Video - Poonacha Machaiah at TEDx Transmedia 2012 - ‘Purposeful Technology for Positive Change’


Poonacha Machaiah is the CEO of Qyuki, a social media startup founded by internationally acclaimed film director Shekhar Kapur and music composer AR Rahman.

After a 17-year career in the US, Poonacha returned to India to start ‘ABOVE - A Bunch Of Versatile Entrepreneurs.’ He set up operations in Bangalore, Singapore and Qatar to understand the influence of Indian, Chinese and Islamic cultures and build innovative solutions to address the intrinsic needs of the local markets.

At TEDx Transmedia 2012, Poonacha called for a heightened awareness of our environments, and one another, to build “purposeful technology” for social change.

An entire generation is growing up overexposed to technology and potentially underexposed to physical intimacy.

Poonacha Machaiah, TEDx Transmedia 2012, Rome.

Fun and quirky facts about our TEDx Transmedia 2012 speakers

A collation of fun and quirky facts about our TEDx Transmedia 2012 speakers so you can get to know them a bit better. Enjoy! 


SPEAKER FACT 1: Producer of ideas, Saku Tuominen, won a silver medal in the Old Timers (35+) World Championships in Ice Hockey. But not only is he an elite sportsman, he also has some enviable culinary skills and produces his own Olive Oil.


SPEAKER FACT 2: Peter Espersen, Online Community Lead for LEGO, is a huge heavy metal music fan, which might just account for the long metalhead hair style? He was once at a Rollins Band punk concert when the lead singer dived into the crowd and began biting the leg of the guy he was stood next to. Peter only noticed when the man started screaming.


SPEAKER FACT 3: Josh Shore, filmmaker, transmedia producer and founder of the Guerrilla News Network, practises meditation whilst scuba diving (!) and is a big fan of Minimal Techno… 


SPEAKER FACT 4: Games writer Rhianna Pratchett has just launched Narrativia - a new film, TV and digital production company. The company is a partnership with her fantasy author father, Terry Pratchett, and collaborators Rob Wilkins and Rod Brown. First projects are the adaption of Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman and an adaption of The Watch, also by Terry Pratchett.


SPEAKER FACT 5: Author Alison Norrington left business cards for her character inside shoes in shoe shops to help attract an audience for her chick lit transmedia story Staying Single.


SPEAKER FACT 6: Robert Tercek, one of the world’s most prolific creators of interactive content, has had some really exciting work in his life. We are very enamoured by the fact he got to work on the visual design for the Rolling Stones Steel Wheels tour early on in his career. Wonder if he’ll have any inside gossip on the rock and roll worlds of Mick, Keith, Ronnie and Charlie?


SPEAKER FACT 7: Ana Serrano, founding Director of the Canadian Film Centre Media Lab, has an unusual hobby: she sings in operatic style and often to her son Néo. 


SPEAKER FACT 8: Philosopher for children, Øyvind Olsholt, is a pianist and currently learning Swan Lake to play for his young daughter while she practises her ballet dancing.


SPEAKER FACT 9: Maurice Wheeler, of the Little Big Partnership, gives a funny talk on goal setting and measurement inspired by the fact he lost nearly half his body weight in just over a year, going from a massive XXXL (20st 10lb) to a slight and lithe M (around 11st)! You can check out his talk ‘Using Measurement To Motivate’ here:


SPEAKER FACT 10: Derrick de Kerckhove, world-leading thinker on technology and mass media, has a fascination with the alphabet and once co-edited a book which scientifically assesses the impact of the Western alphabet on the physiology and psychology of human cognition. 


SPEAKER FACT 11: Poonacha Machaiah, CEO at the Qyuki social network for creativity, rides his motorcycles as a means to clear his mind. He regularly braves Bangalore’s crazy traffic, on his classic 1950s-style 500cc Royal Enfield or Yamaha R1, en route to work. He’s explored most of south India on a bike and plans to take a long journey into the Himalayas next year. 


SPEAKER FACT 12: Social Designer Andrew Shea has a wandering spirit and has been on many travelling adventures around the world. Some of his most memorable include: hitchhiking from Mexico to Memphis, and hanging out with a Bushman, in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, who was wearing the same Michael Jordan T-shirt Andrew owned as a kid.


SPEAKER FACT 13: Rosalía Lloret, Chief Digital Officer at PRISA News, worked closely with the Huffington Post to bring the American brand to Spain.

Fun facts sourced and compiled by Hannah Wood. 

TEDx Transmedia 2012: A taste of what the speakers will say…

With a month to go before TEDx Transmedia 2012 opens in Rome we can reveal more detail about our exciting programme of speakers and the ideas and vision they are bringing to the event. 

