Saturday, November 22, 2014

Android Lollipop: Whats the whole fuss

Android kids may be swooning over lollipop (android version 5.0), however, I fail to see what the whole fuss is about. My phone recently upgraded itself from 4.4 to 5.0 (its a google nexus 5) and I have failed to see how it changes my life except that, and predictably, it is now slower than before, albeit by a small amount not to cause any alarms. Sure there are a few tweaks but by and large could have lived without it as well.

Which made me seek out what others are saying. Just read the top 10 features that Lollipop has that Kit Kat did not here. If this is really it then its a big {Yawn...}

Update: People are reporting that phones have actually become slower. Also not only is the picture Gallery missing, the camera app hangs occasionally as well

The only worthwhile improvement has been that incoming phone calls don't take over the entire screen and can be dismissed while continuing to play games instead of everything else being stopped. As sign that phone is increasingly becoming a convergence device and not simply a smart phone with additional features.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Internal resistance to new ideas in companies

Internal resistance to new ideas is a function of number of employees raised to the power of management levels. Quickest way for many organizations thus would be to collapse /simplify their hierarchical reporting structures 

Saw this on my linkedin stream. So very true...

Saturday, November 15, 2014

OLA Promo Code for India: Get Free Rides in Luxury Cars

Now get Rs. 400 worth of OLA credits for  free rides across town. Use the promo code: G7P3GJ to get Rs 200 off and current scheme gives you 50% off on rides making it free rides of up to Rs 400.

How to avail download the discount of Rs 400:
  • Download the OLA app from the Google play or iTunes store
  • Enter promo code G7P3GJ when creating your account 
  • Book you first ride (anytime) to avail the discount in the first ride itself
  • What are you waiting for, this is applicable in all cities that OLA operates. At the time of writing its available in the following 40 cities
  • Mumbai
  • Kolkata
  • Delhi
  • Aurangabad
  • Bangalore
  • Madurai
  • Pune
  • Tiruchirappally
  • Chennai
  • Rajkot
  • Goa
  • Jalandhar
  • Jaipur
  • Mysore
  • Hyderabad
  • Udaipur
  • Chandigarh
  • Salem
  • Ahmedabad
  • Mangalore
  • Surat
  • Tirunelveli
  • Indore
  • Bhubaneswar
  • Lucknow
  • Guwahati
  • Amritsar
  • Patna
  • Ludhiana
  • Ranchi
  • Visakhapatnam
  • Ujjain
  • Coimbatore
  • Ajmer
  • Nagpur
  • Jamnagar
  • Nashik
  • Gwalior
  • Vadodara
  • Jodhpur

what are you waiting for download the OLA app now and enter promo code G7P3GJ when creating your account  (don't forget this step)

Monday, October 06, 2014

NIIT Limited appoints Rahul Patwardhan as CEO Designate

NIIT, today, announced the appointment of Rahul Patwardhan as its next CEO. Rahul would take over from Vijay Thadani as CEO from April 1, 2015.

Rahul Patwardhan has earlier worked with NIIT for close to 20 years, and  headed the software business for NIIT Technologies in Europe and APAC in his last assignment in 2004 when he left NIIT to head Logica's India Offshore unit as CEO. At Logica he became the MD of Global App Services leading a revenue line of over $1.5 billion.

This appointment is part of succession planning for the founders of NIIT. Vijay Thadani would be elevated to the role of Vice Chairman and Managing Director. P Rajendran, who was the Chief Operating officer of NIIT would become the joint Managing Director.

His global experience would help NIIT which has been seeing rapid growth in its Managed Training Services business  (Training Outsourcing) where it is among the leading companies in the world.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

UBER Vs OLA Luxury Cars - Get Free Rides

Luxury cab rides market in India is heating up and its driven by mobile app companies. Hard to image just sample these

UBER in Mumbai
After lauch of UBER in five india cities, Ola Cabs has also upped its game. The well funded India start up has now tied up with luxury cab companies in India to offer its services across multiple cities. Ola is already present in 8 cities and would be adding other cites soon including Chandigarh.

Ola's Response

Good news for riders in India though. We have cover a long way from our favourite kaali peeli taxis.

