Saturday, May 31, 2008

Thank you

This one is to thank the angel that found my phone on the BART and took the pain to locate me… she was so thoughtful that she used her own phone to call my last number dialed to locate me.

Thank you so very much…

I have been real lucky when it comes to losing stuff… an auto rickshaw driver in the city of Hyderabad, who probably earned 2 dollars a day returned my wallet to the police. And here is the miracle within the magic… the often criticized Indian police published an ad to locate me.

In both cases, I had given up any hope of getting the items back… and each time that I got my items back, my faith in basic humanity got renewed.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Social Software

I was discussing Sharepoint/Drupal at work today and decided to look up "social software." Social software was on the list of the Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2008. Interaction is cheap and collaboration is a necessity… enabling the conversion of knowledge into information and then connecting that information with people, who then design processes around that information, should be the goal of all organizations who want to fully exploit the concept of enterprise 2.0 and the potential of a knowledge worker. Whew! Exhale…

However, it is really important that these tools are used the right way… and by the right way I mean that they are not used the wrong way, i.e. one dimensional information sharing interfaces. The best utilization of a Sharepoint intranet portal at your organization should resemble that of Facebook – coworkers should be connected to each other like friends on Facebook… their activities at work published as a news feed… when they discover information, you discover information.

At the end it does not really matter if you go with Drupal or with Sharepoint – the way you use tools is more important than the tools you use.

FSJ on the Google App/Salesforce Tie Up

It is a little late to opine on the subject, but I can appreciate the humor and the insight at the core of it all… this from Fake Steve Jobs:

The problem with Benioff is that for all his talk about the future, and the "end of software," he's got a bad case of McNealy-itis. That is, he keeps fighting the battles of the last decade, over and over and over again. Meanwhile the Borg has already written off Office. They'll milk it for a few more years but they can see the value going to zero. (They'll never admit that, but they have. Trust me. I've got spies close to Ballmer.) Another problem Benioff has is that his business can't scale. CRM is nice but let's face it, it's CRM. It is what it is. It ain't ever gonna be something that everyone uses. Like an iPod.


Over the weekend, I got a text message from a CEO of a hot upcoming start up offering the ability to publish videos online(I know, I know… but have to do the PR bit for the company… they pay me (sort of)):

Are people like Salesforce viable clients for us?

My response: Yes. And so are customers of Salesforce.

SaaS is freedom… it is like those "Go" phones… pay according to usage… it makes no sense for one to 59 bux per month for 1000 minutes if you are using only 700 minutes.. and it makes no sense for people to pay 300 bux for MS Office if they are not using all the features… and that is what MSFT, DirecTV, Cingular and other examples of strategic decadence have to seriously re-examine if they plan to remain relevant - are our price points adherent to the new bylaws of value chains, i.e. pay according to usage.

I don't know where I am going with this: but a SaaS Service A + SaaS Service B makes total sense as SaaS Solution (A+B).

Monday, May 26, 2008

Hitchhikers Guide to Bootstrapping

Going through my blog roll, found this piece of really useful and succinct information for entrepreneurs: The Bootstrappers' Guide to Strapping Up. It is an unusual role – entrepreneurship… the rhetoric of course (courtesy duperstar) is – make a lot of money and have lot of fun while doing it…

Appending some of my thoughts to the guide:

  • We gave Officelive a fair chance, but the project manager felt like Oliver Twist drawing the smallest straw when he started using it. It was clunky, slow and bug-ridden. With all fairness MSFT has not taken the "beta" label off.
  • Well neither has Google with Gmail. But it is an absolute delight to use! I used to be a MS Outlook guy… and was cajoled into the implementation by: "Dude you can use it as an IMAP account!" I haven't used Outlook for my "entrepreneur" account for the last two months. "What about organizing?", you say. The convenience of search takes away the need for organizing I say… plus Google is doing the organizing for me.
  • Awstats is a good compliment to Google Analytics if you need more detailed web stats.
  • Need a professional sounding PBX system? Evoice is your answer.

Anyways here is to fun n money… and in this case one out of two ain't that bad. Good luck!

Friday, May 23, 2008

If at first you don’t succeed…

…read a book, talk to a few people, get a reality check and try again.

This to another Steve… I am addressing quite a few of my blogs to "Steves"… speaking of – yo mystery man! When is the 3g iPhone coming out?

