Crowdfunding – Paving way for entrepreneurs !

Crowdfunding as the name stands is a mechanism to fund your project / product from the crowd. The crowd can be your friends , family or people who are interested in your project. Crowdfunding has gained momentum in the past few months and in each US President has signed the JOBS Act (Jumpstart our Business Startups) to officially consider Crowdfunding as a legal way of raising money for your start-ups.

Prior to the bill being passed in the senate. there were no legal means of raising money for your startup in the form of Crowdfunding. The founders always need to approach the angel investors for the funds to start the basic operations of their startups.   The first question from *most* of the angel investor is to demo a prototype of the product to be demonstrated. At this stage,  most of the startups would just have a business idea in mind and would not have a prototype available. This resulted in funding issues for the startups and most of the entrepreneurs with the business idea were not able to implement the idea.

To energize these entrepreneurs and to encourage the culture of entrepreneurship, Crowdfunding would be the best way to kick start your startup from just having a business idea to have a prototype model of your idea. Once the prototype is available. the entrepreneurs can approach the angel investors / venture capitalists for funding the implementation of the product.

The investors who provide the money for building the prototype / product can get their returns in the following ways

– Equity in the company

– Percentage of the revenue / profit for a fixed duration of time.

– For very small investors, a copy of the product to be available for free when they are available.

The amount of money an investor can invest through Crowdfunding is limited to 5% of their annual income if the income is less than 100k $ and 10% if the income level is greater than 100k$. This is to protect the money of the inexperienced shareholders. A total of 1M $ can be raised through Crowdfunding per year. These companies need not report their financial data if they have less than 1000 investors (which was earlier set to 500 investors)

There are a whole bunch of websites offering a platform for launching the crowdfunding for your product – a few familiar ones are Kickstarter.com and Indiegogo.com

The obvious disadvantages would be where the Crowdfunded money is not being utilized for the product prototype / model building, but being looted. There is a 90 day time available for the US government to identify the loopholes with the Crowdfunding and finding ways to fix them.

These Crowdfunding websites / Crowdfunded companies has to make sure that the progress of the project has to be provided to all the investors Рsmall or big.  In short, the modified JOBS acts certainly looks to be a way in boosting some of the struggling startups wanting to raise money.

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Content Delivery Network, Transparent Internet Caching – Concerns ?

Earlier this week. I blogged on CDN, TIC (transparent internet caching) and how it works. Today I got a chance to attend a workshop on CDN and got to learn a little more details on CDN. ¬†From now on in the rest of the post, I will refer to companies like Akamai who cache the data from content providers as “TIC providers”.

Few points to be noted in addition to what I have already mentioned earlier (The below comment is based on my understanding about CDN  from quick workshop today. Please feel free to correct me by leaving a comment)

– The ¬†TIC Providers aka- companies like Akamai who manage data center throughout the world do not need to have an agreement with the content provider for caching the static content from the providers. Wow ! That’s a big plus for all these content providers like Youtube, Hulu which will be benefited by the caching being done by companies like Akamai without even being paid a penny.

– The content providers if needed can have an agreement to place their own servers in the data center of the TIC providers. The content providers ¬†can negotiate with the TIC and / or service providers to provide preference for the content from the content provider than with the rest of the traffic. They can specify the quality of service parameters as a part of their agreement. But wouldn’t this violate the whole concept of ¬†Net-neutrality where equal preference should be given to traffic for every content provider? This still seems to be an open ended question for the CDN implemention.

– Assume a case where the content provider does not have its own servers in the data center of the “TIC prvovider”. In this case, if a user tries to access a content , the content will be delivered by the cached content from the TIC data center. ¬†ie.. for example – if we try to access a content from say Google, we might end up with being the content delivered from a non-Google server. Should we start talking about security issues here (or) may be not since the data integrity is supposed to be taken care by the “TIC provider”.

– There is a new standard being developed called CDNi (CDN Interconnect) which is a standard whereby different content providers can interact through standard means for delivering the content.

Project Glass : A product or a service platform?

Google today officially announced the testing of its “Augmented reality”¬†Project Glass¬†in their Google+ Page.

Here is official video from Google !

A pretty cool stuff from the brightest minds at Google. Lots of thinking have been instrumental in bringing the project to reality. Its sure a project from Google (which has been struggling to compete with Facebook and Apple) which carries a big “Wow” factor.¬†Having said that, the question that needs to answered is

–¬†¬†Can “Project Glass” be called a “Product Glass”?

