Sunday, November 30, 2008

BITSAA 30 under 30 Awards 2005

Bitsaa30under30 Awards
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

SVC Healthcare Presentation

A quote worth discussing over Thanksgiving

I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all.

Leo Rosten 1908-1997


I'd never heard of Leo till I came across this quote recently in one of my rare web-surfings (who has so much time?). Turns out he was a Russian teacher, academic and humorist who lived and died in New York City. His other interesting quotes are:

"Truth is stranger than fiction; fiction has to make sense,"

"We see things as we are, not as they are"

Maybe I'll find time to read his works.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Corporate VC Performance: (my rebuttal to a Wharton academic)

I read this article today titled "Want to Crank Up Corporate Venture Capital Performance? Consider Matching Independent VC Pay Packages" that was published in the Knowledge at Wharton. I'm always in favor of being paid more, but I wanted to comment on this article because it has so many fallacies that it was worth mentioning.

Here one: The article states that "Independent VCs take big risks and, when they bet right, they reap big rewards. Google, eBay and Amazon all started with venture backing. Independent VCs also receive a big piece of the profits that they generate for their investors. Because of this argument, Corporate VCs should take big risks to improve returns."

This is based on an incorrect assumption that corporate VCs exist to provide big returns. Corporate VCs are not in the business of taking big risks to get big returns. These VCs exist to push investments or accelerate the growth of markets or technologies in areas that may be of interest to the Corporation while providing a good return to the firm. So there is a mix of financial and strategic goals and one cannot be sacrificed for the other.

Corporations typically become interested in segments, products or areas that are no more than four or five years out, for these to be meaningful in terms of top or bottom-line impact. Beyond that, it becomes an R&D initiative that can be developed in-house. Big companies don't have the bandwidth or resources to tackle something that is rapidly approaching themselves. By investing in these spaces of interest, they create some sort of a hedge or place-holder for the corporation to be actively involved. While these investments are at arms-length and any deals struck between the corporation and the startup are commercial and stand on their own merit, these relationships can help the corporation learn about the space and get to know the players, and help grow the startup faster.

Due to this role and stage of investing, corporate VCs are unlikely to invest in paradigm-shifting companies that no one has contemplated yet (the risky ones that the author talks about). Corporate VCs need to be follow-on investors (or Series B-type investors) where the financial firms or "risky investors" have already committted capital and got the company going. These VC firms won't stay in business if they were'nt later stage. The money is not to swing for the fences so the partners get rich - its to put highly educated bets in industries, act as validators and catalysts and get to the end result faster - on sectors that are already being setup.

None of the Corporate VCs I have met are looking to invest in startups where the technology and market risk is not taken out. In fact I am increasingly finding it hard to find financial VCs willing to take market and technology risks (but that is another point). Corporate VC firms bring significant assistance in terms of technical and management know-how, access to channels and international market, potential to provide or accelerate development. This means that product has to be more developed - or even shipping, for them to act significant value to the startup in ways that no financial firm can do so.

There is the other odd argument from the author - pay VCs more and they'll take more risks. This is counter-intuitive because VC pay structures encourage asset gathering and payouts through management fees alone that are significantly attractive. If management fees were significantly reduced, VCs would have to become far riskier than they are today. Since a lot of risk-taking VC firms are barely returning the principle back - so the only way they're getting paid is through management fees, the incentive is not aligned with risk taking anymore. VCs don't want to lose these management fees, and are therefore taking less and less risk as a result. If the Professor talked to entrepreneurs who are on the frontlines every day, he'll find out - a lot of the "venture" has gone out of venture capital investing.

Corporate VC syndicates also tend to be larger because they come in when the need for capital is larger. This is simply a function of deal size. Later deals have more VCs plus the returning VCs in the syndicate.

A last point on personnel. Corporate VCs attract people from within the firm. While not everyone from within the business unit would make a good investor, these internal relations are critical. However, as long as these corporate VC firms balance themselves out by attracting outstanding people from the outside (at a reasonable compensation), they'll do as well, if not better than the financial VCs - who are unfortunately struggling with market conditions and a regulatory environment that is simply stacked against the industry.

