Is the car in space giving the man on Earth any benefit? Mathrubootham wants to know…!!!

I fail to understand. How did doing stupid things like this become some kind of achievement of all mankind?

Respected Sir/ Madam,

Many years ago I was invited for a wedding in New Delhi. As soon as invitation card came itself Mrs. Mathrubootham began jumping up and down like Nadia Comăneci. Stupid woman, you drank my Old Spice or what, I said. We go to one thousand weddings every year, what you are acting as if first time we are going for function.

Of course sir/ madam, you know what she said immediately. Exactly. You shut up, old man. First of all it is in Delhi. Which means there will be some change from the usual functions like appalam breaking, Kashi going, turmeric application etcetera. Some music and mono-act will be there. And second of all for the first time somebody rich is inviting us for a posh wedding. What and all will take place who knows. If you want you sit quietly in one corner Mr. Mathrubotham, let me enjoy, she said.

Ok fine Kamalam, but if dancing is there only solo and group dance allowed. Duet dance totally prohibited, have some shame you have grandchildren who are about to start Brilliant Tutorials.

The wedding invitation was from one old neighbour when we used to live in our old flat in Chromepet. In those days he used to have one small electrical shop with bulb and ceiling fans and mixie items. And then he went to Delhi and just five years later became multi-millionaire industrial magnate. Am I jealous? Never, not even one second.

Whether he can sleep peacefully at night after doing all criminal activities and black market and tax chicanery? Never never thousand times never. As for myself I sleep with 100% peace of mind of honest citizen. Once I got on a Coimbatore bus and woke up in Palakkad Bus Depot because of too much peaceful sleep. This is why I am always suspicious of people who wake up exactly on time in the morning. Something is fishy.

Sir/ madam I am telling you this story about posh Delhi wedding because of what happened earlier today. After having breakfast, I proceeded to the living room to relax with a Robert Ludlum novel and a cup of tea. Suddenly my son came into the room and peace of mind went out of the room at the same time. Appa have you seen the news? I said my dear son due to the blessings of many generations of god-fearing ancestors in the Mathrubootham family so far today I have not had the misfortune of watching any TV news channel. Immediately the unemployed scoundrel switched on the TV and said look appa what do you see on the TV?

It looks like a car. Ok, very good, but where is the car? I looked at the TV carefully. I don’t know, I said, but why is a statue driving the car? He said appa, the car is in space, one robot is sitting in the driver seat, it is historic achievement by some American millionaire.

Sir/ madam, excuse me just one second but I fail to understand. How did doing stupid things like this become some kind of achievement of all mankind? Some rich fellow somewhere will spend money in some stupid way and people all around the world are celebrating as if he has discovered zero-calorie rose milk recipe. Car is going around Mars it seems. Please tell me if it is doing even a single millimetre of benefit to a single person on this earth?

Immediately I was reminded of wedding in Delhi. After two or three days of non-stop breakfast and lunch and dinner, on the final day we went to one stadium type place for reception. After some time I asked Mrs. Mathrubootham, hello where is bride and groom, I want to quickly give blessings and go back to hotel. She made some enquiries and came back. Mr. Mathrubootham, she said, are you ready for the greatest excitement? Bride and groom are arriving in a helicopter in one hour. Isn’t it amazing?

I said why is it amazing? Anybody can hire a helicopter. What is there? She said, old man, for you nothing is exciting, at least these people have some imagination. What nonsense, I said. For real achievement maybe bride and groom should run 10 kilometre and come to the reception. Or give free food to 1000 poor people. That is achievement.

Sir/madam, when did spending money like an idiot become some Guinness Book of World Records type achievement? Am I jealous of all these rich people? No chance. To be frank I am jealous of only one thing, the robot in the car. He is enjoying himself far away from all these fools. Lucky chap.