The theme is WEkids: Dreamers, Geeks, Mindshifters and through it we seek to awaken the free spirit and courage of the inner child. We want to have fun and inspire you to create great media of the future!

The speakers are divided into Dreamer, Geek and Mindshifter session and each bring a unique energy to this special TEDx conference on September 28. 


Alison Norrington: Storyworlds Inventor

Alison, a novelist and transmedia strategist, will open the event and highlight the narrative power of non-linear stories through her personal experiences and those of her colleagues in the industry, from Hollywood to publishing. She’ll demonstrate how you build a robust Transmedia IP.

Poonacha Machaiah: Spiritual Technologist 

Poonacha, CEO of Qyuki, will focus on the need of the hour to have “purposeful technology” that can inspire generations to make positive changes in their communities.

Øyvind Olsholt: Kids’ Philosopher

Øyvind, a Norwegian children’s philosopher, will argue for philosophy as “evocative entertainment” and a focus on, not what “turns him on” in a physical or psychological sense but what challenges his intellect.

Rosalía Lloret: Multifaceted Journalist

Rosalía, the Chief Digital Officer for PRISA News, will explore how, when a new media is born and becomes successful, media gurus usually forecast either the deterioration of the human being and society because of the new media, or – if they like the new thing – the immediate death of any previous media industry. She’ll claim they’re wrong.


Maurice Wheeler: Youth Scholar

Maurice, with his 15 years of experience working with industry giants like Disney, Microsoft, Nintendo, Nichelodeon, Universal and Procter & Gamble, will analyze the different stages of child development, focusing in particular on the difficult generation tween (no longer a child and not yet a adolescent) and showing how difficult it is to communicate and create engaging content and success for this specific audience.

Ana Serrano: Experience Mastermind

Ana Serrano, Canadian director of the Media Lab at the Canadian Film Centre, will reveal how being a geek, a dreamer and charismatic futurist may contribute to the development of collaborative environments, useful for the creative transformation of our ecosystem.

Andrew Shea: Social Designer

Andrew, writer, designer and educator, will demonstrate how design and graphics can be used to disrupt our habits and make us more socially responsible.

Rhianna Pratchett: Narrative Paramedic

Rhianna, one of the queens of writing for games, will discuss how the word writer is quickly becoming an archaic term almost detrimental to the writers themselves, who should carve out a new role in the video game industry. 

Peter Espersen: Play Leader

Peter, Online Community Leader 13 + LEGO Group, will present case histories on how Lego failed to attract fans adults, as well as how it’s creating and managing communities online, using all the resources of social media. 


Saku Tuominen: Stargazing Idealist 

Saku, a Finnish TV producer who has won more than 30 awards, will seek to understand the meaning of life through dreams. Despite “hating” the term transmedia, he’ll explore how passion becomes a bold idea and then how to work hard to make a passion happen.

Josh Shore: Catalyst Filmmaker

Josh, a filmmaker, television producer and a catalyst of socially transformative communities, will ask a series of challenging questions about transmedia products and how to make them indispensable.

Derrick de Kerckhove: Digital Visionary

Derrick, who worked closely with Marshall McLuhan and is currently Professor of the Department of French at the University of Toronto and the Department of Sociology at the University Federico II of Naples, will show that technology not only intervenes in our social relations, but also in our nervous systems, creating new connections between body and machine that will result in new responsibilities.

Robert Tercek: Creative Activist

Robert, one of the world’s most prolific creators of interactive content, will argue that we are waking up from a “60-year trance” where we have outsourced our storytelling and become “wasted” by consumption. He’ll show how participatory media has given back the power to tell stories and answer some of the world’s urgent questions. 

Find out more about the speakers and register for the event at

‘Social networking is a response to ‘Western angst’ and creating issues with physical intimacy.’ Quickfire Q&A with CEO of the Qyuki social network and TEDx Transmedia 2012 speaker Poonacha Machaiah

Poonacha Machaiah and the Qyuki founders have a new vision for social networking. The Qyuki platform they’ve created is intended for creators to circumvent gatekeepers, like movie studios, publishing houses, record labels and celebrity brands, and establish themselves independently.

In this Q&A, Qyuki CEO Poonacha shares his thoughts on the differences between social networking in Western and Indian markets and his lifelong bid to make technology more human and ‘soulful.’  

Hi Poonacha, please can you tell us a bit about your background and what you do?

