Sunday, December 21, 2014

Go India!

The population of India is over a billion strong, and a large proportion of the working mass is geared for greatness in tech. A weak infrastructure, a ridiculous amount of red tape and a class divide all undermine this tremendous potential and sets India just those few steps behind its progressive and advanced neighbour, China.

Triumph in Spite of Adversity

India - a new wave of tech startups
Despite everything hampering India's progress, a new wave of tech startups are shaking off the shackles of bureaucracy and not only creating local opportunities and advancements, but also making their mark in the global arena. Confidence in India's budding potential is growing, as are the bank balances of its investors. Three of the most impressive Indian startups are WebEngage, Zoom and Flipkart.


Founded in October 2010 in Mumbai, WebEngage offers targeted marketing solutions for clients. Over $500,000 were raised with the aim of continued expansion of this pioneering company. Already operating in more than 40 countries, WebEngage has a continuously expanding customer base of already thousands.


With an annual car rental market that generates around $3 billion, India has a great need for affordable and convenient car hire. Zoom offers electric cars available for rental in a great variety of locations. Zoom cars are permitted to drive anywhere in India and can be rented by the month, day, week or hour. The company has raised close to $3 million, and now operates all over Bangalore and in trendy Pune.


One of the most highly regarded tech startups in India, and an inspiration to others, Flipkart is an innovative e-commerce company and could be considered as the e-Bay or Amazon of India. Its claim to fame is not only as a leader in the field and as a company that enjoys fantastic popularity, but also owing to the fact that by July 2014 it had managed to raise $1 billion – the biggest amount of funding ever secured by an Indian company.

Exponential Development

Spurred by the rapid growth of Indian tech startups, investors are flocking to get their piece of the pie and experts are earmarking India as the second biggest tech hub, after the US. Is this a wave that has just started gaining momentum? With the rife abject poverty in the country, India could do with a lift. Let us hope it will get one.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Zuckerberg and Zuckerman on Internet Advertising

Everybody knows who multi-billionaire Mark Zuckerberg is. The Facebook founder’s face is almost as famous as Facebook itself. But who is the other guy? Ethan Zuckerman is also a professional geek and his surname also starts with 'Zucker', but that is where the similarities end. These two Zuckers have very different viewpoints when it comes to businesses making money on the Internet.

How companies make money online

How companies make money online
How do they make money online?

With the .com revolution a new phenomenon came into existence: websites created for the sole purpose of generating revenue. Online trading sites like Amazon and eBay make money through commission from traders and sales, online stores make money from sales, betting sites make money from gamblers, and the list goes on. When it comes to social media websites, they have two choices: make money through advertising or charge subscription fees. With so many free social media sites around, it would be crazy to charge fees. So the only real option is an ad-based business model. In a nutshell, without advertising, these guys, and many other websites, simply cannot make money.

What the geeks say

Director of MIT's Centre for Civic Media, Ethan Zuckerman strongly argues that just about every online business eventually slides into an advertising-based business model. This inevitably leads to data collection and ultimately invades the private lives of unsuspecting individuals.

With over $30 billion dollars in personal wealth accumulated through an advertising-based business model, Mark Zuckerberg obviously has a very different viewpoint.

Can any web business make money with advertising?

No. First you need a huge amount of traffic to your site just to entice advertisers into signing up. Facebook was recently reported to have as many users as the population of China. Why would advertisers pay to be on another site there if they can't expect a reasonable ROI? Secondly, even if there is a massive cyber footfall, people do not like advertising. Many internet users go so far as to install ad blockers to avoid advertising altogether. It is so widely loathed that the days of pop-up ads are practically over.
Interestingly, Ethan Zuckerman is considered the inventor of the popup ad and wrote the code for the very first popup.

The solution

According to Zuckerman, subscriptions should be implemented with micro payments, although he concedes that free or ad-supported websites do make the internet more widely available. In an ideal world internet access would be free, content would be free, and there would be no annoying ads. But then who would pay for the other major difference between Mark Zuckerberg and Ethan Zuckerman? That is, Zuckerberg is loaded, and Zuckerman is not. Maybe, as with most other things, money, or lack thereof, is what formulates the strongest of opinions.