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

US Venture Capital Investments Plunge In Fourth Quarter 2016

Posted by Tom Foremski - January 11, 2017


Two major reports on venture capital activity from PricewaterhouseCoopers/CB Insights and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) showed a steep drop in US venture capital investments in the last months of 2016 but a strong overall year. 

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The Advantages Of A Ten-Year Overnight Success

Posted by Tom Foremski - January 10, 2017

Lots of great observations on the value of ten-year old startups in this post by Irish entrepreneur Cronan McNamaraYour Overnight Success will be 10 Years in the Making + 10 Innovation Tips for the Long Term

He makes a good case that over a ten-year period the founders and management teams have learned a lot and now can leverage that expertise very effectively by using new tools and resources that provide global business opportunities. 

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Wearables Are Generating A Tsunami Of Useless Medical Data

Posted by Tom Foremski - December 12, 2016

At a recent media roundtable discussion about the future for wearables, hosted by Vivalnk, I was sitting next to two doctors who have been working in this field as advisers.

They told me they don't know what to do with all the data that patients keep sending them from their wearables, heart rate, steps taken, etc. And some wearables collect data on biometric data that's unknown to medical science. 

All of that big data and it has no medical value. I was astounded.

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Illuminate - Duarte Debuts New Movements Marketing Practice

Posted by Tom Foremski - December 2, 2016


The Silicon Valley firm that helped Al Gore create a movement to curb climate change introduces strategy team to help leaders spark and sustain change. Guest post by Chris Knight 

In 2012, Nancy Duarte and Patti Sanchez set out to write a book to help business leaders envision the future and make their big, audacious visions a reality. In their 2016 book Illuminate: Ignite Change through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies and Symbols, they lay out a five-part taxonomy for leadership movements.

Based on four years of in-depth research, Illuminate is rich in case studies about how great leaders like Apple's Steve Jobs, Starbucks' Howard Schultz and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used speeches, stories, ceremonies and symbols to mobilize the masses.

In a review of Illuminate, Forbes’ contributor Nick Morgan highly recommends the book for organizations that are keen on thinking through and telling stories that take

“best advantage of human cultural symbols, signs and signposts along the way. You can run an organization without telling stories to bring employees, customers, and the public into your fold – but you can’t run it very well.”

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Facebook is a tech-enabled media company

Posted by Tom Foremski - November 18, 2016

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Every day Facebook publishes millions of pages of content with advertising - what's "not a media company" about that?

Yet Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has lately been determined to identify Facebook as a tech company who's engineers are on a global mission of simply trying to connect people with each other.

Reuter's Giulia Segreti reported on Zuckerberg's recent comments in Rome, where he visited the Pope.

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Redfin: Big Jump In Women On Tech Boards Could 'Reshape' Business

Posted by Tom Foremski - November 16, 2016

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The number of women on the boards of tech companies has more than tripled since 2013 according to analysis of 100 public technology companies by Redfin, a national real estate brokerage.

The study says that tech company boards began to change because of a newspaper story. The New York Times pointed out that Twitter, which was preparing to go public in 2013, had an all-male board.

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HBO Comedian Loves That Silicon Valley Can't Take A Joke

Posted by Tom Foremski - November 15, 2016


The winter issue of CNET Magazine is out and comedian T.J. Miller is on the cover and featured in an interview.

Miller is one of the characters in HBO’s sitcom Silicon Valley. In the interview he says,

I consider everybody who takes themselves seriously to be a little bit off,” Miller says. “And Silicon Valley seems to be the most effusive about how important their contributions are to society.

Miller proved his point last year when he hosted The Crunchies awards and upset many in the audience with his jokes about startups and the organizers said he would not be asked back.

Please see: The Crunchies’ Bitchgate: High Horses With Fake Unicorn Horns Ignore Decades Of Silicon Valley Misogyny -SVW

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Glassdoor Study: Big Gender Gap In Key Tech Salaries

Posted by Tom Foremski - November 15, 2016


Robert Hohman, CEO of  Glassdoor announces gender pay gap study at Stanford University

Many US tech jobs show high levels of gender pay discrimination, well above other professions reports online jobs site Glassdoor in a study of more than 500,000 salaries.

The report listed the widest gender pay gap as 28% for computer programmer, 16% for game artists, 15% for information security specialists, 11% for software architects, and 10% for SEO strategist. A further 11 jobs were singled out for gender pay gaps, the lowest 2% for hardware engineers.

