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

Results matching “voodoo”

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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.” 


I'll be at the Startup Voodoo conference in St. Louis on June 18. Here is an interview by conference co-founder Aaron Perlut, with one of the keynote speakers: Maxine Clark, who pioneered crowd-sourcing in 1997 to build a very successful business. 

By Aaron Perlut

Veteran retail entrepreneur Maxine Clark is one of our keynote speakers at the 2nd annual Startup Voodoo innovation, entrepreneurship and startups conference in St. Louis June 18.

Not familiar with her name? Well, you should be. Because while crowdsourcing is today all the rage as a means of corporate engagement with customers, Clark’s Build-A-Bear Workshop – with more than 400 locations worldwide — has been at the forefront of the concept since 1997.

[Please note: My new day job is Editorial Communications Manager at Delphix, a fast growing IT startup based in Menlo Park, in the heart of Silicon Valley.]

Delphix this week named two key additions to its executive team as it prepares for an IPO.

- Stewart Grierson was named Chief Financial Officer. He rejoins former ArcSight colleague Rick Caccia, Chief Marketing Officer at Delphix.

Grierson was awarded "CFO of the Year" by the San Jose Business Journal in 2009: “Grierson helped lead ArcSight, valley's only IPO of 2008.” 


Gabe Lozano, CEO of Lockerdome.

Over the course of my career as a journalist I've met with many thousands of CEOs of large and small companies and I know quality when I see it. On my recent trip to St. Louis and my brief few days with the city's startup community, I was very impressed by the quality of the startups and also by the success of some. 

In Silicon Valley the VCs want startups to come to them and are famously averse to driving beyond a 20 mile radius of Sand Hill Road. Their belief is that the best deal flow always comes through Silicon Valley so all they need to do is sit tight.

But that's not true, there are fantastic startup teams in St. Louis, and many other innovation centers I've visited over the past ten years. There are many excellent startups that will never come to Silicon Valley for one or many reasons.

And that means Silicon Valley VCs are missing out on having access to all the best deals. The VCs know that their biggest bottleneck is a lack of great startup teams, it's not a lack of ideas. St. Louis is just four hours away from SFO.

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 Dennis Lower, President of the Cortex Innovation District among blueprints and maps. (CortexSTL.com)

Dennis Lower has spent nearly three decades building research parks around the US and he's at the peak of his talents and at the forefront of a very important trend: building research parks in urban settings. The goal is to build resilient communities that generate jobs from a highly skilled workforce and the spinoffs of startups.

He's responsible for the Cortex Innovation District founded in 2002, a huge area most of which is a building site with half-finished and nearly finished buildings sprouting up between buildings already staffed with researchers.

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The central goal of my St. Louis trip was to help with Startup Voodoo, the launch of a new conference focused on helping to grow the local startup community by bringing together investors, mentors, and startups to share their lessons and encourage each other to succeed.

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(From my series on St. Louis startups.)

On my first day in St. Louis I was part of a panel at a meeting of the local chapter of the Social Media Club at The Wheelhouse: "The Integration of Social Technology and the Startup Mindset."

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Ginger Imster (above) is Executive Director of Arch Grants, funded by four St. Louis philanthropists with the aim of encouraging innovative ventures that boost the diversity of tech jobs and the diversity of the population, in the St. Louis metro area. 

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Robin Rath Co-founder of Pixel Press demonstrates the iPad app.

Pixel Press is a local star startup because it's raised $750,000 and has a very cool technology that converts simple drawings into video games simply by using square-lined drawing paper. It has a joint project with Cartoon Network.

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Bud Albers, former Disney CTO, angel investor and CEO of ClickWithMeNow.

My first meeting in St. Louis also turned out to be one of my favorite interviews,  with Bud Albers, a veteran of many large corporations and mentor to many local startups.

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With it's famous arch in the background, St. Louis celebrates 250 years in 2014.

I recently returned from 4 days in St. Louis, meeting the local startup community and contributing to a new conference, Startup Voodoo organized by local tech news site Techli and Elasticity, an innovative digital marketing agency.


By Andrew Barnett, partner and head of the SEO practice at digital marketing and public relations firm Elasticity.

 Organizational structures are notoriously rigid, often lacking the agility and flexibility to respond to changing market forces. Over the last decade, the unrelenting growth of digital media has upended the way organizations and brands manage reputation issues and reach audiences, unleashing a tidal wave of new roles, responsibilities and budgets.