Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Can Forbes Deliver Better Articles (Not Like The Flipkart One)?


A few thoughts on the Forbes Flipkart article (You can read it here). My war on faffy journalism continues.  

- Steve Ballmer had said "I will kill him" when Eric Schmidt of Google was kicking Microsoft in Search. Eric Schmidt is still alive. What does that prove? That even in a business meeting or a press conference we say things when we are angry that we do not mean. So the "Usko dekh lengay" celebrity-journalism-style reporting is uncalled for. Anyone would be angry with an ex-employee who goes to the press. Which, by the way, does not imply ex-employees should not go to the press. 

- The journo seems to be worried about the founders being "ballsy". Seriously ! Flipkart is a high growth young Indian startup. Obviously it has ballsy leaders. So what? Surely the one thing a startup journo needs to know is that startup leaders, by definition, are ballsy.     

- "General Atlantic partners refused to invest" 
On average a VC says no to hundreds of startups before saying yes. VC refusal is normal. Any VC including General Atlantic are NOT like celebrity judges on American Idol. They DO NOT make or break a startup. They are partners who sometimes join the journey & succeed, sometimes fail and some times choose not to join.  

- "Too much customer service is costing Flipkart"
What data is the journo providing to support this claim? Amazon, as an example, has historically had poor profits but extremely strong growth. The collective wisdom in online retailing seems to be to acquire market share rapidly by sacrificing profit. The fact that Amazon had IPO money to do it and Flipkart wants to do it with VC money is about execution options. What is the writer trying to say? That Amazon could do it but Flipkart will not be able to? Why? 

- "Clique of decision makers"
Most successful startups have decision making cliques. Inclusiveness is not built in. And the obsequious way in which the journo refers to FB makes me want to let them know - Mark Zuckerberg is majority shareholder at FB and approves all the important decisions himself. Has not stopped FB from getting to where it is

Several other things in the article are plain wrong. A rapidly scaling startups accounts will lag reality. Leaders will fight. Cliques will exist. This is the nature of startups. 

None of this is to say that Flipkart is good or bad. Flipkart may or may not succeed. There may even be something wrong at Flipkart. But the article does not help us make that decision with the limited information it gives. So why such a catastrophic headline?


Also found this post by Ashish Sinha, the founder of Pluggd.in who has written quite nicely about this article. 
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