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

Facebook's Fake News Problem: It's A Media Company Run By Engineers

Posted by Tom Foremski - November 9, 2017

During the recent hearings in Washington representatives of Facebook, Google and Twitter were asked if they were media companies-- they replied that they identify as technology companies.

Facebook and Google don't want to be classed as media companies because then they have to pay for the responsibilities of being media companies.

But these are rich companies and they can afford the extra costs of employing editorial staff. It would create a little bit of a level playing field with traditional media companies who have to carry the costs of civil responsibility.

Apart from expensive regulatory issues Facebook faces another problem: it’s a media company run by engineers.

This is why it has trouble dealing with media problems such as fake news. It doesn't have any media professionals that understand the issue and know what to do about it -- and have the seniority to execute. Facebook employs former journalists and editors but they were not hired to deal with fake news.

Engineering fake news...

The Pew Research Center recently surveyed 1,000 technologists about the problem of fake news and 51 percent said nothing can be done while 49 percent said the opposite. Which means these "tech experts" don't really know one way or the other.

Why not ask media professionals? It's a media problem not an engineering problem. After all, you wouldn't ask reporters about Javascript's scalability in web projects.

Facebook is a media company that doesn't know how to be a media company.

But it can learn. And it doesn't have to learn the hard way by making business mistakes that the media industry solved many decades ago.

There's several things that can be done very quickly that would go a long way to curbing fake news at Facebook, Google and elsewhere.

Engineers know how to code but media professionals know how to code the culture and spot the fakes. Media engineers will one day be a hot new profession.

- - -

Please see: Analysis: Facebook's 3,000 editors...Is it still a tech platform?

No good news for media industry in Internet Trends report

Media company or tech platform? The hugely important battle to redefine Facebook

Journalism+Silicon Valley: What Balance Of Power?

Taste Of Science: Meet Marie Skłodowska Curie In 'Humanity Needs Dreamers'

Posted by Tom Foremski - November 9, 2017

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This evening (November 9) you can see a free showing of “Humanity Needs Dreamers” an immersive science film in which you meet Marie Skłodowska Curie - the two-time Nobel prize winner — played by Susan Marie Frontczak.

I saw an early version of the film and it’s very good. Filmmaker Jen Myronuk and her team have produced a highly original work and the subject of the Polish scientist Marie Skłodowska Curie is very inspirational.

The screening is part of the Taste of Science educational festival and also commemorates the 150th birthday of Marie Skłodowska Curie.  

Humanity Needs Dreamers will be shown at 7pm - Monument House, 140 9th St, San Francisco - Light snacks and drinks - Free with rsvp.

Written and performed by former engineer & living history scholar Susan Marie Frontczak, Humanity Needs Dreamers presents a first-hand look at Curie's early life in Poland through her groundbreaking research in France.

Filmmaker Jen Myronuk will lead a post-screening Q & A with the performer live via Skype followed by trivia with prizes in celebration of Curie's 150th birthday, including an edible elements birthday cake.

We'll be joined by Holly Million, Founder of Artists United, on the global need for artists and scientists to collaborate plus ideas for bringing science stories to the stage.

SF Day 2: Marie Curie's 150th Birthday Film Screening — taste of science

Facebook Fake News Problem: It's A Media Company

Posted by Tom Foremski - November 7, 2017

Facebook (and Google) is finding it harder and harder to avoid being seen as a media company. I’ve called Facebook, Google, Yahoo and many others — high-tech enabled media companies for more than a decade. I’m glad others are seeing that: publishing pages of content with advertising around it is a media company. 

This video interview with Scott Galloway, marketing professor at NYU, underlies this issue of is Facebook a media company? If it were classed as a media company it would create a little bit of a level playing field with traditional media because it would have to hire a lot of humans and its costs would rise dramatically. If Facebook loses its platform status you can bet it will make sure Google does as well.

Scott Galloway, a marketing professor at NYU and author of the new book "The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google," discusses Facebook.

He says the company has embraced many aspects of a media company, but seems allergic to many of the associated responsibilities. He worries that the youthful management at Facebook doesn't have the historical context for the importance media plays in our society, citing Russia's manipulation of it during the 2016 presidential election. He doesn't buy the excuse that Facebook can't possibly screen its advertisers, and says they don't want to do it because it would hurt their profitability.

Scott Galloway says Facebook could screen its advertisers if it wanted - Business Insider

$GOOG: AI And Auto-Cars Can't Help A Rapidly Narrowing Future

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 26, 2017

Alphabet/$GOOG reported strong earnings per share for its third quarter handily beating Wall Street estimates as revenues per click fell faster than expected and traffic costs rose substantially.

