René Seifert

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

Archive for May, 2007

Bangalore Skyline at Night – Pictures

Here we are, with two pictures which I took tonight at dinner with a few friends at “Ebony” on the 13th floor of “Barton Centre” on M.G. Road. The view is quite nice, especially as it provides from the very centre of the city a solid impression on what Bangalore looks like from a macro-perspective. Many vistors get disappointed to the state of shock when they expect something like a skyline of Bangkok or Singapore and they get to see this. Well, it is like it is, but this is how Mother India is :-)

Here a view towards the east with M.G. Road running on the left side and the tower in the front being the Utility Building

Bangalore May 2007 - 15

That’s the view towards the South-East with the Brigade Tower quite in the middle.

Bangalore May 2007 - 14

Those two towers are actually among the hightest of the very few buildings in Bangalore.

Pictures from Bangalore with new Camera

He, he, did a lazy Sunday today in Bangalore with sunbathing on my terrace, having a massage at “Spratt” and playing around with my new camera Canon EOS 400D. Good thing, fun to handly and try out what changes on the pic in which variation.

Interesting self-observation: After 3.5 years in India I felt for more than 2 years that I was running out of motives for photography – as I got increasingly used to the reality surrounding me. However, armed with my new camera today I felt that there is an abundance of enourmously worthwhile things for both the lense and eye behind. The pray of 14 pics for today can be found here on my onging Flickr-set “Downtown Bangalore“.

And three of my favorites starting with a typical scene on Indian roads when an avalanche of 2- and 4-wheelers moves unforgivingly towards you:

Bangalore May 2007 - 04

No clichée, but hard reality in India. This is a quite common scene, someone sleeping in the middle of the sidewalk during the day.

Bangalore May 2007 - 03

And finally the good old-school shopping centre at Southern Brigade Road, right at the crossroad to Residency Road.

Bangalore May 2007 - 09

You’re mine: Canon EOS 400D

As I really like to take pictures and share them on my Flickr-Account, I felt for more than a year that I am getting to the limits of what my little Pentax Optio can deliver. And so I was looking out which “proper” mirror reflex camera I would buy. After researching on the web and asking friends for advise, I finally consumed one yesterday: The Canon EOS 400D.

Buying such an instrument nowadays is not really “plug & play”, but rather feels like a seminar at university: software to install, manuals to go through, maintenance procedures to understand etc. There is a “quick start” booklet that I went through, however got stuck at the step “add CF memory card”. I was screening and screening the whole package for half an hour which includes everything else like a lense, cables, CD-ROMs and tons of up-selling brochures – but no CF card.

Going through the content of deliverabes on the package, it indeed does not mention this memory card. And I wonder how Canon can be so stupid as the camera is basically useless without it. Tomorrow, I will get one with 2 GB for around EUR 25,- which is not so much of an issue, but buying the package on a Saturday and not having the “instant gratification” for first usage is indeed a unwarranted disappointment.

Sometimes I really wonder if such big companies who are doing very, very complex things very right, will ever stop screwing up with the most simple ones …

Yahoo!’s New Mission: “Connect”

One month ago I attended the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco when John Battelle interviewed Jeff Weiner, EVP, Network Division of Yahoo! The company has been under pressure for the last years for losing ground towards Google and so has been its CEO Terry Semel in a recent “Face Falue”-article in The Economist (subscription required).:

Of late, however, Mr Semel has been taken aback by the astonishing rise of Google, which today dominates the market for web-search and keyword-related advertising, having left Yahoo! far behind. His fate at Yahoo! now depends on whether it can catch up with its more agile rival.

Yahoo! has been coming traditionally from another angle, rather trying to fish in the media pond with getting into proprietary content. A strategy which does not scale that well compared to Google’s algorithm-driven model. Furthermore, Google’s advertising systems AdWords and AdSense have been outpeforming the one of Yahoo! Recently, the latter is placing its bets on the new system of its own Panama.

Google has kept to its mission statement for the last few years:

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

What makes Jeff Weiner’s task indeed exciting is to stitch together the various assets Yahoo! indeed possesses into one seamless user experience, especially leveraging social components where the company which has acquired among others Flickr is stronger than its archrival. Hence, Mr. Weiner has refined the mission statement for his responsibility:

To connect people to their passions, communities, and the world’s knowledge.

