Archive for the ‘Tech News’ Category


Who would have thought that a person who was denied a job by the social networking giant Facebook 4 years ago would someday join hands with it to trade his brain child Whats App for $19 Billion?  Yes, I am talking about Brian Acton. The tech world in this week was flooded with the news of Facebook buying Whats App, but more than the acquisition I was more fascinated with a tale that is less known and probably less discussed. Brian Acton, one of the founders of Whats App, was once rejected for a job from Facebook after he left as a software engineer from Yahoo. I came across this tweet of his that was posted by him way back in 2009.

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He was also rejected by Twitter during the same time. After this rejection, he was not disheartened or heartbroken rather he teamed up with another Yahoo employee, Jan Koum, to give birth to Whats App, a name that has today become the synonym of cloud-based messaging. Once the deal is closed, Acton will have around 20% stake in the company, which means he will have a net worth of $3 billion. I am sure the journey from being rejected by a firm to being one of the stake owners in the same company must not be a cakewalk. However, what is noteworthy here is the undying passion that perpetuated within him in spite of all the denunciations.

Apart from being a phenomenal motivation story, it also served as a memento of some of my past experiences. While studying Biotechnology in graduation, I suffered many setbacks-rights from frequent taunting of teachers to struggling to get passing marks. I was brushed aside as a ‘good for nothing’ student. I still remember one of the teachers telling me “Roll No. 4 You are not going to do anything in life. Likhwa lo mere se”! The regular humiliation during theory and practical classes made me bunk classes. And the worst part was that I used to disguise my mortification under the cover of a bold, carefree attitude, which of course irked my teachers and parents more. I don’t blame them because even I was puzzled about what exactly I wanted to do in life.

Nevertheless, in the final year, with the assistance of some loyal friends, my sleep-deprived eyes finally saw the mark sheet that I passed with decent percentage. Finally, I realized that I was not meant to cut rodents or perform blood tests in clinical labs. I did my Masters in Journalism and Mass communication and performed pretty well in all semesters. In fact, I topped two semesters out of the four semesters. But, the real struggle was yet to commence. Recession had hit and I was unable to fetch a respectable job for myself. My dad started reminding me day and night that my decision to do Journalism was an illogical one. I distanced myself from everything in life and started looking desperately for a job until I found one in 2010. Although it was a start up company, it at least gave me a platform to showcase my skills and talent. But, blame it on my young blood or happy-go-lucky approach to life, I was still quite confused with my career choice. My designation was that of a writer and I used to write well, but somehow I did not find it enjoyable either.

One fine day, my CEO called me and told me that, “Indrani, you still have to find your calling in life. May be you are good at something else. Find out what is that”! I found that statement very callous and inconsiderate at that moment. I was annoyed to the extent that I refrained from interacting with him in future. However, I started questioning myself where my life was headed, and all I could see was a blank space. This can be considered as the ‘make or break’ point for anyone’s life.

Though I have relatively limited knowledge and experience, this is the only point where I can imagine myself and Brian Acton standing together and staring at life. If you are failing or getting rejected today, never let the passion die a slow death inside you. Never cease following your dreams as success comes to only to those who keep growing and reinventing themselves each day. And when that happens you not just get success and respect, but also end up inspiring generations. If not anything else, during the phase of adversity and denials, look at life as an adventure and stay focussed. In case of Brian Acton, it took some time but ultimately his buoyancy paid off. No one likes listening to a sob story; that is why, no matter what situation you are in to, get up, wear a smile and fight against all the odds.

I am not sure how much I have achieved so far, but I can see a different spark in my dad’s eyes when he talks about me or shows my articles or official praise letters to anyone. Recently, he hugged me and told me that he is very proud of me and waiting to be acknowledged as “Indrani’s Baba”. That was it. I didn’t need anything else. I wish I could talk to my first CEO somehow and tell him that ‘Yes Sir, I have found my calling in life. Its writing and I can’t do anything else in life. I will keep writing till the end of life.’ And I know I have just started my journey now………….. 🙂

Countless thanks to Brian Acton for showing us a path of optimism amid the darkness of failure.

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Now, it is a very common scenario. Every time a person of Indian origin acquires a prominent place in abroad we start patting our back and go into a patriotic mode. Of course it is a good thing to have moments of self-congratulations, but certainly we are oblivious of many more layers attached to it. Take the case of the current CEO of Microsoft-Satya Nadella who is an Indian by origin but left Indian long time ago. We go rah-rah about the success of ‘Indians’ who do not have Indian citizenship anymore or not even born here. In fact, the media is going berserk celebrating the recognition received by Satya Nadelle.

But, my point here is shouldn’t we be worried about the rate at which brain-drain is happening and other developed countries are becoming a magnet to our talent? Shouldn’t we indulge in a deep scrutiny that why exactly it is so desirable to go abroad and serve other countries instead of our own? In today’s globalized world we are entitled to go anywhere, but we will naturally gravitate to locations that endow us infrastructure and opportunities for advancement. In India, unfortunately, we just witness mediocrity at every phase, and thus despite having a stamping of Indian education majority of Indian brains feel they would strike gold if they get an opportunity out of India.

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It is felt India can only give challenges as opposed to opportunities. Issues like reservations for Jobs and education, bad infrastructure, corrupt and incompetent system have taken the form of a behemoth.  Overcoming these obstacles is an achievement in itself-you need not think about achieving anything else.  Nepotism and favouritism is an open secret even in private sectors. Kudos to Satya Nadella for beating the odds, but one must not forget he is an American product who was recognized by them and given valuable opportunities to establish / improve his abilities.

It’s time we get a grip on exporting of CEO’s, engineers or scientists to developed countries, and push the great minds to solve our social, economic and political challenges. Although it seems a distant dream now, nothing is impossible if India gives importance to meritocracy in every field.