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

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 NYTimes.com, 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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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

The Limits On Big Data On Dating In Building Diversity At Work

Posted by Tom Foremski - April 6, 2016

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Romantic relationships, and a person's relationship with their work, would seem to be too distant and the experience too different to be comparable, yet eHarmony believes its success with the lonely can be put to use to make happier workplaces, and match people with jobs they love.

And if eHarmony's algorithms could also help build more diversity in the workplace, there are many Silicon Valley companies that would love to place an order because this has become a very hot topic and there's no quick solution.

I spoke with Dr. Steve Carter who heads the recently launched eHarmony venture: Elevated Careers. He says the same data science, derived from eHarmony's many years in the dating and mating scene, are applicable to our relationship with work.

Carter says the same methods for predicting romantic bliss can predict compatibility between worker and workplace.

Over the years, eHarmony's analysis of its Big Data on dating, has been honed to such a degree that it can claim a very precise, "438 marriages per day on eHarmony."

If it can bring a fraction of that accuracy to predict a person's job satisfaction,  Elevated Careers will have made a start on its mission of repairing, "A broken recruitment model that costs US businesses $11 billion a year."

Could the same data science be used to help employers make their workplaces more diverse? Could Elevated Careers match people's diversity with compatibility in the workplace? Many Silicon Valley companies are searching for ways to add more diversity by increasing numbers of women, minorities, etc.

"Oh no, we stay away from that type of protected information," says Carter. "We focus on helping each person find a workplace with a high level of compatibility with the company's culture, the hiring manager, and shared attitude towards work."

Elevated Careers can't help build diverse workplaces because it is illegal for a company, or its agents, to discriminate in its hiring practices, based on a candidate's qualities of diversity, rather than job qualifications.

But on a dating site, it is perfectly legal to filter candidates based on ethnicity, gender, size, shape, religion, sexual orientation, looks, color of hair, color of eyes, height and age. It is not racist or sexist when it's used for dating because all these individual preferences are essential in predicting relationship success.

Because eHarmony says that what works in dating also works in predicting success in professional relationships, the best analysis of workplace compatibility would be with all available measurable traits of a person's diversity incorporated into the Elevated Careers algorithm. But that would be illegal.

Elevated Careers can't use eHarmony's vast archives of relationship data; and it can't use the lessons learned in compatibility between people.  Its algorithms would be attacked as racist and sexist if used to measure job compatibility.  This means Elevated Careers begins life with a big job ahead in collecting all the people and workplace data it needs to prove its approach will work.

For example, to predict job compatibility, Elevated Careers needs to survey a significant number of each company's workers independently of the employer, so that a true and honest assessment of culture and job satisfaction can be made, and then matched. 

It's going to take a while for it to build a large enough dataset, adjust its predictive algorithms, and start helping people find a happier relationship with work.

Elevated Careers has a worthwhile mission, and it might improve some workplaces just from the jump in self-awareness that each company will experience when considering questions about its culture, and why it has such a high staff turnover.  

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Enterprise Security: The Easiest Hacks Are The Toughest To Stop With Technology

Posted by Tom Foremski - March 24, 2016

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The challenge of protecting the enterprise from simple email phishing scams.

There’s no need to use advanced Black Hat technologies to get access to sensitive corporate data if you have a copy of a staff directory — as more than 21,000 employees of Sprouts supermarket chain found out recently. All had their social security numbers and other personal details exposed after an employee in the payroll department responded to an email from what looked like a senior executive asking for a copy of every employee’s W2. 

All of the Sprouts employees now face many years of anxiety over hackers patiently waiting to use and abuse their illicit data haul of taxpayer identities.

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Intel's Andy Grove Is Dead - Silicon Valley Loses Top Business Leader And A Champion Of Diversity

Posted by Tom Foremski - March 22, 2016

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1978: Andy Grove, left, with Intel colleagues Robert Noyce (center) and Gordon Moore.

Intel yesterday announced that Andrew Grove, its former CEO and Chairman, had died aged 79.

Present at Intel’s 1968 founding with Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, Andy Grove became Intel’s President in 1979 and CEO in 1987. He served as Chairman of the Board from 1997 to 2005. Both during his time at Intel and in retirement, Grove was one of the most influential figures in technology and business, writing best-selling books and widely cited articles, and speaking out on an array of prominent public issues.

