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Track your expenses the Buxfer way !! November 19, 2006

Posted by rajAT in buxfer, startup, venture capital, web2.0.
14 comments

Last week I had a chat with Amit Manjhi the guy behind payments website called Buxfer.com. Other 2 co-founders are Ashwin and Shashank. All 3 are doing their phd at Carnegie Mellon.

Amit told me that Buxfer started more from the their own need. It was difficult keeping track of the group expenses. So the more enterprising guy Ashwin created a script to track their money. It was really useful and loads of people asked them to share it with them also. That is when they saw the apple falling created Buxfer.

We started talking about the various other things and quickly find out some common friends. So very Indian :D. Aur phir dilli ki baatein shuru ho gayi jo kabhi khatam na hon :D. It was real fun.

Its real nice to see people doing innovative things to make our lives simpler. Keep up the good work guys. 🙂

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Who wants to own content October 6, 2006

Posted by rajAT in media2.0, web2.0.
2 comments

Jeff has an interesting post sometime back where he emphasized that content and distribution both cann’t differentiate a media house from other or even protect it.

Distribution is not king.

Content is not king.

Conversation is the kingdom.

The war is over and the army that wasn’t even fighting — the army of all of us, the ones who weren’t in charge, the ones without the arms — won. The big guys who owned the big guns still don’t know it. But they lost.

In our media 2.0, web 2.0, post-media, post-scarcity, small-is-the-new-big, open-source, gift-economy world of the empowered and connected individual, the value is no longer in maintaining an exclusive hold on things. The value is no longer in owning content or distribution.

The value is in relationships. The value is in trust.

BBC which gets widely quoted as the future media house who gets this new emerging media landscape with their various innovative ways is a tiny minscule.

The Guardian’s Mark Sweney blogs it:

The good news is that the BBC turned out to be the most commonly referenced big brand [in blogs].The bad news is that just 0.3% of the millions of blog posts analysed referred to the BBC.

What does this all mean? It means that what the BBC does, creating programmes, is just a tiny ‘atom’ in the new media world and how on earth can you grow that 0.3%?

The likes of YouTube and blogs equal cheap forms of production of content.

You can’t ‘own’ all the relationships audiences have in the web world so the best plan is to ‘atomise’ content, disintegrate, to ‘explode’ into places where they are.

I think that is so true even in the Indian context. I had a conversation with the New Media Head at Indiatimes some 8-9 months back. I asked him what is Indiatimes doing with the emerging trends like – Citizen Journalism, Blogs etc. He beamed with pride and said that we have already started a blogging platform where we invite Indiatimes users to blog. And a team of editors picks the best post and put them on the home page of Times of India also. I was quite impressed. He then went on and said that they have built a very vibrant though small community over there. At that time I thought that Indiatimes has got a winner as in people would surely like to get their post on front page of the leading news website in India. But that doesn’t happen.

Its been 8-9 months and I haven’t met a single blogger in various blogging events around the country who said that he blogs at Indiatimes.

Then the blog aggregators that I visit like Desipundit also never have linked even a single post from Indiatimes. Something is really going on.

Is this blogging hasn’t picked up in India or what ?

We all know that blogging has really picked up in India 🙂 but the anwer to that puzzle is that now no more a big media house can own this landscape. Blogs will crop up everywhere and will not be the forte of one single entity.

It was such a pleasure to hear Mr. Ajit Balakrishnan, Founder and CEO of Rediff.com, a nasdaq listed indian portal, that he doesn’t understand user generated content at all.

Goliaths are so last century :).

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Day 3: TiE ISB Connect 2006 September 25, 2006

Posted by rajAT in entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, media, media2.0, tieisb connect, venture capital, web2.0.
1 comment so far

Day three at the TiE-ISB Connect began with talks by Peter Mukherjea, CEO of Star TV and Sanjeev Kumar, Founder and CTO of Portal Player.

