Saturday, October 20, 2007

Is Alibaba Worth More Than Google?, China’s largest e-commerce company, on Monday launched what is set to be one of the world’s most expensive initial public offerings, seeking to raise up to 11.6 billion Hong Kong dollars ($1.49 billion) through a share sale priced at a much higher valuation than investors paid for Google when it came public.

Click here to read the entire Forbes story.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Indian drug market to reach $20B

The Indian drug market is expected to triple in size by 2015, to $20 billion in annual sales, according to a report released Wednesday by international consulting firm McKinsey & Co.

The report said India will undergo a "significant transformation" to become one of the top 10 pharmaceutical markets in the next decade.

The country's fast-growing economy, with an enviable GDP growth of 8 percent, is expected to be a key factor in driving the pharma market. The report said that 40 percent of the projected growth can be attributed to the doubling of disposable incomes and the expansion of the Indian middle class.

In addition, improvements in medical infrastructure - like rural hospitals and clinics - would contribute to 20 percent of the projected growth, while the strengthening of health insurance within the country would contribute to 15 percent of the growth, the report said.

India is already home to of the world's most prominent makers of generic drugs - Dr. Reddy's Laboratories and Ranbaxy Laboratories which compete with U.S. based makers of name-brand drugs like Merck & Co., Inc. and Pfizer Inc.

But to fuel more growth in the Indian pharma market, the national government should lend a helping hand.

Monday, August 6, 2007


You have heard about BPO (business process outsourcing) & KPO (knowledge process outsourcing), but it's time now to add a new word to your vocabulary: PPO.

Coined by Alok Aggarwal, chairman of Evalueserve Inc, PPO means person-to-person outsourcing. The US-based Aggarwal, who is the co-founder of the global research and analytics services firm, says offshoring is now beginning to go mainstream and is touching the upper class and working class alike.

If you thought the PPO market is too small and hence insignificant, Aggarwal has an answer. Individual contracts are often of low value - between $100 and $5,000 - but since the number of end consumers and small businesses is enormous, the total addressable market in the US alone easily exceeds $20 billion.

Evalueserve's research and analysis shows that between April 2006 and March 2007, the revenue from this sector was more than $250 million and it is likely to grow to over $2 billion by 2015 - a cumulative annual growth rate of around 26 per cent. The growth rate, Aggarwal says, is likely to be much more in the future as many of these PPO offshoring trends are at the beginning of their lifecycles.

According to Evalueserve, PPO services follow two business models: the direct interaction model where the individual client signs a contract directly with a vendor in a low-wage country, whose employees (tutors, admin etc) work on a full-time or a part-time basis, or as sub-contractors.

The second is the online marketplace model where the vendors providing PPO services enrol in an online marketplace by paying a monthly subscription fee plus a fixed percentage of the revenue if they win the project through this marketplace. So, when an individual client posts requirements for a new project to be conducted on the online marketplace, the marketplace communicates these opportunities to the selected vendors and freelancers and requests proposals to be delivered to the client.

The client then awards the work to the appropriate vendor depending on price (which may be on a per hour or a fixed cost basis), delivery time and a quality score provided by other clients who have been served by this vendor.

Evalueserve's research estimates that there are currently more than 90 online marketplaces on the World Wide Web and projects that they have involve over 500,000 vendors and freelance professionals who are providing these services from low-wage countries.

Click here to read the entire story

Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world

The son of a Mexico City shopkeeper has built a staggering $59 billion fortune. Fortune's Stephanie Mehta tells the inside story of how he made it to the top.

Click here to read the story

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The craft of effective management

It is over 25 years since I graduated from B-school and many things may have changed since then. At the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, I learned how to use the tools, not how to be a craftsman.

However, like any other craft, management is best learnt at the feet of several master craftsmen. Over the years, I have distilled three basic abilities required to build a business or even lead any aspect of a business - the ability to envision, to strategise, and to execute.