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Data Masking Saves CIO Jobs And Makes IT Heroes

Posted by Tom Foremski - March 10, 2016

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Working at Delphix, a virtual technologies startup in the heart of Silicon Valley, I've been learning a lot about enterprise software and the challenges facing global corporations as business becomes ever more digital. 

Data security is critical and its importance was underscored by the recent RSA Conference in San Francisco -- the world's largest gathering of computer security experts. About 40,000 people -- a jump of nearly 20% compared with last year -- attended its awards ceremonies, hundreds of presentations, and demonstrations from thousands of vendors of data protection technologies.

But if you bought everything at RSA would your organization be completely secure? 

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#IN2Summit: Is Content Marketing Failing Us? 3 Ex-Journalists Say 'No'

Posted by Tom Foremski - February 16, 2016

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From right: Michael Kanellos, (standing) SanDisk; Scott Lowe, Activision; Stephanie Losee, Politico; moderator Henk Campher Allison+ Partners.

The Holmes Report's Innovation Summit in San Francisco featured a panel of former journalists, now engaged on producing a broad range of editorial content for large brands, speaking on the topic of Content Marketing.

The first question was should the average person know anything about Content Marketing? They all nodded vigorously: No, because it is all about great content, and since the goal of Content Marketing is publish editorial content of substantial value then it is no different from the goals of independently produced content.

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Pioneering Silicon Valley PR & Media Research Group SNCR Merges With The Conference Board

Posted by Tom Foremski - February 10, 2016

Around ten years ago I happened to be in the right place at the right time — meeting Jen McClure as she was setting up an extraordinary organization: The Society for New Communications Research (SNCR).

I was honored to be invited as a Founding Fellow and it has led to many wonderful friendships. I’m glad that Jen’s hard work has paid off as she announces a merger with The Conference Board, which has the resources to take the important work of SNCR further and farther afield with its offices in 60 countries. 

Here is Jen McClure to explain:

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Crunchies Awards: Diversity Ruled The Stage But Silicon Valley Stars Absent

Posted by Tom Foremski - February 9, 2016

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I was excited to be at The Crunchies Awards Monday evening. I was right behind two seats reserved for Mike Arrington (founder of TechCrunch) and my old buddy Om Malik founder of GigaOm.

Neither came to occupy their seats and neither did Silicon Valley's star CEOs and VCs as had been common in prior years. Arrington and Malik turned up on stage later to present an award for Angel of the year but there was no Silicon Valley royalty: no Zuckerberg, no Marissa Mayer, no Travis Kalanick, Elon Musk, Marc Benioff, Marc Andreessen...

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Geoffrey Moore: Does IT Matter? Are Apps Important?

Posted by Tom Foremski - February 4, 2016

 

Geoffrey Moore's 1991 book "Crossing the Chasm" was incredibly influential in the tech sector with more than one million copies sold and it gave birth to the Chasm Consulting Group.

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Silicon Valley Gets On The Same Bus Every Day...

Posted by Tom Foremski - January 18, 2016

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Silicon Valley's pursuit of diversity is skin-tone distracted and gender confused. Diversity is more than a ratio...

Silicon Valley's leadership in sourcing innovative ideas is slipping and its feeble pursuit of diversity isn't helping.

Original ideas come from original experiences -- an environment that brims with a diversity of genders, skin colors, ages, economic backgrounds, national cultures, and artistic expression.

A tree grows in Brooklyn...

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On Blogging And Bragging: Being Named By LinkedIn As A Top Media Writer And The Unbearable Awkwardness Of Self-Promotion...

Posted by Tom Foremski - January 8, 2016

LinkedIn

I feel very honored to be ranked #4 by LinkedIn as one of the "top 10 media writers of the year" in the debut of its "Top Voices of the year" list that named 80 writers across eight industry sectors.

I also feel a little uncomfortable about drawing attention to such accolades as do the majority of former newspaper reporters. We don't mind if someone else blows our horn but it feels crass doing it yourself. In today's media world that attitude is a handicap because if you can't handle a certain level of self-promotion no one will see your work.

The early Blogosphere...

When I left the Financial Times more than ten years ago to become a "journalist blogger" I suddenly fell into a very small, very strange community of writers I hardly knew before. It felt great to be part of this tiny and very feisty band of bloggers with Robert Scoble, Om Malik, Renee Blodgett, Dan Farber, Anil Dash, Doc Searls, Craig Newmark, Andy Lark, Dennis Howlett, Nick Denton, David Galbraith, Dan and Steve Gillmor, Jeff Clavier, etc (please see: Original Thinkers list).