Plenary Session

Noted actress Sulekha Naidu chaired the session on New Media and Entertainment. On the panel were Prem Akkaraju (Sanctuary Artist Management), Rajesh Jog (Waygate Capital), Suresh Babu (Suresh Productions), Alok Kejriwal (Contests2win.com), Raj Atluri (DFJ), Rahul Khanna (Clearstone) and Sekhar Kammula (Film director).

Track 6 : New Media & Entertainment

Blogumentary August 18, 2006

Posted by rajAT in blog, blogumentary, chuck olsen, media2.0, web2.0.
1 comment so far

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BLOGUMENTARY playfully explores the many ways blogs are influencing our media, our politics, and our relationships. Personal political writing is the foundation of our democracy, but mass media has reduced us to passive consumers instead of active citizens. Blogs return us to our roots and reengage us in democracy.

Shot in candid first-person style by director Chuck Olsen, himself an avid blogger, the film features interviews with influential bloggers including Joe Trippi, Jeff Jarvis, Dan Gillmor, John Hinderaker, Jason Kottke and Meg Hourihan. From the rise of Howard Dean to the fall of Dan Rather, from love at first blog to a friend’s suicidal blog post, “Blogumentary” is a fresh and compelling journey into our hyperconnected existence.

Also showing: episodes from “Minnesota Stories,” the vlog edited by Olsen, featuring stories of the normal, the abnormal, and the paranormal in the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes.

Watch the trailer

Buy tickets here.

Zoho from India made it coolest Web2.0 sites August 12, 2006

Posted by rajAT in adventnet, india, innovation, web2.0, zoho.
7 comments

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Full list of best web2.0 sites is below (Compiled by Business 2.0) –

AllPeers (Czech Republic)
Bokee (China)
CoComment (Switzerland)
Cyworld (South Korea)
Dabble DB (Canada)
Douban (China)
Feeds 2.0 (Greece)
Gnoos (Australia)
Habbo Hotel (Finland)
Last.fm (England)
Metacafe (Israel)
Muti (South Africa)
MyHeritage (Israel)
NetVibes (France)
Nooked (Ireland)
OpenBC (Germany)
Plazes (Germany)
Quintura (Russia)
TheAdCloud (Chile)
Toudou (China)
Spurl (Iceland)
Wikio (France)
Zoho Writer (India)

Zoho is an excellent suite of weboffice products, that has been created by an Indian web development company called AdventNet. The company has its HQ in the USA but its entire product development is based out of Chennai. Their products include Zoho Writer (online word processor), Zoho Sheet (online spreadsheet), Zoho Planner (online To-Do list), Zoho Show (online presentations), Zoho Virtual Office, Zoho Creator & Zoho Polls.

It is a great news for Indian Web 2.0 community.

Kevin Rose didd it !! August 4, 2006

Posted by rajAT in digg, entrepreneur, kevin rose, media2.0, web2.0.
6 comments

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Business Week has done a story on digg.com founder Kevin Rose. Few excerpts from it are here

It was June 26, 4:45 a.m., and Digg founder Kevin Rose was slugging back tea and trying to keep his eyes open as he drove his Volkswagen Golf to Digg’s headquarters above the grungy offices of the SF Bay Guardian in Potrero Hill. This was the day Rose would test everything. Two years earlier, Rose had gambled on his idea to change newsgathering, letting the masses “dig up” the most interesting stories on the Web and vote them onto his online “front page” on Digg.com. Rose had given every last piece of himself to the project — all his time, all his cash, and even his girlfriend, who fought with him after he poured his savings into Digg instead of a downpayment on a house. Today, Digg, Version 3, the one that would go beyond tech news to include politics, gossip, business, and videos, was going live. At 29, Rose was on his way either to a cool $60 million or to total failure.

But for now, Rose is the “It” boy among a new wave of entrepreneurs running the hottest of the top 100 Web 2.0 companies sprinkled around the Bay Area. Together, this network of mostly Valley boys — Six Apart Ltd. co-founder Mena Trott is a rare female among them — fill SF bars like Anu and Wish and Cav and parties at their sparsely furnished lofts.

