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How a Montreal company won the race to build the world's cheapest tablet


Habfanman
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IAIN MARLOW

From Friday's Globe and Mail

Published Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011 6:40PM EST

Last updated Monday, Jan. 02, 2012 12:32PM EST

 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-magazine/how-a-montreal-company-won-the-race-to-build-the-worlds-cheapest-tablet/article2282337/

 

Fantastic story!

[...]

 

"Datawind’s main office is located in a bland concrete tower block on René-Lévesque Ouest in downtown Montreal. There’s no sign of the company in the building lobby. The only indication of Datawind’s presence is a white sheet of paper taped to an 11th-floor door that reads, “Datawind Net Access Corporation.” Even that had only been posted for the benefit of a visitor. Behind the door, around 50 of the company’s 150 employees—many of them engineers—toil and tinker with motherboards and mobile operating systems.

 

Datawind was founded in 2000 by Suneet and his brother, Raja, who is two years his senior and holds the title of chief technology officer. The pair have had modest success building and selling wireless devices like the PocketSurfer (a small, clamshell mobile device) and the UbiSurfer (a mini-netbook), mainly in the United Kingdom for use on Vodafone Group’s network. The company has an office in London, and another in Amritsar, in the northern Indian state of Punjab, where it operates a call centre and handles some engineering, testing, accounting and HR duties. Although Suneet and his brother are Canadian citizens—born in India, they arrived when they were 12 and 14, respectively—Datawind is registered in the U.K. Suneet says this is largely because of Canada’s notoriously conservative venture capital market, the U.K.’s funding support for innovation and the fact that Canada’s wireless industry—dominated by just three companies—has had little incentive to supplement its own high-margin smartphones with the kinds of inexpensive Internet devices Datawind designs."

 

[...]

 

"Behind the paper sign on the door, and down a hallway lined with overflowing cardboard boxes, Datawind’s Montreal headquarters becomes a dizzying blur of after-hours engineering. It is the kind of scene more common to bootstrapping Silicon Valley start-ups than a decade-old company run by a pair of seasoned entrepreneurs who have already listed two companies on the NASDAQ. Technicians like Cezar Oprescu, a heavy-set Romanian who not only wears two collared shirts but two pairs of glasses at the same time (they double as a microscope), work in rotating shifts, some lasting more than 36 hours, at desks littered with soldering irons, spare computer parts, discarded motherboards and fast food wrappers. Their monitors flicker with the drip of neon green code that looks like something from The Matrix. While one staff member, seated at an impossibly cluttered desk, sets about re-engineering the piece of hardware responsible for receiving WiFi signals, a colleague, stationed just a few feet away, adjusts the software drivers that will interact with it. Elsewhere, programmers are still testing the code that dictates how the touchscreen user interface deals with the drivers.

 

The pace is unrelenting. Not only are employees ordering in dinner, they’re ordering in breakfast, grappling in real time with the allergies and dietary restrictions of an incredibly diverse staff of Eastern Europeans, Indians, Chinese, Russians and French Canadians, several vegetarians and one person who is allergic to green peppers."

 

[...]

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I bet business being done in English?

 

 

are you a retard or what ??

 

what about the owners speak english, and 75% of their engineers are french and speak french?

 

You've got serious issues dating back from the 70s.

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I bet business being done in English?

 

good story all around

 

...

 

The pace is unrelenting. Not only are employees ordering in dinner, they’re ordering in breakfast, grappling in real time with the allergies and dietary restrictions of an incredibly diverse staff of Eastern Europeans, Indians, Chinese, Russians and French Canadians, several vegetarians and one person who is allergic to green peppers."

 

[...]

 

OMFG They hired French Canadians ! This company will go bankrupt next month for sure !!!

 

Ta francophobie commence sérieusement à puer sur le forum. Dommage, car tu peux aussi apporter des infos intéressantes pour le projet sur le terrain de la Queue de Cheval, par exemple.

 

Guess you won't read this last sentence because it is written in the language of the "Poor, Stupid and Retarted" ?

Edited by monctezuma
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marc_ac, voici un extrait de l'article:

 

"The company has an office in London, and another in Amritsar, in the northern Indian state of Punjab, where it operates a call centre and handles some engineering, testing, accounting and HR duties. Although Suneet and his brother are Canadian citizens—born in India, they arrived when they were 12 and 14, respectively—Datawind is registered in the U.K. Suneet says this is largely because of Canada’s notoriously conservative venture capital market, the U.K.’s funding support for innovation and the fact that Canada’s wireless industry—dominated by just three companies—has had little incentive to supplement its own high-margin smartphones with the kinds of inexpensive Internet devices Datawind designs."

 

C'est "office" et non "head office". Pas de mention de Mississauga. Aussi, il s'agit d'un article du Globe and mail. Si la langue aurait eu un rôle à jouer ici, tu peux être sûr qu'ils aurait été très heureux de le préciser.