The ability to envision: Vision is at the center of any creation. Being able to envision the end state of a business or initiative is the key to making it happen. When groups of people are involved, explaining and enrolling people to a common vision help in converting groups into teams.

The ability to strategise: If vision comes from the heart, strategy is a product of the mind. It involves finding alternative routes to make things happen and selecting the optimal route. It is about making the best use of available resources and coming up with a game plan to deploy these resources to achieve victory.

The ability to execute: Execution is at the physical level. It is about ensuring that teams understand the plans, the processes and their roles, and have the necessary training and equipment to perform their roles effectively. It is also about ensuring progress is tracked, mid-course corrections are made and there is good communication flow across the entire chain.

While at a craft level, the master painter or the music virtuoso are able to bring all these abilities to bear in his creation, I have found that in mid-sized and large organizations, no individual has all these three qualities to the required degree. To ensure that the organization grows over the long run, people with these different abilities must learn to collaborate and synergise.

For those aspiring to be super-managers, the journey is exciting and rewarding. The purpose of management is to lead and organize people to achieve results that they would not have been able to achieve as individuals, leading to prosperity for the whole team. What could be more fulfilling?

Sudhakar Ram graduated from IIM-Calcutta in 1982

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Joseph B. Martin's Guide for Listening and Leading

Joseph Martin culminated his decade as dean of the Faculty of Medicine with a Class Day address titled “Leading by Listening.” After commenting on the visceral importance of stories in patient care, he described six qualities of leadership at the heart of doctor–patient interaction.

“Your ability to communicate—listening and telling—will determine in large measure your gift for healing,” he said.

Though offered to the new physicians and dentists as a framework for future practice, Martin’s points also appeared to illuminate his own guiding principles as leader of HMS.

The first of the qualities, which he referred to as quotients, or Qs, was IQ. Martin said, “IQ implies ability to innovate, to think outside the box, and to construct new and novel scenarios.”

Yet intelligence alone is not sufficient for effective leadership. “Individual brilliance may result in earth-shaking concepts, discoveries, and Nobel prizes, but of leaders we expect even more.”

The next Q was EQ, Emotional Quotient. Put simply, Martin said, this is “the ability to listen and to discern beneath the surface what the other person is really saying.”

Elaborating, he said, “EQ includes sufficient temerity and curiosity to want to understand another’s perspective. It includes wanting to learn from another in order to ‘put right’ one’s own views and impressions. EQ is learning to lead by listening and observing.”

But such gravitas occasionally needs a break, and this is where HQ, or Humor Quotient, comes in. “It encompasses the ability to use self-deprecation to accomplish an end, to exude a sense of lightness of being and charisma, of good cheer and hope. It is the ability to detoxify a situation by humor or self-effacement, to know how to relax the tension with a comment, a story, or a well-told joke. It is the ability to bounce back after an untoward event.”

Following naturally from humor was number 4, the CQ—Contentment Quotient. “This is the ability to view things for the best possible outcome—it’s the glass half full, not half empty—optimism, not pessimism. It is to feel good about oneself and the role one plays. It balances good will and good cheer with an appropriate balance of anxiety to set things on course and to toe the line toward an end.”

Martin’s number 5 was GQ—Generosity Quotient. “In many ways a singularity of leadership success is epitomized in the term ‘vicarious living.’ Simply put, it is the joy and satisfaction that comes from watching the success of others.

“In an organizational setting or an effective office practice, it implies freely giving credit where credit is due, recognizing that ‘there is no end to what can be accomplished if one does not care who gets the credit.’

“There is another aspect of the Generosity Quotient, the ability to forgive and forget,” he said.

Finally, number 6 was WQ—or Wisdom Quotient. “This is the ability to sum things up, to look at a set of circumstances and know when to act, to know when the vectors are aligned to take the next step toward the end game.”

