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Ersu Ablak

Istanbul, Turkey
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About Ersu
Ersu Ablak is a journalist based in Istanbul, Turkey. I have been writing for various newspaper mainly on science, technology and society for over 15 years. I have done a radio show for 12 years.
English Turkish
Interview (Video / Broadcast) News Gathering Feature Stories
Business Politics Current Affairs

Technology in Politics, Elections, and Digital Democracy

23 May 2023  |  yetkinreport.com
Technology has increasingly permeated all aspects of social order since the 19th century, affecting daily life and politics. The AKP has been at the forefront of leveraging technology in politics, equipping party members with tablets and establishing a responsive infrastructure. Reha Denemeç, a founding member, was instrumental in this initiative. The AKP also recognized the power of social media early on, investing heavily in it. The CHP, on the other hand, has struggled to utilize technology effectively. The article suggests that the CHP could harness the potential of its well-educated supporters through decentralized initiatives like hackathons to contribute to direct democracy and address various issues, rather than continuing a centralized approach.

The Spotify Incident: Is Anti-Vaccination a Matter of Freedom of Speech?

02 Feb 2022  |  yetkinreport.com
The article discusses the controversy surrounding Spotify and the anti-vaccination statements made on Joe Rogan's podcast, 'The Joe Rogan Experience.' Neil Young requested his music be removed from Spotify due to the platform's association with Rogan's anti-vaccine misinformation. Following Young's stance, other artists and public figures considered leaving the platform, which led to a significant drop in Spotify's stock value. Spotify's CEO, Daniel Ek, admitted the company's policies on misinformation were not transparent enough and pledged to improve. The article raises questions about the limits of freedom of speech, especially when it comes to spreading misinformation that can affect public health.

Startups in Turkey: The noise is bigger than itself

07 Jul 2020  |  yetkinreport.com
The Turkish startup ecosystem has garnered attention with recent investments and acquisitions, including Peak Games' $1.8 billion sale to Zynga. However, the article argues that Turkey does not yet have a developed startup ecosystem, with a few individuals carrying the majority of the ecosystem's weight. Despite a peak investment year of $116 million in 2017, the ecosystem is still relatively small compared to other global cities. The article criticizes the superficial support for startups, questioning the actual contributions of large firms and self-proclaimed angel investors. It also highlights the need to support entrepreneurs, encourage older entrepreneurs, and improve transparency and accountability in both public and private sectors. The article suggests that without sincere efforts to support a real startup ecosystem, Turkey will remain a developing country.

Surviving on the edge

26 Jun 2020  |  hurriyetdailynews.com
Istanbul's startup ecosystem, highlighted by the $1.8 billion sale of Peak, is not prioritized by the government, which favors the construction industry. The technology sector is crucial for Turkey's future, offering high value per person, reducing imports, boosting exports, and increasing high-level employment. Despite 865 entrepreneurial tech companies in Istanbul employing over 25,000 people, the sector's growth is slowing. A report by Endeavor, 'Mapping the Istanbul Tech Ecosystem,' notes the ecosystem's past success but warns of recent challenges, including geopolitical instability and a currency crisis. The report calls for support to help new tech entrepreneurs scale, as only 13 percent of firms with 50 or more employees were founded in the past five years, indicating slowing dynamism. Access to tech talent and late-stage capital are identified as barriers for entrepreneurs.

Peak interest

03 Jun 2020  |  www.hurriyetdailynews.com
The sale of Peak to Zynga for $1.8 billion has marked a significant milestone for Turkey's tech ecosystem, putting Istanbul on the map for future tech investments. This deal is expected to attract more investors to Turkey and inspire established families to take the startup scene more seriously. The transaction has been beneficial for all parties involved, including investors and Peak's founder, Sidar Şahin. The success of Peak highlights the potential of Turkey's tech industry, particularly in gaming, with Istanbul emerging as a key hub. The article also notes the positive impact of recent investments in the Turkish startup scene.

