Sunday, April 30, 2006

A Grand Unified Theory of YouTube and MySpace

Paul Boutin reports on slate:

Both YouTube and MySpace fit the textbook definition of Web 2.0, that hypothetical next-generation Internet where people contribute as easily as they consume.

There are two design requirements for technology meant for the masses. First, you need to automate all the techie parts so people can just press Play. To watch television online, I shouldn't have to install extra video software, figure out my bandwidth setting (100K? 300K?), and sign up for an account with the player's maker. Second, Web moguls shouldn't presume to foresee what 100 million people will want to do with their site. I'm one of many who stopped using Google's Orkut social network because its hardwired page designs made everyone look like they were there to find a date and/or a job.

The guys behind YouTube hit the sweet spot. Most important, they made it head-slappingly easy to publish and play video clips by handling the tricky parts automatically. Given up on BitTorrent because it feels like launching a mission to Mars? If you've sent an e-mail attachment, you've got the tech skills to publish on YouTube.

MySpace isn't that much easier to use than Friendster, or than other shared-user-content sites like Flickr (photo sharing), (bookmarks), or Digg (tech news). But it mixes multiple publishing models—blogs, photos, music, videos, friend networks—into one personal space. Most important, it doesn't presume to know what your goals are.

I think MySpace's popularity has to do with its puppylike accessibility. A typical page looks like something a Web-enthralled high schooler might have put up in 1996, but with more pics and a soundtrack. I agree with design guru Jesse James Garrett, who says the site's untrained layout sends a "we're just like you" message to newcomers.

Japanese Mobile Trends

Wapreview has the most interesting article published on mobile in Japan:

3G seems to be taking Japan by storm. In wandering around the city, I saw many of the latest 3G handsets in use. One of the most popular seemed to be NEC's Linux based N902i on the DoCoMo FOMA network. The nicest part for me was the Netfront browser on the 2.5 inch, 240 x 345 (dubbed QVGA+TM) TFT screen with 262,144 colors. Many Japanese feature phones run either Linux or a version of Symbian with a Japanese developed UI called MOAP ("Mobile Oriented Applications Platform").

It is a common observation that the Japanese use their phones constantly but rarely speak on them. I can certainly vouch for that. On the subway, where signs warn that phones must be silent - about half the riders at every given time were tapping away on their phones. Surreptitiously looking over the shoulders of my fellow riders, I did an un-scientific survey of what they were using their phones for. About 50% seemed to be browsing the mobile web, about 25% were reading and responding to e-mail and the remaining 25% playing games.

While they are not new, having been in use in Japan for at least a couple of years, QR Codes. QR codes are very versatile. Scanning a QR code with a QR capable phone can add contact information (typically from a QR Code on a business card) to the phone's address book or launch the browser and load a mobile site or load a ring tone or an image containing a map to a store. When we visited Kamakura, home of the great Buddha and other shrines and temples, the tourist information counter at the train station was giving out a map in English and on the map were QR codes for the Kamakura town i-Mode site as well as at least a dozen other QRs pointing to the mobile sites of advertisers.

Tags: mobile, software, smartphone, emerging

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Westbridge Capital to join hands with Sequoia launch an India-dedicated fund

Economic times reports:

India’s largest venture capital firm Westbridge Capital is joining hands with Silicon Valley’s blue blooded venture firm Sequoia Capital to either launch an India-dedicated fund or direct some of Sequoia’s existing funds towards investments in the country.
If the deal works out, it would perhaps be the first time that a global VC is joining hands with a local firm for a specific India fund.

India is becoming important in the US venture fund industry. For instance, Norwest Venture Partners raised its largest fund of $650m for India and is expected to invest in early and mid stage investment. Most of the investments by VCs in the technology sector is coming down to India as development centres for the technology are located here. India is also becoming important as the growth and penetration of technology and bandwidth makes it an ideal market for internet based consumer service offerings. One of the areas which has become very attractive for VC fund is online travel and Kleiner Perkins, NVP, Westbridge and SAIF Partners have all made investments in this area.

Tags: startup, funding, software, entrepreneur, venture

Mobile Music Sales > Conventional Music Sales

According to the Cellular Operators' Association of India, the mobile telecom lobby, the size of the mobile music industry which is about $115 million now, is set to touch $170 million by this year end, exceeding revenues of the conventional music industry like compact disks and audio cassettes by about $5 million.

"The mobile music downloads is growing at a scorching pace -- over 50 percent a year," said TV Ramachandran, secretary general of COAI, "whereas growth of legal conventional music is stagnating."
Between the European countries and Asia, Asia leads the way accounting for half of all mobile subscriptions in 2005. "Penetration of music-capable phones in Asia is the highest in the world, given consumers' willingness to pay more for their phones in Asia," the report said.
"Moreover, within Asia," says Sudhanshu Sarronwala of Soundbuzz, a Singapore-based distributor of online and mobile music, "India has the fastest growing mobile population where digital music is predominantly mobile music."

Tags: mobile, software, smartphone, emerging

Thursday, April 13, 2006

World's smallest Windows XP computer

Reported on

The OQO model 01+ ultra personal computer (uPC) is a fully-featured Windows XP computer. The OQO has a 1GHz processor, a 30GB hard drive, 512MB of RAM, a color transflective display, and integrated wireless, as well as FireWire and USB ports. Just 4.9 inches long, 3.4 inches wide, 0.9 inches thin, and weighing only 14 ounces, the model 01+ can fit in a pocket or purse and go with you anywhere. Connect to wireless networks with built-in WiFi and Bluetooth. Connects to peripherals including monitors, projectors, full-size keyboards, optical drives, printers, and speakers.

Costs about $2000 .

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

VC exits: M&As continue to grow, IPOs raise less and less, VC investments increase

Jeff Clavier's discusses some interesting statistics on VC exits:

"The good news is that M&As are continuing on a reasonably steady pace, with 95 deals worth $5B in Q106, and 345 deals worth $16B in the whole of 2005 - this number actually excluding the Skype deal (worth $2.6B + a $1.5B earn-out). The bad news is that IPOs have trickled down to a meager $540M raise in 10 operations in Q106.

I was discussing with a VC friend of mine the other day, pointing out that an IPO in the US was becoming less and less credible for VC-backed companies - leaving them with 3 other options: floating on a non-US exchange (like London), M&A and private equity buyout where a “new round” of investors purchase a large portion of the shares by founders and early stage investors - fueling the growth of the company."

Tim Mullaney later discusses this, and points out that Sarbanes Oxley is the reason why most startups don’t get to IPO.