How I realized the incredible impact that great bosses have

“I don’t care if you have to take drugs, you have to build it in six months,” said my boss, Khurshed Birdie, when I told him that he was on drugs if he thought my team could create a software development toolset in less than three years. This was in 1986 at Credit Suisse First Boston, one of New York City’s top investment banks. We were rebuilding the company’s trade processing systems to run...

Chasing Rainbows Won’t Save Indian I.T. It Desperately Needs to Reinvent Itself

Wipro announced in May that it will open a technology center in Mountain View, California, to partner with startups in artificial intelligence and automation. And Infosys has just announced an investment in Palo Alto-based venture-capital firm Vertex Ventures, “to boost its access to startups focused on disruptive technologies”. Both companies seem to believe that setting up a Silicon Valley office...

Mobile is eating the business world, but where are all the great business apps?

Every 15 years or so, the world witnesses a profound shift in computing platforms. In the 1980s the advent of the PC heralded a shift away from mainframe computing. Then along came the Internet and an outpouring of web-based applications. Now it is mobile’s turn to eat everything. And with each tectonic shift in the technology landscape, the sheer volume of computing devices associated with it expands exponentially. The...

Why there has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur

Doctor, engineer, and businessman. These were the top three career choices for the children of middle-class families in India when I was young. Doctors earned the most respect; engineers were second-best; business was something you got into if you didn’t have the chops to complete a degree. I chose the engineering route or the closest thing to it that I liked: computer science. My family had moved to the United...

Looking for an exotic vacation? Here’s why moon travel may be only 20 years away

Five teams competing for the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize have just been awarded a combined $5.25 million for meeting significant milestones in developing a robot that can safely land on the surface of the moon, travel 500 meters over the lunar surface, and send mooncasts back to the Earth. A tiny start-up from India, Team Indus, with no experience in robotics or space flight just won $1 million of this...

Book review: Peter Diamandis’s ‘Bold’ a reminder of how entrepreneurs will control the world’s fate

Just as an asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs that ruled the Earth and made way for small furry mammals, a new wave of planetary disruptions is about to occur. The new asteroid is called “exponential technology.” It is going to wipe out industries in a similar manner to the rock which fell on Earth during the Cretaceous Period. That is the premise of a new book by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler, Bold:...

7 admirable start-ups that are driving social change

A standing joke in Silicon Valley is that the smartest people go into online advertising, virtual currency, or dumb online games. And you surely have to wonder what has gone wrong when the industry’s heavy hitters and venture capitalists provide $1.5 million to seed a useless app such as Yo. Fortunately, there are many tech start-ups that are solving real problems — and many entrepreneurs who care. The venture...

Venture capital takes a step in the right direction on diversity

The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) announced Monday the formation of a task force to help its members increase opportunities for women and minorities. On the surface, this looks like just another news release by an industry under fire; but I think there is much more to it. The NVCA is providing true leadership and challenging its members to clean up their act. I have long been critical of the venture-capital...

Uber’s legacy hangs in the balance: Digital robber baron or respectable innovator?

Uber, the leading ridesharing company, has earned the distinction of becoming one of the most hated companies in the technology industry. One of its executives, Emil Michael, recently suggested to a large dinner gathering that his company should allocate $1 million to dig up dirt on reporters who were criticizing it. Last month, it tried to entice riders in Lyon, France, with ads pitching free pickups from...

Why baby boomers are an important part of technology’s future

Steve Jobs was 52 when he announced the iPhone. That was in 2007. Years later, the Apple co-founder introduced the MacBook Air, App Store and iPad. Tim Cook, who was 51 when he took over from Jobs, is building on his legacy. They both shattered a myth that the young rule the technology industry. Silicon Valley’s venture capitalists, however, speak openly of their bias toward the young. “People under 35 are...

Silicon Valley must join the Ebola battle before it becomes a matter of survival

Mark Zuckerberg recently announced a donation of $25 million to the Centers for Disease Control Foundationto help fight Ebola.  He noted that the Ebola epidemic has infected 8,400 people so far and could infect one million people or more if not addressed immediately. Zuckerberg’s involvement is an important step forward for the technology industry, and with a bit of luck, this disaster will be averted. But...

Silly Apps Aren’t the Future of Tech

The contenders in the 2014 TechCrunch Disrupt included a startup that seeks to change the way in which diseases are diagnosed, a medical-grade health scanner, a platform to connect innovators with scientists and a suite of business-intelligence tools for conservation and drought planning. Sadly, the winner was a simple app for the elite: Alfred Club. This allows you to hire someone to do everyday chores such...