Showing posts from May, 2007

Gates and Jobs play nice..

Gates and Jobs gave a joint interview at the WSJ's D:All Things Digital conference.

I haven't finished watching the entire interview yet, but its remarkable how complimentary they are of each other. The feel is almost like they're veterans reminiscing over a long-forgotten war they once had...kinda sweet.

If you've seen Pirates of the Silicon Valley, it almost feels like this should be the end of the movie.

As an aside, I was impressed by the range of videos available on the WSJ site, but even more so by the provider of the service: Brightcove. I can see why some people think that this will end up being the "enterprise YouTube", and it seems to be the provider of video services on so many sites that I visit.

It's not even close right now though (Compete graph below)

Quick Reviews: Wicked, Betrayal

I've wanted to catch Wicked for what seems like at least a year now, so I was glad that I finally got around to it.

I loved it! It's a great story, as well as a great twist on the Oz story.
It fun, touching as well as a little heartbreaking.

The songs are great, the show is fun and cast was fantastic. I caught it at the Oriental, which is a really great theatre.

Also caught Betrayal, a play by Harold Pinter last week at the Steppenwolf theater. I thought the play was ok, but stayed back after the play for a 30 min discussion on the play where metaphors that Pinter used, some of the characters motivations and structure were discussed. I enjoyed that almost as much as the play.:)
It reminded me how most art by good artists is multi-layered and often we miss that...

Cellphone minutes as money.

I ended up reading this via GigaOm. Its a cool concept: essentially cellphone companies built in the functionality to easily add/subtract cellphone minutes and people figured out that they could use this as currency. I've heard dozens of times recently, including at this panel at the GSB management conference, that eventually the mobile phone will replace the credit card and in an environment where the credit system is just not well developed it looks like it already has. Considering how slow mobile banking has been to gain acceptance in the West, will it develop most (like mobile technology in general) in the developing world?

But does that mean we'll be having conversations like this soon? :)

Dude 1: "Hey, how much for that apple?"
Dude 2: " 13 minutes."
Dude 1: "C'mon! Its not worth more than 5."
Dude 2: "You're killing me. It takes me that long just to say hello talk to the apple supplier."

Quick Reviews: Cheeni Kum and the 3 reviews

I hadn't seen a Hindi movie in a theatre in a while, so was glad a whole bunch of people made it down to the suburbs to catch Cheeni Kum. It was definitely one of the funniest Hindi movies I've seen in ages. Amitabh, Tabu and Paresh Rawal are excellent, but what really stood out for me was the quality of the writing and jokes. I don't think I've laughed as consistently at a Hindi comedy in a while, and the character development was truly, truly excellent.
Pretty incredible for anyone, but especially for a first-time director.

Also last week caught the two "3"s that were released. Yup, I have really totally checked out. Saw the Pirates series finale and Shrek 3 back to back. Pirates: eeh..; it was ok, but not great, kinda like the second.
Shrek 3 was a blast. Thought it was better than the second.

These Columbia kids...

... make some really good/funny Follies videos.
I don't know what it is...the fact that they're in New York and have more creative-types (would be interesting too see what the USC and UCLA kids are up to.)
Sometimes all it takes though are just one or two admits to affect the creative level at the school, so that could just be it; especially as typically one class tends to build on the work of the former class.

SouthPark Video

The Famous Bernanke video

Baby got WACC

Dean Dean Baby

Are we already at Television 2.0?

A funny thing happend while watching the season finale of The Office. Based on a mention in the show, I found myself browsing CreedThoughts on the NBC website immediately after the show. It was kinda weird the blog exists since on the show the "blog" is just actually a Word document that the incredibly incoherent Creed is writing stuff into.:)

But this did get me thinking as to how TV shows have moved beyond just television now (probably started with the lost 2 seasons ago.) After watching the season finale of Lost with friends (Thanks Faisal!), the next day I spent an hour on Lostpedia tying up so many things I'd seen earlier in the show. Spending time on the site makes you appreciate the show at a whole new level, adding even more depth to the entire experience.

These offline components allow the fan base to galvanize which helps the show retain loyal followers and hopefully attract new ones. On the other hand, I really believe it also gives TV writers an incentive to wr…

Are you kidding me?

Apparently being kissed by Clooney is priced at $350,000, but here's what surprised me. A man won the bidding, so that Clooney could kiss his girlfriend. That is either one really confident or really stupid dude: the cynic in me is dominant today so I'm going with stupid.:)

In other pricing news, the WSJ carried an article this morning that mentioned this lucky primate.
The Wildlife Conservation Society sold the rights to name this species; so all such monkeys are now called the monkeys; that's right the ".com" is part of the name of species. I love this planet: humans find a way to keep things interesting.

The WSJ article though was about this project: interesting and yet another cool use of wikis.:)

The perils of criticism

New ChiBus article last week.

