Archive

Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Elitism

May 16, 2011 Leave a comment

I used to think that most (not all) people in the society should have access to something which the government is building. But I was naive 🙂 I read this beautiful article about Macau (in the Marathi newspaper Saamna), and how it is China’s ATM. The key things to take away from the article are –

1) Even though the local currency is pataca, the currencies which are allowed in the casinos are Euro, Dollars etc. (the stronger currencies)
2) It is (along with Hong Kong) two special administrative regions of China – so one country two systems. [Even India has special provisions for J&K ;-)]
3) Even Chinese nationals need a visa to visit Macau or Hong Kong (to avoid crowding, WOW).

There is a time and place for everything and the five fingers are not all alike.

Advertisements
Categories: Business, General

Importance of job creation

July 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Well here comes the refutation that outsourcing (any kinds of) jobs could be detrimental to a country. Popular wisdom has it that it is good for the US to outsource lowly jobs to Asian countries and keep only high-end jobs for themselves. But Andy Grove (ex-CEO, Intel) thinks otherwise – in his article – How to Make an American Job Before It’s Too Late he makes some very important points including that as US is outsourcing more and more jobs, they are also losing their hold on emerging technologies.

Based on this article, this sure looks to me that jobs in manufacturing are better than jobs in services industry (not for the employee as such, but for the country). Mainly because, when you setup a plant, and that gives you leverage in future on the emerging technologies. And where does that leave India? Sure we have jobs today, because we can find countries and companies who are ready to outsource, but what if, in future, the tendency to outsource reduces drastically? Also, it hasn’t given India any edge in producing new software products unlike it has given an edge to other manufacturing countries, notably China.

And using services from other countries can be reduced, but it is harder to restart manufacturing – so China is the big boss. And Indian companies must learn to create jobs in something else than the venerable services sector.

Categories: Business, General

How to get rich

July 2, 2010 Leave a comment

After all the economic crash, the world over, and especially in the USA, there is one class of people who laughed their way to the banks and made hefty profits – no marks for guessing, they were the Finance professionals (brokers of various banks and other financial institutions which were on the verge of tanking, but were rescued by none other than Uncle Sam).

These days I am reading a fascinating book called The Looting of America in which Les Leopold makes it amply clear how these same finance guys opened and operated their finance casinos at the cost of taxpayers (and how the US government and the policy makers let this happen under the name of free markets). Here’s one more evidence of how Goldman Sachs made big money by robbing the world’s poor.

So that’s it guys – forget science, tech, engineering, marketing – finance is the king. Do whatever you can, be too big to fail and enjoy by effing others. So sad.

Categories: Business, General

THE irrational choice

May 12, 2010 1 comment

Do you ever dream of being self employed or opening a start-up (and quitting your day job)? If yes, then you might have thought of ‘n’ number of reasons to do it and another ‘n + x’ or ‘n-x’ (depending on whether you’re an optimist or pessimist) number of reasons not to do it.

So here’s the killer answer to that dilemma from Joe Heitzeberg, CEO of Snapvine – “I’ve come to realize that doing startups is mostly an irrational choice. Just effing do it.”

And if you don’t know the meaning of the word effing, please do consult a dictionary 🙂

Categories: Business

An easy life doesn’t teach us anything

February 8, 2009 3 comments

There are innumerable such beautiful quotes by Richard Bach –

“An easy life doesn’t teach us anything. In the end it’s learning that matters – what we’ve learned and how we’ve grown.”
“We design our lives through the power of choices.”
“We are each given a block of marble when we begin a lifetime, and the tools to shape it into a sculpture.”

If you want to hear one person’s travails of quitting a comfortable, well-paying job, selling his house and living on savings (even when he was married and had a daughter) and trying to do something on his own, then look no further. That person is Damien Katz, creator of CouchDB and this is his story, in his own words.

As is evident by his talk, his prime reason for doing all this was not money – but an ardent desire to work on some cool stuff, and an equally strong urge to experience life, minus the expected stuff i.e. the routine job, the same endless loops created by consumerist mindset etc.

There are a couple of important points to take away from his talk –

1) Sometimes, we don’t necessarily have to have a clear picture in mind, of what we want to do, if we are trying to create something new – Damien didn’t even know at the time of quitting as to what he wanted to do, but later as he started working, the pieces of jigsaw started getting into places (gradually).

2) Money and fame are not the most important things in life – however much the modern society tells us otherwise, the reality is something else.

3) He will complete what He has begun – it’s true, at least for Damien.

4) We have to have an interesting story of our LIFE (listen to Damien).

So what’s your life-story? 🙂

Categories: Business, General, Spirituality

The Satyam fiasco

January 13, 2009 5 comments

Well, for the benefit of my friends, who aren’t from Indian sub-continent, and / or who aren’t familiar with one of the Indian languages, the word “Satya” in Hindi (and some other Indian languages too) means “Truth” 🙂 so it seems the founder, B Ramalinga Raju, forgot to append a leading “A” in the name of the company 😉 [ btw, “Asatya” means “False” in Hindi ].

I still vividly remember him (Raju) standing by his Mercedes in one of the popular magazines in IT (maybe Dataquest) a few years back. It was definitely awe-inspiring to someone fresh out of college and starting his career. Hardly did anyone (or me) imagine that this guy (or a “former” CEO of one of the biggest Indian IT companies) would stoop to such levels.