Intelligent security

18 May 2020  |  www.hurriyetdailynews.com
COVID-19 has necessitated the adoption of new standards to minimize infection risks while maintaining economic stability. Public spaces need to function safely, and security technology plays a crucial role. Securitas CTO Emre Erdal discusses the shift towards unmanned and autonomous security solutions, emphasizing the importance of real-time prevention through advanced video analytics and monitoring systems. The article highlights various security services, including contactless car parking, automatic detection of suspicious activities, and analytics-based forensic investigations, underscoring the need for technological advancements in security to ensure both safety and economic continuity.

Global joblessness in highly educated workforce

11 May 2020  |  hurriyetdailynews.com
The article discusses the widespread job losses across various industries due to the economic impact of the pandemic, with companies like Tripadvisor, Cirque du Soleil, Marriott International, Airbnb, Bird, Eventbrite, and Yelp laying off or furloughing employees. In contrast, Peloton and Zynga are experiencing growth during this period. The article raises concerns about the future employment prospects for the highly skilled workforce and questions the potential solutions to this emerging problem.

Virtual worlds are here to stay

11 May 2020  |  hurriyetdailynews.com
Digital platforms and virtual worlds are increasingly significant in the post-COVID-19 world, with platforms like Houseparty and games like Fortnite seeing substantial user engagement. The Entertainment Software Association highlights gaming's mental and educational benefits, while the National Research Group notes a greater appreciation for technology's societal role during the pandemic. Virtual events, such as Travis Scott's Fortnite concert, are becoming more common, raising questions about the permanence and future evolution of virtual worlds and their impact on humanity.

What’s happening to entrepreneurs during this crisis?

20 Apr 2020  |  www.hurriyetdailynews.com
Turkish startups and entrepreneurs are facing unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 crisis, despite being accustomed to various crises in the past. Companies like Mutlubiev have adapted by expanding their services, while others like English Ninjas have seen growth due to increased demand. A survey by Endeavor reveals that most entrepreneurs have switched to remote work, with many concerned about customer retention and financial stability. The majority foresee a decrease in profit targets and have taken measures to reduce expenses. There is an urgent need for funding and mentorship to help these businesses navigate the crisis.

Will virtual be the norm?

09 Apr 2020  |  www.hurriyetdailynews.com
The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the adoption of virtual experiences, from online dating to virtual travel. Companies like Airbnb and Xbox are innovating with virtual travel guides and online experiences, allowing people to explore new places and activities from home. The shift towards virtual experiences raises questions about the future of travel and personal preferences for physical versus virtual experiences.

Do we still need fairs?

24 Jan 2020  |  www.hurriyetdailynews.com
Despite the rise of digital communication, the fair business remains strong, with events like Ambiente 2020 attracting thousands of buyers and exhibitors. Turkish companies are encouraged to participate in global fairs selectively, based on current industry needs and trends. Fairs provide opportunities for establishing new business contacts, developing existing relationships, and making new agreements. The Rail Industry Show in Eskişehir and the Retail Supply Chain Conference in Dallas are highlighted as significant events for industry stakeholders.

Being ultra-local or farming as a service

20 Jan 2020  |  www.hurriyetdailynews.com
The trend of ultra-local production is gaining momentum, with a focus on growing food closer to consumption points in Europe, the United States, and Japan. The Kroger Co. has partnered with Infarm to introduce modular living produce farms in QFC stores in Washington state, using hydroponic technology for on-site growth. This method reduces transportation, storage, and carbon footprint, making produce more eco-friendly and potentially more affordable. Infarm, a Berlin-based startup, has raised $100 million in Series B funding for its vertical farming technology, which is scalable and data-driven. The trend reflects a shift back to local production practices, now enhanced with modern technology.

Yandex, Google and Turkey

06 Jan 2020  |  www.hurriyetdailynews.com
The Turkish ICT market is experiencing turmoil due to competition issues involving Yandex, Google, and the Turkish Competition Authority. Google dominates the mobile device market in Turkey, leading to complaints from Yandex about anti-competitive practices. The Turkish Competition Authority has fined Google, which has threatened to stop issuing licenses for new mobile phones in Turkey. Despite the ongoing debate, Google has signed an agreement to bring its services to Turkey, potentially easing tensions. The article urges policymakers to prioritize citizens' interests amidst the competition between American and Russian companies.