Anyways, if you want a free rides on UBER, signup using the following link You get Rs 300 as you UBER Credit. Use additional promo codes after this to get additional discounts.  If Ola is more your thing use the following code while signing up to get Rs 300 in OLA money: G7P3GJ

Happy Riding!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Why Congress may spring a few surprises in the current polls

I am no psephology expert, and these are just my thoughts.

Lets agree that, BJP is outspending Congress by a huge margin and their media managers have made very effective use of this spending power. With that as a background, here are a few thoughts for you to consider

Gujarat has certainly grown fast over the last 10 years (next only to Uttrakhand). However 10 other states have outpaced it in growth over the last 5 years (period for which data is available). So while there is much to like about what is called the Gujarat model (frankly, other than a few anecdotes, I know nothing about this famed model), it is certainly not the only 'model'. Gujarat still has prohibition(although per reports there is a 30K crore grey market). Therefore its tough for me to reconcile with the Gujarat model, if I have to buy my weekly fix through the grey market, although my spouse would be happy if it implemented nationwide.

Lets also agree that in cities (certainly the metro cities in North and West India) there is certainly a Modi 'wave'. But it may be imprudent to completely write off Congress for a couple of reasons

1. Anti incumbency vote may get divided between Modi and AAP
2. Congress Government has done tremendous work outside of the main cities in the areas of Education and Healthcare over the last 10 years. Initiatives like NREGA, despite many chinks in execution, are providing livelihood to many and part of the enormous work done on 'Inclusion'. While Congress has failed to highlight this in the media, there is bound to be some goodwill from these initiatives amongst people that have benefited from it.

In any case, if Modi does win, his party may not be the one celebrating over the next 5 years, because it may turn out that the incumbent government is not really more corrupt that the previous government by his party, as is the popular perception. But that this, popular perception, is a result of the tremendous increase in media spotlight/CAG activism over the last few years, This is likely to get amplified even more in the coming 5 years because of the huge expectations being built around him.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Elections 2014: Media inquisitions and Ullu Banaoing

Its elections time once again and a rather elongated period. Our politicians are now facing increasing scrutiny from media and the common man. Journalists are not afraid to ask the rough questions or relay popular resentment in interviews with new or powerful seasoned politicians (except Modi, Sonia and Rahul - which is not unexpected - even Arnab Goswami's interview of RG was rather tame, compared to his usual inquisitions).  Remember they still face accusations about choosing sides, biased opinions and paid news. But have our journalists come of age.

Despite the above accusations, I believe that the biggest failings is their ability to questions the replies they get, to get past rhetoric and not allowing these politicians to escape with jingoism and get real answers. Eg  Q. Why haven't you apologised for the riots that happened in the year AAAA?  Answer: Why does our oppositions not answer for XXX, YYY and ZZZ.  More people died in the these three. They were in power at the centre at all these times including in AAAA.

The journalists are happy at this point. Content that they have got the answer to the questions that were handed to them by their editor. They tick off this question and move to the next one. Politicians have realized that that they can side step difficult questions quite easily. Notice the reply, does not even attempt to the question asked and easily sidesteps it. The interviewer mentally ticks off a box in his list of questions and moves on to the next one. Headlines next days would say MMMM asks opposition party to atone for their sins.

This gets repeated for issue after issue. This "Ullu banaoing" continues. Everybody is happy.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Were you denied the right to vote yesterday? Here is a story you can relate to.

Were you denied the right to vote yesterday? Here is a story you can relate to.


