Abhi 2.0 on Technology

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Posts Tagged ‘jawed karim

Social NOTworking ?

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First published in the Hindustan Times (Mumbai edition)
Column in HT Cafe

Column in HT Cafe

Orkut has finally decided to acknowledge that it is a rage in India by announcing that it will conduct special Independence day polls on the site. Google’s social network has been getting all kinds of bad press lately, not to mention threats from the Shiv Sena, even though the party patriarch’s grandchildren are fairly active users. I’ve always wondered why Orkut is such a big hit in some countries (60% of the traffic is from Brazil and about 15% from India) but a complete dud in Europe and North America. Very few Indians use MySpace which rules the roost in the US though Facebook is apparently becoming very popular especially among those who’ve studied overseas. In fact the whole “social networking” thing is a bit crazy and no one knows who’s going to survive and more importantly what can be monetized and how. The original pioneers like Friendster, LinkedIn, Ryze and Classmates have rapidly been overtaken and specialist networks like Youtube (videos) Flickr (photos) and Digg (News) have just complicated the whole thing.

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The social networking scene in India is displaying classic “bubble” symptoms. President of Reliance Entertainment, Rajesh Sawhney recently told contentsutra.com that Big Adda, the ADAG group’s social networking site would break even in 3 years. That’s an eternity in the internet business and thus such a prediction about something that nobody in the world has figured out how to milk, is pretty ambitious to say the least. The Indian arm of Sequoia Capital recently invested in minglebox.com adding to its portfolio that already includes dating portal fropper.com. I’ve checked out all these sites and while they seem interesting enough, I don’t see the need to sign up for more than one or maybe two such services. The other day I was in Bhopal and introduced to a local internet entrepreneur who runs scratchmysoul.com which claims to be the world’s only people mapping site. The project is based on the intellectual property of Raghav Chandra who belongs to one of the most important offline social networks in the country – the Indian Administrative Service!

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“Desis” seem to have gotten the short end of the stick as far as cashing out on the social networking boom in Silicon Valley is concerned. Jawed Karim, whose father is Bangladeshi, was the third, ignored co-founder of YouTube and only got crumbs from the sellout to Google (a mere $64.6 million as against $326 million each, for the other two co-founders). Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg is facing a high profile lawsuit from a group of former Harvard colleagues who claim that he stole their idea. One of them is a young man called Divya Narendra, who reportedly works for a hedge fund these days. In both cases the desis seem to have been the technical whizkids who did most of the backend work while the smooth talkers laughed all the way to the bank. In fact Indians or people of Indian origin are yet to make a big impact on what being called “boom 2.0” in the valley. Possibly the most influential Indian 2.0 in the valley these days is Om Malik who runs the Gigaom.com blogging network. Its core competence? Extensive news, information and analysis of the Web 2.0 phenomenon – circular ain’t it?

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FULL DISCLOSURE: There is a rather large official “Tech 2.0” community on Orkut.com

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Written by Abhi 2.0

August 13, 2007 at 1:43 am