Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Naukri IPO

After months of speculation and waiting Naukri.com finally and officially announced that it its going public . it has submited its IPO filing with sebi . you can read it here .

Althoug timing is a little odd but still this is really an exciting news for Internet Business in India . Sanjeev has proved that Internet business can make money and to be profitable you don’t really need to have an worldwide audience to serve . you can do it by serving the need to domestic customers also .

i had the opportunity to meet Hitesh and Sanjeev Twice . if anyone deserve this honour than it is this team. i can foresee a Mad rush to invest in all the dot com .can we say that dot com boom 2 has finally started in India . i think now VCs will start looking at companies beyond Travel portals :-)

Critical Q is what will they do with all the money they are raising ? there are two option which easily comes to mind 1) they will start expanding their operations overseas but honestly this doesn’t require a lot of cash they can easily leverage their “Word Of mouth ” Credentials . second is to diversify in other vertical . with jeevansaathi.com & 99acres.com in their stable this seems to be a logical step. I personally feel that 99acres is a good place to focus . in my last assignment at WebPlains (a great company BTW ) i have worked as a salesman in Staffing /recruitment domain . i have seen the clout of Naukri firsthand ( w.r.t to bixee and green hire episode ) .

and with whatever little exposure i have to real estate market i can safely say that stage is all set for infoedge to capture this market . with Naukri going public i think 99acres can get all the attention it deserve and Team infoedge should stop treating it as a step child .coming months will be interesting to watch the action .

Pirates of Silicon Valley-Microsoft steals from Apple

I am a YouTube fan . in the wake of recent turn of event at Microsoft (M$) BillG's announcement to step down and everything else i started sniffing youtube for some videos related to Bill Gates,Microsoft ,Steve Jobs ,Apple . intially i was doing it just for amusement but then i discovered some really serious stuff here .
This one shown here is a clip from a movie based on the story of BillG and Steve Jobs titeled
"Pirates Of Silicon Valley "
its cool , do watch it .


Friday, June 16, 2006

News :: July 2008 & Bill will be Out of Gate

So the word is officially out ..Bill Gates ..The Richest man in world and Founder of Microsoft has finally decide to step down from Day to day responsibilities of Microsoft's operations in July 2008 .HE will be assuming more of an Advisory role in the company . he will still be the chairman of the company and its single largest individual share holder . He plan to devote more time to Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Charity work .

This news caught me with surprise i am still in a state of shock .Can People like Bill Gates ever retire is it possible for them ?? I still believe its not . he is a great Business Leader and Visionary and of course in few quarter he is practical also . He may lack Steve Jobs Charisma ,he may not be in news like Jack Welch or Soros for his passionate believe in anything and propaganda around his believe and he may not be able to communicate like Paul Graham but he is in my view the brightest master of strategy world has ever seen in recent history .

Will Microsoft become a lesser company without BillG ? will it make things easier for Google ? Is it just a Smoke and Mirror Tactics to withdraw attention away and saving the company from too much of public scrutiny ?? will BillG's Ghost haunt Redmond ? is the days of Desktop computing over ? are we finally entering in to always on ,always on demand , web ( 2.0) based world .

I don't know . I don't think anybody know for sure . i am sure of two things

#1) It will not change a thing for Google . for a company of the size of google & Microsoft you (Usually ) don't need a competitor to Kill yourself . your weight and foolishness is enough to do a good job of it .

#2)Biggest beneficiary of this move will be MS it self as a lot of hidden talent in MS top brass will come out from the shadow of banyan tree (Read BillG) and will get there share of lime light . it will give a tough competition to any suspecting rival.

#3) Desktop computing will remain a dominant paradigm of personal Computing for a long time to come .

#4) Bill Gates will remain the richest Man for a long time to come .

I am still pondering over the long term implication of this news . will post a full fledged analysis sometime over the weekend. however Joel Spoksky has given an excellent write up on his first meeting with Bill G when he was working with Microsoft . its worth reading. Find it here .

Thursday, June 15, 2006

floofy cloud or Aline in Sky

floofy cloud
Originally uploaded by Anosmia.
I am a member of a group on Flickr Called " Window Seat Please" . To day i came across this mystical picture on the board . somebody clicked a cloud from his window seat and some oneelse saw a ghost in that cloud .
can you find out the Ghost or Alien here??

