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

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. 

Story continues...

Event:'Bringing Together SF Community and Technology Leaders'

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 15, 2014

SarahAustin 1 5

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:

Story continues...

The Startup Spirit Of St. Louis

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 15, 2014

Ulevitch 1

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

Intel Developer Forum In Images...And Backpacks

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 12, 2014

Untitled 9

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

Story continues...

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

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 12, 2014

Untitled 225

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."

Story continues...

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

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 6, 2014

Mid Market 55

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.


Story continues...

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

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 5, 2014

Untitled 74

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.

Story continues...

Tempting Techies Out Of Their Citadels - New Friday Night Market

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 4, 2014

Twitter 105

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 19, 2014

Dennis carter

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.

Story continues...

Multimedia Pioneer Marc Canter Launches ThingFace Venture For Authoring Mobile Apps

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 14, 2014

MarcCanterStage1 1

Marc Canter on stage and screen at a panel moderated by Dan Farber at the Mac 30 Anniversary event in January 2014.

Marc Canter, a leading pioneer of multimedia technologies with his work at Macromedia 25 years ago, has launched ThingFace, a startup focused on authoring mobile apps across all major platforms.

Canter says he hopes to emulate the power and popularity of authoring tools he helped develop at Macromedia, which led to an explosion of creativity in producing interactive media. At the time, CR-ROM based media titles were the only way rich interactive media could be distributed and presented on a computer. San Francisco in the late 1980s and early 1990s was at the epicenter of CDROM multimedia development and Canter was its leading figure.


Story continues...

Luca Penati Leaves Ogilvy Joins Weber Shandwick/Mediaco (EC=MC)

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 12, 2014

Luca Penati

Luca Penati (above), a former senior executive at Ogilvy has joined Weber Shandwick as General Manager of its San Francisco and Silicon Valley offices. He spent 9 years at Ogilvy, mostly as Global Managing Director of Ogilvy's technology practice. 

Story continues...

Strike Social Interview: 'Silicon Valley VCs Don't understand Advertising'

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 11, 2014


I had an interesting conversation with Patrick McKenna (above), CEO and co-founder of Strike Social, a Los Angeles based startup that focuses on Youtube-based advertising by large brands.

The company is able to analyze a brand's YouTube channel and also identify other YouTube channels that are a good fit for the client. Its technology works exclusively with Google's TrueView metric and AdWords. Here are some notes from our conversation:

Story continues...

Tata Drives STEM Growth Across Silicon Valley And US Schools

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 11, 2014

Tata Consulting Services (TCS), employing more than 300,000 IT consultants, is celebrating the sixth year of its goIT student technology awareness program, which tries to build early awareness of computing skills, on August 13th at Cherrywood Elementary School in San Jose.

The program has involved 7,000 students in Silicon Valley and in 10 additional US regions, a total of 35 school districts. Tata says that,

Story continues...

There's No Free Lunch: Judge Halts $325m Settlement By Silicon Valley Giants With 64,000 Tech Workers As Too Small

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 11, 2014

Facebook  1 of 1

Facebook HQ - Mark Zuckerberg refused to take part in illegal scheme against tech workers.

Some of Silicon Valley's largest and most profitable companies are facing a serious setback in their attempt to finally settle a hugely embarrassing class action lawsuit alleging a conspiring to cap salary levels and limit job prospects for more than 64,000 tech workers.

Late Friday in San Jose, US District Judge Lucy Koh said the $324.5m settlement was too low given that the case against the plaintiffs had strengthened and that it was less than a $20m settlement paid by Lucasfilm, Intuit, and Pixar who were also part of the collusion. It would need to increase by at least $55m to $380m. The original suit asked for $3 billion in damages rising to $9bn under antitrust penalty laws.

Dan Levine at Reuters reported:

Story continues...

A Nevada Developer Creates Fingerprint Wordpress Login

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 8, 2014

Sec blog banner lay 03

I recently received this note from Pablo at Secsign Technologies... It looks like an interesting application especially for the enterprise market where security is a never ending battle. 

Story continues...

Businessweek Defends Silicon Valley And Its 'Bro' Culture

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 7, 2014


There's a lot of backlash out there around Silicon Valley and I think it's largely because of the hypocrisy in techies claiming to be changing the world yet they can't change anything in the very places where they live.

Silicon Valley cities and schools face the same problems and high drop out rates that others face around the nation. What's the point of communities living with tech companies if there's little benefit? Twitter demands huge tax relief in one of the poorest neighborhoods in San Francisco. 

Silicon Valley's halitosis of hypocrisy stinks and it is becoming a laughing stock. Mike Judge's "Silicon Valley" on HBO is very funny -- because it's very true.

Joel Stein at Businessweek comes to the defense of Silicon Valley and its predominately male techies in this month's cover story. However, he ends up reinforcing many negative perceptions of Silicon Valley rather than changing them. Here are some extracts:

Story continues...

The Risks In Native Advertising Subterfuge: The Loss Of Brand Identity And Trust

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 7, 2014


A brand's identity is unique.

Native advertising has become the poster child of content marketing as companies try to raise awareness of their brands through promotional content that looks similar to the native content of a media site.

Where is their brand as differentiator? 

Story continues...

If urgent: send text or call 415 336 7547

Bacon's names Silicon Valley Watcher one of the
most influential blogs in the US.

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.


The Holmes Report names Tom Foremski one of the top 25 Innovators of 2013.

Tom Foremski #28 on San Francisco - Silicon Valley
Top 50 Most Influential

Best Bay Area Blog

SF Publicity Club's ninth annual awards
celebrating excellence in media.