December 11, 2015

Sustainability is key to the future of capitalism

Capitalism has served us enormously. It remains the predominant economic system in the world today. And despite the gloomy state of current global affairs, our society has made tremendous progress over the last century.

All the metrics used to measure human development, indicated by our health, economics and education, have globally improved ranging from 80% to 400% between 1900 and 2012. This is despite over a 300 percent increase in the global population during the same period.

Looking into the future, however, it is clear that the methods and the approach we used to achieve the above progress need fundamental change. The current path is simply not sustainable and also poses serious ethical concerns.

The fruits of capitalism are not being shared equally, causing massive income and wealth inequality. The richest 85 people in the world have the same wealth as the bottom 3.5 billion people. The combined wealth of the richest 1 percent will overtake that of the other 99 percent by next year. More than one billion people go to bed hungry every night.

We are presently consuming earth’s natural resources at an alarmingly unsustainable rate, using 150 percent of its sustainable capacity. Continuous overconsumption reduces planet’s long-term carrying capacity. The excessive use of fossil fuels has brought our planet to the brink of irreversible climate change. Our actions have already resulted in the extinction of hundreds of thousands of species.

This situation will worsen as our population balloons to around nine billion people by 2050.

The very survival of the human race hangs in the balance.

So, what is the solution?

Sustainable Capitalism

Sustainability — in all endeavors of human growth, prosperity and happiness — has to be the mantra. It should be the litmus test for everything we do.

I believe capitalism is still the right economic system. Taking a cue from Winston Churchill’s comment about democracy, it can similarly be said that capitalism is the worst economic system - except for all the others that have been tried. However, we need to fundamentally evolve capitalism and put sustainability at its core.

At the heart of a sustainable capitalist system is the goal of maximizing the interests of all stakeholders. 

The current system maximizes only shareholders’ interests. Stakeholders in an economic system include all the parties who are impacted by the economic operations of an enterprise. Company shareholders are its obvious stakeholders. But so are its employees, customers, business partners, the local community and the environment.

No business operates in a vacuum. It owes its health to that of the society in which it operates. No business can survive without happy employees, satisfied customers, enthusiastic partners, a vibrant local community and stable environment.

The corporate pursuit to solely maximize shareholders’ interest encourages a zero-sum mindset at the expense of other stakeholders. To illustrate its ill effects, let’s look at the current economic stagnation in the U.S., the model of capitalism in the world and its largest economy. Our economic growth has been stymied despite companies sitting on billions of dollars in profits. Companies have squeezed profits for themselves at all costs, with their ‘zero-sum’ mindset, consequently leaving fewer customers with available purchasing capacity to buy their products and services. And, it has left in its wake a polluted planet desperately crying for responsible behavior. Major Wall Street indices are showing record gains. But the Main Street is struggling. And the global leaders are currently huddled together in Paris at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference to figure out how to save our planet.

New Leadership Skills

A sustainable capitalist system will require its leaders to have new skills, in addition to all the traditional management skills.

Business leaders will need to acquire a ‘win-win’ mindset while dealing with other corporate stakeholders, outside of shareholders, whose long-term health is critical to the long-term survival of their business.

Business leaders will need to think and plan long-term. They will also need to ensure, through an appropriate incentive plan, that the long-term focus permeates down the management chain. Short-term thinking, often pressured by the grueling quarterly reporting cycle imposed by investors and Wall Street, can be blamed for many disastrous corporate decisions. The quarterly cycle creates a perverse incentive for managers whose performance bonuses are tied to short-term corporate metrics. In an age when people are switching jobs more frequently than ever before, there is no incentive for them to worry about their decisions’ long-term impact that may show well after they have left the company. 

The above purpose-driven approach with an inclusive growth model for running a business also boosts employee morale and engagement and reduces their turnover. Numerous studies have clearly proven that going to work every day in order to make a positive difference in our society is one of the biggest motivators for employees.

Alignment between corporate management and shareholders on long-term view

There has to be an alignment between corporate management and its shareholders on long-term business focus. Too often, companies have operated with an eye on short-term quarterly performance with no long-term discipline imposed by its shareholders, many of whom themselves are guilty of focusing on short-term investment returns.

Companies need to attract shareholders focused on long-term returns. And all long-term investors need to apply pressure on companies to institute long-term corporate planning and execution.

