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The next chapter after SlideShare

Some news to share – I’m moving on from SlideShare. After an amazing nine year journey since its launch from New Delhi in 2006, I think now is the right time to pass on the baton and focus on the next stage of my professional life. My co-founders – Rashmi & Jon moved on a few months ago, so this marks the exit of the entire founding team.

All these nine years – there’s never been a dull day at work. Building a consumer internet platform that millions of professionals across the world use in their daily working lives has been a truly humbling experience. This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of SlideShare’s vibrant community.

SlideShare is in great shape. Its now an integral part of LinkedIn, has capable leadership and the team is completely killing it. Nov’14 saw the highest traffic numbers ever, and it is poised to break into the world’s top 100 websites. To a founder, this gives confidence that SlideShare is progressing steadily on its mission of empowering the world’s professionals through knowledge.

The LinkedIn experience was insightful… it has helped me connect the dots. I’ve always felt that it takes a combination of art and science to build a world class product. Startups are best at the art of creating something from nothing, but it takes a rigorous scientific approach to make the product high quality and scale it. Thats what LinkedIn taught me.

Looking back at the journey, there are things we got right and some others where we could have done better. I’ll share my key learnings in subsequent posts. Having built a company with the word “share” in its name, there’s one learning that stands tall over everything else – If you acquire some knowledge, don’t keep it to yourself. Share with others so they can benefit from it and improve on it… the ecosystem grows and some of that karma will flow back to you. To borrow a phrase – the real power of knowledge is the power to give it away.

I’ll take this opportunity to thank the super talented SlideShare team spread across two offices – San Francisco & New Delhi. There are changes going forward – SlideShare is getting consolidated into the San Francisco office. Not what the founders would have done, but LinkedIn is a large organization with its own structure and priorities – its best for SlideShare to fit into LinkedIn in a way that ensures its long term success.

Goodbye SlideShare! I’ll always be your most ardent evangelist… just that I’m no longer part of the team that’s building you.

What’s next for me – some plans are work-in-progress… will share when the appropriate time comes:) Stay tuned.

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LinkedIn DevelopherDelhi Hackday has kicked off at the SlideShare Delhi office. This is the first of its kind event in India. And its happening at the same time as Developher Mountain View, being organised by LinkedIn over the weekend. Exciting times with two co-occuring events separated by 12000 kms and a 12 hour time zone difference!

In case you missed the announcement, this is the link. The prizes on stake are Macbook Airs for the winning team, and Apple iPads for the runners up team. And the judges are Dave McClure (Silicon Valley guru, geek, entrepreneur, investor) & Rashmi Sinha (CEO / Founder at SlideShare). Rashmi is also a judge at the Mountain View event.

Its 11:00 AM and a bunch of geeky girls have invaded the slideshare office. Participants include SlideShare internal teams, a team from LinkedIn, women developers from startups, services companies, global multinationals, students. And some have flown in from Bangalore & Mumbai just for the event. The team names are getting wackier by the minute… [in]ception, Alohomora, Fire and Ice, Firebals, FountainHeads, GeekGirls, MAZ, MegaMind, RubyXX, Team Sprocket.

So what are the girls hacking? Not everyone is decided, the ones that have include FixCity – a Crowdsourced mobile tool for reporting civic problems, an Android social app to split/track expenses amongst friends, an Infographic generation tool to visualise the power of your LinkedIn network, Fetch – a natural language search tool (knows what you meant rather than said), Talkin – a tool that adds voice capability to LinkedIn profiles, a language Translator for slideshare presentations, another hack for making SlideShare accessible for the visually impaired. More to follow…

Update Day 2: After 24 hours of hacking on the trot, the teams demoed their hacks to the judges who joined in remotely via telephone, Google Hangouts & Join-Me. Most teams had working prototypes! The winning hack was Fixcity… from a two developer team Bhavana Sardana & Reena Agrawal (they work at Adobe). The runners up was Talkin … from a 3 member team Neha Jain, Priya Kuber & Abhineet Kaur. Congratulations to the winners!

So what are some of the highlights / learnings from DevelopHer Delhi?

– Given this was the first womans hackday, and organised at a short notice (7 days), DevelopHer was a thumping success. There is always a first time!

– We reached out through the wiki, twitter, Facebook, email, media etc. But most of the participants came in through a friends contact (social dynamics rule!).

– Something that stood out remarkably from other hackdays (most hackdays are men centric) – there were no dropout teams between the start and end. Every team that started finished their hack and demoed it. My previous experience with hackdays is otherwise – the dropout rate is app 40%. This shows amongst girls, only the motivated ones turned up to participate.

– Most teams stayed back at our office during the night and hacked through it! Some went home late night and returned the next morning.

– How did we manage the logistics for the event? We had anticipated the problems in organising a womans 24 hour hackday and had prepared from a security / housekeeping / transit standpoint. Some of our employees stayed back the night at the office for support.

– How did our male developers react? Somewhat amused, but overall reaction was positive. On the lighter side, its hard to imagine an event on this kind without spurring some gender banter. Check tweets here, here and here.

Here’s hoping DevelopHer comes back bigger next year.

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Wondering what DevelopHer Mountain View (LinkedIn HQ) looks like?

Yoga at 10pm! Yay! #developher

A photo posted by @ikaul on

Update: Check out this great article on How to invite women developers to a hackathon.

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