Social media as a courtroom

06 Dec 2019  |  hurriyetdailynews.com
Due to a lack of trust in the judiciary, people in Turkey are increasingly seeking justice through social media. Cases that gain attention on these platforms tend to result in appropriate punishments, while those that do not are often met with leniency or dismissal. This trend is particularly evident in cases of violence against women. The author is concerned about the judiciary's reliance on social media popularity to administer justice and the implications for cases that do not become viral. The situation has led to social media platforms becoming arenas for justice-seeking, with public engagement seemingly influencing judicial outcomes.

Selling snail in a Muslim neighborhood

25 Nov 2019  |  www.hurriyetdailynews.com
Turkey's unique secular environment allows for diverse business ventures, exemplified by Can Algül's Pubinno, a San Francisco-based tech company revolutionizing the draft beer industry with its AI-powered Smart Tap II and Internet of Beer Platform. These innovations address key challenges in maintaining beer quality, reducing waste, and improving efficiency, with successful implementations in Turkey, Spain, and Israel.

Is TikTok the new marketing hype?

05 Aug 2019  |  www.hurriyetdailynews.com
TikTok, a social media app for sharing short videos, has become increasingly popular in Turkey with over 30 million accounts and 18 million active users. It is known for its authenticity, with users typically appearing without heavy makeup or edited images. In the U.S., brands like Chipotle have begun using TikTok for marketing, with successful campaigns leading to high digital sales. Despite controversies in India, TikTok launched the #cleanindia challenge to improve its image. The app's potential for marketing success in Turkey, particularly among B and C socio-economic groups, is highlighted.

Some patently good news

18 Jul 2019  |  www.hurriyetdailynews.com
Turkish innovators are making strides in patent filings, with Turkey improving its global ranking despite economic and political challenges. Notable innovations include a GMO detection device by Sabancı University and a microfiber-preventing washing machine by Arçelik. UiPath has partnered with Turkish universities to enhance education in RPA and AI, aiming to boost the quality and quantity of Turkish inventions. The article also briefly mentions Apple's release of new emojis.

Peak interest

07 Jun 2019  |  Hürriyet Daily News
The article discusses the sale of the Turkish gaming company Peak to the American gaming company Zynga. The author, Ersu Ablak, expresses surprise at the reaction of the Turkish public and media to the sale, noting that while Peak was known as the first unofficial unicorn in the Turkish ecosystem, the news came as a shock to the general population. The author criticizes Turkish news anchors for focusing solely on the financial aspect of the deal, which involves $900 million in cash and $900 million in Zynga shares, without understanding the significance of this business exit for the Turkish software and technology sector.

Sinemia itself could be a movie

06 May 2019  |  hurriyetdailynews.com
Sinemia, a monthly subscription service for movie tickets, faced legal challenges and operational issues leading to its shutdown of B2C operations in the U.S. and the firing of 60 staff members. CEO Rıfat Oğuz received recognition for his work, but the company was sued by competitor MoviePass and faced class action lawsuits over service fees and wrongful termination of subscriptions. Despite attempts to raise more funds in Turkey, the investment round was halted amid the legal troubles. The future of Sinemia and its story remains uncertain.

Does social media fail us?

22 Mar 2019  |  hurriyetdailynews.com
Social media platforms, driven by profit-oriented algorithms, are criticized for creating echo chambers and failing to prevent the spread of harmful content. The article highlights the negative impact of such algorithms, exemplified by the continued presence of extremist figures like Alex Jones on Instagram. In contrast, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is praised for her efforts to hold social media companies accountable, especially in the aftermath of the New Zealand attack. The author calls for more political leaders to follow Ardern's example and challenge the status quo of social media platforms.

