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Archive for the ‘Opportunity’ Category

The Worst Of Times, The Best Of Times To Come?

Posted by imrananwar on March 13, 2009

Grim economic news is all around us. Not only are individuals facing the toughest economic times, businesses are hurting and entire industries are facing extinction. There has been a lot of discussion going on about several industries. Even though the headlines may be full of news about the problems faced by individual companies – like Citibank, AIG, Bank of America, General Motors and Chrysler – few are debating whether the entire automobile, banking, insurance or even real estate industries will shut down completely. But there are several industries whose very existence is being questioned.

These include the newspaper, music, book-publishing and Hollywood film industries. Each of these industries has been in flux for more than a decade. Each has had predictions associated with it that ranged from their growing even larger and more successful to completely dying within a matter of years. In the case of each of these industries, even more than changing consumer behavior, challenging economic times, bad management or unsustainable business models, the threat cited most frequently has been the Internet.

There are several key points I make to my consulting clients in the media and technology industries when starting a discussion on crafting their strategies for the next 10 and 20 years. The reality is that the Internet did change everything. What the Internet did was give every industry an opportunity to become stronger, more efficient, more effective and smarter. Or they had to choice simply to use the Internet as just another business tool – without any thought being given to reconsidering outdated business models.

The following four industries muddled along for the last 20 years. They talked about how they were leveraging the Internet. They even started several initiatives to show how they “got” the Internet. They bought nice domain names and set up slick websites. They even hired people and gave them fancy titles like Vice President of Internet Strategy etc. but they did not truly “get” it. They did not go back to the drawing board to re-evaluate their business models and see how the Internet could help or hurt, especially if bad economic times ever hit. That is exactly what the bad times did do. They hit, and they hit hard.

That is why these are the industries most at risk. A respected commentator and very powerful writer, Cory Doctorow, had written a good piece, in Internet Evolution, analyzing these four industries. He made some good points, but I had a slightly different opinion. Here is what I think about the following industries and how they can still survive, maybe even thrive, in the coming years.

– Newspapers

Even though old industries, and their biggest players, are often threatened by new technology – it can sometimes take 100 years or more for an entire industry to die. One way to ensure that death is for the industry not to take threats to its existence seriously. In the case of the newspaper industry it is already several hundred years old (well, almost).

In the past it survived by actively leveraging all the available new technologies, from the printing press to desktop publishing, not just to survive but to thrive.

When radio and TV started to be a threat to the printed newspaper, it was the newspaper owners that went on to own most of the radio and television stations. But that means they co-opted, not leveraged, the new technologies and challenging platforms.

The reason the newspaper is having such a hard time with the Internet, especially in these dire economic times, is two-fold.
One is that the element of huge investment requirements that former newspaper (and added radio/TV) empires were built on is now gone.

As a matter of fact, it is now a serious liability. Almost anyone can now start a “newspaper” or information service. Online news services now abound. There are even white label companies and websites allowing anybody to set up their own “newspaper” simply by slapping together a combination of news feeds from multiple sources. The newspaper industry, in the meantime, remains hobbled by huge investments in real estate, printing equipment, high salaries and administrative costs.

The second is still relying on the old economic business models. An over-reliance on advertising became a disaster when first the Internet took away a lot of the advertising revenue, and then the recession killed ad sales even more. I still think newspapers, as an industry, will not die any time soon. Newspapers still offer things online media cannot do at this time. Some are tangible, some intangible.

In tangible, the quality of print and the subtleties of layout and design are still unmatched on the fanciest LCD screens or in most complex HTML pages. Intangibles, like convenience, the ability to tear out an article for later reading, are important. But most of all, permanence of record and trust, are “solid intangibles” that newspapers have not yet learnt to push into the value proposition their readers associate with them.

In my humble opinion, newspapers will survive, in new and different forms. They need to leverage and market the tangible and intangible values they offer to grow. But they can only do so if and as soon as they figure out the ability to move from a bundled “all the news we see fit to print” to an unbundled, micro-payments enabled, micro-targeted, 100% customized, personal tool and service that readers cannot live without holding in their hands.

– Music

Ironically, the death of the music labels industry will actually be the rebirth of the music industry. I do not even refer to “the long tail” business model (where the idea is that instead of making lots of money from one big splash, one can make lots of money over a long period of time, or over a large number of small sales).

The new positive fact is that creators of music can get paid directly, even 100%, from their consumer and clients – without a middleman. That renders obsolete an entire industry built on many middle layers. That means that music as an industry can actually thrive now that it is unshackled and the long overused, even clichéd “disintermediation” is here to stay.

This new world will be the death toll for middle-later but it can be music to creators’ and consumers’ ears. This will require a new way of doing things. Music production and distribution online have already changed the way the business is starting to run. What is still missing is musicians, bands and other talent from getting on the electronic micro-payments bandwagon (no pun intended!).

