Friday, February 18, 2005

School for scandal

This Economist article complains that the focus on Economic theory in B-Schools might be a cause for unethical behavior. But B-Schools cannot do much !!

Mr Ghoshal and his supporters are right that top business schools strive for academic respectability, and that this has led them to rely heavily on economic theory. But they are wrong to criticise this. As long as schools are teaching academic degrees (and, after all, the letters MBA stand for Master of Business Administration), they have to teach the most compelling business theories around. It may be a pity that these are mostly to be found in economics. But that is the fault of other disciplines for not coming up with ideas to rival, for example, agency theory or the maximisation of shareholder value.

In a similar way, a good MBA degree can help provide a student with analytical skills and theoretical knowledge useful to a business career. But becoming a successful leader of men and women in a turbulent business world requires maturity and wisdom. Happily, there is no degree programme for those.

Microsoft Anti-Spyware !!!

Microsoft's own anti-spyware is now available !!

Here is Joel's review.

I understand that Microsoft wants to help customers who feel like a spyware-free operating system should be your right when you pay for WinXP, but it's a shame that by giving it away free they're likely to wipe out a useful industry and replace it with something that's difficult to trust due to conflicts of interest.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Did they do it ?

on NYTimes

Dedicated to my sidey, Apeman Zuch !!

Neanderthals may have seen their first modern Homo sapiens some 100,000 years ago in what is now Israel. The two people almost certainly came in contact in Europe in the last centuries before the dwindling Neanderthal population was replaced forever by the intruding modern humans.

The question was, he continued, "Did Neanderthals and modern humans do it?"

Dr. Erik Trinkaus, a Neanderthal expert at Washington University in St. Louis, who was not at the meeting, contends that the 24,500-year-old skeleton of a young boy found in Portugal appeared to be a Neanderthal-Homo sapiens hybrid. The interpretation has so far been viewed with skepticism.

"It was not bad genes but bad luck for the Neanderthals," Dr. Stringer said. "Modern humans may have had no direct effect on Neanderthal extinction. They actually walked into empty spaces where Neanderthals had already disappeared."

Dr. Ian Tattersall of the American Museum of Natural History was not entirely joking when he suggested that few genes were exchanged because "no self-respecting Neanderthal female would fancy a Homo sapiens male."


A crazy search engine which makes shifting between search pages look like surfing TV channels !!

And Check out a feature called Visualizer. If you figure out what it is supposed to do, let me know ;-)

Booced ?

Booced is a term used for describing someone who gets fired for writing about his job on a blog !!

Google Blogger gone (on SearchBlog) - a recent Google employee who was booced.

Tech Trivia on has more such trivia.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

F1 rules change for 2005

The change in Tyre rule is drastic and could totally change the equation.

Tyres must last for qualifying and the race. The reason being that harder, and therefore more durable, tyres will reduce cornering speeds.

This means that pit stops will look very different, with fewer mechanics involved as cars take on fuel without tyre changes, and will be less frequent.

Tyres can be replaced in the event of a puncture or damage caused by debris, but not at a refuelling stop.

Drivers would previously have changed tyres two or three times during a race, after around 70 to 100 km, in carefully orchestrated pitstops.

They must now last around 350km.


Engines must now last for two races, rather than just one, with any unscheduled change resulting in a 10-place penalty on the starting grid. That will put a premium on reliability.


Qualifying will be held over two days, with the final session on Sunday morning. The Sunday and Saturday times will be aggregated.

This will mean more action for the crowd at the circuit on Sunday but the starting grid and pole position will not be decided until shortly before the race.

The CD's end ?

on Washington Post

"The new format is no format," predicted Petersen, a 24-year industry veteran who also owns a record label, a recording studio and a music-publishing company. "What the consumer would buy is a data file, and you could create whatever you need. If you want to make an MP3, you make an MP3. If you want a DVD-Audio surround disc, you make that."

"We're moving beyond the media stage to the delivery stage," agreed Mitch Gallagher, 41-year-old editor of EQ, a San Mateo, Calif.-based magazine for music producers. At some point, he said, "you won't have something to hold in your hand" until you transfer a data file to a blank disc or tape.

"I think CDs are going to be around for a long time," said Petersen. "The cassette was a silly format. It was never designed to be a high-fidelity format. Plus like LPs, you had to flip the media over halfway through. Music buyers are still replacing all their favorite albums on CD."

