The Next Big Things

Fortune writes about a discussion amongst VCs at the Brainstorm conference:

Gary Rieschel, the founder of Qiming Venture Capital Partners, a firm focusing on early-stage companies in China, said that medical technology firms and energy start-ups in China are two areas that excite him the most.

Other VCs also raved about the prospects in China.

Kevin Fong, managing director of the Mayfield Fund, said that one of his most promising investments is in a company called Sports GG, which has developed a service that allows Chinese consumers to legally bet on sports using their cell phones.

“I am more interested in India than China,” said Aneel Bhusri of Greylock Partners. “People are so focused on China and I am surprised that they are not paying as much attention to India.”

Our Age

Dave Winer writes: “We live in the age that Emerson predicted, self-reliance. Make your own music and your own products. Everyone gets to be creative. The brains are in what we used to call the audience. No more looking up to the ivory tower for all fulfillment. Thank god we don’t all have to be as beautiful as Farah Fawcett and Christopher Reeve. Everyone gets to sing. Users and developers party together.”

Microsoft’s Unified Communications Plan

Don Dodge writes:

There are several key requirements to make Unified Messaging work. First you need one directory of users across all applications. Active Directory is Microsoft’s answer. Next you need “presence and awareness” of all your contacts available in each application. This means you need to know who is on line and available so you can choose the right communication tool. Once you can communicate and interact across all these modes and devices you need to keep your “state” synchronized. This means that once you have responded to a message, or deleted it, on one device, it should show up as “read” or deleted on all your other devices.

The individual applications have worked fine over the years as stand alone apps. Now they can work together because of common directories, universal presence, and synchronization across devices. Awesome!!

Google Checkout Impact

Om Malik writes:

Read between the lines – this is a dangerous and most brilliant assault on the cost per click (CPC) plans of Microsoft, Yahoo and everyone else who is coming to the party late. This move is about cost-per-action advertising. It is about kicking up the online advertising business another notch!

Lets compare the two – CPC and CPA based ads. In case of CPA, there are no wasted dollars, no click fraud, and all the revenues are coming from sales. As an advertiser, you have no risk. You sell, you make money, Google gets a piece of the action. Why would you bother with other options?

This move impacts three companies mainly – eBay, Yahoo and Amazon – because these are the three premier gatekeepers of online point-of-sale info. Google doesnt have the information, and needed it. If (bold for a reason 🙂 ) Google can make the Checkout work, the three giants suddenly have lost their advantage over Google.

Google Watch lists out 10 of them for GBuy. Among them:

1. Google changes how AdWords are bought. As more and more advertisers use GBuy, Google will collect data on which AdWords are most effective at converting clicks, and which clicks convert to sales. Google would then be able to set AdWords prices based on the average ROI to advertisers for that word.

2. Google personalizes your search results like Amazon. You may start seeing “people who searched for this also search for…” Google may be reluctant to do too much with its core search though. This feature could be a powerful add-on, like Google Desktop search.

3. eBay steps up their advertising campaign and partnership with Yahoo. eBay throws more dollars at its contextual ad system, AdContext, and its keyword-based text ad product, eBay Keywords. (In the Yahoo PayDirect days, Yahoo allowed both PayPal payments and PayDirect payments on its auction site. I wonder if Yahoo and eBay will have anything to do with GBuy.)

China’s Coming Labour Shortage

The New York Times writes:

The world’s most populous nation, which has built its economic strength on seemingly endless supplies of cheap labor, China may soon face manpower shortages. An aging population also poses difficult political issues for the Communist government, which first encouraged a population explosion in the 1950’s and then reversed course and introduced the so-called one-child policy a few years after the death of Mao in 1976.

That measure has spared the country an estimated 390 million births but may ultimately prove to be another monumental demographic mistake. With China’s breathtaking rise toward affluence, most people live longer and have fewer children, mirroring trends seen around the world.

Those trends and the extraordinarily low birth rate have combined to create a stark imbalance between young and old. That threatens the nation’s rickety pension system, which already runs large deficits even with the 4-to-1 ratio of workers to retirees that it was designed for.

TECH TALK: Video on the Internet: Ramesh Jains Views

As we look ahead, it will be useful to get a primer on the video space. I have chosen a few posts from Ramesh Jain, a distinguished professor and entrepreneur. Ramesh is currently teaching at University of California, Irvine. [I have invested in a company built around his vision of tomorrow the EventWeb. The company is Seraja.]

Ramesh Jain detailed the contours of new world that is emerging around video:

When Video-on-Demand (VoD) was initially proposed, it was suppose to be a vehicle for providing time-shifted TV for popular video content so people could watch any movie or TV show at their convenience in the comfort of their home. The basic idea was to store the content on a video server and develop a distribution network to provide access and delivery of these videos. Since Web has not emerged at that time, much effort was in creating infrastgructure that will allow distribution of movies to homes on TV through a distribution network. In early 1990s, after much optimism and discussion of this concept, the interest slowly disappeared. It was clear that the cost of the infrastructure was too high compared to the demand. VoD slowly became dormant. All the excitement shifted toward the Web, which, in the early stages was all about text.

With high bandwidth connectivity, things are taking a turn toward multimedia on the Web. First there was lot of interest in Voice over IP. Now things are changing and the main driver is becoming video. There is much excitement about IP and TV now. IPTV is basically video on the Internet, which is much potentially much more pervasive and transformative than VoIP. The major difference is that video can be shown on any device including TVs, PCs, and phones.

This is a bigger disruptive change than it appears at first: IPTV is the convergence of communication, computing, and content. People commonly talk about the convergence of communication and computing. In terms of content, people are accustomed to thinking mostly in terms of text and blobs (where a blob could be any media item but it was considered an atomic entity for the information system). Even VoD considers Video to be a blob, not content like pages on the Web. So a three-hour video could be played as a three-hour video but there was no indexing or content-based access possible. In the new world, this wont be acceptable. Video content will also be stored and accessed at different levels of granularities based on its structure as well as semantics.

IPTV does require advances in infrastructure. Even today, distribution or communication mechanisms used in TV and the Internet are significantly different. Theyve been slowly moving toward each other, but are far from convergence. The TV structure, whether broadcast, cable, or satellite, is primarily based on the push metaphor where all the programs are pushed to the user. The only choice a user has is to change the channel or to turn off the TV. Now PVR is becoming common with cables and has started providing interesting time shift and storage capabilities. On the other hand, the Internet infrastructure is based more on personal choices in access. On the Internet, people combine push and pull depending on their needs and interests. Once video is available on the Internet, people will expect to use all the tools and functionalities that they commonly use with text. The major change required isnt really the infrastructure, however. Its making the tools robust yet easy to use. Internet culture will result in people starting to produce lots of video content for many different applications. The long tail effect will dominate this area also. People will start producing and placing videos on the Internet that they know will be used by only a limited number of other peoplein some cases maybe only five other people. This will happen, however, only if the production tools for editing video will allow people to capture and prepare video to put on the Internet as easily as they author Web pages.

Tomorrow: Ramesh Jains View (continued)

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