Drive-Buy Funding

The demand for bigger devices in tiny devices has turned the disk drive business into a must watch TV type industry. From mega-billion dollar in sales giants such as Toshiba and Hitachi to relatively smaller Maxtor, Seagate and Western Digital are vying for this market. One tiny company, Cornice of Longmont, Colorado, is doing its bit. According to Boulder News, the company has raised $51 million in venture capital. That brings its today funding to $81 million. The investors in the company are CIBC Capital Partners, Nokia Venture Partners, VantagePoint Venture Partners, BA Venture Partners and GIC Special Investments. Cornice makes a one-inch storage element for consumer electronics including MP3 players, digital cameras and personal digital assistants. Customers include RCA, Samsung and Rio. The future while promising is not without its perils. The digital media demands have prompted larger players to innovate faster and come out with tiny drives. Toshiba and Hitachi are both making micro drives that go into the hot selling IPod and soon to be released MiniPODs

Its all about Flash

The Semiconductor Industry Association is finally having something good to say. The business is booming, well almost booming, and sales are likely to stay strong, thanks to consumers desire to buy everything digital. Internet News reports that “Flash memory (define) continued its rise in popularity, up a hefty 29.3 percent. The trade group said Flash memory was selling so well, in fact, that it is starting to rival traditional DRAM chip sales. Flash memory is used in consumer devices like music players, digital cameras, cell phones, and USB flash drives.

Vodafone, Ready to Rumble?

Vodafone, world’s largest cellular phone company is ready to make a $30 billion bid for AT&T Wireless, reports The London Observer. “There is still a chance that Arun Sarin will be prevented from bidding by some of his big shareholders, who fear an aggressive move in the US will hold back earnings growth for one or two years,” writes the paper. But as one telecom analyst told The Observer: “Grabbing AT&T Wireless is a one-off opportunity for Vodafone to control a major telecoms asset in the most lucrative market in the word. He [Sarin] would be crazy not to bid.”

Of course, Cingular and NTT DoCoMo will up the ante as well. Vodafone may try to offload its stake in Verizon Wireless, and do a possible swap. And of course if that does not work, then Vodafone will go after AT&T the old fashioned way. Still there are some problems with the bid. The regulatory and Verizon issues would need to be worked out, consuming much time, effort, and resources, which could slow down AT&T Wireless even more. Chances are Cingular will raise its bid as well, and in the end walk away with the bounty.

Alcatel to buy JDS Uniphase?

Reuters via Forbes.com is reporting that Alcatel, is planning to buy JDS Uniphase. That gets only one reaction from me: Huh! Only in May 2003, Alcatel after a disastrous foray in optical components universe decided to get rid of its Alcatel Optronics business and sold it to Avanex. This rumor is clearly the handiwork of some overzealous fund manager trying to liquidate his JDS position. JDS has recently hired Kevin Kennedy to fix its ailing businesses and is trying hard to expand beyond the traditional optical component markets. Ottawa Business Journal reports that, “many analysts consider such a merger a lame-brained idea, to put it politely.” Both companies have dismissed these rumors.

GigaOM is One

GigaOM, the weblog is now one year old. It went live in its current form exactly a year ago!

Carly goes to hollywood

From this morning’s San Jose Mercury News, I learned that HP CEO Carly Forina brought out the stars – Ben Affleck (also known as Ben Lopez), and some random B-listers.

bq. In between all the celebrity razzle dazzle, there was one genuine piece of news: HP this summer will begin selling an HP-branded version of Apple’s very popular iPod digital music player. “Our innovation strategy is to focus our efforts where we can make a unique contribution and lead, and partner for the rest,” Fiorina said. Or, to put it less kindly: If you don’t have bright ideas for the future, bring in big stars and start selling someone else’s hot product.

Have some MoCA? No Thanks!

Everybody wants to control the future of broadband and broadband entertainment. Including this new consortium called, MoCA, or the Multimedia Over Cable Alliance. According to the Wall Street Journal, the group plans to leverage the technology from Entropic Communications which can cram and transmit digital data at 20 times the speed of current home networks over coaxial cable. of course, you can do some of those things over say, i don’t know Ethernet. Or Wi-Fi.

Honestly, cables don’t make sense, wireless does. if cable made sense, then powerline networking would be as common as hotpockets. Anyway the geniuses behind MoCA include Comcast Corp, EchoStar, Cisco Systems, Motorola, RadioShack, Matsushita and Toshiba.

