Friday, December 08, 2006

But where is the money?

I have always admired Indians. They are amazingly entrepreneurial, sharp and opportunistic. They learn and speak English because it sells better. They dance to rock and salsa. They code Java as if it was Darjeeling tea. Ever heard of second mover advantage? India is all about it

But ever heard of stupid copycats? Yes, we are still talking about India. It pains me to see Indian entrepreneurs madly rushing into reproducing consumer internet models. I feel bad for the so-called Web 2.0 clones, because I just don't see a reason for them to exist. The consumer base is small (20MM - 40 MM, depending on who you ask), but most shopping is offline. There just isn't any ecommerce economy yet. Google works because the "tail" is long. India has no tail. The online advertising pie is too small and there are way too many people going for it. Screw advertising... it blows anyway. Lets make a product people want, and make them pay for it.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Generating Collective Crap

Yes - I am taking a dig at O' Rielly's definition of Web 2.0. I think its wrong, mis-guided and wishful. Don't get me wrong, Web 2.0 is good and real - but collective intelligence it is not. What's actually good is all the cool and light interfaces, the emphasis on sharing and connecting with users, blogging and lower barriers to entry through open-source resources, be it software, human or web services. All of these elements have a real tangible benefit to the user or the business, and they are here to stay.

But its wrong to glorify collective intelligence, a.k.a. "user-generated content", as the primary offering of Web 2.0. Yes, there are millions of believers in this, which is not surprising if you are watching the number of social networking sites, group sharing sites, blogging and what not. If we have the same 24 hours every day and have at least much work to do as we did before, where do we get the extra time from to spend on myspace, linkedin, gusto and what not. And what's in it from me. The oens that actually spend time on it are the ones with the wrong intentions - they are not in there for content or sharing, they are their for money. When you have so many different sites coming up, where the only barrier to make it to techcrunch is an extra feature or two, you have a largely fragmented user base. You have a collection of random words and no group intelligence. To make wisdom off a crowd, you need a real crowd. Otherwise, you will only generate crap.

Make no mistake, i do think the collective intelligence is real and big if approached correctly. But I think people are foolishly optimistic about the "collection size" and "intelligence quality" they will collect. We should not be harnessing intelligence, we should be understanding it. And we are not looking for intelligence, we are just looking for needs. Lets call it "Understanding collective needs" and you have a winning model. Yes, Amazon's recommendations is a prime example, Google's page rank and Netflix's recommendations is another. Findory is an excellent service - so much better than the more popular, but completely useless, Digg. The only winning models I have seen so far along the lines of O' Reilly's definition are wikipedia and tripadvisor. May be youtube and Yahoo Answers to some extent, although i am still very skeptical of their sustainability. The former two are here to stay, but don't expect any of the copycats to succeed. Take your dime and go shopping on Black Friday. The returns will be higher.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Barry Scwartz in this book "The Paradox of Choice" complains how vendors create a multitude of options for consumers in their clueless quest of helping them, but what ends up happening is customers are confused, frustrated and feel downright rejected. To experience this first hand, try buying a laptop at Dell, or a ticket from Orbitz. They make me fell stupid and dumb...

But I wonder what makes humans want options, unless ofcourse they get it - at which point they hate themselves. We like going to malls better than the clothing store down the street, we prefer AMC 32 over good old cinema, the Walmart over the mom and pop grocery store... Its analysis - paralysis, we are gradually becoming more indecisive and losing our identity. Its confusion... its chaos. Life sucks!

Saturday, July 22, 2006


If you are reading this blog, you are one of the distinguished (read: only) few who either mysteriously managed to stumble on this one or are more than nice to have accepted my invitation to read the Debut. Either way - thanks for stopping by!

With blog count as of July hitting 70 MM, another 70 million is due in the next 6 months, so here's my bit at trying to keep up the pace.

Now, to the more concrete stuff -

Well, like a few other billion people, i also think that the one thing i cannot live life without is the "broadband". Yes, i don't think cellphone cuts it; Tivo is not remotely in the picture, and myspace - i just don't understand. Personally, it is broadband that has managed to disrupt my life by creating a unsurmountable Attention Deficiency Disorder in me. Scores of blogs, news and scores have managed to victimize my brain and my focus beyond all repair.
This blog is my attempt at trying to focus on something

Don't know yet. I might write a post once a week. And it'd be on technology, strategy, life, criticism, whatever - depending on how much its raining outside. San Francisco has crappy unpredictable weather, so good luck predicting this space.

Stay posted!