Rose’s social stock has climbed,too. He has more than 11,000 friends on MySpace. He was a runner-up in blog ValleyWag’s “Hottest Guy in the Valley” contest (think Tom Cruise’s doughier little brother), and he co-hosts a hot weekly video podcast called Diggnation. It’s like a techie version of the Saturday Night Live skit “Wayne’s World.”

At a party for the 50th show, Rose was mobbed by fans and even photographed signing a pretty brunette’s cleavage. The snapshot was posted on Flickr the next day. Video is here n here.

Clearly much has changed since 1999, and Rose and his fellow wealth punks have little in common with the sharp-talking MBAs in crisp khakis and blue button-downs who rushed the Valley as the NASDAQ climbed. In the late 1990s, entrepreneurs were the supplicants, and Sand Hill Road, dotted with venture-capital firms, was the mecca. Dot-commers relied on VCs for the millions needed to buy hardware, rent servers, hire designers, and advertise like crazy to bring in the eyeballs. For their big stakes of, say, $15 million for 20% of a company, venture capitalists received board seats, control of the management levers, and most of the equity.

Now, it’s more like: Maybe we’ll let you throw a few bucks our way — if you get it. Otherwise, get lost
.

Digg is emblematic of the ethos of Web 2.0, new consumer and media sites revolving around social networking and do-it-yourself services. Others include YouTube, which serves up some 100 million requested videos a day, rivaling the audience of NBC. Then there’s Facebook, where the college crowd practically lives. The average gamer on Xfire spends an astounding 91 hours a month on the site — it’s like a part-time job. As a result, superhigh valuations are again coming out of the Valley. In a world in which Facebook turns down $600 million deals, the $580 million that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. (NWS ) shelled out for MySpace.com in July, 2005, is widely considered to be a steal.

Rose grew up in Las Vegas. His father is an accountant, and his mom “just chills,” he says. They lived in a three-bedroom house on a cul-de-sac. Standard middle-class America. In 1999 he dropped out of the University of Las Vegas to join the action in Silicon Valley, where he took coding jobs for dotcoms. That led to his gig as the TechTV host, which transferred him to Los Angeles in 2003. But Rose was bored.

So far, Digg’s traffic just keeps growing. And Rose is picking up a bit of swagger. His shyness is fading, and his wardrobe has gotten a hipster upgrade. Girls on MySpace swarm him. But the pain of losing his girlfriend isn’t gone, and he says that no matter what happens with Digg, he won’t put business first again.

The tech bust notwithstanding, the Valley is still the only place on earth where geeks with good ideas can become celebrities overnight. But wannabes be warned: As nearly everyone found out six years ago, the fall from rock star to pariah can be just as quick — and not nearly as much fun.

Indiagoes – It just got better July 18, 2006

Posted by rajAT in aggregator, betterlabs, blog, india, indiagoes, media2.0, web2.0.
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Indiagoes.com is a new generation news service that aggregates and delivers Indian news flawlessly.

Team at Indiagoes has been working hard to make our life simpler. They have added some really nifty features on their website. On of them is the auto tagging of the news item. Auto-tagging really helps in browsing the content by context. Auto-tagging also ensure standardized tags which otherwise are left to whims-fancies of the tagger.

The personalization feature is really the one which has blown me. Normaly you are asked by sites to submit your choices explicitly but Indiagoes learn it automatically. So the more you read, the more it gets tuned to your tastes. Now that is really kewl. 🙂

They have added flickr feeds of Indian content. It is also the best place to find the podcasts and videos of the Indians by the Indians.

Something that has really been missing from the blogosphere i.e. Indian blog Aggregator. Indiagoes has done that too. Kudos to the team.

So have a look at the website here – http://beta.indiagoes.com. Sneak in using the passcode – barcamphyd.

Do let me know your views on it ?

