Focus, focus and focus !

“We must realize—and act on the realization—that if we try to focus on everything, we focus on nothing.”
From “Measure what matters” by John Doerr

If you have not read “Measure what matters” by the legendary John Doerr then read it today. For me the single biggest learning from it is simple – focus.

He says it out loud and very clear – “We must realize—and act on the realization—that if we try to focus on everything, we focus on nothing.” Most often entrepreneurs try to chase too many shining opportunities, all at the same time, only to realise they fell short of resources or simply their own bandwidth.

I admire InVision in this regard which has been razor focussed on their product and users. It has proven SaaS is the way to go for all imaginable type of softwares.

Satya Nadella on CEO and Culture

"The CEO is the curator of an organization’s culture."

I recently finished reading “Hit Refresh” by Satya Nadella and I must say the book gives an excellent insight into how Satya has been able to transform Microsoft and it’s culture. The fact that its valuation tripled in five years since his taking charge is the least that can convince people to understand the importance of culture for an organization.

I recently finished reading “Hit Refresh” by Satya Nadella and I must say the book gives an excellent insight into how Satya has been able to transform Microsoft and it’s culture. The fact that its valuation tripled in five years since his taking charge is the least that can convince people to understand the importance of culture for an organization.

Anything is possible for a company when its culture is about listening, learning, and harnessing individual passions and talents to the company’s mission. Creating that kind of culture is my chief job as CEO.

Microsoft’s culture had been rigid. Each employee had to prove to everyone that he or she was the smartest person in the room. Accountability—delivering on time and hitting numbers—trumped everything. Meetings were formal. If a senior leader wanted to tap the energy and creativity of someone lower down in the organization, she or he needed to invite that person’s boss, and so on. Hierarchy and pecking order had taken control, and spontaneity and creativity had suffered.

He took upon himself to change all of that – and he has succeeded. This summarizes his thinking very well:

“The CEO is the curator of an organization’s culture.”

“The C in CEO stands for Culture.”

I have reproduced couple of paragraphs from an article by Fast Company, which can be accessed here –

Leaders don’t just recruit, they build teams !

Yes, most often you will need to recruit people to build a team but these two are not the same thing. You can’t build a team simply by hiring people – even putting together a bunch of ‘smart’ people does not guarantee you a team. This is what defines leaders – they know how to build teams, which are not simply a sum total of individuals.

They are able to build teams which have a multiplier effect for each team member, teams which are much more effective and efficient working together, teams which loves to work together setting aside all personal differences.

#teamwork #culture #leaders #team #leadership

Vinod Khosla on building a team

The team you build is the company you build

“The team you build is the company you build.”
When a legend like Vinod Khosla says that, it’s easy to understand the importance of building a team. Be it the giants like Google, Apple, Amazon or Uber, Airbnb or countless other successful companies I have read about, almost everywhere the founders or the top leadership is still actively involved in building the team.
The humans in the team are not just any other “resource” but are the “source” of its success.
#teambuilding #startups #humanressources #leadership #inspirationoftheday

Attack of the fakes – part 1

Did you know I can change my voice ? No ? Try listening to these samples:

Do I sound like “Mark” ?
Do I sound like “Linda” ?

Impressed ? I s’ld give a try to dubbing movies I guess 😉

These “modulations” are powered by a service called, a company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They use a combination of machine learning, signal processing, and hard-won intuition to develop real-time “voice skins”. Given now AI has started getting “creative”, I thought of coming up with a series of blog posts around these – I call it “Attach of the Fakes” as this is what I see happening in very near future.

Those who have been following Generative Adversarial Networks or GANs can already guess the use of adversarial training. Modulate team has detailed their approach in this excellent blog post. They have built a new kind of voice conversion architecture: parallel sample generation, adversarially trained for voice conversion, inspired by parallel wavenet architecture. They secured a seed round of $2M just last week but have got a lot of buzz and excitement around their technology already. To read more you can go to this post as well on MIT Technology Review which has featured them last week.

Now with this technology you can already imagine yourself impersonating _ANYBODY_ and hence this is rightfully giving nightmares to activists already. But this is true for a lot of recent development around AI and Modulate team is very well aware of the potential of misuse. Given the fact that humanity has overcome so many challenges I am sure this is a problem which will be solved 🙂

Btw, I have more of my “voice skins”, listen to me as “Evan” and “Katie” below:

Now, I am Evan!
I like Katie somehow
And finally a judicious mix of Evan and Katie!

DO try it out yourself at  – its fun 🙂

Gene therapy shows promise for Alzheimer’s disease

If 20th century was all about the triumph of drugs as interventions, 21st century sure is turning out to be one with focus on using non-drug interventions. 

Doctors are planning to test a gene therapy that could prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Sometimes called “the forgetting gene,” APOE comes in three common versions, called 2, 3, and 4. Type 2 lowers a person’s risk, 3 is average, and 4 increases the chance dramatically. The risk is so great that doctors avoid testing people for APOE because a bad result can be upsetting, and there’s nothing to do about it. There’s no cure, and you can’t change your genes, either.

I see this as a precursor to preventive health which is slowly emerging and is the only model for a sustainable world wherein the incentives are aligned rightly to preventing diseases rather than making money by prolonged care. 