Natalie Gagliordi reports

The tech giant reported a net income of $6.73 billion, with non-GAAP earnings were $9.57 per share on revenue of $27.8 billion, when including traffic acquisition costs (TAC). On average, Wall Street was looking for Q3 earnings of $8.83 per share with $27.2 billion in revenue.

Foremski's Take: $GOOG shares jumped more than $41 or 4% in after hours trading as investors welcomed the unexpected bonus of $1.23 earnings per share.

This ignores an ongoing trend that should cause concern for investors: Google continues to make less revenue per click but somehow finds ways of showing ever more numbers of advertisements.

Every quarter Google has to find more ways to get more ads in front of people because each ad makes less money. Its traffic acquisition costs rose substantially this quarter. How is this a sustainable business model?

As Google's ads fall in value it needs to find new places to show more ads. Yet the huge shift in Google users to mobile screens severely limits how much more advertising can be shown. 

How long can Google keep finding more clicks to make up for less effective advertising?

$GOOG needs to fix this time bomb in its core business because none of its other businesses such as cloud computing services are anywhere near being profitable enough - or scalable enough - to diversify away from a rapidly narrowing future: running out of places to place ever less effective ads.

Big Drop in Tech, Media And Telecoms Deals

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 23, 2017

Acquired 56

Europe’s Brexit problem could be to blame…

There's a big slowdown in dealmaking in the global Technology, Media &Telecommunications (TTM) sector with the value dropping by $92 billion or nearly a quarter during the first nine months of this year reports Mergermarket.

There have been $299.5bn of deals compared with $391.1bn during the year ago period. The number of deals: 2,370 held steady.

The US has the largest market share at 43% of global deal value with 892 transactions worth $127.9bn including the largest deal of the year so far: The $14.4bn acquisition of Scripps By Discovery Communications.

Europe reported 813 deals valued at $47bn and is likely to end the year at a record low market share due to uncertainty from Brexit.

Elizabeth Lim, senior analyst at Mergermarket singled out Japanese giant Softbank in a "buying frenzy" acquiring a wide range of companies in AI, chips, and robotics. Softbank has acquired 26 companies so far this year — three times last year's investments.

She included a quote from Masayoshi Son, CEO of SoftBank:

"Every industry that mankind created will be redefined. The medical industry, automobile industry, the information industry of course. Every industry that mankind ever defined and created, even agriculture, will be redefined."

The top three deals in the global TTM sector for the first nine months of 2017:

  1. $14.4bn Discovery Communications acquiring Scripps Networks Interactive.
  2. $12.7bn Idea Cellular acquiring Vodafone India
  3. $10.6bn Bain Capital consortium acquiring Toshiba Memory stake.

Mergermarket report.

Foremski’s Take: Fewer big deals means bad news for Wall Street bankers but small deals are good news for Silicon Valley’s startups because it means exits for the investors. And capital comes back to go around again.  

Fewer big deals could signify something else: there are few large target companies left that are worth acquiring. And will there be others to take their place? Startups are rarely able to grow larger than 100 people before being acquired.

Digital vulnerability…

There’s another trend at work with a longer horizon: The tech industry is becoming the media industry as an example of how the transformation of all business into digital businesses means every industry is vulnerable to high tech large scale business platforms such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and maybe Apple. 

If you are a top competitor in the bricks and mortar world,  you would have to build stores and warehouses and expand into new geographies — scaling takes years. In the digital world — if you are the better competitor — business scaling takes just days. And scale always wins. 

The global digital transformation that is underway — of all businesses across all industries — leaves every company vulnerable to disruption from highly efficient business tech platforms. Take a look at the digitization of the media industry. It will be repeated in other industries.  Deal flow value will shrink again.

Rent the Runway CEO: Gender Discrimination Is Larger Workplace issue Than Sexual Harassment

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 20, 2017

JHYMAN 00027

Jennifer Hyman, CEO of Rent the Runway clothing service said that she was the victim of sexual harassment but that gender discrimination is the larger issue and it’s not being addressed.

Hyman was speaking to 200 female startup CEOs at the Project Entrepreneur Summit in San Francisco.  The conference had to turn away more than 500 applicants.  

Project Entrepreneur is a joint venture between Rent the Runway and financial services giant UBS with the goal of creating a pipeline of highly effective female startup CEOs with the skills to build fast growing companies. 