Web 2.0 and Mobile devices @ Barcamp Hyderabad 2 July 16, 2006

Posted by rajAT in barcamp, barcamphyderabad, barcamphyderabad2, web2.0.
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Sriram Krishnan gave an interesting talk on Web 2.0 and mobile devices. He was stressing that the mobile applications should be less chatty. So if I am seeing pics on flickr. A bad user experience would be – to see each pic I have to press next and a good one would be if all the pics gets downloaded as some kind of stream.

Well yes this could enhance the user experience for the 2nd or 3rd photograph. But what about the first one. As it will take more time to download the data initially, a user might get pissed.

Instead of that google used AJAX. Well the idea was similar that the subsequent loading should be fast giving a desktop like experience. So the data which a user is most likey to see next is already downloaded by the AJAX engine. The loading time of the first pic is also not more as we are not trying to download the whole thing initially.
Well Sriram was having lots of interesting things to share but as I was busy organizing the discussion, I couldnt sit through the whole presentation.

Waiting for the slides :).

Death by Wikipedia: The Kenneth Lay Chronicles July 10, 2006

Posted by rajAT in citizen journalism, media2.0, peer production, web2.0.
5 comments

Frank Ahrens of Washington post is quoting the incident of wrong reporting of Kenneth Lay death, CEO Enron as an example that shows the Wikipedia model doesn’t work.

News organizations began reporting Lay’s death around 10 A.M.

At 10:06 A.M. Lay’s wikipedia entry said he had died “of an apparent suicide”.

At 10:08 A.M. the entry reads Lay had died “of an apparent heart attack or suicide”.

At 10:09 A.M. another author backtracked the article and said that the cause of death was “yet to be determinded”.

At 10:11 A.M. article concluded, “The guilt of ruining so many lives led him to his suicide”.

At 10:12 A.M. the article was corrected and it says the cause was a massive coronoary heart attack.

The incorrect informatin was there on the website for total 6 mins. Durinig these 6 minutes the information got updated 5 times. And finally the correct information was posted. Now whether those six minutes were crucial that depends on the information and decisions that will be taken based on information. So lets not get into a subjective debate/discussion.

The question that needs to be asked here is, “Should wikipedia be used to check breaking news”. Wikipedia never claimed that they gonna throw Reuters out of business or BBC. Britannica sure :)!!

So IMHO Frank Ahrens is trying to match apple with oranges and that is insanity.

Case closed.

Why only a few survive ? July 4, 2006

Posted by rajAT in barcamp, barcamphyderabad, community, entrepreneur, india, marketing, startup, vc, venture capital, web2.0.
8 comments

Life as an entrepreneur is taxing, emotionally charged, extremely gratifying and very very suprising. Yesterday was one such day not because of all this but it was a day of contradictions. So it goes like this –

I had a telephonic conversation with a big Menlo park VC firm in the morning. The call went great and I am hoping for some positive things to come out of it :D. But the point that was bothering me was how this VC firm got my address in first place. I never contacted them. During the conversation they told me that they have “READ MY BLOG”. That they keep track of entrepreneurs blog in India. I was surprised to hear that but I really liked the proactive approach. It is very important to have a direct link with grass roots. And if you want to invest in Web 2.0 world you should be using it yourself to know the power of it. I am so impressed with them.

In the evening, I had another telephonic conversation with another big Menlo park VC firm. This was for the sponsorships of Barcamp Hyderabad. After 10 days of discussion they refused to sponsor. That is just fine that they don’t want to sponsor. But the reasons given just reflected  that they don’t understand the change that is happening out there. And they want to support entrepreneurs and are great believers of Web 2.0. Duh !!

So let me just drill through some of the reasons that they have given  –

1) Sponsoring T-Shirts is Micro – Well guys micro is the new macro. Isn’t it good that you get to test waters by a small investment. That is what Ray Lane, Partner KPCB, calls Enterprise 2.0. Now enterprises could test and use web services at a fraction of cost and if it works, the investment could be increased. Gone are the days when organizations have to commit a big amount upfront. Same is barcamp an ad-hoc conference oraganized and attended by geeks and entrepreneurs. All for love. Best way to know them is engage with them and if it works out. Keep on engaging with them.