When Reeti Pandharipande walked into the polling booth at 7 am, she expected to vote. Many hours later, she returned home tired and frustrated, with a finger that was not ink-stained.
You voted on April 10. I did not.
Here's why.
I woke up at 6.15 am and was at the polling booth to vote at 7 am. I had my voter’s ID card, the same one I had used in three previous elections, at the same centre where my in-laws and husband vote.
To my shock, my name was missing!
I looked up as many lists as possible till 1.30 pm, moving from one booth to another, trying to find a solution.
My husband and I then went to the voting helpline. The name is irony itself; the voting helpline looked like it needed a lot of help.
There were four staffers who were attending phones that were ringing off the hook.
A typical call consisted of a caller complaining that his or her name was not in the voter list. The helpline operator would take down the details and promise to call “later” if he could find the name in the voter list.
This was easier said than done as the website on which the list could be searched was painfully slow and full of bugs.
The staff seemed earnest, but were helpless.
They couldn't find my name on the list, but they did give me a shocking bit of news: My voter ID, a unique combination of alphabets and digits, was associated with the name of a woman staying at Manewada (Reeti stays in central Nagpur while Manewada is located at the city's periphery).
Disheartened after over an hour's futile wait, hubby came back home.
My father-in-law suggested I meet the district collector and complain about the goof-up.
I went to the collector's office, but the man in charge, Abhishek Krishna, was away on poll duty. I was asked to meet the deputy collector, Pradeep Dange.
After a brief wait, I was granted an audience with Dange and other senior officials.
Already seething with anger and frustration, I told them what the problem was. Deputy Collector Nishikant Suke told me that if my name was not in the voters's list, I could not vote on April 10. Period.
I pleaded with him and explained I had voted in at least three elections previously, had not changed my address or made an application to delete my name from the voter's list. How, then, was my name missing from the list? Who deleted it? And why?
The official said, "It may or may not have been a mistake. You should have checked whether the latest voter's list has your name. It's not our responsibility at all."
So let me get this straight!
It is my responsibility to complete the voter registration procedure, submit all documents, identity and address proofs.
It is my responsibility to stand in a queue to submit the documents and get my picture clicked.
It is my responsibility to not mislay the card.
It is my responsibility to produce it every time I vote.
And, yes, it is my responsibility as a responsible, educated citizen to vote.
But why is it my responsibility to check if my name has been deleted from the list due to a clerical goof-up?
Why is it my responsibility if my voter ID has been allotted to some random person?
And if my name has been deleted due to no fault of mine, why is my responsibility to go through the same circuitous procedure of making the voter ID card?
I got this explanation: "Do you know how much workload one officer has? How can all that work be done flawlessly? The voter list gets updated every January 1. So your name got deleted. Do you expect me to keep a check on each and every name?"
Yes, I bloody well do. Because, sir, that's your damn job.
Our politicians spend millions of rupees campaigning, constituency-hopping in chartered planes, putting out ads and paying crowds to attend their rallies. If they are so desperate for votes, how about making sure that the voter who wants to vote for you has his or her name in the list?
Reeti had to return home with a finger that was not ink-stained.There are many people just like me, whose names were deleted from the list because of a 'clerical error' and who went from one booth to another, one office to another, to plead for that one opportunity to have their say in the country's democratic process.
And all they got was, "Go away. Make a new voter card. You can't vote this time."
The governnment, the politicians, the administration get disheartened by the fact that barely half the voting population takes the trouble to get out of their homes and vote. They make appeal after appeal about how every vote is precious. About how it is a responsibility. A duty. A right.
Yes, my vote is my right. And today, I was deprived of my inviolable, Constitutional right, for no fault of mine.
So, instead of posting a selfie with my inked index finger, I am posting something different.
I am posting my middle finger to this wretched system and to the politicians who don't deserve my vote.
I don't respect the system, because the system doesn't respect me.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

UBER Promo Code India

UBER launch in India brings luxury cab rides to the common man. Get rides on Mercs, Beamers, Audis and other luxury cars in India. To promote new users to sign up, UBER offers free credits to first time riders. Visit the following link and follow the instructions to sign up and get free credits and free rides:

Or signup with the promo code - UBEREQUT to get Free Ride credits to your account.. You can then use other promotion codes (if available to get additional discounts). UBER has been recently launched in India. and is already available in cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad and Delhi/NCR. Install the app to see if it is available for your city yet and travel in style.

My free rides so far on UBER have consisted of

1.  Honda Accord
2. Mercedes S Class
3. BMW 5 Series
4. Toyota Fortuner
5. Toyota Camry

Update: Jan 9 : Got a free ride on BMW 7 Series

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Guaranteed Free Rides on UBER - More Promo Codes

People in Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore are riding luxury cabs for free by using these promo codes. To get free rides in Delhi, Bangalore or Hyderabad, try any of the following promo codes at the time of signing up. Guaranteed Success!