Yours in exasperation,

J. Mathrubootham




வீண் செலவு இல்லாத ஒரு திருமணம் …! Waste less Destination Wedding Plan …


1.. என் ஆதரவு ” டெஸ்டினேஷன் வெட்டிங் பிளானுக்கு “
2. பழக்கம் வழக்கம் என்று சொல்லி லட்சம் பல செலவு செய்து தங்கள் பகட்டு , பணம்
   செல்வாக்கு என்ன என்று ஊருக்கு காட்டும் வழக்கமான திருமணத்தில் மணமகனும்
   மணமகளும் வெறும் காட்சி பொம்மைகளே ! அக்னி சாட்சியாக நடக்கவிருக்கும்
   மண நாளுக்கு முந்தைய தினமே இந்த இரண்டு ” பொம்மைகளை ” வைத்து அவர்
   பெற்றோர்  நடத்தும் “பொம்மலாட்டம்” அவர் செல்வாக்கை வெளிச்சம் போட்டுக்
   காட்டும் ஒரு விளம்பர படம் ! ஆதலால் , என் வாக்கு “வேஸ்ட் லெஸ்  டெஸ்டினேஷன்
   வெட்டிங் பிளானுக்கு ” மட்டுமே !
3. இன்றைய திருமணத்தில் தவிர்க்கப் பட வேண்டிய குறைகள் சில ..
   1. ஆடம்பர திருமண அழைப்பிதழ்
   2. ஆடம்பர ஆடை  அணிகலன்கள்
   3. ஆடம்பர விருந்து
   4. பகட்டு மேடை அலங்காரம் , மின் விளக்கு அலங்காரம்
   5. மெல்லிசை நிகழ்ச்சி  என்னும் பெயரில் திருமண மண்டபமே அதிரும்
      அதிர்வலைகள் !
   6.வாழ்த்து கூற விரும்பும் விருந்தினர் வரிசையில் காத்திருக்க வேண்டிய கட்டாயம் ..
     வயது முதிர்ந்த தம்பதியரும் வரிசையில் நிற்கும் அவலம் !
   பின்பற்றப் பட வேண்டிய நிறைகள் சில …
   1. மங்கள  இசை
   2. மென்மையான மண மாலைகள்
   3. வேத மந்திர  உச்சாடனம் … அவரவர்  மதம், குல வழக்கம்  மனதில் கொண்டு
   4. ஹோமம் , அக்னி சாட்சி …அவரவர்  மதம் , குல வழக்கப் படி
   5. அவரவர் குடும்ப பெரியவர் மற்றும் முக்கிய உறவினர் முன்னிலை …
   6. எளிய சிறப்பு உடை …எளிமையான குடும்ப விருந்து …
4.  வரவேற்பு , இரவு விருந்து  என்னும் பெயரில் வீணடிக்கப்படும் வறட்டு ஜம்ப செலவு
    பணத்தை , “வருங்கால சேமிப்பு வைப்பு நிதியாக ” மாற்றி மணமக்களுக்கு திருமண
    பரிசாக கொடுக்கலாமே !
5. என்னுடைய புதிய ” டெஸ்டினேஷன் வெட்டிங் ” மற்றும் ” வேஸ்ட் லெஸ் வெட்டிங் “
   திட்டம் .
   1. மணமகன் , மணமகள் வழியில் நீண்ட  திருமண வாழ்க்கை  ..பொன் விழா
      வைர விழா கண்ட முதிய அனுபவம் மிகுந்த தம்பதியர் இல்லத்தில்
      நடக்க வேண்டும் ஒரு ” டெஸ்டினேஷன் வெட்டிங் ” .
   2. இலட்சிய தம்பதியர் முன்னிலையில் அவர்கள் ஆசியுடன் நடக்கும்
      ஒரு திருமணம் புது மண தம்பதிக்கு தாங்களும்  அந்த
      லட்சிய தம்பதி போல வாழ்க்கை நடத்திக் காட்ட வேண்டும் என்னும்
      ஆசை விதையை அவர் மனதில் விதைக்கும் .
   3. இல்லத்தில் நடக்கும் இனிய மண விழா என்பதால் முக்கிய உறவுகள்
      தவிர மற்றவருக்கு இணைய தள நேரலை மூலம் திருமண நிகழ்வு
      மகிழ்ச்சியுடன் பகிர்ந்து கொள்ளப் படும் .
    4. திருமண வாழ்த்து சொல்ல விரும்பும் மற்ற சுற்றமும் , நட்பும்
       திருமண இணைய தளத்தில் தங்கள் மகிழ்ச்சி மற்றும் வாழ்த்துக்கள்
      பதிவு செய்வர் .
    5. திருமண பரிசு கொடுக்க விரும்பும் அன்பர்கள் திருமண இணைய
       தளத்தில் அறிவிக்கப் பட்டு உள்ள  மணமக்களின் வங்கி கணக்கில்
       செலுத்த அன்பு வேண்டுகோள் … பரிசு காசோலையும் அனுப்பும் வசதி !
    6. பரிசு விபரமும் திருமண இணைய தளத்தில் பதிவு செய்யப் பட்டு விடும் .
    7. வாழ்த்துக்கும் , பரிசுக்கும் நன்றி இணைய தளத்திலோ அல்லது
       அவரவர் மின் அஞ்சல் மூலமாகவோ  தெரிவிக்கப்படும் .
    8. இனிய மண நாள் நிகழ்வு புகைப் படங்கள் தொகுப்பு  மற்றும்
       ஒளிநாடா (வீடியோ ) திருமண இணைய தளத்திலேயே பதிவேற்றப்பட்டு
       வேண்டும் சமயம் பார்த்து மகிழவும்  மற்றும் சுற்றம் நட்புடன்  பகிர்ந்து
       கொள்ளவும் வழி வகுக்கும் .
    9. இந்த மாதிரி ” டெஸ்டினேஷன் மற்றும் வேஸ்ட் லெஸ் வெட்டிங் ” மணமக்களின்
       சந்ததியருக்கும் ஒரு நல்ல முன் மாதிரி ஆகும் !
    10. ஒரு நல்ல ஆரம்பம் …அதுவே அந்த குடும்பத்தின் பழக்கமாகவும்
        வழக்கமாகவும் மாறிட இது ஒரு நல்ல வாய்ப்பு !
The above input sent by me to the Tamil Daily Dinamani  in response to a Contest announced by them a fortnight back  has secure Second Prize in the contest.
Source … dated 27th Dec 2017

The Stockholm Telephone Tower….


By the late 19th century, the miracle device called the telephone had been invented but the simple concept of undergrounding telephone cables had eluded engineers. Clumps of telephone wires strung from monstrous towers hung above the heads of pedestrians in all major cities with a sizable number of subscribers.

Telephone service was expensive at that time, and only the wealthy could afford it. In Sweden, the first public telephone exchange was opened in the capital city Stockholm, in 1880, by the Bell Telephone Company. It originally had only 121 subscribers. The telephone company charged subscribers between 160 and 280 Swedish Krona, depending on the subscriber’s location and distance to the exchange. This was equivalent to paying a subscription fee of 9,000 to 16,000 Krona (USD 1,100 to USD 1,966) in today’s value, which was a very high rate.