Sexual harassment can happen at anytime, she said. “It happened once when I had already raised $80 million and I had revenues. He then went to my board and tried to get me fired. He tried to destroy me and my business.”

She had immediately reported the incident to her board. “I was lucky in that I had great relations with my board and they supported me completely.”

She advised female CEOs to speak about such incidents from the very beginning. They should not feel trapped or alone. She said that gender discrimination is the larger issue and urged her audience to pay attention to gender diversity within their companies.

The gender pay gap is substantial and discrimination is found in the latest tech jobs. A report in 2016 from Glassdoor found that many tech jobs have wider gender pay discrimination than other professions. 

She said that male CEOs are treated with more respect by investors and by their own staff.  And male CEOs have a greater margin to make mistakes. She also criticized the lack of female visionaries quoted in the media. 

Some organizations such as Silicon Valley Forum do name female visionaries in their annual awards which honor four recipients. Over the 20 year history of the SVForum Visionary Awards the majority have been male but in 2017 the majority were female.

Three women were named a 2017 Visionary: Linda Rottenberg – CEO and Founder of Endeavor; Neri Oxman professor at MIT’s Media Lab; Megan Smith U.S. CTO. The fourth is Steve Jurvetson partner at venture firm DFJ. 

Hyman co-founded Rent the Runway with Jennifer Fleiss and launched in November 2009. The company has funding of more than $176 million — the latest Series E raised $60 million in December 2016 followed $60 million in December 2014.

Project Entrepreneur organizes half-day conferences for female founders of very early startups. They are taught many skills such as: how to pitch their ideas; the metrics that investors want to see; how to recruit a board of directors. Most of the teaching is done by female executives. 

The organization also hosts a startup competition with 200 applicants and five winners offered $10,000 each and a five-week intensive accelerator program in New York City in April.  Application deadline is November 27 and the startups must have one woman founder, be at least 50% female-owned with less than $100,000 in funding.

- - -

Please see: Big jump in women on tech company boards

Crunchies Awards for Silicon Valley startups focus on diversity

Large gender bias in US tech salaries reports Glassdoor

 

CultureWatch: A Crowded Bus All To Myself

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 17, 2017

BusStop 1578

When I was commuting to Menlo Park last year my journey would start on the San Francisco 38 Geary bus. It was always crowded and I’d be fortunate to squeeze in.

I remember one particular gorgeous sunny morning and I’m on a very crowded bus. I look around and everyone’s eyes are on their phones.  

I’m one of the tallest on the bus yet I don’t see a single person — across the entire double-length bus — looking up or around. Everyone’s eyes are down — subservient — I can’t meet anyone’s gaze at all.

I’m thinking, wow! I have this whole bus to myself. Everyone’s mind is somewhere else.

I love this photo of Marc Zuckerberg strolling with a huge grin through a large auditorium where everyone is wearing VR goggles except him.

It amuses me to think that Zuckerberg wants reality all for himself —  a private domain — while everyone else is immersed in manufactured virtual realities.  Just like he buys up houses next to his so no one can see into his world.  

RealityZucks

 

Zuckerberg’s goal is to have 1 billion people in virtual reality writes Dean Takahashi in VentureBeat:

“We all have limits to our reality, and opening up more of those experiences to all of us is not isolating,” [Zuckerberg] said. “It is freeing.”

NewImage

- - - 

I’m discovering a new appreciation for reality — the original kind. I like its razor-sharp definition, it has many levels of challenging gameplay plus the tactile feedback is exquisite.  Reality — it’s the real thing — the others are made by others. 

The Automation Of Jobs And The Beach...

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 16, 2017

About a year or more ago I was at an event that featured a panel of top Artificial Intelligence  (AI) experts. It was held at SRI International — Silicon Valley’s famous and at times, infamous research institute— responsible for the spun-out Nuance voice recognition software used in Siri and other responsive voice-apps. 

During question time several people voiced concern for AI replacing their jobs.  I raised my hand and told the panel I was also concerned: I was worried my job wouldn’t be automated. 

The panel was confused. I explained: “What if my job isn’t automated and I still have to go to work while my friends are all at the beach?”

They asked me about my job. I said I worked as a reporter. Oh, nothing to worry about, they happily assured me. “We already have software that rewrites press releases,” one of the panelists told me.

I said thanks! But reporters sometimes do more than just rewrite press releases. (I was more than a little shocked by their view of the reporters role.)

