February 8, 2014

The Mindful Revolution

I just returned from an exciting meditation and yoga retreat over the Christmas/New Year's holidays - one of my best and most impactful vacations ever. And here it is, the TIME magazine's cover story this week talks about The Mindful Revolution.

December 26, 2013

Bringing in 2014 with meditation and yoga

Continuing my personal pursuit to live more mindfully and incorporate meditation into my regular routine, I have decided to bring in 2014 in a more serene manner than usual. Instead of a regular New Year's bash in Manhattan, I will be spending the week in upstate New York at the beautiful Menla Center for this New Year's Yoga & Meditation retreat. Excited to be in the company of some of the top spiritual teachers in the world: Sharon Salzberg and Bob Thurman. We will not have Internet or mobile phone reception at this secluded Menla Center. Looking forward to disconnecting with the outside world and connecting with my inner world.

Happy 2014! 

December 6, 2013

RIP Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela, South Africa's leader who emerged after being in prison for 27 years to lead his country out of decades of apartheid, died yesterday. He was 95.

It's a great loss to humanity. He was one of my heroes. One of his biggest contributions to the world was his message of reconciliation, instead of vengeance. He was wrongfully imprisoned for 27 years by South Africa's minority white government. However, when he was freed and then got elected to lead the country, he urged forgiveness for the white government that oppressed blacks and caused them unimaginable suffering for decades. 

Here is the poem, Invictus, by William Ernest Henley. Mandela used this poem to derive strength and maintain hope during his long years of imprisonment on the Robben Island.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed. 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid. 

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul. 

November 3, 2013

Attending the Global Innovation Roundtable in New Delhi

I'm honored to be invited as an industry expert to attend the Global Innovation Roundtable in New Delhi, India on November 18-19, 2013. The Roundtable is organized by the National Innovation Council, Government of India. The Council is headed by Sam Pitroda, an internationally respected development thinker, policy maker, telecom inventor and entrepreneur.

The purpose of the Global Innovation Roundtable is to create a global platform for sharing experiences, best practices and enabling collaboration around the theme of inclusive innovation for addressing the challenges of access, equity, excellence and inclusion.

The invitation-only event includes heads of innovation policy from governments across the world and leading global innovation experts.

May 29, 2013

Internet Trends 2013 - Mary Meeker

A must read for everyone in the digital industry, and anyone interested in how the Internet is transforming our lives.

May 20, 2013

We are only 10 percent human

Over the past year, I've been doing a lot of reading to learn about the role of bacteria and microbes in our body. The more I read about them, more intrigued I become.  The recent article in The New York Times by Michael Pollan, America's "liberal foodie intellectual," literally blew my mind away.

Here is a para from the article titled "Some of My Best Friends are Germs:"
"It turns out that we are only 10 percent human: for every human cell that is intrinsic to our body, there are about 10 resident microbes — including commensals (generally harmless freeloaders) and mutualists (favor traders) and, in only a tiny number of cases, pathogens. To the extent that we are bearers of genetic information, more than 99 percent of it is microbial. And it appears increasingly likely that this “second genome,” as it is sometimes called, exerts an influence on our health as great and possibly even greater than the genes we inherit from our parents. But while your inherited genes are more or less fixed, it may be possible to reshape, even cultivate, your second genome."
I encourage you to read the full article. It is a bit long, but extremely informative.

September 12, 2012

An exciting new challenge

I recently joined Total Media Networks SA, a global leader in over-the-top (OTT) video entertainment, as its Chief Strategy Officer and EVP, Business Development & Content. Totalmovie.com, its consumer service that was launched in Latin America in July 2011, is the region’s first legal and second largest premium video streaming service behind Netflix.

My role will be to expand the service in high-growth international markets in Asia, Middle East & North Africa and Eastern Europe, in addition to helping further consolidate our footprint within Latin America. We'll be working with leading mobile carriers in these international markets to provide consumers a seamless, premium video streaming experience on-the-go as well as in their homes.