As micro-payments become more prevalent (in my opinion, the indie music scene should be one of the biggest champions of that) I see huge opportunity for musicians of all types to make good money, – even without having to rely on live performances as a source of income.

– Books

Just like the introduction of electronic documents was supposed to have brought about the death of the paper-products industry, predictions of the demise of the book industry are premature. The future of the book industry is still being written. How and where and it’s published is still in the industry players’ hands.

What today’s technology is enabling people to do is to see themselves as potential authors, not just book buyers or readers. Lulu, Blurb, CafePress, XLibris and many others are offering to make us published authors for little cost. That means the actual number of book editions, eBooks or printed, will actually rise as almost everyone becomes an author. What will be surprising will be that the actual total number of physical book shipments will also rise.

This is almost similar to how more pages of paper went through laser printers the more documents became available to read online. In the case of the new books industry, will each one of them be a blockbuster? Most probably not.

However, even if the total number of blockbuster books physically printed goes down, in my humble opinion, the actual physical number of total books printed, using the newest services and technologies, will significantly rise.

At least for the next 30 years I still see authors believing in the higher perceived value of having a published paper-based book in their bookshelf than an eBook on their hard drive.

– Movies

Even though I am now equipped with a fully tapeless HD camera, and as well as the latest Apple tools for video editing, I do not foresee any of my creative endeavors, even in my wildest dreams, in any way threatening the amazing world of magic that comes from the best of Hollywood. (We’re talking about the good stuff, not a lot of the recent Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller stuff).

The fact that some Hollywood blockbuster movies can cost $300 million is not a sustainable business model. That is not because YouTube type videos threaten it, but because of the sheer lunacy of the numbers.

The huge chunk of money that is paid to movie stars, some making $25-$30 million per movie, regardless of how famous they are, is the biggest needed cut I see coming. The falling costs of special effects and computer animation, and easier availability of the skills for them, are becoming more tangible forces on the industry. That gives technologists and the IT industry a bigger cut of the next generation Hollywood Dollars Pie.

I foresee more, and better, Hollywood movies being made for a fraction of today’s costs., with more reasonably priced talent and higher reliance on technology and creativity of individuals, not large companies. Hollywood can do that while still being significantly better than most low-budget flicks, thereby ensuring it an audience worldwide, for many years to come.

Throw in the ability to make micro-payments for movies streamed or downloaded from the Internet to our devices of choice, and you can see a whole new revenue stream becoming available to sustain Hollywood as well as Bollywood.

==

Imran Anwar is a New York and Miami based Pakistani-American entrepreneur, Internet pioneer, inventor, writer and TV personality. He can be reached through his web site http://imran.com and imran@imran.com . You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/imrananwar

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Posted in 2009, Advertising, Amazon, Books, Business, Entrepreneur, Hollywood, Movies, Music, New Media, News, Newspapers, Opportunity, Publishing, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

IMRAN Economic Recovery Plan – Do You Need Help In This Economy? – “Help Us Help US”

Posted by imrananwar on January 8, 2009

Are things looking bad in this economy? Who’s bailing you out? Could you use $25,000 right about now?

Here is a working plan that will save us and the US.

Financial deregulation started under the Clinton era and, through the terrible mismanagement under George W. Bush, the economy melted. Now TRILLIONS of Dollars were given away by Bush to bailout industries that put you, me and our entire economy at risk. Even failing carmakers are getting Billions. Are you getting a dime?

Obama has good ideas but they are not enough to do anything for you, for us, for the US in the immediate situation. We need help NOW.

Here is the IMRAN Economic Recovery Plan.

It provides a specific way to trigger an economic recovery within 90 days. Ninety Days, not 9 months or 9 years.

Imran Anwar ( http://imran.com/media/blog/ ) explains the plan and the specifics on how it would work. Using a simple example with numbers, he shows how much money you would get, how you can spend it to stabilize your situation and help the economy. Finally, he explains how the government gets the money back – so we are not all paying trillions in higher taxes for money that makes bankers and other failed executives even richer at our expense while we lose homes, jobs, cars and our future.

This plan ensures legal American residents, citizens and taxpayers are bailed out. They can spend money on American businesses, so more Americans can be hired and the American government can get tax revenues again to ensure a stronger future for AMERICANS.

Would $25,000 to $30,000 help you today? If you want to get help, do something. Take action. It’s easy.

Please tell everyone you know about this ERP (Economic Recovery Plan).

Please share on FaceBook, MySpace, your blog, Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon… call in on radio shows, email TV programs and hosts that you like. Write letters to editors.

