Sunday, May 31, 2009

TABCON 2009, a Success

TABCON is the annual gathering for the Turkish-American business community in Silicon Valley. The event is organized by TABC (Turkish American Business Connection). This year's TABCON(the 5th one) was successfully held yesterday at Parc 55 Hotel in San Francisco.

Among the several hundred attendees were representatives of high profile organizations such as Istanbul Chamber of Commerce (ITO) and Turkish Ministry of Defence, as well as successful Turkish American entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley. Ali Kutay, one of the greatest Turkish American success stories in The Valley was presented with a well-deserved outstanding achievement award. Mr. Kutay has been in key hi-tech management positions including his experience as CEO of WebLogic, the company that pioneered the application server technology that became one of the major building blocks of web-enabled applications. WebLogic later merged with BEA Systems.

I was personally honored to contribute to the event as the moderator of the general session panel titled: "Comparison of Strategies for Technological Advancement in Developing Economies. Why Some Countries Succeed and Others Fail?" We had a colorful discussion on this crucially interesting topic with panel participation from Vish Mishra of Clearstone Ventures and Dr. Arnold Reisman - the prolific author of "Turkey's Modernization - Refugees from Nazism and Atatürk's Vision".

I set the stage with an introductory presentation comparing and contrasting the nation states of India, China, Turkey, Israel, South Korea and Germany based on what I deemed were key metrics explaining each nation's current standing in the race for technological advancement. Borrowing to some extent from the National Innovative Capacity model of Harvard Business School's Global Competitiveness Report published in 2002, I also provided a conceptual framework tying these metrics together in order for the audience to see the big picture.

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Dr. Reisman's speech put in perspective the historical trajectory Turkey has followed in adopting new technologies through technology transfer. His conclusion is that the Turkish industrialization experience has taken a "licensing on a turnkey basis" approach to technology transfer resulting in meager demand for local technical innovation, which in turn has intensified the Turkish brain-drain.

Following through with Dr. Reisman's views, Vish Mishra gave the audience more color on the topic based on his experience with the Indian software miracle. He credited nurturing state policies starting with Rajiv Gandhi's rule and the strong tradition of India's technical universities that benefited from what Vish referred to as the "best thing the Brits left behind in India: The British education system".

Despite some serious catching up to do on Turkey's behalf, there are however signs of a more proactive approach being adopted by the Turkish government and (perhaps to a lesser extent) by Turkish private industry to help nurture local R&D as more resources are being diverted to the effort. To date there are few success stories that stand a chance to make international headlines, but then again few countries have been able to get right the alchemy that produces Google's and Cisco's on a consistent basis. The complex interactions between the policy environment, the connective tissue of research organizations and venture capital firms along with the specialized subject matter industry clusters make systematic innovation "a long term challenge", that can not be easily fast-cycled but can be rather quickly disturbed -- especially in the presence of policy actions damaging much needed incentive structures (e.g. IP protection, R&D tax credits etc.). Indeed, innovation remains this most delicious and nutritious fruit of a very delicate and notoriously difficult to grow tree. Happy gardening to all of humanity on that front :)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

moneyStrands Video Demo

Here is a demo of moneyStrands for those of you curious to find out more on how it can help organize your finances. Best part of the trick lies in aggregating your financial data from multiple sources and being able to standardize it on one customizable platform. Customizable by YOU the user that is and not some IT specialist at your bank. This is the wave of the future. You are the owner of your data and you should step up to the plate to aggregate, monitor and enrich it. This does not only apply to financial data but also health data and many other aspects of your life.

Free yourself but free your data first because your data is how you are perceived out there and that perception shapes your reality my friend ;)

~ moneyStrands Demo (5 min.)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Manage your finances in style with moneyStrands

For the last 6 months or so I have been working on launching the newest Strands service -- it is called moneyStrands. In plain English, moneyStrands is a money management tool that helps you set a budget, track and control your spending and start saving up at your own pace.

At recessionary times like these people have a tendency to put their finances under the magnifier with more of a "do-it-myself" attitude. I personally hope this behavior will subsist even after this economic dip is over with simply because it is a healthy habit in general. The financial industry has a number of conflict of interests and agency issues when dealing with their retail clients and that is exactly why the consumer of the 21st century has a duty to become more self-aware and less an avoider or delegator if he/she has any chance to "keep the dream alive" so to speak. You see major brands like eTrade and TDAmeritrade play on that instinct quite successfully these days many times at the expense of traditional brick and mortar banks experiencing immense turmoil behind their granite facades.

So please go ahead and give moneyStrands a shot and see if it can help add more color to your financial life ;)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Nassim Taleb Tells the Truth!

I love Nassim because I believe instilling real change requires a gutsier approach than what the Fed, the Treasury and the Congress have so far shown. Frankly speaking, (as an Obama supporter during his campaign) I am disappointed with the stimulus package as is. This is not even half of what the economy needed to have a real shot at recovery in the 2nd half of 2009.

More and more I am thinking the insolvent banks should be practically nationalized. Obama has the political credit to end this hostage situation and hopefully Tim Geithner will stop playing hide and seek before it is too late.

Nassim Taleb's point in saying "Banks ultimately are utilities." is right on. They surely are at the conclusion of an amnesiac era in their history where they developed a Dr. Jekyll of sorts in the form of Structured Investment Vehicles. They continued on to bet the whole farm on it only to be saluted off to million dollar bonuses -- in many cases undeservedly so.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Things that I like... - Magazines that make me THINK!

At challenging times like these I believe it is essential for everyone to find strength in their lives...some sort of re-discovery of things that make life more interesting, special or worth trucking along. In the spirit of eating my own dog food, I decided to do mini-posts here of things that I appreciate. The list will naturally keep growing which may have the welcome side effect of making me feel richer over time :)

For today, I'd like to recognize some of the print publications I have come to appreciate over time:
Great critical thinking of our times as the dominant species on the planet ranging from literature and pop culture to economics and politics.
This one's always a gem full of insightful articles telling the real story of an increasingly coalescing world mixed in with awe-inspiring visuals. I am simply unable to throw any of the issues away hoping that I'll catch up on the reading if I get a life extension :)
A great summary of goings on any business professional should know. To me it is a 30 minuted slide presentation - an executive summary of the business world last week. Like the international coverage but could use more of it. They should try doing special reports like The Economist.
Required reading for people trading the markets. Very high quality editorial sometimes sabotaged by their political biases.
This one's not been a statue of consistency but most often it produces enough thought provoking hits during the year to be noteworthy of readership. Lately I have been paying less attention though.
I find the outtake on the world policy issues very balanced. The authors are very well respected foreign policy intellectuals.

So here goes...these are some of my favorite things!