The venture is backed by Ricardo Salinas, Founder & Chairman of Grupo Salinas, which owns TV Azteca, the second largest media company in Latin America, among other businesses that together generate $6B in annual revenue across Latin America & U.S.

The global OTT video opportunity is huge. However, building a business across key high-growth international markets takes time. Key to success for a new player therefore is to have strategic partnerships which can provide investment and access to premium content during the initial build-up phase. We're therefore fortunate to have access to the resources of Grupo Salinas as we build and expand our global footprint. I couldn't be more excited to be part of this journey.

August 8, 2012

Mind Without Fear - a Poem by Tagore

In the wake of the recent hate-filled killings of six innocents belonging to the Sikh community in Wisconsin by a lone gunman tied to the growing white supremacist movement in America, below is a beautiful poem by the great Rabindranath Tagore which every American should read.

Mind Without Fear

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by Thee to ever-widening thought and action -
Into that heaven of freedom, my father, let my country awake.

By Rabindranath Tagore (1861 - 1941), Nobel prize for literature, 1913
From The Gitanjali, a collection of 103 poems by Tagore.

May 31, 2012

Internet Trends (Mary Meeker)

Mary Meeker's customary annual analysis on the state of the Internet industry is out. She presented it yesterday during The Wall Street Journal's D: All Things Digital conference in California.

One of the key takeaways for me was the mismatch between the mobile growth and mobile monetization compared to desktop, as more and more people go online and spend more of their online time on their smart phones. Facebook and Google are already facing this challenge.

But again, we're currently in the early stages of the mobile Internet revolution.

Below is the full report.

KPCB Internet Trends 2012

May 15, 2012

Left Mela (Verismo Networks)

This is to announce that I have left my position as the President, Entertainment Services, Verismo Networks/GM, Mela with immediate effect.

The main reason for my move is the dis-agreement on the right strategy and direction of Mela with the CEO of Verismo Networks. There were also a lot of Verismo legacy issues which made it very difficult to provide the right focus to Mela, which I launched as a new consumer business within Verismo in October 2011.

My excitement about solving the global distribution problem for premium South Asian entertainment content however remains intact. The Verismo experience in that regard was invaluable. Going in, we had more questions than answers. We were not very sure about the right business model, the right content mix, and the right platform strategy. The last one being more of a Verismo specific issue, given its legacy in the set top box business, than a market issue. We therefore iterated in the marketplace in order to get the product-market fix right, and learnt a lot.

This is what we achieved over the past one year.  We launched the service on three platforms (Mela dedicated set-top box, Roku and iPad) and quickly grew the service globally.  Today, consumers in more than 55 countries are enjoying Mela. In order to suit various customer needs, we offered multiple content packages (live TV, regional South Asian content, Bollywood movies - catalog vs new, regional South Asian movies, etc) and pricing (subscription with bundled all-in, stand-alone movies). Mela became the first major dedicated online Bollywood service to stream new movies in international markets simultaneous to their theatrical releases in India. This has huge potential -  less than 10% of new movies released in theaters in India get a theatrical release in international markets. Mela was also the first such service to stream Bollywood movies in high definition.

We however never got the chance to fully and properly execute at Verismo the strategy of the Digital Entertainment Corp of India (DECI), the company that I founded in this space and the pre-cursor to Mela. DECI, for example, was mainly a PC play. Mela was never launched on PC, the biggest online global distribution platform. The promised synergies which prompted me to launch Mela under the Verismo umbrella instead of DECI never materialized because those synergies never existed to begin with.

I'm now evaluating new options to capitalize on the highly exciting international OTT video opportunity. South Asia is arguably the most diverse content factory in the world. Bollywood is the world's biggest film industry in terms of the number of movies produced and box-office tickets sold annually. There is no consumer service today that fulfills the demand of global fans for this content in a convenient manner. If one gets the execution right with the right strategy, it presents an extremely attractive business opportunity.