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The Software Defined Megacorporation - Why IT matters

Posted by Tom Foremski - November 17, 2015

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There's a new business reality that few companies know about. If you want to be a player in global markets you will need a top-notch IT department. It won't be the same as the current one but whatever you do, don't buy the hype that you can just use off-the-shelf technologies and that the cloud makes IT departments obsolete.

Business edge will be defined by IT edge. IT matters and the performance of your IT department matters a lot.

The following is from my ZDNet column: IMHO:

The IT department will be transformed from a slow changing cost center and into a vibrant, creative organization essential to every business competing on a global scale.

More than ten years have passed since the publication of the book, "Does IT Matter? Information Technology and the Corrosion of Competitive Advantage" by Nicholas Carr, the former Executive Editor of the Harvard Business Review.

Few people disagreed with Carr's argument. In a world where every large company has the same IT systems, the same ERP apps, the same IT infrastructure, the same commodity hardware, no one has a strategic advantage.

Carr was right but that was then...

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Computer Pioneer Alan Kay Says Tech Industry Ignores The Future

Posted by Tom Foremski - November 4, 2015

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I was at SAP in Palo Alto earlier this week to see computer pioneer Alan Kay give a talk and also to meet with him for an exclusive interview.

I’ll have more on the interview coming up. I just uploaded the video of his talk here: Alan Kay @ SAP - YouTube

Alan Kay is a computer pioneer, he was part of the the Xerox PARC team of about 30 researchers who developed many of the key concepts of the PC and notebook. Here he talks about the lack of forward thinking in technology design and innovation.

He advocates designing products for how we expect to use technologies decades from now instead of trying to replicate old technologies.

He also talks about system thinking rather than discrete products such as apps and hardware, the goal is integration and collaboration among our technologies because that’s what’s important for humans: more collaboration.

He also mentions that Steve Jobs missed a lot when he visited Xerox PARC and replicated the graphical user interface and mouse — he didn’t see the computers were all connected, used Ethernet, and they connected to the nascent Internet then called ARPAnet. Steve Jobs missed half of it and didn't see that the computers were all networked "because he's a visual guy."

 

Internet Archive Hero Award Goes To Viral Marketing Pioneers Grateful Dead

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 22, 2015

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John Perry Barlow accepts Internet Archive Hero Award from Brewster Kahle.

The Internet Archive (IA), the San Francisco based non-profit digital media archive, this week announced several new programs in collaboration with major US libraries and a new annual award: Internet Archive Hero.

The programs include partnerships with top libraries and music archive organizations. Music is a key focus for the IA which unveiled a "music locker" approach to enlarging its store of music without triggering copyright suits. It allows music collectors to upload digital copies of their libraries to their music locker stored on the Internet Archive. It will signal if a title has already been digitized and uploaded by another but it will still be available in the music locker. This should increase the size of the music archive by eliminating duplicate work and focusing on titles not yet digitzed.

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Weber Shandwick: Not Much Future In Spirited 'Future Of Media' Discussion

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 14, 2015

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Weber Shandwick had a great turnout for its Future of Media event moving it to FAME on Broadway, a larger location in the heart of North Beach. And we had a rare all-woman panel after the lone male dropped out.

The moderator said it was a pleasure to be part of an all woman panel especially when the subject has nothing to do with women. 

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The moderator was Vivian Schiller Executive Editor-in-Residence at Weber Shandwick and the former Global Chair of News at Twitter, and a former CEO of NPR, did a good job including everyone in the conversation even if some panelists were way behind the times in their advice. For example: This is not a good time for journalists to strike out on their own, those days have come and long gone! Teams win.]

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Churchill Club: Intel's Andy Grove Receives 'Legendary Leader Award'

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 30, 2015

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From left: Saleem Janmohamed, Accenture; Andy Grove, Ben Horowitz and Geoffrey Moore, M.C.

Andy Grove was a founder, CEO and Chairman of Intel during a long career that saw the Silicon Valley firm grow to become the world's largest chip maker.

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Weber Shandwick And The Future Of Journalism

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 28, 2015

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The San Francisco office of PR firm Weber Shandwick is hosting an interesting panel on October 13 with top journalists and corporate media execs titled: Journalism Disrupted, Journalism Reborn: The Future of Media in a Digital World.

