Showing posts from January, 2011

A Mini Bubble Burst In Three Years

Image via WikipediaThis is not me agreeing with Fred Wilson on the topic, but I do foresee a mini bubble burst a few years down the road. We are going through a relatively easy funding phase of what I see is going to be a boom decade.

The first mini bubble burst is that not every startup idea seeking funding is getting funded. Most are not. That is normal. So you are already starting with the natural selection process in place. Investors are not fools. They go in with high hopes. They do say no. All the time.

But of all the companies that are getting funded, it is inevitable not all will survive. Many will not. I don't know enough to get into more precise numbers. You could argue nobody does. But there will be weaning out. The wheat will get separated from the chaff.

Every new economic sector in history has seen a bubble, some big, some small. The biggest bubbles have been reserved for some of the most exciting new sectors. Bubbles are good things. Bubbles are the market trying…

The Top Quora User Scoble Agrees With Me, But I Disagree With Him

Image via WikipediaRobert Scoble - someone I admire and like - has put out a blog post on January 30 - Why I was wrong about Quora as a blogging service … - that closely mirrors a blog post I put out on January 7 - As For Quora: Blogging Still Rules - only my blog post's title is better. In his blog post Scoble comes to the same conclusion. Blogging still beats Quora.

But then blogging for me has beat all other social media experiences: Facebook, Twitter included. Blogging has been my favorite social media platform. I guess I am really interested in people I don't know. But it is more the ideas thing. The blogosphere allows for a meeting of minds in ways not possible elsewhere. And I have a thing for the long form of blogging.

Union Square Ventures: You Love Me, You Love Me Not

Image via CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBaseUnion Square Ventures has an impressive portfolio. If you are fascinated by web tech like I am, you would be impressed by what they got. They are into Twitter, FourSquare, Zynga. USV constantly looks for companies that will perhaps come up with the next big thing in tech.

With my FinTech startup, I have made it absolutely clear we are not trying to come up with the next big thing in tech. We are not a web tech startup. Instead we will constantly be surveying the scene for new developments in tech to see what we can put to the service of microfinance.

That would be a good reason for USV to not come for us.

The Wilsons Were In Cairo Recently

The Wilsons were in Cairo a few weeks back. I don't know what they did while they were there, but whatever they did seems to be working.

A Moment Of Despair


During the wee hours of Friday morning when the rest of the world was asleep I sent out an email to Fred Wilson. I felt ready. I was proud to have a deck that had only three slides. Not only that, the email had no attachment. Instead it was a Google Docweb address, one simple line. T-h-i-s will impress AVC, I thought.

Instead I got put into place. We don't invest in companies pre-incorporation, but I'd be glad to have a Skype conversation with you, he said.

Slumdog Millionaire: A Movie About My People

A Mind Blowing Party

Jai Ho

I was born in Darbhanga, Bihar, India. I grew up in Nepal, did high school in Kathmandu, not my hometown. They absolutely hate Indians in Nepal. The Tamils in Sri Lanka also have it tough. They are also Indian origin.

Biharis end up in Mumbai like Mexicans end up in America. I have met a total of five Biharis in America. My mother is from Banjhula, Sitamadhi, Bihar. A maternal uncle of mine was Education Minister of Bihar in the 1990s when Laloo Yadav was Chief Minister. More recently Laloo was Railway Minister for all of India. India has the largest rail network in the world. Indian Railways is the world's largest employer.

How Many People Could Mubarak Kill?

The point is it is a finite number. There are only so many people Mubarak could kill. We did this in Nepal in 2006. The king of Nepal issued a shoot at sight order, and the people braved the bullets. About two dozen people were shot down before the regime collapsed.

There are only so many people Mubarak can kill. The brave people of Egypt have to not stop. This can be done. Democracy is not an American export. Liberty is an export of the human heart. It comes from inside. This is nothing to do with America.

Needed: A Napkin Keyboard

I was just reading this fabulous blog post that I first spotted in Vinod Khosla's Twitter stream.

Matthew Devost: 23 Devices My iPhone Has Replaced

The Early Stages

During the early stages you are hoping to gain some little traction. You start with the germ of an idea. You try to build a small team. You put together the basic idea for the business. You produce a deck, a few slides. You read up, read up, read up.

You, of course, project success. Big success. But even when you make progress there are times when you fall, there are times when you are moving backwards instead. You try to do it a different way. You tack a little.