Stay tuned!

March 16, 2012

Mela announces First Day First Show

Mela announced a major initiative today - First Day First Show (FDFS). Mela will start releasing on a regular basis new Bollywood movies worldwide simultaneous to their theatrical releases in India.

Bollywood fans are already enjoying the Mela service in more than 55 countries, a list that is growing on a daily basis. Under FDFS, studios and producers will be able to reach a global audience simultaneously. Fans will have the convenience of enjoying new movies in great quality without leaving their house, no matter where they're located worldwide. We're starting with new movies which normally do not get an international theatrical release. Today, pirated solutions are the only options for consumers outside of India to watch these movies when they get released in India. Not any more. Mela is committed to fixing this global distribution problem. We're fortunate to be able to work with a slate of pretty progressive content owners who share our vision.

Mela was labeled as the "Netflix for Bollywood" when we launched. With our FDFS initiative, Mela is further pushing the envelope and moving way beyond Netflix, which has been unable to secure new Hollywood movies until several months after their theatrical releases.

Our press release is below:


Mela Becomes the First-Ever Global Online Service to Release New Bollywood Movies Simultaneous to Their Theatrical Releases 

Chaurahen releases worldwide on Mela on March 16th simultaneous to its theatrical release in India

SANTA CLARA, Calif., March 16, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Mela, a global multi-platform consumer entertainment service with one of the largest aggregations of premium South Asian content, today announced the launch of First Day First Show, an initiative under which it will release new Bollywood movies in international markets simultaneous to their theatrical releases in India. Bollywood movie fans outside of India will now be able to enjoy new movies from the comfort of their living rooms no matter where they are located in the world.

Mela is the first-ever major Bollywood movie service in the world to launch such an initiative. Bollywood is the most prolific movie industry in the world, releasing more than three times as many movies per year as Hollywood, its more popular rival. Despite its global popularity, Hollywood has yet failed to simultaneously release new movies in every country in the world.

Mela is announcing the formal launch of its First Day First Show initiative with the simultaneous global release of the award-winning and multi-starring Bollywood film Chaurahen. The film will release globally on all Mela platforms - the Mela Bollywood movies channel on Roku, the Mela app on iPad and the Mela High Definition set top box on Friday, March 16. The film is being released the same day in theatres in India by its local distributor, Priya Village Roadshow (PVR).

Chaurahen (Crossroads), a film directed by Rajshree Ojha, who previously directed Aisha, in addition to two other popular specialty projects, boasts an impressive ensemble cast that includes Soha Ali Khan, Victor Banerjee, veteran Bollywood actress Zeenat Aman, and Kiera Chaplin, granddaughter of the silent film superstar Charlie Chaplin. The film is an adaptation of short stories by celebrated author Nirmal Verma. Ojha describes the three vignettes that comprise Chaurahen as "snippets of collected photographs, bringing together similar disconnected people trying to find their path." Originally completed in 2007, Chaurahen went on to screen at 11 international film festivals before securing theatrical distribution in India by PVR Cinema and global online distribution by Mela.

Chaurahen is not the first Bollywood movie to make its international distribution debut on Mela's global platform simultaneous to its theatrical release in India. Mela earlier released Puja Jatinder Bedi's Ghost and Sudish Kamath's Good Night Good Morning. The performance of these two smaller budget titles convinced Ojha of the effectiveness of Mela's global distribution platform.

"The quality of the Mela service, engagement of its audience, and the global reach of its platform will appeal to any content owner looking for a highly effective global distribution platform," expressed Ojha. After an arduous process to seek adequate distribution, she is optimistic that simultaneous worldwide release of the film through Mela will bring her already acclaimed film to an even broader global audience.

