Thoughts Sans Boundaries

Economy Moving Forward

Posted in Uncategorized by Aditya Moorthy on November 14, 2009

I had a thought this afternoon about the economy.

Disclaimer: I am not an economist and probably understand0.0001% of economic principles and the way of the world.

My understanding goes this way: America is the biggest consumer of the world, closely followed by Europe and Japan and a bulk of the world’s production is being consumed by a relatively small population of this planet. For this argument, let’s look at just America as the key consumer. America borrows significantly large sums of money to foster their consumption and the producing worlds lends the monies to America to sustain the consumption. I don’t wish to go into the details to justify this as it is too complex and there is a good possibility that my understanding is flawed.

If the above it mostly true, then it poses an interesting problem. Beyond a critical point, the lending to the consumers does not make sense as you don’t see your earned money appreciating enough as the borrowers are not returning money and neither does the money grow. So what can the producers do to safeguard themselves? For one, they can foster internal consumption so at the least the monies stays within their economic domain, which is probably what Japan did and China and India are trying to do.

This poses an interesting situation. If the developing economies no longer depend on America to consume their produce, they no longer need or care America to consume so much and which means, they are no longer a cheaper destination to produce goods as the local demand increases so does the cost of production (as the demand out paces the supply, at least in the short term, the cost of goods will go up). That leaves America with two choices (loosely speaking) – reduce consumption or produce locally to support internal demand. The first option is harder to implement unless there is a social and cultural change. The second option looks like a practical one, only that the cost of production has reached such a high point that it is too expensive for peoples to afford it unless they borrow more.

Where does this leave America and the rest of the world. Some thoughts:

– Is this a harbinger that America will no longer be the most powerful country in the world and there will arise a community of powerful nations?
– Is this a harbinger for an exponential increase in consumption to sustain the economy and put a big strain in the natural resource of this planet
–  Is this a harbinger for power struggle to stay on the top by a new community of nations when in the past it was a de-facto single country

The above thoughts sure look like bleak ones, but it need not be all bleak. There might be some silver lining. This could foster a cultural / social change of sustaining economy with reduced consumption – which means, new economic / social models evolving out of this bottleneck situation. America is known to be a land of innovation and they could innovate themselves out of it. This could also cause the wealth to be more evenly distributed around the world thus reducing envy, anger and frustration which happens to be the cause of most violence.

There are several ifs and buts and it is hard to really predict what could happen but there sure is a change that seems to be driving the focus away from the Americas as the leading nation in the world and lesser known voices being heard.

So brace yourself for an interesting ride that potentially you might see before your lifetime and I do sincerely hope that is a positive one.

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Borrowed a Tikit to Ride

Posted in Uncategorized by Aditya Moorthy on November 14, 2009

A housemate of mine recently bought a Bike Friday Tikit. He’s, what I would call not-a-keen-biker. But one ride in a foldie changed his perception completely. He was totally smitten by the comfortable ride and the compact folding of the bike. So much so, that he immediately went to a local Bike Friday dealer Diginexx and bought a tikit. And since then he’s been riding it pretty much daily (unless he’s got a date that evening ;-).

I for one have been riding my Trek 1200 SL for couple of years, mostly for recreation. I used to commute to work when I had a bike lodging place in China Town, Singapore but that was intermittent and it was never a convenient thing to do given that the work can sometimes extend the normal working hours. And then there was the Nature as a variable to contend with – rain, hot sun etc and of course, last but not least, the traffic. For an avid cyclist, these are of course a welcome thing to contend with, in some sense it is for me too. But sometimes it can become an annoying thing especially if you’d a long day.

I’ve been a bit suspicious of a foldie unlike @nat, who’s a big fan of the bikes. I refused to try one for a long time. Of course laziness counts a big part of it. But recently, my housemate had a minor surgery and he stopped riding till he’s healed. Now was my chance to take it out for a spin and test it out for myself if the foldie was living up to its reputation. First I tried a long distance ride, about a metric century in Malaysia. The ride went perfect except for my fitness.

Next I decided to take it to work. And I should say, the foldie passed with flying colours. Let’s see how:

– I take about 30-35 minutes by bus to work and I take 20-25 minutes by bike
– The roads are fairly flat which means, I exert less energy than if I were to climb up and down
– I cool down at office / home after my ride in about 15 minutes
– The bike stays right under my desk, so no need to lock it down or find a safe place
– A good exercise regime without specifically taking time off
– Friendly to the environment and if we scale this habit to more people, less traffic and pollution
– People appreciate and sometimes awed that someone is riding to work in this equatorial weather
– and several more…

I’ve been riding for about a week now and it’s been great. I’ll definitely recommend this to everyone. There are several foldable bike options in the market today. Hit the nearest store, do your research online, read @nat’s blog on parts, bike choices and reviews and get one and start riding.

Wowed by speed

Posted in Uncategorized by Aditya Moorthy on November 11, 2009

As you may have already read an earlier post about the Yahoo! CEO’s speech at AmCham Singapore; something interesting happened today. Someone from AmCham called me today following up my previous post and informing me about the other events that AmCham organises throughout the year. I was totally surprised – not much by the fact that they read my post and tracked me down to call and sell their other products but by the fact that it was less than 24 hours since I wrote that.

I work in marketing and I know how difficult the new social media is in managing from a marketing perspective. And I must say, I was thoroughly impressed by the speed in which AmCham followed up on their leads. Kudos to their efforts and I am sure things like these are the ones that sets apart the successful from the not so successful.

I am sure someone from AmCham will read this by tomorrow morning!

