Ajit Balakrishnan, the founder of Rediff.com, while giving an account of his professional journey in his book, also gives an insider’s analysis of the information age
The Wave Rider
“I’m a great fan of Ernest Hemingway. His writing has influenced me a lot. I admire some other American writers like Tom Wolfe,” he says. He also calls his tepid, realist yet evocative non-fiction-writing style “inspired by the likes of The New Yorker and Granta”, And no, he’s not a writer (well, professionally) and neither a scribe earning his paycheck putting ink on paper. He’s written a book alright, and done a good enough job of it too. But Ajit Balakrishnan was and still is one of the pioneers who opened India’s windows to the World Wide Web. His book, The Wave Rider—A Chronicle of the Information Age is a mix of an autobiographical account of his professional journey over the past couple of decades that saw him establishing Rediff.com. It is also a piece of business literature giving an insider’s analysis of the information age and how the world has been undergoing a transition from the industrial age to the information age in the past one decade.
It’s the story of how from a tiny Internet venture, that too after a failed computer hardware business, Balakrishnan took off on a journey that was topsy-turvy, bumpy, fraught with danger and adversaries and ultimately was about vision, dreams and the entrepreneurial spirit in him. A journey that saw Rediff going from a tiny office space in Mumbai to getting listed at NASDAQ. That’s not all though. It also serves as a good enough dummies guide to the information age, served with copious doses of business and industrial history. This also lends to the book,—which is already just 213 pages—around 50 pages worth of notes, references and indexes.
“I’ve tried to ensure that anything I say is backed by references and notes. So if a reader wants to dive deep into any of the issues or topics talked about in the book, there’s enough material and sources mentioned to guide him or her,” says Balakrishnan. But with just about 160 pages, doesn’t he feel that the book is drastically short as compared to most works on business history? “It was a conscious decision to make it short and simple for it to be of as much use to a general reader as it might