Tech trends and business ideas

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Monday, November 24, 2008

The cleantech myth bashing

Vinod Khosla at his buzzkill best. He is beginning to like “black swan solutions” that cause technology shock as he believes that many of the current concepts of cleantech investing are just "greenwashing" and not a solution to the climate issues. He’ll find a lot of backers from among the puritan VCs.

He finds photovoltaic panels in the booming $20 billion PV market are not scalable and not sustainable without subsidies. The Prius Hybrid cars? Not a solution to the energy or the climate problem nor did they meet the Chindia test - since they don’t seem to compete with the $2,500 Tata Nano. He calls hybrids "an inefficient carbon solution". Biodiesel, Clean Coal and Zero Emission Buildings are not the solutions either. Carbon capture and sequestration also do not serve the purpose as they are not economical. Solar PV, wind and biofuels are “little markets”.
Now wait a minute.... Can they deal with the financial crisis and reduce emissions at the same time? Take the Big Three automakers in Detroit (or its users). Who will expect them to invest in fuel efficient engines as they fast slide into insolvency? Isn’t gas available at $2 a gallon now?
Makes no sense.How about the VCs that have sunk some real big money? Poor fellas’ they get killed often by the publicity they give themselves. They had better learn to swallow some wily pride. At least it’s non fattening!

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Yahoo! crystal gaze

I can’t say this about fortunes of the company, but there is hardly a dull day at Yahoo!

Jerry Yang, founder and outgoing CEO said this earlier in a memo to the troops - "All of you know that I have always, and will always bleed purple. I will always do what I think is right for this great company. While this step will be an adjustment for all of us, I know it's the right one."

He exits not only bleeding, but battered into a stunning shade of aubergine after months of public pummeling for passing on a Microsoft buyout and failing to firm up a viable alternative strategy as the stock tanked. The initial burst of enthusiasm that sent the company's market cap up by about $2 billion in early trading reflected a consensus that this was a step that had to be taken before anything else could happen, and a later partial retreat showed those hopes tempered by the reality of the challenges that still face Yang's successor.

So now what? Attention has quickly turned to speculation on a successor, and the perception that Yahoo's problems are systemic bodes ill for any in-house candidates, like President Sue Decker. "The next hire has to be a statement; it can't be from inside the company," said Rick Munarriz, an analyst with the Motley Fool. "You don't need a Yahoo again. The first thing they should do with the new CEO is cut him open and if he bleeds purple they kick him out."

But then there is the big Carl (Icahn) pushing for someone -- anyone -- who will get the deal done so he can cash in and check out.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Why wouldn't they bitch it?

For all those skeptics of Cloud computing economics, Nick Carr has a tell all with a NYT illustration. It’s a long post. I am pint sizing it here.

“The history of computing has been a history of falling prices (and consequently expanding uses). But the arrival of cloud computing - which transforms computer processing, data storage, and software applications into utilities served up by central plants - marks a fundamental change in the economics of computing…

In late 2007, the New York Times faced a challenge. It wanted to make available over the web its entire archive of articles, 11 million in all, dating back to 1851….That's not a particularly complicated computing chore, but it's a large computing chore, requiring a whole lot of computer processing time….Fortunately, a software programmer at the Times, Derek Gottfrid, had been playing around with Amazon Web Services for a number of months, and he realized that Amazon's new computing utility, Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), might offer a solution. Working alone, he uploaded the four terabytes of TIFF data into Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3) utility, and he hacked together some code for EC2 that would, as he later described in a blog post, "pull all the parts that make up an article out of S3, generate a PDF from them and store the PDF back in S3." He then rented 100 virtual computers through EC2 and ran the data through them. In less than 24 hours, he had his 11 million PDFs, all stored neatly in S3 and ready to be served up to visitors to
the Times site.

The total cost for the computing job? …Gottfrid told me that the entire EC2 bill came to $240. (That's 10 cents per computer-hour times 100 computers times 24 hours; there were no bandwidth charges since all the data transfers took place within Amazon's system - from S3 to EC2 and back.)”
Amazing economics. Now why wouldn’t they (high cost, license based, on-premise enterprise s/w makers) bitch it?

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