Yahoo!’s Achilles’ heel

Posted in internet stories, technology by Aditya Moorthy on November 11, 2009

Yesterday I wrote a post after hearing Yahoo!’s CEO Carol Bartz speak at the AmCham event in Singapore. In it I noted that the biggest problem that Yahoo! faces today is a weakening engineering team (or to its effect) and innovative products. This morning I read this post which says Rasmus Lerdoff the founder of PHP has left Yahoo! after several years of contribution to its engineering team. This comes at a time when several star engineers have left Yahoo! in the recent past.

http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/11/10/php-founder-rasmus-lerdorf-leaves-yahoo/

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Carol Bartz at AmCham, Singapore

Posted in technology by Aditya Moorthy on November 11, 2009

I had a chance to sit through a speech by Carol Bartz, CEO of Yahoo! today at AmCham Singapore. I’ll make this a quick post about my opinion on today’s speech.

I went there with a bit of expectation to hear her speak as the (relatively) new CEO of Yahoo! I read through her bio in Wikipedia beforehand to put the person in context and I should say, I was quite impressed by what she has achieved in her career. At the time of reading, it struck me as to why would she take up a position as Yahoo!’s leader given that at the outset it looks like a lost cause to head a company that has paled against it’s competitors in terms of new landmark innovations in the recent past. People at that position and at that age (I am very broadly generalising here) would want to leave a legacy behind, especially in her position for what she has achieved at Autodesk.

Anyway, to cut to the chase, the speech was terrible and pathetically weak in my opinion. She kept using Autodesk instead of Yahoo! more than once (and I can attribute such slips to jet lag or hectic schedule). The statistics she was throwing (with the expectation I suspect, to impress her audience) was totally irrelevant and who cares now whether Yahoo! manages 100 billion emails a month? I am sure many in the audience must have more such tidbits to throw around and we didn’t want to hear them again! There was no new insights that I gained (which I already didn’t know). No strategic thought process or direction as to where Yahoo! was heading and mind you, many of those sitting through the sessions where shareholders as well. No indication of any new innovation coming out of Yahoo! No clear growth plans for emerging markets. No clear solutions for SMEs and enterprises as to how they can leverage Yahoo!’s platform. In total, nothing beneficial to the audience at all.

To cut her some slack; I understand that 30 minutes at AmCham in Singapore is not the great venue to talk about grand plans and I am sure she has a million things running through her head to manage shareholders and board of directors expectations. But one needs to also bear in mind the time that several key leaders and business people have sacrificed and have gathered to hear someone at the forefront of Internet and Technology speak. But well… what can I say. Being the head of Yahoo! is not easy and not going to be any easier in the near future until something radical happens to that company.

At the end after several cliched Q&A banter, I was itching to ask her my question. I, for once would like a CEO of a struggling company putting up a brave face to the world, to come out and say loud and clear – what we are doing sucks and we would like to hear from you as to what you think we should be doing, our strategies don’t seem to be taking us anywhere and we have little clue as to how to bring this company out of the woods and compete in real terms rather than the legacy the company has accumulated over the hay days of the Internet boom. Guess what, I did ask the question and I got a politically correct answer from her – we have made some tactical mistakes in the past but our current strategies are sound and will yield the right results – this in effect was her answer to me.

Let me not scathe anymore. I am sure she is doing the best she can and I do sincerely hope that Yahoo! does become one of the leading players in the Internet services space.

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Hougang to Kota Tinggi

Posted in Uncategorized by Aditya Moorthy on November 9, 2009

I’ve been on long hiatus in posting anything to this blog. Blame it all on laziness, lack of motivation and quality content to write.

But some of that changed this weekend (not the laziness if that’s what you were expecting). I went on a biking trip to Kota Tinggi in Malaysia with my brother on Sunday. The road distance we measured from our home in Hougang, Singapore to Kota Tinggi and back was approximately 120 kilometers. I wasn’t too worried about the distance as we have done this kind of trip in the past and I felt reasonably fit having ridden about 20 kilometers the previous day to TR bikes, a bike shop in the east coast of Singapore. I know what you must be thinking now but let’s just say, that I was psychologically feeling fit about the ride and I love riding in Malaysia, one of the friendlier places to ride a bike.

We started at about 8.30 in the morning and by the time we crossed the border and stopped for breakfast it was 10.30 in the morning. Had some sumptuous Indian breakfast and we set off on the Malaysian highways. For those of you who have not ridden on Malaysian roads, they tend to be a little daunting for an occasional rider (like myself). There is never a long (about 1 KM or more) flat patch of highway for you to relax and stretch your legs.

I normally ride my Terk 1200 SL but this time, I picked up my friend’s Bike Friday Tikit and it was super comfortable to say the least. It has 20″ (updated) 16″ wheels and can be quite slow compared to my road bike but I don’t like riding fast so it was just nice. By the time I hit the 45 KM mark, I started to feel the strain. Tells a lot about my current fitness condition! When we reached the 60 KM mark, we stopped for tender coconut and I realised I was scraping my last reserves. We still had another 8 KM to Kota Tinggi and the whole 68 KM back home. But we decided to turn back as I was not sure if I could go up the additional 8 KM to our destination. Looking back, it was a good decision to have turned back without pushing further. I almost lost it when we were about 10 KM to Johor Bharu the town just across the causeway from Singapore. I had to push my bike up a hill on one stretch. My brother was feeling quite fit on the contrary.

To cut a long story short, we reached Singapore after 10 hours completely exhausted and burnt out. Now that I’ve had a day to reflect on my ride, I think the highlights of it were that we did 100 KM in a day after a long time and discovered the whole new riding experience of a folding bike. The lowlights were of course my fitness level and the incredibly hot sun. I think it must be my hottest ride ever.

@nat had taken some photos which I’ll try to post once he’s processed it. Hopefully, I keep riding most weekends from now on and of course, write about my road trip in an engaging way!