TECH TALK: Vision and Worries: Emergic Ecosystem

Over the past 18 or so months, I have been working to bring the “Emergic Ecosystem” to life. I see this future as built around thin access devices [“teleputers” or mobile network computers the intersection of network computers and mobile phones] connected to centralised services over broadband wired and wireless networks. This two-way, multimedia web will get created first in emerging markets like India where there is limited legacy.

Every once in a while comes a platform shift in computing which creates new opportunities. We saw that shift in the early 1980s as the personal computing platform started to replace the world of centralized mainframes and mini-computers. We are in the midst of another such shift now as network-centric computing (with Ajax-ish interfaces) and broadband networks convert the desktop computers into terminals to connect to the Internet. The PC world shifted power away from the likes of IBM and created Intel and Microsoft. For the past two decades, Microsoft has reigned as the king of the computing world. Now, Google is the challenger and potential heir to Microsofts throne.

I believe that even as there is the shift taking place to network computing and virtual applications, we are seeing the emergence of the next platform. This platform will take root first amongst users in emerging markets those who havent completely experienced or benefited from the computing and Internet revolution. This leapfrog represents an opportunity to build the next computing and media giant. This new platform is what I call the mobile network computer.

This is the thinking that drives us in Netcore as we expand beyond our messaging and security solutions business to provide software-as-a-service solutions to SMEs, integrated
with mobility. Netcore, based in Mumbai, is where I spent 70% of my time. I think of it as the keystone for the ecosystem.

In addition, outside of Netcore, I have invested in/helped co-found a number of companies as part of the “Emergic ecosystem”:

Novatium: thin clients (with Ray Stata – founder-chairman of Analog Devices – and Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala – Tenet Group, IIT-Madras). We are building sub-$100 multimedia-enabled network computers. More information is available on Novatiums website.

Seraja: with Prof. Ramesh Jain of UC, Irvine (next-gen search platforms). The focus is on building the Event Web. You can read more about the ideas on Ramesh Jain’s weblog.

Rajshri Media: broadband and mobile content with Rajshri Productions, one of India’s largest and most respected entertainment companies.

I have also invested in Midas and n-Logue (both from the Tenet group at IIT-Madras). Midas builds communications equipment. It was named by Business Today recently as one the 20 companies to watch in 2006. n-Logue focuses on rural services and operates a network of over 2,000 kiosks.

I have also invested in New York-based, which focuses on real-time search and notifications.

I think about what I am doing as blending entrepreneurship and thesis-based investing. Will it pay off? I hope so. As I like to think, the future is an instantiation of someones vision. So, why cannot it be ours?

TECH TALK Vision and Worries+T

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.