- Queen Rania is a passionate advocate for women and children in the region and in the world as a whole.
- She set up the Madrasati initiative aimed at renovating Jordan's most dilapidated public schools.
- She was named the third most beautiful woman in the world in the 2005 by Harpers & Queen magazine.
- In addition, she was the youngest queen in the world when she ascended to the throne.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Far from it. But as an young Indian who is eagerly anticipating a new era of great entrepreneurial Indian companies, I can't think of a better example right now of such an era than Yauba. And I cannot wait for the official release so that I can post a full review and explain of why this is the first product since probably the Apple iPod that has made me so excited.
Yes, Virginia, it is really that good.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
IMPLICATIONS FOR TODAY
Why is this the case? Because over the past 10 years, due to the massive outsourcing of business process global best practices to India, we have witnessed the greatest legal transfer of knowledge and intellectual capital the world has ever seen. We now have an entire class of Indians who know what global best practices are in almost every single business process, from the mundane like call centres to the unimaginable like product liability litigation, creative brand design and convertible bond valuation. No other country in the world has such an asset.
All of this is the perfect recipe for an entrepreneurial revolution. India now has all the tantalising ingredients needed to shift up and away from our past role as a facilitator and supporter to that of a creator. And we are seeing the signs of this emerging phenomenon right beneath our feet.
My answer? They are coming. And you ain't seen nothing yet.
INDIAN CASE STUDY: YAUBA
Case in point. A few days ago, as part of my Real Life Smart Babes series of articles, I had profiled Janeena Basra, the first Indian Miss England finalist, a Ph.D. student in medicine, part time model, and vice president of an Indian search engine company called Yauba.
A few days after I wrote the profile, the company sent me a special preview password for the service which will be launching at the end of this month. And since that time, I have spent at least five hours playing around with it.
My verdict? It completely rocks.
I will be posting a more in depth review of the service after I have explored it some more. But all I will say for now is that I think this is the Next Big Thing. I know they has been a lot of hype and fluff around such vaporware search services like cuil and Powerset. But this is different.
I think this is the only company I have seen in the past 3 years which can take on--and beat--Google head to head. It is that good.
But what is most impressive about Yauba (and most relevant to this post) is that it has been built almost completely in India and by overseas Indians. If services like Yauba or Zoho are any indication, a true golden age of Indian startups is just beginning. And even if services like Yauba and Zoho ultimately end up not succeeding, many more will be coming our way. That is how entrepreneurial revolutions work ... as in Schumpeter's famous phrase, through "creative destruction."
Imagine if just 10% of all the top Indian engineers at Google and Microsoft and Facebook suddenly decided to build something in India, and you can imagine what is likely to happen. And with the slowdown in the US and European economies, such a prospect becomes more and more attractive every day. India will soon have an Internet population greater than all of Europe and US combined. And as US and Europe begin to tighten their regulations on immigration even more, the exodus will continue even more.
And in doing so, the centre of gravity for entrepreneurship will naturally shift to India. Just as America took over the dominant role in entrepreneurship in the 20th century, so too will India in the 21st.
EPILOGUE: What All This Means for Indian Entrepreneurs
All of this is good news for Indian entrepreneurs, but it also means that the entrepreneurial world in India will get much much more challenging due to greater competition.
When the best domestic search engine is a clunky, outdated service like Rediff, it really is not that hard to create something better. But when the best domestic search engine becomes something like Yauba, it will be a whole new ball game.
It will indeed become a brutally competitive, brave new world
But it is this very competition which will finally allow Indian companies and startups to create (and not just faciliate) world class companies and thereby lead the way in India's Silent Entrepreneurial Revolution.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
It is a silent revolution.
But it is a revolution of such tremendous magnitude that its repercussions will be felt for decades to come.
It is the Indian entrepreneurial revolution.
It has been almost 30 years in the making.
(Note to readers: This is the first of a two part post. In this first post, I will provide some necessary background to this revolution ... a revolution that is largely driven by an unexpected and unforeseen confluence of unintended consequences. I will begin by describing some other such unintended consequences in our history which have served to inadvertently accelerate India's entry into the global economy. And in my next post I will describe the full details of this new silent revolution, and explain why this revolution is happening just now.)
PROLOGUE: Case Studies in the Law of Unintended Consequences
And yet, despite all the shameful activities of the British East India company (and it successor, the British Empire), it did unintentionally spread English in the Indian subcontinent. This would have significant unintended consequences later on for India. It would later allow India to enter into global service industries with relative ease, and it would later allow Indian educated immigrants to more easily adapt to, and find success in, places like the UK and the US.
B. The Hijli Detention Camp:
When the British found themselves increasing under siege by masses of Indians fighting against Imperial rule in the early 20th century, they resorted to increasingly violent reprisals, killings, and torture.
And the pressure on costs brought on by the technology bust made the Indian offshoring value proposition even more appealing than ever.
- Companies are laying off employees by the tens of thousands.
- Banks are failing left and right.
