokyo and London offices. Previous to this she had roles with Facebook and Nielsen.

The new office will be located in the centrally located and trendy Telok Ayer area, the perfect place to attract a talented group of local creatives, marketers and innovators to the company in the near future.

Dyson considers opening tech campus in Singapore

Dyson considers opening tech campus in Singapore

The government's focus on developing Singapore into a Smart Tech nation has not escaped the attention of many multinational technology brands. One of the latest announcements from a global company with its eye on the fertile ecosystem of the city is UK appliances innovator Dyson, who are considering founding their first university outside of the UK in Singapore.

This comes after significant interest from the company, who announced in 2018 that they are going to open a manufacturing plant in Jurong, and in early 2019 decided to move their head office to the high tech island too. Founder James Dyson made international headlines this year after purchasing an extravagant penthouse in trendy Tanjong Pagar, in order to be closer to his award-winning companies headquarters. The city-state caught Dyson's eye as the ideal location for testing out and developing their first electric car, which is set to be released in 2021.

The company is now considering making use of the potential technical talent in Singapore - the many budding engineers, innovators and creatives - by founding a private university in the city-state. They hope to seek degree-giving status from the UK government, which would see it join the ranks of six private universities in the United Kingdom - many of which have sprung up in recent years.

Previously, the company funded an institute in collaboration with Warwick University in Wiltshire, where students could train towards a degree in engineering, while being paid a salary and gaining practical skills at the same time, under the mentorship of Dyson's engineers. The global brand provided more than £15 million in funding for this flagship Institute of Engineering and Technology, and the four-year program launched in 2017, providing training to 33 students, out of 850 eager applicants.

Sir James Dyson described his motivation for funding this institute as stemming from a need for highly skilled engineers in the UK, and that he wanted to help people to gain new skills and graduate debt-free, whether they wanted to work for Dyson or were motivated to start their own businesses - something that would make the engineering research and development scene even more fertile for new innovations and ideas. Dyson's plan for a new university is part of a plan to grow the engineering industry in the Asia-Pacific region too.

If Dyson is awarded degree-giving powers for its new Singaporean institute, locals may be able to expect a similar scheme. Already, Singapore is due to be home to the Dyson-NTU Studio, the British company's first campus engineering studio in Asia. This is run with Nanyang Technological University, and is focused on new research and development (R&D), with students of all levels able to access unique prototyping equipment and technology used by the company, and ample support from industry experts to bring their ideas to life. It will simulate working at Dyson, so that the company can recruit high-quality graduates.

Dyson already has over 1,000 employees in Singapore, who work from their offices at the Singapore Technology Centre at the Singapore Science Park. They are aiming to create a new engineering centre at their offices here, and to increase their engineering team by 50% over the next few years. In order to do this, they have their eye on some of the high-quality engineering graduates who call the city home, aiming to hire 190 new engineers over the next five years.

The decision for Dyson to move to Asia may be a result of the company's high growth levels in the Asia-Pacific region. More than half of Dyson's £1.1 billion annual profit is generated from Asia, and this has increased by 30% in 2018 compared to the year before. They may also be spurred on by Singapore's unique focus on smart tech, with the government eagerly fostering new research and development, industry growth and collaborating with the private sector, as well as the large pool of talented young graduates, which could ensure Dyson's success for years to come.

Wholesale bonds from SGX open

Wholesale bonds from SGX open

The SGX, or the Singapore Exchange, is one of the main equity and derivative marketplace in south-east Asia, and many of the leading companies of Singapore use it as a primary marketplace.

It was created when the Singapore International Monetary Exchanges merged with the Stock Exchange of Singapore, and it is a crucial part of various benchmark indexes.

The SGX has recently added the MSCI China Free Index to its list of offers, and as a result, it has become a better representation of how broad equity markets are. This was part of its campaign to increase the variety of services it provides.

Retail investors in Singapore can now invest in wholesale bonds, which is something they were not able to do before, and it is all thanks to the SGX's brand-new bond seasoning framework.

This means that retail investors are now able to purchase wholesale bonds, six months after the SGX lists them, from as little as $1000.

Issuers can offer these bonds if they adhere to criteria which are connected to their listing history, track record, as well as their size. At the moment, the local bourse has 1 900 wholesale bonds, which are offered to accredited investors and institutions, and they are only available in denominations of at least $200 000.

