Thursday, July 31, 2008

Xobni may be the best makeover that has happened to MS Outlook

We all know that MS Outlook is a bloatware with features that make it tough to sort, organize and search. Well..those days maybe over. A new company called Xobni ('Inbox' spelt backwards) has developed a downloadable software that allows a user to organize email data in way that enables social networking quickly, right within the Outlook framework. It also displays aggregated information in a bar chart, for instance, the days and times emails were received from a specific person or organization. The social network is instantly generated based on who your email senders associate with through CCs and BCCs. The application also provides a list of files exchanged with your conversant going all the way back in time when your conversation first started. The tool also actively crawls through emails to actively populate phone numbers, photos and other information that maybe missing in your contacts database. Overall, the tool is extremely useful for heavy email users who have had enough of the Outlook Bloatware.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Cuil - the next best thing in search engine technology?

Cuil, a company floated by former Google search executives and financed by the venerable venture firm Greylock Ventures, promises a lot. But will it catch on? The search engine is capable of searching triple the number of web pages than Google can, according to its founders. Cuil, an old Irish word for knowledge, seems like a formidable competitor. But will it be, really? The way we assess a search engine's functionality is based on areas such as:

1: reasonable aggregation/presentation of information
2: presentation of relevant and updated information
3: employ a targeted advertising model for revenue generation
4: ability to link to specific information within web pages and buried documents

How many of us ever cross page #2 of Google, MSN or Yahoo! search results? Do we really need so many result pages?

So when Cuil claims that it can search more using less hardware, we are not sure how the results will be more relevant or how a very relevant result missed out by Google may magically show up in Cuil's search engine. Or for that matter, we are not clear how Cuil will go one up against Google in all 4 of the parameters presented above. It appears to us that the goal of maximizing advertising revenues may conflict with the goal of serving up pertinent results. For the goal of pertinent results, the effective use of resources would be to screen all irrelevant pages and present only pages that are most relevant. But this would mean that advertising real estate on several million pages would be rendered valueless. Our question to Cuil is: is anybody of relevance complaining today that they dont appear in search results?

SaaS software's re-emergence

We believe that the resistance to adopting SaaS as a software solution is diminishing. In the FY 2007 Goldman Sachs technology Report, SaaS came in at #18 out of 30 investment priority areas by CIOs of large firms. In FY 2006's report, SaaS came in at #30 - dead last. In the SaaS category, the CRM/marketing & sales automation category commands the best valuation - both in IPOs and M&As. Broadly speaking, this category fetched almost twice as the average multiple for the entire SaaS category. Advancements in areas such as virtualization servers and cloud computing solutions are prompting start-up firms to design solutions for various verticals using the SaaS way. A note of caution is that many companies have still not figured out what the real costs of integration of SaaS with legacy systems are and therefore, in our opinion, valuation multiples will stay depressed for the overall SaaS category. Sensitive applications such as security software continue to be a no-no for deployment on SaaS platforms. The other risk factor is pricing. There is no set pattern of pricing in this industry and prices vary widely contributing to significant cash flow volatilities. On a review of their business plans, some small businesses are forecasting optimistic revenues per license/seat/user/subscriber and operating margins . We believe that conservative operating margins and average revenue per subscriber should be the norm in this industry . Visit to learn more about us.

The Idea Game

Welcome to Shiva Badruswamy's Idea Blog. I have created this blog to write about trends I and my partners evaluate in the innovative technology, health care and energy-related industries. We have reviewed and valued hundreds of business plans in these industries. This gives us the ability to condense idea generation trends into broad market movements that may trigger venture capital fund flows into these ideas in the immediate future. While some of our views maybe speculative, most of them are based on a solid understanding of what the market participants are evaluating when it comes to next generation of technologies.

Disclaimer: Our information is designed to help readers understand what and how innovative ideas are generated. Our information should not be used in any form or manner as prospectus material to solicit offers for investment capital, buy or sell securities, or as an analyst's guidance in evaluating performance of public and private companies. Our permission is needed for reuse of our material. Please contact us at for more details.