I've learnt that reviewing anything is fraught with peril. People who're mentioned get ticked off; people who aren't mentioned get ticked off; people who you make fun off get ticked off...well, the last one is kinda expected I guess.:)

"What the hell is a Zune?"

Charles Barkley continues to be my favorite thing on "Inside the NBA."
The show needs Ernie Johnson's Emmy-winning presence, Kenny Smith's credible insights and the frequent guest turns from Magic Johnson, but for sheer entertainment value nothing beats Sir Charles, who never restricts himself to just basketball, using the show to make glib, funny (sometimes unintentionally so) remarks on everything from race to fashion to anything else under the sun. He also takes being frequently mocked by the other hosts really well.

His latest gem; as the show was about to go to a video break sponsored by Microsoft's Zune,
"So what the hell is a Zune?"
After learning what a Zune is during the break, he goes:
"OK, so when am I getting my free one? I love being rich. You never have to pay for anything."

So this got me thinking about the Zune again, which I hadn't in ages (not a good sign for Redmond.) When it came out, I had been intrigued by MS's decisio…

Social networks are going to be like men? that they all pretty much look and act the same.

A good friend sent me this Makkadman video link.Warning: you're not going to get it, unless you understand Hindi and really Hindi films.:)

It turns out the spoof Hindi-Spiderman-animation is a advertisement for this social networking site: DesiMartini.

Check out the site. Does the UI look vaguely familiar???
I spent at least a minute trying to figure out how it was related to facebook; if it was related to facebook etc., etc.

Its not, but it looks exactly like it.

Given how many white-label social networking tool providers there are now (i.e. companies that make the site for you and slap your branding on it), a social network site is basically a commodity (GigaOM post on this way back) and just as everyone's personal blogs kinda look alike (because of the limit on Blogger templates), its a matter of time before everyone's social networks kinda start looking alike, especially if systems such as Ning continue to gain in popul…

Nike's first cricket ad...awesome!

Creative advertising is always entertaining, and I've always thought that the best Indian ads have always been particularly brilliant. Past advertisements revolving around cricket though, even the good ones, always seemed to be based more around cricket stars rather than cricket. In general, Indian ads of late have been over-using celebrities.

So I absolutely loved the energy of this new Nike advertisement (below), which though it has Sreesanth and Zaheer Khan, just has them looking on rather than being the focus of the ad. The ad is very Nike "Just do it", but also very Indian and very cricket-friendly.

The ad was done by JWT Bangalore, and the soundtrack is a lot of fun.It is a Konkani song so in theory I should get it, but given all the flavors of Konkani floating around, I can barely make out a couple of words.:)

Incidentally, I stumbled on to this link on AdAge, which ranks the top 100 advertising campaigns of the century. Most are really old, but interesting reading.

New Google page menus?

Hey, did anyone else notice their Google menus had changed?
Here's a snap of mine below. It looks like the text is bigger and they've changed the background around:

Wondering if this is happening for everyone? or if this is just one of their famous live user tests?

Update: Yup, it is one their famous user layout tests.

I believe in the NBA again.

I've been a basketball fan ever since I was introduced to the game at 10 in school in Lagos. A little more specifically, I've been an NBA fan ever since. But over the last five or six years, I have drifted away from the game. Its funny: I actually started watching lesser basketball once I came to the U.S. Part of my lack of interest was the post-Jordan syndrome, but a lot of it was that the teams I was drawn to always seemed to lose! And not just once or twice, consistently year after year. The type of teams I loved to watch play, that ran, that were offense-driven, whose players' stories got me pumped, were year-after-year beaten in the playoffs by more disciplined, more talented, more experienced, more defence-first, more aggresive teams.

But over the last two years, driven by the success of the Phoenix Suns (and the Mavs), run-n-gun basketball has made a comeback, and this year, finally it feels like its that style finally has a chance to win!...and the pundits believe t…

Let a 1000 startups bloom...

Via the usualsources, I learnt about Charles River VenturesQuickstart program. The idea is simple: provide seed funding for a lot of small startups. Its not a bad idea: it's been done before. Y!Combinator has been the best example of this most recently. They provide amounts in the few thousands, generally to college kids along with some basic resources for generally a 5% stake in the company.
This portfolio approach seems to have worked pretty well for them so far.

This program is a similar idea, but different in that they're providing amounts to the tune of $250K as seed funding to startups. Here's the problem: this role is typically taken on by angel investors, and has been taken on by angel investors for ages. VCs typically come in a little later with larger investments and more (warning: b-school phrase coming) "value-add."

Michael Arrington has a theory that given the low capital requirements and increasingly quick turnarounds of Web 2.0 startups, VCs will be a…

Chicago...and a quick review

Its been one of those weeks: there was so much I wanted to blog about I ended up not blogging at all. Oh well: let's do the public diary first and at least get started again.

