René Seifert

Entrepreneur, Global Citizen, Flat World, Internet, Web 2.0, Innovation, Start-Up

Archive for November, 2006

India’s Air Deccan: “Shittyfly”

I actually always wanted to write about that topic, because I have stopped to fly Air Deccan in India for more than a year ago. The experience is miserable: late flight (if at all), incompetent staff and alltogether a pain in then neck. It’s really worthwhile spending a few Rupees more for e.g. Jet Airways and just get nicely and in time from A to B without hassle. As I am on a mailing list in Bangalore, I am glad to share this experience from DIana Beier with her permission about Air Deccan. I don’t really wonder, and I second her recommendation to disourage people from using this below-any-standards shitty carrier:

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Hi Everybody

Just wanna advice u not to buy any Air Deccan flight ticket anymore. Yesterday evening i was suppose to fly back to Bangalore from Cochin, but my flight was cancelled. In 10 mins at (22:30 pm) i found myself between around 80 very pissed indian and 4 totally inconpetent, loser Air Deccan guys, no girls, nothing in the middle of nowhere. They started to fight with each other and hit each other. Cancelling my ticket took 4 hours for them, and they didnt care at all. Cancelling means, that they dindnt give any money, just a peace of shit paper and i even had to pray for another half hour for an official stamp and signature and later on i have to go back to the place, where i bought the ticket, and maybe i can get back my money. There were no place on any other flights only at Kingfisher, what cost 2 times more. Deccan dont provide any accomodation, transportation, nothing. So be careful and be aware that if u buy Deccan tickets, probably this hapens… or if u buy it, then read carefully the terms & conditions.

Have a nice day

Dius

ps.: i’m wondering if “simplify” means that they hire people without brain and they dont have any business strategy or their business strategy is having no chrisis plan and shit on people…
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Syncing Gadgets: The long Road ahead

Looking at the success of consumer electronics and consumer software, it consistently drills down to one major aspect: simplicity. And I believe it can’t be overstated how important simplicity is. Especially when you get to realize that this kind of “hygiene factor” is missing.

One of my latest gadgets is the Nokia E61

What worked astonishingly well was synching it with Outlook for my contacts, calendars and tasks. My former phone was running on Windows Mobile from Microsoft which was able to mirror all my nitty-gritty customizations pretty well. The Nokia is by far not able to do that; so in that sense a step back. From the overall functionality of the phone and usage comfort for e.g. the keyboard definitely two steps forward. So in the bottom line a cool thing which displays robust decisions between all the ongoing trade-offs a manufacturer of such products has to strike. It was worth getting it.

However, rather on the software and connectivity level, I really really believe that we are still light years away from all these gadgets, applications and platforms talking to each other. Just so. Just that it works seamlessly and just that the user doesn’t even realize how much complexity had been solved beneath the user interface. Example: Because I wanted to use this phone as a gateway into the web with my notebook, the respective tool “Nokia PC Suite” on my computer offers a “One Click” -connect to the internet. Dream on.

Not just that I first made sure that every possible connection is set-up from cable UBS, Infrared to Bluetooth. It simply didn’t want to work saying bluntly “unable to connect”. I tried to fix whatever would be somehow possible. In vain, so that I ended up calling the T-Mobile hotline.

No complains: The guy was super-competent and super-helpful. Yet, it took us around 15 minutes to go through the most obscure settings in the control panel of my XP operating system. After that, we extensively adjusted alpha-numerical parameters in the dial-up connection. I reckon all together, we had to make 20 manual adjustments till I finally got connected.

Let’s face it: This is a huge show-stopper. If I was not a nerd, how my girl-friend likes to call me, and not persistent to stubbornness, this would not have worked by any means. And with gradual improvements it won’t be a solution either, it will still be a pain in the a**. The way to the true “one click” is still a distant dream. And until then, we will have to live for a long time with exactly the opposite of the beloved simplicity.

Petition: Ja zur Jungen Welle auf UKW! www.jungewelle-auf-ukw.de

Servus zusammen,

der Bayerische Rundfunk, mein ehemaliger Arbeitgeber und im Grunde ein wertvolles Gewicht in der deutschen Medienlandschaft, verpennt in bodenlos indolenter Weise die Zukunft während sich die Betonköpfe im BR-“Politbüro” ohne Rücksicht auf Hörerinteressen in ihrem Elfenbeintum verstecken. Der Skandal besteht darin, dass es Berufskarrieristen im BR aus purem Opportunismus ablehnen, eine neue und fertig konzipierte Jugendwelle auf UKW freizugeben. Dadurch wird jungen Menschen in Bayern die Kompetenz des BR in journalistischen Themen und in einer zielgruppengerechten Aufbereitung systematisch vorenthalten und gleichzeitig aufstrebenden Bands die so wertvolle Nachwuchsförderung versagt.

