Garage tactics and truckloads of money

Of late, I have taken a keen interest in finding key strategies of really successful Internet businesses. (Okie not just Internet businesses, but the ones who really made big-time money in real quick time.) And boy, have I come with some interesting finding or two?

** Okie, let me start off with that wonder of a company, Google. Back in 1996, it all started as a university project called BackRub (aww, that name itself sounds corny, but then remember what the Bard said??). In fact, when Larry Page and Sergey Brin registered the company in September 1997, they were operating out of a friend's garage in Menlo Park, Calif. Of course, they moved out after an year and a half and after a couple of offices, relocated to the present Mountain View headquarters. Okie, now why am I going on and on about surely, some inconsequential detail about Google's history? Well, read on and ye shall know.

Anyway, the Google that we know now is a tech giant with oodles and doodles of revenues and yeah, a couple of dozen products. In less than a decade, Google is now locking horns with that monstrosity called Microsoft. And this year, Sergey Brin and Larry Page featured at #12 and #13 respectively in Forbes' list of the richest persons in the United States. Hmmm...

** In early October this year, Google purchased YouTube for a whopping $1.65 billion in stock. $1.65 billion. That's some serious money, one would say, for a small firm that debuted just under an year back. So, how did YouTube become such a biggie?

Well, YouTube started off as a small company operating from a garage (yeah, again !) in February of last year. It officially debuted in November last, and within a year has grown to insane proportions playing, on an average, over a 100 million video clips daily. Whoa ! That's more viewership than most of the cable channels around.

** Google acquired another company this October, though it wasn't in such a big league as YouTube. JotSpot was founded by Excite founder, Joe Krauss in late 2004 in a small Silicon Valley garage. (Oh yeah, now you are getting the drift...) It is probably the first application wiki company around. In other words, a company that facilitates you to create, publish and share your own wiki applications.

So, what do you need to do if you have a brainwave for a startup? Ah, by now, that's a no-brainer. You gotta get up and hire the first available garage in Silicon Valley. That seems a pretty sureshot way of raking in the moolah, especially with that giant Google constantly on the lookout for other garage startups.

Now, don't you believe me? Well, I have another idea for all ye budding entrepeneurs. This is more realistic and almost guarantees you the need to have plenty of bank accounts in the Cayman Islands. And this is again based on hard facts and sound reasoning. Here we go again -

** Hewlett-Packard paid $1.7 million for a 12-by-18-foot garage that co-founder William Hewlett first rented for $45 per month.

** This October, Google paid a somewhat similar amount to buy the 1,900-square-foot home in Menlo Park, where it initially started off by paying a rent of $1700 per month.

Hmmm...I think it's time to rent my garage...or better still, does anyone know from whom I can buy the garage where YouTube started off? Or any other biggie firm for that matter?


A li'l bit of Ash-bashing

Last week, I checked out the much-awaited Bollywood blockbuster, Dhoom 2. Though this was yet another movie with a joke of a screenplay, the non-stop thrills and action made for some good pop-corn munching brainless entertainment. Hrithik once again was the pick of the lot and seems all set to be the next big star after SRK. Abhishek and Uday almost sleepwalked through reprising their roles in Dhoom. And that brings me to the leading lady, Aishwarya Rai. Oh boy, she just cannot act, can she?

Way back in the 90s, when Ms Rai first entered the film industry after being crowned Miss World, most of her roles revolved around her looks rather than displaying an iota of acting skills. And it probably worked in quite a few cases too. The audience, the critics and pretty much everyone was just too stunned by her looks to criticize her acting or the lack of it. I remember folks going to an Ash movie just to ogle and gape at her. (Well, many continue to do that even now.)

Going forward, she seemingly refined her acting skills and acted in slightly arty movies like Chokher Bali to prove her mettle. Even some of the critics went ga-ga over her brilliant portrayals. And looking at the positive reviews, I wondered that finally, she has matured into a decent actress. Well, that impression lasted until I watched Raincoat. Guess what, she hadn't improved one bit. And what could have been a great movie ends up being just a good flick.

Come to think of it, I don't know of a single film where Ash seems adept in her art. Of course, she looks like a dream all the time. And the oft-repeated tag of the most beautiful woman in the world seems pretty apt at times. But when it comes to some real acting, unfortunately, she is still in the Stone Age.

What is surprising is that she has received critical acclaim for some of her movies even in the US of A? Consider that stupid movie, Bride And Prejudice. The only thing that Ash managed in the movie was to irritate one and all. And some claimed that it was her best performance ever !! Not for nothing do they say that beauty intoxicates the mind. :)

This year, Aishwarya rubs shoulders with the likes of Ben Kingsley and Colin Firth in The Last Legion, thus becoming the first Bollywood mainstream actress to crossover into Hollywood (Not quite sure of that, but definitely, she is the biggest Bollywood star to have done so.) Even Will Smith has expressed his desire to do a film with her. Then, there was the big buzz last year, that she might be the next Bond girl. And of course, she was on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS' 60 Minutes, and even the Late Night Show with David Letterman.