"Remember," Miller said, "college kids and urban adults are buying their music online, but everybody else is buying their records at Best Buy and Wal-Mart."

However, there are other, contradictory statistics lurking out there:

During the second half of 2004, more than 91 million digital tracks -- songs downloaded from the Internet -- were sold, compared with 19.2 million in the same period in 2003. That's an increase of 376 percent.

More than 140 million digital tracks were purchased during 2004. Plus in the last week of 2004, digital track sales hit a record 6.7 million.

"What we've been seeing is just going to continue to develop," Simson said, adding that the popularity of downloadable music will force musicians, labels and watchdog groups such as SoundExchange to make sure all the right people are getting paid. "You're going to see record companies become much more focused on licensing. There are already subscription services now where you can listen to whatever you want when you want it."

Indeed, Napster's To Go subscription service allows buyers to essentially rent an unlimited amount of music for $15 per month.

"Everyone said the Internet is going to kill physical CD sales, but it's actually helping CD sales," Petersen said. "The Amazon experience is easier than going to a store. . . . Why aren't record stores using the Internet? If you keep things old-school, you are going to die."

Carly Fiorina : Antibody Effect ?

on NYTimes

"You had an antibody effect," said Jeffrey Christian, the executive recruiter who helped bring Ms. Fiorina from Lucent Technologies. "Carly was a very different type of leader than H.P. had ever had before."

Where Mr. Hewlett and Mr. Packard frequently ate in the company cafeteria and stopped by people's desks to chat, Ms. Fiorina ate at her desk and was seen far less frequently by those working at company headquarters here. Indeed, an employee would typically have had to plan weeks ahead to secure an appointment with her.

Yet from the start she seemed to trample over tradition, beginning with the compensation package she negotiated. She was given a $3 million signing bonus and a stock package worth $65 million, Mr. Burrows said, and paid at least $2.25 million a year in salary and guaranteed bonuses. (The $65 million in part offset the stock options and other benefits she would lose after 19 years at AT&T and Lucent Technologies, the equipment and research arm of the Bell system that was spun off in 1996.)

and by almost all accounts, Hewlett-Packard was a company in need of an overhaul when Ms. Fiorina took the helm in July 1999. Still, some longtime employees said they thought that she failed to understand what she had set out to transform.

"When you're going to change something, it's really important to know what you're changing," said Joe Schoendorf, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist who was a top salesman for the company in the 1980's.

"In those ads," Professor Khurana said, "she stood in front of the original garage where Hewlett-Packard was founded and put herself forward as the face of innovation and change at H.P. She also decided to change the H.P. logo, dropping the founders' last names. I think people saw this as her trying to make H.P. in her own image, which didn't go over too well."

Mr. Burrows said that the company had an Web internal site for people to post comments, but "they were forced to turn it off because people were flaming her so much."

Yet whatever animosity Ms. Fiorina engendered in her first couple of years, it was nothing compared with the firestorm that followed her decision to buy Compaq Computer in 2001. Not only did that mean a public and bruising battle with Walter B. Hewlett, the son of a founder and the largest individual shareholder, but also a planned layoff of 15,000 people.

"After the merger, the walls went up and she took on a fortress mentality," an employee said. "She was even booed in an annual meeting."

Hewlett-Packard had long been on Fortune magazine's annual list of the 100 best companies to work for. It has failed to make the list in the last several years.

....... Around that time, she fired three top three executives in what many people in and outside the company saw as a public hanging. In particular, the loss of Peter Blackmore, a top sales executive, rankled many longtime employees.

"Peter was one of most highly regarded executives inside H.P.," Mr. Tennant said. "She should have at least made it clear and said, 'We're replacing these guys, but I take ultimate responsibility. Ultimately, the buck stops with me.' "

"The board expressly said that the culture needed to be changed, but when she started messing with H.P.'s culture, people didn't like that."

