Platformization of the Web – Yahoo, Google, Facebook…

Recalling back in 2006 the talk around Silicon Valley was about the web as a platform connecting platforms, and how it would ultimately shape the web. In fact I helped organize a panel along those lines as part of OPEN Silicon Valley quarterly event series titled ‘Platformization of the web: Yahoo, Google, Facebook’. Dave McClure then at Google was one of the panelists. It was a novel concept then, we were still thinking of the web as a sort of information repository – social aspect was very new to the vast majority of users and the only social platform we had then were Yahoogroups, a mere glorification of the legacy listservs, and blogspot a sort of social platform for the more literary/intellectual geeks.
Fast forward to today Yahoo is out of the picture, Google continues to try it’s hand at capitalizing on social but thus far has failed miserably, though it now seems to be showing a glimmer of hope with it’s Hangout application. Thus leaving Facebook as the sole social network that’s, borrowing a line from Cisco ” ‘changed’ the way we Work, Live, and Play”!

However even Facebook has hit a snag in taking things like photo sharing, instant text messaging to a level where users get a seamless product that’s as easy as counting 1-2-3 to use. So two years back you got Facebooks out of the ordinary billion dollar acquisition of Instagram, and now Facebook’s multi billion dollar acquisition of Whatsapp.

What’s next? Has Facebook become the default social platform for the world wide web leaving search and discovery to Google, as Facebook sucks at that. In fact we also have Twitter which is showing some promise in becoming the social library for content working in tandem with Google and Facebook.

(Originally posted as a Facebook post)

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Echoes from the Past

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The new juxtaposed upon the old. From Victorian era buildings to contemprory present day glass towers. London is a town where tradition and modernity are intricately married in a harmonious symphony. Amidst the hustle and bustle of day-to-day city life you hear the gentle music of the past echoing in the backdrop.

Watching people walking in and out of London Victoria Station one can’t help think of the generations that have passed through this iconic landmark. From the likes of Gandhi, Jinnah, Nehru to my very own maternal grandfather, Hassanally A Rahman spent many years in this city.

London is one of the most well planned global cities. One of handful of cities that has been built around a sense of community. From the stellar public transport system to parks and street corners. This city encourages greater random human contact. That’s the mark of a civilized city.

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A Toast To The Honey Bees!

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The entrepreneurs long full of wonder walk! © Copyright Abdulrahman Rafiq 2011 at The White House

An entrepreneur is someone who continuously feels being out of his element; doubting and second guessing oneself comes with the terrain. It’s  a known yet well kept secret of entrepreneurs. 

Mainstream pop culture that seek out the best and brightest, capitalizing on the very notion that an entrepreneur is a “know it all” maven are  doing a great disservice to aspiring entrepreneurs by not conveying the whole picture. 

The truth, though on the face things may appear discouraging, on the contrary it’s an impetus to dig deeper – encouraging the bold to take the plunge and explore.
Entrepreneurs are like artists and writers,  asking the tough questions others wouldn’t dare ask, yet unlike the artists and writers they self impose the burden of finding, or rather defining the answers to those tough questions. Thus they are always in a constant state of exploration.

Those questions that many a time go against conventional beliefs,  the questions that ordinary men would shun away out of fear of becoming a social and professional outcast or out of fear of loosing. Those questions that have driven men insane for millenia. Yet they continue to pursue until their last breath.

The hard truth of going down that path is that it’s a lonely one, where a select few have the wherewithal to go down. There is no guarantee of success.  In fact there is no way an entrepreneur can guarantee with absolute certainty that there’s a pot of gold lying at the end of the long dark tunnel.

You are driven by your own convictions, driven by a force within that says you must venture down a path no matter what the outcome.

Yeah you can try and quantify the risks, construct elaborate financial models to appease yourself and society, i.e your supporters and bank rollers.  But let’s face it, all that amounts to a load of BS.