I was reminded of that SRI panel by this infographic sent to me earlier today. It seemed like a way to jumpstart automating your job and get to the beach faster :) 

IFC7INFOGRAPHIC

  

http://www.infieldclipboard.com/2017/10/02/7-steps-to-automate-your-internal-processes-infographic/

$GOOG's X And The Science Of Media Distraction

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 12, 2017

TheAtlantic.png

The November issue of The Atlantic magazine celebrates its 160th anniversary with a cover story on a search for the Science of Creativity —  “Inside Google’s Moonshot Factory”.

The Atlantic's Senior Editor Derek Thompson, “was granted rare access to the secretive lab at X to see what it can teach us about breakthroughs and the lost art of invention.”

 It's a well written piece:

A snake-robot designer, a balloon scientist, a liquid-crystals technologist, an extra dimensional physicist, a psychology geek, an electronic-materials wrangler, and a journalist walk into a room…

The setting is X, the so-called moonshot factory at Alphabet, the parent company of Google… The people in this room have a particular talent: They dream up far-out answers to crucial problems.

 Thompson’s conclusion after several days in the lab: 

“Insisting on quick products and profits is the modern attitude of innovation that X continues to quietly resist.”

Foremski’s Take: There’s little that’s secretive about Google’s X initiatives. The company gets enormous attention for its far out ideas in far space such as mining asteroids and reducing greenhouse gases with stem-cell burgers. Its most popular one is the self-driving car initiative which gets so much news coverage you’d think Google was a car maker. 

It has been so incredibly successful in publicizing its futuristic ideas that reporters rarely ever report on its actual business.

Google makes no money from any of its lab projects. They have absolutely no material impact on its business today and well into the future.  And as Thompson noted,  Google is in no hurry to make them into profitable businesses. So why do they exist?

Look over there…

There’s no need to develop those ideas further because they already serve a valuable purpose — they are engineered to be a series of clickbait distractions for reporters to write stories about science and innovation.

Look over there!… that car’s driving itself! It’s an easier story than delving into how Google made $90 billion last year.

If reporters looked closely at Google’s business they would find better and more important stories that impact our world and our communities today — not in a fictitious future.

However, few reporters understand how Google makes money — ask them something basic such as to name Google’s two largest business groups and they cannot. It means they cannot even start to understand the deeper complexities of how money is made on the Internet.

Google’s X is not about the science of creativity — it’s about the use of science as a distraction of public attention — from a very secretive business organization controlled by insiders that influences industries and the economies of nations.   IMHO, it’s a better, bigger story. I’d rather be working on the biggest stories I can find.

- - -

Please see: Analysis: Google fails to stop slide in ad value

Innovative Ideas Will Eliminate $5bn In Costs Says General Electric

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 12, 2017

JoshMook 00030

Ideas generated by General Electric’s workforce will produce more than $5 billion in production cost savings said Joshua Mook (above), engineering leader at GE speaking at a conference in San Francisco for users of Brightidea’s innovation management platform.

Mook said that the use of advanced 3D printers is creating disruption in manufacturing. And by combining the ideas and knowledge of GE's vast ranks of technologists, new products can quickly be produced: such as aircraft engines with hundreds of fewer parts, higher fuel anyone and lower weight.

"If I have 300 fewer parts that means I don't need to spend months signing 300 contracts with suppliers. I can print the parts that I need. And my inventory costs have almost gone away - all that cash siting in warehouses is now free to be invested," said Mook.

Innovative ideas and how to harvest and harness them are the key concerns of Mook and his team. The lessons learned are being rolled out across the company.

Because of its earlier success, Mook's team was given the task of finding $5 billion in productivity cost savings over a ten year period across the company. By engaging GE staff in generating ideas and also offering them a percentage of the savings the idea generates - it took just 9 months to identify and start implementing billions of dollars in cost savings.

"We have a backlog of more than 1000 great ideas that have already been approved by our committees that are waiting for resources."

Mook said that GE realized several years ago that its global manufacturing groups could be disrupted by advances in 3D printing and so it formed the GE Additive business group "to disrupt GE before anyone else did."

GE engineers have the freedom to come up with ideas and get the funding and resources internally. But it requires people that are comfortable with that type of workplace culture.

"We are good at choosing people that are the best fit for the job rather than the best at what they do," Mook said.

Brightidea's Synthesize conference featured several large users of its idea management platform including US Bank and Cisco Systems.

Chip Sales hit Record Levels - Costs Of Innovation Rise

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 5, 2017

Younggordonmoore

Gordon Moore’s Law describes the economics of innovation

Demand for chips is huge with chip prices jumping higher every month and shortages of key components such as memory halting product manufacturing lines. The Semiconductor Industry Association this week reported a record $35 billion in August sales -- a jump of 24% -- the thirteenth consecutive monthly increase over the year ago period.