For companies, attracting right shareholders may be a hard and time-consuming task. Investors focused on short-term gains may anyway not be the right fit for companies. They are most likely short-term speculators looking to make a quick profit from short-term price fluctuations in stock price. In the U.S., institutional investors hold the vast majority of public capital, and many of these are, or should be, focused on long-term returns. For example, pension funds own 75 percent of public capital in the U.S. The primary mission of these funds — preserving and growing capital for retirement — requires long-term investment focus. Their goal is therefore totally aligned with the goals of companies that are operating their business with a longer-term horizon in mind. However, many funds have incentive structure for their fund managers that rewards managers based on monthly and quarterly returns, thus promoting short-term investment policies that are contrary to the fund mission. Companies therefore need to do their homework before identifying and attracting the right institutional investors that are aligned with the management objectives.

Regulators too can play a role by ensuring financial reporting requirements and tax code encourage long-term value creation for all stakeholders in the economic system.

Sustainable Capitalism in Action

I’m very encouraged to notice changes emerging to promote sustainable capitalism across-the-board.

With respect to sustainable practices affecting our planet, this summer, Norway’s US$900 billion sovereign wealth fund, the world’s biggest, divested out of coal, the largest fossil fuel divestment yet, affecting 122 companies across the globe.

An eye-opening decision came earlier when the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, one of the world’s renowned family foundations, divested out of fossil fuels. The irony was that the direct descendants of John D Rockefeller, founder of the oil empire that eventually became ExxonMobil, started the fund 75 years ago.

Both these decisions provided impetus to the UN-backed Summit on climate change currently underway in Paris. The Divest-Invest campaign, whose aim is to sign-up investors that will divest from fossil fuel industries and instead invest in clean energy, has already signed up over 110 investors worldwide.

My four-year old daughter at the People’s Climate March held
in New York City on September 21, 2014. With over 300,000
activists participating to advocate global action against climate
change, the event was the largest climate change march in history.
On the corporate side, companies like Unilever, a US$59 billion consumer goods global giant, are setting an example that sustainable and equitable growth model can be achieved without sacrificing financial returns. Unilever, with over 400 consumer brands that are used by two billion people around the world every day, is the perfect candidate to test sustainable capitalism. In 2009, Paul Polman, the CEO of Unilever, established a sustainable living plan for the company. Six years into its new direction, Unilever is already showing impressive results.

Finally, there seems to be an alignment emerging amongst investors and corporations to suggest a global resurgence on long-term wealth creation instead of short-term gains. Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Democratic Presidential candidate, has called for an end to ‘quarterly capitalism’ in America. If elected, she is likely to push for regulatory changes necessary to promote sustainable capitalism in the country.

To conclude, while adopting a sustainable capitalist system may at first seem a tall order, early results prove that it can be successfully done, and winds of change across the board are already underway. It’s the only way to create an economic system for the 21st century that ensures we create wealth in a sustainable and equitable manner. We owe it to our children and future generations.

May 9, 2014

Picture of the day

I took this picture today. It is a view of Manhattan from outside my building. There are a bunch of old broken boardwalks along the New Jersey side of the Hudson river across from midtown Manhattan. The water level was unusually low today, so you could see most of the truncated wooden pillars on the river bed. It's a cool idea of an art installation.

April 28, 2014

In 2014, E-Learning will Overtake Online Advertising in Dollars Spent Worldwide

Below is a great one-page overview on the global E-learning industry. In 2012, the size of the education industry worldwide was $4.4 trillion dollars, supported by 1.4 billion students and 62.5 million educators.

e-Learning, the fastest growing segment within the education industry, was worth $91 billion dollars worldwide, growing at 23% CAGR over the next five years until 2017. Global online advertising spend in 2012 was $100.2 billion, growing at a CAGR of 13% over the following five years (Source: PwC). That means, in 2014, the size of the global e-Learning industry, at $137.7 billion dollars, will surpass the money spent worldwide on online advertising ($127.9 billion).

It is quite remarkable how fast this tipping point has occurred. Transition to e-Learning within the education industry is just getting started, while in advertising, transition to the Internet started almost twenty years back. Clearly, e-Learning is poised for massive growth which will significantly disrupt education, one of the largest industries in the world.