If you don’t take action, no one will bail you out but you will be paying for years for money given away to bankers, oil companies, automakers and other sleazy businesses. It’s your choice. Watch now and please rate it positively so others can hear the idea and support it. Help Us Help US!

Tags: Economy, Recovery, Bailout, Banks, Banking, Taxes, Tax, Bush, Clinton, Obama, Money, Borrow, Buy, Shopping, IMRAN, “Imran Anwar”, ImranAnwar, IMRAN.TV, “Economic Recovery Plan”, HelpUsHelpUS

Posted in America, Automakers, Automobiles, Bailout, Bank, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Bush, Business, Citibank, Clinton, Congress, Consumers, Credit, Credit Cards, Democrats, Deregulation, Detroit, Economic Recovery, Economy, Entrepreneur, Future, George Bush, Globalization, Imran, Imran Anwar, IMRAN.TV, In My Humble Opinion, Innovation, Loan, Merchants, Obama, Opportunity, Republicans, Rescue, Socialism, Strategy, Treasury, USA, Video, Washington, Wealth | Leave a Comment »

New Day, New Dawn, New Era, A Renewed Nation

Posted by imrananwar on November 5, 2008

There are dark clouds on the horizon, as the damp chill of an early November rain looms over Washington DC. It is unlikely that anyone awake at this dawn hour will see even a single ray of light of sunshine. Yet, Washington, DC, as well as all the United States of America are bathed in a warm glow and bright light. It is the sunshine of a new day, a new dawn, a new era, and a new chapter in the history of a great nation renewed.

To paraphrase a recent advertisement, published by CNN in The New York Times and other reputed newspapers, the United States, as well as the rest of the world, were caught in a magical moment on the night of November 4, 2008, as the US elections came to a close.

The past was leaving, but still threatened to continue into our future. The future beckoned, the hope of a new day, but the dawn had not yet arrived and could still elude us. For a brief moment in time, you, I, the United States, as well as the whole world, were caught in a moment of curiosity, wonder, concern as well as sheer, innocent, daring hope.

Yesterday the nation stood at a crossroads, the brink of expanding disaster or a new beginning. As the election results came in, it became obvious that Hope had won the day. The past was going to be sent far into the past. In that brief period of time, between the end of polling in the United States, Senator McCain conceding defeat and President-elect Barack Hussein Obama giving his victory speech, many amazing things happened which many of us had not expected to see for a long time.

Americans themselves appeared to close the door on the jingoistic, brutal and bullying faux but failing empire that George W. Bush and his henchmen had tried to build over the last eight years. Americans of all colors, ages, races, religions, ethnicities and backgrounds came out in larger numbers to vote than at any time in the recent history. They also found that they had made a dream come true surprisingly quicker than they themselves had expected.

Dr. Martin Luther King, the black slain civil rights leader, was killed for his preaching equality for whites and blacks. His amazing "I Have A Dream" speech is known to all Americans, and I urge readers of this column to read, or even better, to hear it for themselves. (It is easily available on the Internet). Many Americans can even quote words from that speech. But few had believed it possible that they would see parts of Dr. King’s dream come true in such a real and shining manner.

Americans found their country once again beginning to be the bright beacon of light, hope, equality, justice, greatness and ideals that the rest of the world looks up to. Above all, Americans themselves woke up to realize that from being a good, yet imperfect, country overnight they had matured into a renewed nation, achieving greatness again, surprising themselves and the world in unison.

Let there be no delusions. We have not suddenly achieved some racial-nirvana, some miracle of overnight solutions to eons old human emotions. The results from various states, and parts of the country, including so-called redneck areas, show that despite the massive failure of George W. Bush, and his friends, voting for a black man was still too much for the Bush-supporting people to do.

No society in the world, at least in our lifetimes, can achieve the Utopian ideals of having no racism at all. However, with this vote Americans resoundingly proved that if there is any country in the world that can come close to living up to its own ideals, and the ideals of most human beings, it is the great nation of United States of America.

The country that had a history of slavery, abuse and even murder of black people today elected its president who is not only black, but is the son of a Kenyan immigrant, raised by a single mother, with an extended family of Africans, Christians and Muslims. And they did not install this man by some technical election, or by some narrow margin. They did so in such a resounding manner that there was no doubt left in anyone’s mind. It was clear. America had come back to its rightful place on the world stage – as a nation to be respected, admired, looked up to and – perhaps one day soon – loved again.

The irony is that this next to impossible election of Barack Obama was made possible by the disaster that was George W. Bush. It was hastened by the brink of disaster faced by the United States as well as rest of the world. Yet, the challenges that Barack Obama faces on taking the oath of office will make his getting elected seem like a walk in the park.