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A 'Tumultuous Decade' Rolls On... More Lost Generations Of Journalists

Posted by Tom Foremski - November 3, 2016

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Journalism’s uncertain future

This book looks interesting- Journalism’s Lost Generation: The Un-Doing of U.S. Newspaper Newsrooms by Scott Reinardy, a journalism professor at the University of Kansas.

Deron Lee at CJR, writes

When Scott Reinardy began studying the state of morale in newspaper newsrooms more than 10 years ago...He didn’t know the industry was about to enter a traumatic period of upheaval that would deplete the ranks of journalists around the country and force newspapers to reassess their that tumultuous decade.

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Media Disruption Accellerates As Paper Ads Plunge

Posted by Tom Foremski - November 2, 2016

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The disruption in the media industry is far from over as the transformation to a digital business model continues to challenge large newspaper groups according to recent financial reports.

Gannett and The New York Times Company are among companies reporting a steeper than expected drop in print advertising revenue in their latest financial quarter.

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The Brexit Silver Lining: 20% Discount On Top Euro Talent Says Radius

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 26, 2016


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Stephen Chipman and his teams at Boston-based Radius have helped a lot of  US companies set up their European headquarters in the United Kingdom especially London, and they are understandably concerned about what to do in the wake of the country’s referendum to leave the European common market.

Those UK offices employ a lot of people, a lot of skilled engineers, technicians, marketing and sales staff. So the prospect of moving their operations because of restricted access to the much larger European market is a top concern.

“There’s no need to worry right now,  I tell them,“ says Chipman. “And there’s nothing that can be done right now, until we know what the terms of the exit will be. It could take years.”

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GE startup will test ideas that could lead to a radical restructuring of its manufacturing business

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 13, 2016


General Electric (GE), the largest industrial company in the US, says it has developed processes that more than double the speed of innovation and which have the potential to completely restructure its own business.

GE will next week launch its first business venture, called Fuse that will test a hugely ambitious and radical approach to creating new companies through processes and technologies designed to harness the work of global crowds of experts. 

The GE startup “will usher in what we believe is the future of work,” said Dyan Finkhousen, Director of GE’s Open Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing group.

She was speaking at Brightidea’s Synthesize user conference in San Francisco. Brightidea is an enterprise software platform that helps organizations generate innovative ideas. Finkhousen said the Brightidea platform was important to GE because it supported internal and external teams of people.

It’s the first details of GE’s ambition to be at the forefront of the future of work and a strong measure of its conviction that it already knows what the future of work looks like.

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What race is your AI? Obama discussion adds politics to tech

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 12, 2016



Above photo by Christopher Anderson/Magnum Photos for WIRED

Joi Ito, head of the prestigious MIT Media Lab told President Obama he is concerned that the core development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology is being built by a “mostly white” and “predominately male gang of kids."

Ito's remarks were made at a recent meeting with Barack Obama and Scott Dadich, Editor-in-Chief of Wired Magazine. They have been published here: Barack Obama on Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Cars, and the Future of Humanity | WIRED

Ito said:

This may upset some of my students at MIT, but one of my concerns is that it's been a predominately male gang of kids, mostly white, who are building the core computer science around AI.

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Intuit Has Big Plans For Small Business With New Quickbooks Platform Initiative

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 25, 2016

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Vinay Pai leads Intuit's developer initiative.

Intuit is planning a major expansion of its online Quickbooks business group into a machine learning advice, data and services platform for creating, managing and operating all types of small businesses.

The expansion of the Quickbooks platform and new partners will be announced at Intuit's Quickbooks Connect conference in late October, in San Jose, California. The event will feature some of the top developers of apps for Quickbooks' users, such as payroll services. 

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Culture Watch: Board Game 'Settlers of Catan' Has A Cult Following In Silicon Valley

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 11, 2016

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Photo from 

Guest Post: By Janet Miller — a board game addict, habit scientist, former Silicon Valley executive and cofounder of Jen Reviews.

Settlers of Catan Settlers of Catan was one of the first European games to gain popularity in the U.S., and has been called “the board game of our time" by the Washington Post

Settlers has gone from being a Monopoly style game set in an island valley to a social, cult-attracting capitalist paradise. If you don't play, you're not going to fit in with the crowd of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

The game is very popular in Silicon Valley — here’s some suggestions why:

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Posted by Tom Foremski - August 11, 2016


For fans of stand-up comedy: launched today what is described as a “Pandora for standup comedy” smartphone app. It features 400 comedians such as Chris Rock, Amy Schumer, George Carlin, Aziz Ansari and also - you!

