roughly edged ideas about building stuff

Archive for June, 2009

the need for speed

Posted by suneelgupta on June 30, 2009

cross-posted to mtv here.


Most of us spend more time online than we do on the road. And whether we’re behind the wheel or behind the keyboard, we want to move fast. This is why I’m incredibly proud of my peeps at Mozilla today for releasing Firefox 3.5 — the fastest way for you to get around online. 3.5 is more than two times faster than Firefox 3 and ten times faster than Firefox 2.

I could say more, but a few guys in Hyderabad, India, channeled their passion for Firefox into a video that pretty much says it all. Check it out:


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Lay down a track with me…from across the world

Posted by suneelgupta on June 18, 2009

cross posted to MTV here.

Indaba lets musicians around the world collaborate without ever leaving their home. Say you play the acoustic guitar in New York, my cousin plays the tabla in New Delhi, and I play the fiddle in San Francisco. The three of us want to record a little Beatles meets Blue Grass. In the past, we would meet in a central location (Amsterdam?) and pay for studio time. But with Indaba, we can create anonline session and pull something together that would make Ringo proud.

Indaba is part social network, part web application, and has attracted over 125,000 musicians in over 170 countries into its community. I recently met the team’s co-founder, Dan Zaccagnino, a laid-back guy with lots of authentic passion for music and the web. Here’s what Dan had to say on Colbert Nation:

colbert pic

Indaba removes the barrier of geography from the making of music. Their concept makes me think about the Djembe drum circles I loved hearing in West Africa. For talent like this, Indaba takes undiscovered musical brilliance and gives it a platform to be heard.

That means musicians get to collaborate with new tones and rhythms, and we get to enjoy the product. So the next time you’re at a bar and hear a fresh new sound, you may have the Indaba community to thank.

you can follow suneel on twitter here.

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motwani’s advice

Posted by suneelgupta on June 6, 2009

(cross-posted to MTV here)

The tech community lost a hero yesterday. Rajeev Motwani, an omnipresent Stanford professor who advised the creation of Google, passed away suddenly sending ripples of melancholy through Silicon Valley. Sergey Brin, Spencer Ante, and Michael Arrington blogged about the loss, while Ron Conway delivered a powerful memorial at last night’s Tech Fellows event.


I knew Rajeev for only a brief time. Having freshly arrived to San Francisco, I began reaching out blindly and generically to people in the tech space who I thought were interesting. Not surprisingly, the response rate was low — for every ten emails I sent, approximately two replied. Rajeev was one of the few that did.


The weather is perfect. We are seated outside the University Cafe in downtown Palo Alto, both turned slightly towards a busy Stanford sidewalk filled with flip-flops and backpacks. It’s easy to spot the freshmen, because like me, they carry a blended look of excitement and confusion. I kick off our conversation with an overly broad question: “I’m new to the area. Do you have any advice?”

I’m a bit surprised when Motwani nestles into his iron-rod chair and deliberates the question. Surely, he had been asked the same by hundreds of his students. Surely, he had a canned answer. But he takes his time. He studies me for a moment, perhaps to gauge my sincerity. He thinks…then he begins:

(paraphrased from my notes. yes….I took notes.)

1. “Work with big ideas you believe in.”: Motwani stresses the importance of being emotionally attached to your work. “If you can get emotional about an idea, you increase your chances of executing well.”

2. “Share those ideas actively.”: Perhaps sensing my anxiety, Motwani leans over. “Silicon Valley may seem big to you now, but the more people you meet, the more you’ll realize how tiny and close-knit this community actually is.” Motwani encourages me to be open about my work and to share my ideas actively, even if they aren’t complete.

Rajeev’s simple, but prescient advice continues to inform my approach to product development. Yet I crave another iced tea with him. I have more specific questions now…so much more to learn. I can’t say that I knew Rajeev well, but I knew him well enough to join thousands of others in missing him today.

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