I am currently the CEO of Qyuki, a startup founded by internationally acclaimed film director Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth: The Golden Age) and Oscar/BAFTA award music composer AR Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours). We started Qyuki to address a gap in social ‘network’ platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc). These platforms are primarily based on a ‘Western angst’ i.e. networking. In a country like India, with more than 1.2 billion people and half the population under the age of 25, our angst is not networking but a fundamental need to ‘express’ ourselves and establish our identity. We set out to build a platform to address this need for identity and expression - a social network for storytelling and to express creativity.

Prior to Qyuki, I founded a product R&D services company in Bangalore (2008) that was focused on building innovative solutions to address the needs of market in emerging markets. Before that I spent 17 years in the US in leadership positions in Fortune 100 companies and startups. I started my career as a computer science engineer, fascinated by artificial intelligence (programmed robots) and moved to developing operational support systems for Telecom/Mobility, designed data centres. I’m passionate about sales and business development (one of the most misunderstood careers) and I love startups.

What is the Western angst about networking? 

If you look at a social network site like Facebook, it arrived in the middle of a dramatic increase in the quantity and intensity of loneliness. The site’s promise of greater connection was deeply attractive. This is what I meant by ‘angst about networking.’ In a recent report on social media in The Atlantic there was data indicating that Americans are more solitary than ever before. In 1950, less than 10 per cent of American households contained only one person. By 2010, nearly 27 per cent of households had just one person.

Does living alone necessarily mean you are lonely? Doesn’t that change have something to do with greater emancipation for women as well?

Let me clarify a bit, when I talk about ‘loneliness,’ it is from the perspective that because of enhanced use of Facebook etc. people tend to feel that they are interactive and getting to know what is going on with their friends. They therefore do not make an effort to meet and have an offline relationship. I feel that an entire generation is growing up having most of their interaction and relationships online and I wonder if this will create an issue with physical intimacy? I wonder if the innocence of looking into another’s eyes, the first kiss, the awkwardness, etc. is lost. Now we translate this to a ‘like,’ ‘love,’ ‘hugs’ on Facebook and SMS. There is nothing wrong with solitude, but I tend to believe that technology today is building very shallow relationships. If an online Facebook interaction resulted in an offline meeting, this is great. But it should not only be online.

Can you tell us a bit more about Qyuki? What does it do?

The passion behind this initiative is that we truly believe we are proving a platform for people in India to express themselves creatively. My tagline is: “If you want to find my friends go to Facebook, my business network go to LinkedIn, but if you want to find out what makes me ‘tick’, come to Qyuki.” 

My Qyuki is my expression and my real identity. A person who is working as a call centre operator may aspire to be a writer? A domestic help at home may aspire to be a Hindustani classical singer? We want to provide a platform where such aspirations can be realised. Qyuki is a platform targeted at the ‘crowd’ of India, to form a creative community, facilitate collaboration and celebrate brands that may emerge from the platform.

Where does your interest in transmedia storytelling stem from? 

I have been interested in storytelling from a young age. As a young boy my dad used to tell me stories from Indian mythology, culture and the morals emerging from it. As I pursued my career, a large part of it was spent in international sales and business development. I learned to communicate with people by leveraging the principles of storytelling, but the stories were about the company and the products. Instead of the ‘moral of the story,’ it was about ‘value proposition.’ 

Since I am a geek at heart (robotics to mobility), I wanted to leverage the medium available to me to enhance the storytelling experience. My father used his voice and props around the house, I started using Powerpoint, videos, data and applications on phones and tablets. This is how I started honing my interest in telling stories across multiple mediums (devices/networks/platforms) and harnessing the intrinsic power of each medium. Also, we live in a culture of ‘snacking,’ so my interest is how can I snack on stories throughout the day at work, at play, at home and on the road?

What’s the most important part of transmedia for you? In your experience, what makes a great transmedia project?

The most important part of transmedia is emotion and engagement. A great transmedia project can narratively synchronise disparate pieces of content and has the power to emotionally connect with users and engage them seamlessly across heterogenous platforms, devices and networks. A great transmedia project should address the masses so a farmer from a village in India can engage and collaborate with a software engineer in Bangalore.

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Latest News: TEDxTransmedia 2012 Speakers with a Difference


TEDxTransmedia 2012 is not your average conference about media. Nor is its focus solely on non-linear storytelling and transmedia.

This is a conference with that TED magic that asks speakers to tell personal stories in creative talks that will inspire you to think about future media - and the road to it - in new and exciting ways. 

That’s why we bring you speakers from a range of different professions, walks of life and countries. Some have no obvious connection to transmedia, but all have ideas and visions worth spreading. 

If you’re wondering what TED and TEDx are then visit the About section of our official website for the lowdown. 

The awesome Dreamers, Geeks and Mindshifters we have selected for TEDxTransmedia 2012 are (you have to click Read More to find out….:)

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