Category Archives: In the News

Goodbye Babbel. And Thank you, Babbelonians!

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” – Michael Altshuler.

My 4 ½ year journey comes to an end, but it felt like both Babbel & I experienced a decade-worth of change, advancement and growth. I wanted to take a moment to thank every Babbelonian that made it so enriching. And to my family for the leap of faith to change countries again. ✈️

People 🤘🏼

When asked about the one thing I’ll miss: like countless Babbelonians, I pointed to this. You onboarded me to a new culture. You live & breathe our purpose to create mutual understanding – for us and our learners. You are what makes Babbel unique. There’s so many of you to name and I fear missing one out. But you know who you are! Seeing your goodbye messages come far and wide was heart-warming. Sorry for being speechless on the farewell call. Thanks and you rock! 

Babbelonians helped me blend in a new culture; to learn and reflect on my values and identity.

Product & Leadership 🎯

When I took over leadership of the PM team early 2018 and was asked to double it, I was still learning to lead at scale. Not every strategy, organisation and process change was straight-forward – especially restructuring into tribes. I want to thank all the PMs for their trust, commitment patience while I figured it. Looking back at how far we’ve come makes me proud: from how & how many decisions we make using data, to how consistent we’ve become at driving outcomes; from lateral transitions to well-deserved promotions. Leading designers and product marketeers was a step change; thanks for the smooth transition. You’ve all been tremendous partners! 

Scale-up to IPO-ready 🚀

Hacking. Failing. Winning.

I want to thank all Impressionists (members of our revenue & growth tribe) for your drive to hack, clean-up and scale. You should be proud of launching free-trial, a platform for new subscriptions like multi-user & lifetime plans, a platform for promotions and iterating on content. Your contribution and strong collaboration with Marketing, CS, etc, chipped strongly into our user & revenue growth.

I owe a great deal to the inspiring leaders that challenged, inspired, and guided me through it – Martin Keuter (ex-COO), Geoff Stead (CPO) and Julie Hansen (CRO & CEO, US). I learned a lot, but most of all, you helped sharpen my strategic thinking, organisation development and change management skills. 

Continue reading Goodbye Babbel. And Thank you, Babbelonians!

Flashback: The Mumbai floods of 2005

This day, 11 years back, was when Mumbai came to a standstill. Rainfall reached the 1000mm mark after showering 22 hours non-stop. Power was cut, people were stranded and cars were submerged. For the first time, the Mumbai Airport remained closed for more than 30 hours. It was my third year studying engineering away from home, at the hostel. Below is my experience surviving alone and getting back home as jotted that day in my 2005 journal.

26th July, 2005 – Day #1

14:00 Heavy rains have just begun. College was as usual. Dad reported heavy rains in Mumbai. Reached hostel & went to sleep.

17:00 Woke up. No water supply. No electricity since 15:00. Water has risen 1/2 ft above the road. Trains have already stopped.

Submerged railway station
Submerged railway station

19:00 It’s raining heavier. Water level up to 3.5 Ft in some places. Going for early dinner. No way to speak to Mumbai with mobile & landline networks already down.

20:00 Finished dinner at the only one open. Shopkeepers are busy applying plaster of paris or white cement on the shutters. Water level has risen to 1.5 ft on the road.

21:00 People living in the A-type houses & B-type apartment ground floors have begun evacuating as water level inside the rooms is above 3 ft. Nothing else to do, so off to sleep.

27th July, 2005 – Day #2

01:30 Heard people screaming & animals crying. Lot of noise in the hostel. Woke up to find water was already 1.25 ft into the house, about 4.5 ft above road level. Together with the boys, we started moving the landlord’s refrigerator, washing machine, dressing table, television, computer, clothes, mattresses, grinder & other things to the 1st & 2nd Floors. Continue reading Flashback: The Mumbai floods of 2005

First model for my airport diorama.. Yay!

