Archive for July, 2007

VC misfits find it tough

July 30, 2007

I was expecting it to come any time. Matt McCall is saying it now. A trend where people that flocked to private equity from mainstream industry getting fatigued, disillusioned and seriously planning to quit.

The business of Private Equity / Venture Capital is to “invest” and not to “deliberate” endlessly. Hence it is a space for Foxes – people with an investors’ mindset and NOT for hedgehogs – that of an investment professional or engineers. A Fox knows many things but a hedgehog knows one big thing. While an investment professional will analyze a startup idea to death, the Engineer will debate endlessly on technology. Between the two, any viable project gets crushed and that stymies the passion and drive of the founder.  

Investors judge an early opportunity by instinct more than facts, because if you wait for complete facts to arrive someone else would’ve eaten your meal. They know a good team when they see one because they look for winning traits and not specific skillsets. “Back-a-winner” is the name of the game. Unfortunately many VC firms hired brilliant engineers at the investment desk and their fixation with technology deferred ROI considerations.  An investor would never forgive that.



Walking the lonely road

July 23, 2007

When they get to the part – Where he’s breakin’ her heart – It can really make me cry – Just like before – It’s yesterday once more

goes the timeless melody by Carpenters… The rising prosperity amongst the young Indian urban households fuelled by the IT revolution is beginning to take effect. While it’s changing the urban realty landscape with glasshouses and large corporate complexes, the institutional development just stops with business bottomlines.

Cracks begin to show in social paradigms like marriage, family and other relationships that come unstuck at the slightest of pretexts. 

How would you call it – renewed assertion of independence, need for career success or reduced tolerance towards a fault by our young men and women? In the wake of global career pursuits, they get carried away or are clearly overwhelmed by the exposure to some social tendencies of the west that recognizes break-up and going single as a viable, worthy option.  Secret of social harmony lies in maintaining a good work-life balance, even as you chase that uppish lifestyle.

But the happiest people I know make their calling their job, even when they don’t have two nickels to rub together. I see that as real success.

Would you?

Use a comma

July 20, 2007

 Yesterday I read this column by Robert J Samuelson in Washington Post that dwelt upon the need to hit `PAUSE’  mode in our lives by using the metaphor of a comma – yes, the comma that we know.  Some excerpts – 

Even on the printed page, commas are dwindling…..If all this involved only grammar, I might let it lie. But the comma’s sad fate is, I think, a metaphor for something larger :  how we deal with the frantic, can’t-wait-a-minute nature of modern life. The comma is, after all, a small sign that flashes PAUSE. It tells the reader to slow down, think a bit, and then move on. We don’t have time for that. No pauses allowed. In this sense, the comma’s fading popularity is also social commentary.”

Even  my  scenic,  used-to-be  sleepy  hometown of    Thiruvananthapuram   (in the southern state of Kerala in  India)  has sadly changed.  It hurts to see the relaxed, small town everyone-knowing-everyone-else way of life making way for mad, hell-for-leather pace of modern life.  

Perhaps they need a local Eugene O’ Kelly to chronicle it all in a  Chasing Daylight 

Take my advice.  Slow down….!  


Timing a risk

July 18, 2007

Good friend Ben Casnocha, has this thought provoking post on Risk and Entrepreneurship.

Ben Says –

“I think a misconception about business entrepreneurship is that it entails a tremendous amount of risk at the outset.

Particularly when I talk to folks from non-entrepreneurial cultures overseas, their stereotype of entrepreneurs is crazy people who bet the farm and max out their credit cards……”

To that, I had offered the comment below –

The best of entrepreneurs demonstrate an impeccable sense of `timing’ their risks than `assuming’ them. If you wait till you get the complete facts as are requried to make a decision, someone else would’ve eaten your lunch. And if you show haste, you’ll be done in by competition. It’s all about practised gut feel and succumbing to the intuitive epiphany.

What if Bill Gates had accepted IBM deal to buyout his OS. He declined the deal then (timing) but later chose to license it out…now that’s how Microsofts gets made – by timing the risk.

It could be a disaster if you bet the farm early on; but it’ll be a catastrophe if you don’t when you have to. 

Do you agree?


Brushing up on Economics

July 12, 2007

Two major airline deals (Jet-Sahara, Kingfisher-AirDeccan) have since been closed and India’s analyst clan (a *know-all* breed that feigns mastery over every business) weren’t reacting as they normally would. I checked and confirmed – No, they don’t recognize modesty as a virtue just yet ….

Here they come – Jet, Deccan shares may soar on oligopoly.

Ah…Oligopoly…reminds me of Economics – a super bore.  I’ve never been a fan of its theories except oneconsumer surplus”.

That said, consolidation in any industry is bad for the consumer. Wish there were some sort of a permanent anarchy 🙂  I fear the large players will quickly concur to drive fares up and slap it on passengers who have fewer choices now. I grudgingly recall a couple of its theories as possibilities – one of perfect competition between sellers in an industry that’s getting fiercely organized and another of dead weight loss, fear of which could force cheapskates like me running an ROI check on each trip ahead…


America on the buy-list

July 8, 2007

America has an intuitive, self-correcting economic and political system. Heuristic as it may sound, the development metrics achieved by it are unparalleled and that shows even as it commits giant gaffes (it does nothing small!) it learns from its mistakes fast.  Barring a few exceptions like Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, it has managed to get its act together.

“America is underestimated”, argues this article in The Economist.  Excerpts-

“Other demons are jangling America’s nerves. There is the emergence of China as a rival embryonic superpower, with an economy that may soon be bigger than America’s (at least in terms of purchasing power); the re-emergence of a bellicose, gas-fired Russia; North Korea’s defiance of Uncle Sam by going nuclear, and Iran’s determination to follow suit; Europe’s lack of enthusiasm for George Bush’s war on terror; the Arabs’ dismissal of his democratization project; the Chávez-led resistance to Yankee capitalism in America’s backyard.

China is likely to be more and more in America’s face, whether buying American firms, winning Olympic gold or blasting missiles into space…..An America that stays open to China—an America that sticks to American values—is much more likely to help fashion the China it wants.

Here comes my title score…”If America were a stock, it would be a “buy”: an undervalued market leader, in need of new management.” 

Yeah…but it’s another question how many will stay invested if a Barak Obama or Hillary Clinton are to fix things up  🙂


Plant metaphors

July 3, 2007

It seems the planting metaphor in life philosophy is endless.  Here’s the latest I found.

The farmer may only be planting a seed. But if he opens his eyes he is feeding the whole world. Go, plant a seed today.

But remember why you are doing it. Will your action be like a farmer who could not see beyond his own field? Those who know that a seed can and does feed the whole world, will experience the splendor of the world.  Build a new vision.”

There’s this old joke of a farmer and preacher that comes to mind –

A farmer purchased an old, run-down, abandoned farm with plans to turn it into a thriving enterprise. The fields were grown over with weeds, the farmhouse was falling apart, and the fences were broken down.

During his first day of work, the town preacher stops by to bless the man’s work, saying, “May you and God work together to make this the farm of your dreams!”

A few months later, the preacher stops by again to call on the farmer. Lo and behold, it’s a completely different place. The farm house is completely rebuilt and in excellent condition, there is plenty of cattle and other livestock happily munching on feed in well-fenced pens, and the fields are filled with crops planted in neat rows.

“Amazing!” the preacher says. “Look what God and you have accomplished together!”

“Yes, reverend,” says the farmer, “but remember what the farm was like when God was working it alone!”