Damit wäre der Bayerische Rundfunk übrigens auch die einzige Landesrundfunkanstalt in Deutschland, die es nicht schafft eine eigene Jugendwelle zu etablieren. Als jemand, der ich mit den Programmen des Bayerischen Rundfunks auf unserem kleinen braunen Küchenradio groß geworden bin, finde ich so etwas ziemlich schmal. Die Hörer des BR werden nicht nur immer weniger. Sie werden auch immer älter. Letztlich muss die Frage nach “wofür noch Gebühren zahlen” auch von dieser Perspektive her erlaubt sein. Eventuell gelingt es aber, die senilen Bremser in der “Anstalt” noch umstimmen, wenn man sich an dieser “Grassroot”-Petition beteiligt: www.jungewelle-auf-ukw.de

Wenn ihr das Thema auch für Euch relevant haltet, würde mich freuen wenn ihr es ebenso tut und Nachricht entsprechend verbreitet.

Ein schönes Wochenende
René

Bix gets acquired by Yahoo!

Another example that most successful companies in the Web 2.0 sphere end up being acquired instead of attempting an IPO is Bix.

The site organizes contests around everything from dancing, singing to comedy etc. In addition, what signifies a “good” Web 2.0 platform, the company is not only able to do all these things on its own site, but also power other 3rd party destinations via its technology.

Conversely, for Yahoo! the acquistion is strategically certainly some further attempt to catch up on the missed bus which drove away with the YouTubes, MySpaces and Facebooks of this world.

Munich preparing for Winter and X-…

„Climate shock“ would be a moderate expression. When the doors of the plane opened this morning in Frankfurt, I though I would freeze. But nothing to complain, it’s end of November in Germany and 5 degrees Centigrade is absolutely normal.

However, what was funny to see that Germany is preparing not only for the upcoming winter, but also for the X-Mas season. The first wave of decoration has hit the stores in full swing. Likewise, I’d like to share this picture from the afternoon on the Stachus in the heart of Munich where workers are about to finalize an ice-skating area.

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What I am really looking forward to is the opening of the famous “Christkindlmarkt” with fried sausages and “Glühwein” (hot whine) in around 10 days.

Sightseeing in Bangalore with Bavarian Parlamentarians

Yesterday I had great company in Bangalore: Two members of the Bavarian State Parliament who came to Bangalore on the occasion of the Indo-German Film Festival. As I have known Prof. Dr. Hans-Gerhard Stockinger since my time working for Bayern 3, he had told me a few weeks back already that he would come over. So we kicked-off with watching the German movie “Der Räuber Hotzenplotz” where he introduced me to his colleague Ulrike Gote. The funny thing to mention is that Hans-Gerhard is with the ruling CSU, whereas Ulrike runs with the opposition party from “Die Grünen”. Yet, in contrast to conventional wisdom from controversial, sometimes harsh debates from television, I was surprised to see them interacting in an extremely friendly manner, like colleagues do who respect each other a lot.

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In that positive tune, I though: Let’s get them something really, really authentic South-Indian for lunch. So we went to MTR on Lalbagh Road, better known as the “Tiffin Place” where you get fantastic food, all you can eat at 80 Rs. (=EUR 1.80) per person which they seemed to enjoy a lot. A highlight of this place is the walk-out through the kitchen where you see in what diligent and clean environment the delicious dishes are being prepared.

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Following a little shopping-spree around the “usual suspects” in Brigade Road and MG Road for tea and shawls, we rejoined for dinner to head to Jamavar, the Indian restaurant in the Leela Palace. We had plenty of interesting topics to discuss as they are both focusing on media, like for example being members of the Rundfunkrat of the Bayerischer Rundfunk as well as driving educational topics for their respective parties.

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As the nature of the conversation was private, I’d like to keep it rather general at this point. In the nutshell, I felt that they were very concerned about Germany’s education system declining in the international benchmark, had different angles how to fix it, but at the same time a consensus that by just speeding up studying duration, the situation will not improve automatically. What they both supported, is increasing the number of studying seats to universities combined with delivering better tutorials without turning the system into a school-like pampering session. As expected, my own views were still on the most radical side: Lower taxes to release purchasing power, make parents/students more responsible for their own destiny by being free to apply to whichever university they want and finally paying a significant chunk of the fees out of their own pocket. At the same time I strongly support universities to be run more like corporations which are able to hire and fire their own professors and select which student they want to accept and which not.