Every time I traveled, I saw over-priced miniature aircraft in in-flight magazines. Then one day I saw pictures of a diorama airport on Instagram and then I realized why they must’ve coined the tag #aviationporn. There was a huge community building model airports. Wondering where they got their models, I checked eBay and Amazon to find that there are a few manufacturers and tons of sellers. I wasted no time in ordering in my very first model – the majestic A380 that Singapore Airlines was First to Fly.

The next step was to go about designing the airport itself. Downloading foils from the internet was easy. But there was other detailing that required craft-work, and I started off with chunk-sized PoCs. The very first was for the jetways. Me & my brother used to save bellowed plastic straws for this when we were kids. I got a back of straws to re-create them and what turned out wasn’t very polished. Next was the ground equipment, but I soon realized that I had to use thicker paper. I had some card paper that came with laundered clothes which I used to create a hangar – and that turned out well.

I’ve set aside a monthly budget to add a few each month and slowly expand my airport. You’ll see a few good pictures under the Hobbies/Diorama category. Really excited 🙂

Goodbye Zycus

Unfortunately, it is only through some discomfort that we learn and grow. After 5.5 supercalifragilisticexpialidocious years at Zycus, I’ve decided to move on to explore the B2C side of the product world.

I am thankful to Satish & Nirav for sensing my product acumen, and on-boarding me to product management. A big thanks to Sachin & Bikash for being the fantastic managers they’ve been. They entrusted me to lead one of Zycus’ prodigious product line – in terms of challenge, breadth, depth, team, revenue – from concept-to-revenue, and offered exposure and opportunities like never before.

Some of the best memories with the smartest folks...
Some of the best memories with the smartest folks…

All along, I’ve had the privilege to work with nimble & energetic Zycats – all possessing the right attitude. In 2011, Zycus ushered me to lead product owners; I see them all as my career accelerators. Together with them, my 60-member development team (of teams), lead by Shekhar, has been the top-most reason for my all my success and accolades. I wish to thank all of you, You rock! I am convinced that I’m leaving the product with virtuosos, and wish to see the product line – so dear to my heart – continue to delight users.

My professional toolkit would’ve been soporific without the cross-functional interactions I’ve had with the sharpest minds Continue reading Goodbye Zycus

Driving consumer passion to “Make In India”

MakeInIndia’s success at the Hannover Messe has been the talk of the town for a while. And truly so, it has made every Indian proud of the country’s vision. While the program is primarily meant to transform India into a manufacturing-driven economy, I do not see why it cannot be extended to everything we make in India – whether for export or domestic use.

All through my travels in Australia, I couldn’t ignore the promotion of products made in Australia, by Australian owned businesses – right down to bread and water.

Promotion of products made in Australia
Promotion of products made in Australia

Population is a double-edged sword. While population shrivels available resources, it itself is an important resource in industrialization. And India can use this abundant resource to its advantage, to make #MakeInIndia a reality. For this, I think it is key Continue reading Driving consumer passion to “Make In India”

Not Kolaveri Di after hearing it

I have been seeing updates on Facebook about this new song called ‘Kolaveri Di‘ . Initially I thought it was another aspiring artist like Wilbur Sargunaraj (whos branding & success can be a case study for creative agencies). Since it was Rajnikanth’s son-in-law Dhanush, it surely demanded some respect. Meaning killer or murderous rage in Tamil, also referred to as the Soup Song, it has gone viral on social networks. A Tamil friend of mine played the song to my ears today, and since then I’m hung on it. Posting the lyrics below for your reference 😉


yo boys i am singing song
soup song
flop song
why this kolaveri kolaveri kolaveri di
why this kolaveri kolaveri kolaveri di
rhythm correct
why this kolaveri kolaveri kolaveri di
maintain this
why this kolaveri..di Continue reading Not Kolaveri Di after hearing it

And we’re back, for the global common good

The theme for my life over the last year or so has been ‘change without choice’. Things & people, out of my control, are forcing a change in my life – all for good. A fortnight back my web account was locked for some abusive script – probably my Facebook app that was looping indefinitely. Other ‘happening’ things spared little time to fix my blog. Last week, I recovered the data, massaged it to match the WP3.0 structure and got a new setup running on a new host – took around 10 hours in toto. Please help by sharing bugs & performance issues.

