Chet Kanojia

wealthymattersChaitanya Kanojia,affectionately called  Chet,an Indian entrepreneur and CEO of Aereo, a New York-based technology company,is the David who has taken on media Goliaths in the US with an antenna the size of a 10 paise coin.

What he did was allow subscribers to view live TV programmes over the internet for a small monthly charge starting at $8. In the process, he has threatened millions of dollars that cable companies pay broadcasters for their content.As expected, he got sued, by 17 plaintiffs, including major broadcasters such as CBS, NBC Universal, ABC and Fox, for copyright infringement. But in a landmark judgment for US consumers, on April 1, 2013 an appeals court upheld a lower court’s ruling saying Aereo’s streams did not infringe copyright laws and could continue operating.Cable companies in the US charge customers $100-200 a month for some 500 channels, when, in fact, they watch just 7-8. This technology offers custimers a chance to watch just what they want at a vastly reduced price.

Aereo’s technology is available in New York, and on May 30 this year, will come to Boston. Later, 21 other cities will join them.

Could this work in India? “It’s too early to tell. One would need at least 5-6 megabyte broadband speed.

Before starting Aereo in 2012, Chet founded Navic, a firm that helped cable companies and marketers gather information on viewers’ habits. He sold this to Microsoft in 2008 for a reported $250 m.

Chet spent his childhood in Bhopal. His father was a ship’s captain and his mother a teacher. They lived simply and Chet was not given pocket money. So, at 13, he and a friend decided to make music systems; Chet the speakers and his friend the the amplifiers. They sold each system for Rs 400 when the market price was Rs 2,000. It was a win-win situation. Chet went on to do engineering from Bhopal. He claims he was never studious — “I was the typical backbencher, smoking and drinking.” However, his love for gadgetry saw him making a complex robot which won prizes at various IITs. He is obsessed with complex technology and finds them mentally stimulating.

About Keerthika Singaravel

2 Responses to Chet Kanojia

  1. Alex Jones says:

    Innovation trumps greed. Love this story.

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