The Bell Telephone Company with their high rates soon got a competitor in Stockholm General Telephone Company (SAT), which was founded in 1883 by the engineer and businessman Henrik Tore Cedergren. His mission was to put a telephone in every household. Cedergren’s charged very low fees for a connection and monthly subscription, and the number of subscribers increased rapidly. By 1886, Stockholm had more telephones than any of the major cities in the world, with 4,832 subscribers, including about 1,600 at Bell Telephone Company. In 1887, SAT became the world’s largest telephone company, large enough to buy out Bell Company’s business in Stockholm in 1888.

In this early days of telephony, there were no substations and every subscriber was physically connected to the central exchange with an overhead wire. The Stockholm telephone exchange had thousands of wires converging in from every direction. A massive tower held these wires together.

This iconic Phone Tower, or Telefontornet, was opened in 1887, and had over 5,500 telephone lines whose collective length came to around 5,000 kilometers. As you can see from these pictures, it was quite a mess, and the network was extremely vulnerable to the elements. The locals thought the tower looked hideous and even complained that it darkened out the sun.

With the public and the press lambasting the tower at every opportunity, the telephone company decided that the tower needed a makeover. A decoration competition was announced, and in 1890 the tower got the four corner turrets. At all major events in Stockholm, the city’s flags were hoisted there.

However, by the turn of the 19th century, the tower was already on its path to obsolescence. The telephone company realized that laying cables underground was a far more elegant solution than stringing them from towers. By 1913, the entire network had gone underground and the Telefontornet lost its function. The remaining shell stood as a landmark for the several decades. At one point, the telephone company hung advertisement banners from the tower. In 1952, the tower caught fire which weakened the structure, and was demolished the following year on safety grounds.

Source….Kaushik in


Norwegian has launched the world’s longest low-cost flight — and it’ll get you to Singapore for less than £150….London to Singapore !


Norwegian has launched the world’s longest low-cost flight — and it’ll only cost you £149.90.

The route runs from London Gatwick to Singapore Changi Airport, and departs for the first time on Thursday.

The route takes 12 hours and 45 minutes and will cover 6,764 miles (10,885 km) — making it the longest non-stop flight operated by a low-cost carrier.

The route — announced in April — is scheduled to run four times per week.

Thursday’s flight is due to depart at 10.30 a.m. and land in Singapore at 6.15 a.m Friday morning local time.

The flights use brand new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, and start at £149.90 for a one-way ticket.

All seats on the Dreamliner have personal 11-inch seat-back screens and USB ports.

A higher price of £699.90 one way will get passengers “Premium” status. That means “spacious cradle seating” with more than a metre of legroom, and free lounge access at Gatwick.

The Singapore route is part of the airline’s continued global expansion.

In February, it announced that it will launch flights from the US Northeast to Europe for as little as $65 (£50). Then, in July, it announced direct flights from London to Chicago and Austin from £179.

In February 2018, Norwegian will also start flying to Buenos Aires.

Bjørn Kjos, CEO of Norwegian, said in a press release: “I’m delighted to build upon our popular USA flights and give leisure and business customers more affordable access to Singapore and the Asia-Pacific like never before.

“The 787 Dreamliner has the range to allow us to expand our long-haul services to other parts of the world while keeping fares affordable for all.

“This is just the start of Norwegian’s UK expansion into new markets as we will continue connecting destinations where fares have been too high for too long.”




What happens if You accidentally damage a Precious Work of Art in a Museum …?


What Happens if You Accidentally Damage a Priceless Work of Art in a Museum?

destroyed-ancient-potteryIf you’ve ever walked through a museum or an art gallery you may have noticed that a lot of the art and historical treasure on display is completely exposed. In fact, with the exception of some of the world’s more famous pieces of art, you could easily fall over and damage much of the artwork on display worldwide, right now. So, what would happen if you did trip and accidentally damage an irreplaceable priceless piece of art? As it turns out, not all that much.

This is mainly because of two things- first, museums and galleries will almost always have insurance to cover any such damage. Second, accidents happen and the people running the museums understand that.

In fact, in nearly every case we could find of a piece of artwork accidentally being damaged, no charges were pressed by either the museum or, in some cases, the owner of the art in question. In fact, it appears that the worst that might happen in such a scenario is that you’ll get banned from the museum.

For example, consider the case of Nick Flynn, a man who in 2006 tripped over his shoelace while walking around the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and knocked over three 17th century vases worth about £175,000 (~$225,000). Flynn noted of the experience,

“I snagged my shoelace, missed the step and crash, bang, wallop. There were a million pieces of high quality Qing ceramics lying around underneath me… Although [I knew] the vase would break I didn’t imagine it would be loose and crash into the other two.  I’m sure I only hit the first one and that must have flown across the windowsill and hit the next one, which then hit the other, like a set of dominos. I can say with my hand on my heart that it was not deliberate … it was just my Norman Wisdom moment, just one of those unbelievably unlucky things that can sometimes happen.”

The museum official’s response was to merely send him a letter advising Flynn “not to visit the museum again in the near future.” Yes, he didn’t even technically get banned; just politely asked to abstain from visiting for a while.

