Sunday, November 30, 2008

Lakshmi Mittal richest person in South Africa again

India-born steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal has been named the richest person in South Africa for the fourth consecutive year on the annual 'Rich List' compiled by the weekly Sunday Times.

Mittal achieved this distinction despite a 65 percent loss in his 52 percent stake in ArcelorMittal South Africa during the March-November period this year due to the global financial crisis.

The London-based magnates' stake in the former state-owned Iscor, which he turned around with a huge cash injection and business assistance agreement before eventually buying it out, was valued at 45.6 billion rands ($4.5 billion) in March, but went down to 16.2 billion rands ($1.6 billion) now.

But that still did not stop Mittal, who has never lived in the country, from beating his nearest rival Patrice Motsepe.

Motsepe's investments in mining company African Rainbow Minerals and insurance giant Sanlam are valued at 9.6 billion rands.

The two families, which have dominated the South African economic scene for decades - the Oppenheimers and the Ruperts - took the next two positions. Nicky Oppenheimer's investments in Anglo American plc is currently worth 6.8 billion rands while the Rembrandt Trust of the Rupert family is valued at 3.1 billion rands.

The Rich List is compiled using the holdings of individuals in companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

Only two South African Indians made it onto the list of 150. They are Ragi Moonsamy, whose stake in Growthpoint Properties and Mvelaphanda Resources of 497 million rands puts him in 48th place and Mustaq Enus-Brey, whose 119 million rands in Brimstone Investment Corp and Nedbank Group got him the 135th position.

Indo-Asian News Service

Wednesday, November 26, 2008 steps up gear in India, launches new communities, welcomes Suhel Seth on Advisory Board, the San Francisco based global blogging platform, marked the next phase of their development in India by launching a number of new India focused communities designed to provide forums for informed and intelligent user-generated content. To coincide with these plans LiveJournal also announced today that Mr. Suhel Seth had accepted a position on its global advisory board.

Suhel Seth, Managing Director of Counselage and well known marketer, writer and actor has taken up a post on the LiveJournal advisory board where he joins the likes of Silicon Valley expert Professor Larry Lessig and investor Esther Dyson.

Suhel brings along a keen understanding of the Indian business, social and political environment, adding further edge to LiveJournal’s own understanding of the online and social media landscape.

Commenting on the progress made in India and Mr. Seth’s appointment, Ms. Annelies van den Belt, CEO of SUP, owners of LiveJournal said “We are thrilled to have Suhel on our Advisory Board. He brings a breadth of knowledge, understanding and creativity that we have already started to benefit from. We have made good progress in India with new communities and users coming on board; I know that with the help of Suhel and other supporters in India, we will continue to grow.”

Commenting on his role Mr. Seth said “In a world, where elections are being run through networking sites and where communities are being created along philosophy and interest, LiveJournal is the more realistic and interactive face of community building. As a marketer I believe, LiveJournal will not just change the way brands engage with consumer clusters but equally will re-define the space of community building: from pleasure to business and pleasure. I am honoured to serve on the Advisory Board: for me joining this board is a reflection of the stature of Brand India and the interests and intellect of Indians as a whole.”

To complement this announcement, LiveJournal today unveiled brand new India communities on cinema and sport respectively:

1. India Movies – which aims to bring leading voices from the movie Industry, critics and fans together on one common forum. The community is moderated by Deepa Gahlot, national award winning film critic from Mumbai. The community can be found online here:

2. India Sport – a new community which will share Indian sport in all its dimensions, with G Rajaraman, one of the most credible sport editors in the country. The community can be found online here: http://

These new projects build upon on earlier LiveJournal initiatives in India that focused on writing, travel, Bollywood and US elections:

1. India Writing – LiveJournal’s very first local India project was launched recently with the very successful Quick Tales Flash Fiction Contest (over 1000 valid entries; the results of which were also announced today).

India Writing is a global forum which aims to bring together Indian writers, across geographies, genres and forms. India Writing supports web users who share a passion for creative writing and who want to use LiveJournal to widen their audience and raise their profile. The flourishing community can be found online here:

1. US Elections 2008 Community: With Mint the business daily, as one of the media partners from India (along with The Independent from UK and from Russia), this global community asked LiveJournal users in the US their views on the US elections and their contributions were showcased by the media partners. The community can be found online here:

3. India Travels – in partnership with This community is aimed at those who live in India who want to write about the great places they have visited and those outside who want to find out about hidden treasures. The community can be found online here:

1. Bollywood Club – launched with zoOm Television as partners, this community gives contestants on the TV show, by the same name, a chance to engage face-to-face with viewers. The community can be found online here:

Speaking on a visit to Delhi Benjamin Wegg-Prosser, Director of Corporate Development, SUP, said, “This week is an important staging post for LiveJournal in India. We have already run a very successful writing contest which generated more than a 1,000 entries. We are now pushing on with more plans to support the development of self-publishing in India; we believe that the strength of the Indian online scene and the richness of India culture provide a perfect backdrop for us to grow in the market with the help of new and existing users”.