Startup Bahrain builds bridges

11 Mar 2019  |  www.hurriyetdailynews.com
130,000 startups applied to pitch at the 11th Startup Turkey Conference, with 100 startups from 65 countries selected. Four winning startups were chosen: Ali Huda, TemanBisnes, Wayakit, and Dine & Pay. Startup Turkey has become a regional power, with international sponsors including Estonia and Startup Bahrain. The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) announced a fast track setup process for Turkish startups, offering residency, visa, and business registration support, financial grants, and access to incubators and accelerators. Bahrain is promoted as a cost-effective, highly-connected hub for startups, with easy access to neighboring markets like Saudi Arabia.

Aunty Gül of the music industry

11 Mar 2019  |  www.hurriyetdailynews.com
Music significantly influences consumer behavior, with background music affecting purchasing decisions and spending. Copyright management is crucial for businesses, enforced by organizations like MESAM and MÜ-YAP. Gül Gürer Alimgil, a founding partner of SMG, leads a successful technology firm providing licensed and royalty-free music services, operating in 30 countries with significant revenue growth. SMG's subsidiary, Snapmuse, produces royalty-free music and is expanding into foreign markets.

Oh internet, where art thou?

11 Feb 2019  |  www.hurriyetdailynews.com
Turkey aims to become a global financial, logistics, and technology hub by 2023, but faces significant challenges due to poor internet connectivity and speed. Despite high ambitions and societal support, the country's internet penetration and speed lag behind global standards, hindering its competitive edge. Immediate action is required to address these infrastructural issues to achieve its goals.

New generation, new habits, new companies

27 Jan 2019  |  www.hurriyetdailynews.com
Ambition is crucial for entrepreneurs, but it must be supported by knowledge and hard work. Kemal Uğur, co-founder and CEO of Pixery, aims to make Pixery the Adobe of mobiles. With a strong background and significant achievements, including leading roles at NGCodec and Nokia Research Center, Uğur has positioned Pixery as a promising player in the Turkish ICT industry. Pixery's main products, Impresso and Funimate, have gained significant recognition and user base, driven by trends in visual content among teenagers. The company's use of artificial intelligence and original themes sets it apart in a competitive market.

Esports: The rising market for Turkish teens

23 Jan 2019  |  www.hurriyetdailynews.com
2019 is shaping up to be a significant year for esports in Turkey, with major developments such as the Vodafone Freezone Champions League for League of Legends, the release of Turkey's first esports movie 'İyi Oyun', and an esports summit. Redbull TV broadcasted a special program on Istanbul's esports scene. KFC is sponsoring a Call of Duty tournament, and according to esportsflag.com, Counter-Strike is Turkey's most popular esports game. Vestel's CMO, Tunç Berkman, predicts rapid growth for esports, with over 4 million fans in Turkey. Upcoming events include the Chapter VII fest by Multiplayer.com.tr, featuring tournaments in games like Fortnite and FIFA.

Overcoming prejudices

14 Jan 2019  |  www.hurriyetdailynews.com
The article discusses the pervasive nature of prejudices in the modern world, highlighting the success story of Mehmet Emin Okur, the founder of sefamerve.com, an e-commerce site for modest Muslim fashion. Despite facing societal prejudices, Okur's company has thrived, empowering Muslim women by providing them with fashion choices that align with their religious beliefs. The article also touches on Okur's investment in Whim, a Finnish company aiming to revolutionize mobility through its MaaS (Mobility as a Service) model. The author reflects on overcoming his own prejudices and acknowledges the positive impact of Okur's work in bridging cultural and societal gaps.

Fate of the crypto currencies

31 Dec 2018  |  hurriyetdailynews.com
Kaspersky's predictions for the future of cryptocurrencies suggest a decline in their use as a means of payment, a realization that blockchain has limited applications beyond cryptocurrency, and no return to the high exchange rates of 2017. The author, Ersu Ablak, agrees with these predictions and suggests that the sociological aspects of cryptocurrency usage in Turkey warrant further study. He also speculates that more robust cryptocurrencies may emerge with banks' involvement in blockchain technologies.

