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Narayan Murthy’s Speech at NYU (Part 4)

Posted on Saturday, Jul 7th 2007

A final story: On a hot summer morning in 1995, a Fortune-10 corporation had sequestered all their Indian software vendors, including Infosys, in different rooms at the Taj Residency hotel in Bangalore so that the vendors could not communicate with one another. This customer’s propensity for tough negotiations was well-known. Our team was very nervous.

First of all, with revenues of only around $5 million, we were minnows compared to the customer.

Second, this customer contributed fully 25% of our revenues. The loss of this business would potentially devastate our recently-listed company. >>>

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eBay’s Vertical Classified Strategy

Posted on Friday, Jul 6th 2007

The WSJ reports that eBay has quietly opened its classifieds site, Kijiji (what a lousy name!) to the US audience, positioned to compete against the wildly popular Craigslist, in which it owns a 25% stake.

One wonders why eBay doesn’t just buy Craigslist; the answer to that question is that Craigslist’s founder, Craig Newmark, has no desire to sell. >>>

In The Shadows Of Iraq: Qubad Talabani (Part 7)

Posted on Friday, Jul 6th 2007

Investing in a conflict area is risky business, but there are resources in Kurdistan which will draw in Oil producing companies. Microfinance structures could also benefit the agricultural region. However, in order for a “boom” to be sustainable, there will need to be a significant investor confidence in security – particularly for the finance industry (which will also have to offer financing programs which conform to religious mandates, and there are plenty of those programs out there).

The trend will likely see multi-national corporations demonstrate interest in the oil industry (and China has also been demonstrating interest of late), followed by regional development. >>>

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Narayan Murthy’s Speech at NYU (Part 3)

Posted on Friday, Jul 6th 2007

While these first two events were rather fortuitous, the next two, both concerning the Infosys journey, were more planned and profoundly influenced my career trajectory.

On a chilly Saturday morning in winter 1990, five of the seven founders of Infosys met in our small office in a leafy Bangalore suburb. The decision at hand was the possible sale of Infosys for the enticing sum of $1 million. After nine years of toil in the then business-unfriendly India , we were quite happy at the prospect of seeing at least some money.

I let my younger colleagues talk about their future plans. Discussions about the travails of our journey thus far and our future challenges went on for about four hours. I had not yet spoken a word.

Finally, it was my turn. >>>

Monster’s Destiny

Posted on Thursday, Jul 5th 2007

When The New York Times entered into a deal with Monster Worldwide this February to display Monster’s job ads in NYT’s career sites, it became yet another example of how vertical portals like Monster’s job-related one has come to prominence. [We have recently covered the Online Jobs vertical in detail.]

Prior to the NYT deal, Monster had entered into alliances last year with dozens of newspapers across the US and at least 8 TV stations. The NYT deal saw Monster scaling a 52-week high of 54.67 on Feb 16 on the back of total trade of 5.64mn shares. The stock has since retracted around 24% and now trades at 41.47 (July 2). >>>

Web 3.0 & Group Travel: Groople CEO Mike Stacy (Part 5)

Posted on Thursday, Jul 5th 2007

SM: Please describe some of your team building experiences. Is your management team complete now? It seems like you’ve had a founder transition, and the company has already burnt a lot of capital. These are indications of problems with the team, normally.
MS: Yes, we’ve had some problems, but they were not with Founder transition. Our Founder had a great idea, and he was great at pulling a company together around the idea. He was also a great biz dev guy, hence we started off with a deal with Travelocity. Big win. And then, he wanted to move on and start another company. >>>

In The Shadows Of Iraq: Qubad Talabani (Part 6)

Posted on Thursday, Jul 5th 2007

Political stability must be viewed as a precursor to economic development. How else do you explain the success of microfinance in places such as India, Mexico, South America, and its failure (for the most part) in Africa (aside from limited success in places such as Kenya – which is a rather stable government for the region)?

That theory holds in place for areas where the United States has previously been involved in major conflicts and had troops remain in place – South Korea being a prime example, but let’s not forget the rebuilding of Europe after World War II. Is there a correlation – does US military equate to stability over time? Here I want to gauge the economic effect that Qubad feels the US military is having on the country. >>>

Narayan Murthy’s Speech at NYU (Part 2)

Posted on Thursday, Jul 5th 2007

The next event that left an indelible mark on me occurred in 1974. The location: Nis , a border town between former Yugoslavia, now Serbia, and Bulgaria. I was hitchhiking from Paris back to Mysore , India , my home town.

By the time a kind driver dropped me at Nis railway station at 9 p.m. on a Saturday night, the restaurant was closed. So was the bank the next morning, and I could not eat because I had no local money. I slept on the railway platform until 8.30 pm in the night when the Sofia Express pulled in.

The only passengers in my compartment were a girl and a boy. I struck a conversation in French with the young girl. She talked about the travails of living in an iron curtain country, until we were roughly interrupted by some policemen who, I later gathered, were summoned by the young man who thought we were criticizing the communist government of Bulgaria .

The girl was led away; my backpack and sleeping bag were confiscated. I was dragged along the platform into a small 8×8 foot room with a cold stone floor and a hole in one corner by way of toilet facilities. I was held in that bitterly cold room without food or water for over 72 hours. >>>