Archive for September, 2004

Built to Flip

Wednesday, September 29th, 2004

In the yester years, companies were built to last — carried over from founder to son to his grandchildren and further with astute loyalty and sense of possession. Most of these companies were privately held, then as times changed they became public but the founders still held the reins.
Built to Last. Not a very popular idea any more. Business 2.0 brings back the topic of “Built to Flip” where serial entrepreneurs and first timers take the idea to the masses with a single goal in mind. They are able to find a niche and make a play on that. I remember reading a similar cover story in Fast Company magazine few years ago, when 12-18 months was the maximum runway for most investors/founders. An interesting quote from the Fast Company article — “Come back with an idea that you can do quickly and that you can take public or get acquired within 12 to 18 months”.
All you need is a niche idea, some determination and a sabbatical.

RSS and Normalization theory

Sunday, September 19th, 2004

The recent spat of criticism against the blogs for being bandwidth hog brings new realism as to where we are headed in the blogsphere. Microsoft stopped delivering the full text of postings on the MSDN blogs citing a bandwidth crunch (MSDN has 964 blogs as of today). Bloggers were already critical about Microsoft trimming the posts in the feed with couple of hundred characters. Why click on a link in your RSS aggregators to read the full post?
There are two ways to solve this problem:
Firstly, the MSDN RSS Feed is one gigantic feed covering all the recently updated posts. Dave Winer suggested that Microsoft cancel the aggregated feed — simply offer a feed for every blog. ( is already offering individual feeds)
Secondly, extend the RSS specification and propose a normalization scheme for the data carried in RSS. The concept is very similar to the normalization done in databases.
Here’s an hypothetical case of normalization theory applied to RSS:

  1. The index.rdf contains all the elements except <description>
  2. A separate resource exists for the text content of <description>
  3. A new sub-element is introduced in <item> which is a reference for the separate resource for the contents of <description>

How this would work for a feed aggregator (on steroids)? The feed aggregator downloads the index.rdf as usual. The aggregator renders the content of the index.rdf by breaking down each of the elements. Since, the actual content (the entries in case of blogs) exist in a separate resource, the aggregator downloads the resource as required. In the next refresh, a local cache of the “seen” content does not require the resource to be downloaded, unless detected as modified in the index.rdf.

Publicizing your Blog

Monday, September 13th, 2004

Ganesh has some interesting ideas about promoting your blog.
But, the killer idea came from Peeyush. He changed the “My Display Name” property in his MSN Messenger to his blog URL viz. The property is available under Tools > Options > Personal of your local MSN Messenger.


I was quick to monkey it. Hey, I like the idea.


…and here’s the ROI within 12 hours!


Need suggestion for Yahoo Messenger? Easy. Create a “New Status Message” pointing to the blog URL!

Business Plan Competition in India on live TV!

Thursday, September 9th, 2004

Arun Natarajan reports about an article appearing in Business Standard that beginning January 2005, Zee Telefilms (a premiere Network channel in India, also a chief competitor of Sony Asia) will air an 36-episode show in which entrepreneurs will get an opportunity to pitch their B-plans on TV.
While the US has moved to the likes of Survivors, Fear Factors and Apprentice, it is very apparent that grass-root entrepreneurial spirit has caught up in India. This is a fundamental and a very positive change. The number of companies getting funded in India has increased and every month one or the other groups of VCs are scouting in India.
I remember that while trying to raise money in early 1999, I was bluntly asked what is my collateral for raising 500,000 Rupees ($11,000 approx.). The majority of VC firms (most of which were run by banks and other government institutions) were only funding core infrastructure and not software startups. I did get couple of appointments from two VCs, the parents of which were actually funding software companies here in the Valley. Both the sessions were actually spent in orienting them of the developments on the WWW. No wonder my ‘crappy’ software idea never got any attention.
Guess, which side the wind is blowing for people like me? But then, there is Murphy’s Law–Ha, I’ll always miss the train!

Google Messenger Take Two: Is Mumbai-based company prototyping it?

Tuesday, September 7th, 2004

Previous entry on the Google Messenger was speculative. I have found several links from other b l o g s that are talking about Google Messenger. Also, the domain ‘gMessenger’ has been registered by an annymous person.
Noteworthy is the report that Google Messenger is being prototyped by Geodesic Systems in India. Read the first comment here. Not sure, if Geodesic is being referred here.
Google and Geodesic may have forged a partnership but there are no reports confirming this in the media. Consider this–Ram Shriram is on the board of Google and was an early investor. Geodesic has Rakesh Mathur on their board. Ram Shriram was the President of Junglee (acquired by Amazon in 1998) which had Rakesh Mathur as the CEO. More truth?

G!Messenger or gMessenger: Is Google working on its version of IM?

Thursday, September 2nd, 2004

I overheard this conversation during a recent visit to a local Java Users Group.

Person A: (muffled)
Person B: Do you think ‘G Messenger’ would have all the capabilities?
Person A: (muffled)
Person B: Do you know anything about the launch?
Person A: (muffled)

The above two sentences hit my head. Does G stands for Google? Is Google planning to launch its own version of Instant Messenger? It makes sense. Google is already rumoured to enter the desktop search market. It already has couple of tools viz. Deskbar, Toolbar and GMail Notifier.
Natural progression a la Yahoo. Yahoo entered the IM market and now has almost every offering within IM. Chat is just one function. The IM products from almost all the major players AOL, MSN, Yahoo have search, news, stocks, weather, etc. What these products lacked is the desktop search and Google is taking this head-on with Microsoft.
I am not sure whether my judgement its true. I cannot guarantee the merits of the conversation. I just overheard something which might be something else and took it for Google since it is always on my mind.
OK. The above conversation was sheer dramatization but, I did attend a local JUG and a boring topic got my thoughts going. But, if I were Google, that would be the next move anyway. Google Messenger with Search, News, Froogle, RSS Aggregator, E-mail alerts etc. Anybody listening at Google?