#healthcaretech #healthcare #alzheimers #genetherapy #lifesciences

Few days to go for GTC 2019

I have always been a Nvidia fan boy, right from my days of assembling PCs in IIT Bombay and selling it to the gaming crowd there. Never though imagined that one day same Nvidia will fuel the Artificial Intelligence revolution.

For the uninitiated Nvidia makes GPUs (Graphical Processing Units) which other than being used heavily for gaming have proved to be a game-changer for Artificial Intelligence, driven by its ability to execute tasks in parallel at a large scale. Practically now GPUs are being leveraged for every kind of heavy number crunching be it in any application which uses Deep Learning or Machine Learning. Nvidia organises GPU Technology Conferences globally, with the main event in San Jose kickstarting the calendar every year.

Naturally when I visited GTC last year at San Jose, I was like ‘Alice in wonderland’ given the sheer scale of event with hundreds of companies from all around the world showcasing the best technologies and applications. Attendees were estimated to be 9000 plus so its easily one of the biggest technology events now. Seeing that I made a promise to myself that next year I will get Innoplexus too there. At the same GTC I came to know about Nvidia’s amazing Inception program and applied for it. We showcased our technology to Nvidia experts and after few rounds we became an Inception program member. It helps startups working in AI and Deep Learning with access to right resources within Nvidia ecosystem. You can read more about the program here. 

We applied for GTC last year in August and after a very elaborate review process got accepted. So, this year I am back at GTC – as a speaker. YAY!!

I want to thank Nvidia for giving the opportunity to present the amazing work of Innoplexus at #gtc19 in San Jose in March. My session title is ‘How To Use GPUs For Faster, Better and Cheaper Drug Development‘. To add to the joy, I have our VP, technology & Innovation, Vatsal Agarwal as well present in another session which is titled  Real-Time Connection-Based Filtering to Improve the Precision of the Search Engine in Life Sciences.

And that’s not it – given our Inception membership Nvidia has also given us a chance to present at Inception theater during the GTC.

If you are even remotely interested in Artificial Intelligence in any form or any of its applications or really want to experience how AI is going to disrupt so many sectors then DO NOT miss this event. Use the code GMSGTC to save 20% on registration. See you around!

Did you steal my idea ?

In this article Wil Schroter destroys the myth around secrecy of ideas when it comes to startups. Often this has been the first thing I have heard ‘startup enthusiasts’ talking about – how can we disclose the idea to others – including VCs !

Will they not steal it and ‘execute’ it themselves. I try hard not to laugh at them and tell them that VCs have better things in life to do than going on a ‘idea stealing’ spree and ‘executing’ everything under the sun. To my amazement I have come across even senior folks who are paranoid about ‘protecting ideas’ and insisting upon signing NDAs etc. I hope people realise that almost all successful businesses are built on simple ideas and amazing execution. 

Startup is NOT just about an idea! It is almost entirely about execution.

Here is the link to the article –

Command and control leadership

12 years back Deborah Ancona, Thomas Malone, Wanda Orlikowski and Peter Senge authored this article, which remains relevant even today. This one sentence itself makes clear the role of leaders in today’s world:

“In today’s world, the executive’s job is no longer to command and control but to cultivate and coordinate the actions of others at all levels of the organization.”

In praise of the incomplete leader

The article mentioned four key capabilities and the balance between them – sensemaking, relating, visioning, and inventing – and it clearly establishes the relevance for organisations across all sizes.

Gone are the days already when one could stake its claim to a leadership role simply because of background, pedigree or seniority in terms of number of years of experience. With so many young and brilliant minds joining the workforce, equipped with the power of latest technologies and tools, the successful organisations will be the ones which are able to:

  • Encourage free exchange of ideas
  • Discard unnecessary paper work and bureaucracy in favor of using web based tools
  • Facilitate employees in learning more and finding better solutions

I believe the command and control type of leadership emerged because of the generations which grew up in the post world war era because they were in awe of the military might, rightly so maybe. And hence it may have resonated with the generations wherein one was expected to follow orders in an era of rapid industrial growth, post 1950s.

Now, especially post 1990s when we look at the world, it got a lot knowledge driven and now probably more data driven. It means not just the demography but people’s behaviour as well has changed – being knowledge driven means you encourage people to ask questions which is starkly different than a command and control style where you are supposed to follow instructions without asking.

Importance of R&D for Digital companies

At Innoplexus, being an AI and data first company, we have been investing heavily in R&D and there has been an ongoing debate on how much is enough. I keep reading on the the topic and today I came across this excellent article in HBR which makes the case clear for higher R&D investment for Digital companies. Here is the link –

Here are the key insights:

  1. R&D is an economically significant expense for digital companies, much larger than for physical product companies.
  2. A large component of R&D costs for digital companies consists of employee costs for engineering, product management, and information technology personnel.
  3. Digital companies consider product development as a necessary activity to survive. Digital companies must invest in product development to keep pace with the technological progress, competitive offerings, and ever-increasing customer expectations, or fear becoming obsolete in no time.
  4. Digital companies routinely rely on third-party software, algorithms, development tools, cloud services, security and data integrity systems, client monitoring, customer databases, and cross-selling platforms for their day-to-day operations.
  5. Digital companies continuously scout for acquisition targets to obtain readymade R&D and talent teams.

Thanks alot to the authors – Vijay Govindarajan, Shivaram Rajgopal, Anup Srivastava, Luminita Enache – for conducting this investigation and sharing the insights.