Mobile Email

WSJ writes: “Numerous companies are making it easier for anyone to send and receive email on their cellphones without splurging on a high-end device or a premium data plan. While the services are generally less sophisticated than the wireless email services offered by BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd., Microsoft Corp. and other wireless email providers, they are starting to appeal to those who use email more for fun than business.”

Shaping the Future

[via Anish Sankhalia] From Charlie’s Diary:

Let’s look at our notional end-point where the bandwidth and information processing revolutions are taking us as far ahead as we can see without positing real breakthroughs and new technologies, such as cheap quantum computing, pocket fusion reactors, and an artificial intelligence that is as flexible and unpredictable as ourselves. It’s about 25-50 years away.

Firstly, storage. I like to look at the trailing edge; how much non-volatile solid-state storage can you buy for, say, ten euros? (I don’t like rotating media; they tend to be fragile, slow, and subject to amnesia after a few years. So this isn’t the cheapest storage you can buy just the cheapest reasonably robust solid-state storage.)

Today, I can pick up about 1Gb of FLASH memory in a postage stamp sized card for that much money. fast-forward a decade and that’ll be 100Gb. Two decades and we’ll be up to 10Tb.

10Tb is an interesting number. That’s a megabit for every second in a year there are roughly 10 million seconds per year. That’s enough to store a live DivX video stream compressed a lot relative to a DVD, but the same overall resolution of everything I look at for a year.

Venture Capital

Marc Andressen writes:

Startups that have a credible potential to be sold or go public for a 10x gain on invested capital within 4 to 6 years of the date of funding should consider raising venture capital.

Most other startups should not raise venture capital. This includes: startups where the founders want to stay private and independent for a long time; startups where there’s no inherent leverage in the business model that could result in a 10x gain in 4 to 6 years; and startups working on projects with a longer fuse than 4 to 6 years.

Notably, there are many fine businesses in the world — many of them highly profitable, and very satisfying to run — that do not have leverage in their model that makes them suitable for venture capital investment.

Mobile Books

Tomi Ahonen writes:

With mobile books, there is no bottleneck, no overstock, understock. No extra copies printed to be sold at a discount. No lost sales because the book was not available. And MOST importantly, the mobile books cannot be resold by the person who bought the book. So if you want to read the latest Harry Potter or whatever, you cannot borrow it from a friend, you need to buy your own. (oh, obviously you could try to borrow your friend’s phone, ha-ha, but since 60% of married people won’t even share their mobile phone with their husband or wife, its that personal, no chance of someone lending you their phone just so you can read the book you have on the phone)

All this means that the books can be “produced” MUCH cheaper than printing them to paper. The publisher and author can get a fair return on a book that costs MUCH LESS than traditional paper printed books. And the reader, the buying public, gets original, exciting, new content, by their fave authors, first-time released direct to mobile. No waiting in lines, ordering books that are on back-order, etc. And they cost less. Win-Win-Win. Is it any wonder this has taken off?

Need for Financial Planning

Basab Pradhan writes:

Great products, and anchor customer wins are the things that hog the limelight with startups. But in my opinion, sound financial planning is the unsung hero of the early stage of a companys life.

Sound financial planning can mean the difference between survival and an early demise. More commonly, an absence of financial planning means you have to raise a round of funding before you expect to do soand that is never optimal for a young company.

Your primary tool is your budget. The most important purpose of a budget is to forecast cash flows. It is easy to become lax about forecasts, especially beyond the next quarter, since there is so much uncertainty in the early stages of your business. You might be asking yourself: How do I forecast revenue when I havent sold anything yet!? But the absence of revenue is not a good enough reason to leave a revenue line out of your budget.

TECH TALK: PM to CII: Fair and Just Profit

Continuing with Atanu Dey’s perspective of the speech that the Indian Prime Minister should have made to the CII last month:

Ladies and gentlemen, poverty is a fact in India. The vast majority of Indians over 80 percent actually live on less than Rs 100 a day. They are poor and have been for decades. The socialistic policies followed since independence did not allow for rapid economic growth. Inward-looking autarkic policies isolated India from the economic growth that propelled the economies of East Asia. Only after the mid-80s was the country granted a very small degree of economic freedom, and that too was in response to a severe balance of payment crisis facing the nation.

By the time India gained political independence, it was a very poor country, impoverished by the dictates of colonialism. But why did prosperity elude India even after independence? Could it be that we the leaders of independent India failed to provide the economic rules that promote and sustain economic growth? A dispassionate review of the facts force us to answer that question in the affirmative.

A lot of self-congratulatory chest thumping can be heard from some quarters of the government for having liberalized the economy to some limited extent. But that is like a man claiming that he is a wonderful husband because he has reduced the severity of the daily beatings of his wife. Liberalization of the economy has given us some gains but certainly not enough liberalization has been done. What the government has to do is to reduce the interference of the government in the economy so that the economy can be truly free to grow.

Big governments that control every aspect of the economy are harmful for social welfare for an obvious reason: it creates an incentive for individuals and corporations to seek profit not legitimately by providing goods and services in a competitive marketplace, but by bribing the politically powerful and thus influencing policy to gain undue advantage in the marketplace for making monopoly profits. Big governments force people to engage in what Jagdish Bhagwati, an illustrious son of our soil and one of the most celebrated economists in the world, calls Directly Unproductive Profit-seeking or DUP activities.

In this discussion on Inclusive Growth the Challenge for Corporations I mention the failures of the government because the government is the greatest challenge that corporations face in what they are supposed to do, namely, produce goods and services so that the economy grows. We must remember that inclusive growth is predicated on growth.

Ladies and gentlemen, every segment of any modern large complex economy has distinct roles to play. It can be considered as a higher-level division of labor. Failure of even one segment to properly discharge its duties and responsibilities has repercussions for the whole economy. The governments duty is to create a society that is free, fair, equitable, just and peaceful. Unfortunately, we are well aware that we have not achieved the ideal society and to a very large extent it is the failure of our government. Although it is fashionable in certain circles to lay the ills of our society on corporate doorsteps, I will not do so because it would be clearly hypocritical of me. Furthermore, it would be pointless to expect corporations to address those social ills which it has neither created nor has any particular expertise in addressing.

So what is the basic responsibility of corporations? Stated most simply it is this: To make a profit. Ours is a deep and ancient culture. Our cultural legacy not only includes profound spiritual values but also ethical business values expressed compactly in the dictum of Shubh Labh or Fair and just Profit. When you make a profit honestly supplying goods and services to society, it implies that society gains since the benefits (represented by the price paid) exceed the costs incurred to produce the good or service precisely by the amount of profit. Making that fair and just profit is your corporate social responsibility and nothing else.

I am here not to ask what corporations can do for the government (or even for the society at large) but rather to promise what the government should do to help corporations. Lets examine that next.

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