Co-incidentally, but not surprisingly at all, he hails from a community which is already notorious (in India and amongst Indians in US) for doing all kinds of stuff (read cheating) in the IT industry. Hyderabad city, where Satyam’s headquarters are located, also boasts of making (fake) industry certifications like MCSD, Java Sun certification etc. salable. The Times of India, in today’s edition (dated 13 Jan, 2009) carries a report of how Raju duped the APIDC (Andhra Pradesh Industrial Development Corporation) of Rs. 52 Lakh, 25 years ago.

I know of at least one person who would be happier than me after reading all this – my dear friend, Hari Raghava Bhargava; because of the profligacy we’ve seen in the Indian IT industry, and also because we’ve seen in how many different ways, a perfectly good project could be screwed. What more proof is needed than the fact that most of the managers in such Indian IT service providers are either non-technical (came from some other industry, though very rare), or off-technical (a DB guy managing Java or C# projects, very common) or obsolete technically (a PB guy managing, some OO projects, again very common) and they are the ones who are actually drawing fat salaries as compared to the programmers, or the guys who actually get the things done.

Also, what more can one expect from an industry which stands on only one pillar – cost (or to be more precise, lower cost)? Most of the time, I hear people (Project Managers) talking about any project in terms of revenues (x-million dollar contract) or cost (x man-days; which was y man-days lower than what the z company could quote for).

Well, if you think I am talking BS, then please be informed that I’ve worked with one such big (amongst the top-five Indian software service provider) firm for a little more than 3 years.  I once asked my BUH (Business Unit head) that why do you accept such ridiculous time lines (doing a project in x/3 man-days, when reasonably, it should take x man-days)? His terse reply – “So what do you want to say? I should lose business to some other Indian company”?

And I perfectly understand his position. But the sad part is that the US companies, who actually own that piece of software, are ready to accept such code, because, again all they care about is BUDGET!!! So the lowest bidder wins 😦 Would the guy accepting the proposal of lowest bidder, take the same decision, if he were building his own house?

And once an Indian company gets the project (on such terms), it resorts to all kinds of mis-doings like “ghost-billings” – i.e. billing for a person when he is actually not working on that project. And believe me or not (I don’t care), but I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Yes, I may not be able to prove it, but talk to any Indian (with the condition that his identity won’t be disclosed) if this happens in their own company? You’ll be surprised or shocked, but mostly both 🙂

I think I should stop this rant, because it is more than evident now, that capitalism (practiced in its extreme) also has its own pitfalls. Need I point you to scores of American companies (like Merrill Lynch, GM etc.) or whole industries (investment banking, auto) 😉 ? US has a true competitor here, India is not far behind…

Of course, what happened (Satyam) is really bad for Indian software industry, but if things don’t improve, like –

1) hiring technically solid people and paying them a lot more than the other average guys
2) dismantling the BS pay-brackets i.e. for x-y years of experience, Rs. a-b salary range, or Programmer Rs. a-b Lakhs, Senior Programmer Rs. c-d Lakhs, where obviously, a < b < c < d and so on…
3) taking proactive steps for corporate governance like zero tolerance (kicking a guy out, if he indulges in any malpractices) and setting up email ids where any employee can anonymously post occurrences of such malpractices
4) taking pride in delivering projects on some other scale than merely, cost and revenue
5) useless yearly reviews, which state that performances of members of every project has to fit the bell curve (exceptionally good or bad performances rare, and average performances common), which is true, but what is also true (and conveniently but purposefully overlooked) is that a programmer doing a good job on a fresh development project is better than a programmer doing an exceptional job on a maintenance project

the day is not far off when this sunrise industry (for India) may be doomed for an early sunset.

I sincerely wish that I may be proven wrong.

Categories: Business, General

The future

January 3, 2009 Leave a comment

I am sure you must’ve read that you just can’t wait for the future to happen to you, but you need to create it. To be frank, I don’t take this statement at its face value, but feel that there definitely is some element of truth to it.

I worked in different software companies in India – some were typical service providers, and one of them was a product-based company, where, of course, I enjoyed my stay of 3 and a half years. Do I need to tell you that I won’t like to comment much on the remaining 4 years 😉 although it was a mixed bag, as most of the life is.

Then I came to US in search of the elusive $$$ 🙂 and good work. But guess what, here also, the fight to get both the good work and the money continues. It’s much easier to get only one of them as compared to getting both together. So I’ve started feeling lately, that the solution to my woes could be to start on my own.

Of course, I am fully aware that I haven’t graduated from any ivy-league institution, and I am far from a geek, and I am also taking into account the interesting relationship between work and money as highlighted in Seth Godin’s post (see my previous post for the link). But since I am an optimist, I would like to remember the twist in Seth’s post.

Also, articles such as Start Now: 6 Reasons Why This Economy Is Good For Startups are a great help to keep me motivated toward that lofty goal. I would like to read this daily morning (again, from the above link) –

“If you don’t start, you’re doomed to a life of trudging through jobs, depending on someone else for salary and bonuses and health care and retirement, a life’s work without ownership or upside.

You’re better than that.  That’s why you’re reading this blog.

So go for it.”

Think about it. Have you created something of value in your life so far? Or would you like to create ‘the future’ for you, or atleast create something of value and leave a legacy?

Well, I would love to do so. Hence, if you feel the same, we could join hands.

Wish you A Happy and Prosperous New Year 🙂

Categories: Business, General