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The Wave Rider-A book by Ajit Balakrishnan

The Wave Rider-A book by Ajit Balakrishnan

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It is 1999; the dot com frenzy is in full swing, the entrepreneur is forced to choose between taking his fledgling company public on the New York Nasdaq stock exchange or merely watch someone else do it.
   The story flashes back to his student days at IIM Calcutta where he sets his eyes for the first time on a computer, at that time called a “Unit Record Machine”, and describes how this device evolved into the PC and the smart phone that we know today much like how the wolf was domesticated and transformed into a household pet, the dog.
   It is the late 80’s and the entrepreneur and his partners are building PCs in their Bangalore factory but suddenly the world turns upside down. Iraq invades Kuwait setting off the first Iraq war, the Soviet Union collapses, young Chinese storm Tiananmen Square; and the Indian economy collapses taking their fledgling PC business with it.
   But in this chaos the entrepreneur has a new vision- the internet! Soon he is in a tiny 600-square feet office in Bombay with a team of engineers and journalists putting together a web business. On Christmas day 1995 he unveils to the world the first website on the Indian subcontinent, www.rediff.com. Elsewhere the world is in a frenzy as venture capitalists fund tens of thousands of websites with tens of billions of dollars.
   The entrepreneur watches in wonder as the pioneering web and telecom companies, the ones who laid the fibre-optic links carrying internet traffic, the ecommerce companies who were supposed to revolutionize trade and a thousand others go up in flames. By now in New York, he watches in awe as the World Trade Centre come crashing down on 9//11.
   The entrepreneur reflects on the meaning of all this and learns that the world has seen something similar in the mid-19th century when entrepreneurs and financiers in Britain enthused by George Stephenson’s invention, the steam engine, embarked on a frenzied building of railways, only to have the railway companies crash at the end of “rail mania”.
   Suddenly it strikes him that what the Russian economist Kondratieff once proposed could be true. What he and the world was now passing through was the fifth of the technological waves that the world has seen, the first one being the Industrial Revolution in England of the 1750’s. This one is the Information Revolution and what is dawning is the Information Age.
   Meanwhile his enterprise is vulnerable and he has to fend off prospective acquirers. He discovers a dark side to himself ready to bare his teeth and is surprised by that.
   It is May 2011 and the entrepreneur is in his hometown, watching the monsoon clouds from a cliff by the sea. Five hundred and thirteen years ago, on this day, the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama came ashore near here opening the sea route from Europe to India and the East. Could the townspeople of this town, observing Vasco’s arrival at that time, have foreseen all that it meant- the arrival of the age of colonialism, the shift of power from the East to the West, events that would continue for the next three centuries? In a similar way, he wonders whether what we have seen so far has given us a full understanding of things to come as the Information Age dawns.
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It is 1999; the dot com frenzy is in full swing, the entrepreneur is forced to choose between taking his fledgling company public on the New York Nasdaq stock exchange or merely watch someone else do it.
   The story flashes back to his student days at IIM Calcutta where he sets his eyes for the first time on a computer, at that time called a “Unit Record Machine”, and describes how this device evolved into the PC and the...
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