Sab Kanaujia, the General Manager of Mela, commented, "Mela is proud to become the first entertainment service to provide Bollywood producers and studios arguably the most effective global distribution platform. Now, quality content can reach its fans immediately, no matter where they are in the world. We are excited to acquire Chaurahen. While we are starting with mid- to small-budget movies under this initiative, we are confident that over time we will be able to acquire big-budget movies by demonstrating the value of our distribution platform."

Almost fifty percent of new Bollywood movies released in India every year do not get a simultaneous theatrical release in international markets due to various reasons. Limited number of available screens for releasing niche content and high traditional distribution and marketing cost are the main reasons why many Bollywood movies after releasing in India do not reach their global fans. As a result, rampant piracy has taken root in international markets to meet the growing demand of ardent fans who don't want to wait until official DVDs are released several weeks or months after a new movie's theatrical release in India. Additionally, cheap, pirated DVDs, available within days of a movie's theatrical release in India, have almost killed the home box office market because the price of official DVDs has remained very high comparatively.

Mela has been working with various producers and studios in India to ensure that a wide selection of films can leverage its global distribution platform and provide Mela subscribes a high-quality movie watching experience when the demand is the highest. Content owners will, for the first time, be able to distribute and monetize their content on a worldwide basis from day one. Fans will have a very compelling, legal alternative to enjoy new Bollywood movies in a high quality that was previously unavailable to them.

About Mela: Mela, a division of Verismo Networks Inc, is a multi-platform entertainment service that provides global consumers one of the largest collections of premium South Asian movies, music videos and TV content. Mela offers dozens of live television channels covering news and entertainment, hundreds of Bollywood, South Asian regional and independent movies, with an increasing number of titles in high definition, and selected premium videos from the Internet. Mela's content partners include India's leading and most popular film studios and television networks. Mela is available on multiple distribution platforms including Mela's high definition set-top box, the popular Roku streaming player, and Apple iPad. Mela's popular Bollywood movie service is available for $4.99 per month for instant, unlimited viewing of over 1,000 hit Bollywood and South Asian regional movies. Mela also offers a bundled package which includes its award winning, high-definition set-top-box with over seventy live television channels and 1,000+ popular movies available on-demand for a promotional price of $149 for one year of service.  Mela plans to later roll out its service on other major platforms including PC, tablets, Internet connected televisions, video gaming consoles, phones, Internet connected Blu-ray players, and other over-the-top devices. Mela is owned by Verismo Networks, a Silicon Valley based company that offers business customers worldwide solutions to bring  seamless convergence of IPTV linear channels, video-on-demand, Internet videos, social networking and personal media playback directly to consumer's television. Verismo is backed by Intel Capital. To learn more about Mela, please visit www.mela.com. To learn more about Verismo, please visit www.verismonetworks.com.

August 21, 2011

Mela launch announced today - Global "Netflix/Hulu" for South Asian content

Today we announced the launch of Mela, a multi-platform entertainment service that will provide consumers worldwide one of the largest collections of premium South Asian video content.

We had an action-packed day today with three launch events: press conference in the morning, Strike-a-Pose with Abhay Deol contest in the afternoon, and a private screening of Abhay Deol's latest Bollywood hit, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara in the evening.

Here is the video:

Mela represents the diversity of genres, tastes, languages, and regional flavors present in the rich cultural heritage of South Asia by licensing premium content from some of the biggest movie studios and television broadcast companies in the region. Mela brings directly to your television premium entertainment that includes dozens of live television channels covering news and entertainment, hundreds of hit Bollywood and regional movies, with an increasing number of titles in high-definition, and hundreds of independent films and selected premium videos from the Internet.

The Mela service at launch will be available on television through Mela’s high-definition set-top-box. Mela plans to later roll out its service on all major platforms including PC, mobile phones and devices, video gaming consoles, Internet connected televisions, Internet connected Blue-ray players, and other popular over-the-top devices and set-top boxes.