Click here to read the article from Wharton...definitely needs a rebuttal

Brainstorming startups

Last weekend I was in Pittsburgh and missed a high-energy session on Sunday where six budding CEOs from my Leadership Program came together to brainstorm new startups. Thanks to Parker Treacy, Founder of First Financial, for taking the lead on this idea. I'm looking forward to the next session. Bring bright young people together in a partially structured setting from a diverse set of backgrounds and have them start to come up with ideas for companies. What could be more interesting?

I'm still wrestling with some basics. If someone came up with the next eBay, and idea got developed in the room, who owns it ? How to get people to bring their best ideas ? There may be another session this Sunday and I'm looking forward to itClick here for a writeup on our blog about the exercise.

Pickupzone launched: Never miss a package again

Hooman Hodjat from the TiE Leadership Program 2008 just launched his company, Pickupzone. Its a very interesting idea for someone who is rarely home, and needs to make sure people get their packages quickly. The idea has been tried in slightly different variants in Europe, so its interesting to see how this will work in Cambridge/Boston.

Here's how it works (from

Just follow our FIND, SHIP, PICKUP process.

FIND – Select a convenient pickup point in your neighborhood – a local retail PickupZone partner like a hardware store, convenience store or dry cleaner.

SHIP – Following a free registration you will receive a customized shipping address with a unique identifier (this is how we notify you when your packages arrive). Use the pickup point address when shopping online, getting packages from friends and family or for your business needs.

PICKUP – We notify you via email once your package arrives. Just present your confirmation code to the local pickup point merchant and pickup your package at your convenience within 10 days.

It’s fast and easy and best of all - you'll never miss a package again! See our FAQ for additional info and start shipping!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Vijay Salaskar: India's top cop. May he rest in peace

Vijay Salaskar was an Indian police officer with the Mumbai Police who had wiped out the worst of India's underworld including 75 dreaded criminals. Vijay Salaskar's last posting was as head of Mumbai's anti-extortion wing of the crime branch. He was killed by the terrorists last night.

NDTV: Video Update of last 24 hours

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cut the drama, CNN !

We finally got tired of watching the repeated 3-hour old CNN footage of the Taj Hotel burning in the night and switched to NDTV which is live and shows blue skies in Mumbai and a Taj Hotel that is no longer burning but still slightly smoldering. While I can understand CNN's need for drama, and desperate need to bump up viewership now that the Presidential race is over, I thought this media organization is all about live reporting and real-time telecasts. This footage been shown is several hours old, and terribly frustrating for people who want to follow what's going on. Now we have people pontificating intellectually in studios in the US when they should be talking to people on the ground in India. IS CNN losing its mojo? Click here to see real live video. NDTV is the reliable Indian channel for live news.

Hemant Karkare: Terrorist Wing Head. May he rest in peace

India's Anti Terrorism Chief died today in the Mumbai attacks. An act of bravery - he headed the team that rushed into the Taj and he was killed with three bullets in the chest. Why wasn't he wearing a vest - we'll find out soon. We're thankful for brave people like him who are on the frontlines of India's battle against this world scourge.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Saw Tina Turner in Boston, Nov 2008

Thanks to my wife, I fulfilled a long standing dream to see this legend live. I have so much to write about her, her life and this event, that it will simply have to wait. She is indeed the greatest. There are none like her today, nor do they make them like her anymore...Thank You TINA !

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Biomimicry: Design from Nature

Last night I heard Ashok Khosla speak. It blew me away. I learnt a lot about sustainability. One new topic he introduced me to was Biomimicry. Its a new and exciting topic where we learn from nature. Nature had billions of years to perfect its designs. Why not learn from it ? Makes sense. Here's a presentation - more pictures than words from the Biomimicry Institute. Learning how to innovate from nature. Why didn't we do this before ?