John Neuffer, head of the Semiconductor Industry Association, said:

"Sales in August increased across the board, with every major regional market and semiconductor product category posting gains... Memory products continue be a major driver of overall market growth, but sales were up even without memory in August."

A big jump in sales doesn't mean a big jump in units sold -- it means prices have risen sharply. It means higher prices for new servers, network equipment, consumer electronics, to put it simply: the entire digital fabric of our future -- including all of its promises of advanced AI, superior healthcare and a myriad other projects of technological progress -- will cost more; and there will be less of it. And there's no guarantee that prices will come down this time -- as they usually do.

This problem of chip shortages and higher prices is normally solved quite quickly by the chip industry.

Every boom spurs an over-investment of capital in new chip fabs and the resulting glut crashes prices and the bust cycle begins. But the availability of cheap chips creates new applications and new markets and new investments and new progress is made. This has been the economic cycle that underpins the innovative leaps and bounds of the technological miracles that enable our modern world.

Cheap chips...

The semiconductor industry does not get the recognition it deserves for its role as the foundational technology that has fueled the engines of innovation in every industry and in every market. Every two years the chips get twice as fast at half the cost. Sloppy software runs like a gazelle -- and faster chips makes for a a faster route to innovation of all types.

For more than 50 years the chip industry has been vital to our fast pace of innovation and in making technologies affordable on massive scales. But this time those cheap chips might be a memory and prices could remain high and shortages lengthy and even ruinous to some companies.

The chip industry is struggling with sub10 nanometer manufacturing and the challenges are becoming ever more expensive to overcome. The slowing of Moore's Law means stalled innovation: AI needs brute force computing power, so does scientific research such as drug discovery; and so do a trillion business processes. Computing costs are not zero even though programmers write code as if they were.

We don't have anything that can drive innovation at the same pace, and as broadly, as the chip industry. It means that the future will be delayed and the fruits of innovation will be far less affordable and shareable.

Former Intel CEO Dies In His Sleep - Paul Otellini's Legacy

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 3, 2017

Paulotelliniwafer

Paul Otellini, the former CEO of Intel, the world’s second largest chipmaker, died in his sleep the company announced Tuesday - he was ten days shy of 67 years old.

His retirement from Intel in May 2013 capped nearly 40 years working at Intel. He was on the fast track early in his career as Technical Assistant to Andy Grove, CEO and Chairman, and then served in key leadership positions in Intel's business groups.

Otellini was Intel’s fifth CEO but the first chief executive without a technical background  — he held a Bachelor Degree in Economics for University of San Francisco. He was also the first Intel CEO to retire suddenly, leaving the board to scramble in a search for his successor. Intel's CEOs are forced to retire at 65 years old and then transition to a chairman role.

There is always a planned succession but Otellini surprised the board with his early retirement And he did not serve as Chairman.

He was replaced by Brian Krzanich - an executive with an engineering background.

Krzanich said. "He was the relentless voice of the customer in a sea of engineers, and he taught us that we only win when we put the customer first."

His legacy at Intel stands out in several ways. He had to layoff about 10,500 staff in 2006 -- the company's largest layoffs.

He admits he missed the importance of the smart phone market where rival ARM scored major design wins. 

And several business initiatives had to be closed or scaled back including the Itanium microprocessor -- which cost billions of dollars to develop and support. 

Intel's $7.68 billion acquisition of McAfee security software firm in 2010 was spun out earlier this year into a joint venture with private investment fund TPG.

Intel’s move back into the chip foundry business in which it makes custom chips has yet to show results in terms of clients and revenues.

During Otellini’s tenure Intel continued its dominance as the world’s largest chipmaker. Earlier this year it lost the top spot to Samsung. 

Otellini was also a current member of Google's Board of Directors.

From Intel:

Paul and his wife, Sandy, were married for 30 years. He is survived by his wife; his son, Patrick; and his daughter, Alexis. Since he retired in 2013, Otellini dedicated time to mentoring young people and being involved with several philanthropic and charitable organizations, including the San Francisco Symphony and San Francisco General Hospital Foundation.

https://newsroom.intel.com/news-releases/paul-s-otellini-1950-2017/

Elsevier Adds Fourth California Acquisition:

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 15, 2017

Elsevier, the European publishing giant has acquired Bepress, a 73 person academic publishing service based in Berkeley, California for an undisclosed amount as it expands its publishing, analytics and metadata services for leading US universities.

