Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Driving Hackers Away From Cars

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 20, 2014


Was journalist Michael Hasting's car hacked? 

By Intel Free Press

Intel Research Scientists Hack Slot Cars to Illustrate Vulnerabilities and Security of IoT Hardware.

You’re driving through downtown, heading to a new hot spot as your Internet-connected GPS gives you the best directions with real-time traffic updates, when suddenly your car veers out of control and accelerates onto the sidewalk. Were you just hacked?

As part of a demonstration, Intel research scientists oversimplify the risks of a world of Internet of Things (IoT)-connected devices as they remotely hack into the speed controls of a targeted slot car and force it to shoot off the track.

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St Louis Spirit: Arch Grants Equity-Free $50K For Startups Moving To St Louis

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 16, 2014

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Ginger Imster (above) is Executive Director of Arch Grants, funded by four St Louis philanthropists with the aim of encouraging innovative ventures that boost the diversity of tech jobs and the diversity of the population, in the St Louis metro area. 

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St Louis Spirit: Pixel Press - Draw A Video Game

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 16, 2014

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Robin Rath Co-founder of Pixel Press demonstrates the iPad app.

Pixel Press is a local star startup because it's raised $750,000 and has a very cool technology that converts simple drawings into video games simply by using square-lined drawing paper. It has a joint project with Cartoon Network.

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St Louis Spirit: Bud Albers Is Chief Angel And Mentor

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 16, 2014

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Bud Albers, former Disney CTO, angel investor and CEO of ClickWithMeNow.

My first meeting in St. Louis also turned out to be one of my favorite interviews,  with Bud Albers, a veteran of many large corporations and mentor to many local startups.

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The Startup Spirit Of St Louis - Building A Sustainable And Socially Conscious Tech Community

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 16, 2014

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With it's famous arch in the background, St Louis celebrates 250 years in 2014.

I recently returned from 4 days in St Louis, meeting the local startup community and contributing to a new conference, Startup Voodoo organized by local tech news site Techli and Elasticity, an innovative digital marketing agency.

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Younoodle: A Snapshot Of The Global Female Entrepreneur

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 15, 2014

Here's an interesting infographic from Younoodle, which runs startup competitions around the globe:


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Keep On Trucking: Planning And Hydrogen Lighten Costs And Carbon

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 15, 2014

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By Intel Free Press

At events and trade shows like International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), exhibitors often have to bring in booth materials that require giant moving trucks. The cost to transport demo materials — sometimes across thousands of miles at a time — isn’t cheap, and fuel costs are one area where modern automotive technology can help, while also leaving a smaller carbon footprint.

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Lessons From Richard Edelman's Decade As A Blogger

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 7, 2014

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Richard Edelman (center) at a Churchill Club event in February 2013.

Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman, the world's largest privately held PR firm, recently wrote about his "Decade of Blogging." His first post was September 29, just 10 days after my first post, which shows how early he began. 

There weren't many bloggers at the time, it was a tiny community and that's how I got to meet Richard Edelman. We were both bloggers. And we spoke the same language.

It takes a lot of courage for the leader of a large organization to jump into blogging, especially in 2004 when it was causing tremendous consternation in PR and corporate communications communities.  It's difficult to believe today but when I left the Financial Times to become a "journalist/blogger" in mid-2004, Intel held an emergency meeting to discuss how it should respond to "bloggers." 

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Bulldog Reporter Closes And The Changing Roles Of PR...

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 7, 2014


Sam Whitmore of Sam Whitmore Media Survey, at The Palace Hotel in San Francisco.

Jack Odwyer reports that Bulldog Reporter, a service for PR agencies, has closed after 35 years in business. That's a shame because I've taken part in many Bulldog Reporter panels over the years and its team has done a great job educating PR people about the changes in media following the explosive rise of "blogging" in the mid-2000s – a confusing time for many people in communications.