He continued, “It includes the ability to understand and know when to apply Machiavellian principles to reach a good end for the circumstances. But WQ also applies the principles of fairness, of reaching the decision that is the best for the most, characterized by equity and equality when possible. Wisdom is sound judgment, a great skill in clinical medicine.”
Martin concluded, “Each of the areas I have emphasized: intelligence, emotional connectivity, good humor, happiness, generosity, and sound judgment can be enhanced by good listening.

“I’m not implying that these traits or attributes are necessarily quantifiable as quotients. But I do hope they’ll form a framework or set of guideposts as you carry on with the great journey of life.”

The complete text of Dean Joseph Martin’s talk is available on the web.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

How many credit cards do people carry ?

Found this interesting article on myFICO about credit cards.

By analyzing a representative national sample of millions of consumer credit profiles, Fair Isaac was able to survey the panorama of credit activity across the U.S. The following statistics reflect the average use of credit by today's consumers.

Number of Credit Obligations
On average, today's consumer has a total of 13 credit obligations on record at a credit bureau. These include credit cards (such as department store charge cards, gas cards, or bank cards) and installment loans (auto loans, mortgage loans, student loans, etc.). Not included are savings and checking accounts (typically not reported to a credit bureau). Of these 13 credit obligations, 9 are likely to be credit cards and 4 are likely to be installment loans.

Past Payment Performance
On average, today's consumers are paying their bills on time. Less than half of all consumers have ever been reported as 30 or more days late on a payment. Only 3 out of 10 have ever been 60 or more days overdue on any credit obligation. 77% of all consumers have never had a loan or account that was 90+ days overdue, and less than 20% have ever had a loan or account closed by the lender due to default.

Credit Utilization

About 40% of credit card holders carry a balance of less than $1,000. About 15% are far less conservative in their use of credit cards and have total card balances in excess of $10,000. When we look at the total of all credit obligations combined (except mortgage loans), 48% of consumers carry less than $5,000 of debt. This includes all credit cards, lines of credit, and loans-everything but mortgages. Nearly 37% carry more than $10,000 of non-mortgage-related debt as reported to the credit bureaus.

Total Available Credit

The typical consumer has access to approximately $19,000 on all credit cards combined. More than half of all people with credit cards are using less than 30% of their total credit card limit. Just over 1 in 7 are using 80% or more of their credit card limit.

Length of Credit History

The average consumer's oldest obligation is 14 years old, indicating that he or she has been managing credit for some time. In fact, we found that 1 out of 4 consumers had credit histories of 20 years or longer. Only 1 in 20 consumers had credit histories shorter than 2 years.


When someone applies for a loan or a new credit card account - in short, any time one applies for credit and a lender requests a copy of the credit report - this request is noted as an “inquiry” in the applicant's credit file. The average consumer has had only one inquiry on his or her accounts within the past year. Fewer than 6% had four or more inquiries resulting from a search for new credit.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Evaluate & re-evaluate

If you have a BofA account you can use their porfolio to track credit cards, bonuses, checking, savings, mutual funds, stocks etc.
I like Google Finance for its simplicity.

There are a couple of other websites which I have heard of you might want to try.
MorningStar, Yodlee, etc.

I personally use Google and BofA in conjunction.

Bottom line, you should always keep a track of your assets relative to the amount you actually put in out of your pocket.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Electric Orange

I am personally a loyal customer and a strong advocate of ING Direct and hence when I
came across this today and thought of posting it here as well. The account seems to be a mix between the ING savings account and the regular checking account. Sounds good to me ! Click here to go to ING Direct.

Here is the low down on the same:

America's first all–electronic, paperless checking account is going to change the way you do your banking. Earn a great rate and get great features like online Free Bill Pay, easy access to cash, an Electric Orange MasterCard® debit card and more – Electric Orange provides the access and convenience of checking with the earning power of savings.

Make money while managing your money.
With Electric Orange, you'll earn high interest on all balances.

