It’s a beautiful time to be alive and educated

This is a commencement address I gave at Hult International Business School August 22, 2014. I grew up watching Star Trek and believing that by the time I became an adult we would all be using communicators, replicators, tricorders, and transporters. I was optimistic that the world would be a much better place: that we would have solved humanity’s problems and be exploring new worlds. That’s why my first...

Washington Post: Why teaching grandmothers to code isn’t a crazy idea

American businesses are ageing, as is the country; and this is bad for the economy, say Ian Hathaway and Robert Litan, of The Brookings Institution. They report that the share of older firms, aged 16 years or more, has increased from 23 percent in 1992 to 34 percent in 2011. Startups have become a smaller proportion of the economy, going from 15 percent to 8 percent. This is worrisome because young companies...

Why we should believe the dreamers—not the experts

History is littered with the failed predictions of experts. Yet governments hire high-paid consultants to advise on policy; businesses use them to vet research and development projects; and venture capitalists have them make investment decisions.  Experts excel in looking backwards, protecting their turf, and saying what their clients want to hear. Their short-term predictions are sometimes right, but they...

Washington Post: Come on, Silicon Valley, you can do better than this

A new messaging app, called Yo, has created a sensation in Silicon Valley.  It is being hailed as the next big thing. The amazing breakthrough?  Sending the word “Yo” to a contact with just one click. This app received justifiable ridicule from Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert and many others.  But some technology industry moguls are taking it seriously.  Marc Andreessen wrote on Twitter that...

Washington Post: Chile teaches the world a lesson about innovation

Chile launched a grand innovation experiment in 2010: it paid foreign entrepreneurs to come and visit for six months. It offered them $40,000 plus free office space, Internet access, mentoring, and networking. And, by the way, they would get to live in one of the most beautiful places on this planet, where housing was relatively cheap and corruption and crime were almost nonexistent. All Chile asked in return...

Economic Times (India): The future of medicine lies in the use of information technology

In the TV series Star Trek, Captain Kirk has a handheld device called a tricorder that can immediately assess a patient’s condition and diagnose disease. This is 300 years in the future.In real life, technology is advancing so rapidly that within a decade, Kirk’s tricorder will look primitive. Just as our bathroom scales give us instant readings of our weight, our smartphone tricorders will monitor...

Here’s what it actually takes to make it as an entrepreneur

A young male who was born to be an entrepreneur drops out from a computer-science program at a prestigious university.  He meets a powerful venture capitalist who is so enamored with his idea that he gives him millions of dollars to build his technology.  Then comes the multi-billion-dollar IPO. That’s the Hollywood version of Silicon Valley.  But it is as far from reality as is Disneyland.  Entrepreneurship...

Wall Street Journal: Location No Longer Determines Success

Oculus, the latest technology startup to be acquired for billions of dollars, was based not in Silicon Valley but in Irvine, Calif. Snapchat, which is rumored to be worth billions, is based in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles area is a good place to live and has great weather, but it has no real advantage as a technology center. These companies could have been based anywhere with equal success. You can’t predict...

A $32,000 Startup That Was Sold for Millions

I meet entrepreneurs all over the world who think that venture capital is a prerequisite for starting a company.  They write business plans and ask for introductions to venture capitalists.  I tell them that they should instead bootstrap their startups; that what would have cost millions of dollars a few years ago now costs thousands. Think about it.  Today’s laptops have the same processing power as the...

Economic Times: What Young India Wants

What young Indians want is no different from what their parents want: a free and democratic society in which anyone can achieve their potential and fulfil their dreams. They want a government that builds infrastructure, educates its people and provides safety and security. All Indians want what they are entitled to: good governance and opportunities. The young, however, also want India to rise above caste,...

Washington Post: Carl Icahn’s criticism of eBay’s board highlights Silicon Valley’s systemic issues

The compositions of the boards of Silicon Valley companies are once again in the spotlight. Recently, Twitter was called out for having a board comprising of members of the Silicon Valley Boys Club. Now Carl Icahn is accusing eBay board members of being in conflict.  He wrote an open letter to eBay shareholders excoriating its management and board for various alleged lapses in corporate governance. Amongst...

Economic Times and LinkedIn: The Next Microsoft CEO And Lessons From Indians in Silicon Valley

When Vijay Vashee joined Microsoft in 1982 he was just one of two Indians at the 160-person company. It added several more recruits from India, mostly IITans, over the years. They held low-level technical positions. Vashee became the first Indian to break through Microsoft’s glass ceiling in 1988 when he was named General Manager for Microsoft Project. In 1992 he was asked to head the fledgling PowerPoint...