In fact, the museum didn’t even identify Flynn to the public to spare him the embarrassment of being known as the guy who tripped and knocked over three vases that, before encountering Mr. Flynn, had managed to survive about four centuries and a full six decades sitting on those very windowsills. (We only know his name because British tabloids tracked him down after the fact.)

In another example, this one in 2015, a 12 year old boy tripped while visiting a Taiwanese art exhibition. During his fall forward, he managed to punch a hole through a 350 year old painting, Flowers, by Paola Porpora, valued at about $1,500,000… (You can watch the video of this happening here.) The organisers of the exhibition went out of their way to assure the boy and his family that they wouldn’t be liable to pay any damages nor in any trouble legally. In fact, one of the organisers, Sun Chi-hsuan, publicly insisted that the boy wasn’t to blame.

In yet another case, in 2010, a young woman, who as per usual with these sorts of things went unnamed publicly, damaged a $130,000,000 Picasso painting called The Actor by falling into it during an art class. The result was a six inch tear in the lower right-hand corner. In this specific case, the museum officials were more concerned with reporting that the woman was uninjured than the fact that her accident had potentially wiped away half the painting’s value.

So those are pure accidents. What about more negligent cases? All evidence would seem to indicate that museums and galleries similarly seem hesitant to do anything to the patron in question.  Beyond countless selfie-related accidental destruction of art that has become something of a frequent occurrence in recent years, there is the case of a clock made by artist James Borden that hung in Columbia Pennsylvania’s National Watch and Clock Museum for over two decades before being destroyed. How did it meet its end? An elderly couple began touching and pulling on its various bits, seemingly trying to see what the clock looked like when working; this ultimately caused the clock to come crashing down. (You can watch a video of this here.) The museum chose not to press any charges nor seek compensation for the damages. In fact, as in other examples, they didn’t even berate the individuals in the press, choosing not even to name them at all.

That said, we did find one exception to this “no fault” negligent destruction of art general rule. This happened when a tourist scaled the facade of a Portuguese train station to take a selfie with an 1890 statue of Dom Sebastiao, resulting in the statue’s destruction when said tourist accidentally knocked the statue over and it shattered on the ground below. The unnamed man was later charged with destruction of public property.

As for the non-public, even in cases where museum or gallery staff damage or destroy the art, the individual usually gets off with only a slap on the wrist if it truly was an honest accident. For example, in 2000, some porters at the Bond Street auction house accidentally put a painting by artist Lucian Freud, valued at £100,000 (about $130,000), into a crushing machine…

The painting was stored in a large wooden box, which the porters assumed was empty and put out with the rest of the trash. The auction house assured papers that the porters wouldn’t lose their jobs over the matter, and that it was an honest mistake.

In another case, an unnamed cleaning lady tossed a bunch of modern art valued at about $15,000 into the garbage in 2014. To be fair to the cleaning lady, the “art” in question, created by modernist Paul Branca, was a bunch of cardboard boxes haphazardly strewn across the floor of a section of the gallery (modern art everybody). Again, no action was taken against the cleaner. (We can only hope Mr. Branca was on his game that day, and he simply took the opportunity to go full meta-on it, displaying his former cardboard box art now in the garbage bin, perhaps even increasing its value in that case…)

All this said, while it appears most museums, galleries and even artists will take the destruction or damage of their work in good humor if done accidentally (even if there was a fair bit of negligence involved), the same can’t be said if the damage is malicious. In these cases, the museum can and will press charges, and one might expect a bit of jail time.

For instance, in the aforementioned vase-smashing story, sometime later there was some thought that Flynn had smashed the vases on purpose for the publicity of it (given his going out of his way to give interviews about it and some of his comments therein, despite that the museum had so carefully avoided assigning any blame or mentioning his name). As a result, he was eventually detained for a night, though noted he was treated very well while under arrest, with the police simply trying to determine if he’d done it on purpose. Once they decided it had indeed been an accident, he was let go with no further consequences.

In another instance, one Andrew Shannon punched a Monet painting, Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sail Boat, then worth about £7m (about $9 million). He later claimed he tripped and fell and it was an accident, but security footage clearly showed him intentionally punching the painting.  When he was detained by security guards, a can of paint stripper was also found in his pocket.  He was given a five year prison sentence.

This brings us to perhaps the most obvious question that arises from all this- why is such valuable, and often irreplaceable, art stored in such a way that people can just walk up to it and damage it (whether accidentally or not).

Well one reason is cost- placing every painting, sculpture and fresco behind protective glass or under the careful watch of a burly guard is expensive. Contrary to the value of the pieces they sometimes contain, museums and art galleries often aren’t swimming in money.

A second, perhaps more important reason, is that it would disrupt the experience of viewing the art in question; ensuring the art can be properly appreciated is of tantamount importance to those running various museums and galleries. It’s noted that said institutions have to constantly strike a balance between “keeping works of art accessible to the public, and protecting them at the same time”. Such a balance necessitates a degree of trust be placed in the public to not paw at the priceless works of art on display and to otherwise be careful around them.

Source… i


Hoover and Their Disastrous Free Flight Promotion…

world-travelGiving away free stuff with a purchase is a good way to bolster sales and can result in a tidy increase in profits, provided you follow the general rule of making sure the long term projected profit from the promotion is greater than the cost of the giveaway. Appliance giant Hoover learned this seemingly obvious lesson first hand in 1992 when they inexplicably decided to give away free flights worth several times more than most of the products they were selling as part of what has become known as Hoovergate- one of the most disastrous marketing campaigns of all time, today taught in marketing text books the world over.

