Tuesday, June 21, 2005

From www.suchetadalal.com

This was sent to me by a friend and is obviously circulating on the Net. Read it with a sense of humour please!!


You have two cows. You go to Stanford. Then you come back to India and work your ass off. You get 33 million cows. You keep them all of them.


You have no cows. You go hitch-hiking to Bulgaria and get arrested. You come back to India and work your ass off. You get 36 million cows. But you give 35.9 million of them to your employees. You still sweep the floor at home.

Phaneesh Murthy-ism

You have two cows. You like running after other cows. Uh oh...


You have a zillion cows. You refuse to share them with your employees because you need them to subsidise your other businesses. Your employees are one really pissed off bunch.

Hindustan Lever-ism

You have lots of cows. You sell all of them and keep just 30 cows, on whom you will focus your attention. Oh shit, your farm is still in the doldrums


You have two cows. You sell the milk at rock-bottom prices, forcing your competitors to panic and re-look at their whole way of doing business. You make really irritating jingles


You have no cows so you go to Aden to milk other people’s cows. You come back to India and start a small egg business. Then you integrate furiously: chickens, ducks, goats, sheep, cattle, cattle-feed, cattle-feed machinery, etc etc etc. You end up with one humongous farm. You die. Your daughters-in-law hate each other. So what happens to the farm now?


You have lots of cows. They are big and lazy and slow-moving, but at least they’re clean


Your grandfather had lots of cows, but he had a really lousy reputation. Your father and you clean up that reputation. And now you have even more cows than before. Well done!


You have two cows. You work your ass off and build a great farm with lots of cattle and lots of dairy products. Your employer thinks you’re too big for your boots and sacks you. Don’t worry, at least you’ve got a few cows from the deals you’ve made on the side


You have lots and lots of cows. Everybody wonders who the actual owner is.


You have a million cows. You and your family squabble over them. You lose them. You now have two cows.


You have two cows. Hey, who cares about milking them?! All you want is to win lots of awards, along with your brothers and nephews and uncles and ….

Vinay Isloorkar adds these:


There are no cows here. All bull. And at the end of the day bullshit for the investor.


You have two cows. You take them to the market and free them there. In the ensuing chaos, you run away with all the goodies when you can. Because after all we must believe in free markets. Where else can you get such stuff for free?


You have a tabela full of cows. The navratnas included. You fatten them and take them to the bazaar. You sell them in the morning more for the fat than the cow. In the heat of the market, at the end of the day, the cows look thin and pale. All the fat's melted away.The buyer wants to get rid of them in a hurry. You buy them back at the going rate.At godhuli time,you have your cows and the fat too. The trick is not to let the glee show at any point of time.


You have two cows. You make them graze on either side of the fence.You convince both the cows that the grass is greener on the other side.You yourself sit on the fence.

...additions to the list are welcome.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Steve Jobs Commencement Speech

'You've got to find what you love,' Jobs says

This is the text of the Commencement address by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, delivered on June 12, 2005.

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky – I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation - the Macintosh - a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me – I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I retuned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


hey people,

sorry i've fallen behind in updating my blog. going through a rough patch. mentally exhausted. been working hard non-stop and its been physically exhausting at times. calling prospects, rushing from meeting to meeting. irritated by people's behaviour and stupidity. chasing stupid deals, prospects taking too long to accept obvious sounding deals, clients just being morons, sales guys overcommitting, fraudsters along the way(this is an interesting story for the future). am just exhausted. going to sleep at 10p.m. hopefully this phase will pass.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The benefits of staying power

While i have never believed in the averaging in the public markets, having seen the investors in myzus my first start-up practice the same in private equity has given me a new founded respect and admiration for their ability to take big risks while at the same time thinking long term. When every VC was trying to shut down their investments and redirect capital at the height of the dotcom crash, these guys rationalized their portfolios, hiked their stakes in companies to make them more meaningful and transitioned the teams from the more mercurial founder led companies to manager driven professional companies. Most admirably, they stuck with every company they invested in, not adding much value but providing enough capital to fuel the managers who once they realised that this was a strong partner not going to back out, fueled their energy into doing something with the company. Over time, I'm sure they will make money on every investment, nothing spectacular but a good exercise in preservation and growth of capital in an environment where returns are pathetic and even investing in the public markets carry considerable risk. I would say what I appreciate about their approach is that they take risks they can afford and stick by the entrepreneur in good and bad times realizing that the biggest value that a VC provides is Capital. I wish them all the best and am privileged to have seen the inner workings of such a firm at such close quarters. I'm sure the rest of the team at myzus too has benefitted similarly by working in close proximity with their other portfolio companies.

If not debt, then equity?

Given that my last post discourages entrepreneurs from raising debt apart from a few specific cases namely:- 1. Very high ROCE low risk bus...