Archive for the ‘Amazon’ Category

Flipkart, the e-commerce boom, the other view

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

The valuation is maddening, crazy, 4,000 4,500 crores for an e-commerce startup which would get 10% net at best is even crazier. Yes, it is crazy but it’s also fearless at the same time.

You know what is exciting? Creation of a category, creation of demand. The fact that my dad calls me from a dusty little town of Dhanbad, after hearing about Flipkart. Adding to his belief that he is ready to shop online all by himself.

Nitty-gritty of the valuation is for fund managers, analysts, think-tanks and people who are not associated with the company or the deal, to take pot-shot at. I think they are plain wrong if they look at Flipkart with a single eye.

It’s easy to create a web-store online. Give me 10 minutes and I’ll get you started. But, it may take you a week to a month to collect payments online. Shipping & logistics is a much bigger challenge than accepting payments in India. If you are a mom-pop operator you can pack, ship, drop on your own. Think about shipping 5 books every minute. No courier company in India is efficient to track delivery and return with guarantees. was a technology play and they moved faster than people were adopting newer browsers and advancements to the web technology. Infact, the first version of Amazon did not use cookies!  Amazon got the shipping, logistics and payments infrastructure out-of-the-box, sans the web integration part — without worrying about theft, delivery guarantees and failed service-agreements.

People expect that a company in India, of Amazon scale, including it’s loyalty, personalization, great price and customer service can be built in thin air and without lots of money.


If history is any fortune teller, all bubbles/booms created long term markets and large categories. The Gold Rush created California; the semiconductor, networking and internet bubble in succession (re)created silicon valley multiple times. India’s OTA created air-travel for the masses. The Y2K bubble created Indian IT. And so on.

Hence, this is business as usual, which will lead to creation of large markets, giving people access to many items for the first time and killing inefficient distribution methods of yester-years. It’s a space to watch, participate. The forces of nature use elasticity to keep the bubble in check. IMO, the choice is easy and you can’t run around with pins. When there are bubbles, be like a kid or have the bubble gun.

Disclaimer: I don’t work at Flipkart nor have any direct stock holding nor the founders/management team have picked up my beer tab in the past.

Image lazily lifted from Wikipedia.

PHP-JSON on Amazon EC2 Fedora Core4 AMI

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

I have been using a modified version an old FC4 public AMI, which is too good to be deserted with all the software I have installed. For a project, I needed support for JSON. Javascript Object Notation or JSON is a way of passing string representation of Javascript objects to the user-agents. Straight-through serialization of Javascript objects and transmittal of such is much more compact than passing XML and then converting them to Javscript objects.

On the server-side you have to create a string representation of a Javascript object and then return it to the caller. This is very similar to formatting data in XML and then sending the XML back to the requesting clients. JSON takes away the overhead of XML (no parsing, DOM walking etc. instead you get a first-class Javascript object). In PHP you can create a JSON string by passing a PHP variable into an encoder function.  In PHP 5.2.0 JSON is natively compiled, it was contributed by Omar Kilani who wrote the php-json extension.

You may skip the rest of the post if you already have PHP 5.2.0. Keep on reading if you have PHP 5.0/5.1 on Fedora Core 4 and want JSON functionality.

Good news is that the php-json has an RPM available in fedora-extras. You don’t need do any thingamagic of installing the RPM by hand. Instead use yum to install it seamlessly from the fedora extras repository

(Assuming that You have su privileges)

Step1. Navigate to the /etc/yum.repos.d directory. Check if you have a file called fedora-extras.repo. This file contains the required information for yum to look up the extras repository

Step 2. If you do not have the file then create the file with the following text:

name=Fedora Extras $releasever - $basearch

If you have the file then make sure the “enabled” flag is set to 1. Extras are normally disabled.

Step 3.  Run a yum search command as “yum search php-json”. If your fedora-extras.repo is set correctly then you will see a matching result as:

php-json.i386                            1.1.0-1.fc4            extras
Matched from:
php-json is an extremely fast PHP C extension for JSON (JavaScript Object
Notation) serialisation.

Step 4. If all looks good, run the install command as yum install php-json. That’s it. Have fun with JSON. Read the PHP Manual for usage.

2 Pizza Team Leads: Amazon’s Funny Job Title

Thursday, August 3rd, 2006

Found this interesting job title for Amazon India. 2 Pizza Team Leads!