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Showing posts from April, 2004

Wanna invest in Google? Trust The Founders and Think Looo0ooong Term

By Arun Natarajan

Fairy tales of the Silicon Valley kind continue to come true.

Good guys (especially, if they are smart as well) do seem to finish ahead.

Are these guys for real?

These are some of the thoughts that ran through my mind when I was reading through the letter that Google's founders - Larry Page and Sergey Brin - reportedly included along with the company's filing for a $2.7 billion IPO.

Also, it made me draw parallels to the founders of India's Infosys Technologies--who have managed to defy convention (at least, in the Indian context) and pull it off magnificently.

The main focus of the letter--never mind the amusing promises of not "being evil" and "making the world a better place"--was to communicate that Google, even after it becomes public, would retain its focus on the long term. And the best way to ensure that, the founders believe, is to leave them in control.

The public Google would continue support "high-risk, high-reward proje…

Will India's wireless telecom revolution sustain?

With 1.5 million new subscribers signing up each month, India is the world's fastest growing market for mobile telecom services.

India notched up 28.2 million subscribers in nine years since the sector was opened up. (China had only reached 6.8 million at the same stage.)

Come September, and the number of mobile subscribers will overtake the 42.5 million fixed line connections.

By 2007, India is expected to have 207 million mobile subscribers--over 10% of the global figure.

What are the factors driving this tremendous growth? Who are the main players? What are the challenges? What is the future for fixed line operators?

Businessworld magazines examines these questions in its latest Cover Story.

Click Here to read the introduction to the cover story package. (Make sure to look up the other articles in package using the links on the top right corner of introduction page.)

MIT Indian Business Club invites nominations for entrepreneurship awards

The Indian Business Club at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is inviting nominations for the 2004 Global Indus Technovators Awards. The awards have been instituted to recognize and encourage the South Asian innovative and entrepreneurial spirit.

Nominees must be of Indian/Pakistani/Sri Lankan/Nepali/Bangladeshi origin and must have made significant contribution, either research or entrepreneurial, to the advancement of technology in areas including, but not limited to, IT, biotech, materials and devices, healthcare and medicine, developmental work, and energy. Nominees must be born no earlier than 1st January 1964.

The last date for nominations for this year's awards is May 31, according to a message from one of the organizers.

The 2003 awards judging panel included Gururaj Deshpande (Sycamore Networks), N.R. Narayana Murthy (Infosys Technologies) and Prof.Sandy Pentland (Media Lab Asia).

For more details about the 2004 awards, Click Here to visit the awards websit…

Red Herring profiles email attachment software firm Accellion

S. Mohan and Nikhil Jhingan co-founded Accellion, a Palo Alto, CA and Singapore-based provider of email attachment caching technology, has been profiled in Red Herring's "VC in Asia" column.

The article titled "Singapore garage to Silicon Valley startup" describes how Accellion, which started out in Singapore (under the name Space Disk) as a provider of distributed file storage software, re-positioned itself to focus on the problem posed by large email attachments.

The spark was provided by one of Accellion's existing clients: global advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather. O&M was spending a lot of money on courier companies like FedEx to send creative work and other material between its offices and to clients around the world. The company could not use email to send these documents since the typical file size is 500 MB or more.

The Accellion team realized that "sending big files is just like syncing them" and hence, their existing technology…

The Economist speaks on Venture Capital

Now that VC firms have started to attract and raise new funds--after a 3-year drought--The Economist magazine has felt a need to advice VCs not to get overly excited this time around (as well).

The article quotes Thomson Venture Economics' data to say that over the past 20 years, even including the recent downturn, VC investments have yielded an average 15.7% per year--higher than the returns from most other investments. "It also looks particularly attractive today, when valuations of both shares and bonds are stretched and when other so-called alternative investments are looking dodgy," the article says. "If only venture capital can avoid the excesses of the late 1990s, it could be one of the last few sources of above-average returns," it adds.

The Economist says the rebound is for real even in Europe citing the case of Cambridge Silicon Radio, a VC-backed maker of semiconductor chips for wireless communication that recently raised $165 million via an IPO in …

Vani Kola featured in Always On

A panel discussion featuring Vani Kola, Founder & CEO of enterprise risk management software firm Nth Orbit, has been published in the AlwaysOn Network (AO) "blogzine". The site features excerpts from a panel discussion held at the Churchill Club earlier this year, when Newsweek magazine's Silicon Valley correspondent Brad Stone talked to Kola, Amnon Landan of Mercury Interactive, and Sergio Magistri of InVision Technologies.

The panelists spoke about entrepreneurship, management styles, the role of luck in a start-up's success, and the (inevitable) Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Click Here to read Part 1.

Click Here to read Part 2.

Click Here to read Part 3.

Click Here to read Part 4.