Elsevier acquires a business with more than 500 academic institutions as customers and about $20m in annual revenues based on an annual subscription model averaging about $37,000. This compares favorably with the cost of a full-time IT person to run the publishing services using open source software which is the alternative choice.

Story continues...


The Future Will Be Voice Operated Only When Digital Assistants Learn To Use Apps

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 1, 2017

Voice

Our voice is important for Democracy… and in getting more productivity from our technologies.

The future sounds a little like Cold War Eastern Europe as the digital assistants try to listen-in and construct individual dossiers on each of us — to sell us goods and services rather than sell us out as secret policemen — but then again there’s all types of data buyers and digital assistants will only get better.

I have been reading some of the reviews of the improved and updated digital assistants — a growing crowd — and there is a common theme of disappointment.

Steve Kovach at Business Insider says it’s time to admit digital assistants are overrated:

The hype around digital assistants is real. But for now, it's just that. Hype. And it’s arguably the more overrated than any other emerging technology…digital assistants have turned into a fragmented mess and they're all little more than a minor convenience, assuming they work at all.

The biggest disappointment seems to be that they all handle applications poorly.  Yet we live in a 24/7 app world and each of us rely on dozens of daily apps to get work, life and the people and things we love organized. 

Story continues...


Hertz Foundation: 6 Decades of Finding And Funding Top Scientific Talent

Posted by Tom Foremski - June 27, 2017

JohnHertz

The SF/Bay Area based Hertz Foundation has found a way to surface the best young scientists and fund their work which accelerates the timeline for new breakthroughs. It’s attracted attention from the GatesFoundation with a $5m grant.

John Hertz is known as the eponymous founder of one of the largest car rental companies in the world; less well known is his foundation which in its 60 year history has discovered and funded hundreds of talented young scientists across applied disciplines in science, maths, engineering and biology.

Every year the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation chooses 12 to 15 Hertz Fellows from more than 750 merit-based graduate candidates.It is one of the most prestigious awards in academia and valued for its no-strings attached funding.

Story continues...


More Bad News For Media Industry In KPCB Internet Report

Posted by Tom Foremski - June 1, 2017

Internet trends 2017 report 15 638

There's no good news for media companies in the latest Internet Trends report from VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as Google and Facebook share an astounding 85% of all new Internet advertising.

Last year it was 74% — an acceleration that demonstrates the competitive advantage of scale these companies have in the media sector or as Mary Meeker the report's author succinctly writes: "Big Get Bigger & Go After Other Bigs."

Meeker is a partner at KPCB, one of the first VC firms in Silicon Valley's famed Sand Hill Rd. She was a popular Wall Street analyst during the dotcom boom.

Here are some of the very bad Internet trends for those media companies that are not Google or Facebook:

Story continues...


Analysis: Facebook's 3,000 New Editors - Is it still a tech platform?

Posted by Tom Foremski - May 4, 2017

Timothy Lee at Vox reports:

Facebook is hiring 3,000 people to stop users from broadcasting murder and rape

Facebook has faced a string of incidents where users have filmed shocking events — like rape and murder — and uploaded them to the site. Critics argued the company wasn’t doing enough to address the problem.

Today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took action to address those complaints, announcing that the company was going to hire 3,000 people — on top of the 4,500 staff it already had — to help it respond more quickly to reports of abusive behavior in the platform.

 

Facebook, Google, Youtube,  and Twitter define themselves as platform companies and not as media companies for a very important reason: as a media technology platform they are not legally responsible for publishing content posted by users as long as there are mechanisms to flag and remove the content.

Story continues...


Spiceworks Survey Of IT Workers: Women Are Better Educated But Paid Less

Posted by Tom Foremski - May 3, 2017

Women in IT jobs are more likely to have a college degree than their male colleagues but are paid about 6 per cent less.

The survey commissioned by Spiceworks, a professional network for IT workers, found that despite the salary and education gap between genders, most IT professionals are happy with their jobs and with their colleagues.

The survey polled 607 IT staff in the US with jobs such as IT managers, network/ system administrators and help desk technicians. 

Here are some of the findings:

- Women earn a median salary that's about 6% below male colleagues. It's a much smaller pay gap than in the US average of 20% lower.

- 82% of women have a college degree or higher, compared with 69% of men. The salary data shows that a college degree only provides an average of 4% extra pay, likely due to the female underpayment.