Today is, of course, a big day for the Mela team. It is also a big day for the South Asian content industry (film studios, television networks, actors, and everyone involved in creating compelling story telling). But most importantly, it is a big day for the fans. There is no reason why in this day and age, fans should not have access to their favorite content delivered to them in a manner that fits their connected, digital lifestyle.

It is the goal of Mela to fix this global distribution problem. If we don't, not only will piracy continue to ravage the industry, consumers will continue to be frustrated, and in a world of abundant choices, they will move on to other activities to entertain themselves. Everyone will loose in that case, except, of course, the content pirates.

Today is the start of Mela's journey in its pursuit to become the global "Netflix/Hulu" for the South Asian content.

Check out for more exciting updates soon...

August 9, 2011

A new chapter

Today we announced my new role at Verismo Networks, a venture-backed Silicon Valley startup that offers business customers worldwide solutions to bring seamless convergence of IPTV linear channels, video-on-demand, Internet videos, social networking and personal media playback directly to consumer's television. Verismo's end-to-end solutions enable MSOs/OEMs to cost-effectively expand their reach globally while giving subscribers an unparalleled viewing experience.

I am extremely excited about this move. The partnership with Verismo provides us very strong, complementary capabilities to continue to execute on the vision of Digital Entertainment Corporation of India ("DECI"), a global entertainment venture that I launched last year after leaving NBC Universal.   

The full press release is included below.

Watch out for some exciting updates in the coming weeks... 

Verismo Networks Gets Into Entertainment Services
Sab Kanaujia, a Media Veteran and Ex-NBC Universal Executive, Joins Verismo as President of Entertainment Services

Mountain View, CA August 9, 2011 – Verismo Networks, the leading provider of a complete end-to-end solution to enable broadband entertainment and video delivery over broadband networks, today announced that they will be launching a new business unit focusing on entertainment services. Sab Kanaujia, a globally renowned media industry veteran, has joined Verismo as the President of Entertainment Services. Kanaujia had earlier launched Digital Entertainment Corporation of India (“DECI”), a holding company that focused on launching entertainment services to a global audience.

In his new role, Kanaujia will head Verismo’s new entertainment business unit and will be responsible for all areas including content acquisition, product, operations, marketing and distribution. Kanaujia brings more than 15 years of global experience to the company, with an impressive career that spans NBC Universal and Time Warner AOL, amongst others.

“Verismo Networks continues to set lofty goals for developing and delivering content-rich broadband entertainment solutions for our customers," said Prakash Bhalerao, Chairman and CEO of Verismo Networks. "Delivering new entertainment content and content rich services over our proven and widely deployed broadband entertainment platform is a high priority for Verismo Networks. Kanaujia has been a proven innovator in his previous roles and we are excited to have him join our team.”

“Verismo Networks shares the vision that prompted us to launch DECI. They bring extremely complementary strengths that will enable us to successfully execute on our strategy," said Sab Kanaujia. "With a globally deployed broadband entertainment platform, an opportunity to partner with a seasoned entrepreneur in Bhalerao and strong backing of a blue chip investor like Intel Capital, I am delighted to join the Verismo team at a crucial stage in its growth phase.”

Prior to founding Digital Entertainment Corporation of India, Kanuajia was the Vice President, Digital Product Strategy & Development at NBC Universal (NBCU). Based out of the company’s headquarters in New York City, he ran its global digital product strategy and development across its television broadcast network, cable TV channels, Hollywood studios and digital properties. He joined NBCU in August 2006 as part of its corporate digital media team that incubated Hulu.com, one of the world’s largest online premium video networks announced in March 2007 as a joint venture between NBCU and News Corp. 

