I’ve spent this last week on both the West and East coasts of the US. More about that shortly. However, as most people do, I settled into my flight by watching a movie (something I don’t get to do too often these days so was a real treat). Fully envisaging finding a movie that will mindlessly entertain me I scrolled through the options and as is always the case landed on something that really intrigued me. The Man Who Knew Infinity was my choice and to my amazement, it ended up drawing many parallels to the project we have embarked upon at Earlsfield Capital. We are looking to create exposure for the very exciting India technology eco system in Europe and beyond, much like the challenge experienced by Dev Patel’s (no relation in case you were wondering) character, Srinivasa Ramanujan, in the movie. Just like Ramanujan eventually achieved a Royal fellowship at Trinity, Cambridge, we believe it a matter of time before India gets the recognition it deserves as a real player in the world of technology and start-ups. Ultimately, human nature is that people have to see it to believe it, and that was no different for Ramanujan. That said the momentum being built by the India tech scene isn’t just through the ability to found businesses but also, and very importantly, generate value and return for investors.
Whilst in the US there is an obvious buzz around the world of technology, especially in San Francisco/Silicon Valley. One of the most talked about stories has been the potential sale of Twitter to Disney. If nothing else this continues to add weight to my argument that, following the recent tech acquisitions by Walmart (Jet.com) and Unilever (Dollar Shave Club), the buy versus build conundrum is most certainly tipping towards buy for the classic large traditionally non-tech businesses. Additionally, with the advent of so many VCs being present and being started all the time in this part of the world, the eco system is no less than flourishing. A similar, yet more nascent drive may be transpiring in India with the very real need for similar levels of support starting at early-stage for potential to be met.
What has certainly happened in the US is that many successful technology businesses have given birth to new technology businesses. This is a natural function of the evolution in this space, especially where employees break out to set up new ventures. Although obviously not as common this has also been happening in India which of course can only be good for the overall eco system. Many of these founders come to run their own businesses, not just with the experiences gained from start-ups they worked at but also often a long list of very credible industry heavyweights along the way. Couple this with the ever-growing usage of internet and technology in India, I strongly believe that the more this happens the more the eco system will flourish and the more recognition will be gained. We shouldn’t forget to recognise how infrastructure and accessibility is playing a big part in achieving this, which wouldn’t be possible without initiatives by RelianceJio and their competitors such as Vodafone. Just to circle back on the point I made at the start – there are clearly believers in Europe and beyond, such as Vodafone, Amazon and Google, who do believe there is a very large opportunity to be a part of in India. For instance, Google is to open an alternative cloud service in India (starting in Mumbai) to compete with existing incumbents such as IBM, Microsoft and Amazon.
As often I do, this week I would like to finish by speaking about a potential game-changing initiative. This one has the ability to make a material difference to businesses across the world. As often is the case, to make such an impact it’s often necessary to have an existing following/user base to leverage off. The company in question is Facebook and the enterprise is ‘Facebook at Work’. Social media is of course a very heavily used medium. With circa 1.71 billion monthly users worldwide as of Q2 2016 one can estimate a large number of users of working age within that demographic. Therefore, an in environment where there is such high familiarity with the platform, surely existing incumbents such as Convo, Salesforce Chatter, and Microsoft’s Yammer, in this space must be looking in the wing mirrors.
Author: Dishang Patel