Knowledge@Wharton Interview

Knowledge@Wharton interviewed me recently. Here is the introduction they wrote:

Rajesh Jain has a lot in common with Marc Andreeson, co-founder of Netscape. Just as the Netscape IPO in 1995 is widely believed to have sparked the Internet boom in the U.S., Jain ignited a dot-com storm in India when his portal — IndiaWorld — was sold in November 1999 for $115 million to Sify, an Internet service provider. That deal signaled to millions in that country that the web was not just a passing techie fad and that entrepreneurs could make serious money from it.

In recent years, Jain, 39, has deliberately kept a low profile in the media, though he makes his views on technology issues widely known through his blog, Jain, who is now the CEO of Netcore, a Linux-based messaging software company, was a panelist earlier this year at the 2006 Supernova conference in San Francisco. He met with Knowledge@Wharton in his offices in Mumbai to discuss how mobile phones could hold the key to the Internet’s evolution in India and other emerging economies.

Here is a quote from me:

I believe another dimension will define the future of the Internet in India, and that’s going to be built around the mobile phone. Given the way that mobile phones have taken off in India during the past four to five years, I am convinced that more people in India will access the Internet through mobile phones than through computers linked to narrowband or broadband connections. We need to start thinking about the mobile Internet differently than we do about the PC Internet.

For me, three words help define the mobile Internet. They are: now, near and new. “Now” is about what is happening right now in real time. Wherever I am, I can find the latest cricket scores or the top news stories because my mobile phone is always with me. “Near” is about location — it can be as small as a neighborhood or it could be a city. If I’m about to take a flight this evening, could I get an alert on my mobile phone if the flight is delayed? Some of this is starting to happen, but it needs to happen a lot more. It could make a real difference to people’s lives. Finally, “new” is about new stuff in which I might be interested. Just as a search engine like Google is a good way to find material that has been published in the past, the mobile phone is a great way to keep in touch with future or incremental content. If there is a sale, it should be possible for my book store to send me an alert and suggest business books that I might find interesting.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.