One of the interesting elements of United States elections is the significant time period between the results of elections and the new government taking over. In most circumstances it is a good thing – as it allows for a smoother transition from one administration to the next. However, in today’s serious geo-political and socio-economic meltdown situations, Barack Obama faces a new dilemma.

On the one hand he cannot be overly aggressive in pushing for his own policies while lame-duck George W. Bush is still in office. On the other hand, he cannot simply wait for 2 months for the situation to get worse, or the wrong policies or "solutions" from being applied or tested – by an administration already having seen itself rejected to the dustbin of history.

The major challenge that President-elect Barack Obama is sure to face is the issue of unrealistic expectations.

Being able to inspire people to believe that solutions are possible, being able to suggest that change is coming and getting people out to vote are far easier than solving the actual problems in some miraculously short timeframe. On top of that, as can be seen in any country where the party comes back into power after a long time, it’s supporters (jialas), power players and constituents expect to be rewarded for their support. The thing that can save Obama from this problem is the huge turnout in the elections and the very broad range of people who swept him into power. That makes it easier for him to resist the pressure or blackmail tactics of any particular constituent or support group.

An additional challenge that he and his Administration will face is that there are no easy solutions to the problems that are faced by the United States economy, as well as the global economy. Nor is it very easy to get out of the war in Iraq – if that is what people expect to be a short and easy fix to all problems.

Another thing to keep in mind is that one of Obama’s strengths is his ability to think coolly and rationally about issues, analyze the situation, make a decision and communicate his plan. The problem is that it can also lead to analysis paralysis, especially for a relatively young, inexperienced, new leader.

It is possible for Obama to also try to please as many people as he can and end up displeasing a lot more. Even worse, being someone who appears to want to be liked by everybody, it is possible that he may want to tiptoe around some of the tough decisions that need to be made. That, in my humble opinion, would be a disaster.

The biggest strength, the biggest advantage, the biggest opportunity that Obama can leverage is the huge mandate he was given in this landslide victory. It is for this reason that his first 100 days will be far more important in real terms than in the usual symbolic terms that they are looked at for new presidents.

If he’s smart, and a man of action, he will find a strategic way to have Congress, with its Democrat majority further strengthened in this election, influence and force George W. Bush’s outgoing administration to embark on the path that Obama would like to follow. This would enable him to get the ball rolling even before his inauguration, avoid the impression of imposing himself before he assumes office and also save him from any blame that can come about from George Bush and his team still screwing things up.

Another advantage I see is that this clear mandate, given to a visionary leader with the ability to inspire his nation, is just the right shot in the arm needed by the US consumer, business and stock markets.

As I have written in these pages before, there are serious threats to the United States and global economies, but the biggest threat is a crisis of confidence. Obama’s ascension to power is sure to help revive that confidence.

As I write these lines at 5 AM on November 5 in Washington DC, I am confident that, barring any external economic events, an economic resurgence, including a stock market rebound, shall start soon. More credit will start becoming available, thawing the economic freeze that had left Main Street shuddering and Wall Street with pneumonia. I even hope that a recovery and expansion may be on the horizon as happened when the last great American President Bill Clinton came into office replacing another weak economy under another weak Bush.

So, economic recovery will be of paramount importance to Americans and the whole world. The weak economy is what helped Obama get elected, but the biggest challenges before, during and even after an economic recovery will be foreign affairs and undoing the damage done by the Bush Administration.

My advice to President Barack Obama would be to therefore embark on aggressive efforts to resolve the Middle East and Palestinian, as well as the Kashmir issues. I would also encourage him to immediately start dialogue with Iran and other countries that George W. Bush was busy burning un-built bridges with.

But Obama has to do so in a friendly yet firm manner. It is time for America to assume its place as leader of the free world, willing, able and ready to use its power and influence to do good and effect real positive change around the world and achieving things that no past American President had the willingness or courage to do. That is the audacity of my hope for President Barack Obama.

Imran Anwar is a New York and Miami based Pakistani-American entrepreneur, Internet pioneer, inventor, writer and TV personality. He can be reached through his web site http://imran.com and imran@imran.com

Posted in America, Bill Clinton, Bush, Cabinet, CNN, Congress, Democrats, Elections, George Bush, Imran, Iran, Iraq, Kashmir, McCain, New York Times, Obama, Opportunity, President, Racism, Republicans | Leave a Comment »

Profit From The Meltdown: Part 2: Huge Profit Opportunities In The Coming Recovery

Posted by imrananwar on October 22, 2008

Profit From The Meltdown:

Part 2: Huge Profit Opportunities In The Coming Recovery

By Imran Anwar

In the previous column we discussed why the current economic crisis appears far worse than it actually is. Yes, grave dangers exist if the world’s economies are mismanaged. But, so far, it appears that all major governments understand the global implications and are working together to stave off global ruin.