CXertainly not just one of the typical closing lines “it remains to be seen” (*yawn*), but it will truly be very interesting to see where those two companies are going to stand in, say, two years from now given the mindblowing pace of the industry.

Google expanding India: Hyderabad

Not really surprising that Google is on the expansion spree. Now its operation is augmented by a new facility in Hyderabad. For some 2 years Google is very aggressively targeting the Indian market. Before that, Google made initial attempst to get offshore development done out of Bangalore. I actually met a guy who was posted from Mountain View (CA) to get the operation started, geared at cutting edge innovation.

But a few months later, Google abandoned the project as the employees apparently did not fulfil Google’s notoriously elilte requirements. At the moment, I have to clue if Google has resumed its effort on that.

India’s Kingfisher Airline: Requirements for Flight Attendants

That’s a funny one. If you’re looking for a job as a flight attendant and want to land with Mr. Mallya’s Kingfisher Airline, here is the job ad.

My favorites are

“Flying Models” who exude charm, vibrance and professionalism. Females with a zest to serve …

and

Flawless skin; no tattoos, birth marks, scars on face, neck, arms and legs.

Ah, I not to forget: You have to be female. So although I might fulfil almost all of the requirements above, this makes it a showstopper for my new career … ;-)

India: Absense of Civic Sense

This posting from Sujatha Bagal brings me to one of the not-so-nice sides of “Mother India”: Its entire absence of civic sense. Whereas I remember that my Croatian mother taught her littler boy back then in Germany to carry the candy paper till the next trash bin, in India garbage is dropped instantly when it occurs anywhere, anytime.

Not to say that Indians wouldn’t keep their houses clean. By contrast, one could usually eat from the floor. But step outside, and you have not a joint habitat, but a common garbage dump. “To pee is to be” is an excellent article on the floods of male urin running down the walls in the city of Delhi. And the same happens in Bangalore, too.

And it’s not, not at all a matter of poverty. I remember 3 years back when I used to deal in jewellery, I went to a 17-story building in Bombay where all the wholesellers have their showrooms. Each and every of them a multi-multi millionaire and the offices were small, functional but immaculetely clean. When I stepped outside on the aisle to walk to the next door, I could feel a stench mixed with disbelief coming up my nose. I walked further when I looked into the joint floor-toilet of these multi-multi millionaires and it looked as disgusting as the train station toilets in Germany’s small towns looked back in the 70’s. If these jewellery dealers were to Invest jointly $ 2000 once and for maintanance another jointly $ 60 per month, it would have made this toilet look like a palace. But no. It doesn’t happen now, and I don’t believe it will happen in India in the next 1000 years.

Because it requires a feeling of co-ownership, of a joint cause of, yes, call it civic sense. And that is certainly not one of India’s strongest traits.

83,000 Indian Millionaires want to be pampered

This article is certainly very part of India’s contradictory nature where massive poverty clashes with a not so low number of millionaires: 83,000 are quoted here, many of them multi-millionaires. This article in LiveMint describes how more and more sophisticated services are being created to suit the investment needs of these high net worth individuals.

Bad Deal? India’s Minglebox funded with US-$ 7mn

What I take in the first place from such news is that the world is becoming an even flatter, but not necessarily better place. Take that: Sequoia Capital which has among others funded Google and YouTube which had acquired the Indian based Westbridge Capital and re-named it Sequoia India is investing into the Indian College Community Minglebox US-$ 7 mn. Looks like a mix between Facebook and Germany’s studiVZ – clearly geared towards a “winner takes it all”-market where the goal will be to capture the data class of the abundance of Indian college students in a community of huge network effects.

I just wonder what the hell these guys will be doing with US-$ 7mn? Especially in India where development cost are app. a quarter of those in the west and don’t scale linearly at all:doubling your amount of developers will not bring you anywhere to double the output. Marketing? If these platforms work, then they spread through word of mouth, ergo for free. Looking at it from the distance this is way, way, way too much money. A typical case of overfunding and forcing the management to spend more than necessary, whereby taking their eyes from the actual priorities. Or alternatively, a unfavorable dilution of the founders’ stake beyond actual economic reason.

On a macro-view, maybe exactly one of the phenomenons of too much VC-money in India chasing too few good ideas (from which I believe Minglebox is a good one). And then valuations getting totally out of proportion which might come with the taste of a bad deal.

Twitter, here I am

So here I am as well, on Twitter, and here is my page. Feel free to connect.

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