Facing The Music

Against all odds. That’s what first came to my mind when i had to get down to implementing a lot of things some years back at work. However, it’s just the approach that needs to be changed. Instead of all the odds, i began to think of all the opportunities that i could be on. That minor change in perspective made me believe in pushing myself against all boundaries.

So a deliverable at 7 AM? No problem.

4 hour commute. Can be managed.

Can you work on this aspect (something i’ve never heard of). Sure. {Factor in late nights spent awake in reading about how it really works}

Ad-hoc meeting, I just have to pull you in to this one. Sure, you can count on me.

Among many other such situations, i reveled in the pressure. After all, what is a day worth when you don’t learn something new? I’ve learnt to read up more than my clients do, understand more than the intern can throw at me and deliver more than i possibly could imagine. It’s said that we overestimate ourselves in the short run and underestimate in the long run. In my case, i would say overestimating actually helped me in accomplishing more than i thought was possible. Against all odds, it may have seemed to others. But to me, they were in my favor. Facing the music as many would think. In my head, i was loving the music and finding meaning in the rhythm. Isn’t life itself like that? I sure do believe it is!

 

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Why are tech firms buying out smaller start-ups?

Consolidation in the technology space. It’s happening. Much has been said, heard and analysed when it comes to the recent Whatsapp acquisition by Facebook. Valuations were being tossed around and here’s an interesting graphic on whether it was worth $19 billion to start with.┬áThat being said, i’m looking at bigger forces at play in the technology space. As textbook economics will tell you, consolidation is a phase that kicks in mature markets when the big players begin to swallow the smaller and more active ones up.

Acquisitions have been happening for quite sometime now. But some of the interesting one’s in recent times have been Google buying Motorola and then selling it off to Lenovo. Microsoft buying out Nokia and they did give in to market pressures by releasing an Android phone just yesterday at the Mobile World Congress’14. Microsoft also bought Skype nearly a year back and killed its own messenger. Software firms have been increasingly snapping up hardware companies. It’s clearly about building capabilities to have more integrated software and hardware. Apple has been doing this for decades with a very closely knit user interface that has been winning customers over for years. Pretty much like them, the other companies are also trying to tightly integrate services to have the customers locked in for longer period of time. Look at Google, that is trying to foray in to nearly every possible nook of our life as it builds its inventory for the internet of things. You’re using maps, gmail, search and docs for starters. As any marketeer will tell you, its always cheaper to retain customers than to go out and acquire new ones.

Here’s a drill-down of what i think about the entire consolidation bit:

1. Customer stickiness: Companies want customers to buy a product and integrate it so tightly that they are unable to breakout.

2. Eat the competition: As start-ups have more breathing room and flexibility for innovation, let them build great products as the big cats will swallow them up to eventually kill the competition if any.

3. M&A industry: Who else is laughing all the way to the bank? Consulting firms. In fact software acquisitions made up nearly half of the deal value in this space as per PwC.

4. Increasing usage: Big tech players are always looking for means to increase usage and as Metcalf’s law says, the value of any network lies in the number of connected users on it. Hence you see why software services have been aggressively merging or finding new ways of driving usage for their platforms.

5. Start-ups don’t always need an IPO: It’s increasingly difficult for a small company to go public and put itself under the scanner. Investors and analysts will slice and dice not only excel spreadsheets but also any single move that key people make. By cashing out and selling themselves to a larger firm, they can avoid all the pain. All of this when they might have not even achieved the vision they started out with.

6. Hide failures better: The chances of a start-up making it big are rather slim. In fact, the odds seem to be against them. Once they have generated enough buzz and got a fancy valuation. The small fish can then afford to dissolve in the system and chances are if they were going to fail, little would anyone get to know about it.

With all of this in place, we can only hope for better products and services. While some of these partnerships may have benefited the firms, what remains to be seen is how innovative they can really get. For now, the entire space has become a playground for many small firms to pitch their products and see how quickly they can go to market or gain more funding. At the end, the customer stands to benefit the most from this!

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*Image source: Flickr (labelled for reuse)

Kejri-Wal: Another Brick in the Wall

“We don’t need no education”. The opening lines of this Pink Floyd song, instantly signal a need to overthrow oppression & signal individuality. Something i think Arvind Kejriwal has been trying a bit too hard off late. The point is if you interpret Another Brick In The Wall, you would see that Pink Floyd doesn’t mean to say that education is not needed. The lyric has don’t & no in the same line effectively nullifying the argument. They mean to say that education is needed & to oppress the system needs you to be a part of it. We’ve heard that before, to change the system be in it. Contribute to change rather than being the clogging hole.

Arvind Kejriwal is spearheading the Aam Aadmi Party that was formed out of the India Against Corruption Team. They started out on a good note, recruiting just about anyone. The idea was that this is a democratic party and anyone can help in running the state. Nearly 50,000 volunteer registration receipts were handed out as farmers, whizkids, corporates and activists jumped on the bandwagon. Populist measures? I think so. It’s one thing where traditional parties get singers or film stars to join a party when they have no knowledge of the constitution. Apart from knowing what’s wrong in their suburb, how much would the average indian know about the same constitution? I don’t think much. At least, i don’t have a clue.

On winning the Delhi polls, only chaos unfolded. There were raids, FIRs filed against prominent corporate houses and individuals. Cuts in water & electricity rates when the nation is running fiscal deficit. Not too good for our economic health. Here we are trying to cut out subsidies and Kejriwal ups the ant by subsidizing it further. Maybe, he was keen to earn brownie points really fast in to the game. But following that up with a Dharna to simply get the some policemen suspended? There is a process to be followed, that’s how governments all over the world are run Mr. Kejriwal. To his defense, he said that the constitution doesn’t state that a minister cannot protest. Fathom this, the country’s prime minister getting down to a dharna. Doesn’t it sound like Kejriwal’s interpretation is flawed? Presumably so.

Testing waters were always running rough. Outrage on twitter has become the rage with Kejriwal’s antics. The last straw was the passing of the Jan Lokpal bill. Tabled for discussions, the bill couldn’t be passed and this led to Kejriwal & some his parties representatives resigning to protest. In this world, there can’t be absolute black/white. I think they could have waited more & be a part of the brouhaha to get the bill passed. Quitting was a premature idea according to me. Now they are fired up for another rally, Jhaadu Chalao Yatra because apparently roaming around with broomsticks in 24 states by cleaning schools will help in cleaning corruption in high end places. Sounds completely illogical to me. I think this will only be an avenue to recruit more members for the party as Arvind Kejriwal sharpens his claws for the Lok Sabha elections. I do hope the AAP is able to deliver some promise as its got so many hopes pinned on it. Till then, i leave you with this funny video that has humorous take on all that Arvind Kejriwal has been up to.