It is for this reason that I argue this may be the best time in the world to start investing, to take advantage of the huge opportunities and bargains that surround us, before everyone else does. This is especially true of younger generations, young families, and dynamic people who can afford to take a long term view more than someone close to retirement or already retired (unless they have significant amounts available to invest).

I believe the recession, though painful, will be short lived and will end soon into the Presidency of the new American President. This is especially true if history is any indicator. A Bush in the White House always leads this country into war and economic ruin, and his exit always leads to a historic economic recovery and the opportunity to create great wealth. I can hardly wait for Inauguration Day, 2009!

I also believe we will not have a global Great Depression version 2 between now and then.

There are several reasons for this. One is that most of the world governments and nations had learned several lessons from that historic crash of 1929 – which is referred to as The Great Depression. (I am not sure what was so "great" about it). In that particular crash, the then American administration had made many bad moves. That included not responding, not responding in time, then responding in a parochial, inward looking, protectionist way and doing too little too late.

You are not hearing me say that George W. Bush or his team of incompetent henchmen have done anything right. However, because we live in the Internet age, and most of world economies are so tightly intertwined, in general most of the developed world’s governments are working in unison to avoid a global meltdown, even while they recognize a recession is already underway.

How to minimize its damage, and to prevent it from turning into a domino effect – that brings the planet to its knees – is what they are fighting for. Bush and his team, and even Presidential candidate Senator John McCain, showed their cluelessness on the economy. At 9 AM one day McCain was saying the economy was strong. Two hours later he was saying the country (America) was in a grave crisis, as if a sudden earthquake had just taken place.

Then Bush’s Treasury Secretary Paulson said there were specific steps that would be just plain wrong – like the government taking equity stakes in American banks in exchange for large sums of capital. But, when the British, Europeans and Japanese governments did exactly that and saved their economies, literally a day later he was doing the same thing. So much for having any competent person in the White House team! (Maybe Bush can now say, "You’re doing a heckuva job Pauly"?)

But, regardless of how incompetent these people are, fortunately they are not the only ones who have a stake in saving the American economy from imploding.

There are countries with huge amounts of United States dollars stashed away in their banks. This includes countries like China. Even the Chinese Communist government, regardless of how disdainfully it may think of the United States, is smart enough to know that the greatest source of its wealth in recent years has been from manufacturing cheap goods that the American market just cannot get enough of buying.

Also, as few people realize, an American meltdown, of its economy or its currency, will also mean financial ruin for China in several ways. China’s growing working middle class depends on feeding the American consumption beast for it to survive and grow itself.

On top of that, over the least few years, despite participating in a world economy, and benefiting from capitalism and open markets, China has always manipulated its own currency to ensure its goods do not become too expensive to export. As a result, for several years, America has had a huge trade deficit with China, leading, effectively, to America owing China a lot of money.

Now its policy of protecting its own currency is coming back to bite China. That is because China is possibly the biggest non-American holder of huge reserves of Dollars. A crash of the Dollar can effectively wipe out China’s current economic wealth.

America, just like Pakistan right now, is hardly in a position to turn down economic support from any quarter. Sure, it’ll be a shameful and sad day for the United States to go begging to China. The one remaining superpower in both military and economic terms, before George W. Bush came into office, would actually now be dependent on a communist country like China to help save it’s capitalist society!

China, previously the source of cheap socks and itty-bitty cheap plastic toys could be and, I would say also for its own self-interest, has to be America’s economic savior.I also see this as a huge opportunity for Middle Eastern countries, also slush in Dollars and Petro-Dollars, to offer their help but leverage it to increase opportunities for their businesses. But, sadly, I have not seen much strategic exploitation of that of any significance. Sure, we have the occasional deal worth Billions (e.g. when a financially suffering chip-maker AMD has sold off a majority stake to ATIC of Abu Dhabi, an investment arm wholly-owned by the government of Abu Dhabi.

But, I do not see a concerted, strategic and financial effort on the part of Middle-Eastern, or Muslim, investors and entrepreneurs to exploit opportunities as I see Indian and Israeli companies doing. I can imagine us crying in 20 years about how not only do the Jews control Hollywood and the media but then how Indians and Israelis control Silicon Valley.

Yes, I do see that Arabs have started buying up real estate, the one business they understand well here in America (being among the biggest buyers of casinos and other entertainment properties also). But, can they leverage this to help establish a foothold for Arabs and Muslims in things like Venture Capital and other next-generation financial industries? Sadly, it does not appear that is even a goal for them. It seems real estate is already, correctly, being targeted for massive investments but not much else.

It is for this reason that I am quite confident that huge opportunities exist for Pakistani, Middle-Eastern and Muslim investors to benefit, not just from real estate, but also from many other opportunities to buy financial, corporate and technology company assets at bargain prices.