 

And for the Internet company moving the hq to San francisco, never heard of silicon valley and the fact that a huge number of investor in the field are from there?

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Et si tu lis l'article, tu vas comprendre les raisons qui les ont pousser à faire ce choix.

 

"Datawind is registered in the U.K. Suneet says this is largely because of Canada’s notoriously conservative venture capital market, the U.K.’s funding support for innovation and the fact that Canada’s wireless industry—dominated by just three companies—has had little incentive to supplement its own high-margin smartphones with the kinds of inexpensive Internet devices Datawind designs."

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you've got issues seriously.

 

I work with english people all day long and never oh god never do I feel the slightlest problems that you expose here all the time.

 

the article says the venture capital problem is a CANADIAN problem, not a french canadian problem.

 

Why do you always bash on french ??

 

there's an easy way out for you and it's called Toronto!!

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Marc_ac, tu vois la personne qui a écrit cet article est comme toi et ne semble pas comprendre le problème qui a été discuté en long et en large dans les articles. Le problème n'est pas l'origine. Les gens s'en foutent que tu sois "english speaking people", de autre nationalités... mais l'unilingualisme anglais de certains supérieurs, surtout dans des milieux fortement francophone¸ ça passe mal. Cette situation qui force les employés à travailler et communiquer entre eux en anglais alors que ce n'est pas nécessaire dans la plupart des cas, ben non, ils ne sont pas d'accord.

Edited by vanatox
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Voici des extraits de l'article mentionné par marc_ac:

 

"Oui, la CDPQ, la BNC et le Canadien de Montréal ont de grandes notoriétés, mais si d’un côté on récompense nos PME aidant à l’intégration des immigrants alors n’est-ce pas un peu contradictoire, ou le symptôme d’un indésirable complexe d’infériorité, de dénoncer l’embauche d’un collègue dont les parents sont anglophones."

 

WTF??? collègue dont les parents sont anglophones...je ne me rappelle pas d'avoir lu d'articles ou on dénoncait telle situation...

 

"À l’aube de 2012, dans un monde hypercompétitif, le talent demeure rare et nos entreprises n’ont pas les moyens de lever le nez sur les meilleurs talents de la planète, toute origine confondue."

 

Bien d'accord. Mais les gens talentueux et ambitieux ne vont pas voir le fait d'apprendre une langue supplémentaire comme un obstacle (dans le cas de quelqu'un qui ne maîtrise pas le français). Apprendre une langue ne se fait pas du jour au lendemain cependant et je crois que la plupart des gens en sont conscient.

 

"Mon copain Paraguayo-Japonais vient d’investir à Québec; ma cousine a épousé un Californien, mon cousin a épousé une fille de Terre-Neuve et ma sœur a déniché l’âme sœur au Massachusetts. Ces nouveaux Québécois et leurs 13 enfants ont tous appris à s’exprimer, souvent impeccablement, en français."

 

Bravo! Ils pourront alors apprécier davantage leur vie au Québec.

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i'm not bashing French. You should read the headlines in 2011 calling out english speaking people working for the Caisse, Banque Nationale, our unilingual coach for the habs, unilingual's at CGI.

 

Then you should also read this article while you're at it.

 

http://www.lesaffaires.com/blogues/entrepreneurs-de-tete/ce-n-est-pas-en-disant--go-home--que-le-quebec-va-progresser/539310

 

You'll quickly realize how we as a province are killing the business sentiment in this province. This explains are low GDP progression since oh wait.. 1976!

 

Rendu là, c'est une question de respect. Quand tu occupes un poste d'élite à la tête d'un fleuron d'un pays, c'est la moindre des choses de parler la langue locale.

 

Take, for example, Randy Cunneyworth. How hard is it to learn bonjour, merci, je ne suis pas très bon en français, etc. ???

 

If the guy would make an effort, I wouldn't blame him. Did the Caisse guy made any effort by sending his secretary to his french courses ?

 

I will take this opportunity to thank you for the few messages you may write in french on this forum :)

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i'm not bashing French. You should read the headlines in 2011 calling out english speaking people working for the Caisse, Banque Nationale, our unilingual coach for the habs, unilingual's at CGI.

 

Then you should also read this article while you're at it.

 

http://www.lesaffaires.com/blogues/entrepreneurs-de-tete/ce-n-est-pas-en-disant--go-home--que-le-quebec-va-progresser/539310

 

You'll quickly realize how we as a province are killing the business sentiment in this province. This explains are low GDP progression since oh wait.. 1976!

 

 

 

What would happen if the bosses of Teacher's, RBC, were unilingual french ?? I can't even imagine the controversy. It will never happen cause most french people learn english, but imagine what would people in Toronto say. They would like and approve you think ?

 

 

You're so full of shit my friend, you stink. You're a disgrace !

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