– How would the “Project Glass” stand from a practical standpoint?

– Should Apple now consider that it has a competition to its fine manufacturing skills?

– Should Facebook seriously start thinking that “Project Glass” would seriously books Google’s social presence?

Here is my brief opinion to the above questions:

This seems to be yet another “attempt” of creating a product by merging all the existing Google services. Excellent! The success and failure of the “Project Glass” would largely be dependent on the convenience of the user. As a user, It would not be that comfortable in having some data (text/image/video) blocking your vision, which means you would most probably be using this when you are not in a busy zone. ¬†I could not think of an use-case (apart from arguing that you need not take out your phone from your pocket) where it can provide any extra functionality that cannot be provided by your mobile phone. Do you?

For the “Wow” factor – If i am to choose an option(s) for which I would most probably use the “Glass”, it would be for “taking picture” and for “maps” probably.¬†Also note that you would still require your mobile phone for doing all this crazy stuff with your “Glass”. I would be better off using my mobile phone to do the rest of the stuff advertised in the video. ¬†Well, the other stuffs are pretty cool as well.

Should Apple start thinking Google as a competitor in Hardware? Probably not. Apple is still the leader in this space, unless Google hits back hard with the “to-be-born¬†products” lined up as a part of its Motorola acquisition.

Should Facebook consider Google as a competitor in the social media space? That’s a clear “No” atleast for now. Although Larry¬†claims¬†that Google plus is a long term bet (which surely is “yes”) and that the growth momentum is pretty good than expected.

The above comment about Google might make you think that I am an “anti-Google” guy, which of course is not the case.

Google luck to Google for getting “Project Glass” to reality !!!

Google – The Damn Data Miner !!!

Google has recently emerged as a company with strong integration to all its portfolio of products. While this is a good thing to happen for folks who consider Google as the equivalence of the “Web”, there has been lot of controversies in the way Google is trying to integrate its products especially from the security perspective.

Google launched its Google latitude platform in early 2009 and I was a user of Google latitude for few months whereby I shared my location and invited some of my close buddies to share their location. It was kind of cool those days.  With the updates for Google Latitude coming in, the app got bulky and ate lots of CPU cycles. I have disabled the location sharing and stopped using the app since then. Recently I logged into my Google Latitude dashboard and was really *surprised* to see the amount of data mining that Google has done with the data it has collected for few months while I was using the app.

Here is the snapshot of my dashboard. Damn!

There could be many reasons as to why Google would try to read the user behavior by mining the data from user activities across Google products. The most obvious reasons is to provide location based services – through its Google search, places ans other tons of Google services to push its ad based revenues. ¬†Having said that, I am afraid to believe Google’s own philosophy “Don’t be evil“. Whatever we are seeing about the data being captured from user behavior is the most obvious ones. Are we assured that there are no user data been captured through the Android / Chrome OS in the background? Anyone even mind to read the T&C before installation??

On March 28, Google launched¬†Google Activities which is going to be a more integrated dashboard for your behavior on the Google platform across Google products. It would definitely be pretty interesting to review your own activities ūüôā as long as Google does not interpret in any wrong way.

A-GPS is still not accurate in some parts of the World. The data that Google has captured and stored in its dashboard might end up providing you some nonsense location based search results which you would never like to see in your search results (or even in the ad section). Obviously Google cannot be blamed for this, as that data fed to through A-GPS is invalid.  This is what happened to me when i was reviewing the my Latitude dashboard. Luckily, there is an option available to prevent Google to read your behavior.

So your user own judgement to decide if Google should be your master or not!

April 1st – Are the “fooled jokes” a “necessary evil”?

Happy April 1st everyone ūüôā !

There has been tremendous number jokes all over the internet on April 1st from the world of technology. With the increasingly heated competition in the technology landscape, has there been an instance where any such jokes turn into a real breakthrough / innovation to the same or another company? Share your thoughts!

Having said that, just imagine the state when all the Guardian’s and WSJ‘s of the world start sending some pranks on April 1st. A day of confused information flow all around the world? I know that the media world are being bonded by the laws on providing the¬†authentic/genuine¬†information.