Electric Orange BalanceInterest RateAPYEffective Date
$100,000.00 or more5.18%5.30%11/29/2006

For example, if your balance is $55,000, you earn a great 5.05% APY on the entire balance.

MasterCard® Debit Card convenience.
With your Electric Orange MasterCard® Debit Card you can make secure purchases anywhere MasterCard® is accepted – sign the receipt or enter your Card PIN and go.

Free ATM access at more than 32,000 ATMs nationwide.
Make free cash withdrawals at ATM locations in all 50 states through the Allpoint™ Network – America's largest Surcharge–Free ATM Network.

Send money securely for free with Electric Checks.
With Electric Orange, you can send money to an individual's bank account with Electric Checks for free. Simply enter the person's information, the details of the payment, and an email will be sent to the recipient. The person can click on the link within the email to go to a secure page to enter their account information and the money is transferred!

Automatic protection with your Overdraft Line of Credit.
Say goodbye to excessive NSF fees charged by other banks. When you open your Electric Orange, you'll automatically get an Overdraft Line of Credit that's connected right to your Electric Orange and is accessed anytime your balance goes below $0.00. There's no fee to use the line of credit – you'll just pay a competitive interest rate on the money you need to borrow.

Safe, Secure and Smart.
You can rest easy knowing the money in your Electric Orange is FDIC-insured . It's also protected by our unique and innovative PIN Guard PIN entry process. Plus, you can set up secure Email Notifications to tell you if a card transaction is over a certain amount, or if your balance drops below a certain level.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Investment ideas for 2007

Fortune's list of 10 stocks to buy for 2007

(AIG) American International Group

(MO) Altria

(MSFT) Microsoft Corporation

(COP) ConocoPhillips

(GD) General Dynamics

(DO) Diamond Offshore

(JOYG) Joy Global

(JPM) J.P. Morgan Chase

(RSH) Radioshack

(LUV) Southwest Airlines

Click here to read the complete story.


Sunday, January 21, 2007


Excerpt from CNN Money (

Trading terms:

When trying to place a buy or sell order, you'll be faced with all sorts of questions: Market or limit order? "Day only" or "Good 'till cancelled." Here's the vocabulary you need to know to place a trade.

If you place a market order with your broker, then you are saying that you're willing to buy at whatever happens to be the prevailing price for the stock.

If you have a specific price in mind, you can set a limit order specifying the price you're willing to pay. If the stock dips down to that level, your order will be automatically filled.

Limit orders can be left open for a single day (a day order) or indefinitely (good until canceled).

After you've bought a stock, you can instruct your broker to sell it if the price drops to a level you specify (a stop loss order). That's a kind of insurance; it means that no matter what happens to a stock's price you'll never lose more than a specified amount.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Stock Market simply illustrated

Once upon a time in a village, a man appeared and announced to the villagers that he would buy monkeys for Rs 10. The villagers seeing that there were many monkeys around, went out to the forest and started catching them.

The man bought thousands at Rs 10 and as supply started to diminish, the villagers stopped their effort. He further announced that he would now buy at Rs 20. This renewed the efforts of the villagers and they started catching monkeys again. Soon the supply diminished even further and people started going back to their farms.

The offer rate increased to Rs 25 and the supply of monkeys became so little that it was an effort to even see a monkey let alone catch it.

The man now announced that he would buy monkeys at Rs 50! However, since he had to go to the city on some business, his assistant would now buy on behalf of him.

In the absence of the man, the assistant told the villagers. "Look at all these monkeys in the big cage that the man has collected. I will sell them to you at Rs 35 and when the man returns from the city, you can sell it to him for Rs 50."

The villagers squeezed up with all their savings to buy the monkeys.