A Concerned Madhesi


To: CDO Sterne (2)

To: CDO Sterne
Third World Guy
Rachel Sterne: CDO

Oh Ms. Sterne. If you will please excuse me. I totally misunderstood your new job title. Please ignore my last letter. It is called growing up in Nepal during the days of absolute monarchy.

Let me take another crack at the situation. I think this is about social media. I visited the Quora page to make sure.

To: CDO Sterne

CDO Sterne.

I am honored you reached out to us informers amongst the citizenry. You might be new to your job, but I am getting the impression you have the chops for it. You are showing early signs.

Popular At Quora, PlanCast


General Assembly: A Floor, A Building, A City Block

Image by Laughing Squid via FlickrGeneral Assembly is such a good idea - and right now it is two floors - that I think it deserves to be an entire building, perhaps a city block. If you have not visited already, you should. Go make your pilgrimage.

It has been designed just right. When you are in front of your computer, you are in front of your computer. And there should be a headphone rule. When your ears are covered, you are saying do not disturb.

But then there are times when you want to be in a big, open space. There are times when you want to hold meetings. Small meetings, big meetings.

And it has a great business model. If it has 90 occupants paying $500 each, I am doing the math and the numbers are looking great. And there is a long waiting list, 100 strong, I think. General Assembly could easily occupy another floor.

The Real Time Social Graph, Transient Social Graphs

Image by Laughing Squid via FlickrWhen you say social graph, you talk of friends, as in people you have known, people who were you friends yesterday, are today, will be tomorrow. That is a long tail. And there are many services that have done a good job of curating those social graphs. Facebook, of course, is the grand daddy of them all.

But I see a major void in the real time social graph.

I use several services to plan what events I wish to go to. And that is another space that could use much better services. I use PlanCast, but PlanCast is not populated enough with events. Users find it too hard to create events, and not enough events get created. And not enough event organizers are using it yet. I also use Charlie O'Donnell's events newsletter.

Facebook Will End Up The Social Graph Operating System

Image via CrunchBaseFacebook, far in the future, will likely recede into the background. Facebook will have its Google days. That is but inevitable.

Facebook did not create the social graph. It merely tried to map what already existed out there. But then a social graph where everyone is a friend is not the best possible map.

There are many social graphs. That is our reality. There will be many maps. Facebook is like a broad map of the world. And it can hope to become better and better, but sometimes you don't want a map of the world, you just want a map of the NYC subway system. Or maybe most of the time you just want that.

Third World Guy

I am a Third World Guy. That is not my past. That is my daily reality. That has implications.

Two white guys destroyed my high school experience. One white guy destroyed my college experience. Some white guys tried to destroy my New York City experience.

I left you an entire country. I left you a state, an entire region. There is nowhere to go after New York. In New York you have my back against the wall. You don't want to corner a cat. That is a bad idea. I feel an enormous itch to create, to fight.

They built a white-Pahadi coalition against me in Kathmandu. They built a white-black coalition against me in Kentucky. They tried to build a white-black coalition against me in New York City.

Charlie Rangel thinks he is going to live for 10 more years. I wish every of those years upon him. I want the motherfucker to watch.

Semil Shah On Quora

Frequently Asked Questions About Quora The incredible growth of Quora has also led to an equally incredible growth in chatter, punditry, and analysis ..... If organized correctly, the information contributed to and categorized on Quora could not only result in the best Q&A site ever, but it may also transform into a new type of search engine and destination for information. .... Those who contribute content to Quora do so because, in exchange for their contribution, Quora gives them the chance to establish a brand, reputation, and areas of expertise. ..... Quora has a very good idea of what interests its users have, and that is very, very valuable knowledge. .... where the mutual meeting place is Quora.

Twitter: $45 Million To $150 Million To $250 Million

Image via CrunchBaseSo Twitter made $45 million last year, and it is projected to make $150 million this year. These numbers are a slap in the face of those who kept asking back in 2009, okay, so Twitter has all these users, but how will it ever make money?

Some of those pundits are saying the same about Tumblr. Well, these are going to be Tumblr's numbers two or three years from now, more like two. If you can get deeply engaged users, monetization is just a matter of time. The players that matter know that simple fact.

FourSquare Has 6,000,000 Users

Image via WikipediaFourSquare has put out a blog post that I urge you click over to. The post displays a cool infographic.