Bloggers force Eason Jordan resignation

on NYTimes

On Friday, after nearly two weeks of intensifying pressure on the Internet, Eason Jordan, the chief news executive at CNN, abruptly resigned after being besieged by the online community. Morever, last week liberal bloggers forced a sketchily credentialed White House reporter to quit his post.For some bloggers - people who publish the sites known as Web logs - it was a declaration that this was just the beginning. Edward Morrissey, a call center manager who lives near Minneapolis and has written extensively about the Jordan controversy, wrote on his blog, Captain's Quarters ( "The moral of the story: the media can't just cover up the truth and expect to get away with it - and journalists can't just toss around allegations without substantiation and expect people to believe them anymore."

Verizon buys MCI (wka WorldCom)

on NYTimes

Verizon, the nation's largest regional phone company, announced today that it had agreed to acquire MCI for about $6.7 billion in cash and stock, the latest merger in the rapidly consolidating telecommunications industry.

Verizon's acquisition would end the independence of MCI, the nation's second-largest long-distance company, with 14 million residential customers and about a million corporate customers.

"This is the right deal at the right time," Verizon's chairman and chief executive, Ivan G. Seidenberg, said in a statement.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

If Carly were a man

on NYTimes

..... many who know Ms. Fiorina say that her personal style simply did not work at Hewlett-Packard. The company, they say, had always stressed collegiality over hierarchy, autonomy over oversight, innovation over pomp, and a low profile over bombast. Ms. Fiorina made few friends in that environment. "Carly revels in risk, and has a tough, relentless style," Ms. Wellington said. "A quieter, less abrasive, less in-your-face style might have bought her more time, more allies among employees and kinder, gentler treatment from the media."

But wouldn't that be true of a man as well? "Women still have the stereotype of nurturers and team builders, and that wasn't Carly," Ms. Wellington said. "She was a tough boss, hard critic, stern judge, and women still don't get approbation for those traits."

Friday, February 11, 2005

Arthur C. Clarke on the Tsunami

on Wired. Arthur C. Clarke on the tsunami's aftermath and the roles of science fiction and technology in predicting future disasters.

Rama opens with an asteroid impact on Europe that obliterates northern Italy -- on the morning of 11 September 2077. (I am still spooked by randomly choosing this day, and claim no powers of prescience.) I cannot recall what turned my attention to the possible danger of asteroid impacts. It was quite an old idea in science fiction, and one that science now takes very seriously. Life-threatening impacts are more frequent than many people realize: There were three known major impacts during the 20th century alone (Siberia in 1908 and 1947, and Brazil in 1930) -- damage was minimal in all cases as, miraculously, they happened in uninhabited areas. It is only a matter of time before our luck runs out.

In Rama, I introduced a new concept. I argued that as soon as the technology permitted, we should set up powerful radar and optical search systems to detect Earth-threatening objects. The name I suggested was Spaceguard, which, together with Spacewatch, has been widely accepted. Today, astronomers in both hemispheres scan the skies looking for rogue asteroids and comets. The fact that these efforts are woefully underfunded -- and that some rely on private funding -- says how little the bean counters in governments appreciate the value of this work.

Economics of Music

The Long Tail on Wired talks about how the Net has brought about a change in the economics of the music/DVD/book market. And how the 'misses' could be generating more money than the 'hits'.

A very good read !!

Forget squeezing millions from a few megahits at the top of the charts. The future of entertainment is in the millions of niche markets at the shallow end of the bitstream.

Google: $1 Trillion?

on Motley Fool

Sure, shake your head. But what does $1 trillion really mean in terms of future stock price appreciation? About 16% annually for the next 20 years. Find that hard to believe? I don't. Microsoft has annualized around 35% per year since 1986, most of that growth coming in the earliest days. Outrageous positioning? You better believe it. Google is quite simply the most dominant company of the day. Their success and dominance is right here in front of our faces, and yet the popular media (and perhaps even some fellow Fools) are calling it overpriced or "priced for perfection."

Why am I so enthusiastic about Google's future? There are lots of reasons to be psyched about this company, but the No. 1 reason is that Google is an economy unto itself. We are truly living in The Google Economy. What does this mean? Quite simply, Google creates value for so many people that failure simply isn't an option.

KV Kamath on ICICI

A Smart Manager article on Rediff

Dedicated to my friends Prasannaa and Jeeth !!!

We parked people all over the place. A year-and-a-half later, we offered people a second golden handshake. Many 'parked' people took it and went away. By the time the third one came, the job ended.

He advised me to start reading and do what other companies do, i.e. grade people. So now we grade people, and the bottom 2 per cent to 3 per cent have to go. We have come a long way from those days.