Please note these promo codes are only for a limited time. Don't miss the chance to arrive in style on a Mercedes S Class or a BMW 7 Series. Many of my friends already are. Limited time remaining in these cities.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Microsoft Site Suggestion: Find A Grave

I typed find in the address bar and google wants me to find a grave. Talk about ways to turn off your users. Maybe they too are ruing over missed opportunity to buy whatsapp. Click on the following image:


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Facebook Buys Whatsapp - The Reasons: What was Zuck thinking?

Facebook has acquired WhatsApp for an eye popping USD 19 billion dollars. In INR terms that is Rs 1,18,370 Crore. The whopping acquisition price includes USD 4 billion in cash, about USD 12 billion worth of Facebook shares and USD 3 billion in restricted stock units to be granted to WhatsApp’s founders and employees that will vest over four years following the closing of the deal. Happiness here, but many of Facebook's shareholders were not happy, punishing the stock which ended down post the announcement. So the big questions is: What was Zuckerberg thinking?
Here are my thoughts:
  • Whatsapp has 450 million people and adding 1 million people every day. With a little push WhatsApp can reach a billion plus people or more, same as Facebook.
  • Facebook believes its future is on the mobile phones. WhatsApp has become a part of life for smart phone users worldwide and many of these use WhatsApp much more than facebook.
  • While Facebook is all about sharing and putting your life for everyone to see and people may stop using facebook if this trend reverses . Messaging on WhatsApp satisfies peoples need to share  and communicate and at the same time gives them an option to feel much more secure.
  • WhatsApp is a simple, fast and reliable mobile messaging service, and in these aspects it is a lot better than facebook.
  • You don't have to join facebook, or remain on facebook to keep using WhatsApp. So Facebook is hedging its bets
Investors, however, are worried that this dilutes Facebook's earnings. At $173 billion market cap, facebook is already valued over a 100 times its net earnings. 
However, Zuck is using one expensive currency to buy another asset so in reality, he is not paying as much at least in practice even if he is paying more in theory. Importantly for Zuck and for all those whose primary investment is in Facebook this diversifies their portfolio. Adding WhatsApp is therefore much more cheaper for Zuck than for an ordinary, marginal investors like private equity and hedge funds.
Then there is the questions of whether incremental money is important to Zuckerberg or not. Studies point to decreasing utility and psychological effects of money as it increases. Zuck is probably more motivated by his initiative and the power he enjoys, by virtue of being able to connect billions of users. 
Now, ordinarily minority shareholders would protest and Zuck may have had to back off. But, remember Zuck controls most of the voting rights.

While some creative and complex arguments can be made to justify the valuation, in the long term the ultimate value is cash flows which WhatsApp seems to lack at the moment.

Anyways, here are some interesting questions that a FB investor must consider:

  1. Build vs Buy: Traditional M&A takes into account build vs buy. However how do you value an acquisition where you have failed to build, even though estimated cost to build may be much lower.
  2.  Need to achieve diversification, especially when there have been doubts raised about sustainability of the business.
  3.  Need to signal that you believe in the valuation that your own company is getting
  4.  If you are worth close to 50 billion dollars, a few billion dollars up or down does not matter vs the marginal investor
  5.  Since FB has been doing well, no body yet has questioned governance and minority rights at FB. Remember Zuck has disproportionate voting rights. How does an investor view this or is that part of the deal.
  6.  How do you value a competitor which can hurt or is already hurting your cash flows, even if it does not create cash flows of its own?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Education Budget 2014-15 - India Higher Education Statistics

Government has increased budget expenditure for 2014 -15 to Rs 81441 Cr vs RE of Rs 74626 Cr in 2013-14. However, the BE is only 9% higher than RE for current year, and is lags overall growth (at 11%) for the government expenditure for next year. Details are as follows

Rs Cr2012-20132013-20142013-20142014-2015
Plan - ExpenditureActualsBEREBE
Department of School Education42822496594715951198
Department of Higher Education 12711162101470316200
Total 55533658696186267398
Non-Plan Expenditure    
Department of School Education2810304229773287
Department of Higher Education 772010552978710756
Total Expenditure     
Department of School Education45632527015013654485
Department of Higher Education 20431267622449026956


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Competition in Personal Loans Market Driving Interest Rates Lower

Not sure if you have noticed, but the number of calls I am getting, offering a Personal Loan at low rates has increased multi-fold. The number of spam emails is also increasing.