Then they never saw the man nor his assistant, only monkeys everywhere !! !!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Psychology of Trading

Quite aptly said:

"If you don’t follow the stock market,you are missing some amazing drama."
~ Mark Cuban

A lot of my friends have been asking me about investing and planning to venture into the stock market. Finally, I decided (from some inspiration from another investor friend in India) to create and start writing on this blog about my beliefs, thoughts, revulsions, speculations and judicious views since my foray into investing. This blog is for all those people who desire to invest in the stock markets but do not know where to start from and for the ones who keep wondering " I have heard of Warren Buffett". Read on and probably you shall get to know him better :)

My sincere attempt in explaining and sharing the realms and fancies associated with investing. Buying stock in a company is relatively easy once you've researched the stocks you're interested in and have a broker or brokerage account to handle your purchase. I shall try to write more about the aspects relevant to investing, surviving and the strategies in this article. However, shall definitely create another post explaining the easy part of carrying out the transaction.

The Plunge
Probably, I should start with some advice from the Australian investor.
"When buying shares, ask yourself, would you buy the whole company?"
~ Rene Rivkin

I guess this is one of the most introspective guidance one should diligently follow when investing in stocks. I guess the first question which comes up is which stocks to buy ? Don't buy the stocks only because you like the products of the companies or because some friend told you inside news about their latest offering.

To start off, my personal and sincere advice: Read websites about market talk and the advice they have to offer, tune into CNBC (Mad about Money) and start grabbing info. through magazines like Business Week and others. Once you get into the mode of understanding the stock picking rants would you finally find yourself comfortable and inquisitive to research further more before you dive in. Also, companies make up the index and the index does not drive the company stocks so think about investing into individual companies than putting in all your money into the index. Have a balanced and diverse portfolio so that if one sector goes down it does not take you with it. You should look for companies with specific dogma and stories associated to it and not for the ones who are making money because the economy is getting better.

Long term investing

"Only buy something that you'd be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years."
~ Warren Buffett

Had you put $10,000 into Berkshire Hathaway when Buffett bought control of it in 1965, you'd have more than $50 million today, compared to the just under $500,000 you'd have if you'd invested in the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index. Again, remember companies make the index and not the vice versa.

You should not be concerned with the supply and demand intricacies of the stock market. (atleast I do not understand the complexity in the financial world) You don't have to monitor your stocks and portfolio everyday every minute. According to Warren Buffett: "In the short term the market is a popularity contest; in the long term it is a weighing machine."

Studying the Sage (Warren Buffett, an excerpt from an investing article about him by Investopedia

'He chooses stocks solely on the basis of their overall potential as a company - he looks at each as a whole. Holding these stocks as a long-term play, he seeks not capital gain but ownership in quality companies extremely capable of generating earnings. When Buffett invests in a company, he isn't concerned with whether the market will eventually recognize its worth; he is concerned with how well that company can make money as a business.'

Though that does not mean you simply put your money in some stock and completely forget about it for 10 years.

Lose some
"You get recessions, you have stock market declines. If you don't understand that's going to happen, then you're not ready, you won't do well in the markets."
~ Peter Lynch

Don't let optimism overwhelm you here. Sometimes the economy does go through a slump and believe me even we have to bear the brunt. Hence, you should (always) generally keep a stop loss. I generally keep a stop loss of 10%. For example, if I buy stock at the price of 100$ and if it continues to drop I sell it at 90$. Also, you should be able to sense the signs of mounting trouble associated with the particular stock. Watch out for the prognosticators,benefit and pull out accordingly. Safest way to invest would be to focus on companies that serve the middle class especially in maturing economies like India and China. You should pull the trigger if you see the following:

1. Poor fundamentals (earnings, revenues and cash flow)
2. Wall Street hype (look for the trends)
3. Falling return on capital ( gauge on how a company is using the shareholder's money)
4. Bearish bond analysts (follow their cues closely; when they raise concerns, heed them)

"When somebody buys a stock it's because they think it's going to go up and the person who sold it to them thinks it's going to go down. Somebody's wrong."
~ George Ross

