Silicon Valley Serial Entrepreneurs

The New York Times has a story which I can find an echo with (and am writing in my Tech Talk on “Dotcom Nostalgia”)

The Internet, of course, didn’t just go away when the dot-com-bubble burst. In the late 1990’s, these founders of thousands of startups had paddled out from shore in hopes of catching the huge digital wave they saw coming. Tens, if not hundreds, of billions were spent on building up the Internet’s infrastructure and on marketing the magic of the Web to the general public. That most of the visionaries ran out of money before the wave came in proved only that they had bad timing. The wave has arrived. The widespread adoption of broadband over the last few years has provided the means to deliver music, video, photos and sophisticated Web graphics. Technological progress has marched steadily forward, as has the money consumers spend annually online, a figure that has grown by fairly regular double-digit percentages. In retrospect, the only thing the dot-com boom and bust really demonstrated was that growing enormously wealthy so quickly was more than a matter of simply showing up.

[Says Sunil Paul:] ”We are not ready to stop changing the world.”

Lightweight Application Servers

Peter Yared writes: “The trend towards lightweight servers has clearly moved beyond the LAMP open source stack into the enterprise Java space as well. More and more new Java deployments run on clusters of Apache Tomcat or on the web containers of J2EE servers. EJB 3 will introduce EntityBeans with POJOs (plain old Java objects), so the J2EE standard will finally catch up with popular open source technologies like Hibernate (although of course unnecessarily reinventing it instead of just using the popular open source that is already established). I think we can safely say that the trend in both the LAMP and Java worlds favors lightweight servers running on commodity hardware, rather than small clusters of heavyweight servers running on SMP hardware…The bottom line is that there is no software/hardware stack on the planet more vertically optimized than the Apache/Linux/x86/GigE ‘commodity stack’, and everything from LAMP to Java to animation rendering will run on it.”

Email as Input Mehtod

Smallthought has a post about Backpackit and one of its features:

The specific feature that Ive been thinking about, and that Backpack seems to leverage nicely, is the use of email as an input method. This seems like an odd idea: isnt it a lot clunkier to send an email to an application, even a web application, than to use some custom form within the application itself? And yet, even without something like Backpack available, I find myself using email as a quasi-database all the time: to make lists, send myself reminders, record important snippets of information, even log hours spent on a project. Why? First of all, because the email client is the one window that I will always have open and easily accessible, whatever else I might be doing. Second, email is a great redundant data source: as well as going to whoever (or whatever) I send it to, a copy of the message ends up on my local machine, another on my servers, maybe yet another on Googles servers, and so on. If I need to, chances are I can find it later from pretty much anywhere. But probably most importantly, email is, for many of us, the main personal input stream: if some new piece of information comes up that I have to record or take action on, chances are pretty good it came to me through email. So what more natural way to respond than right from the email client?


Business Week writes:

You walk into a Chinese restaurant and your phone buzzes. It’s a blog post from a friend with a simple message: Avoid the duck. This is one vision of future blogging from Qualcomm CEO-elect Paul Jacobs, who just stopped by our office. (He’s the one on the left in the photo).

This new type of posting is linked to a certain location. It’s called a Crunkie. The idea is that you can leave location-based posts in certain places for your friends. And they pop up when your friends appear.

So… Soon there will be no more need to carve messages on restaurant tables or scrawl them on bathroom doors.

The crunkie is the brainchild of Wavemarket, an applications company that Qualcomm has invested in.

This is what Crunkie’s website says:

Crunkie is a mobile social networking tool that brings the power of your friend group to your mobile phone. Now you will have one place where you can capture and share all your thoughts and experiences.

With Crunkie on your mobile phone, you can find your friends, see what they’ve been up to, and browse their favorite places. Through the mapping interface you can find each other and hook up while out on the go, or just kickin’ it on the weekend.

TECH TALK: Dotcom Nostalgia: IndiaWorlds Early Days

I don’t particularly like looking back I’d rather look ahead. In fact, that was my first reaction to Radhika when she asked if she could interview me. My second reaction was: just read my blog, especially the articles on entrepreneurship, and they’d give her some insights. But journalists don’t easily take No for answer…

Peering into the past brings up various memories some pleasant, some not so pleasant. But as time passes, one tends to have a somewhat more objective view of the events and one’s actions during that period. I do have plenty of notes of the five IndiaWorld years, but I’ve never once looked back to those. Just before meeting with Radhika, I had outlined some memories of that period and that is what I’d like to share here. It will perhaps give a little flavour into both the period and the mind of an entrepreneur.

IndiaWorld started after multiple business failures. At that time, I was hoping to build a business which worked and made some profits I was tired of two years of losing money every month. I had no idea whether it would work just a belief that the Internet was going to be big, and building an India-centric portal seemed like a good way to leverage my own knowledge of what Indians abroad wanted and get us started into the Net game.

[When I think about that period and now, I see lots of similarities. Like then, I am now trying to venture into the unknown for me, and armed with a vision of tomorrow and an inner belief that the future the one I am thinking of has to be built. How will we make money? I don’t know. What I do know is that once we start, multiple doors will open up and we have to then be smart about choosing the right pathways going forward.]

The first few months were about getting the content in place. I wrote to plenty of publications and content owners. Most didn’t reply. The one big publisher who did was India Today’s Aroon Purie. I still remember the first fleeting meeting I had with him when I visited Delhi. I knew I had only one opportunity to sell and I couldn’t fail. India Today was one of the must-reads for NRIs I had to have it on IndiaWorld. At moments like this, it is an entrepreneur’s passion that has to shine through. This is what I meant when I told Radhika:

You have to distinguish between those who go in there motivated only by money and those who go in to change the world. An entrepreneur has to have a little bit of the ‘change the world’ thing in him. If I have to get my passion across, I have to believe that what I am doing is the next big thing. If I don’t believe in it how will I convince others? So you have to paint that picture of tomorrow.

Time and again, I would paint the vision of a connected world to people I’d meet about how the Internet would transform everything. My belief in it had to be complete, else there was no way I’d be able to convince others. Passion is an entrepreneur’s greatest asset, and that will only surface when one truly believes in the vision and that vision cannot just be about striking it rich one day. It has to be about transformation and revolution, it has to be how the entrepreneur will ‘change the world.’

Tomorrow: Memories and Experiences