He was the General Manager of NBCU’s strategic digital venture with Ten Sports, the most watched sports channel across theIndian sub-continent and Middle East. Working with NDTV, one of India’s biggest media companies and a strategic investment of NBCU at the time, Kanaujia led the business deal to help re-launch several of its digital properties including its flagship global news destination, www.ndtv.com. He was also the brainchild behind NBCU’s corporate social media initiative that distributed firm’s content covering over a dozen brands including NBC, CNBC, USA Networks, NBC Sports and Olympics, SyFy, MSNBC, Universal Studios, iVillage, Telemundo, Oxygen, and others to fans through viral distribution. He quickly grew this initiative, which within two years accounted for over 25% of the total reach of NBCU’s network of online properties, providing the firm’s content a global footprint with presence on more than six million destinations worldwide.

Earlier, Kanaujia held various key roles in product strategy and corporate development at Time Warner AOL. Amongst his several achievements at AOL, he successfully launched AOL Hi-Q Video, a key high-quality distribution platform for AOL’s In2TV service, the first broadband television network in the U.S., providing thousands of hours of on-demand, full-length classic TV shows from Warner Brothers.

Kanaujia is a Charter Member of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) in Silicon Valley, and a Senior Volunteer with the American India Foundation. He attended the University of Michigan Business School at Ann Arbor, MI for executive management training, and earned his MBA with honors from the University of Maryland at College Park, MD. He received his Bachelor’s in Technology degree from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur, India.

About Verismo Networks
Verismo Networks provides an end‐to‐end solution for the easy deployment of Broadband entertainment services by ISPs, Telcos, OTT and IPTV service providers globally. Its Broadband TV platform is globally deployed and the leading solution that brings seamless integration of IPTV linear channels, video on demand, internet video, social networking and personal media playback directly to the TV. The Verismo end-to-end platform and cloud based services enables the fastest time‐to‐market for any content owner and service provider to expand their reach globally and cost effectively while giving subscribers an un‐paralleled viewing experience. Intel Capital, Intel’s global investment organization is an investor in Verismo Networks. For more information, please visit www.verismonetworks.com

Media Relations Contact:
Teena Touch PR for Verismo Networks 415-310-3125 teena@teenatouchpr.com

June 1, 2011

Governments need to prevent formation of big monopolies in the new global digital economy

I attended the first e-G8 Forum in Paris last week. The purpose of the Forum was to engage in debates and discussions about the Internet and the digital ecosystem in order to set the agenda on this important topic for the Heads of State and Governement of the Group of Eight – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States – during this year's G8 Summit that was held right after the e-G8 Forum.

The format of the e-G8 Forum was very similar to The World Economic Forum that is annually held in Davos. After every debate/session, three to five key messages were captured, which were at the end again massaged and prioritized to frame the final agenda for the G8 Summit. While the process was a bit frustrating, I think an honest effort was made by Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France and the current President of the G8, to incorporate feedback from all the stakeholders. I commend Sarkozy, who addressed us while inaugurating e-G8, for this initiative, which may become a regular event during all future annual G8 Summits.

However, there was a cloud of suspicion throughout the entire Forum that the event was an effort by entrenched big corporations and governments to establish policies and laws which will essentially hijack this fledgling new medium to meet their vested interests at the expense of small startups and masses. The latter are primarily responsible for most of the innovation and creativity enabled by the democratizing nature of the Internet medium that is thus far free from restrictive government laws.

Unfortunately, I doubt that the above concerns were resolved after the conclusion of last week's inaugural e-G8 Forum. 

Internet continues to lead an economy with "winner takes all" outcomes in most of the industries it is affecting fundamental changes. Google, Apple, Facebook are clear examples of very deep, entrenched players in the digital ecosystem. 

To give an example, despite what Google officially argues with policy makers in Washington DC and EU, the numbers prove the fact that the company is a clear monopoly in most global markets in the online Search and Advertising industry (China being a major exception, for different reasons though). Google continues to leverage its dominant position in online search and advertising to attain dominance in emerging, new adjacent areas of the Internet economy like mobile (Android). When Google is not able to win through its organic efforts, it has a history of successfully acquiring key startups which were able to establish market leading positions. DoubleClick (online brand advertising) and AdMob (mobile advertising) are  two clear examples. These acquisitions were approved by the U.S. Justice Department.