Source: IBIS Capital, a London-based specialist media investment and advisory group. IBIS hosts the annual EdTech Europe conference.    

April 16, 2014

Personalized Learning is the Future of Education - Case Study

It is now widely acknowledged that personalized learning will be an essential part of any new model that is adopted to significantly improve the current education system, from K-12 to higher education. This approach acknowledges that every student is unique in terms of his/her capabilities (strengths and weaknesses), likings and dis-likings, and pace at which he/she grasps different concepts. However, our current education system uses the same cookie-cutter approach for the entire class. Students are classified as "weak" in a subject, many times incorrectly, if they fail to finish a subject material within stipulated time and pass all tests. The reason a student may be learning slow may have nothing to do with his/her capability for that particular subject. He/she may not like the teaching style of the teacher. He/she may lack a necessary skill which students need to master from an earlier class, which he/she did not fully grasped for some reason (fallen sick, etc).  

Limitations in the current education system however restricts teachers and schools from tailoring subjects for each student. Finally, technology and Internet is coming to the rescue.  Progressive schools need to not just adopt online education tools but also train teachers and demonstrate required flexibility in teaching approaches.

I recently came across a fantastic case study. The Taylor County School District in Campbellsville, Kentucky has managed to bring their student dropout rate to zero for five years in running by using personalized learning.  They work with students one-on-one and prepare for each student an Individualized Learning Plan tailored to that student's interests and desired career path.  They offer real-world experience to students though partnerships with local businesses. This allows students to establish whether their initial interest in a field is strong enough for them to purse that field for college after high-school. Finally, teachers are using technology to more efficiently teach and evaluate students. Teachers are challenged to constantly find best practices to meet the needs of all learning styles.

The full case study by Roger Cook, the Superintendent of the Taylor County School District, is here

April 2, 2014

Wealth Inequality in America

This video info-graphic does a fantastic job of articulating the growing inequality in America over the past three plus decades. It also demonstrates how misinformed Americans are about this fundamental shift in the country's wealth distribution. The actual wealth disparity is much higher than what over 90% of Americans think it is, which they admit is already worse than what it should be.

The video was submitted by Working America

March 2, 2014


During my recent New Year's meditation retreat, I learned the spiritual definition of the word, equanimity.

Sharon Salzberg, one of our teachers at the retreat, and now a good friend, provides this beautiful spiritual explanation of equanimity in her book, Love Your Enemies:

Equanimity is the spacious stillness of mind that provides the ground for the boundless nature of the other three mind states of enlightenment: loving kindness, compassion, and sympathetic joy. 
This radiant calm enables us to ride the waves of our experience without getting lost in our reactions. Equanimity, or balance of mind, is in many ways the foundation of the other three boundless states. It is the unspoken wisdom that allows us to broaden our caring beyond our own inner circle, making the practices of loving kindness, compassion, and sympathetic joy true expressions of a generous spirit. 
Without equanimity, we might offer friendship only when our offering was acknowledged and appreciated, or only when the person responded in kind. 
We might offer compassion to ourselves only when we weren’t overcome by pain, and offer compassion to others only when we weren’t overcome by their suffering. And we might offer sympathetic joy only when we did not feel threatened or envious. 
When we cultivate equanimity, our tremendous capacity to connect with others can blossom, for we don’t feel the need to reject or cling to anything that happens in life. 
The foundation of equanimity is reflecting on what are called, in Buddhist teachings, the eight vicissitudes, or eight worldly conditions: pleasure and pain, gain and loss, praise and blame, and fame and disrepute- the inevitable ups and downs of life. The eight vicissitudes make up the very fabric of life, true for us all, not just for some. 
Recognizing and accepting this reality provide the largest possible context for developing loving kindness, compassion, and sympathetic joy. 
In equanimity practice we begin by repeating the phrases with a neutral person in mind, then a benefactor, and so on through the sequence, finally ending with ourselves. 
Possible phrases would be: 
Things are as they are.
I care about you, yet I can’t control how your life will evolve.
All beings are the owners of their actions; their happiness and unhappiness depend upon their actions, not upon my wishes for them.

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., 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 To learn more about Verismo, please visit

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, 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, 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

Media Relations Contact:
Teena Touch PR for Verismo Networks 415-310-3125