Entrepreneurs and VCs

VentureWoods writes:

It is very hard for an entrepreneur to trust a VC who doesnt have the necessary background in the activities that the entrepreneur is carrying out and the experience in having run (or be a part of) a startup. Somebody who has never answered the board from a management teams position almost always never understand how is it to run a company. So, while it is important to have people in your board who are independent Directors and arent involved in the day-to-day running of company, it is also important for the management team to be able to respect them. The respect comes automatically when the entrepreneur knows that the board member can (and does) empathize with the issues / challenges faced in a company and yet can give open and critical feedback.

India has its own unique problems. On one hand – we need serial entrepreneurs who have been successful in the past and not just the 1st generation entrepreneurs AND on the other hand, we need Venture Capitalists who have been entrepreneurs before.

OpenDNS

Phil Wainewright writes:

The service is elegant in its simplicity (and is growing virally see usage chart below). It’s a free-of-charge service (funded by advertising more on that in a moment) that specializes in providing robust DNS lookups. At many ISPs, the domain name look-up servers (DNS) are the neglected poor relations of the infrastructure. Yet they’re a vital component in rapid surfing speeds between sites, because every time you click on a link from one site to another, the first thing that happens is your computer has to look up the IP address on the nearest DNS server. If that server is poorly maintained or overloaded, you’ll sit waiting for the site to come up.

Switching to OpenDNS is simply a matter of going to your router admin page and inserting its IP addresses as your preferred DNS lookup. I found an instant improvement in lookup speeds and, better still, no unexplained outages since then. If a site does happen to be down, then instead of not knowing what’s going on, I get redirected to an OpenDNS search page and that’s how the company makes its money, from the ads on the search page when a domain won’t resolve. (It also offers other useful services, like barring known phishing sites and correcting common mistypes, such as skipping the ‘o’ when typing ‘.cm’.

TV as Ultimate Open Content Platform

Steve Rubel writes:

As we look ahead – say three years from now – TV viewing will become even more fragmented. But make no mistake, IPTV is going to make television even more relevant in our lives than it is today.

The open TV platform will comprise of four key sources of content: network programming via your cable/satellite provider, a-la-carte shows sold directly to you by networks/studios, branded entertainment developed by major marketers and consumer generated content piped in via RSS.

More on De-Portalisation

Keith Teare writes about what to watch out for:

1. The revenue growth that has characterized the Internet since 1994 will continue. But more and more of the revenue will be made in the foothills, not the mountains.
2. If the major destination sites want to participate in it they will need to find a way to be involved in the traffic that inhabits the foothills.
3. Widgets are a symptom of this need to embed yourself in the distributed traffic of the foothills.
4. Portals that try to widgetize the foothills will do less well than those who truly embrace distributed content, but better than those who ignore the trends.
5. Every pair of eyeballs in the foothills will have many competing advertisers looking to connect with them. Publishers will benefit from this.

Google’s Products

Nicholas Carr distills Google’s strategy into five products:

Google Search (“Google” goes back to meaning just search: for all information types, on all devices, personalized)

AdMarket (a unified market place for buyers and sellers, spanning web text, web video, web banners, print, radio, TV)

YouTube (YouTube expands from video to become the common interface for all media sharing)

YouTools (what Apps for Your Domain morphs into, with different tool sets for businesses, families, universities, and hospitals)

YouFile (a personal information management service, covering health data, finances, etc.)

TECH TALK: Best of Tech Talk 2006: Network Computing

Besides the Mobile Web, the other area of interest for me is in affordable (and manageable) computing. In June, I wrote a series on Computing for the Next Billion. Here is how I put the opportunity on context: Part of the motivation of the computer companies in targeting the next billion users is that the first billion or so users already have computers and therefore little reason to upgrade or buy new computers considering that the Internet, rather than the local hard disk, is increasingly the source of content and services. Faced with a slowing growth in their current markets, the computer companies are looking at blue oceans and these can be found amongst the users in the developing countries. Take India, for example. The installed base of computers is less than 20 million, growing at about 5 million a year. Compare that with the usage of mobiles 100 million, growing at just under 5 million a month. Nearly three-quarters of the Internet users use cybercafes rather than a computer at home for their access. Across small- and medium-sized enterprises, homes and educational institutions, India offers an opportunity for 100 million computers over the next 4-5 years…Selling computers in emerging markets offers an excellent opportunity to do good and do well.

I discussed the various solutions being proposed, and offered my views on what will work:

Right from using regular desktops in cybercafes to owning (or renting) cheaper desktops and network computers to using mobile phones to connect over wireless networks, the next billion users will have something they have never had before in computing: choice. Thats perhaps the best thing to have happened from the attention that is being lavished on the bottom of the pyramid. Having said that, not all solutions are equal. My bet is on two solutions to emerge winners over the coming years: mobiles and network computers. The common thread to both is the dependency on a network. The business model will be along the lines of an upfront payment of about $100 (Rs 5,000) for the device and about $10 (Rs 500) a month for connectivity, content, services and support.

To understand why I think these network devices will emerge as winners, it is important to understand that the problem with todays computing solutions is not just about affordability. It is also about manageability. Complexity in computing has increased, not decreased, over the years. Users have to become their own system administrators to ensure their computers stay clean and secure. The next users are not going to be as savvy as the first set of users in managing their computers.

Into this brave new world, the disruption to be leveraged is the world of communications. Both wired and wireless broadband networks are being deployed in emerging markets. Given the importance of Internet access and the coming era of software-as-a-service, the computers role is now more of a window to the world of information residing in the network.

Tomorrows world will, therefore, revolve around computing and information which happens in the network (the cloud), with the users having access to two devices: a small screen mobile phone which they carry with them all the time, and a bigger screen desktop-based terminal which connects over a broadband network to which they have intermittent access. Both devices have their strengths. The big screen is better for applications which are input-output-intensive and require multimedia. The mobile is with us all the time and can be used during lifes empty moments.

Next Week: Best of Tech Talk 2006 (continued)

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