Wednesday, February 26, 2014

My New Startup

My new tech startup is in the mobile gaming space. I could call it the first tech startup of my life.

In 1999 I was a founding member - not the leader - of a tech startup that did really well for a few rounds until the nuclear winter hit and it was Gone With The Wind. We were trying to build the top South Asian online community. In early 2008 I met the stated goal and raised 100K for my startup whose vision was what the Chromebook is today. In early 2009 me and my Co-Founder gave the money back to the investors in the face of an extremely ugly economy: we did not see us raising round two money. This is my third attempt. Third time is the charm. When you have four borderline genius developers working towards a private beta product for equity, you know you got something.

There is a huge culture clash between the tech startup world and the rest of the economy. When you try to raise money from people who don't "get it," are not from this world, it is like you accidentally touched naked electric wires. Wow, what was that? You get all sorts of weird reactions.

The Angel List is a great starting point. Although I am in mind to pay Fred Wilson a surprise visit. Very likely I will show up and he will be "away" at one of his 100 Board meetings, either elsewhere in the city or on the Left Coast.

I feel like he owes me money for all the comments I have left at his blog over the years.

Fred, I have had your curiosity, now do I have your attention?

From The Angel List I have a short list of about 50 angels who have (1) listed themselves as interested in mobile gaming, (2) are in or near NYC, although not all are, and (3) who are not too far down in the ranks at the site. I am going through the list, and I am like, I'd want to know and hang out and converse with these people regardless of if they gave me money or not. They just come across as so very interesting people.

Ingress: Hit 8,000,000 AP In Times Square
Ingress: My Blog Posts
Ingress: The Same Territory Seven Months Later
Ingress: Four Grant's Tombs In Jackson Heights

Top Influencer During Social Media Week? Moi
White Male Conspiracy To Drive Me Homeless
Netizen Has Arrived: A Link From AVC
Paul Graham, Brad Feld, Me, BBC

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, February 15, 2014

House Of Cards: Binge Watching

I never thought I'd do that. I never thought I'd binge watch, but that is exactly what I have been doing for the past few days. For as political as I am, my interest in House Of Cards comes from the tech, Netflix angle. Netflix is supposed to challenge the movie and TV industries at a most fundamental level, and it has with these episodes. I want more.

Washington, DC Is Officially OBSESSED With 'House Of Cards'
Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., who also appears in the video, won’t attend the premiere, but she said she does plan to binge-watch the series over the weekend...... With much of Washington snowed-in on Thursday, Cards fans inside the Beltway called for the early release of season two — but to no avail. “HBO made a brutal mistake by not timing the release of House of Cards with the snowstorm,” quipped Amanda Carpenter, an adviser to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
I finished the first 13 episodes of Season 1 Thursday just in time for the release of Season 2, pure coincidence. I only started two days before. No, I did not have a subscription. I have had Netflix subscription before, but I let it pass. They don't have enough movies in the purely digital section.

A few days back I got a free month trial with my Hotmail account. I knew my Hotmail account would amount to something. Just kidding. Today both Yahoo Mail and Hotmail are competitive to Gmail, Yahoo Mail for offering a terabyte of free space, and Hotmail for having a much cleaner experience than both. But when Gmail is your default email, and it is still very good, you don't switch. You use Yahoo Mail for Dropbox like storage. And, well, on Hotmail I have turned on and off the switches such that unless I have saved your email address in my address book, you can't even reach me.

Kevin Spacey Goes All House-of-Cards on Hollywood (Video)
Kevin Spacey gave what is perhaps the most cogent call to arms for the entertainment industry to please get with this Internet thing. ...... Francis Underwood — the political nightmare Spacey plays with glee — said in the first lines of “House of Cards,” as he mercy-strangles a dog, hurt badly by a car: “There are two kinds of pain. The sort of pain that makes you strong, or useless pain. The sort of pain that’s only suffering. I have no patience for useless things. Moments like this require someone who will act, do the unpleasant thing, the necessary thing.”
I lost some respect for House Of Cards and for Hollywood for the sex and murder. I mean, come on, don't insult my intelligence. In this day and age you can not be so close to being Secretary of State or Vice President and be flinging a young reporter - granted she is pretty - and not have anyone find out. You certainly can't kill - twice - and be Vice President. You can't kill when you are maybe only a day away from being sworn in. I mean, like Michael Corleone says in Godfather, "Who is being naive, Kay?" Presidents and Vice Presidents do get people killed, lots of them, but they don't get involved in petty murder.