FourSquare has 6,000,000 users. That is awesome. The last I was keeping track they had a million users heading to two million. That is a rapid ascent.

I expect FourSquare to keep that pace. It has been a company to watch. The next five years are looking really good for the mobile web, and there FourSquare competes with itself.

An Ode To Steve jobs

Jack Dorsey Also Has A FinTech StartUp

Image by Joi via FlickrGreat minds think alike. I have a FinTech startup. Jack Dorsey also has a FinTech startup. Square is a FinTech startup. But my FinTech startup is going to be bigger than Jack Dorsey's. I am giving Jack Dorsey five years to prove otherwise.

I am not making this up, but I thought of something like Twitter about six years before it actually showed up. I was thinking, there has to be a way for celebrities to interact directly with the fans. But I was not thinking 140 characters.

New York Times On General Assembly, The Coworking Space

TechCrunch: General Scores $200,000 Grant To School Big Apple Entrepreneurs

When I was at the General Assembly on Friday, a team from the New York Times dropped by. They took my pictures too, but apparently pictures of me were meant for their private collection. This is the article they put out as a result.

Rachel Sterne: CDO

A Mind Blowing Party

In Nepal where I grew up that would have meant Chief District Officer, one mean post back in the days of absolute monarchy. You did n-o-t want to ever get noticed by the CDO. Worst case scenario you might simply have disappeared. Some of the most politically vocal people did. They simply disappeared.

250K Or 500K: How Much To Raise?

Image via WikipediaI am in mind to raise 250K from Union Square Ventures. That would be my first choice. I can guarantee you I can get Fred Wilson to give me 15 minutes of his time any day for me to able to pitch him. That much I know. But the deal is up in the air. I am not going to assume it will happen. That part is not in my control. What is in my control is I am going to leave no stone unturned to get him. My part is in my control.
Serenity Prayer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Another idea that is being floated by some people on my team is that I raise 500K, but without giving equity. It would be like I get 500K, and in my next round - which could happen in as little as six months - I give that money a 600K valuation. I would be very open to that.

Founder CEOs And Google

Image via WikipediaThe Chrome OS needed to kill Windows yesterday, five years ago. And Google is still not looking to kill Windows. Google not having a Founder CEO is the reason why. The early venture capitalists who put in the early money messed up. They should have brought in someone like Eric Schmidt as a COO, the Chief Operating Officer. Larry Page should have been CEO all along.

Bill Gates was young and he was CEO. Mark Zuckerberg is still young. He even looks the part. You can't dismiss a Founder CEO just because he or she is young. That is extra true for history making companies. It is a DNA thing. Founder CEOs come with the DNA.

The Stink From The New York Times

Image via CrunchBaseNetflix has a market value of $10 billion. The New York Times has a market value of barely one billion dollars. Articles like this one are the reason why. This feels like a hachet job done by a Vinod Khosla enemy.

The title of the article itself is so out of the whack. The microfinance industry in India is nowhere close to collapsing. Not even close. The article itself talks about how 1% of those who borrowed the money might no longer be able to pay. That is not a collapse. That is an excellent default rate. The default rates at big New York City banks that rich people and companies borrow from are much higher. And I am talking pre Great Recession numbers.
Image via CrunchBase
Just like the default rate remains low, yes, there are borrowers who have committed suicide because they could not pay back. But the article makes it sound like the microfinance industry in India has given rise to a country wide epidemic of suicides. People are committing suicide left and ri…

My Tech Partners Sunil Madhu, Marty Monaco


Allen Paltrow: A Most Promising Princeton Freshman

Fast Company: Allen Paltrow: The First Time I Met Steve Jobs

So Marty Monaco got a room at General Assembly for my mock pitch to Brad Hargreaves yesterday. 11:30-12:30 Room 1. I sent a text to Rachel. "Top Guy, running late, 15 minutes."

I had five slides prepared on Google Docs. My machine does not have Microsoft Office, never has had one. The five slides were barebones. White background, ugly black letters.

"You did not talk about the market at all!" Marty later said. How could I have forgotten to mention the market!