History is not destined to repeat itself every time. (although it definitely repeats itself when price movement trends for equity are concerned) Hence, it is very important to have a goal and investment strategy for putting in your hard earned money. Perhaps, one of the most important thing is to be well informed about things happening around you. Look out for the oil prices, global trade, the merger mania, revenue growth of a company, housing recession, growth in jobs and incomes/wages, the annual budgets, monsoon, economic and strategic pacts, booming industry scenario, Fed cuts, inflation rates, labor markets, foreign exchange reserves, India & China, quarterly results, IPO's, global warming, emerging markets, forecasters, global outlook ,etc. And, believe you me, if you play your cards well there is always a lot of room for profit growth.


And finally some thoughts from the most prudent investor,

“In the business world, the rear view mirror is always clearer than the windshield.”
~ Warren Buffett

This is one of my personal favs too.

Always learn from your mistakes and continue to rectify and work on them. It is proven that you become wiser after the event however when it involves your own money you need to get it right the first time around. If you are more focussed into putting your money in international companies look out for the global economic growth and the GDP for the country as well. Try and take some time to understand the fundamentals of the company besides the regular technical analysis. Our goal is to maximize our profits and minimize (or eliminate) our losses. We should be careful and smart while putting in our money. Think big, curb your enthusiasm for recovery and backup your investment decisions with some scrutiny of the company's financial performance. Here, is a list of things what the greatest stock market investor analyzes and looks for:

1. Has the company consistently performed well?
2. Has the company avoided excess debt?
3. Are profit margins high? Are they increasing?
4. How long has the company been public?
5. Do the company's products rely on a commodity?
6. Is the stock selling at a 25% discount to its real value?

Hopefully, by now you should have the cognizance of how the markets work besides apprehending the art of investing.

I hope you start and continue to and finally go on to make a fortune with some astute investments. Feel free to mail me for any further questions, suggestions and comments.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Great Speech on Late Sitting in Office

Infosys' Chairman and Chief Mentor Officer (CMO) - Mr. Narayana Murthy's speech on late sitting

I am not relating this to the present scenario. I know people who work 2 hours a day, six days a week, or more. Some people do so because of a work emergency where the long hours are only temporary. Other people I know have put in these hours for years. I don't know if they are working all these hours, but I do know they are in the office this long. Others put in long office hours because they are addicted to the workplace. Whatever the reason for putting in overtime, working long hours over the long term is harmful to the person and to the organization.

There are things managers can do to change this for everyone's benefit. Being in the office long hours, over long periods of time, makes way for potential errors. My colleagues who are in the office long hours frequently make mistakes caused by fatigue. Correcting these mistakes requires their time as well as the time and energy of others. I have seen people work Tuesday through Friday to correct
mistakes made after 5 PM on Monday.

Another problem is that people who are in the office for long hours are not pleasant company. They often complain about other people (who aren't working as hard); they are irritable, or cranky, or even angry. Other people avoid them. Such behaviour poses problems, where work goes much better when people work together instead of avoiding one another. As Managers, there are things we can do to help people leave the office.

First and foremost is to set the example and go home ourselves. I work with a manager who chides people for working long hours. His words quickly lose their meaning when he sends these chiding group e-mails with a time-stamp of 2 AM, Sunday.

Second is to encourage people to put some balance in their lives. For instance, here is a guideline I find helpful:

1) Wake up, eat a good breakfast, and go to work.
2) Work hard and smart for eight or nine hours.
3) Go home.
4) Read the comics, watch a funny movie, dig in the dirt, play with your kids, etc.
5) Eat well and sleep well.

This is called recreating. Doing steps 1, 3, 4, and 5 enable step 2. Working regular hours and recreating daily are simple concepts. They are hard for some of us because that requires personal change. They are possible since we all have the power to choose to do them.

