Thursday, May 31, 2007

Facebook dominates my Spring Quarter

I am one of Facebook's 24 million happy users. Having joined around 6 months ago, together with, facebook became my primary online destination. And as many ppl, reconnected me w/ ppl that were almost wiped from my memory.

But my interest wasn't just as a user. I spent some of my time this quarter working on a follow-up case on facebook for one of Prof. Barnett's classes. The main focus was to examine the actions they along the past year. This was nicely concluded with attending the session where the class discussed the case in the presence of Mark Zuckerberg. This is the third time i see Zuckerberg talk. Despite how young he is, 23 years old, he's an extremely smart grounded person that knows what he's doing.

I also attended the facebook f8 launch and hackathon a week earlier, of course i never knew what that was until i was there. That was a nice thing to see, developers from all over the place, coming in one place, to literly start coding their f8 applications.

That said, it's worth commenting on their platform launch. I think it's definitely the right move for an extremely ambitious company. It's the move that facebook needs to have its valuation rise to $8 billion as its owner said its worth. This said, it's not an easy move. The resemblance with Microsoft is initially dazzling, but a more careful analysis points out that it is a different situation. According to Zuckerberg, their value proposition is in an active social graph. I would modify that to say that their value proposition, at least to me, is an active social graph of a friendly nature. This might change with the opening of the platform.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Ibrahim Al Mojel, a Muslim @ Stanford

Ibrahim Al-Mojel is one of the people I got to know and is worth mentioning when speaking of the Muslim community at Stanford. He's a grad student from Saudi Arabia and appears to be an energetic, dedicated, and persistent visionary person.

The last week witnessed a great achievement by Ibrahim as he was the man behind the first Muslim Enterpreneurship Award that was honored by having Nobel Laureate Dr. Ahmed Zeweil as its first recipient.

On Wednesday the award ceremony was held, projectiing a different image about Muslims to some elite members of the Stanford community and making Muslims more proud.

Ibrahim's character reminds me with Muhammad Mu7tasib, another Saudi Arabian i liked very much. Both have this extra hyper energy, sky reaching ambition, open minded, extremely eloquent - a little peotry wouldn't hurt, and they have this exceptional sense of humor.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Faces from Egypt

This thought came to me when i was preparing for the international party at the GSB. Who are the ppl that are most likely to impact Egyptians life at different levels. Here are the people that came to my mind:

1- Gamal Mubarak. Will he be Egypt's next President?

2- Amr Khaled. Will he survive the attacks of traditional scholars?

3- Naguib Sawiris. How bigger/richer can he get?

4- Amr Adeeb. Will Egyptians stay addicted to his show?

5- Hakeem. How did he manage to sing to Noble Laureates as well as the street man?

6- Abu Trekia. Can Egypt come close to world class football?

7- Zewail - Will he ever be able to do his research at home?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Summer @ Kenya!

4 weeks working with Vipani to support farmers in Nairobi Kenya. Yes, believe it or not this is part of my summer. Wouldn't have thought of it in my wildest dreams before coming to the business school.

Vipani is a small startup which makes it even challenging. I don't know anything more right now, but i am so excited about it. It was very easy to get this. As part of the GMIX program at the GSB, they go and source different opportunities for students, and then post them to us. I only applied to this one and i got it after a week. I was also influenced by Jeff, who is one of my classmates, had been to Africa several times before working in development projects, and is providing consultancy to this company.

Egypt thru a Song

I spent the last 3 hours trying to figure out a song that would play tomorrow in the international party at the GSB. Students from different countries are presenting their national food, music, flag, etc.. And i am presenting Egypt.

Each should submit one song to play in the party, and i'm most inclined to play Hakeem. He'll definitely stand out and he popular in all social classes in Egypt, and he's lots of fun.

Other suggestions are Dalida's "Ahsan Nass" and also "Akeed fi Masr", but the music in those two is not as strong as Hakeem's and they are sort of upper class songs.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Unlock Ur Imagination

Wouldn't have expected to be take by this movie, but it was sensational and magical one. Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet made an awesome performance, and it didn't hurt to have Dustin Hoffman around.

"Finding Neverland" makes u think whether or not imagination is all that matters. Can u escape reality by letting the reins of ur imagination? Can ur dreams replace ur surrondings? I believe this can be true in many things.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Dinner with Arab GSBer's

It was a nice chance to meet some of the Arabs from 2nd year before they leave school. Leila (Syria/US), Najla (UAE), and Atsuko(Japan) & Razmig (Egypt) first went to "Yakubian Building" and then i met them at dinner at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. We were initially aiming at eating "Mulukhia" at an Egyptian restaurant but unfortanetly it was under renovation.

These are actually more Arabs - Myriam (Morrocco) and Hany (Lebanon) from 1st year and Nader (Egypt) and Hoda (UAE) from 2nd year. But most of them couldn't make it.

Everyone was very friendly and we had a very nice chat over dinner - although the topics might seem rather serious; Women' suppression in Iran, Controlled Media, Neglect of Africa, and sexual harassments in the streets of Egypt and Lebanon.

Following the crowds into a baseball game

I arrived at San Francisco at 4pm. It was a little early for my 6pm dinner. I had in mind going downtown, usually it is very lively on weekends so i thought i would hang out there until dinner time. When i was getting off the train a voice came from the train's speakers telling everyone to enjoy the game, then there were crowds of ppl moving together towards the AT&T park - the baseball arena. I knew it was just a few blocks away from the train station, i had a couple of hours before my dinner, so i followed the crowd, bought a ticket, and went into the game. My first baseball game.