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A Year Ago The Internet Lost A Chance To Disrupt A Truly Evil Global Industry

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 5, 2014

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In 2012, a 21 year old man was fatally injured in a drugs-related shooting near my home in San Francisco.

A year ago the FBI shut down the online illegal drugs market Silk Road. Jake Swearingen at The Atlantic, reports that so far, there's no successor among a motley collection of sites:

At DeepDotWeb, an anonymous editor chronicles everything darknet related . . . [He] predicts that the crazy explosion of smaller markets may be on the wane.

"The market was pretty stable for the last few month unlike first six months of 2014 . . . I believe that it will stay pretty much the same with some markets popping up and some shutting down from this reason or another until we will see some new technology—probably one that will offer decentralization of the markets."

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MyNewsDesk And The Technologies Of Promotion

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 3, 2014


One of the high points of my summer was talking at the FutureComms14 conference in London. Organized by MyNewsDesk, a provider of corporate communications tools, it drew together a fascinating group of people interested in the emerging technologies of promotion. 

In this blog post there are excerpts of a video interview that covers some of the things I spoke about. I'm looking forward to the next one in 2015.

Technology and media expert Tom Foremski talks #FutureComms - Mynewsdesk

[BTW: There are a couple of points in the otherwise excellent post that need correcting: I first started talking about how every company is a media company in 2005 and that's also when I wrote my infamous "Die! Press Release! Die! Die! Die!" post (at 4am).]

Silicon Valley's Future Depends On Innovation Beating Scale

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 2, 2014


Foremski's Take: The acquisition of Tibco Software by Vista Equity Partners earlier this week, in a $4.3 billion deal, raises an important issue: can innovative companies survive long enough to become large companies? 

I meet very few startups that have the ambition to stay independent and challenge the dominant companies in their sector. (Delphix is the exception.) Is it a lack of ambition or simply a realistic assessment of their future? Tibco was certainly ambitious and innovative but it struggled for years to grow amid huge competitors.

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Guest Column: Public Relations Is The Successor To SEO

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 2, 2014


By Andrew Barnett, partner and head of the SEO practice at digital marketing and public relations firm Elasticity.

 Organizational structures are notoriously rigid, often lacking the agility and flexibility to respond to changing market forces. Over the last decade, the unrelenting growth of digital media has upended the way organizations and brands manage reputation issues and reach audiences, unleashing a tidal wave of new roles, responsibilities and budgets.

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Upcoming: 'Science Hack Day' All Weekend In SF

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 1, 2014

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2013 winners. Photo: Matt Biddulph.

Thomson Reuters EndNote (an app for research management) is the first global sponsor of the upcoming Science Hack Day, in its fifth year. The San Francisco event is the largest of its kind. It is described by organizers as:

A global grassroots science movement dedicated to making science accessible for all and facilitating interdisciplinary collaboration...Science Hack Day participants will gather for 48 consecutive hours to participate in a fun competition to build the best scientific prototype.

As a global movement designed to connect individuals from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds, Science Hack Day has held more than 30 events in a dozen countries since its launch in 2010.

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Will Silicon Valley 'Disconnect to Reconnect' On October 4?

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 1, 2014


Matthew Reinhold writes:

I want to tell you a little about our project. It's a movement that asks for Oct. 4, to be the day for disconnect to reconnect. A gathering group of mostly Californians, feel overly accessible and need a second to catch their breath, enter the 'Day of Disconnect.'

As Silicon Valley tirelessly endeavors to simplify our lives though tech and innovation, is it possible that with telecom's constant interruption, the creativity's flow might hindered? Maybe this 24 hours of peace can lead to the next Uber, AirBnB or Tindr? 

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NYTimes Cutting 100 Jobs As Apps And Native Ads Fail To Stem Losses

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 1, 2014

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The New York Times is cutting 100 newsroom jobs to ensure long-term profitability because of disappointing performance of new initiatives such as news apps and native advertising to reverse declining revenues.