Eligible issuers can also make use of "re-taps", which is what subsequent direct offers of bonds are called, in order to offer wholesale bonds to retail investors. They can do this without a prospectus and under the same terms as existing wholesale bonds, after the seasoning period of six months. This modification followed on the public consultations that SGX had made in 2014.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore has also announced an Exempt Bond Issuer Framework on top of the Seasoning Framework.

Issuers who comply with thresholds that are connected to their track record and which are more than the Seasoning's Framework's eligibility criteria can directly offer bonds to retail investors as soon as they are available, without prospectuses.

In order to be eligible, issuers need to have a market capitalisation exceeding S$1 billion across 180 market days, or, in the most recent audited annual financial statements and, as an average across the last three years, they should have a net asset exceeding S$ 500 million. Furthermore, they should have equity securities which have been listed on SGX or another securities exchange which has been recognized, over five years, and they should have listed bonds on SGX for five years.

Eligible issuers must also have, on average, a net profit of at least S$100 million, and a positive net operating cash flow, and a credit rating of AA- or higher. The bonds they offer should also have an AA- or higher credit rating. Furthermore, they have to have guaranteed the issuance of bonds that SGX lists for five years.

If bonds are offered through a re-tap, the initial offer size has to be at least S$150 million initially and they have to be listed as well as traded with on SGX, and cannot be larger than 50% of how much had originally been offered to specific investors, and retail investors have to be given a PHS if bonds will be re-denominated as well as when they become available for secondary trading.

The CEO of SGX, Loh Boon Chye, stated that there is a large amount of interest from retail investors regarding income investments which are fixed, and this will provide a wider variety of products related to fixed income. Furthermore, a larger group of investors is beneficial to issuers, and this campaign will advance the SGX's attempts to create a thriving as well as dynamic market regarding fixed income in the country.

The Walking and Cycling Plan

The Walking and Cycling Plan

The government if Singapore will provide incentives to developers so as to ensure the facilities being developed are equipped with bicycle parking, locker rooms and showers. This is a part of the plan of the government to promote walking and cycling. This will benefit the developers very much as the floor area that will be required to provide these facilities will be provided to them free. The Urban Redevelopment Authority has already declare that they are prepared to provide exemptions to gross floor area for these facilities.

The government's plan to promote walking and cycling is complimented perfectly by the exemption provided by the URA. The plan dictates that ever building erected onwards from July of this year will be required to have walking and cycling facilities. It is the government's belief that this will make walking and cycling more attractive to its people. This may make them opt to ride or walk to conserve energy or at least make it a part of their daily commute.

Parliament was recently told about the requirements developers will soon need to follow as it relates to building standards for bicycle parking by the Ministry of Transport. They were also reminded of the requirements for car parking. Developers such as Evia Real Estate believe that these requirements of the government's plan for facilities will put further strain on developers who already have a tedious time as it relates to space constraints. The developer argue that the rules of the URA requires every development area to reserve up to forty percent of the area to be used as greenery. This leaves them little to nothing in terms of space to do anything else. The actual cost for construction may not be as significant but for supporting services such as staircases and ramps are and they cost quite a bit.

Ground space is highly profitable for developers and since the proposed area for these facility will be on the ground level, the divisional director of Benoy, architecture firm Mr. Terence Seah argues that developers will lose significantly by giving up such prime space for the facilities. If some sort of incentive is offered to these developers it will make it a lot easier for the developers to agree to the plan and its requirements.

As it stands now the plan only applies to commercial developments such as school buildings, shopping complexes, office buildings and business parks. The ST does understand that residential developments will to have to conform to this plan eventually as well. Experts believe that the Walking and Cycling plan could inspire new architectural constructs due to the increase of cycling by the people. This could eventually change the entire streetscape providing more paths and ramps for cyclist and for those who use some other mobility device.

Professor CheahKok Ming an associate professor of the National University of Singapore believe that the plan could increase the amount of counters in a building that cyclist will use to do simple repairs to their cycles or to simply pump their tyers. The professor is a part of the Architecture department and he states that the government should be aware that they need certain thing in place for this plan to really take root and bear fruits. Developments will need to be highly connected in order to develop a network dedicated to walking and cycling. This will be needed if the governments intends to promote walking or cycling as the mode of transport. The professor also elaborated on the fact that there is no way to provide safety for a cyclist to enter and exit a building safely it the surroundings of the building are not designed and constructed well and with these commuters in mind.