The Wave Rider-A Book By Ajit Balakrishnan
It is 1999; the dot comfrenzy is in full swing,the entrepreneur is ...More
It is 1999; the dot comfrenzy is in full swing,the entrepreneur isforced to choose betweentaking his fledglingcompany public on the NewYork Nasdaq stockexchange or merely watchsomeone else do it.
Thestory flashes back to hisstudent days at IIMCalcutta where he setshis eyes for the firsttime on a computer, atthat time called aâUnit RecordMachineâ, anddescribes how this deviceevolved into the PC andthe smart phone that weknow today much like howthe wolf was domesticatedand transformed into ahousehold pet, thedog.
It is the late80âs and theentrepreneur and hispartners are building PCsin their Bangalorefactory but suddenly theworld turns upside down.Iraq invades Kuwaitsetting off the firstIraq war, the SovietUnion collapses, youngChinese storm TiananmenSquare; and the Indianeconomy collapses takingtheir fledgling PCbusiness with it.
But inthis chaos theentrepreneur has a newvision- the internet!Soon he is in a tiny600-square feet office inBombay with a team ofengineers and journalistsputting together a webbusiness. On Christmasday 1995 he unveils tothe world the firstwebsite on the Indiansubcontinent,www.rediff.com. Elsewherethe world is in a frenzyas venture capitalistsfund tens of thousands ofwebsites with tens ofbillions of dollars.
Theentrepreneur watches inwonder as the pioneeringweb and telecomcompanies, the ones wholaid the fibre-opticlinks carrying internettraffic, the ecommercecompanies who weresupposed to revolutionizetrade and a thousandothers go up in flames.By now in New York, hewatches in awe as theWorld Trade Centre comecrashing down on9//11.
The entrepreneurreflects on the meaningof all this and learnsthat the world has seensomething similar in themid-19th century whenentrepreneurs andfinanciers in Britainenthused by GeorgeStephensonâsinvention, the steamengine, embarked on afrenzied building ofrailways, only to havethe railway companiescrash at the end ofârail maniaâ.
Suddenly it strikes himthat what the Russianeconomist Kondratieffonce proposed could betrue. What he and theworld was now passingthrough was the fifth ofthe technological wavesthat the world has seen,the first one being theIndustrial Revolution inEngland of the1750âs. This one isthe InformationRevolution and what isdawning is theInformationAge.
Meanwhile hisenterprise is vulnerableand he has to fend offprospective acquirers. Hediscovers a dark side tohimself ready to bare histeeth and is surprised bythat.
It is May 2011 andthe entrepreneur is inhis hometown, watchingthe monsoon clouds from acliff by the sea. Fivehundred and thirteenyears ago, on this day,the Portuguese explorerVasco da Gama came ashorenear here opening the searoute from Europe toIndia and the East. Couldthe townspeople of thistown, observingVascoâs arrival atthat time, have foreseenall that it meant- thearrival of the age ofcolonialism, the shift ofpower from the East tothe West, events thatwould continue for thenext three centuries? Ina similar way, he wonderswhether what we have seenso far has given us afull understanding ofthings to come as theInformation Age dawns. Less