"In the era of technology dependence and heightened security breaches, prioritizing all tech talent, regardless of gender, is more important than ever," said Peter Tsai, senior technology analyst at Spiceworks. "To attract and retain top tech workers, employers must compensate IT professionals based on their skillsets and experience without bias."

IT salaries are not as high as might be expected:

-- The majority make under $75,000 a year. About one in six earn under $35,000; 10% earn between $75,000 and $100,000; 3% earn more than $100,000.

- 41% said they are underpaid.

- IT managers reported a media slary of $65,000.

- Network/System Admins earned a media salary of $54,000.

- Help Desk Technicians earned about $40,000 a year.

The most common degrees were Computer and Information Science (71%), business (11%), Liberal Arts (5%) and Engineering (4%). One-third said they had not planned for an IT career.

It can be a stressful job:

- 83% said they were somewhat stressed, 29% reported high stress, but 62% said they were happy in their job.

Small and medium sized companies had slightly happier IT workers than large enterprises.

There are more results from the survey here.

Alphabet/Google Q1 Fails To Reverse Ad Value Slide

Posted by Tom Foremski - April 27, 2017

Alphabet/Google announced first quarter financial results that beat Wall Street analyst estimates. But the jump in revenues hides a large problem.

From Matthew Lynley at Techcrunch

The Google core business is, as usual, quite boringly efficient. We tend to see the same story every quarter — the value of each ad (cost-per-click) goes down while the number of ad impressions goes up, and Google makes a ton of money in the process.

The financial results contain Google’s little huge secret:

Google is incredibly bad at creating ad value — it is forced to grow revenues by chasing quantity over quality.

From Q1 2017:

Clicksdown

Alphabet/Google is making huge profits but all web users lose because to make money Google has to find new ways of grabbing attention for less effective ads.

The tens of thousands of the world’s top computer engineers employed at Google have quarter-after-quarter failed to reverse this loss in ad value. Instead Google distracts the curious by pointing to self-driving cars and “moon-shots” that have nothing to do with its core business. 

This loss of ad value hasn’t harmed Google’s profits but it greatly affects the media industry which faces high content production costs. 

Wasting people’s time on ever larger numbers of ineffective ads is not a sustainable business strategy — and it is unethical, imho. Yet this is the only way this company knows how to drive revenues. 

Look over there — that car is driving itself!

The web user experience stinks

With a ransom malware epidemic and suspiciously fake content everywhere — added to an expanding universe of trillions of crappy ads — the web experience feels ever more corrupt and icky than sticky. And watch what you touch — even hyperlinks from friends are suspicious. If you can’t trust the hyperlink there is no web (and no Google).

As the web experience becomes less appealing people will likely rediscover the delights of a simple walk along a street or in a park —  experiencing the high-definition multi-sense reality of reality. No ad blocker needed. But watch where you step. 

The Endangered CMO: Survival Tips From Microsoft's Grad Conn

Posted by Tom Foremski - April 27, 2017

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The average job tenure of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) continues to decline and is now less than half that of the CEO’s average of 7.2 years. It’s tough being a CMO in today’s fractured media landscape and its ephemeral social media trends — repeatable and predictable marketing processes are hard to find.

I recently met Grad Conn, CMO of Microsoft USA and I was impressed by what he had to say and his approach. He was speaking at a media roundtable dinner organized by Sprinklr — an enterprise-ready social media tool set used by Conn and a team of more than 150 social media managers.

The first thing Conn told me was that he has been in his job nearly twice long as the industry average. Here’s some of my notes from the conversation and some insights into Conn’s approach to social media.

- Conn said that he had to accept some harsh facts that much of what he had learned about marketing in school and as a former P&G product marketing executive no longer worked or had lost much of its effectiveness. 

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S&P Teams With Girls in Tech To Launch Free Tech School For Females

Posted by Tom Foremski - April 5, 2017

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S&P Global, a top financial services firm, has teamed with Girls in Tech to offer free online classes for 350 “girls and women around the world.”

The eight-week course is focused on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills. Students only need a web browser and an Internet connection.

Adriana Gascoigne, Founder and CEO of Girls in Tech, said: "No matter where she may be located, what social constraints she may have, we want to make sure that all girls and women have access to technical skills that will define their future."

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The Limits Of Persuasive Realities: Hacking The Brain Stem With VR Marketing Technologies

Posted by Tom Foremski - March 8, 2017

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Successful technologies start life by being good enough to be useful. Could some technologies become unbelievably good at what they do—and become too good to be used?

Todays marketing technologies have improved greatly thanks to all that personal data we constantly give away. And they are about to rocket to a new level.