Though Hoover sells a multitude of appliances and domestic goods, the company is known mostly for its vacuum cleaners. (And if you’re curious, see: Who Invented the Vacuum Cleaner?) So much so in fact that over in Blighty the word “hoover” is an accepted synonym for the device, much to the annoyance of Hoover who, like other companies, fought hard not to have their brand become genericized like Aspirin and Thermos. This generalizing of their brand name largely rose from the near total monopoly Hoover had over vacuum sales in the UK throughout much of the 1950s to 1970s. However, as the end of the 20th century approached, the British arm of Hoover found that sales were beginning to lag considerably from their heyday, with their marketing share steadily declining and warehouses slowly filling with old stock nobody wanted to buy.

In the early 1990s, Hoover’s British arm was approached by a now-defunct travel agent called JSI Travel with a rather intriguing offer to help shift some of this old stock out of the warehouses and into the hands of customers. The idea was to offer two free return flights to Europe with every purchase of any Hoover product worth more than £100 (about £190 today or $235), all arranged through this travel agency. Beyond revenue from sales, much of the cost for the tickets themselves from those who jumped through the many, many hoops to actually get the tickets would be subsidized by JSI Travel selling additional services like travel insurance and hotel packages. JSI Travel also thought it would provide a long term benefit for their small company as it would introduce tens of thousands of people to their travel agency’s services.

Hoover liked the sound of the arrangement and in 1992 launched their free flights campaign, advertising it on TV and in papers across the country with the simple caption: “Two Return Flight Tickets. Unbelievable.”

The offer saw sales of Hoover product explode because, hey, free flights. Slowly, but surely, Hoover’s warehouses began to empty.

Now, if Hoover had chosen to quit here, we wouldn’t really have much to say other than kudos to them on a smart business decision. (And if you’re wondering, see What’s a Kudo?) Unfortunately for them, they got too greedy and hilarity ensued.

After examining the numbers linked to the campaign and realising that only a fraction of the people who’d bought a qualifying product as part of the campaign actually jumped through all the hoops to redeem for the tickets, Hoover decided to extend the promotion and get a little more international, hoping to boost sales even further in the process.

This was despite Hoover having approached various risk management companies to evaluate the promotion and being summarily told it was a horrible idea. For instance, risk management advisor Mark Kimber from PIMS-SCA would late note,

“I advised Hoover of the potential pitfalls of the promotion. Having looked at the details of the promotion along with attempting to calculate how it could actually work I declined to even offer risk management coverage based upon the information presented. With such a high value offer for only a relatively small cost to the consumer, to me it made no logical sense.

…nevertheless Hoover chose to completely ignore both mine and the industry’s advice and continue on its calamitous crusade without considering the potential cost or consequences…”

Head firmly in the sand, Hoover approached three of the biggest airlines of the day, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and American Airlines, along with various travel agencies, and entered into negotiations to offer a similar deal as they had previously, only this time offering free flights to either New York or Florida from the UK.

After terms were set and contracts signed, Hoover once again launched a massive ad campaign to tell the public about the promotion, which still inexplicably offered the free flights if the customer spent a minimum of just £100. This is an important fact because, at the time, a flight to either destination would have set you back on average about £600 (nearly £1,200 or $1,500 today) making the promotion infinitely more desirable than a pair of free flights to a European destination that cost a fraction of that.

According to news reports after the fact, its purported that Hoover expected that the value of the flights to America would encourage people to perhaps buy a more expensive product. Whether that’s true or not, customers flocked to stores and predictably bought the absolute cheapest qualifying product possible (the Turbopower Total System which clocked in at a reasonable £119.99)  before sending off for their free tickets to the land of freedom and cheese that comes in a can.

This resulted in massive backlogs in Hoover’s offices as they only anticipated about a tenth of the eventual response. Thanks to their status as a trusted, well-established brand known for their quality, Hoover’s reputation wasn’t initially hurt by the delays that resulted until a reporter for the Daily Record claimed that not a single airline had received a booking to America from a Hoover voucher holder. Whether accurate or not, this story raised the hackles of the customers who up to this point had been waiting patiently.

Along with being one of the most popular articles the Daily Record ever published, it had the side-effect of alerting millions of people that the promotion existed, resulting in tens of thousands of additional sales.

It was soon after reported that local travel agencies wanting to avoid the loss of income from their part of the deal began trying to dissuade customers by abusing the offer’s small print- doing things like offering flights from airports that were across the country from the person trying to fly. According to a contemporary BBC report, one agency, Free Flights Europe, seemed to require customers to buy about £300 of add-ons to their “free” tickets before they’d stop hassling them and finally give them their tickets.

During the ensuing media firestorm, Hoover blamed the delays on the airlines and travel agencies they’d contracted with for being unable to meet the demand. Whoever’s fault it was, their customers weren’t happy.

One particularly irate customer was one Harry Cichy who decided that he was going to get his flight no matter what, organising a group of likeminded customers who doggedly pursued their tickets from Hoover in and out of court. The aptly named Hoover Holiday Pressure Group, spearheaded by Cichy, refused to allow Hoover to worm their way out of their obligation, with Cichy himself going as far as travelling to the company’s American headquarters (a trip that was ironically paid for by Hoover) to argue his case in front of their executives.