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© Copyright Abdulrahman Rafiq 2013 London Underground

Let’s stop kidding ourselves. If you have a burning desire to try and solve one of the puzzles of the universe, impact society in unimaginable ways then for crying out loud go and just do it. Turn your idea into something tangible by taking a chance, plung into the deep end.

Your idea is only as good as your conviction to see it to fruition. Don’t wait for the perfect moment to come along. Just do it and build your idea into a tangible business. If you happen to fail, big deal move on to the next idea.

There is no such thing as failure, no effort goes in vein, as the journey of an entrepreneur is a journey of a lifelong student – continuously striving and pivoting an idea – tailoring it to suite mass demand.

Fuck what the Wallstreet “analyst” have to say. As their analysis are based on convention of thinking inside the box. That is a box that at some point in time was created by someone like you who thought outside a box of conventional wisdom.

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A Silver Lined Death Sentence, Dressed In Blue!

Getting laid of from my very first job and the company I joined straight out of college was probably the best thing that could have happened to me.

In one stroke my employer, Cisco Systems pulled the rug from under myself and thousands of others. A shock it was, as who could have imagined this. Especially it happening to you.

You may have played all the right cards available to corporate professionals. Yet at the end of the day usefulness of employees is not based on their individual contribution alone.

As an employee in a corporation you get paid for being in the office day-in and day-out, as long as you deliver upon your specific role, everyone is happy, and you continue to get paid, with the occasional bonus slapped on.

It is a great and cushy life, you feel on top of the world, secure in your life. Never really expecting your life line to the company could ever be axed by the very same company you’ve diligently slaved for day-in and day-out.

That was me until the morning of Thursday, July 16 2009. Upon walking in to my cubicle, as I took my seat in front of my 17 inch LCD monitor, I clicked open Outlook to find two emails from both my managers marked urgent with the subject line “Please contact me at your earliest convenience”.

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On Outsourcing & Democrats Misplaced Criticism

Although I support the Democrat platform and have campaigned for President Obama, I do not agree with the Democrats attack and misplaced criticism towards outsourcing, as explicitly depicted in attack advertisements against Mitt Romney. It is not as evil as the Obama Campaign is making it out to appear. Outsourcing within moderation is a valuable tool for any small business owner or entrepreneur.

There is nothing wrong in outsourcing menial work abroad, it actually helps Americas small business sector in becoming more productive, competitive and profitable. In turn enabling them to create more high paying jobs in the United States.

Small businesses are the backbone to the American economy. Democrats and the Obama Administration claim to support small businesses yet to date have acted as advocates for big business and Cooperate America. Not to mention the Obama Administrations poster Jobs zhar who heads up General Electric (GE) has used outsourcing to GEs advantage. More on GE and outsourcing jobs.

Indeed, it is true the Obama Administration has given tax cuts to small business and have encouraged their growth, however the support has been minuscule and to some degree short lived.

Case-in-Point: take the recent import tariffs imposed on Chinese Solar Panels. The move is counter productive and only helps the big Solar panel manufacturers and not the large number of the America Solar Installers, most of whom are small business struggling to keep afloat in these recessionary times. There competitiveness depend on low cost Solar Modules from China, however with the newly instated import tariffs many Solar business may end up shuttering down. More on impact of US Import Tariffs on Solar here.

Democrats need to realize without the ability to outsource Americas small business sector is doomed to failure. The America that was built by small business entrepreneurs will not survive if restrictions on outsourcing are imposed. Business, small or big demands space in a borderless world to operate.

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Homeless in Siliconattle

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A homeless guy availing of free WiFi for his laptop while standing next to his bike laden with personal effects, outside the closed Starbucks on University Avenue in Palo Alto on 4th of July 2012

 

 

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Happy Independence Day

Happy independence Day!

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Cloud cover over Peninsula from Dunbarton Bridge, Fremont, California

Happy independence of mind, body and spirit — be it the 4th of July, 14th of August, 15th of August, 26th of March, etc — independence day commemorates a turning point for mankind. A day when groups of people declared with one voice, one focus and a united heart to change the status quo.