People try to execute in a status quo. You can never execute in a status quo. The organisation is not geared to it. Is the structure right for what you want to do? If I don't think it is right, I won't allow people to do it, because it won't work. I've heard the phrase, 'You cannot have a third generation strategy with a second generation organisation run by first generation workers' and it's totally right.

On the other hand, timing was on our side in 1996. All our technology implementation took place after the mainframe era, and we could take advantage of the huge breakthroughs in computing power at the time when our customer base was exploding from 10,000 customers to 600,000 to 2.5 million to 5 million to 10 million today.

Take ICICI Bank. We may have $30 billion in assets -- but we also have 10 million-plus customers. To put that in context, our customer base is equal to the combined customer base of the three largest banks in Singapore. Yet in terms of assets, we are only one-tenth their size.

Someone described the '90-day rule' or how an entrepreneur starts off in Silicon Valley. He has to design a concept, build a product, test it and take to the market within 90 days otherwise he will be dead because 25 other people are thinking along the same lines.

In several management books, the authors try to make a case that there is something wrong about charismatic leadership. I don't agree fully with this thinking. It may appear to be a single quality but it is not a single quality.

It was the first time we took a stand, and it had a negative impact on the organisation. Lateral recruitment stopped. For the next twenty years ICICI did not recruit laterally! This was too much of a penalty for our organisation, I can say this today.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

HP CEO quits

on NYT


-- Cara Carleton Sneed Fiorina.

BIRTHDATE -- Sept. 6, 1954.

EDUCATION -- Bachelor's degree in medieval history and philosophy, Stanford University, 1976; master's in business administration degree, University of Maryland, 1980; master's of science degree in management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1989.

EXPERIENCE -- Saleswoman, marketing posts and other executive positions, including head of North American network systems, at AT&T Corp., 1980-1996. Helped lead spinoff of equipment/research division into Lucent Technologies Inc. in 1996. President, Lucent's global service provider business, 1998-1999. Named chief executive and president of Hewlett-Packard Co. in 1999 and given the title of chairwoman in 2000. She resigned from the company Feb. 9, 2005, citing differences with the board over executing its strategy. She is a board member of Cisco Systems Inc.

"Oh, I'm sure I've made my share of (mistakes). I don't think I've made more than my fair share of them, although I think more has been made of the ones that I've made," from an October 2001 interview with The Associated Press.

"While I regret the board and I have differences about how to execute H.P.'s strategy, I respect their decision," Ms. Fiorina said in a statement. "H.P. is a great company and I wish all the people of H.P. much success in the future."

"This is not a change related to strategy," Ms. Dunn said in a conference call with industry analysts and investors. "This is a changed based on a desire to accelerate that strategy. We think that requires hands-on execution."

Wall Street signaled its approval of Ms. Fiorina's resignation today. Hewlett's shares were trading up $1.30, or 6.5 percent, at $21.44 early this afternoon on the New York Stock Exchange.

Laptops for 36K !!

on Rediff

Acer on Wednesday launched its new notebook, the Aspire 1362 NLC for Rs 35,999.

The company says this is a breakthrough price in the notebook category, targeting small and medium enterprises, home users and students. With this, Acer hopes that its notebooks will be affordable to consumers across the country.

Acer has also designed a Student Rebate Programme, under which students can avail a special rebate of Rs 2,500 on this notebook. Students will need to provide their identification card /registration number with their respective institution.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Why higher interest rates are needed

on Rediff

So who really benefited from lower interest rate environment, which prevailed for the last few years?

First and foremost, the Government of India. The huge fiscal deficit that it has been running was financed at lower interest rates.

The second main beneficiaries were large corporates. They could replace their earlier high-cost loans with cheaper loans.

The people who lost out were charitable trusts, poor pensioners, senior citizens and widows who saw the value of their savings come down considerably. The fact that India does not have a social security system in place made it even more difficult for this section of the population.

The fact that they have been selling government paper to fund credit offtake means that their investment in government paper has been declining. Once the banks reach this level of 25 per cent, they cannot sell any more government securities to generate liquidity.

And given the pace of credit offtake, some banks could reach this level very fast. So banks, in order to keep giving credit, need to ensure that more deposits keep coming in. Banks as of now are competing for capital with other forms of investment, which give a greater amount of return than what banks have to offer.