More and More, Made in India

My friend Shailaja Neelakantan has a nice little article in Far Eastern Economic Review which highlights the changes in the Indian economy go beyond outsourcing and off-shoring of software and call centers. She highlights on the trend of how companies are now developing software and selling it in the global markets.

bq. iCode is among a growing number of Indian companies that are now developing and selling original software, instead of just supplying code-writing and other IT services to corporate clients. Until recently, many of the most popular software products from the likes of Microsoft and Oracle were made by Indians labouring in obscurity. But increasingly some of the world’s best-selling software products are being made in India by Indian companies.

I have long talked about this trend, and have argued that the biggest threat to Silicon Valley is not outsourcing but those H-1 B visa types who were sent back as downturn roadkill. They went back with a skill sets that can be easily forgotten. First they went back with the knowledge of what American companies and customers really want. Remember, if you know the customer, then you can build the right product. But more importantly, these folks went back with a complete lowdown on the problems facing the implementing ERP systems, CRM and other corporate IT crap.

Only last weekend I spent time with an up and coming venture capitalist Asheem Chandna and posed him this theory. He told me about ICode. And even before I could follow-up, here comes this wonderful article. With some more names. This is a trend Silicon Valley needs to watch out for.

bq. Meanwhile, a protectionist backlash against outsourcing is gaining momentum in America and Europe, and competition remains fierce in the offshore IT-services market. Indian companies have already cornered 60% of that market, worth $16 billion a year. But with competitors slashing costs and margins in services shrinking, companies are realizing that the high-margin products business–where Indian companies have only tapped 0.2% of a $180 billion global market–is the way to go.

Read the article from Far Eastern Economic Review

Shattered Glass is Ghetto ?Fabulist

This past weekend, I had a chance to see the much talked about movie about Stephen Glass Scandal, Shattered Glass. It was interesting to watch the Hollywood versions of the events, which transpired at Forbes Digital, where I worked at the time the story broke. There were few things, which did not seem right while watching the movie, which is very well directed, and mostly accurate. (Watch the trailer at Apple.com and read this excellent article in Slate.

* First of all, Forbes Digital offices were not that cool and elegant and spacious.

* There were no Asians or blacks at the online magazine so some of the extras are out of place.

* Kambiz had read the Glass piece and discussed it with Adam Pennenberg, offering it as an example of the kind of scoops and color that Adam should be contributing to the Forbes Digital.

* Kambiz did not question the veracity of the piece, he offered it to Adam as a good example of what someone covering the hacker beat should be on top of. Adam did the usual checks, went to Kambiz with the questions of its accuracy. That perhaps was the beginning of the end for Stephen Glass.

* At around this time Churbuck was brought into the picture and shown the Jukt Micronics website. A web-guru, he did a quick screen grab, and basically gave a quick lesson in the investigative technique of how to verify the companyÌs existence Ò the Secretary of StateÌs corporate registration office in Sacramento and the Mountain View city water department, etc.. (Churbuck, still ranks as top editor in my books even though he has left the journalism game since then)

* Thinking back, in many ways Churbuck was the brake which forced K&A to report the piece as air tight as they could before pulling the trigger and calling the New RepublicÌs editor. The dynamic duos were in a hurry to publish something, but were smart enough to listen. If I remember correctly, Churbuck, Adam and Kambiz were all on a conference call with Charles Lane, the editor, who did the expected and stonewalled. Churbuck was no where to be found in the movie.

* Churbuck left for Paris due to personal commitments.

* Over that weekend, Lane grilled Glass, got his confession, then dished the story to Howard Kurtz. When the Washington Post published, Kambiz pulled the trigger. Here is a link to the story.

So here is the version of events from someone who was there. I am writing from memory and might be wrong, but I am sure that this is as close to what I can remember. It was truly a remarkable day for web journalism. I think Adam deserves all the praise and kudos for his hard work, and so does K-man for being the editor of reason on this. But I would have loved to see ChurbuckÌs role in the story outlined more clearly. (Kambiz wrote a nice editorial and here is a link

Xgrid: Apple to take on parallel and distributed computing

Apple is finally getting its act together and this might be its first real move into the grid computing space. Its X-Servers are perfect for any kind of grid solution, thanks to the BSD/Darwin heritage. I think the next thing Apple should focus on is developing mid-tier G5 based boxes for the telecom markets. In many ways, if Apple plays it right, it can easily mop-up half of Sun’s market for middle-to-high end workstations and servers.

bq. Apple is developing a distributed/parallel computing solution called Xgrid, according to the company’s Web site. Apple recently put up a mailing list, xgrid-users, which describes the product. [Think Secret]