The entrenched players have erected major barriers for entry for new players which are needed to keep the new digital economy competitive. While a very healthy, venture-funded startup activity continues to encourage new entrants, increasingly, the only exit for them is an acquisition by a handful of established, entrenched players in the sector. 

If I have to give one key message to the G8 leaders on their role in the Internet and digital ecosystem, it will be to ensure that they closely scrutinize anti-competitive business practices and acquisition activities of the industry's dominant players.

Europe gets a grade B, and U.S. gets D in this test thus far.

April 23, 2011

e-G8: Internet and digital ecosystem will be on G8's agenda this year

Couple of days back I received an invitation to attend the e-G8 Forum in Paris in a month's time. The e-G8 Forum, the first of its kind, will be held immediately preceding this year's G8 Summit, the annual meeting of the leaders of the eight most advanced countries in the world, which is hosted by France this year. Apparently they want to provide the leaders of G8 fresh ideas about the Internet and the digital ecosystem.

I don't know what to make of it. I've no idea what to expect. One of the reasons that may be driving high interest in the Internet and digital media amongst governments around the globe is the role the Internet medium has played in the Arab Spring. We all have witnessed over the recent months how ordinary citizens, armed nothing but a simple cell phone connected to the Internet, using social media tools like Facebook & Twitter, have been able to create a groundswell of uprisings resulting into social revolutions which spread overnight like a wild fire and overthrew decades-old dictatorial regimes across the Arab world. By contrast, America's war in Iraq to free that country of a brutal dictator and replace it with a democracy took almost a decade, over which hundreds of billions of dollars were spent and thousands of lives were lost (both American and local). Tunisia and Egypt achieved that within weeks, without any costly external invasion and massive bloodshed.

I'm happy that France is being pro-active to engage people from the industry and start a dialog at the highest level. I hope that the e-G8 Forum is not a pre-cursor to unnecessary regulations that may be implemented in order to govern the Internet, a nascent and still evolving new medium for open communication and sharing across global citizens. History is a proof that governments of all shapes sizes and colors have tried to control the press in order to influence the public debate and sway its citizens in supporting policies designed by non-democratic legislatures. Internet is the "press" of the 21st century youth, and it truly transcends national boundaries.

Given my curiosity, I've accepted the invitation. Spring in Paris should be fun anyway. I also hope to catch some French Open tennis...the grand slam tournament kicks off in Paris that same week.

I've included the full invitation below. It provides their thinking behind the event.

Dear Sab Kanaujia,

A the initiative of Monsieur Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic and the current President of the G8, the Heads of State and Governement of the Group of Eight – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States – have decided to place the Internet and the digital ecosystem on the agenda of next month’s G8 Summit. This will mark the very first time that information technology formally takes a place on the agenda of a summit of heads of state – a recognition of how critically important these sectors are to sustaining and accelerating global economic growth.

In order to provide G8 political leaders with fresh ideas, President Sarkozy has asked me to coordinate the organization of the e-G8 Forum to take place in Paris on May 24 and 25. This will be a unique gathering of the world’s top Internet and digital leaders, not only from across the G8 nations, but further afield. Through our debates and discussions at the e-G8, we can and we must bring our reflections, ideas and experiences directly to the G8 leaders.

As the e-G8 Forum’s Chairman, I am therefore honoured to invite you to come to Paris to take part in this historic event. I believe it is vitally important that your voice be heard during the Forum. Only a true diversity of opinion can guarantee a good outcome.

Discussions at the two-day Forum will be a mixture of plenary sessions and in-depth workshops where a wide variety of themes will be addressed, including:

- The Internet as key driver for economic growth
- The emergence of global digital citizenship
- The digital technologies of the future
- How best to promote innovation clusters
- The mobile revolution and its impact on commerce, media and advertising
- Privacy and IP protection

President Nicolas Sarkozy will himself deliver the opening keynote address at 10:00 a.m. on May 24.

