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Irani Cafe – Hyderabad February 11, 2007

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Machine is Us/ing Us February 9, 2007

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Sweden: Worlds first embassy in second life February 8, 2007

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Sweden will set up a virtual presence in the popular online world “Second Life” to spread information about the Scandinavian country and attract more young visitors, officials said Monday.

The government-sanctioned “embassy” will provide curious visitors with information about Swedish culture and history, as well as tips about places to visit and visa rules for tourists, Swedish Institute Director Olle Wastberg said.

The institute operates under the Swedish Foreign Ministry and is charged with promoting Sweden internationally — including in the virtual world, Wastberg said.

“We’re constantly trying to reach new groups of people with information about Sweden,” Wastberg said. “This is a very simple and cheap way to reach a large group of younger, educated people who are flooded with information.”

“Second Life” has more than 3 million users who create avatars of themselves and move about the virtual world, chatting with others, buying land, building homes and businesses. Numerous real-world businesses have already set up shop in the virtual space, but Wastberg said Sweden will be the first country with an official presence.

The building is set to open in the coming weeks and will be a replica of the House of Sweden embassy that opened last year in Washington, D.C., allowing visitors to enter and read displays or click on links to informational Web sites. Institute employees will also be present in the building much of the time to chat with visitors, Wastberg said.

“We think this can create an added interest for Sweden,” Wastberg said. “You have to think of ways to attract people.”

 

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Wii or PS3 – Choice is simple :) February 8, 2007

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Harvard’s Breakthrough Ideas for 2007 February 5, 2007

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The HBR List

Annual survey of emerging ideas considers how nanotechnology will affect commerce, what role hope plays in leadership, and why, in an age that practically enshrines accountability, we need to beware of “accountabalism.”

 

1. The Accidental Influentials *
Duncan J. Watts
In his best seller The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell argues that “social epidemics” are driven in large part by the actions of a tiny minority of special individuals. The idea seems intuitively right—we think we see it happening all the time. Nevertheless, this isn’t actually how ideas spread. It’s better to focus on getting enough plain, ordinary people to sign on.

2. Entrepreneurial Japan
Yoshito Hori
Japan’s economic rebound is generally attributed to the turnaround of corporate giants and to industry consolidation. But it is also fueled by the emergence of new companies led by entrepreneurs in their twenties and thirties. An entrepreneurial Japan—no longer an oxymoron—may ultimately overshadow the much touted start-up cultures of China and India.

3. Brand Magic: Harry Potter Marketing
Frédéric Dalsace, Coralie Damay, and David Dubois
Most brands target a specific age group. The big problem with this approach is that it positively discourages customer loyalty—and, as we all know, it’s a lot cheaper to keep customers than to find new ones. To get around this problem, companies should consider creating brands that mature with their customers.

4. Algorithms in the Attic
Michael Schrage
For a powerful perspective on future business, take a hard look at mathematics past: the old equations collecting dust on academics’ shelves. Just as big firms need the keen eye of an intellectual property curator to appreciate the value of old patents and know-how, they will need savvy mathematicians to resurrect long-forgotten equations that, because of advancing technology, can finally be applied to business.

5. The Leader from Hope
Harry Hutson and Barbara Perry
Most business leaders shy away from the word “hope.” Yet hope has been shown to be the key ingredient of resilience in survivors of traumas ranging from prison camps to natural disasters. So if you are an executive trying to lead an organization through change, know that hope can be a potent force in your favor. And it’s yours to give.

6. An Emerging Hotbed of User-Centered Innovation *
Eric von Hippel
Most countries, developing and developed alike, view innovation as a vital input to their economic growth and spend varying portions of their national budgets to support it in companies and research labs, for the ultimate benefit of essentially passive consumers. Denmark is taking a different tack: It’s making “user-centered innovation” a national priority.