Jeremy Bar at Capital New York reported:

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Scenic Vista: Tibbr - The $10bn Jewel In The $4.3bn Tibco Sale

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 29, 2014

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Tibco CEO and Founder Vivek Ranadivé. [Tibco is a founding sponsor and a former sponsor of Silicon Valley Watcher.]

Tibco Software agreed to be taken private in a $4.3 billion sale to Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm specializing in software firms.

Tibco is one of Silicon Valley's oldest tech companies and its technologies are used to power real-time data systems such as those used by banks, stock exchanges, and news networks -- Reuters once owned 49% of the company. 

Michael Calia, reporting for the Wall Street Journal, writes that Tibco had spent much of the summer examining its options before deciding on this strategy:

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From Couch To Bank - The Millions That Watch Them And The Millions Made By Superstar Video Gamers

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 29, 2014


By Intel Free Press

This is the life of professional video gamers: They train for hours each day, score lucrative endorsement deals, and get flown all over the world to compete in front of fans – sometimes at sold out venues – for big cash prizes.

Top players get recruited into professionally managed teams, not unlike how Ferrari and Red Bull have Formula 1 drivers who are on the same team but still compete individually. Such is the life of a professional athlete and it's the same for top video gamers.

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Meet Me In St. Louis!

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 25, 2014

I'm in St. Louis this week meeting the city's startup community and taking part in the "Startup Voodoo" conference.

I'm impressed by the people, their energy, and their loyalty to the region. There's also a strong sense of social responsibility here, too, something we used to have in Silicon Valley (remember Google's "Letter to Shareholders" that introduced $GOOG's IPO in 2004?)

I'll have more to report very soon!

Please see: The Startup Spirit of St. Louis

A Short 42-Year History Of High-Tech Watches

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 22, 2014

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From 1995.

By Intel Free Press

A couple of decades before the Pebble Watch, the Samsung Gear, the Sony Smartwatch, the i’m Watch, the Moto 360 or the LG G Watch were a couple of other time pieces worn on the wrist and produced by two Silicon Valley natives.

In 1995, Apple had its own branded watch to help with a marketing campaign for its new operating system. And 20 years before that, Intel had the Microma digital watch.

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Ribbit: Google's Never Ending European Problems...Can It Change Its Nature?

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 18, 2014

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Google's run-ins with European regulators have become a never ending marathon with no signs of an end. In the latest development, Robert Thomson, the CEO of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., is lobbying the European Commission to hold Google accountable for abusing its dominant position in search (93% share in Europe).

The BBC reported that Thomson's "strongly worded letter" to Joaquin Almunia, Competition Commissioner, calls

...Google a "platform for piracy" whose power "increases with each passing day."

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Has Silicon Valley Run Out Of Ideas? Original Ideas Need Original Experiences

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 16, 2014


Will Oremus, senior technology writer at Slate, reports that, "Silicon Valley Has Officially Run Out of Ideas." Because the recent TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, awarded Alfred, the top prize in its competition for startups. 

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Event:'Bringing Together SF Community and Technology Leaders'

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 15, 2014

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Coming up next week: "I'm a Startup - Bringing Together SF Community and Technology Leaders," a discussion moderated by Sarah Austin from Pop17, (above) Kim Mai Cutler, Techcrunch; Mark Horvath Invisible People; Bevan Dufty HOPE for the City; and Chuck Collins,SF YMCA CEO. Kim Mai Cutler has written thoughtful articles on this subject.

The event is free with RSVP:

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The Startup Spirit Of St. Louis

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 15, 2014

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David Ulevitch, CEO of San Francisco based OpenDNS is an alumni of Washington University in St. Louis.

Next week I'll be speaking at "Startup Voodoo" a new conference in St. Louis organized by Aaron Perlut and his team at Elasticity, a digital marketing and PR firm. I experienced some of the energy and the spirit of St. Louis at a recent dinner in San Francisco organized by Washington University, which featured CEOs of 21 startups, and attended by alumni now living in the San Francisco/Silicon Valley area.