I have personally been party to political events - and I am talking small events - that the following day made it into news, and the distortions have blown my mind. I have been like, I was there, I know all the details. And this news report is so off. So media has its prisms, and Hollywood has to have sex and murder. But then perhaps Hollywood knows how to keep people interested. You throw in the sex and the murder and people will watch. It is not Hollywood to be blamed. People get what they want. It is the masses, collectively speaking.

But then what respect House Of Cards lost with the sex and murder it gained by covering the political process well. The give and take on the Education Bill? I mean, wow. Very well done. Also, lifting the age of retirement by a few years. Kevin Spacey did it before America will. That makes this sci-fi. I guess there is such a thing as political sci-fi. We do say Political Science, don't we? At one point I was a Political Science major.

I grew up knowing Hindi movies were almost three hours, English movies were shorter - two hours. Well, this thing goes on and on, but it does because it needs to. When the treatment of the material is fair, the length does not matter. This is not a movie, yes, I know that. But then this is not television either. It is just video content. I, for one, would like numerous 30 minute movies. Of course online, preferably for free on YouTube, supported by ads, or 10 cents to watch for pay. If you did not turn a profit, it was because you could not get enough people to watch you, and that is fair.

And you thought Ashton Kutcher was the movie star who is also a tech entrepreneur. No, it's Kevin Spacey.

Kevin Spacey takes 26 hours to become President Of The United States, talk about a plot spoiler. Barack Obama has or will watch all 26 episodes. I will bet you a hundred dollars he will.

I believe The Mahabharata is over 100 episodes and way more complex a plot, way more gripping.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Nadella's Compensation, Mayer's Compensation

Inside Satya Nadella’s CEO Comp Package From Microsoft
Nadella will pick up a $1.2 million yearly cash salary ... Nadella is also eligible for a cash bonus of up to 300 percent of his salary each year, or $3.6 million. The new chief is also set to pick up a target stock bonus of $13.2 million in fiscal 2015..... for fiscal 2015, Nadella should pick up a total of $18 million..... Nadella’s compensation includes three five-year periods in which Microsoft’s stock performance will be compared to the S&P 500′s performance over the period. .... So the new executive could warrant up to 2.7 million shares total at the end of the three five-year programs in aggregate. .... Nadella stands to land north of $100 million
New Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella could earn $18 million next year
Nadella earned a total compensation package of $7.7 million in fiscal year 2013, when he served as president of the Server and Tools division at Microsoft. .... Nadella’s predecessor as CEO, Steve Ballmer, received $1.26 million in total compensation in fiscal year 2013
The new Microsoft: How Satya Nadella will transform the company
“He has a track record of making things happen in an organization where that’s hard to do.” .... “He also understands how to work within the Microsoft culture — and this is not a trivial thing.” .... Nadella has previously demonstrated the ability to navigate rough political waters — even while working with Gates and Ballmer .... He’s technically proficient and highly personable. He’s humble, but unafraid to lead by example. And he’s unwilling to accept the ordinary.
Satya Nadella's base salary 70% more than Ballmer's

Yahoo to Pay Mayer $100 Million Over Five Years
Marissa Mayer's first-year pay: $6 million
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's pay package could be worth $129 million
Marissa Mayer's Yahoo CEO compensation nearly $60 million
Adding Up Marissa Mayer’s Pay at Yahoo
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's salary revealed
Yahoo Paid CEO Marissa Mayer $36.6 Million in 2012

Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, February 07, 2014

Microsoft’s New Indian Face

In case you did not notice, Microsoft now has a black Chairperson and an Indian CEO, and Bill Gates will now be reporting to Satya Nadella three days a week. Bill is back! Someday Sundar Pichai might end up CEO of Google, and Bobby Jindal might end up President Of The United States. And Nitish might wipe out poverty from India. And Jayalalita might help architect genuine federalism for the Tamils in Sri Lanka. And India is already on its way to Mars. Jupiter is not far.