In considering the issue of overtime, I am reminded of my eldest son. When he was a toddler, If people were visiting the apartment, he would not fall asleep no matter how long the visit, and no matter what time of day it was ! He would fight off sleep until the visitors left.. It was as if he
was afraid that he would miss something. Once our visitors' left, he would go to sleep. By this time, however, he was over tired and would scream through half the night with nightmares. He, my wife, and I, all paid the price for his fear of missing out. Perhaps some people put in such long hours because they don't want to miss anything when they leave the office. The trouble with this is that
events will never stop happening. That is life! Things happen 24 hours a day.

Allowing for little rest is not ultimately practical. So, take a nap. Things will happen while you're asleep, but you will have the energy to catch up when you wake.

Hence "LOVE YOUR JOB BUT NEVER FALL IN LOVE WITH YOUR COMPANY (Because you never know when it stops loving you)" - Narayana Murthy

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What Next ?

An article from LA times.

Napster in 1999. MySpace in 2004. YouTube in 2006. Experts from the tech community look ahead to the innovations that will change how we work, play and communicate in 2007.

You'll be back in control

Steve Ballmer is the chief executive of Microsoft Corp.

RIGHT NOW, I AM as excited by the prospects for technology-driven change as I've ever been. The impact of the Internet, e-mail and mobile phones has been so dramatic that people tend to think the digital revolution has already happened. I think it's just getting started.

Many technologies have the potential to catch fire, including Internet television, mobile video devices and even robots. New business-intelligence technologies will make sophisticated data analysis tools easy enough for anyone to use. New "digital rights" technology, which gives copyright holders more control over the distribution and reproduction of their work, will continue to transform the entertainment industry.

But when we look back in 10 years, it probably won't be a specific device or company that stands out. Instead, 2007 will be the year that unified communications technology helped us regain control of our information and our lives. Ironically, the proliferation of new technologies up until now has made communications harder, not easier.

In 2007, I believe that phone numbers and e-mail addresses will begin to give way to a single identity, and the desktop phone will merge with the PC and mobile phone. Messages will be routed to you on a device that will be smart enough to know whether you can be interrupted based on what you are doing and who the message is from. Instead of being ruled by e-mail and cellphones, we'll have control over when and how we can be reached, and by whom.


Where virtual meets real life

Ned Sherman is chief executive and publisher of Digital Media Wire

THE TREND TO watch in 2007: Virtual worlds, one of the most populous of which is Second Life, a 3-D environment built and owned by its residents (currently about 2 million).

These digital playgrounds combine elements of social networking with aspects of a multiplayer online game. At Second Life's virtual marketplace, residents buy, sell and trade millions of dollars in digital goods. Even more fascinating from a business standpoint is that millions of dollars in real-world currency are being generated from the exchange of virtual dollars into hard cash.

A cottage industry is beginning to develop around virtual communities, with real-world businesses profiting from the sale of related goods and services. For instance, there's an e-commerce site that allows you to customize your "avatar" -- the persona you create for yourself on line -- and another company that puts together custom games for organizations that want to use Second Life for training and education.

Second Life may not grow to the scale of a MySpace or a YouTube, but it may be laying the groundwork for something that will.


Breakout acts

Rafat Ali is the editor of

IT MAY NOT BE a service that catches our attention this year, but people -- specifically, the talent that will break out in the social media sites. Jessica "lonelygirl15" Rose, who got famous playing a fictional teenager on YouTube, was just the first. We will see online and mobile shows possibly breaking into the mainstream, and talent from these digital realms will have a big effect on how mainstream shows get developed.


Video Napster

Kevin Werbach is an assistant professor of legal studies and business ethics at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the organizer of the Supernova technology conference (

I EXPECT THAT in the next year, at least one file-sharing -- or "peer-to-peer" -- television service will hit the exponential growth curve of Napster, Skype and MySpace. YouTube woke up users to the Internet as a video platform, but because even a small video file can take up several megabytes, a centralized website such as YouTube needs to limit clips to a few minutes.