Beyond banking

26 Nov 2018  |  www.hurriyetdailynews.com
Turkey, despite not having a large banking industry, excels in financial technologies and innovations, being named a digital champion in Deloitte's 'Digital Banking Maturity' report. The report identifies market pressure from customers and competitors as key drivers of digital banking maturity. It outlines three stages to becoming a digital champion: digitalization, open banking, and beyond banking. Turkey's fintech investments and startups are promising for the future.

Media as we know it is changing fast

12 Nov 2018  |  www.hurriyetdailynews.com
The media landscape is rapidly evolving with the convergence of technology, media, and entertainment. Limelight Networks' research reveals significant trends in gaming habits, such as the preference for mobile gaming and the increasing popularity of watching online gaming. The rise of platforms like DLive.tv, which offers a commission-free, ad-free streaming experience, is transforming how content is consumed, particularly in Turkey. These developments indicate a shift away from traditional TV towards new digital platforms and changing viewing preferences.

Startup Istanbul rocked the startup stage once again

22 Oct 2018  |  www.hurriyetdailynews.com
Startup Istanbul, an event that brings together entrepreneurs from around the world, was celebrated for its spirit and purpose of fostering better entrepreneurship. The event saw 90,000 startups from 65 countries apply, with the youngest finalist being 15 years old and all three winners being women. The winners included Friendbase from Sweden, Neurafarm from Indonesia, and Iyris from Saudi Arabia, each offering innovative solutions in their respective fields. The event's diversity and impact on the startup community were emphasized, with hopes for continued support and growth.

Business connectivity is bigger than the internet

22 Oct 2018  |  www.hurriyetdailynews.com
In 2018, the internet has brought unprecedented connectivity to individuals and corporations, with the latter reaping significant benefits. Business-to-business (B2B) connections are outpacing the growth of the internet, with private business connections projected to carry ten times the data of the entire internet by 2021. The Equinox Global Interconnectivity Index 2018 highlights key digital trends for businesses, including network optimization, hybrid multicloud architectures, distributed security, and data management. Companies aiming for global reach must pay attention to these trends to avoid the high costs of neglecting IT infrastructure.

A newcomer to the Turkish SaaS market

07 Sep 2018  |  www.hurriyetdailynews.com
ZOHO Corporation, an Indian software development company, is expanding into the Turkish market, leveraging its presence in the United States and India. The company, known for its web-based business tools and IT solutions, maintains a startup spirit despite its growth. ZOHO's transparent handling of a service outage, where CEO Sridhar Vembu directly engaged with customers on Twitter, contrasts with typical industry practices. The expansion is seen as a positive sign for the Turkish market and ZOHO's potential contribution to local businesses.

How to fix the education system?

23 Jul 2018  |  www.hurriyetdailynews.com
Turkey's education system is failing, with declining PISA scores and high youth unemployment rates. The national university admission examination results are poor, with low averages in correct answers. The ambitious Fatih Project, aimed at digitally transforming the education system, failed due to a focus on hardware over content. The author urges for a collaboration between Turkish e-learning companies like Udemy and E-nocta to create updated content for the Fatih Project, suggesting that with the right tools and content, Turkish students can perform on par with international peers.

How to win in an economic crisis

02 Jul 2018  |  www.hurriyetdailynews.com
Economists are divided on whether an economic crisis is imminent or already occurring. In times of financial hardship, startups that offer significant value to customers tend to thrive. Historical examples include the rise and fall of coupon companies during the 2001 crisis. The Turkish e-commerce sector could see similar growth, especially with Amazon's potential market entry. However, modern consumers demand fair treatment, which has led to innovative business models like Kuponsa, which offers monetary incentives without compromising customer experience. Such models are likely to gain traction, presenting opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs.

Cyprus is fastest way to obtain European passport

18 Jun 2018  |  hurriyetdailynews.com
Turkish nationals, along with Syrians and Iraqis in Turkey, are increasingly interested in acquiring second citizenships to ease travel restrictions and expand business opportunities. Citizenship Invest CEO Veronica Cotdemiey notes that Cyprus offers the fastest route to a European passport through a 2 million euro real estate investment, granting the right to live, work, and study in the EU and visa-free access to over 170 countries. Other popular programs include those of Grenada, Dominica, and Antigua & Barbuda. The upcoming elections in Turkey bring hope for a stronger Turkish passport, but until then, second citizenships remain an attractive option for bypassing bureaucracy.