With the addition of Virtual Reality environments bolstered by artificial intelligence and personalization — it will be possible to create the Dream Marketing Machine.

Prime the Dream Machine with any Brand and it will reliably churn out passionate and emotionally committed customers. You’ll get Fanboys and Fangirls by the stadium-load and for pennies on the dollar that Apple pays in marketing costs.

We could be very close to this Dream Marketing Machine. 

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Silicon Valley Innovators Warned About Hyperscale Tech Companies

Posted by Tom Foremski - February 17, 2017

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We are in an era of “Hyperscale companies” such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple that limit opportunities for startups warns Sam Altman, head of Y Combinator,  Silicon Valley’s influential investment group, accelerator and educator. 

The warning was part of a long 2017 YC Annual Letter:

Altman wrote: “We’re now in the era of hyperscale technology companies…
Companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple, and Microsoft have powerful advantages.”

“I expect that they will continue to do a lot of things well, have significant data and computation advantages, be able to attract a large percentage of the most talented engineers, and aggressively buy companies that get off to promising starts."

This situation “is unlikely to reverse without antitrust action.” 

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The Crunchies: An Aspirational Fantasy Of Startup Diversity; Plus Chelsea Peretti's App Ideas

Posted by Tom Foremski - February 7, 2017

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Chelsea Peretti (above) a comedic actress, introduced the 10th Annual Crunchies — awards celebrating startups and VCs in Silicon Valley — and managed some decent jokes poking fun at the techie audience and coming up with some great app ideas. (The final one is a killer app — people will need full-cycle tracking of nutrients to create total body datasets. See my video here.)

Diversity was once again the bold theme of the event as seen in the careful selections of the nominees for the awards. Time and again the stage was filled with winners: startup teams of mixed color and gender. 

People viewing from outside Silicon Valley would be tremendously impressed that our young startups are so progressive and clearly want to build the future the right way.

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Do No Evil, Google And The Year Of The Monkey...

Posted by Tom Foremski - January 31, 2017

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According to the Chinese zodiac Google became a public company in the year of the Monkey, in August 2004.

In Western culture we are familiar with the story of the three monkeys who very wisely: see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil. In some Asian cultures there is a fourth monkey: Do no evil.

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The Summer Of Love - Photos And Stories - SF Leads In Culture Not Just Tech

Posted by Tom Foremski - January 26, 2017

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 The California Historical Society has opened a Summer of Love photo exhibit and is collecting people’s stories about this very important cultural event.

To riff on the famous call to action voiced by Timothy Leary at the Human Be-In "turn on, tune in, drop out", we invite you to "log on, tune in, and join us" in this journey. If you have something to share—your first hand experience of the Summer of Love, an event you are planning, a book or article you are writing, or your memories of the era— or if you are interested in supporting this effort, please contact us.

It’s not just in technology that this small little place in the world leads the world. 

Here’s more information from Anthea Hartig, Head of the California Historical Society:

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The #FakeNews Effect On Commerce And Critical Thinking

Posted by Tom Foremski - January 26, 2017

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The issue of fake news is extremely serious and it requires immediate attention.  Its proliferation will undermine trust in everything. Everything will look fake. Including the truth.

Without reliable and trusted information:

- Consumers and commercial buyers will delay purchases.

- Businesses won’t have good information for investment decisions.

- Shareholders won’t have a clear view into investment risks.

The rich get richer…

The winners will be special self-interest interest groups — a variety of organizations with nefarious agendas. They will do very well in a fake news future and will learn to operate with impunity. Because even if outed — the truth will look fake. And anti-truth technologies will act as a red herring for a lot of censorship of valid content. 

It’s very bad for the economy. Fake news is also bad for your head. 

"The point of modern propaganda... is to exhaust your critical thinking"

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The Rise Of Fake News Amidst The Fall Of News Media

Posted by Tom Foremski - January 24, 2017

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The Fake News epidemic is a direct result of our continued failure to create a stable business model around professional news media. We seem to have forgotten that the news media sector continues to be in turmoil.

Take a look at a few of the headlines above from last year. And in just the first few days of 2017:

- Medium — one of the most popular online publishing sites says it will cut 50 jobs and change to an unspecified business model. Medium was founded by Ev Williams, founder of Blogger, co-founder of Twitter.

It doesn't pay for much of its content yet this digital-first social media savvy media company is struggling. All media companies are in the disruptive path - not just digital.

Ev Williams wrote:

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US Venture Capital Investments Plunge In Fourth Quarter 2016

Posted by Tom Foremski - January 11, 2017

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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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