So I Had A Shake Shack Burger


The Stink From India

Image via WikipediaNew York Times: November 2010: India Microcredit Faces Collapse From Defaults: India’s rapidly growing private microcredit industry faces imminent collapse as almost all borrowers in one of India’s largest states have stopped repaying their loans, egged on by politicians who accuse the industry of earning outsize profits on the backs of the poor. ........ Indian banks, which put up about 80 percent of the money that the companies lent to poor consumers, are increasingly worried that after surviving the global financial crisis mostly unscathed, they could now face serious losses. Indian banks have about $4 billion tied up in the industry ........ for-profit “social enterprises” that seek to make money while filling a social need ...... microfinance in pursuit of profits has led some microcredit companies around the world to extend loans to poor villagers at exorbitant interest rates and without enough regard for their ability to repay ...... microfinance could become…

Yunus On Loan Sharks

Image by amioascension via FlickrMuhammad Yunus: The New York Times: Sacrificing Microcredit for Megaprofits: one of my goals was to eliminate the presence of loan sharks who grow rich by preying on the poor. In 1983, I founded Grameen Bank to provide small loans that people, especially poor women, could use to bring themselves out of poverty. At that time, I never imagined that one day microcredit would give rise to its own breed of loan sharks...... India’s crisis points to a clear need to get microcredit back on track. ..... Troubles with microcredit began around 2005, when many lenders started looking for ways to make a profit on the loans by shifting from their status as nonprofit organizations to commercial enterprises. In 2007, Compartamos, a Mexican bank, became Latin America’s first microcredit bank to go public. And this past August, SKS Microfinance, the largest bank of its kind in India, raised $358 million in an initial public offering. ...... Commercialization has been a…



Image via WikipediaHarvard Business Review: The Fall of Wintel and the Rise of Armdroid: incumbents find it immensely hard to disrupt themselves..... They tried jamming a PC into a smaller form factor, which entirely missed the point. Their tablet should have been about disrupting the PC market with something light, cheap and simple. Instead, Microsoft tried to make it do everything. ...... the only line of business that is barely growing is the Atom, Intel'smobile processor. ..... Microsoft's point of view: now that Windows 7 has been developed, to sell another copy, they don't have to do a single thing. Because of this, it becomes very hard for any executive to advocate the complete development of a low cost OS that will run on tablets: not only would it cost Microsoft a lot to develop, but it would result in cannibalization of its core product sales ...... ARM processors are perfect for powering these handheld devices. Manufacturers can customize to their heart's co…

An Eric Schmidt Traffic Spike

The massive spike in traffic was due to this blog post: I Will Not Miss Eric.

12 Digit Global, Mobile Smartphone Numbers

Image via WikipediaJust like every website has a unique web address, every smartphone needs to come with a unique 12 digit number straight from the manufacturer. As soon as it can tap into wifi, that is the number the phone responds to, it rings when you call that number. There is no phone company involved anywhere in the equation. There is no monthly fee.

Because it is web based, it is global. The web is a country on its own. As long as you can come online is all that matters. The phone calls are free.

We would have to agree on industry standards so that numbers don't get duplicated anywhere. If we could do this, voice would overtake video as the fastest growing segment of internet traffic. People want to talk to each other. That would be a contribution to world peace. I thought it was Chatroulette, I was wrong. It's the smartphone, the kind that makes and receives free phone calls globally.

Voice is just data. There is no reason whatsoever why phone calls need to be any d…

2011-2015: A Mobile Stretch

Image via WikipediaI have been talking in terms of five broad categories in tech: web tech, clean tech, bio tech, nano tech, fin tech. In web tech, the momentum clearly is with mobile. The next five years belong to mobile. Thanks to the mobile web the rest of the world does not have to wait. It is through the mobile web that the world finally gets to become one. The sizzle is amazing to watch. Like I say, the child is not a mini adult, not that there is anything childish about the mobile web.
ReadWriteWeb: Eric Schmidt: All of Google's Strategic Initiatives in 2011 are MobileA $50 Smartphone Running On Free WiFi
Steve Jobs: Android Rant
Fred Wilson On Android And HTML5
Twitter, FourSquare: Mobile Web Thingies
Is The Mobile Web In A Category Of Its Own?

I Will Not Miss Eric

Image via CrunchBaseI am a big believer in the idea of the Founder CEO, and I will not miss Eric.
New York Times: Shake-Up at Google as Co-Founder Takes Over: Mr. Schmidt said Mr. Page would “merge Google’s technology and business vision,” while he would focus on external issues, like “deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships.” .... “I don’t think he was pushed aside, but he may have been nudged,” he said, adding that between the two founders, Mr. Page always appeared more interested in eventually becoming chief executive. ..... In the unusual management “troika,” Mr. Auletta said, Mr. Page’s voice always carried the most weight. Also, the cofounder thing is a myth. Larry Page was always the senior among the two founders. I admire Sergey plenty, but credit is where credit is due.

