No bubble yet, but indiscipline will hurt startups: Padmasree Warrior

20 Nov, 2015

Indian technology startups can create globally disruptive products if they are operationally 'disciplined', said Padmasree Warrior, former technology and strategy head of Cisco Systems.

"This is a unique moment in India's journey; for the first time in India, I have seen amazing fundamental product innovation. India has the ability to create companies for the global market…," Warrior said at a fireside chat on 'Global E-commerce: Trends and the Next Wave of Innovation,' organised by e-commerce marketplace Snapdeal.

India-born Warior, one of Silicon Valley's high-profile woman executives, stepped down as chief technology officer at Cisco in June following a top management restructuring initiated by incoming CEO Chuck Robbins. Warrior is an alumnus of the IIT Delhi and Cornell University. She held the 84th position in Forbes' '100 Most Powerful Women' list this year.

She was said to be in the reckoning for the CEO's job at Twitter, which eventually went to the microblogging site's co-founder Jack Dorsey. Warrior also sits on the board of Microsoft.

During her ongoing India visit, Warrior visited the campuses of top e-commerce firms Flipkart and Snapdeal, among others. She has evinced interest in financing Indian startups, recent news reports have indicated.


Is there a bubble in the Indian startup ecosystem? Yes and no, she said.

"I don't think we are in a bubble, these companies are solving real problems and it is a big shift going from offline and physical space to the digital space. A fundamental behavioural change is going on which is giving rise to technologies," Warrior said.

"But maybe there is a bubble in the sense that operational discipline has been lost in early stage companies because it has become easier to raise capital," she said. had recently reported that early-stage venture investments remain strong but Indian startups face a challenge with mid- and late-stage venture capital (VC) funding drying up. Investors are becoming cautious on pegging ever higher valuations on firms without a clear visibility on revenue or operational growth.

"If you are running a sustainable business, you have to be operationally efficient. You should be looking at your financials," Warrior said.


Warrior predicts payment systems in India will evolve over time. She expects cryptocurrency to find takers in the Indian context.

"How you pay for things is another key area I see changing in the future. We use digital platforms but we still use cash as transaction. At some point, we will move to cryptocurrency

like bitcoins or blockchain technologies at least for small things," she said.

Cryptocurrency means money that is made hidden and private—and therefore secure—by means of encryption or coding. Bitcoin, which was launched in 2009, is often described as the first cryptocurrency, though prior systems existed.