- And as a result of significant political pressure, governments such as the US and the UK are severely cutting back on immigration into their respective countries.
- The gloom over Silicon Valley and Wall Street is perhaps the worst most people have seen in their lifetimes.
- And as a result, many of the professional employed in the Indian IT offshoring sector are finding their careers and livelihoods at risk
But just as the British East India Company, the construction of Hijli Detention Camp and the first Internet crash ultimate ended up unintentionally benefiting India, this perfect storm will also end up benefiting India.
All we have to do is open our eyes to see this happening already. We are now at the beginning stages of India's great silent revolution, one which will catapult India to the very forefront of the global technology industry for decades to come.
And for domestic technology startups, it will mean a true golden age unlike any we have seen before.
Why do I feel this is the case? In my next post, I will describe the early signs of this silent revolution, why they are emerging right now, and what all this means for us Indians everywhere, both in India and abroad.
Friday, February 20, 2009
- With the advent of Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networking software, connections are much freer. Now everyone knows a friend of a friend of someone important, and if you really persist, you will be able to get in touch with that person.
- While it may have been important for a person to physically be present in Silicon Valley in the 80's and 90's, this is much less the case today.
- The epicenter of the global economy has now shifted to Asia. And in Asian cultures where meeting face to face is ever so important, being IN Silicon Valley means that you are NOT IN Delhi or Shanghai ... potentially an even greater disadvantage.
- For the most part, companies do not need much capital anymore.
- When a laptop costs $350, GBs of memories can be purchased for loose change, database and operating system software are free ... you do not need tens of millions of dollars to succeed. Indeed, as I have written elsewhere, raising so much money can actually make a company less likely to succeed.
- And regardless of the amount of money a company needs, the US and Silicon Valley no longer have a monopoly on venture capital. Indeed, the tremendous wealth creation in Asia over the past 20 years means that Asia now provides capital to the US rather than the other way around.
- Like everyone else, Silicon Valley VCs need to sell their inventory for more than they paid. Unfortunately, during the last 2-3 years, Silicon Valley VCs overpaid on very expensive inventory for which there is no more demand.
- It will be a tough several years in the Silicon Valley VC world, and the tremendous returns of the past are likely to become distant memories.
Monday, February 16, 2009
If you have not read Facebook's terms of service by now, you should.
It is evil.
And I do not use that word lightly.
You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to
(a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you
- Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or
- enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and
The following sections will survive any termination of your use of the Facebook Service: Prohibited Conduct, User Content, Your Privacy Practices, Gift Credits, Ownership; Proprietary Rights, Licenses, Submissions, User Disputes; Complaints, Indemnity, General Disclaimers, Limitation on Liability, Termination and Changes to the Facebook Service, Arbitration, Governing Law; Venue and Jurisdiction and Other.
So basically, Facebook owns all your photos, your writings, your friend's contact details and private information about you.
Even if you terminate use of Facebook.
To me, this is simply an abuse of the trust users have placed in a site like Facebook.
I just dare them to try to use my image to advertise their services. I certainly know how Cristiano Ronaldo, Adam Sandler and other celebrities (or their agents) on Facebook would feel about that.
The sad part of all is that because all of this is buried in fine print, most people will have no idea that they just signed away pretty much all of their private information.
This is evil.
Not a great day for online privacy.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
My fourth smart babe profile is Janeena Basra. I think you will agree that she is definitely THE sexiest young businesswomen in India today.
Her personal website is http://www.janeenabasra.com/.
Janeena was the first Indian to become a finalist in the Miss England competition. While in high school she received 11 A+/A scores on her college entrance exams.
She holds both bachelors and masters degrees in medicine from the U.K., and has put her Ph.D. studies on hold to become the Vice President of Yauba, an Indian startup company based in Delhi that has been getting quite a lot of attention in the Indian Internet industry recently.
Janeena is a highly successful model in both Europe and in India and has appeared on the BBC as well as countless Indian newspapers.
She is passionate about science and technology.
And she is Indian.
India does not have many young, high profile, women executives in business.
Janeena Basra shows that being female should not be an obstacle to achieving your dreams and that it is possible to be smart, sexy, and successful.
Proof once again that smart babes are sexy.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
And the next time you hear someone evoke a metaphor to describe their business, you should run for cover.
Because it usually means that business is headed in one direction. And it's not up.
Take for example, the idiotic metaphor of the financial supermarket. This single metaphor has been responsible for possibly the greatest shareholder destruction and economic crisis the world has known to date. Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, UBS all justified their catastrophic strategies on the quest to become a financial supermarket, without even asking what this metaphor meant.Well guess what ... people do not want to go to a supermarket where they get constantly ripped off. If you look at history, people shifted from mom and pop grocery stores to supermarkets because these supermarkets offered every day low prices on virtually all of their items. Compare this to banks like Citibank who try to foist ridiculous products and services onto you just because you signed up for a checking account. A supermarket who tried this on their customers would soon go bankrupt.
