Subba’s Serendipitous moments

June 26, 2008

Ambanis power play — Business rivalry or sibling jealousy?

Two billionaires who occupy the number 5 and number 6 position in the Forbes World’s Billionaires list and who are brothers are involved in a bitter feud.

I guess the whole world is watching Anil Ambani’s consolidation play merging Reliance Communications with leading player MTN of South Africa. This merger would create the world’s seventh largest mobile operator.

Just as the talks progressed, Mukesh Ambani (elder brother of Anil Ambani) attempted to thwart the consolidation attempt by claiming a right of first refusal should the R-Com shares be sold as per a family agreement arrived at 3 years ago. Since very little is known of the family agreement apart from splitting the various businesses between them, it is difficult to comment on the claims made by the brothers.

Anil Ambani has threatened legal action against his elder brother.

So, what’s this feud all about?

Is it the fact that if the deal comes about Anil Ambani (the younger brother) would move ahead of his brother in the Forbes Annual Billionaire list? As per the Forbes report, Anil Ambani’s fortunes is valued at $42 billion, just a tad shy of Mukesh Ambani’s fortunes at $43 billion.

Is it merely a shadow boxing as there are implications on other listed companies under the two brothers? More importantly what impact it would have in another dispute whether the pricing of gas supply is involved?

The business world has seen its share of sibling rivalry being played out and the Indian business world has seen its fair share. Rather than being able to sort it out within the family environment (apparently both of them stay under the same roof), why have they chosen to enact the drama in full view of the world is something that is beyond my comprehension.

I wonder how the mother Kokilaben who played a major role in dividing the assets between the brothers would make a decision here.

Both brothers are geniuses. As the world waits to see how this would be resolved, I only hope that they don’t spend their time in sibling jealousy, but find a meaningful solution to this issue and other pending issues.

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Collaboration amidst competition

Filed under: Inspiration,Learning,Model,Strategy — Subbaraman Iyer @ 12:12 am
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Much has been said about “coopetition” — the phenomenon of collaborating with one’s competitors in business literature. It undoubtedly has its merits though it is a huge challenge to pull it off.

The entrance test to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) is the most difficult exam on the planet. The acceptance ratio is somewhat closer to 250: 1 and hence competition is intense.

Under such circumstances, it is unusual to see student collaborate — not for a common cause but to help each other.

The piece here describes an instance of how a group of underprivileged students (some of them didn’t know what a carpet was) collaborated with each other and ensured mutual success.

What was also heartening for me personally, (as it echoes my own definition of a good teacher) is one student’s description of a good teacher. He said “My definition of a good teacher is one who doesn’t give answers but keeps asking the right questions, thereby helping the students to get to their own answers.”

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June 25, 2008

Nokia’s aggressive play against Google

Filed under: Business,Competition,Strategy — Subbaraman Iyer @ 11:29 pm
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Today Nokia announced that it is investing $410 million to acquire full control of Symbian. It further announced that it will give the software away royalty free. In short, open source it.

Given that there are 5 players in the mobile operating system world (RIM, Apple, Palm, Microsoft and Symbian) and one emerging player (Google with Android), it seems that Nokia’s current move is aimed more at Google than anyone else. And for good reason.

With this move not only is Nokia attempting to move the elements of competition from software to handset design, it is also a means of attracting third party application developers in a way other players like Apple and Google have managed to do do.

The coming years will mean one thing — it is no longer a competing world where just the hand set manufacturers are competing with one another. It would mean a network based eco-system oriented competition. It would also be interesting to see if there would be a true open mobile platform and also see how the licensing issues change if proprietary hardware and software can be put into an Android or a Symbian phone.

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June 4, 2008

Faith gives us a new vision

Filed under: Learning,Perspective — Subbaraman Iyer @ 4:06 am
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A group of working adults got together to visit their  University lecturer.

The lecturer was happy to see them. Conversation  soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.

The Lecturer  just smiled and went to the kitchen to get an assortment of cups – some  porcelain, some in plastic, some in glass, some plain looking and some looked  rather expensive and exquisite.

The Lecturer offered his former  students the cups to get drinks for themselves.

When all the students  had a cup in hand with water, the Lecturer spoke: “If you noticed, all the  nice looking, expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap  ones. While it is normal that you only want the best for yourselves, that is  the source of your problems and stress. What all you wanted was water, not the  cup, but we unconsciously went for the better cups.”

“Just like in  life, if Life is Water, then the jobs, money and position in society are the  cups. They are just tools to hold/maintain Life, but the quality of Life  doesn’t change.”

“If we only concentrate on the cup, we won’t have time  to enjoy/taste the water in it.”

“Faith gives us a new vision of the  world. Without it we see only the darker side of life. We are still slaves. It  is faith which liberates us and makes us see the Spirit of power and love at  work in our  lives.”

Give up easily?

Filed under: Inspiration,Perspective,Stories — Subbaraman Iyer @ 4:03 am
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Courtesy my friend saw this amazing pictures of a dog that doesn’t have both fore legs. My friend asks a very deep question: If a dog can refuse to give up against such colossal odds, how can any of us? Doesn’t it also make you wonder how easily we sometimes give up and surrender when faced with odds?