So in the current situation of high inflation (vis-a-vis interest rates), rapid credit growth and lower deposit growth, the only way of ensuring an increase in bank deposits is to increase interest rates.

Competition Is Forever

on NYT

Mom-and-pop stores are being squeezed by giant chains like Wal-Mart Stores, now the world's largest jeweler, and Costco, which increasingly sells diamonds over two carats. Department stores, too, are upgrading their jewelry counters.

De Beers, the South African conglomerate, had a lock on the market, supplying about 80 percent of the world's diamonds.But within the last decade, De Beers's grip has loosened. It now controls less than 50 percent of the market, analysts say, and no longer has a firm grip on prices. New and independent mines in Australia and, most recently, Canada, have begun producing diamonds, small and large. Yet supplies from the new mines can be unpredictable.

Jewelers say that traditional ring buyers like Mr. Smyth are no longer shy and insecure. If they still visit the small-town jewelry store, they have probably done their homework on the Internet: 90 percent of those who log on to, a popular diamond site that says it sells as many engagement rings in America as Tiffany does, do so just to become educated, not to buy.

"They don't want to deal face-to-face with the salesperson where they feel at a disadvantage because they're not as knowledgeable." He paused. "There is a tremendous debate, a confrontation, on how to cope with the Internet presence. It's a very, very hot-button topic."

The industry recently sought to dispense with one of its biggest scandals: introducing a warranty program aimed at cutting off the retail supply of "blood diamonds" or "conflict diamonds" - those mined in Angola and Sierra Leone by revolutionaries bent on using diamond profits to buy bombs and guns.

UK Approves cloning of Human Embryos

on BloomBerg

Professor Ian Wilmut of the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh and a team at King's College in London will grow embryos with motor neuron disease to study the development of the condition, which kills cells in the spinal cord and brain that control movement, the agency said on its Web site.

Motor neuron disease is a group of related ailments leading to weakness and wasting of muscles, the U.K. Motor Neurone Disease Association said on its Web site. It is most common in adults from 50 to 70, with an incidence of about seven cases per 100,000, the association said. The cause is unknown.

The Eason Jordan controversy at Davos

Eason Jordan, Quote, Unquote on WashingtonPost

What CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan said, or didn't say, in Davos, Switzerland, last month has become a burgeoning controversy among bloggers and media critics.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who attended the World Economic Forum panel at which Jordan spoke, recalled yesterday that Jordan said he knew of 12 journalists who were killed by coalition forces in Iraq. At first, said Frank, "it sounded like he was saying it was official military policy to take out journalists." But Jordan later "modified" his remarks to say some U.S. soldiers did this "maybe knowing they were killing journalists, out of anger. . . . He did say he was talking about cases of deliberate killing," Frank said.

Pernicious ambiguity at Davos - a Language Log analysis of the linguistic aspects

Let's assume for simplicity's sake that what Jordan said was

U.S. forces in Iraq have intentionally killed 12 journalists.

The key interpretive question is how the meaning of "journalists" interacts with the meaning of the rest of the sentence. As soon as what someone wants or intends comes into the picture, we confront the issues of belief attribution known as the de re/de dicto distinction. It may be true that Oedipus wants to marry his mother, because he wants to marry Jocasta and she is (known to us as) his mother, but false that Oedipus knows that Jocasta is his mother. Under these circumstances, the statement that Oedipus wants to marry his mother -- whatever its philosophical status -- is an egregious violation of elementary journalistic ethics.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Google Adwords controversy

The controversy is basically about businesses buying Adwords for which their competitors hold Trademark rights to make their own ads appear when someone searches for the competitor's product.

Google loses trademark case in France on Cnet

The ruling comes on the heels of another French court order against Google, in a case brought by European chain Le Meridien Hotels and Resorts. In that lawsuit, the court said Google infringed on Le Meridien's trademarks by allowing the hotel chain's rivals to bid on keywords of its name and then appear prominently in those related search results.

Google faces trademark suit over keyword ads on Cnet

American Blind and Wallpaper Factory filed suit against the search giant and its partners, AOL and Netscape, in a New York federal court Tuesday. The suit claims Google's practice of selling text ads related to keyword search terms takes advantage of American Blind's trademarks, given that competitors' ads can appear on results pages turned up by searches for "American wallpaper" and "American blind."