The interest rates have fallen sharply as well. Loans that charged 15-18% annual interest rates in the past, are now being offered at 12.5%. The offers also include discounts on processing fee.

Interestingly this has happened despite the fact that RBI has not yet decreased interest rates. But this is likely an impact of the prevailing liquidity in the market. Of the various banks, Stan C seems to be offering the lowest rates on personal loans (checked online and this phenomenon is happening in UK market as well). 

Anyways, if you are looking for a personal loan, this is perhaps a good time to consider taking one. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Khobragate: Notes to Self and Importance of context

US View:
  1. A case of violation of rights to fair and equal pay, and a case of mistreatment of domestic help 
  2. Tough to sympathize with the high flying diplomat that breaks US laws 
  3. Indicative of social inequality in India 
  4. Cavity search: Standard Procedure

Can't argue against that. However the view in India is different. 

India view 
  1. Case of a powerful nation throwing the book on an Indian national
  2. Hard to sympathize with someone (the maid) who gets paid more than an average IT programmer in India 
  3. While Indians have faults (which need to be discussed separately), but they definitely need to draw a line on humiliation, even if it comes from the most richest national in the world 
  4. Cavity search as humiliating as Rape (Just as calling someone 'Monkey' be branded as being racist in another famous situation) . US cannot get away with it hiding behind 'Standard Procedure' tag. To further rub salt into (emotional) wounds, it was supposedly for Khobragade's own protection. Cavity search is de-humanizing for anyone, let alone a self respecting woman, who thought that through education and hard work, had left behind the tag of being untouchable and being low caste in India and come to United States, the land of equality and supposed fairness for all.  
  5. US diplomats get away with murder (remember what happened in Pakistan last year, where a diplomat shot dead 2 Pakistanis and was allowed to go back to US), while here another diplomat is being charged for visa fraud. If this is not double standards then what it is. 
  6. Can think of several big wigs in the US corporate world who mis-represented facts (US sub-prime crisis) who have never been touched or arrested, let alone cavity searched. Seems there is an alternate set of laws and 'Standard Procedures' for them. Ironically, a certain Preet Bharara is a vocal, local champion crusader against such people, who should have empathized with Khobragade's angst and humiliation as he hails from India, is believed to be acting 'whiter than white' and going after a few famous Indians in his quest for a political office. 
  7. The same Preet Bharara which vouches for US legal system and champions US laws, is seen as being implicit in breaking laws in India  and seemingly does not think it is a crime to do so. 
  8. Last while US lectures Indians on morals and ethics, it needs to see itself in the mirror and remember it is home to racism, atrocities and distrust against minorities at even the swankiest of places (against mexicans, african-americans, asians, Pakistanis, even the chinese are not spared and are stereotyped) and regularly justify religion and racial profiling of people. Its history is littered with crimes against humanity. Still not convinced, think Hiroshima. 

Anyway's my note to self is to be mindful of the context. What is okay in one place and time may not be okay in at another place or even same place at a different time. 

Friday, January 03, 2014

Are markets being rational or irrational with these stocks?

Someone shared the following information with me. Showing it verbatim 
Markets can stay irrational longer than investors can stay solvent, said Keynes and it is as true today as it was when it was said. There are aberrations that leave the most astute investors stunned. Please find below 10 such stocks that have risen or fallen contrary to market expectations, defying logic.

1. Jubilant Foodworks: Here is a case of “analyst proposes market disposes”! Jubilant is holding on to it fort despite a 40% earnings downgrade this year and notwithstanding expensive valuations (37x 1-yr fwd earnings was sustained thro the year) that implied expectations were sky high. Surprisingly, the stock fell only 1% YTD. FY15 EPS estimates, which were Rs44 in Jan 2013, were cut to Rs32 by Nov 2013. Furthermore, estimates for same store sales (SSS) growth for FY15, which were at 22% YoY in Sept 2012, were cut to 12% now.

2. Just Dial listed at 40x PE in May 2013 and enthused the markets further by being re-rated to 60x+ PE within six months. Guess it is cheap at 16x currently, but not to forget that this valuation is at 16x sales and not Ebitda or Earnings!