Weber scores marks for a female-dominated panel with four of the five panelists: Connie Guglielmo, Editor in Chief at CNET News; MC Wellons, SF Bureau Chief for CNBC; Ann Grimes, Professor at Stanford University and a former Wall Street Journal SF Bureau Chief; Caroline Fairchild, New Economy Editor at LinkedIn; and Joaquin Alvarado, CEO for The Center for Investigative Reporting. 

Weber Shandwick has an active interest in the subject of journalism disrupted as do many PR firms because there’s plenty of new business opportunities. As the number of journalists continues to shrink, PR firms are offering businesses a wide range of editorial media services that includes: creating and publishing online magazines;  writing articles, columns and features; creating video news reports; etc.

Also known as “content marketing” it’s an attempt to try to plug the gaps in media coverage of companies that journalists once provided. It’s become a huge market. 

Weber Shandwick offers its media services through a business division called “Mediaco - We Help Every Company Become A Media Company”. [I worked with Mediaco last year on a client project.]

Foremski’s Take:

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Jasper And The Connected Car

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 21, 2015

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Jasper is positioning itself firmly in the Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure sector where it already has a lot of customers for its technologies.

If you are interested in IoT and the "connected car" there is a panel and networking event coming up this Thursday September 24 at 6pm  in San Francisco and you can request an invite here. Panelists include:

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Technologies For Understanding Human Sign Language

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 15, 2015

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A report from Intel Free Press on the challenges in developing communications technologies for deaf people... 

By Intel Free Press
 

Adam Munder, a lithography process engineer at Intel, has been 100 percent deaf since he was 1 year old. He doesn't read lips, nor does he speak. His communication is primarily based on using American Sign Language (ASL) and using two interpreters, one who listens to conversations and converts the dialog into ASL and another who reads his responses in ASL and voices this to his audience.

Munder seldom uses technology to communicate, despite being immersed in an extremely technical environment within Intel. And these technical conversations about lithography, a process for etching geometric shapes on a silicon wafer, are what actually pose the biggest difficulty for him communicating.

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Finn Partners Acquires Horn Group...And The PR Industry's Gender Barrier

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 10, 2015

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PRWeek’s Lindsay Stein reports that Finn Partners has acquired Horn Group for an undisclosed sum to boost its tech practice.

After more than two decades in the business, Horn said she started thinking about selling, and Finn Partners was attractive because of its fresh thinking, independent stature, and culture. She noted that the deal will also expand its reach both in terms of geography and services. Horn’s security software clients may be interested in Finn Partners’ lobbying practice in Washington, DC, for example.

In 2014, Finn had 370 staffers worldwide and more than $52 million in global billings. Following the Horn acquisition, the agency will have about $70 million in annual fees and 500 employees.

Finn Partners boosts tech practice with Horn Group acquisition | PR Week

Foremski’s Take: Sabrina Horn is one of San Francisco’s top PR industry mavens, (even though she has been spending most of her time in New York these past few years). I’ve worked with Horn Group’s San Francisco teams on many stories over the past 15 years. 

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'Leaders aren't afraid to be wrong' Says LinkedIn's Head Designer Amy Parnell

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 2, 2015

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Above, LinkedIn's Head Designer Amy Parnell interviewed by Adam Leventhal CTO of Delphix.

The recent Delphix Tech Talk series featured Amy Parnell, Director of User Experience at LinkedIn. Adam Leventhal, Delphix CTO interviewed Amy on several key topics that helped surface some of the best practices she has developed at LinkedIn over the five years she's worked there. She leads more than 60 designers.

Here's the link to the WebEx video recording of her excellent talk: Amy Parnell @Delphix Tech Talks

Some of the key points that stood out for me:

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Computer History: The Wearables Are New But The Challenges Are Old

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 18, 2015

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Clint Zeagler, co-curator and co-designer of the “On You: A Story of Wearable Computing” show at the Computer History Museum.

By Intel Free Press

While wearables may be the latest rising trend, the concept of technology that can be worn on one’s body has actually been around for decades. Some of those original concepts even faced the same challenges that current devices currently are up against. A new exhibit, “On You: A Story of Wearable Computing” at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, showcases how wearables have evolved and overcome many challenges during that time.

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What's Next When Every Company Is A Media Company? MaaS Media...

