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

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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Is Robert Scoble Still A Blogger?

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 6, 2014


I've known Robert Scoble for a long time, nearly ten years. Shortly after I left the Financial Times in mid-2004 to become the first newspaper journalist to make a living as a blogger-journalist, we met in a Manhattan bar.

He was working at Microsoft at the time, and I remember we talked about how difficult it was to hide your true feelings when writing blog posts.It's easy to see if the writer is authentic or not — there seems to be a sort of Turing test at work, an authenticity test that can't be faked.

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Friday Night Market On Mid-Market Street A Big Hit - Mayor And Supes Attend

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 6, 2014

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The new Friday market on mid-Market Street was a big hit with hundreds of people enjoying drinks, food trucks, and shopping eclectic stalls on a warm autumn evening. Mayor Ed Lee and several supervisors arrived, too. I managed to speak briefly with the Mayor about some of the tech community issues and urged him to integrate the tech community and not keep it segregated. He agreed and said the Friday market was a step in that direction.


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Wired's Steven Levy Starts Work On 'Tech Hub' For Medium

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 5, 2014

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Steven Levy (center) introduced tech book publisher Tim O'Reilly at the 2014 Visionary Awards.

I was on a Bulldog Reporter panel this morning with former Wired senior writer Steven Levy and he spoke about his new gig at publishing platform Medium, which was co-founded by Ev Williams from Blogger and Twitter.

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Tempting Techies Out Of Their Citadels - New Friday Night Market

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 4, 2014

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There's a new mid-Market Street event starting Friday (Sept. 5) at 4pm across from Twitter's HQ (above). It might tempt the thousands of techies in the neighborhood (not just Twitter) to venture out and explore their neighborhood. They spend all day inside a free-food and free apartment cleaning paradise and only have to brave the tough world of San Francisco's poorest neighborhood for brief moments when arriving and leaving work. 

This Friday event might encourage exploration and new neighborhood connections. InsideScoop SF reports:

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Underground Cellar: A New Hybrid Startup? Clever Wine Marketing Boosts Commerce Platform

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 4, 2014


I recently met Jeffrey Shaw (above) , CEO of Underground Cellar, a startup focused on helping wineries sell wine online. He and his team has developed a great technology platform to allow wineries to market themselves and sell their wines but it is also using its own platform to sell wine on behalf of many wineries — using a clever business model.

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Malwarebytes' CEO Is A Startup Veteran At 24

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 4, 2014


Google images of Marcin Kleczynski, CEO of Malwarebytes.

Life is good for Marcin Kleczynski, from Chicago. At 24 years old, he recently raised $30 million for his anti-virus startup Malwarebytes, and he won Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year 2014 Northern California region award  for emerging sector companies.

He has also spent nearly a decade in business making him one of Silicon Valley's veteran startup entrepreneurs and one of its youngest. He's has several decades ahead of him to achieve even more. Here's my notes from a recent conversation with Marcin.

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NamePlace: Where Every Municipal Place Can Carry Your Name

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 3, 2014


NamePlace, founded by Lisa Padilla (above) CTO/CMO, and co-founder Ron Brown CEO, has come out of stealth mode with an interesting service aimed at helping thousands of cities in the US gather ad revenues from assets that they have in abundance: parks, community buildings, civic programs, Little League clubs, etc.

It's an online marketplace for offline civic marketing: a huge catalog of municipal naming rights.  And it offers large brands and local businesses, a rare opportunity to be seen doing good, and seen to be involved in supporting the vitality of local communities. Here are some notes from my recent meeting with Lisa Padilla:

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A Smart Bicycle Helmet Designed By Millennials

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 2, 2014


Intel Intern Aniket Borkar modeling the Smart Helmet

Students at Oregon State University and Intel interns collaborated 0n a smart helmet with life-saving features.

By Intel Free Press

For the past half year, a group of five undergraduate students from Oregon State University has been working with interns at Intel to create a smart safety helmet for cyclists. In a perfect world, the primary function of the helmet -- to detect a crash and communicate to emergency contacts -- would never be used.

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Exclusive: Japanese Giant NTT's Stealthy Global Ambitions Via Silicon Valley

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 28, 2014


NTT Group senior strategist Tsunehisa Okuno outlines NTT's future.

NTT Group, Japan's $112 billion communications giant, unveiled ambitious plans for expansion by leveraging its strengths in global communications infrastructure, its aggressive investments in its IT services division, and in the rapid monetization of key technologies and services created by its new Silicon Valley based research center, NTT Innovation Institute.

I was the only journalist at a recent strategy briefing at NTT's research and development center in Palo Alto. The company's representatives laid out an ambitious plan to grow out its overseas business into a $20 billion annual revenues operation by the end of its 2016 fiscal year (March 2017), a 33% jump from this year's projected $15 billion.

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Uber Sleazy Tactics: Should Investors Teach Startups Ethics?

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 26, 2014



Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Photo: JD Lasicka

Casey Newton in The Verge has a great story about how Uber, the San Francisco ride app startup, is trying to sabotage its rival Lyft by hiring people to call and cancel thousands of rides.

So much for the top innovator wins in Silicon Valley. These are very unethical and sleazy tactics:

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CNET's 'Vexed in the City' Series Examines SF's Divisive Tech Boom

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 25, 2014


CNET's reporters have published a series of articles under the title "Vexed in the City" examining the pressures on housing and community caused by the expansion of San Francisco's population of tech workers.

There are ten articles in the special report including an interview with Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce by CNET Executive Editor Charles Cooper:

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Intel Interns Compete In A Hackathon for Mathematics

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 25, 2014



Interns across Intel campuses in Arizona, California and Oregon participated in a two-day hackathon weekend, where the theme was "code for good." Interns were tasked with creating a game that was both fun to play and taught mathematics.

By Intel Free Press

Every summer, students from around the world take part in Intel's highly sought after internship program, where students gain working experience at a major technology company and Intel taps into young, brilliant minds. It's also an opportunity to learn about Intel through training and networking events that supplement actual project work.

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20-Year Anniversary Of Intel 'Bong' - Innovative Marketing Drove Billions In Chip Sales

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 19, 2014

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Dennis Carter, Intel's then-marketing chief commissioned the Intel "Bong" in 1994.

A three-second audio mnemonic composed in a Sherman Oaks garage helped Intel get inside just about everything...

By Intel Free Press

By some estimates, it's played once every five minutes somewhere in the world. A simple five-note mnemonic tune composed 20 years ago that, with the help of a clever marketing slogan, helped Intel become one of the most recognizable brands in the world.

To understand the story behind the Intel sound mark or 'bong' as it is known, you have to go back to the late 1980s.

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