Various items of useful information are here available, including a pre-program of the event and a factsheet. (FactsheetPre-program)

Please note participation in the e-G8 Forum is strictly by personal invitation only. To register for the e-G8 Forum, please simply click on the link below
and use the following password: xxxx

I look forward to welcoming you at the e-G8 Forum next month.

Maurice Lévy
Chairman of the e-G8 Forum
Chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe

March 16, 2011

India crosses 100M Internet users: Google

Google, which dominates the online advertising market in India, claims that the country now has over 100 million Internet users. That makes India the third largest Internet market in the world, behind China (600M) and USA (300M). Rajan Anandan, Google India head, speaking at the VC Circle E-Commerce Forum last week, also mentioned that the time an average user in India spends online is 16 hours per week, at par with the average time spent on television, which along with print are the leading advertising platforms in India.

Given the low PC penetration in India, but its dynamic and huge mobile market, the mobile phone would become the predominant Internet access point for users in India. Already, more than 40M Internet users in India go online on their mobile phones, per Google.

Google India has an important role to play in evangelizing Internet and pushing for a higher allocation of India's fast growing advertising market to the Internet. The company has already reached its growth limit in India with the size of the country's current online advertising market. More brand advertising needs to move online in India. It requires scalable premium advertising inventory, which would be fueled by more premium content moving to digital platforms. Advent of 3G on mobile phones and upcoming mobile broadband (LTE) launch by service providers should provide the necessary high-speed connectivity and access.

January 2, 2011

Poem for the day

"Love after Love"  
By Derek Walcott
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here.  Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine.  Give bread.  Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit.  Feast on your life.

December 14, 2010

Display advertising technology landscape

Online display advertising is getting increasingly complex as publishers look to increase sell-thru rate and halt the downward slide of CPMs driven by explosion in available inventory, while advertisers look for better relevance, targeting and performance. A lot of venture capital has therefore gone into funding innovative technology companies to find solutions for publishers and advertisers. The resulting technology ecosystem that supports display advertising has become increasingly complex.

The chart below (courtesy Luma Partners) does a good job of capturing all the components of the display advertising technology landscape. Click on the chart to enlarge it.

November 21, 2010

Pursuing happiness: Video with the Dalai Lama

In the video below, American Public Media's Krista Tippett interviews four dynamic religious leaders on the meaning of happiness: Dalai Lama and scholars from world's three biggest religions, Jonathan Sacks (chief rabbi of the Commonwealth), Katharine Jefferts Schori (presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church), and Islamic scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr. This event was held at the Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia on October 17, 2010.

Pursuing Happiness with the Dalai Lama from onBeing on Vimeo.

The subject is pursuing happiness, the most important and persistent endeavor of our society since the beginning of the human dawn. Even though the meaning of being happy has changed over the years, given we have increasingly become more aware over time, my key takeaway is that compassion is the single most important virtue of a happy life.

A lot of other great material on the subject can be found on the APM's onBeing show site here.

Below is a simple, commonsensical flow chart one can use to see how he/she can be happy:

October 14, 2010

The Android juggernaut keeps rolling

The Android mobile phones are on a roll. Thanks to the muscle of Google behind it, more open and developer friendly nature of the operating system (OS), and backing by major handset manufacturers, Android has gained significant market share worldwide in a very short period of time. Despite competition's headstart, Android has come from behind and is expected to overtake Apple (iPhone) and RIM (Blackberry) this year to become the second most popular mobile OS in the world behind Nokia's Symbian. I can't wait to dump my iPhone for Motorola's Droid Pro, the first global, Android-based smart phone made for business users.

Below is the illustration of Android's success in numbers from GigaOm. Click on the image to enlarge it.