Users in India should have opt-in rights

Rediff, McAfee

Last year I posted on “Indian websites haven’t earned my trust“. What had annoyed me enough to write that piece was moneycontrol.com. Once it got hold of my email, it started sending me an email a day with an inane “Sensex was down 89 points, your networth?” Unsubscribing hasn’t worked so far. Eventually, I relegated it to “spam” in my email client where it finds company with all the Viagra and penny stock spam. I wonder what they’ve done with my email though. Probably sold it half a dozen times already, along with those of a thousand other unsuspecting subscribers.

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Another Ladoo for my Ladla

This trip, for some reason, I have been noticing a lot more obesity in India. From the just overweight to the can’t-get-out-of-their-airline-seat-themselves obese. Sedentary lifestyles have something to do with this, of course, but I sense that there is another major factor at work here – an Indian mother’s love.

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Mumbai Taxis

I am in India on a 2 week trip.

On the ride from the airport to Malad, I get to understand why the Mumbai taxis are the way they are, from my driver. For those of us who have had their bones rattled in a Mumbai taxi, this will tell you why. It won’t hurt less when your head bangs into the roof of the cab, but at least you can nod wisely because you know who to blame.

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Open Letter to the Bollywood Music Industry

Dear Mr./Ms. Music Executive,

First of all, let me compliment you on your pricing strategy so far. You have aced the test on how to price information products. Information products like music are tricky – the content is all in digital form, the fixed costs are high and marginal costs approach zero. How do you price such a thing?

Your current strategy seems to be working well. You have segmented the market according to the listeners’ ability to pay. To each segment you offer a different product (or sometimes the same product) at vastly different prices. I checked prices at different places for the same album – Don. Here’s what I found:

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Water, No Ice

Water, No Ice
Indians are known to waiters in restaurants as the “Water, No Ice” people. Most Indians that I know don’t like to order a drink at lunch since the water is free. And no one likes their water with ice cubes in it. Call it racial profiling, if you like, but the Indian position on how they like their water makes sense to me. Given that our ancestral state in the African savannah did not involve any water with ice cubes in restaurants, I suspect that our genes did not prepare us for this daily assault from ice and ice cold water.

On March 1, my wife, Vidya Pradhan and her friend Rohini Mohan started an “online magazine” for Bay Area Indians.

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Where are All the Senior Developers in India?

I hope you got a chance to play around with the spreadsheet that I posted last week. I finally got the embedded spreadsheet to work, so you can make changes and see the outcomes right there on the blog post. Isn’t that just a thing of beauty?

The model in the spreadsheet is quite simple, but it can explain a few things – for example, why in India ‘experienced developer’ has become an oxymoron. You simply don’t find developers with more than 5 years of experience. The Valley stands on the broad shoulders of seasoned developers who can weave magic with their keyboards and relish being individual contributors. Try finding these guys in Bangalore.

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Model for Indian IT Services

The Indian IT Service industry has seen some phenomenal growth numbers. This year, some of the bigger companies like Infosys and TCS continue to post gravity-defying growth figures. Growth has many implications for the industry – most of them positive. A not-so-positive fallout of growth is its impact on the staffing model.

Growth has a pretty direct relationship with two variables:

– Average experience of Project Managers
– Span of control in projects

To illustrate these relationships, I have created a staffing model for the IT Services industry. The model vastly simplifies the dynamics but is nevertheless a close approximation of reality.

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Notes from TiEcon Delhi

I attended TiEcon Delhi for a day in October. The energy in the main hall and the deal-making in the lobby outside, spoke volumes about how hot the Indian venture scene is. I met old friends as well as some new entrepreneurs. And came away with much to chew on.

Startups in India have opportunities and challenges that are quite different from the ones in the US. Ditto for VCs. A few observations:

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My Government School

I grew up in a small town called Hisar in Haryana. My father was a Professor at Haryana Agricultural University and I did most of my schooling at Campus School. As the name suggests, the school was meant for the children of University staff.

I left Hisar after my 10th boards. On trips back to Hisar to see family I would drop in for a chat with my school teachers. Then my family left Hisar and I never went back until recently the internet brought some of my old school mates together. On this trip to India I went back to Hisar and to Campus School after more than 20 years. It was quite a trip down memory lane.

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