3. The stock prices of Mindtree, HCLT, TECHM, Persistent, and Infotech shot up 100-150% this year. In sharp contrast, FY15 earnings upgrades for these companies were only 15-30%. Still interesting, these earnings upgrades were almost entirely due to currency and not due to improvements in the business outlook for these companies. Therefore, there is no major change in growth assumptions. However, what defies logic is not the sharp upward move in these stocks. BUT, it would be interesting to inquire why these high ROE/ROCE companies with relatively clean managements traded at <10x few="" for="" past="" pe="" span="" the="" years="">

4. Westlife still finds takers at 150x+ PE, and it is only a franchisee, not even a brand owner. Going by the Jubilant example, earnings expectations do not seem to matter. The stock already discounts years and probably decades of robust growth. The last time I saw a stock at ~150-200x PE was Wipro in 2000, 13 years down and still 30% shy of its peak!
5. Bajaj Auto’s market share in 2W has almost halved in three years. A couple years back, the difference between the mkt shares of Bajaj and TVS in domestic 2Ws used to be 500bps (Bajaj @ 20.5%, TVS @ 15%). Now it is down to 200bps (Bajaj @ 13.5%, TVS @ 11.5%). Bajaj Auto is up 100% in three years. Bajaj’s export volumes that are close to peak margins may have aided the stock. However, is it not pertinent to ask why Bajaj has not been penalised for failing to protect its domestic turf?

6. Axis Bank – the MSCI havoc: With no FII headroom, the Axis stock collapsed after it was removed from the MSCI India Index. Furthermore, NPAs worries etc amplified the “fear” factor. The stock corrected from Rs1500 in May 2013 to May 2013 to

7. HDFC: Despite one-year forward book value growing by 48%, the stock has returned zero returns in the past 38 months. How can one forget the blurb “cumulative NPA of just 3bps since 1977” that sustained its appeal? Not to forget the various stakes — 1) 22% stake in HDFC Bank, which is up almost 100%; 2) stakes in HDFC Life (from loss of Rs2.75bn in FY10 to net profit of Rs4.5bn in FY13): AMC (profit up from Rs2.1bn in FY10 to Rs3.2bn in FY13), HDFC Ergo - General Insurance (from loss of Rs0.9bn in FY10 to net profit of Rs1.5bn in FY13) where profits are up massively in the past three years.

8. United Breweries Scottish and Newcastle entered into an alliance with UB Beer in Dec 2004. Since 2004, the stock is up 60-80x. Ebitda margins did go up from 6.5% in FY04 to 14.5% in FY06. However, since then, for the past eight years, Ebitda margins have remained flat at ~12%. Scottish and Newcastle was acquired by Heineken in Jan 2008. Since Jan 2008, UB Beer is up 130%+. There were considerable expectations about growth opportunity in India, given under-penetration and a young population etc. However, in the past five years, volume Cagr was 12.3% (lower than many other FMCG categories). In fact, in FY12 and FY13, volume growth slowed to ~5% pa. And lo and behold, despite all these factors, the stock re-rated from 40x to 90x PE in the past five years! Logic, where art thou?

9. ITC Consider this: ITC’s five-year Cagr in (sticks) = Philip Morris’s 2.2% pa vs. ITC’s 0.4% pa. Furthermore, dividend yield of Phillip Morris is 4.5% in dollar terms whereas that of ITC is 1.6% in rupee terms. Nonetheless, in the past three years, the ITC stock was up ~90% whereas the Phillip Morris stock increased 45%. This is not even adjusted for buybacks by Phillip Morris and ESOP dilutions by ITC.

10. Decimation of the PSUs: Thenavratnas” do not seem to sparkle anymore! Not surprisingly, these companies seem to be languishing close to or below their list price. HPCL is below its listing price of 1992, IOC is at the same levels as 2003, Power Grid’s price is the same since its IPO listing in 2007, and Coal India is below its IPO listing price in 2010. And do not forget MTNL, which is below its 1993 listing price !!

Thursday, January 02, 2014

How to spot a valuation bubble? .. and profit from it!

Look at the following chart to decide if you are tracking a bubble (forming or bursting) to profit from it and avoid huge losses.

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