Self-publishing tools provide users with the means to create, publish and distribute their own stand-up act. 

Deals with large media companies such as Comedy Central provide a media library of tens of thousands of comedy routines. 

Cybersecurity Costs - An Unsustainable Tax On Business

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 4, 2016

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The cost of cybersecurity has become a burdensome tax on business and with 1.5 million IT security jobs unfilled, US corporations are losing to sophisticated criminal gangs, said security experts at a recent event in San Francisco.

"Cyber is a tax on business. Jamie Dimon [JP Morgan Chase CEO] has had to double his cybersecurity budget to $500 million. Things can't continue this way forever, we have to get ahead of the problem," said Ray Rothrock (photo), a veteran VC, now chairman and CEO of RedSeal, a startup that measures the effectiveness of enterprise security.

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Survey Warning: Millennials Will Shun Tech-Laggard Workplaces

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 19, 2016

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Millennials will leave jobs that use technologies “not up to their standard” and they prefer to have “high-tech perks” than free food and ping pong, according to a global survey commissioned by Dell and Intel. 

The Future Workforce Study questioned almost 4,000 employees in 10 countries working at various sized businesses. It found:

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Women In Tech: Is It OK To Say "Guys"?

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 11, 2016

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Is it OK to use the word “Guys”  when addressing a mixed gender group of colleagues? Should women celebrate their feminine qualities or seek to avoid those stereotypes entirely at work?

These were some of the things discussed at a recent event, “The Gender Gap and How to Defeat It,” organized by Thomson Reuters and hosted by Blurb, a self—publishing startup in San Francisco. It featured a panel of younger and older women working in the tech sector and primarily aimed at an audience of young women students preparing to enter the workplace.  

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Blockchain: Revolutionary Technology Or Over-Hyped Bandwagon?

Posted by Tom Foremski - June 28, 2016


Is blockchain technology the second coming of the Internet? That seems to be the enthusiastic message from many new startups that I meet with and also from top business consultants such as Don Tapscott, who authored with his son Alex Tapscott, the recently published book, "Blockchain Revolution: How the technology behind Bitcoin is changing money, business, and the world."

Blockchain is a globally distributed ledger -- a platform for reliably clearing transactions without the need of a bank or other third-party. I get the concept behind blockchain, that everyone owns the same ledger and thus it can't be easily altered unless you can gain control of the majority of all the computing resources.

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Women & Tech: How To Defeat The Gender Gap

Posted by Tom Foremski - June 27, 2016


Thomson Reuters and Blurb are hosting a special evening Tuesday June 28 in San Francisco, focused on the topic: Empowering women to work in technology.

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Intel's Andy Grove Named Silicon Valley Visionary

Posted by Tom Foremski - June 27, 2016


Visionary Awards: Craig Barrett, center with Tim O’Reilly and Jane Evans-Ryan, Genuity. 

This year’s Silicon Valley Forum Visionary Awards featured a tribute to the late Andy Grove, the legendary leader of Intel, who helped build the company into the world’s most valuable semiconductor company.

Three additional people received a 2016 Visionary Award: Carl Bass, CEO Autodesk; Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and Jennifer Pahika, founder and Executive Director of Code for America.

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Awards for French startups in Silicon Valley

Posted by Tom Foremski - June 7, 2016

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US President George W. Bush is reported to have once said, "The problem with the French is that they have no word for 'entrepreneur.'"

The story about President Bush might not be true, but in many ways the story rings true because France certainly has developed an anti-entrepreneurial image abroad over the past few decades.

And maybe this is why I hear French spoken on the streets here all the time lately, far more than at any time prior, in my 30 years in San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

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Hennessy Steps Down As Head Of Stanford University - Leaves Huge Silicon Valley Legacy

Posted by Tom Foremski - June 1, 2016

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John Hennessy, one of Silicon Valley’s most connected and successful businessmen, has ended his 16 years as President of Stanford University and nearly 40 years on the faculty.

He greatly expanded endowments and the university’s engineering school, which has spawned companies such as Google and Yahoo.

