Spreadsheets won’t change the world but leaders will

Issue date: 12/3/01   – PDF | Link

This article was written by Jay Bhatti on 12/03/2001 for the Wharton School

It was still a few years before World War II. General Douglas MacArthur was a pretty popular man. Given his status, the executives at JP Morgan offered him a very high level position at the bank. One that would have made him very rich and amongst the most high-class people in New York City. His wife at the time (he later divorced her!) was constantly egging him on to take the job. She was, after all, very keen on being associated with the elite and having the best that life had to offer – in short, she was tired of living on a military salary. Yet, in a stunning move, General MacArthur turned down this golden position. When asked why, he simply said, “Bankers don’t make history.” So what happened to General MacArthur after that bad career move? He went on to lead the Pacific Fleet to victory in WWII, and, in short, made history. In October 1944 the world watched as he dramatically liberated the Philippines from Japanese control. On September 2, 1945, he presided over the Japanese surrender on board the U.S.S. Missouri, bringing an end to World War II. In the next five and a half years, as Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers in Japan, MacArthur and his staff helped a devastated Japan rebuild itself, institute a democratic government, and chart a course that has made it one of the world’s leading industrial powers. While his decision to ding JPMorgan may have been surprising at the time, one thing is clear: Douglas MacArthur fulfilled his self-imposed destiny of becoming one of history’s greatest men.

Now the point of the story is not to encourage Wharton MBAs to join the Navy, but rather to debate about what our underlying mission is as an institution. Is it to create spreadsheet monkeys and consulting goons? Or is it to help develop the future leaders of society?

I cannot count how many times I have heard the following quote “I don’t want to major in Finance, but I am at Wharton, and it would look bad if I did not have some solid NPV skills!”

If you look at the past 100 years of human history, what have been the attributes that have had the greatest impact on society? I would say that leadership, entrepreneurship, and innovation have by far been the factors that most shaped the world we live in today. Should it not make sense that we as a leading institution of higher education focus our energies on these very things? I am not suggesting that we eliminate all the finance and quant courses at Wharton. What I am suggesting is that we place a greater emphasis on those classes and programs that would best equip students to lead, innovate, and create.

For example, instead of having math camp for two weeks at pre-term, would it not be more valuable to have a week long class that discusses what is meant by Wharton leadership? Maybe we can have discussions/sessions with some of the remarkable leaders that have come from Wharton and how they impacted society?

Hey, I know this sounds fluffy, but if students can more closely align their passions with what they do with most of their time, don’t you think that they will be better leaders? I mean, if you are really passionate about public service, and instead you go and work for an I-bank, would you wake up in the morning excited about going to work? From day one at this school, the focus of the school should be to find out what each student is most passionate about and then work with the student to prepare him/her to become the best they can be in their respective field! Place a stronger emphasis on classes that discuss leadership (with the right professors!), put into place stronger programs that would make more students consider entrepreneurship, and foster a spirit of innovation and risk taking in every class. Have more joint-programs/classes with the engineering school to allow MBA students to find out what is really happening in the world of technology and science. For example, the first computer in the world was made here, but did any Wharton MBA take advantage of this? FYI, the engineering school is doing some really cool research on nanotechnology. Maybe you should pay a visit.

In my “Seminar on Leadership” classes this semester, we had the opportunity to have an hour-long chat session with Dean Harker. In this session, Dean Harker stressed the point of Wharton moving to the next level. He mentioned that since the early 1980’s, Wharton’s mission was to be #1. Having accomplished that, he said the next challenge was to change the culture of the school: to move away from the rankings, to more closely focus on becoming the best learning institution in the world, to make the alumni and students more connected with each other, and to develop leaders who represent the Wharton style of leadership. It is time for the school to go back to what it was created to do: “To help develop leaders in professional, community, and personal character.” Part of this effort requires us to place less of an emphaisis on the calculator and more on the human element of the equation. After all, you manage a calculator, but you lead people.

I am willing to bet my bottom dollar that the people who will have the most impact on this world in the next 100 years will be those that can lead with passion, take huge risks, create new enterprises, and understand that innovation is the engine that moves society. These are the attributes that the school needs to develop in its students. Let’s focus our energies on this and not as much on the quant classes (save them for the undergrads). In short, Wharton should work harder to develop 800-pound gorillas and not spreadsheet monkeys.

Entrepreneur Magazine Feature Article About Jay Bhatti

Business & Small Business Home

Start a Search Engine Company

This duo stands apart from the big guys with its people search technology.