Turkish Lira vs. Turkish technology industry

22 May 2018  |  www.hurriyetdailynews.com
The article discusses the impact of the falling Turkish Lira on the Turkish ICT industry, highlighting increased hardware and software prices, potential decline in sales, and a possible rise in software exports due to lower coder wages in Turkey compared to the U.S. and EU. However, it warns of a potential brain drain as talented coders may seek better wages abroad. The author urges the Turkish government to support the ICT industry, emphasizing its potential for high profit margins and growth, particularly in areas like gaming and blockchain technologies. A clear industrial strategy and collaboration between government agencies, startups, and industry giants like Aselsan are recommended to foster growth.

The new fintech frontier: Financial health

21 May 2018  |  www.hurriyetdailynews.com
The Turkish startup ecosystem, though smaller compared to countries like Germany and the United States, is growing rapidly. Village Capital and MetLife Foundation, in collaboration with Bümed Business Angels, hosted a financial health forum in Istanbul, awarding $20,000 in grants to fintech startups. The forum emphasized financial health, which includes managing cash flow, building economic resilience, and accessing financial services. MetLife Foundation and Village Capital support startups through mentorship and investment. Two startups, Microfon and Tekkredi, each received $10,000 for their innovative solutions in crowdfunding and debt consolidation, respectively.

Still investing in Turkey

07 May 2018  |  www.hurriyetdailynews.com
Foreign direct investment in Turkey has slowed in recent years, but companies like Equinix continue to invest, believing in the country's long-term potential. Equinix, a global data center company, has invested $93 million in a data center in Istanbul, highlighting Turkey's strategic importance for internet traffic and its growing IT services market. Equinix's EMEA President, Eric Schwartz, emphasized their commitment to supporting local enterprises and multinationals in Turkey. The article also discusses the potential for companies like PayPal to return to the Turkish market, facilitated by Equinix's infrastructure.

The e-sports federation is one giant step

30 Apr 2018  |  www.hurriyetdailynews.com
Interest in e-sports in Turkey has surged, with companies and state authorities increasingly involved. Private investments have led to the formation of notable Turkish e-sports teams, and the recent establishment of an e-gaming federation by the Youth and Sports Ministry marks a significant milestone. This federation will provide official accreditation, state funding, and easier access to international competitions for Turkish teams and gamers. The future of e-gaming in Turkey looks promising, with hopes for international success.

Fool me twice, shame on me

27 Mar 2018  |  www.hurriyetdailynews.com
Recent scams in Turkey, including the Çiftlik Bank and Anadolu Farm cases, have led to widespread public outrage and increased awareness. These scams have exploited thousands of people, resulting in significant financial losses. The latest trend involves mobile applications like Get Contact, which share users' contact information, raising privacy concerns. The Information and Communications Technologies Authority (BTK) has initiated investigations into these applications. The author emphasizes the need for critical thinking and technological literacy to avoid falling victim to such schemes.

It is all about 5G

28 Feb 2018  |  Hürriyet Daily News
The Mobile World Congress highlighted 5G as the dominant topic, with major companies like Huawei, T-Mobile, Nokia, Sprint, Delta, Airbus, Qualcomm, Airtel, Samsung, Argela, and Turk Telekom announcing significant advancements and plans for 5G technology. Huawei unveiled the Balong 5G01 chipset, claiming it to be the world's first 5G commercial chipset. T-Mobile intends to launch 5G in 30 cities, with Pakistan poised to be the first in South Asia to introduce 5G Internet. Sprint, Delta, and Airbus are collaborating on in-flight 5G services, while Qualcomm's tests show promising results. In Turkey, Turkcell and Samsung are partnering on 5G services, and Turk Telekom is actively involved in 5G development. The article conveys a sense of excitement and anticipation for the transformative potential of 5G technology.

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