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

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.