Amitabh is the most recognized face on the planet. 

Bill Gates is the ultimate Maoist, if you ask me. I only got to “know” the guy after he launched his global war on poverty. Computers only became interesting to me because of the Internet, and Bill was a PC guy. My company to love is Google.

My tribute to Satya Nadella was a blog post An Opening For Microsoft: Supercheap Smartphones.

I think the biggest new opening for Microsoft to get back on the tech map is for it to cash on its Nokia acquisition and a CEO who grew up in India, a country that has more poor people than any other, and to offer the cheapest smartphones across the Global South. That steep price gradient is the only hope Microsoft might have to become a significant third force in the mobile space where Android is the new Windows. If it were to move fast enough I think there is a slim chance that Microsoft might end up with Apple like global market shares.

The large number of Android manufacturers are tough competition though. Android is free. And those hardware makers are doing their best to offer cheap phones. But I have a feeling Nokia knows a thing or two about cheap.

And to think Nadella is not an IIT guy. He claims pretty much everything he learned about leadership and teams he learned playing cricket. That is a true Indian! This is no lost Desi. He is true to the roots.

If India were the Al Qaeda the recent humiliation of the Indian diplomat would have ignited a call for jihad. That organization has a simplistic two dimensional cartoon idea of what America is. It is a large, complex country that can also put Nadella on the top. For every Nadella there is also a Pichai, waiting in the wings, ready to take over.

I think Bill Gates’ comeback cannot be overlooked. That is a big story in its own right. Gates will still give the majority of his time to his foundation, and I think that is awesome because I am a huge fan of his foundation. But this time away from Microsoft has been good for him. He now has new, global, non-Microsoft perspectives. This is not a Personal Computer world we live in, not anymore. But then he was thinking tablets a full half decade before Steve Jobs, only Gates’ tablet had an accompanying pen, and it never took off, not even inside Microsoft. So don’t think the guy is behind.

How would you design super cheap smartphones? I say, ask Nokia. But smartphones are no good without data. How do you bring wireless broadband to vast swaths of the Global South (that is like saying African American) also known as the Third World (that is nigger)? Google is throwing balloons up into the upper parts of the atmosphere. Microsoft might try satellites and cheap antennas on the ground. My point being, it’s got to compete in the space of taking internet to the masses, the left out billions. A smartphone with internet access is the 21st century voting right. If you don’t have it, you are disenfranchised.

So imagine a $20 Nokia smartphone that someone in Darbhanga, Bihar, buys on the roadside, that immediately connects to wireless broadband beamed down by a Microsoft satellite for free. The phone runs Windows Mobile, which is free. It has the Bing search engine by default, and Hotmail Mobile, and Office Mobile. And Skype comes preloaded. And every Skype account gets a free phone number too. As in, calls are free. Skype gives you unlimited free SMS. And of course the keyboard can be in English or Hindi.

How does Microsoft make money? $20 for the phone, and ads served on the phone through the various services. Ads that are super relevant, because your usage of the phone builds a rich profile of you at some Microsoft data center. And Microsoft ends up rich, and we all end up happy.

This part is obvious. Steve Jobs gave us the Graphical User Interface, or the mouse. He stole it from Xerox, but then Picasso was also known to steal. Jobs also gave us the touch interface. But I think Microsoft gave us the next big thing before Jobs gave us the touch. Gestures are more natural than touch. And Microsoft’s Kinect is master of the gesture universe.

There is something called the Natural User Interface. I think there is so much more Microsoft could do in that space.

Supercheap smartphones with the accompanying wireless broadband and the Natural User Interface fully scaled together can easily take Microsoft past a 500 billion valuation. And Nadella could stay busy for a decade. And that is enough time before another Indian takes over. Maybe Pichai? And Vivek Wadhwa perhaps is Mayor of Silicon Valley by then, or is it Vinod Khosla? Khosla is already Dean.

Enhanced by Zemanta