But this one is to Steve Shannon of Akimbo. Akimbo decided to close doors, shut down the operation and sell assets (you guys got streaming servers?)… and I have nothing but good wishes for Steve. Steve took the time off to speak to us about Marcellus and offered us good advice and provided us with contacts of content owners. But Akimbo was designed to fail. It was trying to solve a non-existent problem with an expensive solution – On Demand TV with a box that cost $300. Steve's time at ReplayTV must've contributed to the notion of On Demand TV… so Akimbo tried what it thought was an unconventional approach in a conventional market… and kudos to them for the thought. But the strategy was flawed: it was a one dimensional product when it should have been a multi-layered service. And I say this with zero bias: Marcellus's personalization engine would've helped. Marcellus's interactive platform would've definitely helped.

Funny - the same news article also refers to the demise of another company that we tried helping during our formative years – Movielink.

I am telling you core-driven guys: pull beats push, listening beats talking, edge beats core and the network beats the channel.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

An Open Letter to Steve Ballmer

Dear Steve,

I am sure I caught you at a bad time… you must be on the phone with Carl, while you are texting Bill with "WTF dude?!?! Why are you selling?" But when you can please pay close attention to what I say, because I say it with love (I was the one that bought the only copy of Bad Boy Ballmer sold) and respect (I am the guy that sent you the uRock email). I believe that you've got it all wrong. You are fighting a battle that you don't need to fight, and you are losing a war that you need to win. You've been playing a lot of golf with the President? Oh wait, the President is not golfing any more… for respect! Hmmm, maybe I need to send him a letter too. But let's focus on you and MSFT for now:

I loved it when you took over from Bill. Always thought of you as the consumer guy… always believed that you will understand the edge a lot better than Bill did. Bill was the core strategy guy, so much so that MSFT's internal org structure was hub n spokes… and we all know he was super successful doing it his way. So when Billy said he was leaving MSFT to change the world (irony: Bill Gates is doing philanthropy like he did technology… from the core… Bill the edge needs you!!)handing over the company to his best bud – I got all excited.

And MSFT did undergo a transformation under you. Splitting the company up into 7 semi autonomous divisions was a bright idea! got a make-over and started offering longer trials, with a focus on problem solving and customer service. Change was coming… but no it was Vista that came. Now don't get me wrong… it is a pretty okay OS… umm well correction it is a pretty OS. I used it for a while and then upgraded to XP. And boy you guys did a good job with XP!

I know you already know that the client-server model is becoming increasingly redundant, and with that MSFT is becoming irrelevant. Google is breathing down your neck and you sure must be feeling like throwing something right about now. But relax. You and MSFT do try and solve problems… but the way you them is wrong. And that is what makes the difference between profitability and sustainability. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Open Windows up. No, no. Put that chair down and hear me out. I heard about you calling Linux communism (that comment must not have resonated quite the way you wanted in China). But that is the future dude… open platforms that networks will morph to best suit their needs and pump the value at the edge to the core. It is a different world now. It requires a different approach.
  • Move from semi-autonomous divisions to independent divisions. Make your 7 divisions completely independent of each other. The cancer that is growing in the desktop systems should not spread to the Xbox… I love the Xbox. Do it before you get "sovietized."
  • Get Umair Haque on the MSFT Board. He can be a little sensitive at times… but I am sure you understand.
  • Promote the product strategist for Sharepoint. I think Sharepoint rocks!
  • Buy Facebook before you buy Yahoo. And open Facebook up. If Mark is open to it, have him talk to the dude responsible for Sharepoint. You will find that they have a lot in common… and will learn from each other.
  • If you do end up owning Yahoo, don't assimilate them. Learn, adopt, change and become more like them. Yahoo does a lot of things right… and human resources is one of them.
  • Drop the People Ready campaign… people are ready. Knowledge workers are not a new phenomenon; they existed when Bill was drafting the first copy of Business at the Speed of Thought. How does People Enabled sound? =)
  • Silverlight is hot but it is a little dense for people like me. You better start talking about the problem it solves, rather than the value it creates.
  • .NET – how about .NOT?!?! Please abandon.

Ok that is all for now. I should publish this before Vista conks out on me… j/k. Oh by the way – I love Office 2007!


PS: My Xbox 360 has the red ring of death? Who do I call?

Friday, May 16, 2008

What is the Edge?

It won't take long for a member of Team Marcellus to start talking about the edge. Edge competencies are in the Marcellus DNA... it is what we do better than any other company in this space. So your question naturally is – what is the edge?

