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@Raul I Lopez Yours is an interesting point. Several folks have made the argument that we're exiting the phase that was about device innovation (at least in information conveyance - there's plenty of stuff that the 3d printing movement is going to help tackle, but that's more about a better way to make a hammer than redefining the computer), and that we're now keying in more on the software innovation phase, the key to which is personalized utility. It feels like Apple won't really compete there because of their focus on device manufacturing. They're like a Toyota which will build the cars that Google builds the AI to drive. So, I'm not sure that Apple will be as pivotal to the long term as they have been in the short. If they don't expand their focus to real hardcore software, where Apple will continue to play is in device sales. But, just as with the PC era when Microsoft made Dell, Acer, HP, IBM, etc viable hardware businesses, I think Android has and will continue to make Samsung, HTC, Moto (which they now own), etc viable competition to Apple devices, and G+ Login will basically extend their software to Apple devices. It feels like Google is becoming the Higgs Boson of the digital age.
1 month, 2 weeks ago on Google: World domination starts today
Yup. You're totally right. The Google Now point is an example of the whole key to Goog. It's the best company out there at giving consumers value (in product form) justifying their giving up information. Beyond that, it seems that simply having every imaginable type of product out there helps the company understand people and their behaviors in a way that Facebook can only dream because Facebook relies on active data submission whereas Google can passively collect. The data is much richer and more descriptive. I don't think anyone else gets it like they do. Also not sure anyone will have the ongoing opportunity to understand it like they do - Google Ventures helps with that.
A year ago, a radio show host let me know that if I wanted to place people from my team on his show, that we would have to pay. I was trying to tell him how relevant we were to his conversational theme because I thought he might take issue with sub-standard content. Looked like there was a pretty standard fee structure and that relevance wasn't of issue. Listeners weren't going to know that we paid for the time on air. They would have been left to assume that our product was just that cool that their favorite radio host had taken notice. That one conversation made me re-evaluate every piece of information I had ever consumed. Listening to any radio dj or television talkshow host speak to an actor from a show they "love" or an author of a book they "just read." Pretty sad that our consciousness is pretty much bought and paid for. Maybe the de-limiting of information channels solves for that? Maybe this article represents the idea that it's only becoming more rampant?
2 months, 1 week ago on Native advertising’s blurred lines are the publisher’s fault, advertisers say
On your second point: Thoughts on posting links in social media? I'm sure people think about how they want to be perceived before putting up an Upworthy/Buzzfeed post, or a Jimmy Fallon link. Even though you (used generally in this sentence and applied to most people I'm connected to on Facebook) may think GWB had something really insightful to say in an interview, you probably won't post it to Facebook because you can't bear to be associated with the Republican party. Instagram's brand spreads through your Facebook newsfeed when you either like some photos or post your own with crazy color schemes.
2 months, 1 week ago on Why online brands don’t have lasting value
Appreciate the sentiment, but Ballmer couldn't just wholesale change Microsoft's entire operation. They weren't really a consumer company like Apple when Jobs dumped the iPod for the iPhone, major revenue came/comes in from enterprise sales. As a result, way too many powerful people and companies depend on some form of the status quo, and enterprises change excruciatingly slowly. If he just dumped PCs/Office/Outlook and didn't try to figure out how to integrate old business with new tech, he would have been putting the company at tremendous risk. Granted, people are depending on Google apps more and on Microsoft less for collaboration. But that's a tough position because Google came/is coming up the long tail without any risk because they had literally no business there before. Microsoft had huge lock-in with enterprise and resulting advantages. Still does. And they have a ton of cash to buy people that can be additive and would otherwise be competitive.
2 months, 2 weeks ago on Steve Ballmer’s Windows problem
@davemholmes @KenG Yeah, Ken, I see your point. FB and Twitter haven't spawned a universe of unbelievably advanced products like silicon transistors or integrated circuits have, but that doesn't necessarily mean they haven't added value. I guess we could spend some time debating the definition of a technology, but I'm not sure that's where we really want to go. To me, the largest value they've added is to organize and disseminate information in a way people want to consume it, and that is valuable. For example, I want to find a friend of a friend who I met so I can stay in contact, keep up with his/her life, etc. Facebook has become the default for that kind of interaction, a more passive friendship than what email, phone calls, or text would require. There's value to that. Or, I want to tune into a conversation that people are having about some hashtag - it's really easy for me to do that.