Here is a news from Techcrunch about a prank of the Google‘s next (hopeful) successor for the top job. In my¬†opinion, all these blogs (which people keep tab on every second to get the latest developments) should have a sense of responsibility and ensure that they don’t try to defame anyone in the name of silly April jokes. We never know, these big guys are crazy enough to do such things.

Google news which feeds us with some of the hottest news around the world, has obviously picked up another prank¬†about Mitt Rooney (presidential candidate for 2012 from Republican party) in the top of its feed as reported by Masahble. Incidently or unfortunately, the top feed which published the prank is none other than the most respected journal “Forbes”. Can these companies be sued for spreading such false information? Why not ??

Messages like¬†this¬†from¬†Mashable, are really going to be taken seriously (unless you googled about Conan or knew he is a television host ūüôā ūüôā ) by the world. It’s good that the content of the news (and the video) sounds really really funny (enjoyed it to the core) and hence people would quickly realize that this is a prank and not real. If the content of the news was written on a little serious note (and the video was cut out the post), poor guy¬†Pete Cashmore¬†would even get more “thumbs down” from the¬†Time 100 list¬†ūüôā ūüôā

Having said that, I really loved some of the other jokes from Google ūüôā . It doesn’t harm anyone. The worst it can do is to make people think of the jokes and bring out some new cool stuff !

Content Delivery Network – Primer

Content Delivery Network or Content Distribution Network is a group of network servers located in the data centers around the world aiding in the faster retrieval of ¬†contents to the internet users. ¬†These distributed servers cache the static information for a content providers. CDN’s help to retrieve the static contents upon user request from a geographically closer CDN server using an algorithm, thus enabling a quicker response for the users request. Without CDN, these requests would be delayed especially if the client and the content provider are far apart. The dynamic content would still be available in the content providers network. The static contents that are being provided have some sort of versioning in the contents. If the appropriate version of the static content is not present in the CDN servers, then a cache miss occurs. Whenever there is a cache miss, the CDN servers request for the static data from the content provider server and cache the data in their local servers. By this way. any request for accessing the static content can be full-filled by the CDN servers.

CDN’s either use their own data centers or use the data centers from ISP. The content providers pay the CDN provider for ensuring the reliability and¬†efficient¬†access to the contents. The CDN providers inturn pay to the ISP for hosting the servers in the data centers if they use the ISP data centers. ¬†These geographically located CDN servers are called surrogate servers.

Akamai is one of the most popular and early entrant in the CDN world. ¬†In the CDN world, the servers being managed by the CDN are called surrogate servers. These surrogate servers are interconnected to each other. They also form a¬†hierarchical patters – parent <-> child surrogate servers. These surrogate servers in the network are typically connected by¬†¬†a “CDN pairing gateway” which interconnects two or more CDN which are¬†separately¬†administered.

These CDN’s also interact with the accounting system of the content provider so that the contents are provided to the users based on the subscription validity of the clients.

The core and access routers in the network are powered to pull the data from the appropriate surrogate servers (or these routers act as surrogate CDN servers caching the information?) thereby enhance the speed of retrieval of data.  The standards for the CDN network are not clearly defined as of now and would certainly empowered the next generation of the internet boom (esp for video services).

Flipcart’s Flyte – Dancing to Indian e-tunes !

Earlier this month, Flipcart has announced the acquisition of Letsbuy to enrich its portfolio of e-Commerce offerings. Here is yet another news(talks/rumors?) from Flipcart about its plan to integrate music service to the Flipcart website. The music service is being launched under the brand Flyte. Flyte would be a service which is 320 Kbps DRM free (pretty good) and device agnostic.

The music service is being powered by Mime360 which Flipkart acquired November last year. Mime360 was a Mumbai based Digital Media Distribution company. The digital media catalogue is being provided by Chakpak, a Bangalore based startup providing Bollywood media content. This is yet another attempt to grow stronger than Amazon which is slowly entering into the Indian market.

The key factor for the success of Flyte is a “Competitive pricing” of the tracks to reduce piracy. This is a very critical factor for the success of the service in Indian market which is ¬†being dominated by internet piracy.

Here is a Flipkart screenshot (available for a short duration in Flipkart website) revealing the introduction of the music service as reported in Woikr.

Also there are talks that Flipkart is gearing up for the ePub service.

I was really hoping that Google Music would enter into the Indian market, but i guess it is now too late for them and it might be a tough fight against the “to-be-homegrown” Flyte.

Stay tuned for the official news from Flipkart.