Despite Cichy’s best efforts, it’s estimated that only 220,000 of the half million or so (Hoover never released the official figures) people who applied for the promotion were able to ever claim their free flights, with those who didn’t either suing for the value of the flights in small claims court or moving on and swearing off the brand forever. This latter point turned out to be the heaviest blow to the company.

As to that aftermath, three top executives, director of marketing services Michael Gilbey, vice president of marketing Brian Webb, and Hoover’s European president William Foust, were summarily fired by the company’s American owners, Maytag.

Beyond the major firings, the company spent about £50 million (around £100 million today or $125 million) for the tickets for the free flights compared to about £30 million in gross revenue generated from sales during the promotion. But the ultimate cost was far greater.

To begin with, hundreds of thousands of people in the UK now had Hoover products that in many cases they didn’t actually want or need. The result from this was a massive sell off of these items on the second-hand market, meaning potential future customers could easily buy brand new Hoover products for a fraction of the price Hoover was selling them for in the stores.

On top of that, the company took a major hit to their reputation, meaning even those customers who might have still purchased something from Hoover were now avoiding the brand. To try to fix this, Hoover launched an advertising campaign costing about £7 million to help restore their image, with little affect.

Unsurprisingly, the Hoover brand in the UK took a major hit, with their market share dropping from about 50% in 1992 to just 20% in 1995. Cutting their losses, the entire European arm of Hoover was sold by Maytag to an Italian manufacturer called Candy at a significant loss from what they’d paid for it just six years before in 1989.

Source… i


2 lakh to 3300 crore: The BYJU’s Classes success story…Meet Byju Raveendran!


‘A business cannot be driven by the passion to make money, the passion to change society is far more important.’
‘After a certain point, what value has money to a person?’


A son of teachers, teaching never fascinated Byju Raveendran when he was young. His passion was sports.

After working for a couple of years as a globetrotting service engineer for a shipping firm, Byju became a teacher by accident.

On holiday, he helped some friends pass the Common Aptitude Test entrance examination.

From then on, requests started pouring in from friends of friends, and their friends. In no time, ‘Byju’s classes’ became so popular that he quit his job and flying from one city to another to take classes.

His classrooms grew from a single room, to a hall, and then an auditorium and at one point even a stadium!

He launched the BYJU’s Learning App for school students in 2015. The learning app also coaches for CAT, the civil services examination, the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET), the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT).

The idea appealed to many investors and in 2016 alone, venture capital firm Sequoia Capital and Belgian investment firm Sofina invested $75 million (approximately Rs 500 crore/Rs 5 billion) into the firm. This was the largest fundraising in the education start-up segment in India.

The latest investment into Byju’s firm (September 2016) is the $50 million (Rs 332 crore/Rs 3.32 billion) from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the philanthropic organisation created by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr Priscilla Chan in 2015.

Byju spoke with‘s Shobha Warrier about his wonderful journey from mechanical engineer to successful entrepreneur.

Growing up in a village in Kerala

I grew up in Azhikode, a small village in Kannur, Kerala, the bastion of Communism.

I do not know whether it was the influence of Communism or the face of any typical village, the social fabric was very closely knit and people were politically and socially active.

Both my parents were teachers at the school I studied. My father Raveendran was a physics teacher and my mother Shobhanavalli taught maths. I grew up in a joint family where my father’s brother and sister and their children also lived.

Normally, children of teachers are pressured to concentrate on academics, but my parents were so open minded that they let me participate and excel in sports which was my major passion as a student.

Other than life skills, they never gave me any coaching in any subject. Though some of my teachers used to complain to my parents that I was missing a lot of classes due to my sports activities, they supported me to pursue what I liked.

In Kannur, football is a passion for everyone, but I played almost every sport available when in school, and football, cricket and table tennis at the university level.

‘I had my education in a Malayalam medium school and I learnt English on my own, mainly by listening to cricket commentary.’

It was quite common that many students who studied in Malayalam medium schools felt inferior in front of those who studied in English medium schools while in college.

My father’s influence was tremendous in my life as he let me be free of the confinement of classrooms and I feel you learn a lot more outside the classrooms than inside.

The biggest lessons I learnt from my sporting days were how to lead a team, teamwork, and how to perform under pressure. All these helped me immensely when I became an entrepreneur.

In addition, I learnt the value of controlled aggression, how to be extremely positive and that losing and winning are both part of the game.

We played games for fun and not in the structured way most kids play these days. Unlike children who play video games inside their homes, those who run around and played outdoor games learn a lot more life skills.

There is no substitute for playing outdoor games with other children.

Though I played sports well, I did not have any ambition to be a cricketer or a football player. I played games because I enjoyed playing them. In fact, I enjoy every moment of my life; I do not do anything expecting anything in return. Maybe I inherited this attitude from my father who is super cool about everything in life.

The choices in front of all the students at that time were either be an engineer or a doctor, and I chose to study engineering. One reason why I chose engineering was I knew I would get more time to play as medicine students hardly got time to play sports.

From a village in Kerala to travelling around the world

After studying mechanical engineering, I got a job in a multinational shipping firm and started travelling all around the world as a service engineer.

It was a very challenging and exciting job and as I travelled to new places, I became more and more aspirational.

If anyone had asked me at that time whether I would be an entrepreneur in the future, I would have said, no. The desire to be an entrepreneur never even crossed my mind.

After two years of working, I was on holiday in Bangalore, where many of friends worked. It so happened that they were preparing for the CAT exam then and as I was good at maths, they asked for my help.