Digging into Doerr's vision of the future, where the map is the center of the universe, and you dig down into the goings-on in whatever location to which you might be granted access, Twitter could provide immense value. Let's say online learning really takes off, and you're late to get to a live YouTube lecture going on at Harvard. Maybe there's a note-taker live-tweeting the class/its major points as it's happening so you can glance over the major points you've missed. Maybe that's attached to a specific point in a video stream so you can go directly from that Tweet to watch over that part of the class. Or maybe it functions like Soundcloud for people joining in to the replay rather than the live feed so that, as you're watching the recorded video later, you'll get different tweets popping up that students present were posting to interact with the material. Maybe Twitter serves to bring together all the questions students might have from whatever part of the globe so the professor can answer them in almost real time (there would probably have to be some kind of big data mining going on in the background allowing the professor to cover the most relevant or popular questions). Facebook could probably do that with its statuses too, but that's not really the use case there. I'm trying to imagine what other tech before Facebook/Twitter could enable that kind of live interaction and recording for future interaction. A zupped up version of AIM or chatrooms?
To me, breaking down walls, and allowing people with access to fiber to consume information to take part in a conversation holds immense value. While there is no crazy hardcore tech development going on in Twitter and Facebook, I'm not sure there has to be for the companies to be considered tech superstars. If the idea of technology is reducing friction in the world to make different processes immensely easier, I would argue that Twitter and Facebook can, do, and have deliver(ed) tremendous value in that exact way.
6 months, 2 weeks ago on The future according to John Doerr (Or: How Twitter can become the fifth big company in tech)
@bgoldberg Awesome - published a post yesterday that shares the common tear down philosophy, but comes at it from a slightly different angle. My argument is that e-comm will just take over publishing with inbound marketing because it provides salaries for content creators http://startupyourengines.blogspot.com/2013/04/content-creators-kings-of-marketing.html. I didn't account for certain publishing categories, but I'd love to get your thoughts.
7 months, 3 weeks ago on The separation of “church and state” in publishing
Argued this before on TC, argued to prof here at NYU who's a huge MOOC fan, will argue it now. The major thing is certification. If an employer can have an easy number from a reputable source that indicates a prospective employee has mastered a set of skills, that will go a long way in disrupting the need to grab a college degree from the most prestigious institutions possible. I found the most interesting part of the above the one sentence about regional testing facilities. Who's doing that? How are they making their testing services reputable. Are they interacting with friendly (in the Roberts Rules sense) employers yet, letting those guys know they exist, and figuring out how to better service HR needs? If that's happening, in 13 years, your kids won't be going to college.
8 months ago on Should you pay $250K to go to college?
I was really hoping you would do more with the historical reference/metaphor. Defenestration of Prague stands head and shoulders abouve any other as my favorite subject in AP Euro, and it precipitated the 300 Years War, which sounds epic. Also, yup, I just spelled abouve with a u, twice. Just felt right given the Euro tone here. Kind of like colour, flavour, etc... I enjoyed the picture though, and otherwise, it was a well written and informative piece. Thanks.
9 months, 1 week ago on The defenestration of Andrew Mason
Isn't this basically the same debate that came up with the Apple/Microsoft war in the PC early days? Just that now you have Google playing in the OS marketplace. I'd imagine that lessons learned from that period of time can be pretty instructive. Apple's focus on building it's own, all-inclusive systems have helped it out-pace when a new hardware medium came about where the other guys had to wait on all the various pieces to come together. It seems that we're hitting that early 90's tipping point where hardware builders are getting used to the software they're putting on their devices and are now able to apply economic advantages to take over market share. Either Apple chills out and puts out the next redefining piece of hardware, which Brian Goldberg in his "Steve Jobs was lucky" post was skeptical exists. Or it has to become a software company... Interesting strategic decisions for sure.
10 months, 3 weeks ago on The Apple dilemma: Marketshare or margins
@bgoldberg so, you're basically saying that hardware innovation is over for a while and that we're entering a software wave? I can agree with that on the mobile front. Facebook's Nearby I think is the next big breakthrough there, and if we can ever move off the app infrastructure, that'll be huge for development too. But on the hardware front, what about wearables? I'm not sure on my stance there and how Project Glass really differentiates its value. But I'd be interested in hearing your perspective.
11 months, 3 weeks ago on Let’s admit it… Steve Jobs was lucky
Why aren't there more Indian people on the show? Also, the only interesting 'character' is the girl in SF who knows how to make money. She should get a spinoff where she and an Indian co-founder create something relevant, struggle for a few years before hitting their stride and building a real business. After the 5th season we could start monitoring the activities of mafia spin offs funded with vested shares sold on SecondMarket. Too niche?