My cousin was visiting, and so I finally had the brief of trying to see a little of Chicago. Ended up spending most of Friday evening/night at Looptopia, where I had a blast. The idea was an open concert with about a 175 free events around the Chicago Loop area. The event ran from 5pm to 5a m. I ended up walking around downtown Chicago more than I have in a while, visiting the Art Institute, catching a Stage Door Broadway in Chicago performance, standing in line for events for a ridiculous amount of time, getting turned away from some of them and catching a few other open-air events including jiving belly-dancers, stand-up comics and the Wierd Sisters. The next day it was a touristy visit to the Sears Tower, where a quote on the Skydeck walls seemed so true to me, especially after the night before.
"Show m…

The search for a good name.

The WSJ had an article today on yet another issue that some parents apparently consider while naming their kids. They check that Google thinks their uniquely precious one really is that unique. In the words of a proud mother of a young baby boy, their excuse for wanting to name their child Kohler is the currently low Google return for this

"I wanted our son's name to be as special as he is"

Sheesh! Yes, lady. Unfortunately your telling this to a WSJ reporter now means that the first 100 links for your precious one's name are going to be links to articles where people are questioning your decision.:)

Now I'm as big an ego-surfer as anyone else out there, but this is carrying things too far. Parents overthink the names of their kids, and that's natural and to be expected. What annoys me is when they start unnecessarily worrying about optimizing these names to suit the environment. I have friends of Indian origin who're giving their kids…

I figured out my incentive/bonus problem...

Well, just one of many anyway.

I was at the India Business Conference organized by the kids at school a few weeks ago, and the afternoon keynote speaker was P.J. Nayak. The presentation was great, and the points he made were brilliant, as was the morning keynote by Prof. Rajan. I didn't really expect to be fascinated by the changes in Indian retail banking, but his presence, polish and use of data/facts ensured that I was.

However, this post isn't about the speech. It was something that the speaker mentioned in the Q&A. In response to a question on the quality of managers in the Indian public sector, he said the problem was that the government never recognized the need to provide incentives to their managers and that this was a possible explanation for their relatively inferior performance.

At any business school, but especially Chicago, that's the way we're trained to think: provide the right incentives for people and people will do the right things; without the righ…

Are you kidding me??!!

Alright, I'm probably close to the last person on the planet who should be commenting on corporate mergers, but...
OK, I'm going to take that back; I'll have a MBA degree in a couple of months, so I'm probably better qualified than 99% of the planet...but still.. you could do much better.

Anyway, the Murdoch-threatedWSJ reports today that Redmond is considering bidding on Yahoo. I don't understand it and from what I know it seems extremely unlikely to me that it'll happen, but that's what I thought about Google buying DoubleClick, and we know how that turned out.

As far as I can tell, there isn't a logical reason from Microsoft and Yahoo to merge, except some vague generalizations about how this will better place them to compete with the Big G in the area of Internet advertising. These are not good reasons to merge, and even if you managed to convince yourself they were, I'm not sure how a merger better helps you to compete. The spin-off joint venture

Have business schools got recruiting in reverse?

As much as I love school, and as much as I think the Career Services office at the GSB is nothing short of absolutely incredible, I couldn't help wondering if the MBA recruiting process as a whole could be done much, much better.

I got thinking about this only because this quarter, my final quarter at the GSB, I'm really, really enjoying finance. I'm in two really interesting financeclasses with greatprofessors and that's got me completely hooked. I couldn't help thinking, if I'd been this interested in finance beforehand, would the choices that I'd have made regarding a post-bschool career been very different?

The way business school recruiting works, the system is really geared towards people who know what they want to do after business school even as they enter b-school; those who're hoping to take some time to figure it out are at a bit of a disadvantage. I've spent a ridiculous amount of time thinking about fixes for the system, but every potenti…

Quick Review: U of M, Ta Ra Rum Pum

I ended up visiting the University of Michigan last weekend. My cousin graduated with a Masters in EE, and Bill Clinton showed up (video link) at her commencement. I loved the U of M campus, and Ann Arbor in general seemed like a really nice place to be. Clinton, as expected, was a brilliant speaker: the right mix of substance, humor, gravitas and pure likability. He opened with,

"I thrilled to be introduced by the University of Michigan's first female president....that has a nice ring to it, doesn't it"

Also managed to con the kids I was with to watch Ta Ra Rum Pum. I loved it, but as is often the case I may have been the only one there. It was a lot of fun, despite having the usual Hindi movie silliness. The production values (considering that there were tons of racing scenes) were actually pretty amazing, and the movie has the best animation-live action scenes I've seen in a Hindi movie.:)

Woohoo...I'm on Youtube!

...and apparently on TV Asia as well. The India Business Conference made a promo video (below) and have some footage from last year's conference that ran on TV Asia.

I'm the guy leaning, seated at the last table they show about 2:15 into the video. Not bad for a YouTube debut, I guess.:)