P2P applications make every recipient of a file also a potential server, distributing the load throughout the network. This is the technique Napster and Kazaa used to upend the music business. By leveraging the distributed power of the network, P2P video allows you to download and watch much larger programs more quickly than you could at a centralized website.

There are several candidates lined up to be the YouTube of P2P video. BitTorrent has content partnerships with major media companies. The Venice Project is being developed by the team that created Kazaa and Skype. Or the winner might be one of the fast-growing P2P video companies already operating in China, such as Xunlei and PPLive.

Not enough attention is being paid to these services because of the perception that YouTube has already "won" the Internet video war. But central video hosting was just one battle. P2P video will become too big to ignore.


Gaming as communication

Chris Anderson is the editor in chief of Wired magazine

I'M WILLING TO bet that 2007 is the year that somebody figures out how to make video advertising work in a YouTube world. And if I'm right, the TV industry is going to get very rocky, very fast.

I doubt that the same disruptive force will hit movies, however. The big-screen home-theater boom created a market for high-def films, and that factor-of-10 increase in downloading time bought Hollywood another five years or so to figure things out.

I also think that this will be a big year for video gamers, and not just because of the delightful game-play innovations of the Wii and the power of the Xbox 360. (I can't wait for Halo 3.) Equally important is the fact that all of the current generation consoles now have built-in Internet connections. Their role as a bridge from the Net to the TV isn't just a big deal for gaming, it's also potentially a breakthrough moment for online video of all sorts.

We knew gaming competed with television for time, but now we're learning that mainstream acceptance of networked gaming may also create the greatest competitor for the broadcast distribution model itself.


Memory to go

Hank Barry, lawyer, was chief executive of Napster

KISS YOUR laptop goodbye. Virtualization technologies are making it possible for all of us to move beyond personal computers.

Google and Microsoft are fighting over where you keep your "state" -- your operating system, your applications and all your files. Google wants you to keep it on the Internet; Microsoft wants you to keep it on your laptop.

Virtualization technologies have been used for years to improve the usefulness of big servers. They allow a computer to move quickly and seamlessly among different operating systems with different "stacks" of applications.

Applied to personal computers, though, virtualization could radically expand the portability of all your computer work. A company called Moka5 has a program that keeps a snapshot copy of your state at all times. There is no reason why you could not carry that copy with you on different media -- on a USB memory stick, on a cellphone or even an iPod -- wherever there is some memory. Wherever you take it, your software, your files and your operating system will be available to use on any computer.

This splits the difference in the fight over where you store your work. You are no longer bound to a particular piece of hardware -- and you also don't have to risk storing your stuff with a server-side provider such as Google.

More and more, you are in charge.


All computing, all the time

John Brockman is publisher and editor of Edge (

WE WILL SEE migration of social applications as user-generated content moves to the WiFi environment. YouTube, MySpace and multi-user games will be available on hand-held devices, wherever you go. People will carry their digital assets much like their bacteria. Israeli tech guru Yossi Vardi calls it "continuous computing."

The nanotechnology world foreseen by K. Eric Drexler arrives in the form of MEMS, or microelectronic mechanical systems. Very inexpensive moving parts will be mass-produced like a semiconductor. But unlike semiconductors, they move. Useful for anything that employs moving parts.

Synthetic Biology pioneer George Church of Harvard University expects $3,000 personal genomics kits in stores.

"Pop Atheism" might include popular atheist TV and movie characters, professional athletes, political figures, etc. Look for the first billion-dollar IPO for the Web service that gets atheists together for "rituals," dating and political and business networking.

Rod Brooks, director of MIT's computer lab, is looking at new Web services aimed at the baby boomer age group, who realize that, in terms of IT use, they've been passed by, missing out on IM, text-messaging, MySpace, etc.

But don't put much stock in predictions. Consider that YouTube/MySpace/Napster didn't change the real world for most people very much. MySpace became TheirSpace and YouTube became TheirTube faster than you can say "2006."