7. Living with Continuous Partial Attention
Linda Stone
“Continuous partial attention”—distinct from multitasking—is an adaptive behavior that presumably allows us to keep pace with the never-ending bandwidth technology offers. Now there are signs of a backlash against the tyranny of tantalizing choices.

8. Borrowing from the PE Playbook
Michael C. Mankins
Company coffers are overflowing these days, and inevitably executives are turning to the M&A markets in their quest to put the cash to good use. If they’re to avoid repeating the disappointments of previous M&A waves, they will have to take a few leaves from the acquisition playbook of private equity firms.

9. When to Sleep on It
Ap Dijksterhuis
Use your conscious mind to acquire all the information you need to arrive at a difficult decision, but don’t try to analyze it. Instead, go on holiday and let your unconscious mind digest the information for a day or two. Whatever your intuition then tells you is almost certainly going to be the best choice.

10. Here Comes XBRL
Robert G. Eccles, Liv Watson, and Mike Willis
A new software standard for financial and business reporting, soon to be adopted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, will make it dramatically easier to generate, validate, aggregate, and analyze business and financial information—which in turn will improve the quality of the information companies use to make decisions.

11. Innovation and Growth: Size Matters *
Geoffrey B. West
Newfound general mathematical relationships between population size, innovation, and wealth creation challenge the conventional wisdom that smaller innovation functions are more inventive. They may explain why few organizations today have matched the creativity of a giant like Bell Labs in its heyday.

12. Conflicted Consumers
Karen Fraser
Your customer data indicate strong consumer satisfaction: Repeat purchase levels are high, and many customers have been with you for years. Good news, right? Well, appearances can be deceptive. Buried in the data may be a “stealth” segment of apparently loyal customers whose ethical concerns make them ready to bolt as soon as an alternative emerges.

13. What Sells When Father Knows Best
Phillip Longman
The link between conservatism and fertility is found throughout the world, and it portends a comeback for patriarchy and other traditional values. Business leaders must learn how to profit from, or at least prepare for, this trend.

14. Business in the Nanocosm
Rashi Glazer
Though the scientific and technological revolution that may occur as a result of nanotechnology has been much discussed, the sociocultural and business implications are of potentially much greater impact. Nanotechnology may change society over the next few decades just as much as information technology has over the previous few—and in ways that are still hard to grasp.

15. Act Globally, Think Locally *
Yoko Ishikura
Companies are usually told to “think globally and act locally.” But thanks to their own global information systems and the Internet, knowledge from faraway places can be acquired relatively easily and cheaply. This means that firms have to discover and quickly incorporate good ideas from these diverse sources before their rivals do.

16. Seeing Is Treating
Klaus Kleinfeld and Erich Reinhardt
When several technologies can be leveraged simultaneously, the possibilities for real breakthroughs in medical care multiply. That is occurring today with the convergence of imaging technology and biotechnology, which promises to radically change the diagnosis and treatment of many chronic diseases, greatly benefiting both patients and the companies that serve them.

17. The Best Networks Are Really Worknets *
Christopher Meyer
The assumption is that if you build a network platform, people will come. If you expect to get real value from your initiative, though, you must think hard and in advance about exactly what function you want the network to perform. That will help you choose the participants, the nature of their experiences, and the technology. In other words, put the work in “network” first.

18. Why U.S. Health Care Costs Aren’t Too High
Charles R. Morris
Contrary to popular belief, health care costs, broadly defined, are quite probably falling. It is spending that is rising, which is not the same thing at all. The benefits of health care for individuals, society, and the economy—such as getting people back to work faster—more than outweigh its direct costs.

19. In Defense of “Ready, Fire, Aim”
Clay Shirky
The bulk of open source projects fail, and most of the remaining successes are quite modest. Still, open systems are a profound threat to many businesses, not only because they outsucceed commercial firms but, more important, because they outfail them.

20. The Folly of Accountabalism
David Weinberger
Accountability has gone horribly wrong. It has become “accountabalism,” a set of related beliefs and practices that bureaucratize morality and make us believe we can control our lives by adhering to specific rules. But grown-ups prefer clarity and realism to happy superstition.