Independence day is a state of being and mind. It is a day when people decide to expand their horizon beyond the realm of the known and beyond societal norms.

From that state whole new nations were born around the world. From that state new companies were founded, cutting edge technological breakthroughs were made, new religions were born.

Independence Day is a day when the perspective of a few became the perspective of the many, thus establishing new societal norms.

Today we don’t just celebrate the 236th Independence Day of  the United States of America, but we celebrate the evolution of a people from one state of mind and being to another.

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Independence of mind, body, and spirit.

Today is a day we celebrate the power of human ingenuity.

Today is a day when the intellect and the human heart united to break the shackles of tyranny and oppression.

Independence Day are days in history when humanity went the whole nine-yards to to bring about constructive disruption in society.

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Study: Crowd Density at Apple vs Microsoft Outlet Stores

The following is a visual study comparing the crowd densities at Apple vs Micrisoft retail stores. Study conducted at the Stanford Shopping Mall in Palo Alto, in the Afternoon of Saturday, June 30, 2012 with Jehan Ara, President Pakistan Software House association and Zunaira Durani.

Apple Store:

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Microsoft Store:
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Apple Store:

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Microsoft Store:

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The Community Side Of Silicon Valley

People being people on a beautiful Friday evening. From Engineers to Corporate Executives to Startup entrepreneurs. Comes the weekend – life in the cubicle and board rooms seizes – people of Silicon Valley venture out scoping the social scene.

Walking the streets of Downtown Palo Alto one finds people – families, children, husbands, wives, girl friends, boy friends, one night stand candidates – all living in the moment, setting aside personal and business related stuff.

The Valley isn’t just the technology mecca of the world. It’s uniqueness resides with the people – a diverse community flocked to this tiny spot on the planet with dreams of hitting the jackpot making some technology product or the other.

The weekend is one of the few moments Valley denizens get to flex social skills – whether attached or unattached – man or woman – each is seen trying hard, fast and loose to stand out to the opposite sex

You see people of all ethnic, national, and religious backgrounds -Muslims, Jews, Indians, Street Musicians, Indie Artists, cute puppies – you name it the streets of downtown Silicon Valley -Palo Alto to Mountain View are abuzz with life.

This is when techies, corporate guys and gals stop living their job and become living, breathing social beings — savoring the moment as if there’s no tomorrow, or no yesterday.

 

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Technology: To Ends, or To Means?

All to often policy makers, bureaucrats, and technologist make the mistake of  perceiving technology as the solution to all vices, not realizing that technology alone will not help in their quest to achieving nirvana.

It’s understandable when technologists from the High-Tech capital, Silicon Valley look upon technology as the one stop solution to all of humanities problems, after all Silicon Valley techies live, breath, eat, and drink technology day-in and day-out. However, it’s  quite shocking when policy makers, government officials, Ivy League MBA graduates and many a times entrepreneurs are found evangelizing technology solutions as the ultimate solution to everything, and forget the human aspect of the problem they are attempting to solve.

I admit,  early in my career, as a Silicon Valley Technologists I to would look upon technology as a one stop shop — an Ends to a Means. However, I realized, or rather was made to realize early that just because it exists, it doesn’t mean it’s got to be used. Technology, as I have come to learn  and accept, is nothing but a means to an end.

Technology solutions are mere tools that enables drivers — policy makers, business professionals, Entrepreneurs, and bureaucrats to be drivers, and find solutions to issues faced at their organization or country.

Technologists, whether at fortune 500 corporations, or fledgling startups in some remote corner of the globe know only one thing, and that is how to create kick-ass products, it’s up to the world  (the client) to find a use for it — though nothing  stopping the technologists from suggesting use case scenarios as guide posts.

Just because a technology solution exists, it does not mean it should or can be used. Users of technology need to be mindful of the problem their solving, identify the requirements and then go and look for, or if needed develop the specific technology application.

 

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