The Chrome OS Could Kill Windows

Image via WikipediaIt could. It should. The idea of an operating system being the court clown is so pre-internet. The browser is the new court clown, it's not the operating system. The browser should have been the new operating system, and perhaps would have been if Microsoft had not killed Netscape.

I have watched in pain as Google has dragged its feet on the Chrome Operating System. Google is so obviously not a hardware company. Look at how they "released" their Chrome OS laptop. They released it like it were Gmail. They have released an early beta version to a limited number of users. I think they will give out a million of the machines for free. And based on the feedback they get, they will rework the machine. How lame!

Nazrul Islam Chunnu: Motherfucker

The Times Of India: Nobel Winner Yunus In Court For Defamation Suit, Gets Bail: DHAKA: Nobel Laureate Muhamad Yunus appeared in a court in Bangladesh on Tuesday in connection with a defamation suit dating back to 2007, and was granted bail.

Social Media Week Is Back

Image by That Other Paper via FlickrI was just looking at the Social Media Week site for the first time after spotting a mass email from Toby Daniels. I got lost on first try.

I remember having a lot of fun last year during Social Media Week.

Social Media Week: The Best NY Tech MeetUp Ever

Not Going Into Any Accelerator Program

Image via WikipediaThere is no accelerator program anywhere that will help me tackle the last mile in microfinance, the most important mile in my line of work. I have a FinTech startup, but it does not revolve around coding, it revolves around the last mile of microfinance.

Also, I can't think of one iconic tech company that came out of some accelerator program. You could argue accelerator programs are a new phenomenon, they have not had the time to spit out iconic companies yet, but accelerator programs are more for purely web tech companies. Mine is not one.

My Third World Advantage

Image via CrunchBaseThere are five broad categories in tech: web tech, clean tech, bio tech, nano tech, fin tech. Each of those five categories are broad. Each has sub categories, and sub sub categories.

There is no next Google in web tech, there is no next Facebook in web tech. Google is the next Google. Facebook is the next Facebook. But the Googles and Facebooks of clean tech, bio tech and nano tech are still out there. They are still small. If you can locate them and put some money into them, you are going to end up uber rich. But it is not easy to locate them, not easy at all. Even the Google of today was not easy to locate when it was small. Yahoo could have had the Google search engine for a few tens of millions, but they passed up on the offer.

Who Hired You?

Image via WikipediaSam Walton is an inspiration of mine. I find Walmart, Dell and the dollar pizza places fascinating. I admire those who can keep the costs down.

Sam Walton had plastic chairs at his Arkansas headquarters. And this was after Walmart had gone public, and Sam Walton was a billionaire already. His logic was obvious. If we buy expensive chairs, the costs get passed on to the customers. It made perfect sense to buy plastic chairs. When he traveled for business, he made a point to stay in cheap motels.

I read his autobiography a long time ago. It is a slim book, a great read.

We Are Not Trying To Solve All The World's Problems

People talked of me as a future Prime Minister of Nepal when I was at high school. They were perhaps not off the mark, because a guy who was junior to me politically before I came to America - I was too young to be running for office legally, but I was Vice General Secretary to a political party with two MPs - has been a cabinet minister in Nepal for years now. I have sharp political instincts, as sharp as anyone on the planet. Like Marlon Brando says, I could have been somebody.

My point being, what I have is not a political organization. We are not in the good governance business. Good governance is basic to poverty elimination. But if a people have an illegitimate, shady, corrupt, oppressive government, it is their responsibility to rise up and throw that government out. My company is not in the political revolution business, although I don't see how I can stay away from Iran myself personally.

A FinTech StartUp With An Edge

Image via WikipediaWhat I have is a FinTech startup. It is a tech startup. But it is not a tech startup that is trying to come up with the next big thing in tech. That we will leave to the companies that are first and foremost web tech companies.

But we a-r-e going to stay on a constant lookout for developments in tech to see what new developments we can put to the use of microfinance. So we are going to keep our antenna up. But then that is not true only of web tech. We are also interested in the developments in clean tech, bio tech, nano tech. If there will be developments in those sectors that we can possibly put to the service of our microfinance efforts, we will go in with both hands.