2) Long term association – Barcamps are fickle who is accountable for the next barcamp. A very valid point. Well the first question that one should ask – Do you believe in the story that India is going to be hot and the people who are going to make it hot are entrepreneurs. If yes, then what is the best of doing it is nurture the community that they have built. Support that community. Yep ! it can happen that my interests can change tomorrow or of the other people who are behind Barcamp here in Hyderabad. But then community is not about couple of individuals, because it is not top down. There is no hierarchy in first place. A thriving community will give rise to lot of other passionate individuals. And that will take care of the long term relationships.

3) Marketing people are concerned about the mileage –  I think there marketing people haven’t heard or read a book called – “Communities dominate Brands” by Tomi Ahonen. Or they don’t know how Riya has used blogs, communities and built such a strong brand from ground up. If not then they should. Cluetrain manifesto anyone.

Change happens right in front of our eyes. But we refuse to acknowledge it. No wonder why big organizations fall.

Some people just don’t get it.

Webyantra: Indian Techcrunch June 21, 2006

Posted by rajAT in india, techcrunch, web2.0.
1 comment so far

webyantra.JPGAmit Ranjan has started Indian Techcrunch. Yeps, now all you guys can get instant traffic on their newly launched web service by getting it featured on Webyantra. And I hope that you will get beyond 53,000 meme :).

Webyantra is a blog, which is dedicated to profiling innovative Indian web products and internet services. It’s a platform for Indian web startups, ecommerce websites and internet based businesses to showcase their products & services to Indian internet users.

Amit has earlier featured Pixrat (Flickr + Delicious mashup) on his blog, and subsequently it got picked by TechCrunch. Pixrat is first Indian Web2.0 startup to be featured there. Amit later reviewed TaaZZa which also brought laurels to him. This all motivated him to start Webyantra where all Indian startups will be reviewed.

Webyantra will get hot soon, I don't have an ounce of doubt in my mind about that. Techcrunch was also started humbly roughly an year ago.

Great job Amit and all the best :).

Betterlabs.net @ Barcamp Pune June 18, 2006

Posted by rajAT in barcamp, barcamppune, india, web2.0.
3 comments

It is just great to see Web 2.0 sites coming from India. A happenning bunch of people (Vaibhav, Satish, etc.) at Betterlabs.net are doing some great work. Vaibhav is based in Silicon valley. I met Satish and team at Barcamp Pune. At barcamp they presented Indiagoes a news aggregator. They promise that they will not annoy their users by showing them tonnes of advertisements which is the generally the case these days. TimesofIndia is yuck.

Here are their flagships.
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All the best guys and carry on the good work :).

Recoja @ Barcamp Pune June 18, 2006

Posted by rajAT in barcamp, barcamppune, media, media2.0, tags, web2.0.
2 comments

Anand and Shodan presented an interesting idea. They are trying to provide tags insite the page. So what does that mean is – If you are reading your notes on the internet. You can tag certain lines of text with the tag-important. So before the exam you click on the tag important and all the important lines from all of your notes came up in front of you. Sounds kool. It is a very natural for humans to do this. We all highlight,underline the lines in our text books. This is digital highlighting. Now as you can tag it – it has become all the more convenient as the content can be retrieved very easily.

Few reasons why this can be big –

1. It micro-chunks the content, hence micromedia gets created.

2. Attention is getting scarce and it helps in allocating the scarce attention to relevant micromedia hence more value is generated for the consumer.

3. It makes it plastic and atomized media can be remixed and tweaked.

4. Plasticity makes it more personal and allows unbundling and rebundling of it.

5. It is hypertargeted and micro diffrentiated and that makes it valuable

Finally, I am begginning to get some Haquism. 😀

Army of Steven Spielbergs June 8, 2006

Posted by rajAT in aggregator, google, media, media2.0, video, web2.0, youtube.
1 comment so far

Robert young in his post on GigaOm says that Hollywood should fear Google. He points that – 

Google will eventually become the dominant gatekeeper for video.his question, which used to be one of the most pressing in the minds of media executives, seems to have been put on the back-burner lately due to the meteoric rise of online video sharing sites like YouTube and social networks like MySpace (not to mention Google’s own anemic efforts on the video front thus far).

