Thursday, April 21, 2005

Willingness to take risks

A very nice thought which was quoted by David Yoffie, Professor HBS ( of Judo Strategy fame ), in a Stanford Exec briefing I had the opportunity to watch :

White - Hasbro i-Dog Robotic Music Loving Canine

* To laugh is to risk appearing a fool
* To weep is to risk appearing sentimental
* To reach out for another is to risk involvement
* To expose your feelings is to risk rejection
* To place your dreams before the crowd is to risk ridicule
* To love is to risk not being loved in return
* To go forward in the face of overwhelming odds is to risk failure

* But risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.
* He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or love. Chained by his certitudes, he is a slave. He has forfeited his freedom.
* Only a person who takes risk is free

RFID tag prices need to go down drastically

snip :
The consensus to emerge from last week's RFID conference was that the true benefits of the technology will not materialize until tag costs go below 10 cents. "What Gen 2 is going to do, hopefully, is get everybody to use the same standard and consequently drive down the costs," said Gary Cooper, Tyson Foods' CTO. "I need the cost to really drop because we're moving hundreds of millions of cases a year and we're a fairly low-margin business. Just do the math: 20 cents times hundreds of millions." Cooper also said that about 90 percent of the pallets and cases Tyson ships to Wal-Mart's Dallas-area distribution centers are now tagged. Tyson has developed business-case models showing a payoff from RFID by late next year or in 2007. Tag costs, however, must hit the single digits for the company to see a return on investment.
EPCglobal finalized the UHF Generation 2 standard in December with the new tags likely to become available later this year. Tag manufacturers, analysts, and retail IT directors said it might take from one to five years for the cost of Gen 2 tags to drop to 10 cents each. Gartner's Jeff Woods said tag cost has become a much bigger issue than it was only nine months ago, now that some suppliers have developed potentially solid business cases for RFID. "Six to nine months ago, the business cases were hope and faith," Woods said. "Today, we've got some reasonable leads on what the business cases would be, but they don't have a chance of clearing the existing tag costs." AMR Research's Dennis Gaughan added: "This is the ultimate chicken-and-egg scenario. More people won't do RFID until the tag costs come down, but the tag costs won't come down until more people do it. These guys are in a bad situation."

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The curious case of Swiss watchmakers

Swiss watchmakers invented the quartz watch, but it went against their paradigm of mechanical watches, so they ignored taking out a patent on it, and rejected the whole idea. They in fact went ahead and presented the technology in international watchmakers conferences as more of an academic exercise. It was then that others, like Japanese watchmakers Seiko, copied the designs and latched onto the technology. Within 10 years, the swiss watchmaking industry had gone down from 90% of their share in profits to 10%. Approximately 85% of the workforce in the Swiss watchmaking industry were laid off.

Moral of the story ? Be very careful when rejecting a new paradigm - it just might leave you behind.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

The black belt

A student goes through a rigorous martial arts training regimen for years, and the day dawns when he is about to receive his black belt. He goes to his sensei, kneels in front of him, and waits.

Sensei asks him, before handing over the black belt - "What do you think is the meaning of the black belt ? ".
Student replies "It is a reward, a recognition for all the hard work I put in"
Sensei waits for some time, and tells him "Come back in a year - you are not yet ready for the black belt"

Next year, the scene repeats :

Sensei : "Do you know the meaning of the black belt now ? "
Student : "Yes, master. It is the pinnacle of achievement in our art"
Sensei : "You are not ready yet. Come back next year"

The third year :

Sensei : "Do you know the meaning of the black belt now ? "
Student : "Yes master. It is but the beginning of a journey of constant improvement, of pushing my limits, of becoming better and better at my art. "
Sensei : "You earned your black belt now !"

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Homeplug - power line as transmission medium

This is awesome ! Homeplug uses your existing power cabling to set up ethernet class networks in your home., using just your existing electrical wiring ! And this alliance of all vendors in the value chain, has already started coming up with products. Huuuuuuge shot in the arm for home networking and smart homes - i am amazed. A very old article in Commsdesign about the technology gives a brief overview of the challenges faced in using powerline as the transmission medium, and mentions the MAC layer innovations involved

Friday, March 18, 2005


Checked out this cool new web app at - i always wanted something like this where i could capture my surfing experience, without having to rely on IE bookmarks. I have a feeling this is going to catch on. I have added Furl links to the blog as well.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

PC/Xbox Games development seems like such a perfect candidate for being done out of India.

Why ?

a. its extremely labour intensive, requiring not just programmers but 3D artists and their ilk.
b. its a make or break thing, so u want to minimize the investment required upfront, since u dont know the chances of success
c. 3d animation, a related industry is picking up in india - getting good artists at reasonably cheap cost, should not be a problem
d. there are lots of people in india who want to get into the gaming industry, but there arent many companies into it

Found an interesting article,on what a game development startup should NOT do and its sequel.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Built To Last is another awesome book I read in the recent past. One of the interesting terms coined by the authors is "Big Hairy Audacious Goals "(BHAGs). Research done by the authors reveal that outstanding visionary companies usually have a tendency to take up BHAGs at certain points, and they strive to reach it, with all their might, and a single minded focus. Examples abound - Boeing's stubborn pursual of the 747 and IBM's 360 mainframe investments - both of these huge projects, if they failed would have probably destroyed the companies. From personal experience, SUN Microsystems is another company which believed in "All the wood behind one arrow", as we called it at SUN. Prolonged bleeding, I think has made SUN much less of a visionary company than it was, a few years back - and it would be interesting to know, whether BHAGs on which to bet the company is still the norm there - I doubt it.
Finished Liar's poker today - it sure is an unputdownable book ! One character - that of Michael Milken - interested me a lot. Googled him up, and boy - I wonder why I never heard of him before. Milken was this reclusive self built financial wizard who some say was an evil emperor ( he was tried on technical grounds for irregularities in financial transactions ) who bought about the era of hostile takeovers by takeover-artists, while others say, he was the saviour of Corporate America, by forcing them to cut their fat, and become leaner and meaner. What is interesting is that he turned conventional wisdom on its head, and made junk bonds, the flavour of the moment. The insight he had, in a nutshell, was that, "fallen angels" ( companies which were great but fell on bad times ) or small high growth companies, were often unable to raise money in the debt market, because bond rating agencies like Moody's would give them a high risk rating. This rating system was flawed, as it just considered past results, and not the future or the current wealth creating ability of the firm. Milken's genius lies in recognizing that with adequate research he could identify firms which were unlikely to default, inspite of their ratings, and raise money for these companies by floating "junk bonds", which, because of the risk associated with them, would pay out larger interest rates. His USP was his ability to talk many influential money managers into buying these junk bonds, creating a huge market for junk bonds, thus creating almost an equity like market in the debt market itself ! Another interesting development that he orchestrated was to use junk bonds to finance hostile takeovers by folks like Ronald Perelman - these guys would use out and out leverage from their junk bond raised money to target even biggie corporations for takeover bids.

For many, Milken was one of the most significant characters of the "decade of greed" - the roaring 80s, typified by fictional characters like Gordon Gekko ( "Greed is good !" ) from Wall Street - the movie