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NetSuite and iCharts: Enterprise Apps As Data Integration Platforms

Posted by Tom Foremski - May 17, 2016


iCharts founder and CEO Seymour Duncker

The future calls for enterprise apps becoming aggregators of trusted IT micro-services from many sources   — does that mean they can become effective data integration platforms? A low-cost path to Big Data’s promises of profitable business insights?

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Gary Bloom Interview: Big Data Driving Booming MarkLogic Sales

Posted by Tom Foremski - May 17, 2016

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When I first met Gary Bloom more than 15 years ago he was second to Larry Ellison at Oracle, and when he jumped to run Veritas, I was one of the first reporters to interview him. Then came a short stint at Symantec, eMeter, then consulting with private equity firm TPG. With over 30 years in key positions he’s become one of Silicon Valley’s top business leaders.

Since 2012, Bloom has been CEO of MarkLogic, a fast growing Silicon Valley database company riding the hot wave of interest in NoSQL databases such as MongoDB, as large organizations attempt to mine their diverse stores of big data for business insights. 

Relational databases still run at the core of every large business but they are seen as too limited and too structured for the digital business world where there is a need for highly scalable, highly adaptable database architectures that can easily add unstructured data sources, run on clusters, and support complex web sites — without first mapping all the data into the correct rows and columns of a relational database. 

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uHoo: Every Breath You Take -- Collecting Data On Your Personal Pollution

Posted by Tom Foremski - May 10, 2016


Our transition from a rural to an urban lifestyle means we spend far more time inside homes and offices and on the roads connecting them. And that means exposure to a huge number of gases leaking from the walls, carpets, industrial facilities and cars. It would be good to know the locations where the concentration of these gases are harmful to peoples' health.

Singapore based uHoo today announced a digital device that can detect a large number of harmful chemicals such as carbon monoxide, ozone, and volatile organic solvents in the air along with sensor data on air pressure, humidity, dust and temperature. 

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The Future of Media: Can Publishers Become Media Platforms?

Posted by Tom Foremski - April 28, 2016

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From left: Vivian Schiller, Christina Farr, Charlene Li, Stephanie Losee.

Social media platforms Facebook, Medium, LinkedIn, Twitter, Apple are competing for traditional media publishers to use them as distribution platforms and in some cases are offering 100% of advertising revenues. Certain publications now rely on the majority of their traffic from these media platforms. But is this an equitable partnership?

Vivian Schiller, a veteran news executive at, NPR, Twitter, CNN and now Executive Editor-in-Residence at PR firm Weber Shandwick, introduced these and other questions as moderator at Weber’s second Future of Media panel series.  

The San Francisco event featured five additional women and one man: Christina Farr, reporter for Fast Company; Charlene Li principal analyst at Altimeter Group; Stephanie Losee, head of content at Visa; Jillian D’Onfro reporting for Business Insider; and Karen Wickre, content strategist, and Simon Rogers, a Data Editor at Google. 

Here’s some of my notes from the evening:

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Media Disruption Continues: Native Advertising Won't Save Hundreds Of Jobs At New York TImes

Posted by Tom Foremski - April 27, 2016

The New York Times Company said it will close its Paris based editing and production offices eliminating or moving up to 70 jobs.

It is just a fraction of hundreds of jobs that will be lost in the second half of this year, reports Claire Atkinson for the New York Post.

"There's a goal of a couple of hundred people," said a source familiar with talks. "They don't want to pay out big packages, and they're having negotiations with the unions." The layoffs would likely occur between the Aug. 21 end of the summer Olympics in Brazil and Election Day on Nov. 8, sources said.

The New York Times management was hoping that "native advertising"-- in which brands such as computer maker Dell publish adverts in the newspaper looking like editorial content -- would help to turn around its fortunes. 

Foremski's Take:

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Thursday Event: San Francisco City Execs Talk Social Media Strategy

Posted by Tom Foremski - April 27, 2016

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The Social Media Club meeting this Thursday eve (April 28) looks fascinating. It will feature two San Francisco City and County communications executives: Kathleen Clark, social media manager and Lauren Jones, Digital Comms Manager. They will discuss the role of social media, strategy and future plans. 

More than 50 departments of the City and County of San Francisco publish social media pages. 

As part of Silicon Valley’s innovation communities, San Francisco city government could set a leadership position in how cities can use social media, and powerful publishing platforms such as Instagram, LinkedIn and Medium to communicate important news and engage communities on key city programs.

 More details and tickets here: Increasing Public Awareness: A Social Strategy for a Social City

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