I think to some extent the behavior of media executives is justified. Till now they were competing with 3-4 media houses but suddenly they have got an army of davids who are producing and uploading videos at a frantic pace.

As we all know, Google revolutionized search by leveraging the most unique and powerful element of the web… the hyperlink.

The strategic implications of this insight, which Google used to dominate the market for text-based search, are now about to spill-over into the world of video.

The analogy page rank was a success in text and same will happen in video is not correct.

Let me explain –

First question to be answered is why people use google search? Ok, to discover the content on the web. Why anyone need to search anything on internet, what is the motivation.  Two reason which normally is the case, either I am doing research (academic) or I am trying to find out something interesting (fun).

Now the video consumption on internet is generally of the latter kind i.e. fun stuff. Now what is other way of discovering such content. voila – Peer groups. Yes, peer groups. They recommend/share a video to you (buddy list) when they saw something interesting. In return you recommend/share the videos back when you see something interesting.

So a video on Youtube (or its clones) is tagged, gets commented, gets recommended and then shared. This helps in the easy consumption of the videos by other people. SO you open Youtube website and the most popular videos will be there on the top of the list. No need to search anything. This is a painless experience. And one doesn't have to master the keyword search. 🙂

Note that the meta data of videos that is the comments and stars ( how many stars a particular video has got) is not available to Google. They play a very important role, as they enrich the user experience by helping him in making a more informed choice. This all data is a part of deep web and Google has no access to it. 

Today we have very efficient aggregators and a user doesn’t see much value in reconstructing the web. A Google search finds the content and gives you back a web page of the links that might be relevant to you i.e. reconstructing the web. But thanks to aggregators like Techmeme the need to search has gone down a bit less. Techmeme for videos will come in future which aggregates the videos from all these sources. Google could have done this but by launching there own Video site they just have killed this big opportunity.

Google should have continued what they have been doing best till now that is reconstructing the web. But by opening there own publishing platforms they have alienated other publishers.

In the end, Hollywood executives shouldn’t fear Google but the next door guy who becomes a Steven Spielberg for a day or two. 🙂 

Clueless Publishers June 7, 2006

Posted by rajAT in blog, book, books, google, media, media2.0, publishing, technology, web2.0.
7 comments

The business of publishing books is going to get disintermediated. Even if publishers start publishing books online they cannot save their empires. It is like arranging the deck chairs on Titanic.

An author goes to a famous publishing house because a publisher has got a network already that is necessary for a mega success of the book. A publisher

1) Buys reputation , an example.

2) Provide a platform for getting into international markets.

3) And most importantly prints the book.

But things on internet work a bit differently, isn't it.

At the moment you cannot buy reputation online, thank god. You publish your book on internet and blogs take it in all the corners of the world.

So why in future an author will go to a publisher to get his book published. That is the question to be answered?

An author should ask I am the one who is creating the content. I am one who is advertising the book through blogs so why I need this guy called publisher. Note that royalties are not that big.

Publishers have lost half of their battle when Amazon started reviews on its website. Over the years book lovers all round the world have contributed significant amout of data on its website. And now Amazon has got that valuable data and not the publishers.

And now Amazon has started allowing the authors to blog from Amazon.com itself. It is a good idea. But Amazon is not the edge.

Authors will prefer their own blog sites. But amazon still have a fighting chance over the publishers as an internet book publishing platfrom. Simple reason is Amazon has built network goods.

How to make money by publishing books online will be figured out by someone who is more enteprising. Scott has got some ideas though.

Publishers are just unnecessarily fretting with Google; they should be spending their time thinking the next platform, if there is one.

Surely, very interesting times lie ahead of us.