LiveJournal in India currently has 70,000 unique visitors a month; 800,000 page view a month and 40,000 account. LiveJournal user base in India is currently growing at 25 percent. (Source: Internal LJ logs, Omniture -- October 2008)

Monday, November 24, 2008 Offers Personal Loan Seekers Interest Rates as Low as 14.75%

'' is a neutral online loan marketplace, which offers an end-to-end solution for getting the best interest rate on loans. Loan seekers can get instant customized rate quotes, compare loan offers and apply online, directly to the bank of their choice. In the thick of this festive season, personal loan seekers will find it easy to compare all banks and NBFCs in one go at, and choose the best loan bargain. Currently, interest rates at are as low as 14.75%. offers the most hassle free loan application process in 15 minutes flat, with no phone calls involved in this completely online process.

Apart from real time, customized interest rates,'s user ratings offer instant feedback and direct comparison of the service and loan deals offered by the various financial institutions on board. This direct and transparent comparison encourages them to woo the loan seeker more aggressively by providing their best interest rates on's 'personal loan' offering, has roped in some of the best names in lending including ABN AMRO Bank, HDFC Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, ING Vysya Bank and Deutsche Bank. is expected to have more than 15 banks and NBFCs as partners in the near future. is leading the way to a highly interactive, engaging, useful and result-oriented consumer experience in the personal finance segment and aims to build the world's premier financial services marketplace, in India.

About is the world's first online marketplace, which makes the process of getting the best deal on a loan significantly easier and faster than any online or offline process anywhere in the world, today. is driving true innovation by roping in leading banks to integrate closely with it's intellectual property and enable instant interest rate quotes on loans, for the first time. has the lowest interest rates available in the market, which helps the loan seeker make a well informed choice.

The advisory board of includes the former Chairman from the Indian Banks Association, the former Chief Economist of the Asian Development Bank, the Director of Birla Sun Life, Biocon & Cadbury India and the former Chairman of CII South.

Travelguru’s Flight Search Now Powered by

In the global travel industry's first collaboration of its kind, Travelguru (, India's leading online travel agency, has partnered with (, India's leading travel search engine, to power its flights search. All airline searches and bookings on Travelguru will now be powered by iXiGO's travel search engine, enabling travelers to search for lowest airfares and then book them directly on airline sites, using iXiGO's award-winning product.

Travelers using Travelguru's flight search functionality will be able to compare offers from airlines, and book them directly on airline sites by clicking on links on the results page. This will allow travelers to complete the transaction more efficiently, and will save them booking fees charged by other travel portals. With travel agency commissions for airline bookings going down to zero, airline tickets will become more expensive when booked through travel agents, both offline and online. Airlines in India will thus favour increased direct online bookings on their own websites. In such a market environment, iXiGO's consumer-friendly meta-search technology is enabling online travel portals such as Travelguru to move from an agency-model to a search-model, thereby making the site an operationally efficient and airline-friendly distribution channel.

Stressing on the innovative nature of this collaboration, Mr. Aloke Bajpai, Founder and CEO of iXiGO said, "We are truly breaking new ground by becoming the first travel search in the world to partner with an online travel agency to power its airline bookings. With this partnership, iXiGO will enable Rs. 18 crores (~ US $4M) worth of flight transactions every month. Travel search is clearly set to become the dominant paradigm for airline bookings in India."

Mr. Ashwin Damera, Founder & CEO, Travelguru added, "We have chosen to power our flight searches due to our belief in their team, product and technology. This partnership will allow Travelguru to focus on our core strengths, that is, hotel bookings and holiday packages. It will also allow us to trim down costs and offer our travelers the most feature-rich air product in India. With an exhaustive flight search engine and quicker navigation, customer will have best-in-class booking experience. We are delighted to set an example for the rest of the world to follow."

The Travelguru-iXiGO partnership validates recent findings from global market research firm PhoCusWright, which suggest that growth of referral- and ad-based revenue is challenging the dominance of traditional bookings-driven business models in online travel. Hybrid business models are appearing, with travel suppliers and intermediaries mixing and matching their offerings to assume new roles in the search-shop-buy process, what is known as "The Perfect Storm".

About ® is India's leading online travel search engine based out of Gurgaon. iXiGO searches across multiple airlines, hotels, and bus booking sites and finds the best travel deals in India. Launched in mid-2007 by an entrepreneurial team of young IITians and INSEAD MBAs, has been recognized by NASSCOM as India's Top-100 Innovator; BusinessToday and WSJ-Mint have named it among India's hottest startups for its unique market approach, product usability, and passionate management team. iXiGO is backed by BAF Spectrum, a Singapore-based seed-investment fund. For more information about iXiGO, visit

About Travelguru:

Travelguru - India's largest hotel network - offers access to over 4000 hotels in India and over 72,000 hotels worldwide. It offers travelers the opportunity to plan and purchase their travel in a transparent, easy and customizable manner with instant bookings and confirmations. Strategic partnerships and deep supplier relationships give Travelguru the edge as an aggregator of travel services. Sorting hotels by user reviews and several other criteria are some of the distinctive value-added services. In December, 2007 Travelguru fully acquired - a company focused on hotel aggregation, distribution and technology to further strengthen the leadership position in hotel distribution. Travelguru facilitates a wide range of travel options and recommendations for domestic as well as international travelers. The Travelguru hotel advisors guide you to the most convenient place to stay including rates, amenities, landmarks and so on across India. It promotes properties from budget to luxury, single room to serviced apartment, business accommodation to leisure houseboats., 1-800-102-4878 (Toll free from all major mobile operators) or 022-40304878.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Searchwiki: Edit your Google search results

Today while searching on Google, I was struck with a nice change, i.e. Google has included the SearchWIKI feature in the Google search results. It's a welcome change, which will somehow help in refining the search results. Well, to look at various other search engine, Yahoo and MSN (MSN HRS to name)have tried to have a human refined search results, well I have yet to find a satisfied user. Google still takes the major chunk of Search engine market.

Well lets see what Google BLog says about this new feature.
"Have you ever wanted to mark up Google search results? Maybe you're an avid hiker and the trail map site you always go to is in the 4th or 5th position and you want to move it to the top. Or perhaps it's not there at all and you'd like to add it. Or maybe you'd like to add some notes about what you found on that site and why you thought it was useful. Starting today you can do all this and tailor Google search results to best meet your needs.

Today we're launching SearchWiki, a way for you to customize search by re-ranking, deleting, adding, and commenting on search results. With just a single click you can move the results you like to the top or add a new site. You can also write notes attached to a particular site and remove results that you don't feel belong. These modifications will be shown to you every time you do the same search in the future. SearchWiki is available to signed-in Google users. We store your changes in your Google Account. If you are wondering if you are signed in, you can always check by noting if your username appears in the upper right-hand side of the page.

The changes you make only affect your own searches. But SearchWiki also is a great way to share your insights with other searchers. You can see how the community has collectively edited the search results by clicking on the "See all notes for this SearchWiki" link.
This new feature is an example of how search is becoming increasingly dynamic, giving people tools that make search even more useful to them in their daily lives. We have been testing bits and pieces of SearchWiki for some time through live experiments, and we incorporated much of our learnings into this release. We are constantly striving to improve our users' search experience, and this is yet another step along the way.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Gmail chat adds Video chat feature

Google's Gmail has quickly become one of the most popular Web-based e-mail applications available -- and it just added video and voice chat capabilities.

Gmail has become popular because of its aggressive spam filters and embedded chat capabilities, making it a Web page that most users stay active in all day, every day. Today, the Gmail team at Google has expanded its capabilities by including video and voice chat. On the Gmail blog Justin Uberti, software engineer for Google, writes, "[T]oday we're launching voice and video chat -- right inside Gmail. We've tried to make this an easy-to-use, seamless experience, with high-quality audio and video -- all for free."

In order to access Gmail Video and Voice Chat, users have to install the voice and video plug-in, and, as the Uberti states it, Google "takes care of the rest."

Gmail Voice and Video Chat was designed using Internet standards such as XMPP, RTP and H.264, making the Google program able to interact with separate, third-party applications, assuming those separate voice and video applications decide to allow Gmail's offering to interact with them.

Installation is easy and only takes a few seconds to download the plug-in. Once the browser is restarted, a "Video and more" menu will appear at the bottom of the Gmail page. Go to the menu and select "start video chat." It will take a few moments for the video call to connect with your friend of co-worker.

Once the video and voice session is initiated, users can pop the window out of the Gmail interface, just like an Gchat instant message window. Users are then given the option to go full screen with the chat, for an up close and personal experience with your chat partner. In order for Gmail Voice and Video to function on your machine a Web cam is required.

Google and the Gmail team are in the initial stages of rolling this feature out to PC and Mac machines, which means the functionality may not appear right away. But don't worry, the Gmail team guarantees that the functionality will be available to everyone in the next couple of days.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Tata-owned Corus to axe 400 jobs

Corus, owned by the Tata Steel Group, has announced plans to cut 400 jobs at its distribution arm, saying it had been operating in a "volatile and fluctuating" market.

The proposed job losses will be spread across Britain, including 100 in the West Midlands, nearly 100 in North Wales, 50 in South Wales and 50 in Leeds, the steel giant said Thursday.

"The impact and continuation of the global economic downturn is having a major effect on steel customers in the automotive, construction and plant and machinery markets. Since September, the business has seen a significant decline in demand," the company said.

"As a result, Corus Distribution has introduced a series of actions to reduce expenditure on transport, consumables, energy and other discretionary spending. However, these actions alone will not be sufficient to offset the decline in the market."

"Corus Distribution is committed to ensuring it will do everything possible to assist those people leaving the business, and will be putting in place a range of support services designed to help them through this difficult time," it added.

Corus Distribution employs 2,400 workers at 36 sites in Britain and Ireland.

Roy Rickhuss of the steelworkers' union Community said: "We welcomed the original Corus approach to the current downturn - to avoid knee-jerk reactions and not just cut jobs - so we are disappointed this has not been followed in Corus Distribution.

"Support will be available from Community's education and training arm, Communitas, to help redundant workers retrain and find new employment."
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