Or take the metaphor of strategic beachhead. If you know anything about war, you would know that most attempts to capture any type of beachhead ended in enormous casualty for the attacker. Not that different from many Internet companies who have no business model but think that they can create one after burning millions of dollars of venture capital.
A metaphor is not a business strategy. It is a literary device that belongs in the high school classroom.
A business strategy is an articulation of how you will consistently make money.
So how can a business make money? It's no big secret. There are only four ways to make money.
- You can grow your revenues. You can do this by selling more stuff, selling to more people, having these people buy your products more often and selling at higher prices
- You can lower your costs. You can lower your fixed costs or your variable costs.
- You can play around with your capital structure. You can try to get cheaper financing, and you can try to leverage your capital and take oversize bets. Of course this can come to bite you big time.
- You can pay lower taxes.
Just 4 main levers you can pull.
So the next time you read on Techcrunch article after article on companies with no business model, you should ask yourself, is this a real business, or just a bad literary device?
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
She has BA from Yale University, Masters from Harvard, a Doctorate in Laws from New York University and a Doctorate in Philosophy from Oxford University.
In addition to teaching at Oxford, she also lectures at the London School of Economics and the London Business School. She is considered one the of world's foremost experts on the Chinese economy.
She previously practiced international corporate law while resident in New York, Beijing and Hong Kong.
She is a fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts (RSA), and a member of the Bar of New York State in the United States.
She speaks Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, English, French and Spanish.
Her recent books include Macroeconomics (co-authored with Graeme Chamberlin) and Globalisation and Economic Growth in China (co-edited with Yang Yao).
Forthcoming books in 2009 include: The Law and Economics of Globalisation: New Challenges for a World in Flux (editor), and The Future of Asian Trade and Growth: Economic Development with the Emergence of China (editor).
She recently gave testimony before the Treasury Select Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons, UK Parliament, on the impact of China on the world and UK economy.
She has served as a special advisor for the World Economic Forum in Davos, UK Trade and Industry (UKTI), the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Executive Briefing Advisory Board, among others.
She has recently been appointed to the newly established World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Energy Security and serves as an advisor on scenarios for the UK economy and society to 2030 for the UK Government's Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) in conjunction with the HM Treasury.
Indeed, Smart Babes are Sexy.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Corina holds Ph.D., Masters, and Bachelor's degrees all from Harvard.
Her publications include "Verification of the Birch and Swinnerton-Dyer Conjecture for Specific Elliptic Curves", "On Dynamic Bit-Probe Complexity" and "Computing Order Statistics in the Farey Sequence".
She was the top mathematics high school student in Romania, where she published two mathematics textbooks and won the 1st prize in the Romanian National Mathematical Olympiad for three straight years.
She won both the 1st place individual and the 1st place teams competitions in the International Mathematical Contest.
Her research interests are in evolutionary dynamics (in particular, evolutionary game theory); Her other research interests are in algebraic geometry, number theory, theoretical computer science, cognitive psychology, behavioral economics.
How much better would the world be if young girls looked up to people like Corina Tarnita as role models instead of Paris Hilton?
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Take a vexing problem that people face and ask yourself, a) how can I make the solution as simple as possible and b) how can I make the business model as simple as possible.
Unfortunately, too many companies take the opposite approach. They seem to believe that complicated problems require complicated solutions.
Take airlines. Over the past 20 years, most American airlines have invested billions of dollars in yield management systems and complicated hub and spoke systems which were designed to wring out the last possible penny from the traveller.
This is why
- two people on the same plane sitting next to each other almost never pay the same price for a ticket
- if you don't have a Saturday night stay, you have to pay three times and much, and
- one way tickets costs twice as much as round trip tickets.
Has all this complexity succeeded?
Not at all.
These airlines have failed to realise that complexity comes at a great cost ... both to the company and to their customers. These airlines have basically yield managed themselves to death.
Companies like Southwest Airlines and Ryanair now are worth more than most of the traditional airlines combined. Part of the reason is that their business models are much simpler. They don't need to pay Accenture billions of dollars per year to run their CRM systems. And their customers know exactly what they are getting.
No, they do not provide the best service in the world, and you do not get in flight meals included with your price. But as an example of business success in an incredibly difficult industry, they cannot be beat.
Perhaps we should all rethink how we can simplify our solutions and business models?
Friday, February 6, 2009
Today, I begin a new section of my blog dedicated to profiling real life smart babes.
For the next several weeks, I will highlight women from various fields: media, entertainment, academic, business, philanthropy, etc. who I think you will agree are incredible sexy.
And a large part of their (and anyone's sexiness), I will argue, come from their intelligence.
First up is Natalie Portman.
She has taught at Columbia University in March 2006 as a guest lecturer on a course on terrorism and counterterrorism, where she spoke about her film V for Vendetta.
At Harvard, she co-authored two research papers that were published in professional scientific journals. And in 2002, she contributed to a study on memory called "Frontal Lobe Activation During Object Permanence".
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.