I couldn't stay for the whole game, but i stayed enough to learn some of the rules from Fred, an american guy who sat next to me. The game might not be the most exciting thing, but the atmosphere was the nice thing, it's more of a social festival. U r more likely to run into families, groups of friends, and couples, than u will run into hardcore fans. A very pleasant place to hang out on a Sunday afternoon.

As usual the American's make the best out of anything. The event touches on patriotic feelings as well as broad human emotions, and ofcourse has a considerable amount of promotional aspects.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Greatest Ace Ever!!!

WOW Andi Roddick!!!!!!

What's Valuable about YouTube?

I don't think it's the endless user generated content - a lot of it really sucks. I also don't think it is the free copyrighted content that is provided - it is not that expensive after all. But what really makes a difference is the focus that u get on quality sections of copyrighted content.

If someone spends time ripping of a scene off a dvd or off TV then this is probably worth watching at least for certain people. It saves other users having to sit for a complete episode or show to get to that particularly interesting part and having to bear with less interesting if not boring sections.

A competitor to YouTube might be better off limiting it's content to copyrighted content, but have users do the programming. The users would select which scene's to publish, and the business model can be based on revenue sharing with the original content owner and the publishing users.

It's funny that this strategy is largely inline with YouTube's slogan, "Broadcast Yourself". But Youtube now became, "Produce & Broadcast Yourself"

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Jum'a @ Stanford

Quite different than Egypt. It has a magnified importance to me since it's the only time that i mingle with Muslims on a regular basis. It's like touching base once a week.

There is no mosque on or near campus, so the ISSU (Islamic Society of Stanford University) reserves a big room each week for Friday prayers. U have to check online each week to know where the prayers will be held. There are usually 80-100 people attending the prayers. The majority are males.

The khutba is not given by a scholar, because obviously there are no scholars. Instead, a difference community members, usually a student, volunteers each week to give the khutba. Sometimes it's prepared by a sister (as females are referred to) but is narrated by a brother. U can imagine the big contrast in content and manner of a khutba given by a EE post grad and one given by a government appointed clerk in Egypt.

The khutba is in English. It is usually presented by a non-native English speaker and a non-native Arabic speaker. I remember in one of my first jum'a's i couldnt' make sense of either the english or the arabic used when narrating certain Qur'an. But generally this is not a problem. All khutba's are recorded and made available online.

Generally I feel grateful to the ISSU for managing all the logistics each week and i am more attached to Jum'a than i was in Egypt.

Why do i believe in God?

Initially that is what i am indistinctly inclined to believe. Whether this is natural instinct or a result of my up brining, i can't tell for sure. But also when i try to think it over the world seems to be a very well coordinated creation that there must be a creator.

I don't know the specific argument against the nonexistence of God. I guess it is based on evolution and that at some stage we had a primary form of life - Amoeba - and then natural selection kicked in.

Two things make me not buy into this argument. The first is that for every scenario that could take a basic form of life thru a complicated evolutionary process until we reach the order we have today, there are millions or trillions of paths that could lead to chaos. It's just probabilistically impossible.

The second is that despite the differences within different species there is still a great level of homogeneity that can't be unintentional. For instance, why aren't there humans with 3 eyes, 4 ears, or 5 hands? It doesn't seem they are functionally disabling, so u would expect so from a random process.


I feel so tired and right now i need all the energy i can get. Is it that i haven't been eating well the past few days. Or is it the emotional stress? I am facing an extremely difficult personal decision. I am getting many contradicting advice but very little support. I have to start preparing for my summer job and decide whether or not to go on a small internship to Africa. I also have to start working on a couple of relatively big projects which will b due in 3 weeks.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The "Follow Ur Passion" prescription!

Today Nancy Barry, CEO of women world bank, came to the GSB and shared with us some of her life lessons. The first was to Follow Our Passions. She was clearly discouraging people from taking an initial path they're not passionate about just to be able to support another path that we're passionate about at a later stage. She believes that people who go into investment banking planning on moving to non-profit later rarely make the move. She thinks it is very pitiful to reach ur 50's having been a very successful business leader and start searching for a meaning to ur life.

This is not the first time i get the "follow ur passion" prescription. John Dohr told me the same thing when i asked him how to decide which path to follow. But I wonder what is it u should be passionate about. Is it the goals? Or the means? Both might be the perfect answer, but what if u don't have that option?

Future of Advertising in Digital Media

The $10 student special price for the $395 ticket wasn't the main attraction to attend today's Stanford-Accel symposium on "The Future of Advertising in Digital Media" - especially having had to miss two class for it.

Although i thought i will be more interested in the panels, i enjoyed Sir Martin Sorrel's key note the most. Key takeaway was that the growth in advertisement will be in nontraditional media in mature markets and traditional media in non-mature market. Another is that the tides are shifting towards the east side of the world, not just in terms of business, but also in terms of technology leadership.

Sir Martin Sorrel had some strong opinions about Google. He described Google as a friend in the short term and a foe in the long term with Google's acquisition of DoubleClick making the short term shorter. He also contrasted Google and Microsoft, where he characterized Google as an integrator and Microsoft as a builder. He also contrasted Google and Yahoo saying that Google is about technology and Yahoo is about people.

As for the panels i attended, I felt they tended to be more promotional and/or politically correct rather than insightful or opinionated. Not much beyond the prevailing belief that digital media is the next big thing. However, two ideas that were emphasized is the value of mood sensitive advertising and high engagement interactions.

Finaly, i didn't do much networking. I guess the mood and the dress code had to do with that.
However, i ran into Tony, my former LDP instructor, and unexpectedly we ended up having a very personal chat.