No space for fresh .com venture

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Date: Mon Sep 11 2000 - 19:58:05 PDT

The Hindustan Times

Any new dotcom venture in India will be a suicidal step as it will not be
able to sustain for long in the absence of fresh inflow of fund. There is
not much
of space left for start up dotcom as the market has reached the
saturation point making it increasingly difficult to generate the required
traffic. Indians are shamelessly copying what had already happened in the
United States. This is unlikely to work here as essential factors like
infrastructure, market reach and penetration are not at par with the US,
says Sabeer Bhatia of Hotmail fame to the budding entrepreneurs in India.

Hmm, in a country where the primary purpose of the IT
industry seemingly is to generate warm_body_programmers for
consumption in US (Now Japan, Germany etc), far too
much hysterical hype is *still* centering around the
.com pirates, never mind the recent crash of the so
called 'technology' stocks...

In a congested city like Bangalore (THE current Hype-r
city of India) wherever one goes, he/she gets outgazed by
mega billboards announcing the launch of new .com
companies... I've been predicting doom for these companies
for a while now, but sadly realize that they are all
part of the cosmic karma cycle of birth-growth-decay-death
- the cycles lasting for about an year...

Most of these companies/founders seem to believe in the
following cycle of karma:

-4. Work in a IT sweatshop for a couple of years after
getting some basic degree relating to IT.

-3. Go to US, earn some money possibly thru slave labor
and start dreaming about own venture, the basic motive
being - 'look ma, no sweat!'

-2. Assume that because one can develop some HTML pages,
it should be easier to set up a web site; also pepper
in smart statements about Java, Jiro, Convergence, Next
Generation Service / Networks, Distributed Object Paradigm,
Open Sores, Components etc in any gathering.

-1. Eventually someone will be interested enough in you to invest
some money. It should be important that the other guy
should have more cluelessnessons than you.

0. Swear *not* to have any kind of business plan. Assume that
the idea itself is dazzling enough to blind all the senses
of *all* individuals concerned and *thus* rake in dollars.
(If this relationship is not apparent, then it is *us*
who are missing / unable to see the 'whole' - hole?)

1. Get an outrageously punnable stylish combination / name -
say eGuruCool (Gurukul is a traditional hermitage setup
where a 'Guru' would teach his desciples...) - it could
be a combination of an Indian language + English. (Many guys
dont even bother with that and come up with names like
indya etc - I surmise that they think this kewl! Sheesh!)
It is important to call it a 'portal' or 'number 1 site'
etc in spite of the fact that some 50 such clueless
.com's could exist for the same set of eyeballs. At
this point of time - as there is nothing of reasonable
value add to the endusers, so yours is an yet-another-site
of the 50 suchthingies; the at this point has
become a .comma venture.

2. Announce all kinds of prizes / gifts / giveaways
like free cellphones (does any one ever get these?) for
the jobless surfing population.

3. Position some banner ads - the more irritating the
animated images are, the merrier it is. And it is
mandatory that at least 80% of such ads should be *yours*
claiming the uniqueness of your *portal*, blech.

4. Pray to God to get some sucker VC to give some funding.
At this point some VCs do get blinded and then provide
some sucker, sorry succour... If not, then go to 6.

5. Burn up the first tranche of the VC funding in a media
blitzkrieg + high-cost-recruitment ('Wealth creation' for
the employees thru the stock option route is a must
buzzword here) + plush offices + high-cost-equipment as fast
as possible, preferably within a couple months. Start
praying for more funding. Start off a free webmail service
too, promising progressively higher MBage of email
storage till each mailbox can accommodate a healthy

6. Some VCs give up at this point of time. So your
company becomes a .coma company; and, bereft of any direction
whatsoever, it starts lumbering along in delirium and
your ace employees go to step 1 of some other company,
jettisoning your comatose

7. Try for some mergers - 'to explore synergy' and to
'positively respond to market demands' and to 'supplement
and complement the core competencies' etc.

8. Fade out of the scene. Join some other company in
stage 1 as the Chief Execution Officer or some such thing...
Afterall, you've got *experience*.


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