While I helped them prepare, I also wrote the exam just for fun and see how I fared. To my surprise, I scored in the 100th percentile, but I had no plans to do an MBA in an IIM. My friends also did well and some of them even got admission at the IIMs.

I was back in India again in 2005 on holiday. This time, more friends of my friends came to me for help to prepare for the CAT exams. I was in Bangalore for six weeks and I might have trained more than 1,000 students during the period.

‘As the numbers grew, the venue moved from the terrace of a friend’s house to a classroom, and then to an auditorium.’

The initial workshops were free and students paid for advanced workshops once they liked it.

Because of the enormous response to my teaching, I didn’t go back to my job after that.

Once I started teaching, I realised that I enjoyed teaching tremendously which I was not aware of till then.

Becoming a full time teacher

When I decided to resign from my highly paid job and start teaching, my parents supported me. Never once did they question me. They supported all the decisions I took, like not joining an IIM, quitting my job to start teaching while there were many people who questioned my parents’ indulgence of me.

In those days, I taught CAT aspirants on weekends while I prepared myself on weekdays by trying to come up with innovative ways to solve problems.

I travelled to Pune, Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai during the weekends and in no time I had to add five more cities on weekdays due to constant demand.

Wherever I went, I addressed packed auditoriums; a few times, I ran classes in a stadium. As time passed by, I even took maths workshops for 20,000 students at one time.

I became a popular teacher and I was doing this all by myself. It was an overwhelming experience when thousands of students wait eagerly in various cities for your classes.

Sometimes I wondered whether I deserved the kind of respect and importance they gave me.

Funnily, a person who had never addressed any group of even ten during my school or college days was taking classes to thousands of them in auditoriums.

‘When you take classes in stadiums, teaching gets elevated to become almost like a performance art.’

Soon I started making lots of money, much more than I ever thought I would make as a teacher. As I was a one-man army then, I didn’t have to spend any money on anything except my own efforts.

In 2009, I made videos of my lectures and used V-SAT to beam them to students in 45 cities where I could not travel to.

Byju’s Classes becomes a brand

My classes were referred to as Byju’s Classes from the time my classes became popular.

In 2007, without me knowing, the brand name Byju’s Classes was created by my students and I decided to capitalise on the brand name later. I didn’t want to lose the popularity and the good name the brand had achieved.

In 2011, the idea to form a team came from some of my students who contacted me after finishing their courses at various IIMs. We started the company Think and Learn with 25 to 30 people, but the team grew in numbers every month to more than 1,000 today.

The product our company planned to create was content for school students and the decision to move from CAT to creating content for school students came from my observation of the students I taught.

I felt that most of the students lacked conceptual clarity and a proper foundation. I found that there was a huge gap in how the subjects could be learnt and how they were taught. That is why I wanted to create something that could fill the gap.

Looking back, I feel I excelled in exams because I wrote exams for fun, the same way I played games.

‘Exams never intimidated me. There was no stress or pressure to perform well in the exams. I looked at exams as a part of the learning process.’

Instead of memorising stuff, I used to learn the concepts well, something I found was lacking in many of my students. So, I decided to target the crucial years in a student’s life from the 8th to the 12th standard.

Today, my classes begin for 4th standard children; they are in maths, physics, chemistry and biology.

Maths and science are two subjects for which I had special attitude and I enjoyed both, especially solving maths problems. I never learnt maths and science to write exams. I loved learning on my own and understanding the concepts.

I noticed then and even now that majority of the students learn a subject to score good marks. You lose the pleasure you derive from solving, say a maths problem, by studying for the exam. These students don’t realise the fun they are losing out on by studying only to score high marks.

I was a Maths Olympiad winner in school only because I enjoyed solving maths problems.

The problem with our education system is that it gives more importance to breadth than depth.

We tend to create many generalists and very few specialists.

They tell you to work hard on your weaknesses.

On the contrary, I would argue that you should also build on your strengths!

Asking questions is the key to a student’s success. You see 2-3-year-olds learning things by asking questions all the time, but as they grow, adults discourage them from asking questions.

‘I feel all schools should encourage students to ask questions. Your thought process is alive only when you ask the right questions.’

I love maths and sports equally and it’s tough for me to choose one. My love for maths has helped me a lot in life. For example, I used my strength in solving maths problems to start my own company, attract investors and on a lighter note, even impress the girl I loved to become my wife.

From 2011 to 2015, we immersed ourselves in creating content mainly for school students from classes 6 to 12.

Our content is very contextual and visual. Instead of focusing on the whats of learning, we pay attention to the whys and hows as well.

We created each chapter in a subject like a movie. And it’s not just me; a lot more teachers take classes these days.

We have a 150 strong content team, a 200 member media team to make it into interesting videos and a technology team of 150 to personalise it. In all, we are a 500-member product development team now.

By August 2015, Byju’s Learning App was ready to be launched, and in one year, we have had 5.5 million downloads with 250,000 plus students using it on an annual subscription basis.

We have also found that students spend an average of 40 minutes per session and more than 90 per cent of the students who came on board last year renewed their subscription, acknowledging the fact that they benefited from the learning programme.

Investment over the years



We didn’t invest much initially; the Rs 2 lakh (Rs 200,000) I invested first came from what I made from my classes.

The first investment came in 2013 when Mohandas Pai and Ranjan Pai decided to invest Rs 50 crore (Rs 500 million) in Byju’s Classes.