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Predictive Computer Vision: The Face Of The Future Looks Wrinkled

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 15, 2014


Greg Leeming is the director of the Intel Technology Science Center for Visual Computing at the University of Washington.

By Intel Free Press

Have you ever wondered what you'll look like in 10, 20 years? The University of Washington and Intel Labs has embarked on a facial aging project using big data to analyze and predict the way people's faces age.

Demonstrated at Intel Developer Forum 2014, finding your predicted future face is exceptionally easy through the use of an iPhone app. All the user has to do is input some information relating to age, gender and ethnicity, then select or take picture of herself using the front-facing camera. The rest then appears like magic.

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Intel Developer Forum In Images...And Backpacks

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 12, 2014

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Ten years ago I launched Silicon Valley Watcher with a story about the Intel Developer Conference in San Francisco. The post was tongue-in-cheek because I have a theory that Intel's health is best measured by a simple metric: the quality of the backpacks given out at its conferences.

Intel is a notorious penny pincher (except where it matters) and if it is having trouble meeting its quarterly numbers its budget cuts are instant. Intel will even shrink everyone's cubicle space, maybe in the theory that productivity per square foot increases. Co-founder Gordon Moore kept a large round table in his cubicle. He said it was there so that they couldn't shrink his cubicle further.

Ten years ago the Intel backpacks were decent but not as good as those from just six months ago, and signaled a leaner time for the world's largest chip company. This year there seems to be a marked improvement in Intel's fortunes because the backpacks were of a much better quality.

Here's some images from this year's IDF

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Intel's Bryan Rhoads Wins 'Content Marketer of the Year' Award

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 12, 2014

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Bryan Rhoads at Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco.

Congratulations to Bryan Rhoads, at Intel Digital Media Labs, for winning the Content Marketing Institute's top award: Content Marketer of the Year for activities that, "inspire the industry to achieve more."

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No Mention Of Innovation At TC Disrupt?

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 11, 2014

This week at the Techcrunch Disrupt conference, it seems that "innovation" has been lost in a discussion about disruptive companies.

John Biggs reported:

Investment bankers Bill Hambrecht and Clayton Christensen took to the Disrupt SF stage today to defend the concepts of disruption and to address the ways the Valley predicted the future of financial services and technology.

"'Disruption' is, at its core, a really powerful idea," [Christensen] said. "Everyone hijacks the idea to do whatever they want now. It's the same way people hijacked the word 'paradigm' to justify lame things they're trying to sell to mankind.

"The Original Disruptor, Clayton Christensen, And VC Bill Hambrecht Talk About The Theory Of Disruption | TechCrunch

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Intel v Apple: Tech Journalism Or Product Reporting?

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 9, 2014

Every year the same thing happens, Intel, the world's largest chipmaker announces key chip technologies at its IDF conference but barely any of the media notices because they are at Apple's annual event, which usually just across the street.

Intel's chips run the Internet, the cloud, PCs and Macs, and every data center around the globe. Its chips touch every aspect of our modern world unlike Apple's products.

The chip technologies Intel unveils affect all of us because they will be deeply embedded in our future, in our common blended reality. Apple's products will just touch a fraction of the developed world and none in the developing world.

Yet all the tech journalists were over at Apple and not at Intel on Tuesday morning.

Every September the media fuss over Apple's product announcements to a degree not shared by most of their readers. It's not tech journalism it is product reporting. There is nothing cool about writing a list of specs about a mass consumer product.

I'm looking forward to the return of tech journalism. It will come.

PS: I'm an Apple fanboy since the Apple II.

SF Taxi Drivers Union Expanding As Uber And Lyft Take Toll On Fares

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 9, 2014


The newly formed San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance (SFTWA) is looking for a boost this evening (Sept. 9) with a recruitment drive and rally at the Plumbers Union Hall, 1621 Market Street, at 6.30pm. Speakers include Bhairavi Desai, president of the National Taxi Workers Alliance, and Tim Paulson, President of the San Francisco Labor Council.

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