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: ecology design)

Monday, November 10, 2008

An inspiring 14-minute video on microfinance

Friday, November 7, 2008

Manish Bhardwaj (1974-2008)

(from his website

Manish Bhardwaj (1974-2008)

It is with deep regret we inform that Manish Bhardwaj lost his battle with cancer and passed away on Thursday, November 6th 2008 at 9:45 AM in Houston. Manish is survived by his wife Renuka, 5 year old daughter Ankita and 1 year old son Arjun. He started his journey to almighty and all are praying for him to rest in peace.

Manish's passing away was untimely but he indeed lived his life wonderfully. Manish did a lot on earth. I'm sure he will do much more in heaven. All the memories we have shared with him will forever be cherished and remembered. Manish will forever live in our hearts.

Manish adored his family. His wife, Renuka, daughter, Ankita and son Arjun were the center of his universe. His daughter Ankita had a special place in his heart. He could not take enough pictures of her.

The vast outpouring of love and support shown during his illness by all the people he has touched provides a solid stepping stone for all of us as we try to deal with this loss and move forward. At this difficult time, please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you all for the good wishes, prayer and support you all have provided in various bone marrow drives. Infact two perfect marrow matches were identified.

This is not the time for us to grieve his passing away but it's our time to celebrate his life. He wanted to make everyone happy. Think back and remember how Manish touched our lives. We should all be thankful that we were given the chance to have known him. Manish, a good friend, great husband, son and father will forever be missed.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

My most proud email from Barack Obama's campaign

From: Barack Obama
Sent: Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Subject: How this happened


I'm about to head to Grant Park to talk to everyone gathered there, but I wanted to write to you first.

We just made history.

And I don't want you to forget how we did it.

You made history every single day during this campaign -- every day you knocked on doors, made a donation, or talked to your family, friends, and neighbors about why you believe it's time for change.

I want to thank all of you who gave your time, talent, and passion to this campaign.

We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I'll be in touch soon about what comes next.

But I want to be very clear about one thing...

All of this happened because of you.

Thank you,


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Stealing from employees at Lehman

A close friend of mine in investment banking was laid off in November at Lehman several years ago, with a token bonus. He had spent the entire year working. Bonuses in banking were typically declared in December and paid in Jan-Feb.

In banking, where bonuses are several multiples of one’s salary, and are part of the pay package, are “commoditized – so they are paid in tight bands”, taking away one’s bonus one month before the person is expected to get it, is the equivalent to stealing from employees. Its also a classic banking trick. November layoffs didn't surprise anyone on the Street.

I’ve had respect for Lehman’s hard-charging bankers. So I called my friend to offer my condolences at the demise of the iconic brand. He reminded me of the time that Lehman stole from him and told me that it was sweet revenge.

I don’t know if any of his bosses are still around, but I guess what goes around, comes around. I do feel sorry for the young Analysts, Associates and Junior VPs who were struggling with mortgages and loans; many may be forced from their homes.

What are you thinking, Mr. Pandit ?

Citigroup recently cancelled its MBA loans to those most likely to pay it back (MBA students at Cornell, Ross, Sloan and several other schools). I assume that these loans have a low default rate – even if it doesn’t make Citi any money. I find this really surprising and shortsighted for s many reasons:

• Citigroup has depended on bright people coming from overseas to work here to fill its jobs – even its CEO is Indian !
• It is pretty likely that most people getting these loans come from countries that the bank operates in - the company could make these loans unsecured in their home countries
• These MBAs are amongst the highest earners and the most mobile workers in the world, which means they would be least likely to default
• Citi gets an great opportunity to put its brand name foremost in the minds of the world’s future business leaders

We have many foreign born CEOs - but the probability will diminish rapidly and we won't attract the best and the brightest to our nation.

We’re already suffering. H1B quotas of 65,000 means we struggle to find bright technologically-inclined people to work on startups that would create jobs, have a multiplier effect and ensure that American maintains its technological lead.

Its already getting hard to convince Asians (particularly Chinese and Indians) to get educated in the US and stay back to work here. With this loan cancellation, we will finally succeed in erecting those fences that some people wanted to build in the first place.

I hope JPMorgan (another former employer of mine) takes up these loans.

Will someone send an email to Vikram Pandit ? Or send me his email address. And Jamie Dimon’s ?