Even though, like everyone else, I took significant hits in the stock market during the last several months, I have actually increased my holdings, especially in stocks of Citibank, as well as Apple. I have also bought stocks of others, like Amazon, Pepsi-Cola, etc. that also got hammered a few days ago. But, the greatest upside I still see in the stock market is in companies like Apple, as well as other battered financial stocks.

Last but not least expensive desirable real estate is going to become even more expensive and more desirable as the market turns around, which is sure to do in the coming days. This will be true especially in the United States when my fellow Americans are smart enough to change the direction this country is headed in. It will happen even sooner if they elect a candidate who is not simply going to continue George W. Bush’s policies of economic disaster. We will find out on November 4.

But, don’t lose sight of the huge opportunity for real estate that exists in other markets too.

Major American institutions have created funds of several Billion Dollars to start buying real estate in countries including India. Thanks to the self-destructive tendencies of my fellow Pakistanis, people hardly consider Pakistan as a safe haven for their money (much less their bodies!), but as real estate investment takes off, there will also be a trickle-down or trickle-sideways (osmosis?) effect on Pakistani real estate prices.

I have been making my best efforts to interest American investors in also including Pakistan in the list of places that they invest in – but so far it has been a losing battle. I am hopeful in the new Administration in America (and some improvement in Pakistan’s war on terrorists) that the USA will feel a greater need to invest in Pakistan. But, similar huge opportunities exist for Pakistanis of means to invest in real estate in the United States and I am seeing that a lot more from clients that I advise on doing business in the USA.

All in all, I am not just hopeful, but certain, that the current recession will be a short one, though not without short-term pain. I am positive that savvy investors are going to start putting their money, and their instincts, to work before everyone else jumps back on the bandwagon. I am working to do that, and hope you will too!


Conclusion.

Posted in Amazon, Apple, Bush, Business, China, Citibank, Economy, Elections, Globalization, Imran, India, Investment, McCain, Opportunity, Pakistan, Pepsi, Politics, President | Leave a Comment »

Can Bush Push Mush? Another Legacy Leaving Opportunity Lost

Posted by imrananwar on August 12, 2008

For all the years I have followed Pakistani politics, from the inside as a student political leader, or from the outside as a media person, I have always been amazed by the huge number of historic opportunities squandered by Pakistan, Pakistanis and Pakistani generals, judges and politicians.

From the dictator Zia having an opportunity to clean up the country of corruption, to Benazir Bhutto doing something for womenkind and education, history was wasted. Ghulam Ishaq Khan was thrust into the role of President and blew a historic opportunity for him to be apolitical, and have a chance to be someone Pakistanis would remember as a hero.

Alas, once in power in most countries, and especially in Pakistan, elected and unelected heads of state, regardless of being 40 years old or 70, seem to live in the moment, for the moment, and moment by moment. Even the aged Ghulam Ishaq Khan did more to enrich his relatives, and play political games, than grab the incredible opportunity he had to become a new father figure in Pakistani history.

It is amazing that in Pakistan’s 61 years, there is not a single head of state who has tried to, or left, a legacy good enough for Pakistanis to consider adding his (or her) photo on even a (now defunct) One Rupee note.

We now have a situation that is eerily similar to what we have seen before. A dictator, even more unpopular than Zia, is clinging to power, simply because one of the most unpopular American Presidents, ever, George W. Bush’s grand foreign policy for the South Asian region is — ‘we stand by Musharraf.’

Perhaps Bush supports Mush because it ensures there is at least ONE President who is more unpopular than Bush himself is! But, jokes aside, even a tragic accident of history like George W. Bush is trying, belatedly and with no success, to spend the next 6 months trying to “leave a legacy.”

I can easily say Musharraf is a far smarter and more cunning man than Bush ever was, or will be. But, one thing they both share in common besides the sound of their names – no understanding of how legacies are left.

They do not understanding that a legacy is not created by clinging to power, or failed ideas, but by doing things in the greater interest, things bigger than what even our biggest admirers could imagine us doing. Legacy and history smile on us when we do things even we could not imagine being selfless, brave and visionary enough to do. When we become bold enough to stop living for our own egos today, but to step aside now, so the future can look back on us with respect.

Alas, neither Bush, nor Mush, get the concept, which is why they are both close to each other in how history will not remember them. They are among the most unpopular, ineffective, and impeachable Presidents – though they rule over countries thousands of miles apart, and worlds apart in political, religious and social systems.

Posted in America, Army, Benazir, Bhutto, Bin Laden, Bush, Dictator, Dictatorship, Elections, Freedom, Judges, Justice, Musharaff, Musharraf, Opportunity, Pakistan, Politics, President | 2 Comments »

Be All You Can Be – Because America Is The Land Of Opportunity

Posted by imrananwar on June 24, 2008

Forbes.com, the online service of Forbes magazine, has a very interesting article about America not really being the proverbial land of opportunity.