By Amanda C. Kooser   |   Entrepreneur Magazine – October 2008 |   PDF Version

Some entrepreneurs may look at an online search market dominated by Google and Yahoo and then look elsewhere on the internet for a startup idea. But other entrepreneurs see opportunity. Spock.com co-founders Jaideep Singh, 40, and Jay Bhatti, 35, are taking on search by intentionally not taking on Google. Their Redwood City, California, startup focuses solely on people search and capturing a share of what eMarketer estimates is an $11 billion market for search advertising in 2008. “The opportunity to develop a compelling experience is there if you focus on the right verticals and create a differentiated enough experience from Google,” says Bhatti.

The first hurdle a search startup needs to clear is finding the right niche. The general search market may be cornered by some big players, but there’s still room for innovative ideas. “We’re not trying to build a fad,” says Bhatti. “We’re trying to build a real technology with a business model behind it. This has the potential to change the way users look for content on the web.” He points to search engines Kayak.com (travel search) and TheFind.com (product search) as examples of other search businesses finding success in specific niches.

Despite being located near Silicon Valley and its savvy Web 2.0 techies, Bhatti never loses sight of Spock.com’s target customers. “You have to make sure you build it for the right audience–and that’s the mass consumer audience–and not for the tech crowd,” he says. That effort shows in Spock.com’s simple user interface and cleanly laid out search results. New search entrepreneurs will have to spend a considerable amount of time and effort on the framework of their search technology, at the same time figuring out the best way to present it to potential users.

Spock.com has invested a lot more of its $7 million in round A funding into engineers, search technology and user interface than it has into marketing. Currently working on round B funding, the company hopes to scale the business up and eventually crack the top five of search engines. “One of the biggest things that you have to understand as an entrepreneur is that anything is possible,” says Bhatti. “Market conditions can change very quickly, [as can] market leaders.” That need for nimbleness in the search market is a good sign for small startups in this space.

entrepreneur-magazine cover sheet.

Age Distribution of People on the Web

Despite Privacy Concerns, 74% of people openly show their age on the web!

As a people search engine, Spock crawls and indexes millions of web documents and social network profiles everyday.

As a result, we end up gathering interesting demographic data about people.  For example, a vast majority of people who have a social networking profile or web document about themselves on the web are 25 or younger.  In addition, 74% openly show their age on social networks, blogs, and other social mediums.  Even with added privacy controls, a vast majority of Internet users openly show their age.

Age Breakdown of People Who Have a Public Identity on the Web

25 or Younger: 37%

26 to 45: 23%

46 to 65: 8%

66 or older: 6%

No Age Listed: 26%

The above data is based on Spock crawling and analyzing over 600 million social networking profiles and 2 billion web documents that reference people (wikipedia, IMBD, corporate bio pages, etc).

Why are there so many documents and profiles on the web about people under the age of 25? We call this the social network effect. Social networks have a combined 600 million plus profiles, many of which are owned by people in college or high-school.

A common question asked is what happens to the age breakdown if you exclude the impact of social networks.  We compiled the table below, which breaks people out by segment.  Social Networking profiles are compiled in the “normal people” segment.

Age Breakdown (by Segment) of People who have a public identity or document about them on the web.


Normal People

Famous People

Semi-Famous People


25 or Younger 38% 3% 1% 37%
26 to 45 23% 16% 2% 23%
46 to 65 7% 13% 3% 8%
66 or Older 5% 38% 6% 6%
No Age Listed 27% 30% 88% 26%

Examples of each segment: Normal PeopleFamous PeopleSemi-Famous People.

The data shows that people on social networks are more likely to have an age associated with their webpage then web documents about famous or semi-famous people.  In conclusion, it appears that when given the option, people are very likely to display their age on the web.

Men three times more likely to brag about professional accomplishments then women

In a Spock Research study of 3 million corporate bio pages on the internet, Spock discovered that men were three times more likely to overly boast about their professional accomplishments then their female counterparts.

For example, men were 3.15 times more likely to have the words “accomplished”, “responsible for”, “served as” and “led” in their corporate bio page then women. In our analysis of corporate bio pages of people from similar industries and job titles, it did not appear that women were any less accomplished, just that they were less willing to place subjective terms like “led” or “responsible for” in their bio page then men.

However, when we looked at bio pages for educational information, women did equally if not better then men for terms like “graduated with honors”, “doctorate”, “certified”, or “graduated magna cum laude”.

What does this tell us? One hypothesis is that men seem to be more aggressive in marketing and promoting themselves online as opposed to women.