Folck :A New Web Browser

Few days back guys at Folck released a public beta of their much awaited Browser . It was an exciting news for me for two reasons.  One i happen to meet with Chris at barcamp Bangalore and attended his presentation on Micro formats . it was awesome . he  was till very recent past  associated with this project . Now he is a freelancer doing consulting work .

secondly this project was making a very different  and somewhat dramatic bet on the future of browsing as we know it . Since the inception of browsing technology ( Mosaic  Onward ) the approach to developing a browser is pretty much standard . browser was more of a gateway. it was done in a more and more generalised fashion . there was no optimization for any application specific or domain specific usage pattern . there was support for ActiveX,XML,Frames but they were not aimed at any particular user base . that means there was no application level optimization there was no specific browser for E-Commerce or for Usenet or blogs or for video . there was a business sense in doing that .of course if you optimize your browser for one user group you run the risk of alienating with the rest of Internet users . since no single user base was big enough to make this kind of effort commercially viable so it was in  the best interest of developer to make it as Horizontal as possible .

folck is the first browser with this application layer optimization . they have positioned themselves as a browser for web 2.0 crowd who are neck deep in to  social networking and tagging and other such stuff . their tag line says "Browser for You and Your Friends". with its feature for Blogging, Feed reader and photo sharing it surely have some appeal to this user base .  i am hooked on it right now and plan to do so in future but i really wonder how long i can keep up with the inconvenience of using multiple browsers . Maintaining  History , Book Marks ,feeds,passwords  at two places is too much of work .

its really an interesting experiment . do we really need a separate browser for every kind of browsing we do ? can we all the features of folck be pushed in to FireFox by some extension or some plug gin . is it just an heck an experiment or this is a start of a new trend .
well time ahead will be the judge of it . but right now i am captivated by the sleek interface and new features of folck . Kudos to the team .
good luck ...may the force be with you .

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Problems with Mobile web

My affair with mobile web application domain is around 7 year old now. I was a little late adopter of a fixed line telephone as our village was not having a phone line. when I get in to college I fell in love with wireless networking .when I was asked to deliver seminar as part of my course curriculum I choose to give a presentation on “WAP: A Tool To Unwire Internet “ . Since that day I am constantly monitoring this domain from the view point of a amused observer, tech enthusiast, user and since last six month or so as an aspiring entrepreneur willing to get a slice of some action and make a small fortune in process.

Jokes apart I honestly believe that Mobile Web domain is the next hot thing in Hi Tech . Forthcoming years will see a hell lot of action in this space. Specially for a country like India where cost of access device (Read PC) is still a bit too high for most of the people . Mobile phone offer a very affordable alternate for internet access.

But something is missing. Even though we have all the tools and conditions to create a mobile web ecosystem. Still we haven’t got the critical mass .this industry has not really reached at a Tipping Point. atleast not yet .

Why?? What is the Problem?

My One Line Answer: “Our Approach to Problem is the Real Problem”

In this post I intend to draft an anatomy of our wrong approach to mobile web application development.

PC Hangover

What would you call a device that has a screen, a keyboard, storage for personal information such as contacts, email, documents, the ability to play audio and video files, some games, a spreadsheet program, and a communications capability?
Sound like a personal computer? How about "mobile phone" ?

Philip Greenspun In "Mobile Phone As Home Computer"

“Think about it... someday there'll be some newbie. He'll register a domain, throw up a bunch of mobile web pages and then someone will hit the site from their PC and get an error... "Oops! I totally forgot about the PC!"
Will it happen? Hmmm. Probably not, right, since that newbie will probably be making the web pages from his or her computer, so they'll obviously try the site from their PC.
Mobile Web Pages will be the norm when you can create a complete mobile website from your phone without help from a computer. It's like the web equivalent of a OS bootstrapping. Until you can do everything from creation to consuming from your mobile, there'll always be a PC in the way, and thus the mindset won't change (at least for me). “

Russell Beattie In Mobile Webpage Thoughts

When we think of computing we think of PC , when we think of internet we think of PC as the default device . All our design heuristic are derived from PC World & developing Apps for mobile is perceived as equivalent to Picking up a desktop application and optimizing it for low screen size, low processing power and less onboard memory . And eureka !!! what you have got is a browsing experience which sucks

Both Mobile and Desktop are tow different devices which are used in different manner, the parameter of user expectation are different. So making a rehash of desktop application and trying to push it down the throat of end user will not help.

People(read :We the Geeks) are trying to use mobile web as a glue to fix when desktop web access is broken because of mobility limitation of desktop. IMHO this is the reason why mobile web has not been able to take a life of its own . App Designers /Architects believe that mobile browsing is a way to patch the connectivity glitch , its not a mainstream internet access medium. In spite of the huge success of DoCoMo’s Mobile Data Application in Japan most of the companies (Telcos, OEM, Content Provider ) don’t look at it as a mainstream access device which is not doing justice to the potential it holds .

My Two Cents Advice: Stop looking at mobile web access as a secondary/Ad hoc browsing solution and start building Apps with mobile paradigm in their DNA. It’s not an exercise in optimization, its something we need to do from the scratch.