It suggests that America is not as great a land of opportunity as Americans like to believe. It makes many interesting points, but I had a strong counterpoint that I wrote for Forbes.com but am sharing with you here.

You all know how openly and boldly I do criticize American social flaws, excessively liberal coddling of society, the evil regime of neo-conservative George Bush and Dick Cheney, and its foolish, self-defeating and unfair foreign policy in the Middle-East and towards Palestine. But, that does not mean I do not love America and all that it, and its real people, and values, stand for.

This is my response to Forbes.


I was born into a good life – in a comfortable, upscale, professional, educated, well-off, well-known, respected and popular, loving and devoted family in Pakistan.

I had hardly any need to walk away from an established public/media identity (fame?), successful career (fortune?), family and comfort just for the sake of “Coming to America”.

But that is what I did in January, 1989.

I arrived with the total US$1000 that Pakistanis were allowed to leave with, and came to Manhattan to attend Columbia Business School for my MBA. Despite my delusions of greatness and brilliance, most of my friends will tell me I am neither brilliant, nor overly hard-working.

Yet, it was because I was in America that I COULD be whatever I wanted to be. I started my MBA studies in 1989, working with a Pakistani newspaper chain to help them establish and publish simultaneously a multi-city newspaper in 1991, and helping the Pakistani Embassy in the USA start a computerization effort.

I also started a small consulting service, a media-syndication business serving media clients in global markets from NYC, AND went on to become pioneer and founder of Internet email, as well as cofounder of the top level .PK domain for Pakistan. Soon thereafter I was also the one to bring MasterCard credit cards to Pakistan.

I had a challenging 1996 (when 90% of my six-figure income from two global clients dried up within 2 months) but was fortunate to join first a start-up, then a Fortune 50 NY-based company for a few years, and then back to being CEO of my own startup.

I am proud of my Pakistani heritage, but I am even more proud of being an American for just a few years and already living the American Dream far more, and far better, than many of my fellow American even dare to dream.

I am NOT rich by any stretch of the imagination – but even as a mere “technology professional” and “media expert” I have everything any Billionaire in the USA can have. From oceanfront homes in NY and FL, to flying small planes, to having a small “fleet” of boats from 23-40 feet in two states, I probably enjoy an incredible life more than I can even tell people for fear of being accused of showing off.

I can meet, see, date, love, marry (if I was not Happily Single!), befriend, or associate with anyone, of any race, religion or country.

I can (and do) say and write anything positive or critical that I want about anyone (even about the American government or its policies) on my blogs as well as on radio and TV, from CNN to Fox News. I can charge hundreds of Dollars per hour for my time as a business consultant, or work in child welfare or any other cause that I choose.

Despite all this, yes, I am nowhere near my fullest potential. And, that is because I need to be more focused, not because America does not offer ample opportunity to everyone. It is because I am in America that I do still have the opportunity to pursue my 100 other dreams.

Yes, I AM behind in publishing the books and screenplays I have partly written. I do have to be more diligent about hunting venture (not vulture) capital for my small portfolio of Web 2.0 startups that help monetize social networking and content online.

I still have to make time to play Tennis and learn to ski and swim (yes, it’s shameful, I can barely swim despite my flying/boating passions). I only half-joke when I say that my list of pending Things To Do is 7-10 years long. And, on top of all that, I do need to finish up the patent drawings and claims to file the 22 patent applications I have pending for different products.

America is surely not perfect, but even people who complains about it do not, and would not, choose any other country to live, work, play or even dream in. Thank you America.

Imran Anwar
http://imran.com


I would love to hear from native born Americans, immigrants living in America and non-Americans who dream of coming to America (as long as they speak English 😉 and will not come to burden society and raise my taxes 🙂 ).

So, “Dare to Dream, Dare to Speak, Dare to Be All You Can Be”.

Imran

Posted in America, Aviation, Billionaire, Boat, Boating, Books, Business, CEO, Columbia, Education, Entrepreneur, Equalty, Flying, Free Speech, Freedom, Globalization, History, In My Humble Opinion, Inclusion, Internet, Invention, Love, Manhattan, Marriage, Marry, MBA, Millionaire, Opportunity, Pakistan, Passion, Publishing, USA, Venture Capital, Wealth, Web 2.0, Writing | 2 Comments »

Pssst, Want To Make Money Monetizing Social Networking Instead Of Time-Wasting Social NOT Working?