Related links:

TSJ Media's recent profile of Nth Orbit and Vani Kola

Nth Orbit's Web Site

"US programmers can't get work even at lower salaries": BusinessWeek column

Cost is cited as the primary reason why US companies send programming work to India. So, if American programmers were willing to work for less, companies should be more than willing to hire them rather than deal with the time and distance challenges of offshoring. Right?

Wrong, says BusinessWeek columnist David E. Gumpert based on his study of Aliso Viejo, CA-based Synergroup Systems, an info-tech placement firm that offers the services of American programmers at rates competitive with those in India.

Synergroup rents out it "local" programmers for $38 an hour or less--a rate, the article, that's half the going price for contracted US programmers and only slightly more than rates available from India. And factor in the savings in travel, oversight costs, and management expenses, and US companies are actually getting a great deal.

Gumpert--whose column has an anti-offshoring fixation--spoke to Synergroup's prospects and customers . "In the view of some corporate …

Some useful ideas

Business Today magazine recently brought out a special issue titled "An Ideas Superpower". The issue featured some interesting profiles of people like Avesthagen founder Villoo Morawala Patell, IIT-Madras' Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala and Aravind Eye Hospital founder Dr. G. Venkataswamy. It also featured some thought-provoking columns by people like management guru C.K. Prahalad, CSIR Director General R.A. Mashelkar, and ICICI Bank Chairman N. Vaghul.

The issue also provided some interesting data and information on patent trends in India. All in all, Ideas was an issue worth reading through at leisure.

Click Here to access the issue. (Paid subscription required).

The coming drought for BPO IPOs

By Arun Natarajan

At a time when the center of gravity of the global Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry is moving inexorably towards India, it is ironical that public investors in the country are getting left out of the action.

Up to 2002, Spectramind and Daksh--which were very early movers in the third-party BPO space--seemed the mostly likely candidates for making IPOs. The fact that both were venture capital backed added to the likelihood. Then, Wipro stepped in to gobble up Spectramind for about $102 million. Daksh CEO Sanjeev Aggarwal was telling the media right until March that "we plan to go public in 2004-05". Then, IBM stepped with $150 million plus in cash. And it was good bye public.

As if this wasn't enough, Citigroup has announced that it intends to buy out public shareholders and delist e-Serve International. e-Serve, in which Citi already owns a 44% stake, provides BPO services to Citigroup entities in more than 25 countries.

If there is a stron…

Fake "Kleiner Perkins VC" arrested

Shamoon "Sam" Rafiq, who illegally "sold" $3 million in Google stock posing as a partner at famed Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers (KPCB), was arrested on March 5 by federal agents, reports New York Post.

It seems Rafiq, a 30-year old Dutch national of Indian origin, told his victims that he was helping Google (a KPCB portfolio company) in its IPO efforts. And that he would let them in on the action at $12 per share. Rafiq's list of victims, according to NYT, allegedly included the Chairman of a global communications company, a corporate attorney, an investment banker and a stockbroker.

If only he had used his creativity to better purpose, it sounds as if Rafiq who could come up with a great idea for a start-up. Like Google. One that might have even got KPCB interested. Alas!

Click Here to read the full NYP report.




What exactly does July Systems do?

The July Meta-Service System (JMSS) is a 3G compliant service delivery platform that allows operators to rapidly deploy and deliver premium mobile data services, by tying together various entities in the operator ecosystem and making them extensible to third parties. JMSS is architected to flexibly manage multiple third parties, business models and relationships that are involved in the delivery of premium services

-- Introduction to "July's solution" at the July Systems' web site.

For a lay person, understanding the business model of Ashok Narasimhan and Rajesh Reddy co-founded July Systems, the Bangalore and Silicon Valley based wireless software start-up, can be quite a challenge.

Not any longer. A recent article in Businessworld magazine explains July's gameplan and challenges--with some nice examples thrown in--very well. And weaves the facts into a nice story that is easy to read. And understand.

Some extracts:

Unlike voice technology, which is now into t…

Orbiting towards profitability on Sarbanes-Oxley booster

A meeting with Vani Kola, Founder & CEO, Nth Orbit

By Arun Natarajan

"Study finds women lagging in venture capital race" reads the headline of a March 26 Mercury News report. The study, sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation, aims to find out why women-led businesses (which constituted 28% percent of US businesses in 2002) received only 4-9% of the available venture capital.

No one seems to have told Vani Kola, Founder, President & CEO of San Jose, CA-based Nth Orbit, about the huge disadvantages women entrepreneurs face in raising VC funding. At a select press meet (on March 29) held at Nth Orbit's new R&D center in Chennai, India, she disclosed that her company had completed raising a $11 million second round of VC funding earlier in the month. Nth Orbit, Kola's second start-up, categorizes itself a provider of "enterprise risk management" software. Its "Certus" software enables publicly listed companies in the US--especially, large ones…