 

 

Web 2.0 India – Innovations and Challenges February 5, 2007

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Computer Society of India is hosting a National conference on Web 2.0 at the Royal Orchid Bangalore / Bengalooru. Topics for discussion include Blogs & RSS, AJAX, GYM Mashups, Socio-Business applications and Web Services in enterprise computing. Panel discussion includes teh darker side of Web 2.0 – Spam, Privacy, Piracy etc.

If you would like to attend the same, here is the registration form.[PDF]

 Hat Tip : [ goBroadband ]

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Save the Internet February 2, 2007

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Net neutrality has been explained by Craig, by a Ninja, but never as well as this open source video. Entertaining, too.

They call it Human Lobotomy.

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Podcast with Kanwal Rekhi February 2, 2007

Posted by rajAT in entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, india, tie.
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Kiruba Shankar did a podcast with Kanwal Rekhi at the TiE Con Summit.

For naysayyers kanwal is the father of TiE and inspiration to many indian entrepreneurs.

He was a regular visitor to our college ( IIIT-H ) during 1999.

Along with Kanwal Suhas Patil and Chandrashekhar of Exodus Communications also visited our campus.

Talks given by them are still fresh in my mind. 🙂 Those stories I am keeping for another day. At the moment lets listen to the great Kanwal Rekhi :).

[podtech content=http://media.podtech.net/media/2007/01/PID_010097/Podtech_KS_kanwalrekhi.mp3&postURL=http://www.podtech.net&totalTime=961000&breadcrumb=3F34K2L1]

Blogs are effective February 1, 2007

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Well I am not going to suck up the whole web 2.0 thing again. Just sharing up a personal experience. Couple of months back I booked a ticket on Cleartrip. I canceled it because of change in my plan. I am always bad in planning my trips. So I cancelled the ticket with cleartrip. Refunding money takes 30 days for them.  I think they should collect money also then after 30 days :). As expected no money came my way after 30 days. My mails to their customer care dept. were not answered and their customer support telephone line is always jammed. So yesterday on their website I was looking for anyother means of communication. And I discovered they have a blog. The blog is quite open and has posted negative feedback from customers on the website.

So today I commented on one of their post and cited my case no. Withing 4 hours I got a mail from their dept that money will be deposited in my account in 48 hours. So somethings do work in this world. And that is blog. 🙂

Sequoia Capital’s Reticent Partner Tells All February 1, 2007

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Sequoia Capital is one of the most prestigious venture firms in the world. It backed Cisco Systems, Google, Oracle, Yahoo! and YouTube. Douglas M. Leone was Sequoia’s busiest partner last year. In 2006, Leone managed Sequoia’s moves into India and China and signed seven new deals, including: a $48 million late-stage investment into Idea Cellular, an Indian wireless provider; NetShops, a group of online stores that is headquartered in Omaha, Neb.; and WorkSoft Creative Software Technology, a Beijing outsourcing firm.

Leone, an industrial and mechanical engineer, broke into tech as a salesman at Sun Microsystems (nasdaq: SUNWnews people ) and Hewlett-Packard (nyse: HPQnews people ) before joining Sequoia nearly 20 years ago. His exits include Hyperion Solutions (nasdaq: HYSL news people ), Sentient Networks (Cisco (nasdaq: CSCOnews people )) and Telera (Alcatel-Lucent (nyse: ALUnews people )).

In a rare media interview, Leone talks with Forbes about what constitutes a great company, how to harness violent growth and entrepreneurs who fold too early.

What makes a company successful?

Leone: So many VCs say they will only invest in great managers, people who have done it before. But Bill Gates didn’t do it before. Larry Ellison didn’t do it before. McNealy, Jobs , none of them did it before.

A tremendous chief executive in a small market will never be great. All great companies start with great markets.

Right, but what makes a market a great market?