Posted by imrananwar on June 20, 2008

FaceBook, MySpace, linkedin, and so many other social networking sites offer great ways to connect with people – and lose touch with reality (and the total time spent on a computer). That is even before location-aware GPS and RFID devices, married to addictive platforms like FaceBook, Twitter and MySpaceTime.net (more on that later) make social networking mean even more being social and not working even during working hours.

It is so ironic that just about 16 years I wrote an article contradicting people’s then assertion that computers and the Internet were going to make us all anti-social.

Having started what was considered the first online matrimonial sites, at http://imran.com, I dared to disagree.

I felt that though we may spend more time on our computers, the Internet would actually help us find that one in a million connection from places around the world we could never have gone or known or met that person.

Little did I realize how social networking would grow. Lesson learnt, something that you consider merely a social observation, or the earliest makings of a trend, must be pursued zealously even as the trend changes shapes and directions from market forces. If you are riding, even shaping, it along the way, your opportunities to start something huge are….well, huge.

Of course, as is my forte, I have a knack for starting new things. But, in the past I also had a “rebel without a cause” habit of not sticking around in such businesses long enough to become a millionaire off them. So, my advice is to never lose your idealism – as that is what will help you achieve the impossible. But, temper that idealism with pragmatism.

Wanting something to be a commercial success does not necessarily mean you “sold out” your dream. Take an alternate view. If you work hard and make Project X a huge money-making success, even if you have to sell the company to investors or venture capitalists, you did not sell out.

All you did was leverage Project X to give you the freedom to freely experiment and play with your many other some-crazy some-great ideas without being worried about getting funding for them. That can take you from being a “serial entrepreneur” to a “parallel serial entrepreneur”, capable of trying multiple new ideas and businesses and achieving success far beyond what Project X alone would have given you.

In my own case, idealism was a strength, but it was also definitely a huge liability. Usually, I sat back and a few years later watched someone else do the same thing, with funding instead of personal funds, and grow rich/er. I saw the same thing as online dating grow into a huge business with the likes of match.com and others many years after I had launched the first matrimonials database.

When I started Internet email for my native country of Pakistan, I also became “co-owner and co-founder” of the .PK top level domain with my friend and neighbor, the technical genius Ashar Nisar, who went on to establish PKNIC to manage the ccTLD.

Besides getting a kick out of being called “father of the Internet” (at least in Pakistan), I even gave many people free email addresses on imran.pk (the country’s first email provider and ISP) to promote email. But, never could I have imagined that sticking around giving something for free I could later have sold it to a giant corporation as hotmail.com did a few years later. Oh, well. Live and learn.

Today, FREE is a valid business model. If you grow a business large enough, no matter how much money it is losing, as long as you have enough users, someone will buy you out for millions of Dollars.

When I started writing an online journal and political opinions (Occasionally Obnoxious, Obviously Outspoken Opinions) at http://imran.com in 1995-96, little did I know that I could have built some sort of “blogging” empire on that.

Once again, despite having an MBA and thinking of myself as a savvy entrepreneur, I missed the boat. So, look around you – some of the very ordinary problems you are solving daily without thinking twice may hold within them huge business opportunities. First, recognize them. Then, go for them with everything you’ve got.

In 1995 I became a heavy GPS user in boating and later in aviation as a pilot. In 1998-2000 I became CEO of EverTrac, among the first out the gate selling RFID and GPS based solutions. Alas, as usual, like Panasonic’s slogan, I was just slightly ahead of my time.

Fortunately, EverTrac and my team survived the dot-com bust, but only because we were gobbled by a Fortune 50 level company – which did nothing with what they bought. Lesson learnt. It’s important to survive, but if you sell out to a big company, try not to feel heartache when they don’t make any use of the technology.

But, this current new momentum of GPS based devices we are seeing will prove I was on the right…. umm.. EverTrac?

Hopefully, this time, with my current projects, covering GPS, social networking and mobile-monetization – I’ll actually make some “real” money if I can sell something to a Google or Yahoo or, some even smarter business!

If that does not happen, I guess the pattern (or call it the Corporate Culture of an Entrepreneur) here is that I love to start new things, just before their time, that others make billions off later. But, so what? The sheer joy of starting something new, taking something from an idea that everyone says is dumb, or will never work, and making it at least take shape, get launched, and become popular is, in itself, a huge reward.

So, feel free to call me about what I an doing now. Surely I can help you become a Web 2.0 multi-millionaire doing whatever I am too lazy (or not smart enough 🙂 ) to make money from!

Good luck and God Speed, fellow entrepreneurs.

Posted in Billionaire, Business, Entrepreneur, FaceBook, Google, GPS, Innovation, Internet, Invention, Media, Monetization, Money, MySpace, MySpaceTime, New Media, Online, Opportunity, Pakistan, Revenue, Strategy, Technology, Time, Venture Capital | 5 Comments »

 
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