1 year ago on Oooof! Repeat of the “Real Housewives” wildly outperforms in the old time slot of “Startups: Silicon Valley”
Kevin, this is a badass piece. It reads like a Swedish thriller novel. If I'm not reading too much into it, I especially like the subtle allusion to the tension existing between Mark Hurd's decision making contrasted with the capabilities of the HP Board. Not that this wasn't the case before, but this article really shows how Pando's stepping up the daily conversational tone. Really well done. Congrats!
1 year ago on HP, Autonomy, and the perils of spinning facts
@sciencescanner Thanks for the education on regulations - that was something I hadn't taken into account that I should have. I'm unclear on what the burdens are for the crowd vs. burdens on the "advisor." Can you explain?
An argument on regulations might be that, over time, they can be relaxed if the government deems there to be social value in the activity, which, in this case, seems reasonable. A way to make this practice more feasible might be to shift the entire qualifications burden to the "advisor" - making him/her go through some kind of certification process to be in a position to make crowdfunded investment decisions.
On the idea that it's about as easy to pick an investment as it is to pick an advisor, I think that cuts against the fundamental theory of specialization. Additionally, a viable regulatory infrastructure could alleviate the burden on the crowdfunder to understand how kosher an advisor is.
The government has been in the business of protecting the individual consumer and minority shareholder since the advent of corporations. It's probably not too far of a stretch to see the law advance in crowdfunding to offer reasonable protections against fraud if, and this is the BIG IF in this case, the activity of crowdfunding biotech is deemed a socially worthy cause.
1 year, 1 month ago on How crowdfunding and avenging Steve Jobs could unlock a new way to fund life sciences
The difference between this and typical VC is emotional connection. If you're aiming to crowdfund something like a prostate cancer treatment, chances are, there's some rich dude who has either had it or has it who wants to see it gone. He doesn't necessarily care about the monetary return. Certainly, he's not going to load it up with cash if he doesn't think he can break even, but the standard is far lower than the ROI expectation typical VC carries.
That said, a feasible model might be experts with deep domain knowledge setting up crowd funding portals for specific causes like prostate cancer. They would serve as GPs who would go out and vet companies/research operations both on their fraud and breakeven potentials on behalf of those folks supplying the capital. Those folks would get paid a management fee and might not be as concerned about the Carry given the same emotional pull that motivates people to fund.
Having grown up in San Jose and attended Carnegie Mellon, I've seen everything you're talking about twice - once in a more mature form, again in an up and coming one. Back home, the intertwining of school and startup is celebrated, discussed, and given as a reason for every kid to attend Stanford. At CMU, I remember working at their mobile Decision Sciences lab where we were trying to get people from Pittsburgh to take surveys on the streets. Several people came up to me and talked about how CMU was destroying Pittsburgh because it was taking advantage of favorable taxes and not paying its fair share to the community... Pittsburgh is changing from that clearly old-school perspective to the new one which dictates that the tech talent (and the people shaping it) rule. The city, which, by way of the old-guard would have been like Cleveland or Cincinnati, is emerging rapidly. Could be an interesting case study going forward.
1 year, 7 months ago on Stanford, Silicon Valley, and John Hennessy’s Real Legacy
@jackhutton Dude, watch more tv. In the Starz hit show "Boss," Kelsey Grammer plays a corrupt Chicago mayor. In that nugget of mass produced pop culture resides the link to the portrayal of Ed Lee as a similarly corrupt mayor. Btw, Grammer also won a Golden Globe for his portrayal. Might be worth your while. While we're tangentially related to the topic of grammar, I'd suggest revisiting your notions on how to spell "it's" in the context in which you place the word.
We could argue all day about what makes SF awesome, and, in fact, we may end up doing just that. Not having chain stores is an idea (not a super sustainable one), but the fact of the matter is that Manhattan has very few chain stores and has easily better corporate policies. Even though the city boasts an evil, greedy, billionaire mayor, I'd argue from personal experience that homogeneity in population, architecture, and nightlife destination themes is not a concern. Cabs are cheap. Public transit is great (except for the L train and Sunday night B...seriously). Bohemian lifestyles are a key component to the culture. The problem in being anti-big business is that the perspective fails to realize the nature of the socio-capitalist system in which we live. In order to sustain dense population centers, you need dense job providers. Corner stores and other local service providers don't cut it. You need big companies to sustain bohemia. If you're arguing that we should abolish all capitalist scent in our country, that's something different entirely (a strategic argument as opposed to a tactical one), and I'd argue that that perspective fails to take into account the ongoing evolution of the world in which we live.
1 year, 8 months ago on Ed Lee and Ron Conway as Evil Plotting Kingpins of San Francisco? Give Me a Break NYT