The trick is, a market has to be nonexistent when you start. If the market is large early on, you will have too many competitors. You have to make it large.

It’s one of the reasons Sequoia went into India and China. Those domestic markets are very small now but will become very large. We have raised $200 million for deals in China, $200 million for early-stage deals in India and $400 million for later-stage deals in India.

How do you build a company to serve a market that doesn’t exist?

Ha! We like the kind of entrepreneurs who can see the future. When that happens, you get this. [Leone whips out a dry erase marker and walks over to the whiteboard. He draws a dot, then a line that steadily moves up and to the right.] When the flywheel of a company that has created its own market gets going, it grows much faster than you expect. [He continues the line he has drawn in a sharp ascent.] Then it becomes an almost violent growth.

If you choose a market that already exists, say, networking equipment, you have to compete with an established company like Cisco. Even if your product is marginally better, Cisco can fudge it and outsell you.

What do you think about mergers versus public offerings as exit strategies?

I’ll say this: I can’t think of one instance in my 20 years in venture capital in which I have wanted to sell a company before the entrepreneur.

How can a deal happen, then? After all, you are a director and shareholder.

We’re forced to go along with management. If management wants to sell and you don’t, you end up with a very unmotivated team. And that leads to failure.

Why would an entrepreneur want to sell early?

Sequoia tends to work with first-time entrepreneurs. When an entrepreneur has gotten here [Leone points to the far right corner of his “violent growth” diagram], he’s never experienced anything like it before. He does not know that it can last, can continue in this direction. He’ll accuse us of portfolio theory [that a VC firm can afford to hold out because its risk is spread across multiple companies] and say that the founders have all their shares in this one company and someone is offering them big money for what they have built.

The truth is, we’ve seen this 30 times before, and we know what the leading indicators are to success. We recognize it when we see it because we have seen it before. We know when something can become much more.

So what happened with YouTube?

Left to our own devices, we would have kept on going. Maybe it’s long-term greed. But the public market voted. They must have agreed it has potential, because Google’s (nasdaq: GOOGnews people ) stock went up after the acquisition.

All the most successful companies we have seen at Sequoia–Network Appliance (nasdaq: NTAPnews people ), Cisco, Google, Yahoo! (nasdaq: YHOOnews people )–in their private lives, someone put an offer in front of them. But they didn’t take it.

We had the chance to sell Aruba two years ago. We had multiple inquiries from acquirers, but we decided not to sell. And now we’ve filed for a public offering. I pushed very hard for that. I thought we had a chance to build something for the future.

Not every company in which Sequoia has invested has made it to an IPO. How do you know when to sell?

If you have a limited market, it becomes evident to the whole board that things are tough, and the entrepreneur will have to raise more money and get diluted. So you talk about a deal.

What would you advise entrepreneurs to think about when considering an M&A deal?

Having a long-term, successful investor who thinks about the best interest of your business is key. But with many M&A deals, there are often dynamics that go against the entrepreneur’s interest. Maybe a venture firm has not done well and it needs to show its limited partners [the investors in a VC fund] a win. Or maybe an inexperienced VC without experience needs a win.

How do you get a company to that “violent growth” point?

No one can plan for that kind of success. None of today’s wonderful companies planned to be very big. Not for a second did [Yahoo! founders] Yang or Filo understand the potential of an Internet portal when we funded them. Nor did [YouTube founders] Chad or Steve understand the potential of user-generated video growth. What they understood was a need. Being focused on solving one problem is a precursor to something big.

But if all these great companies started off so small, how do you ever see the big vision that gets you to that point of violent growth?

We don’t see any big vision. We’re just as blind as the entrepreneurs.

So what do you do to help them, other than provide financing?

We build structure around them. We give them an action plan. We tell them to just keep the business running, think about what their customer really needs, not what they think he needs. You can’t start looking into the future for a long time. All we can do is help the entrepreneur execute on a series of rapid, small steps. Later, it ends up becoming something greater.

 

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