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 11, 2015

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I'll be speaking Wednesday afternoon at PR Summit in San Francisco on the topic "Every company is a media company." 

I coined that term nearly a decade ago. Now every company is exploring what it means to be a media company because it has to, it has no choice.

Ten years on, I'll now tell you what is next in this exciting, but badly misunderstood trend that is tearing up the media industry and reorganizing companies and industries.

Every company is a media company but media companies don't write about themselves all day long. Media companies provide a service, companies have to discover how to produce  Media as a Service (MaaS) otherwise it is self-serving.

MaaS media is the best media. Find out more Wednesday afternoon at my Master Class session.

Media Business Models: Paper And Electron? That's Creativ

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 30, 2015

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I recently received this well written pitch from Kaitlyn Garcia at VSC Consulting:

Print is dead. Magazines are dying.

Not so, thinks Creativ.

This magazine did something unique. They launched on mobile first, thanks to a large but relatively under the radar startup known as issuu, a platform that helps content creators build long form content vs. the short-form stuff we’re used to on apps like Flipboard.

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Super-Fast Energy-Saving Memory Chip Breakthrough Will Change Computing

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 29, 2015

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We will all be using a new type of memory chip soon reports Intel Free Press, thanks to the fruits of a partnership between Intel and Micron.

By Intel Free Press

After years of research by Intel and Micron Technology, the first new memory technology in 25 years has been announced. Called 3D XPoint it combines the best of DRAM and NAND (Flash) and promises to change computer designs.

"This has no predecessor and there was nothing to base it on," said Al Fazio, Intel senior fellow and director of Memory Technology Development. "It's new materials, new process architecture, new design, new testing. We're going into some existing applications, but it's really intended to completely evolve how it's used in computing."

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Twitter's Problems Could Harm SF Mayor's Re-Election

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 28, 2015

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Twitter is cleaning up in the Tenderloin.
 
Twitter's second quarter financial loss was smaller than Wall Street estimates but it also reported a large slowdown in the number of users and shares slid about 6% in after-market trading.

It reported its slowest rate of growth with the number of monthly active users up by just 1% or about 2 million to 304m compared with Q1. The company has lost several senior executives this year including its CEO. Twitter's share price at $34 is well below its IPO debut of $45.10. 

Foremski's Take: Twitter has become better at monetizing its large numbers of users but the lack of new user momentum, and endless leadership problems have left investors exasperated with the lack of progress.

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Analysis: The Nikkei Financial Times — Scale Matters

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 23, 2015

The Financial Times (FT) newspaper business has been sold by Pearson to Nikkei, the Japanese media group for $1.32 billion. The deal values the FT at nearly three-times the market valuation of other publicly traded newspaper groups.

Industry sources report that Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters and Axel Springer had placed bids but late entrant Nikkei won it 15 minutes before the announcement from front-runner Axel Springer, which had been in negotiations for about a year. 

The FT has about 737,000 mostly digital subscribers. Nikkei is Asia’s largest independent media business group. It publishes newspapers, magazines, books, database services and broadcasting. The Nikkei newspaper, its flagship publication has 3.12m subscribers.

Foremski’s Take: The sale of the Financial Times was expected as Pearson, its owner has been shedding non-educational assets, and also as its core educational business has slid further into trouble.

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Robots Will Still Need Humans In Factories Of The Future

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 21, 2015

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Above, modeling uncertainty in human-robot interaction at UC Berkeley.

The good news is that humans will still be needed in the factory of the future; the bad news is that humans will still be needed in the factory of the future. A report from Intel Free Press:

By Intel Free Press

Contrary to what you may see at the movies, robots will not come to rule the world any time soon, experts say. Ken Goldberg, University of California, Berkeley professor of industrial engineering and operations research, and Otherlab CEO Saul Griffith, spoke at an event on factories of the future: “Bold Bets: Tomorrow’s Industrial Entrepreneurship.” 

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Delphix Raises $75m Led By Fidelity And Wins Recognition In Top IT User Awards

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 13, 2015

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 Delphix HQ in Menlo Park.

Delphix, (my employer) is building some excellent momentum with the announcement of $75m in funding led by Fidelity Management and Research, with new investors Credit Suisse and The Kraft Group. This follows recent recognition in two top IT awards from Computer Weekly and Computing (I used to work for Computing).

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Tom Foremski is a Founding Fellow of the Society for New Communications Research - a Silicon Valley based think tank focused on developments in media and PR.


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