It was after Ranjan Pai saw how students at the Manipal Institute of Technology attended our video classes in large numbers. We used the money to scale up the team and accelerate product development.

The latest and the most publicised investment was the $50 million invested by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. I do not know how we came on to their radar. I assume it must be through some reference.

Two things got them excited in our company: The first was how we use technology to personalise learning and the second was the impact our app has had on students not just in cities, but also in small towns.

Naturally, I was very excited to be noticed by one of the world’s most dynamic young entrepreneurs.

Social impact

With a father who is a Communist, and having grown up in a village in Kannur, money is not really important to me. I am more concerned and interested in seeing our app make a strong social impact.

I didn’t have any drive or passion to start a business, but when I started teaching, I realised that it was my passion and it gave me a lot of satisfaction and enjoyment.

When my classes started creating an impact, it became a business proposition.

‘In the sector that we are in, the real fun is not in creating a billion dollar company but changing the way millions of students learn.’

The most satisfying aspect for me is that we are able to reach out to tens of thousands of students.

I always say I am a teacher by choice and an entrepreneur by chance.

Making money has never been a priority for me, but giving something back to society is. That’s why I take care of the education and healthcare of the underprivileged in my village.

I grew up there and I feel it is my duty to help others come up in life.

I am of the opinion that a business cannot be driven by the passion to make money. The passion to change society is far more important.

After a certain point, what value has money to a person?

Shobha Warrier /



How the Five Day week work became popular ?


On September 25, 1926, the Ford Motor Company instituted a five-day, 40-hour work week for its factory employees. While Ford wasn’t the first to do this, they were arguably one of the most influential.

This action, at least initially, did not win Ford many friends among his fellow business owners, some of whom believed giving the working man any time off just encouraged them to indulge in drink even more than they already did. (To be fair, that was a real problem around this era. It was not from nothing that excessive drink was blamed for many of society’s woes at the time, ultimately inspiring Prohibition, which even a very large percentage of said drinkers supported in the beginning. But, of course, if you had to work 14-16 hour days, 6 days per week from your very early teen years on- for reference in 1890 the average work week in the United States for a blue-collar factory worker was 90-100 hours- you might be driven to drink excessively too. ;-))

Beyond this, many competing employers were still miffed at Ford for raising his (male) workers’ salaries up to five dollars per day (about $116 today) back in 1914, double the former going rate, and around the same time cutting the typical work week down to 48 hours at his factories. (Women had to wait until 1916 to command the same wage.) But since Ford was one the world’s largest manufacturers, most in the industry were compelled for various reasons to follow their example, like it or not.

Ford stated in his company’s newsletter,

“Just as the eight-hour day opened our way to prosperity in America, so the five-day work week will open our way to still greater prosperity … It is high time to rid ourselves of the notion that leisure for workmen is either lost time or a class privilege.”

Of course, Ford wasn’t just doing this out of the goodness of his heart. He understood that a five-day work week with “eight hours labour, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest” would encourage working people to vacation on weekends, shop on Saturdays, and have ample free time to fill during their daily 8 hour recreation time. (See: Why a Typical Work Day is Eight Hours Long) People with more leisure time required more clothing, ate a greater variety of food and, of course, were far more likely to be in the market to buy an automobile to travel around in. Workers who were paid more also were more likely to be able to afford such an automobile.

Beyond benefiting sales as other companies followed suit, he had also observed that happy workers (both in their home and work life) meant better and more efficient workers.

Now, Ford expected his workers to produce in those shorter working hours, but with the higher pay and weekends off, there were very few complaints from any of his employees. They were happy to put the pedal to the metal Monday through Friday for their excellent salary and five-day, 40 hour work week.

As Ford had thought, after instituting these changes, productivity skyrocketed, meaning he was getting more results from significantly fewer work hours and company loyalty and pride among Ford employees was equally boosted. Beyond low-skilled laborers banging down the doors to get work at Ford, he also now had the luxury of having the top talent in each of the high-skilled fields he needed workers for applying in droves. Needless to say, manufacturers all over the world would soon follow Ford’s example, which played right into his hands.

Edsel Ford, Henry’s son and then company president, was quoted in March of 1922 in the New York Times as saying of all this, “Every man needs more than one day a week for rest and recreation….The Ford Company always has sought to promote [an] ideal home life for its employees. We believe that in order to live properly every man should have more time to spend with his family.”

Ford himself laid it all out in black and white:

“The harder we crowd business for time, the more efficient it becomes. The more well-paid leisure workmen get, the greater become their wants. These wants soon become needs. Well-managed business pays high wages and sells at low prices. Its workmen have the leisure to enjoy life and the wherewithal with which to finance that enjoyment.”

Bonus Fact:

  • In the early 19th century in Britain, a series of “Factories Acts” were passed meant to help improve working conditions for workers, particularly for children. One of the first of these was in 1802 and stipulated children under the age of 9 were not to be allowed to work and, rather, must attend school. Further, children from the ages of 9-13 were only allowed to work eight hours per day and children from 14-18 could only work a maximum of 12 hours per day. Unfortunately, this law was largely ignored and almost never enforced in any way. Further, even when it rarely was enforced, the fines were small enough that it was more profitable for factory owners to break this law and pay the fine, than to follow it. The act also did nothing for adults except require that factories be well ventilated, though it did not stipulate what defines “well ventilated”, so factory owners could easily ignore this part of the act as well.

Source… i