I’m writing after a couple a months and, as always, a lot has happened since. In my post ‘The not so ‘Shiney’ future of men‘ based on the Shiney Ahuja rape case, I had mentioned that apart from strong opposition, we need to have a non-tolerant attitude towards offenders. But the recent Kenan-Reuben murders are a gory, discouraging result of such opposition. Its a shame on part of law & enforcement, Continue reading And we’re back, for the global common good

Mumbai traffic, the continuity equation & polictical will

Mumbai has given me my friends, education, bread, happiness & sorrow – I love it. But with that it has given us traffic & pollution – 2 things unavoidable in this city. Despite of the patient Gaurav Samant driving me to work on that crazy JVLR, both of those rankle me everyday. But over the last couple of months, I’ve come to conclude that the traffic problem in Mumbai is a mere flow-rate issue. I might have lost touch with the intricacies of fluid dynamics, but the flow rate concept is simple enough to recollect & apply here. Wider roads have more cars flowing per second (wider area allows high velocity, hence higher flow rate). And its exactly the opposite on narrower roads. When 2 roads come together to form a road narrower than the sum of their widths, theoretically cars would have to go faster to keep the flow-rate constant. But I wish Mumbai roads allowed this. Such joints are usually where traffic clogs due to damaged roads & lack of driving sense.

The first problem is that these devastated intersections are “No Contractor’s Land”. Continue reading Mumbai traffic, the continuity equation & polictical will

A Tribute to Sachin Tendulkar

When Sachin Tendulkar travelled to Pakistan to face one of the finest bowling attacks ever assembled in cricket, Michael Schumacher was yet to race a F1 car, Lance Armstrong had never been to the Tour de France, Diego Maradona was still the captain of a world champion Argentina team, Pete Sampras had never won a Grand Slam. When Tendulkar embarked on a glorious career taming Imran and company,…

When Tendulkar embarked on a glorious career taming Imran and company, Roger Federer was a name unheard of; Lionel Messi was in his nappies, Usain Bolt was an unknown kid in the Jamaican backwaters. The Berlin Wall was still intact, USSR was one big, big country, Continue reading A Tribute to Sachin Tendulkar

Phir Mile Sur Mera Tumhara

Wishing fellow Indians a happy Republic day! Just checked out the new version of Mile Sur Mera Tumhara today: 2 x 8 min videos… huh! And not that exciting! Check out the new ‘Phir Mile Sur Mera Tumhara’: Part 1 | Part 2. Some immediate comments:

  • All pure instrumental portions are fantastic: Rahman, Anousha Shankar, tabla, Sivamani, Jazz, …
  • Great focus on renewable energy: Solar water heaters and aggregators in the background a couple of times
  • S-E-L (Shankar-Eshan-Loy) are great towards the end of their part
  • The old-age home (supposedly) & Kashmir parts are very sweet
  • Old is Gold: Original music has been tampered too much. Preferred the older Punjabi & Bengali parts (Is Shaan saying send me ‘SMS’?)
  • There seems to be no one besides movie stars in this…
  • Amitabh Bachchan has been made to sound wierd; he should’ve only been asked to read out the lines
  • A bit of over-acting from actors down-under
  • No Value Add: The Lux couple, Sonu Nigam, Shahid, Ranbir (in pajamas), Karan Johar
  • Salman, Deepika short of clothes
  • First 14 mins were great, and then SRK arrives with his silly hand gestures  🙁 as if he’s going to jerk of the whole world by closing his fist 😉 Just compare it to Aamir’s part
  • Thanks for paying homage to the military at the end

Notable comments from elsewhere:

  • why to ruin the good memories with bad bollywood experimentation. It is like comparing SHOLAY with RGV KI AAG
  • This “SUR” has become “BESUR” because of bollywood
  • Seriously, half of the people in this video didn’t deserve to be there

Continue reading Phir Mile Sur Mera Tumhara