It is educational to compare and contrast the two tech. booms that this world is witnessing right now. Silicon Valley is going thru a mini deja-vu of sorts, what with the spurt of so called web 2.0 companies mushrooming all over the place. The buzz word this time around is “build to flip” – build something cool and innovative and hope it catches the eyes of one of the big three – Google, Microsoft or Yahoo (affectionately termed as GYM). The VC community can’t hide its excitement as well and funds have come up to focus exclusively on emerging technologies like RSS. Earlier this year, during my visit to the Valley, I happened to go to the Canvas cafe with Marc. We were able to spot half a dozen leading thinkers there deep in conversation and bainstorming ideas. In short, a boom in Silicon Valley means lots of new startups, exciting ideas, coolio conferences and most importantly small companies giving big companies a run for their money. Exciting times indeed!
Now, let us turn our attention to our own..ahem… IT boom. What we term as a boom is actually creation of behemoth billion dollar companies with tens of thousands of employees. This has led to rising salaries and growing concerns about attrition and employee retention. Don’t get me wrong – it is great that the software sector has been able to generate such wealth and employment. But, unfortunately, our boom has so far not been about technology or innovation. Our tech. industry has its head buried so deep down in servicing offshore clients, that we are taking no notice of the other boom on that side of atlantic. Everyday I still run into tech. savvy engineers who don’t know the silicon valley has already moved onto web 2.0. We are running way behind the curve and not making much of an effort to catch up. The outsourcing business is so huge and lucrative, that it has almost become an albatross around our neck. The big 3 – Infy, Wipro and TCS should be investing in creating more awareness and spurring innovation – but they are not. Why do we see no or few technology conferences? Why is this IT boom just about outsourcing? Where are the startups, I ask!
I think our VC community can play a big role in changing things. They need to make some big bets. Fund a risky idea. Bet a few million on something that is untested and never done before (of course easy to say for me coz it ain’t my money!) Encourage technology development for local market. Convince Indian engineers and entrepreneurs abroad to return back and do statups. Even during the dotcom boom we saw much more buzz and excitement in India (India World, Naukri, Jobsahead etc all started before or around that time). But since Y2K, its been all downhill.
This outsourcing thing killed the startup culture!