So, does all of this mean that she is India's best actress? Heck, no...she is not even a decent actress yet. And looking at the way things have been, she will never be. Don't believe me?? Go, watch Dhoom 2.


Evil worshippers, anyone?

Recently, I came across this article on The Dilbert Blog. And though I ain't a big fan of Scott Adams' mostly cynical views, this one really got me thinking.

In his own inimitable style, Mr. Adams pokes fun on cynics who claim that the war in Iraq was staged to benefit American oil companies. He wonders whether oil barons actually sit and discuss things like, 'Hey, let's wage a war and kill a million people so that I can get some money for a new boat'.

Well, that might sound funny for many, but I wonder what the cynics have to say to that. There are a bunch of others who even say that 9/11 was staged. But really, do you think anyone would sit in a room and plan such a thing??

I mean, businessmen might discuss cranky illegitimate tactics to raise money, but killing people sounds a bit far-fetched...unless of course you are a terrorist.

Call me naive, but I don't think that all the cynics would have an answer to this line of argument.

To quote Mr. Adams again -

"...And I wonder why I’ve never met anyone in person who is that evil.
I’ve met plenty of psychos, assholes, narcissists, pigs, sluts, maniacs, drug addicts – you name it. All of the other personality defects you can imagine are abundant. But not once have I been in a conversation with someone who said,'“You know, I’d be willing to kill a million men, women, and children if the money was good.'"

Come to think of it, that is true for almost everyone. How many of you have met someone who is pretty much an evil person and likes to say so?

Again, maybe people don't say such things and there might be many out there who'd bump off a few just to gain a million bucks.

And maybe, oil barons do indulge in such discussions...who knows?

What this blog is all about

This blog is where I talk about everything under the sun - from politics to movies to cricket to gadgets to ... well, practically anything that interests my hyperactive mind. In essence, it's where I let my thoughts loose ... unfettered and unexpurgated.

Rather than sticking to a particular theme like in all my other blogs, this one is a plain motley of whatever I feel like writing about - from the eloquent to the gibberish.

All views expressed here are my own and you may or may not subscribe to it. Just to reiterate, they are my own and not those of my employer - former, present or potential ones. In other words, if you see anything stupid, dumb, or crazy, rest assured that the stupidity, dumbness or craziness is mine alone. No one else has got any right to it. :)

Although I don't offend people by nature; at times, I may not be politically correct. If you don't like something, try it with a pinch of salt. :)


The Big Bang !

Well, that's how I wanted this wonderful blog to start. But then, if wishes were dollar bills, then I would have been a billionaire. So, all I have to end up doing is to write, write and well, just write.

So, here I am writing all about me. This is not just about my mountaineering exploits or my solo flights over the Atlantic. Neither is it only about my Booker-prize winning novel at age 19. Well, this is also about how I single-handedly devised the world's most advanced magnetic rail system for Germany. And also, about the day I rescued over 200 people off the coast of Myanmar from a sinking ship.

Then, there was the time when I swam across the English Channel in under 14 hours cutting the existing world-record by a neat two hours. Oh boy, I was dead tired after that marathon swim.

My real happy day though has to be the one when I became the youngest person in the world to have scaled Mount Everest thrice in a single year. Ah, I love that place. Especially, the breath-taking view of snow-capped Nepal.

Even more thrilling was the day I climbed onto an active volcano in the Hawaii National Park with dangerous methane fumes all around and lava literally being spewed at a foot's length.

I have been known to be a staunch environmentalist and an articulate speaker at these forums. But I am rather shy of all the television channels. Thankfully, all the spy organizations in the world prefer to keep their leading advisors out of the spotlight. So, I get to stay away from the journos and the glaring lights without much effort.

Another of my favorite pastimes is to design new satellites for NASA and of course, help the French in setting up their launch sites. I love the idea of the common man being able to see the earth from space, hence the interest in satellites.

My vacations though, are spent in the forests by the Congo river, where I help the World Wildlife Conservation Society to protect the bonobos and the elephants. At times, I also visit the Jim Corbett National Park in India where I happen to be quite friendly with a few tigers.

I love playing with my pet sharks in the evenings. It helps me unwind from the busy concerns that come from running a billion-dollar worldwide television empire.

Frankly though, I wish that I would just be leading a simple life, far from the worries of the modern world...probably just involve myself in developing simple software that simplifies the lifestyles of everyone in the world. Aah...how I wish it to happen...

...but then, if wishes were dollar bills, I'd be a billionaire. I told you so.