Monday, February 07, 2005

The Fall of AT&T

Economist Feb 3 2005

This week, SBC, one of the “baby bells” that was spun out of the company as part of a court-ordered break-up in 1984, acquired “Ma Bell”, as AT&T is known, for around $16 billion, ending its reign as an independent firm.

The deal may prompt further consolidation (MCI is fingered as the next target by three other Bell companies, Qwest, Verizon and BellSouth), now that the period of internal rebuilding by telecoms firms after the bubble burst in 2000 is over.

First, AT&T underestimated how important wireless communications would become. At the time of the break-up in 1984, AT&T relied on a report by McKinsey, a consultancy, that claimed there would be fewer than 1m wireless phone users by 2000. In fact, there were 740m.

The second stumble was in computing. After the break-up, AT&T expected to become a powerhouse in computers. Shedding the slow-moving local operators and retaining the Western Electric equipment business seemed a brilliant result from the antitrust process. AT&T even bought a computer maker, NCR, in 1991.

The third big mistake was to buy cable operators in the late 1990s. This was the right strategy at the wrong time and for too much money. At the height of the tech boom, AT&T's then boss, Michael Armstrong, paid over $100 billion for two cable firms, TCI and MediaOne.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Ask Jeeves Buys Bloglines

One thing to note, Ask Jeeves, or any other search company, could built a system like this very quickly. What they would have trouble doing is getting all the data, going back more than say, a month, structured, organized and pulled. That's because blog posts fall off the front pages (depending on frequency of blogging and how many posts the blogger displays) and go into archives. If you think about how many kinds of blog software out there, which means many kind of data structures for the blog post data, which then makes it difficult to get all the various types of data structured into a database, just imagine how all the variants of those professionally and homegrown systems differ for archival posts. Lots of people customize their archives, as I have in MT and other blogs I participate in with Wordpress, Typepad, etc. Spidering and structuring archives is really tough, tougher than getting the stuff on the tops of blogs right. The point is, a comprehensive database of blogs structured as well as can be, going back a couple of years, is really valuable. As is the knowledge of how to put that database together, and run it, along with understanding why this kind of search is very different than those done by Google or Ask Jeeves, whose results don't understand the temporal qualities of blog data, or other aspects that make it different.

Saturday, February 05, 2005


Not sure what Y! is upto here. It is calling this context based search. The official website has the following to say :

Y!Q is an entirely new way to search. Unlike traditional searches where you begin a search from an empty search box and then sift through information that may or may not relate to what you need, Y!Q lets you search from any web page you're reading and offers a unique way to tell the search engine what kind of information you're interested in.

What's unique about Y!Q is how you tell it what you need. Y!Q lets you specify the type of information you're interested in so the results you get are directly related to the information you select. We call this "context-based" searching and it's how Y!Q "automagically" knows exactly what you're looking for.

Friday, February 04, 2005

A molecular replacement for the transistor?

The Economist Feb 3rd 2005

Hewlett-Packard's researchers have been tinkering in a new area known as molecular electronics. Instead of using light to etch a transistor circuit on a wafer of silicon, they propose to fabricate tiny wires. The molecular-scale alternative proposed to the transistor is called a “crossbar latch”. The latch works by running an electrical current down a signal wire, through two switches. Controlling the voltage (the quantity of energy possessed by electrons moving down the wire) on the switches allows the latch to either work as an amplifier, restoring a signal to full strength, or as an inverter, converting a “1” to a “0”.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Mavalli Tiffin Room