Generation Gap

Most of the Decision making guys in Telco & OEM are the in Late Forties and they are totally out of sync with the expectation and realities of Young-Hip-and Upwardly mobile user base of Their product . I talked to a Senior Guy of VAS in Leading Telco and he said “Given the Rock Bottom Call Rates Here in India I think SMS is a sheer waste of Time “

In the same Telco I talked to a Sr. Manager (Marketing) {Ex-HLL } and asked him Where/When do you think your customer is most likely to use your VAS Services like GPRS etc . He was at a loss but then said “at Barista/Coffee Day I guess” . He may have a point but one reason why mobile browsing picked up in Japan (and UK to some extent ) and not in USA is that people commute using Public Transport (London Tube & other Train ,BUS .Tram Etc) in Japan and UK but American prefer to Drive their way to work . Now I think its kind of hard to drive and browse simultaneously. People in Telco seems to be totally clueless about it . A classic case of Marketing Myopia.

Now I know and you know the size of market SMS/Mobile VAS represent .if I am launching an Innovative SMS based service I need to fight this Guy in his Late Forties, based on my experience as a sales man I can safely say that biggest difficulty in concept selling is to convince a guy whose generation haven’t “lived” with the problem which you are solving

(As a matter of fact I can’t convince my DAD that its worthy to spend 500 bucks on a pizza. He just won’t listen to me and dismiss my arguments in amusement. ).

Telco might be very swift in adapting to the technology in Equipment .we skipped one phase of Telecom Equipment evolution and moved straight to High Bandwidth OFC Networks. But our business logic is still (mostly) a rehash of AT&T syndrome and we all know that at one point of time AT&T had more Lawyers than Engineers.

Some external Events like SMS Response to “Indian Idol” may give a jolt to these folks once in a while and they may realize the size of opportunity but they are totally incapable of doing it in a proactive manner.

My Two cents Advice: Voice is Dead (Remember the Line in a Cell phone Commercial “…..And You Can Also Talk”). Stop Idealizing AT&T and look at NTT DoCoMo and try to do in India what they have done in Japan . That’s where the future is.

Walled Gardens & Traffic Policemen:

“Most big companies have some kind of turf to protect, and this tends to warp their development decisions. For example, Web-based applications are hot now, but within Microsoft there must be a lot of ambivalence about them, because the very idea of Web-based software threatens the desktop. So any Web-based application that Microsoft ends up with, will probably, like Hotmail, be something developed outside the company.”

Paul Graham In Hiring Is Obsolete

Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? (Who will guard the guards themselves? )

:Juvenal, Satires, Roman poet & satirist (55 AD - 127 AD)

This in my opinion is the most damaging aspect of mobile web . Because it has got something to do with an external dependency. From Telco’s to OEMs , From Regulatory bodies to VCs everyone is somewhat biased toward the Big Companies and no body actually give a damn to entrepreneurs .

Things are different in Traditional web application space . If you come up with a good application & execute properly than you have a fair chance to be successful. Because nobody can stop your customer to come to you and consume your services. There is very little external dependency, not for the most part.

But here in mobile web where Pipes are monitored and controlled by the Big Brother (READ: TELCO) you are literally at the mercy of the whims of Telco. The moment you are profitable the Telco mafia knock at your doors for extortion. Even Google’s Of World are not immune from this.

Conflict over revenue sharing between Content providers and Distributors (Telcos ) is another area where there is a ugly exploitation is rampant . In Japan most of the time content provider get as high as 80% of the revenue . here in India the providers cut is 30% at the most . Why ??

Telco says that this is because most of the content is not available in India are very much a commodity. Ringtone, Wallpaper, screensaver etc so it makes sense for them to squeeze it because there Rival Telco can easily copy it next time. Point taken .

We the entrepreneurs are to blame for this. There are very few genuinely New Application in this space in India . One of My Friend who commute through DTC had a tough time finding out the availability to Bus on a various routes . She asked me can’t she SMS her location & destination and some application send her the schedule and Bus number of the next DTC bus available. Truth is it can be done .very easily she only need to send her destination as Telco knows her location anyway and DTC Schedule is more or less stable . So why don’t we have a service like that yet??


1) the skeptic Telco guys will say that folks will prefer to ask bystanders than SMS. (Alright ADD Inter-state Traffic and Railway schedule to it).

2) We are busy making ring tone L

Cell Phone OEMs are another “Partner in Crime“here. After more than a decade of cell phone usage there is no standardization in the market .we are not unanimously agreed even to the battery and charger format. Which should be obvious as charger is a non strategic thing .

Point is that Its not that standards are half baked or they are evolving . the reason is that proprietary implementation is a way to hold the customer in a Mousetrap .but on the flip side in the absence of a unified standard developers are always confused about how to develop an application to have maximum foot print.

My Two Cents: I can’t say anything which they don’t know already . They seems to know the PC History and are aware of the benefits of standardization but it seems that they are afraid of end up being IBM.

This is my take on some of the problems which are associated with Mobile web wonderland. I wanted to write about the VC side of story also but refrained from doing so because I will be looking for the funding soon .

As always your comment and feedbacks are welcome and awaited