First, in my opinion, it will make students more value their studies as they have to pay and second, it will turn the anonymity of German universities into true “almae matres”. As I am writing in English and the majority of readers for my blog come from the Anglo-Saxon sphere or India, they will rightly wonder: “What the heck is this guy writing about? We are not used to anything else than that.” Yes, that’s exactly the point …

Just enjoyed the last rays of light on my terrace as I am preparing myself for my “shuttle”, flight Lufthansa 755 from Bangalore-Frankfurt tonight. And Germany in full autumn reports some 2 to 9 degrees Celsius. Brrrr.

Marc Andreesen on Web 2.0 as Dachshund

As i got quite funny feedback on a posting a wrote in German about a bizzarre appearance of the great Marc Andeessen, founder of Netscape, at the Web 2.0 summit last week, I just wanted to refer to it. Key content: Marc Andreessen performed as the “Dackel” = “Dachshund” of Gina Bianchini, CEO of Ning.

Flat World and Web 2.0 coming together

What belongs together, gets together. In the last 18 months I have quite consistently focused on the “Flat World” and “Web 2.0” in my work and written quite a lot also on this blog here. So it is really exciting to see that these two phenomenons are getting together even on a conference level. Just read on Tim O’Reilly’s blog that there would be a conference on November 30th with O’Reilly on the panel along with Thomas Friedman whom I had seen beginning of this year in Mumbai during the NASSCOM leadership conference.

The topic of the upcoming event runs under “Innovation & Growth in a Flat World”. Now with my experience as an expat-entrepreneur in India I see opportunities galore in this intersection:

– horizontal aggegation of value chains across continents for development, sourcing, marketing etc.
– strong-cross border funding
– use of Web 2.0 tools to enable and facilitate collaboration
– smart and efficient internalionalization/localization of successful Web 2.0 products
– starting a digital business in India, providing proof-of-concept here and rolling out globally

I remember Friedman saying: “We have changed from a culture of download to a culture of upload”. And that’s indeed what both the “Flat World” and “Web 2.0” are in the essence about.

“Borat” or the incarnated Controversy

It was just a matter of time. And it had to happen. Borat got beaten up in New York by an upset man whom he had asked

“I like your clothings. Are nice! Please may I buying? I want have sex with it.”

The man did not find it funny and knocked Borat aka Sacha Baron Cohen down. As Donald Rumsfeld would put it: “Stuff happens”. Of course I find Borat hilarious and I can’t wait to go and see the movie with my comrades on 21st in Munich. Here one scene where he is a true animal lover:

Well, of course very funny. On the other hand, I can pretty well understand that those who are the targets of his jokes are not always necessarily amused. So getting a thrashing here and there is some kind of price to pay for the risk to constantly run not just on the edge, but definitely beyond.

I only got to know recently that besides the famous character of “Ali G”, the comedian has a third alter ego which is “Brüno”, a gay Austrian reporter. Check this out, it’s to kill yourself from laughing.

Actually, there have been only very few public apperances of Sacha without posing as one of his characters, like here on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart

openBC/XING heading for IPO

openBC, soon to be named XING has announced an IPO in the next 6 months. And expectedly, the press has jumped on the bandwagon to report galore about it. What is indeed quite exciting to see how the markets will receive a succesful social network going public. The fundamentals are strong: 1.5 mn members, out of which 13.8 % pay the monthly premium of EUR 5.95 and member growth still running on a trajectory.

On the other hand, it will be interesting to see to which valuation the markets will arrive, especially as there haven’t been any recent benchmarks. Furthermore, investment-guru Ram Shriram explained last week at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco that the public markets were much more difficult to access than during the New Economy, and now only being available for valuations north of US-$ 1 bn. Therefore, a trade sale to another company like in the examples of About.com or recently YouTube, is the typical exit route.

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Having said that, in favor of openBC: This is not America, with all the burden that compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act brings along. And second, more importantly, openBC has nothing, but absolutely nothing to do with lots of idiotic business models that were pushed into the public markets just to satisfy their endless hunger for the cash burning-engine during the bubble. openBC is a 3-odd year old company which has amazingly generated cash since month 3.

There is still some steep way ahead and heavy lifting needed, but I give openBC to become public XING a thumbs-up and gladly dedicate this pic which I look last Friday in San Francisco briefly before I left.

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