Madhushala Revisited…

“Madhushala is a poem in the tradition of Sufi mysticism of Persian
poets like Omar Khayyam which employs the symbols of wine and its
associates to express the reaction of a sensitive soul to life its rich
variety, its intoxicating loveliness and also its poignant
frustrations. Madhushala is the epitome of "live in the present". It
stresses the importance of "now". It is too vexing to think of
tomorrow, too frustrating to wail over the bygone days. Within the
limited scope of poetry, Bachchan has portrayed a way of life.”

Recently when the third term mid-terms were on, i suddenly felt very bored. Notwithstanding the fact that i should have been studying at that time, decided to do something that i had last done around a decade ago…. read the masterpiece Madhushala.

Now, my affair with the classic began when Wadekar Sir recited some couplets from it in class. The silky smooth verses made me go to the local library that very evening and check out the book. Luckly, it was available, and to date it remains the only Hindi work of art that i have read in its entirety (i wish there were many more). The simplicity of the verse and the different meanings that they generate every time you read them make it an all time favourite of mine.

But over the years I somehow lost touch with the classic. So, this Feb when I decided to google for it, i did not know whether it’ll even be available on the net. As always, google did not disappoint 🙂 and i got the entire book and that too in its original devanagri script.

I also decided to share my joy with my batchmates here in MDI and so sent a pdf copy to them too. 🙂 That many people took it as a form of RG is another matter altogether. (that anything here can be twisted to look like a form of RG is another matter altogether :))

Another pleasant surprise I got yesterday was while I was surfing. My random meanderings around the world wide web took me across the blog of the actor Rahul Khanna. Didn’t expect much from an actor’s blog but decided to go in anyway. The guy actually writes pretty well so the trip was worth it. But the even bigger surprise was that even he is a fan of Madhushala like me and many others. He’s got a pretty old post on his encounter with the poem which captures the essence of the epic perfectly. Couldn’t have said it better myself.


Network Effect and valuing Free Customers

Came across a pretty interesting paper in the HBS working knowledge site yesterday. The paper talked about how a "free" customer can be valued. This can be particularly useful while valuing new age business like ebay and the various job sites because these sites generally have two types of customers: job seekers (or "buyers" as the paper calls them) and companies (or "sellers"). the companies pay the sites for putting up their jobs and every person recruited thru them while the job seekers are normally free (at least for the basic services). Now a seller can be directly valued by finding out the revenues that the site gets from him but how do u value a free customer?

The concept of valuing a free customer comes from Metcalfe’s law which basically says that the value of a network (like YouTube, Ebay, Monster etc.) increases with the number of users connected to it coz every user attracts other user to the site and also the greater the number of users the greater the number of sellers who will be attracted to the site or the network. This law is generally accepted to be the explanation behind the rapid growth of the internet and a recent article in Strategy+Business also blames the oversimplistic implementation of this law as one of the major causes of the sky high valuations during the boom.

Coming back to the paper, the authors, with the help of a whole lot of mathematical mumbo jumbo, analyze the value of a typical job site (they have not given the name due to reasons of anonymity) and come up with the result that the network effects of buyers on seller are nearly six times the effect of seller on buyers. so more buyers attract more sellers but more sellers don’t attract buyers to the same degree. So, in effect the value of a buyer is more than the value of a seller, even though there are more buyers than sellers.

Also, the marketing efforts of such a company should be more concentrated more in the start of the business to build the initial critical mass of buyers, after which the marketing efforts can be cut down.

The only catch here is that the model created in this study can only be applied in two sided markets. i.e. with buyers and sellers. So orkut and you tube cannot be valued by this model. Wonder how Google valued Youtube?