Business Today Feb 13 2005

Did you know ?
  1. JP Morgan has a 28% stake in MTR
  2. MTR uses SAP/ERP

Those reluctant to use the term complexity in association with the foods business clearly do not know MTR Foods. The Bangalore-based firm, an offshoot of that hallowed eatery Mavalli Tiffin Rooms, makes and sells some 240 different ready-to-eat foods, mixes and spices. Each stock-keeping unit (SKU), in turn, requires the use of 15-odd ingredients in varying quantities, with additional constraints regarding quality thrown in. For instance, the cumin powder used in channa masala (a traditional north Indian preparation involving a type of lentil) powder has to have a certain level of moisture-too little moisture, explain the company's in-house experts, will make the powder too dry and too much will kill the taste. A small company can afford to get away with hand measures and the consequent variation in taste across batches; not MTR Foods, a Rs 123-crore company in which JP Morgan partners, the private equity arm of JP Morgan Chase, has a 28 per cent stake, and is headed by J. Suresh, who once ran Hindustan Lever Limited's beverages business. The company's response has been to implement an enterprise resource planning package from sap, and leverage this to monitor both production and sales. "Technology helps us solve complexity," says Suresh. "We operate in a wide range of categories and technology helps us keep track of all our products." The man is also counting on technology to help the company's overseas prospects. Although 80 per cent of MTR Foods' revenues comes from the domestic market, it has slowly increased its presence in the US and the UK. "There are over 1.8 million Indians in the us and many of them want to eat home food," says Suresh. Crunching order and delivery times is one thing; creating an online-interface for customers to check on the status of their orders is another. And to think it all began with a restaurant.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Karthikeyan to make F1 history

on Reuters UK

"Today, I can see my dream of becoming India's first F1 driver become a reality. The last 48 hours have been very tough and very hectic. We've had good news in the end, so it has eventually been worth all that."

"The super licence is the most important thing right now. I've done well in other races but I still have to do about 300 kilometres ... over the next few weeks to get it. It won't be a problem though," he said.

"I've raced with drivers such as Jenson Button and (Takuma) Sato before, and I've beaten them on my day," he said. "They're doing pretty well in Formula One, so that gives me confidence that I too can compete."

India's second-largest business conglomerate, the Tata Group, and state-run refiner Bharat Petroleum Corp will initially have their logos on the car by virtue of being his sponsors, Karthikeyan said.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Future of search

on CNet

"Google led the way in clarity in advertising," said Mark Kroese, general manager of information services at Microsoft's MSN. "We weren't separating results (from ads) a year and a half ago, and since we've begun doing so, the response from both users and advertisers has been huge. Google proved that if you have clarity, people respond."

Most of the executives conceded that the technology to build personalized search tools already exists, and they said the fight to persuade people to share more personal information is what stands in the way of new products.

"(Personalization) isn't an area where the technology isn't ready, where there's a need for a lot of innovation," said Ask Jeeves' Lahiri. "The question is, are people willing to give up (more information) to get a better search engine back in return? Only time will tell."

Apple Tops Google as Top Brand

on TechTree

Apple returns to the top after two years for a title, which Google held since 2002.
In the Asia-Pacific, Sony was top with Samsung and LG Electronics following.

It said, "On our screens, its minimalist design betrays its maximal capacity. But Google does more, including technology licensing and hardware, news aggregating and shopping (Froogle).

"Google lost little ground in being dumped as the search engine behind Yahoo early last year; it conducts more than 200 million searches a day and leads the world for search engine usage with 57 percent of the current market, followed by Yahoo at 21 percent and MSN at just 9 percent," said the report.

Microsoft's answer to Linux

on CNet

Despite the threat posed by open-source products, Microsoft server software sales have been growing at double-digit rates for several quarters. Meanwhile, revenue from its current cash cows--its Windows desktop and Office products--have been flat or growing in the single digits, analysts noted.

Indeed, a key challenge for Microsoft remains its ability to convince business customers that the total cost of using Windows server and development tools is cheaper than Linux and open-source middleware tools, after the costs of licenses, support and maintenance are figured in, DeMichillie said.

P&G buys Gillette

on Economist

P&G spends some $5.5 billion a year on advertising and boasts a particular expertise in marketing to women, while Gillette’s forte is in selling to men.

In concrete terms, P&G reckons that the merged group can cut its combined headcount by 6,000, some 4% of the total.

There are also suggestions that Gillette could be at the crest of its wave. P&G may believe that it can squeeze more value out of Gillette’s brands. On the other hand, the costs of product innovation are high for razors and there are suggestions that consumers may be getting fed up with having to pay ever-increasing sums for razors with ever more blades.

P&G’s rivals must consider their response. Analysts have long suggested that the sector is ripe for consolidation. With the acquisition of Gillette, P&G will usurp Unilever as the world’s leading consumer-goods manufacturer by both market capitalisation and revenue. And it will offer yet more intense competition if it cuts prices for products where it competes directly with Unilever.