I am tempted to do my best Morpheus impression and tell you that everything that you see is the edge… but I am going to refrain and tell you the edge is the boundary that divides the internal and the external, the producer and the consumer; the service provider and the client… it is that very distinct (you can see it if you look hard enough) membrane through which the value/revenue osmosis happens. And the edge is where the action is at…

The internet has changed a lot of things, but the single greatest impact that the internet has had that it has changed the linear flow of what used to be called the value chain… companies are used to pushing "value" at the consumers and the consumers reciprocate by providing companies with "revenue." But in this new world of cheap interactions between consumer <-- company --> consumer value is increasingly and exponentially (referred to as the "viral effect") created at the edge… each time a consumer interacts with another consumer or with the service there is a distinct, tangible value that gets created… firms (read Google) that are able to capture and consequently leverage this value are the epitomes of hyper efficient business models. The reason that the same hyper efficiency is "el dorado" for some firms (read Microsoft) is that they are still operating with the core strategy and hence are in a strategic decay.

Wanna know – how you can avoid that strategic decay in this oblivion called online video? Well you can start by considering Marcellus…

Thursday, May 15, 2008

“The Eagle in the Mirror”

So I am reading this book Are We Rome?
Great read… combines retroactive clairvoyance with historical relevance. Plan to write more about the subject later, but here is something that I did not know – Romulus was the name of emperor that founded Rome…. And Romulus was also the name of the last emperor of Rome… and like the author says won't it be really ironic if America's decline started with a President named George…

Sunday, May 11, 2008

So, why not Youtube?

Good question Joe! So you are asking me why shouldn't you just post your videos on Youtube where you have a Googilian people coming every day?

Youtube is amazing by the sheer volume of content available on it – you want to know how to be a ninja? And Youtube has a one minute video on it. That is Youtube the brand – a massive volume of video interactions. But what if you were to believe that video brings a certain value to your brand or if video is your brand? Then Youtube dilutes your brand.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Much Ado

…about nothing! After getting us all worked up about the pros and cons of Microsoft-Yahoo merger did not happen. Steve "Baller" knew how much Yahoo was worth to him and refused to pay a penny more. Well he might have paid a penny more, but you get the point. Speculation has already started on what Microsoft will buy next? Microsoft is a software company that is looking to become a media company… and has made one bad move after another, starting with partnering with GE on MSNBC. The one good move it did make is when it developed a product called the Xbox in house… so there is a lesson in there for Microsoft… make a good product, make it fun to use, make it so that other companies can add value to themselves and to the product and you would've done something meaningful… and profitable.

And acquired a network of very loyal users.

Ontology of Blogs

"We blog, therefore we are" says the tag line for one blog directory. The discussion on the affect of blogging on the sports-media landscape on Costas Now got me thinking on why people blog. Blogs are opinion; when I blog, I am exercising my right to freedom of expression further enabled by the democratization of publishing because of the internet. My blog is what and how I feel about what and how things are… is it all fact? No. It is opinion about facts.

By blogging I am also indulging in what Friedman refers to as "information arbitrage:" buying information from one place and then reselling that information at another place. You cannot be a good publisher without being an involved consumer, so I read a lot of blogs. And in doing that I am "subscribing to people, instead of magazines."

Interesting point someone made the other day about blogs being a tool for self indulgence… but there is an element of self indulgence involved each time you are expressing an opinion… opinions are personal and everyone has them… some tend to express them a lot more. Hey but isn't it a lot easier to stop reading than to stop listening?

There is no denying the fact that blogging has become an important factor in the consumption of information on the internet. The question becomes: do we as bloggers need to adhere to the same ethics code that journalists (are supposed to) adhere to? We do have a certain responsibility to people that are subscribing to our opinions and sensationalism isn't always the most effective way of engaging your readers. When one engages their audience, one is able to listen and speak. At the same time there are different reasons for people blogging and therefore different levels of responsibilities - I do expect a lot more responsibility from a CEO blogging on his company blog…

If you are those very few lucky ones out there that can actually inspire people through blogs… then you should be blogging. But one thing I can tell for sure (opinion =)) if Adam Smith and Karl Marx were alive today, they both would've been bloggers… and would have commented on each other's blogs… ah utopia… speaking of which Moore would've been a blogger too.

And I think to myself… what a wonderful world.